For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009; 2008;
2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have
lost the file for 2000.
Some of my friends also keep, or have kept, online year-lists. Tim
living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE
and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland,
has his HERE.
friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2019 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the
COMMENTARY for each month.
NOTE TO MY REGULAR READERS:
Following the death of my mother on 15th March 2018 I have moved to
England to keep my father company. This diary will therefore be very
different from all my previous ones. No longer will I have alpine
species on my doorstep and purple emperor caterpillars in my local
woods. No more midwinter visits to Queen of Spain fritillaries in the
Rhône Valley or spring trips to nettle tree habitat in Italy! Thank you
to everyone who has followed the Swiss butterfly years with me. I will
try to keep some interest in these pages and hope to get some holidays
abroad, but in the short term my diary will record mostly the creatures
in and around Woodbridge, Suffolk. I will try to include at least one
photo, of nature or scenery, every day.
FOR THE YEAR 2019
Peacock (Aglais io) -
14th February - Suffolk
Small tortoiseshell (Aglais
urticae) - 15th February - Suffolk
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
- 24th February - Suffolk
Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
- 24th February - Suffolk
Comma (Polygonia c-album)
- 25th February - Suffolk
Small white (Pieris rapae) - 20th March - Suffolk
Commentary (Links in the
commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)
NO BUTTERFLIES SO FAR THIS YEAR ...
January 1st: The year began bright but cold. Here is Minnie
on her morning jaunt around Fen Meadow in Woodbridge. No time for any
nature excursions today.
2nd: Bright in the morning, grim later, cold always! I searched for
purple hairstreak eggs around Sutton Heath in the afternoon, finding
none. I did find this harlequin
ladybird (and here,
hibernating among the oak buds. Most of the red admiral eggs I saw laid
in November 2018 have either perished or simply become impossible to
find. None hatched successfully. Today I could find just one - one that
I saw actually being laid. It was as if knocked
over on its side (and here).
3rd: A brilliantly clear morning (and here), which continued most of
the day. I had little time for nature - here are a grey
plover and ringed plover on the far side of the river on my quick
4th: Rather grey and gloomy all day. No real nature excursions, but
here is a black-headed
gull disconsolately wading in the mud, dreaming of spring and a
5th: Very grey and cold all day. Here are some distant avocets
photographed on the Deben.
6th: Again, grey and cold all day, with a hint of snow in the air
(which never came). Here
is a group of dunlin, redshank and black-tailed godwits on the Deben,
with an avocet, and here is another part of the group with two
avocets. Here is one
of the avocets and here a teal.
7th: It looked brighter first thing in the morning but then descended
once more into grey gloom! Here is Minnie
trudging around her now familiar route ... And here is an oystercatcher
among the waders in the mud of the Deben, and here a dabchick
out on the water.
8th: Finally, blue skies
over the meadow on our morning walk and a promise of a good day! Later
in the morning I cycled off to the Martlesham region, where I used to
watch silver-studded blues in my youth. Since then, the heaths have
been almost entirely built over - an act of criminal vandalism on a
tragic scale. I located a few tiny, isolated spots where the habitat
has remained relatively undamaged, where the butterflies flew in
the day. It remains to be seen whether they are still there ... I also
explored a bit through local woods,
finding a potentially good clearing
for green hairstreaks.
9th: Very cold today, the temperature barely rising above 0 degrees all
day. I took Minnie for a hasty walk after lunch but it began raining
ice-cold rain and she was happy to turn back. Here is a rainbow
over the Deben.
10th: The Deben near
Kyson Point. A wigeon
out there on the water. Again, a bitterly cold day.
11th: Grey and overcast but warmer than recently. Here is the view from
near Kyson Point. Having seen a few kingfishers zooming past over
the last few weeks I was fortunate enough to see one stop to fish
perched near to the water. Unfortunately he was a long way away and I
was on the wrong side for pictures. I will return when the tide is high
in the morning, when the sun will be behind me. Here's another
shot - the most detail I could draw out at that distance - and here
one of him in
the act of fishing.
