Photo project "The Rare Skipper"

Northern Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus silvicolus),


Northern Chequered Skipper is one of Denmark´s really rare butterflies. It can only be found in one or two woods in Lolland. But it is not rarer than it actually can be found, if you go to the right places. Other rare butterflies can only be found by sheer luck.

  So I decided to find and photograph it. I had found it on the locality 20 years ago in my collecting days, and it was quite interesting to revisit it. I flew at excatly the same place, on the same 50 m of the moist forest road as 20 years before.

When I arrived to the place, it was there. I scared off a female from a plant at the edge of the forest road, and followed it into the bushes, till it rested again. It was a fine specimen, and the first photos were taken. Unfortunately it disappered before I could take a close-up series.

Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06
Small and difficult motive  
Skippers rest with their wings at an angle. That is not making it easier for the Photographer, as you need a wide dof to keep them sharp at both wings edges as well as on the head and body. I therefore had set the aperture to 9.  

As you can see at the photos, aperture 9 is not enough. You will have to take the skipper either from the front or from an angle behind it to place it fully in the dof.

These pictures lack details, because I had also set the iso at 1600. Back then it was my way to prevent camera stirr by keeping the shutterspeed up. It won´t work, I found out. It is better to use a monopod or a tripod and a low iso.
Noise can be removed from the photo and you can relatively easy smoothen out the background of the photo, but you can not create delicate details in hairs and shadows where the sensor has been activated by random noise.
Sortplettet bredpande, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06

The Northern Chequered Skipper lives in moist woods in Lolland. I have only seen it one place, and I shall try to describe the habitat on this meagre background:

  The habitat is relatively open wood with many different kinds of trees and a thriving diverse underground vegetation of semi high plants. The habitat appears both moist and dry. The soil is made of clay and there is a lake nearby. Where the lower areas are drained to the lake, its rather dry and where they are not, it becomes moist.
  The Northern Chequered Skipper flies between shadow and light under the trees and rests on plants and leaves about 50 cm above the ground. It is easy to spot and does not fly far away when it is scared. I it is not very shy either and it is easy to get close to it.
  So all in all it a nice little insect to work with.
Habitat, Søholt, Lolland
Male, Female, upperside, underside and splendour
The Male
  The Northern Chequered Skipper was rather numerous at the habitat. I think I saw 20 specimens. They were easy to approach, both males and females. There were specimens at all ages and they showed a wide range of variation..

That is good. Variation in the population is a sign of a wide gene pool and makes good hope for the future fate of the colony.

Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06.
Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06.
I wanted a photo of the underside. I was not so easy.  
Here I have entered a muddy ditch and have sneaked in under a resting male. I photograph towards the light. It makes a fine glow in the wings but it wont provide details in the "feathers"
Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06.
Female Two females and a Speckled Wood
Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06.
Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06
Splendour.... Not much  

I would have wanted a picture of The Northern Chequered Skipper in conflict with a spider or resting on a colourful flower with dew, or face to face with a bird. I have not any such. Even the close-ups are not very fine. I shall have to go agin.

The photo to the left clearly shows the lack of details due to a high iso setting. You can see, that the hairs on the leaf and the skipper are all white in a shaken way, there are no soft shades in gray and the hairs seem to be broken into a row of cubes.The antennas show no joints and scales and textures are not visible on the wings or the abdomen.
Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06.
The skipper in its Envionment  
The Northern Chequered Skipper, Søholt, Lolland 14. juni 06

Besides close-up photos and portraits you will need some pictures of the butterfly in it´s envionment. Ferns are always good, they can nearly fill the photo by themselves because of their delicate and interesting foilage. Here the butterfly in the foreground is composed into a corresponding background that shows the same patterns and colour shades as the foreground.