Beep – beep – beeeeeep!
In the middle of the night (at least, that how it feels) I’m rudely awakened by a push message on my phone.
I almost delete the message without taking a peek, but then curiosity takes over.
Fortunately, since a large group of Snakes Head Fritillary has been observed within reasonable distance from my house! When a rare thing like this happens, it’s important to go there as quickly as possible; they are gone before you know it.
Enthusiastically, I jump out of my warm bed and pull my special snake’s-head-camo-suit: the pink one with chequered pattern. This morning, I will be chasing fritillaries and the last thing I want, is to scare them away, before I got at least one decent picture. Of course I own the white chequered suit as well, as befits a nature photographer, but the white fritillary is not nearly as shy as his pink congener. Besides, this may look like you’re going out in your pyjamas.
So pink it is.
I’m wearing my (matching) pink Booties, since the habitat of fritillaries tends to be quite squishy and some extra foot protection won’t hurt either, considering the unpredictable nature of this species! As soon as I arrive, I immediately stumble upon an almost frightening amount flowers. When I say that hundreds of fritillaries are throng on a 100 square meter, I am not even exaggerating and believe me: that’s quite impressive! Luckily there is a fence, probably to prevent them from escaping. (Smart!)
Then, I take a deep breath and boldly step over the fence. Even with my first, noiseless step, I can feel the atmosphere change….
I’m obviously in their territory, so now it is of the utmost importance to act very very carefully. Snake’s heads might look very well-balanced, but it’s rumoured they can react rather fiercely. Needless to say I’m very happy with my pink suit, knowing there’s no way they can see me!
The trick with this whimsical flower, is to approach it very cautiously. Avoid making eye contact at all costs (they might consider it provocative) and always stay close to the ground. And of course, don’t forget to respect the comfort zone of the flower. But if you happen to forget it, you will know right away.
Tip: Simulate a crawling camera.
Although cameras don’t naturally belong to their habitat, they don’t seem to consider them threatening. Man, on the other hand, that thoughtlessly plucks, cuts or even tramples them, is considered a threat indeed. They are wary of our species, prove them wrong!
It is also useful to know that chess flowers operate in large groups and they are highly solidary: one for all and all for one! Usually they stay very close to each other, which makes it difficult to isolate one from the rest. Around sunrise –when it’s still cold and dewy – they are considerably slower. Partly because these dewdrops are quite heavy for a fragile flower and partly because they have not been warmed up, which of course makes a huge difference when it comes to speed.
During the shoot, my chess-flower-camouflage-suit serves wonderfully: the flowers don’t show the slightest sign of nervousness and all I noticed were normal subtle movements of the petals.
System works! In fact, they look very much at ease and if you wouldn’t know better, you’d think they’re just innocent little flowers.
And then … .when I finally infiltrated the chess flower camp without being caught, I know it was worth all the efforts!
I’m being welcomed into this magical, almost fairy-tale world, filled with glitter, drops, circles and pastel colours and for a split second I almost feel a fritillary among fritillaries. How cool is that?!