12th: Very dark again. My river walk was at lower tide than yesterday
and there was not enough water for the kingfisher where I saw him
yesterday. Here is a fat squirrel
in the morning, keeping well out of Minnie's way, a group of godwits
on the water's edge and another
group resting up in a bank in the stream.
13th: The light is still generally too poor for my camera! Here is a green
woodpecker among the pigeons this morning.
14th: The light on
the Deben this afternoon - and with Minnie.
Here is a curlew
down by the water's edge.
15th: Bright and sunny some of the day, turning very grey by late
afternoon. I took Minnie on a forest walk,
seeing no butterflies nor even finding any eggs but catching a fleeting
glimpse of muntjac and seeing these roe
far away along the track. They had seen us too and soon silently
disappeared. Crossing Wilford Bridge on the way back I spotted a greenshank
wading at the river's edge (and here).
16th: Utterly grim, cold and wet until the late evening, when suddenly
appeared in a clear sky. Here
is the scene across the Deben from Kyson Point in the afternoon. A winter
plumage black-headed gull dreams of spring, while a lapwing
gives up all hope. A few shelduck have recently returned from their
Christmas holidays in the Waddenzee. Here
is one far away on the other side of the river, with an avocet and
redshank also in the picture.
17th: Bright and very cold all day. This is the Deben
in the afternoon. Here are couple of ringed
plovers with a dunlin, a rather splendid wigeon,
godwit going deep and a distant group
of avocets. Another clear night, dominated by the gibbous
moon. No possibility of any butterflies in Woodbridge today!
18th: Mixed weather, starting off very cold (-2°C) but warming up considerably during the day.
Here is the view from Kyson Point
this afternoon and here is Minnie
on her way there. Here are a kestrel
about to drop, a mucky-but-happy female
wigeon, a lapwing
and yet another group
of avocets. There were at least 20 of these elegant birds feeding
together. Finally, here is another shot of the gibbous
moon as it approaches full.
19th: Bright but again very cold. Here is Minnie
enjoying her morning jaunt. My first goldeneye
of the winter were bobbing far out across the Deben. Again, it was a
clear night, so I photographed the moon.
There will be a total lunar eclipse early on Monday morning.
20th: A bright but
chilly morning (and here).
The usual mix of species out on the river,
including many groups of ducks
and waders feeding happily together. Here is a grey
plover with a muddy bill, here a curlew
and here an avocet.
The sky was still clear on our evening walk, leaving hope of views of
the blood moon tomorrow. Here is the near-full
moon as she was tonight.
21st: The lunar eclipse at the beginning
of totality and at mid-totality
(when she was closer to the horizon). Then I went back to bed.
22nd: Bright and beautiful on the Deben
today (and here).
Lots of godwits
wading around in the shallows (here
is a group of them). This little egret, all
wrapped up in himself (and here)
shows that it really wasn't very warm, though!
23rd: The day started off bright
but was overcast and even raining during my afternoon walk. This was a
shame as the kingfisher put in another appearance. Here
he is silhouetted against the river and here
is a closer view of him. I would have liked to get closer but too many
people were walking along the sea wall. Here
is a distant shot of him perched on a post in the river. By the evening
it was clear again. Here is the waning
24th: Magic light at dawn.
Later in the day the magic left and it both snowed and rained.
25th: Mostly wet, though a clear night. Here
is the view from Kyson Point in the afternoon. It was generally dark
and not good for photos, but here
are a couple of collared doves sitting on a street lamp, here a lapwing
with black-headed gulls, here a turnstone
and here a couple
and wet most of the day. Here are a flock
of lapwings near the Woodbridge tide mill, some black-tailed
godwits and a female wigeon and a grey
plover with a lapwing. Roll on spring and butterflies!
27th: From a beautiful
morning, through a grim,
overcast afternoon, to a wonderful, windy,
28th: A beautiful
morning, leading to a beautiful
day. Here is a barn
owl I was lucky enough to catch hunting and perching near the river
in the late afternoon. This
is where he was hunting.
