|Grizzled Skipper on Fontmell Down|
|A lot prettier than the name suggests|
|Dingy Skipper - a little more understated, I grant you, but 'Dingy' still seems a bit harsh|
|Who doesn't love an Orange Tip?|
|Commoner than the Skippers but no less welcome was this Green-veined White|
|The battered wing suggests that this Peacock has had a close shave with a would-be predator|
|Small Purple-barred - a day-flying macro-moth|
|Another Small Purple-barred - though much easier to see how it gets its name from this one|
|A very striking micro - Pyrausta purpuralis|
|The closely related Pyrausta nigrata|
|There was too much to look at on the ground to look up much, but when I did this Red Kite was a handsome reward|
|A fine show of Bluebells in many Dorset woodlands at the moment|
I was already pleased with the results I was getting for bird photography with it over the autumn and winter, but this is its first spring, and after a bit of a poor summer last year which restricted the scope for insect photography, I have now been able to start putting it through its paces on a wider range of subjects than was possible with my old lens. Compared to that, I have to say it's quicker, just as sharp and the Image Stabiliser does seem to give the equivalent of a few extra stops of light, especially in darker conditions.
I have also been quite pleased with how it performs as an alternative to a macro lens, the closer focus compared to the 400mm being the key to this. Being a long zoom lens, good sized images of smaller subjects are possible without getting too close or disturbing them. Clearly, as you can see from some of these images, it was never going to be as good as a proper macro, and it's also a lot heavier (the Canon guarantee could have included neckache!). But if you like to photograph a variety of subjects, and only want to carry one lens around over your shoulder without a tripod, my conclusion is that you could do a lot worse than this. So if anyone is out there with their finger hovering over the 'Buy now' button of a consumer electronics website, I hope this helps!