29th: Another promising
morning, but a very cold
afternoon and sleet in the evening. I had no time for adventures
today but had to hurry along the river. This lapwing
having a bad hair day shows how windy it was - but not how cold!
30th: Woke to the first settled
snow of the year (and here).
In the afternoon I saw another barn owl and snatched a couple of shaky
shots - here
- of it before it caught some prey and dropped hidden to the ground.
This was a kilometre or two from where I saw the owl on 28th and might
even be the same owl.
31st: A beautiful start to
the day (and here)
led to a cold and half-overcast
afternoon. A group of bar-tailed
godwits was feeding on the mudflats (and here,
with a dunlin flying in). This picture shows well the slightly
upturned bill. Here is a pensive common
1st: A grey day on
the Deben. Flocks of dunlin were scattered
across the mudflats at low tide.
morning leading to a beautiful
afternoon. Sadly I had no time for nature walks today. Minnie had
to settle for regular trots around the meadow!
3rd: Another beautiful
day without much time to enjoy it! In the afternoon I cycled Minnie
forest (and here)
but we had to come back far too soon because of the risk of icy roads
as the sun set. The only creature picture I took today was this robin
in full song this morning.
4th: Drizzle all day and no opportunities to spend time in nature. Snowdrops
are coming into flower in the local meadow.
5th: This has become more of a weather log than a nature diary. Today
was overcast and grey from dawn to dusk. This picture
is from our morning walk and this
from the afternoon. It was flood tide, with a few dabchick out on the
river and a few gulls and lapwings over the meadows. Here is a wood
pigeon sitting it out.
6th: After a grey and gloomy start to
the day, the sun came out and much of the morning was warm and sunny.
There is in fact a squirrel on top of the telegraph pole in that last
picture. By way of illustrating the zoom of my Canon SX60, here
is that squirrel, taken handheld from the same spot. Flies
were taking advantage of the mild weather and the first crocuses
were out in the garden. Sadly, no butterflies. By the afternoon all was
again and photography was difficult. Here is a group of waders
and teal feeding on the mudflats, here a ruff
in the water meadows, digging for worms with black-tailed
godwits and here is a green
woodpecker who thought I couldn't see him. Heavy rain by evening.
7th: A beautiful but windy day, morning
(and here), afternoon
Here are snowdrops
in the garden, a kestrel
hunting over the watermeadows and some turnstones
commandeering a dinghy (and here).
8th: Wet and windy all day, with storm Erik passing. Here is a live picture
from the afternoon. Here is a squirrel
keeping well out of the way in the morning (and eating a nut).
9th: Up early
with Minnie for a walk before leaving her at the kennels while I headed
across country on the trains to pick up my sister's dogs from Wales.
10th: A day near Carmarthen in West Wales. A wet and windy morning -
here is Boo,
one of the dogs I went to pick up, on our morning walk. My main hope
during the day was to photograph red kites. I saw plenty, but they were
against cloudy skies (and here).
Only occasionally did I get a glimpse of colour
Several were hunting around and between these wind
are some shots taken from that same vantage point. Flocks of thrushes
(fieldfare, mistle thrush and redwing) abounded, as did flocks of
starlings. A few more shots from the day: here
(Minnie would have gone wild for the rabbits in this part of the
(there's a buzzard in that shot), here
11th: Return with the dogs to the East Coast of Suffolk. Here
they are in Carmarthen at the beginning of the journey ... I was very
impressed with how dog-friendly the trains in England and Wales are. On
one train, the woman pushing the bar trolley even brought them water to
drink, without my asking.
12th: A bright but
I had to travel again to take one dog to kennels and pick Minnie up. On
the journey I scented butterflies and knew they were flying somewhere.
Although I saw none myself, when I mentioned to my father at lunch that
I knew butterflies were flying today he said he had seen one in the
garden in the morning, while I was out. He wasn't close enough to see
what it was, except that it wasn't a brimstone. I did see a great white
egret from the train though. By the time I took Minnie out in the
afternoon it was too late for butterflies. Here is a greenshank
feeding in open water on the Deben (and here).
13th: Still mild, but high cloud persisted well into the morning
and though it did clear, the wind ensured butterflies never felt
likely. Here and here are afternoon shots from Martlesham Creek.
Here is a juvenile
rook surveying the creek and here some wood pigeons on the far side. There were hundreds.
This is a black-tailed godwit.
14th: No butterflies in the morning sun, nor any on a long dog walk and cycle ride near Wickham Market at
lunchtime, but this single female
peacock waiting for me in the garden on my return at about 15h00.
15th: A promising
start to the day, followed by my first small
tortoiseshells of the year - two, both probably males - in local
woods at lunchtime. Back in the garden, bees
and wasps are on the wing.
16th: An interlude of grey,
after two days of sun and, we hope, sun tomorrow. Here are Minnie
setting off for the river. It's not quite as exciting for her as it was
zooming down Swiss mountains ... We watched a barn owl hunting far, far
away along Martlesham Creek.
17th: The day started beautiful, as forecast, but rapidly clouded over
and in Rendlesham
Forest, where I headed to look for early butterflies, didn't clear
properly until after 12h30. So unsurprisingly, no more butterflies
all day, and raining sometimes, though clearing in the evening to a
starry night. Here is a rainbow as I was cycling back from Tesco in the afternoon. The black-headed gulls have now got sooty
faces and will soon be sporting summer plumage. Here
is a different individual. Here is a redshank
in a great hurry and here a curlew.
19th: A beautiful morning but cold and windy much of the day. Near
Wickham Market in the early afternoon hares were sitting around in the fields (and here).
20th: Promising but windy morning. On the coast in the
afternoon the first skylarks were in full song-flight. Here is a fly-past of cormorants. They were sweeping off the coast in great Vs.
21st: Warm and sunny but strangely no butterflies in the garden or the
woods. Wood larks (filename treepipit because I thought
at the time that's what they were) were in full song, alternately from
the treetops and from the air. Buzzards were flying over the woods.
22nd: A perfect day until about 14h30 when hazy sun became
thicker cloud. No butterflies flew despite the sun and warmth all
23rd: Yet another perfect day without any butterflies. Here
is the patch near Bromeswell where I saw small tortoiseshells over a
week ago. This photo was taken near Rendlesham in the
afternoon. Extensive banks of flowering
gorse, heady with the scent of coconut, were almost completely
devoid of any insects at all.
24th: A warm and
sunny day. In the late morning, a male brimstone came roding
regularly through our garden. He never stopped for a picture but here, here and here
are three awful flight shots for the record. At about midday I saw a
red admiral as I nipped up the road to buy bread. I took a long cycle
ride to three local sites in the afternoon, having good walks
(and here, and here) but seeing no more butterflies.
25th: Warm and sunny all day. In the morning and early afternoon, at
least three commas (here, here and here - and here the underside
of one) were sparring and sunning in the garden. I saw a single
brimstone in town and both peacock and small tortoiseshell in the
garden later. In local woods I found this peacock. The fine weather is set to continue for
some days at least.
26th: Commas again established in our back garden. Here and here are two different individuals from the ones
seen yesterday. Here, here and here
are three more shots of that first one, on various perches. Near
Wickham Market I saw several peacocks and probably two brimstones -
both males, roding.
in garden much of morning, taking
minerals (video) and sunning. Peacock and comma at Ufford in the
afternoon. Today was probably the last day of the present hot, sunny
28th: Mostly bright and sunny in the morning but 10 degrees cooler than
yesterday and no butterflies flew. By the afternoon it had largely clouded over and there was rain later. Here is a linnet in bushes by the river and here a black-tailed godwit.
Return of cloud all day. Here are two buzzards in a tree near Wickham Market and here a muntjac in fields nearby.
2nd: Alternately bright and cloudy/rainy. Used my afternoon walk to
explore new sites. This one
looks promising for green hairstreaks.
3rd: A day of wind and rain, overcast until the evening. Here are an oystercatcher, a teal and a black-headed gull sporting his fresh spring
4th: Today would have been my mother's 88th birthday. Here is Minnie by
garden we are making for her. It was bright but wintery all morning
and some of the
afternoon. Here are a wigeon, a godwit and a group of godwits.
5th: Bright but cold in the morning. It was about 7°C
when I spotted a small tortoiseshell in the garden. I grabbed my
camera, ran outside and got one quick shot of it digging into a daffodil before it flew off. Stayed
day but no more butterflies. Here
and here are a couple of 7-spot ladybirds in the
garden in the afternoon.
6th: Overcast, windy and sometimes wet. Here is a black-tailed godwit in the mud. The wind was
blowing too hard to hold the camera still.
7th: In the morning, bright enough for 7-spot ladybirds to be sunning on the nettles,
though windy. By the afternoon a storm was brewing, leading to heavy squalls later.
8th: A bright morning gave way to cloud and rain later.
In afternoon, walked the dogs near Wickham Market. Lots of fallow deer (and here, and here) were moving over the fields. Here is a muntjac (and here) also enjoying the spring growth.
9th: Sometimes bright, sometimes torrential rain, always windy. Here is
a live photo from the river and here a still one. Here is a curlew, here a turnstone, and here a black-headed gull checking his friends are asleep before trying out
his dance moves.
10th: Another sometimes bright, sometimes stormy (briefly snowy) and
always windy day. This is Minnie in the morning in my mother's memorial
garden. Here is another live photo from the river and here a still one. A redshank in the mud; a turnstone toying at gull droppings on the jetty.
11th: Bright and windy again. Happy dogs in the morning; empty recreation ground in the afternoon - too
cold for everyone else; the sun behind clouds; black-headed gulls and turnstones on the jetties
as usual; lesser black-backed gulls keeping watch on the
12th: Windy and rainy until the evening.
13th: Mostly overcast and windy. No time today for nature
14th: Stormy with torrential downpours in the morning. Bright and windy (and here) in the afternoon.
15th: Clouds all day, with occasional rain and lots of
wind. Here is a grey plover in the grey mud on a grey day. My
mother died a year ago today.
16th: Another cloudy, often wet day, though less windy and
generally milder than recently. A ruff (and here) was scurrying around busily in the mud along
17th: A day of sun, rain, sleet, hail, snow and wind, all at different
times. Here, here, here and here are four pictures from the same afternoon
18th: Bright enough in the morning (and here) for me to wonder whether butterflies might
fly today - but things turned grimmer later (and here). Buzzards were circling in the sky by the river,
while godwits, wigeon, dabchicks and black-headed gulls
dabbled in the mud. 19th:
In a rare period of sunshine in late morning, as I was coming
back from the shop with bread, I saw a butterfly fly speedily across
the road, then back and over a wall. Bizarrely, I have no idea what it
was. It was pale with darker markings, but definitely not a Pierid -
more like a Papilionid, though with a fast, direct flight and sharp
turns. I wondered about painted lady afterwards but not in the moment
of seeing it. It will remain a mystery. In the forest in the afternoon,
what I took to be orange underwings were flying, though unlike in
Switzerland they never settled so I couldn't confirm. Woodlarks were perched in the tops of birch trees. The whole time I was in the forest the sky was grey.
20th: Partly sunny in the morning. At least one small white
was drifting in and out of our garden. In late morning I took Minnie
for a cycle ride to a woodland ride, seeing another small white on the
way, but sadly all sun was lost before I got there.
21st: Mostly cloudy all day, but warm and with some sunny spells. In the morning, found this Hemipteran in the house, so put it outside.
It is a western conifer seed bug, recently introduced from North
America. The first European specimens were found in 1999 and the first
British ones in 2007.