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YEAR LIST, 2019

SWISS BUTTERFLY CALENDAR 2019 - CLICK HERE


For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 20102009; 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 Cowles, 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. Another 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.

CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2019
  1. Peacock (Aglais io) - 14th February - Suffolk
  2. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 15th February - Suffolk
  3. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 24th February - Suffolk
  4. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 24th February - Suffolk
  5. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 25th February - Suffolk
  6. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 20th March - Suffolk
  7. Austaut's blue (Polyommatus celina) - 31st March - Málaga
  8. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 31st March - Málaga
  9. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 31st March - Málaga
  10. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 31st March - Málaga
  11. Spanish marbled white (Melanargia ines) - 31st March - Málaga
  12. Spanish festoon (Zerinthia rumina) - 31st March - Málaga
  13. Black-eyed blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) - 31st March - Málaga
  14. Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 31st March - Málaga
  15. Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 31st March - Málaga
  16. Provence orange tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) - 31st March - Málaga
  17. Green hairstreak (Calophrys rubi) - 31st March - Málaga
  18. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 31st March - Málaga
  19. Monarch (Danaus plexippus) - 31st March - Málaga
  20. Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 31st March - Málaga
  21. Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia) - 1st April - Málaga
  22. Spanish gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba) - 2nd April - Málaga
  23. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 2nd April - Málaga
  24. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 2nd April - Málaga
  25. Iberian scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) - 2nd April - Málaga
  26. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 2nd April - Málaga
  27. African grass blue (Zizeeria knysna) - 2nd April - Málaga
  28. Western dappled white (Euchloe crameri) - 3rd April - Antequera
  29. Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus) - 3rd April - Antequera
  30. Southern brown argus (Aricia cramera) - 3rd April - Antequera
  31. False baton blue (Scolitantides abencerragus) - 3rd April - Antequera
  32. Lorquin's blue (Cupido lorquinii) - 3rd April - Antequera
  33. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 3rd April - Antgequera
  34. False mallow skipper (Carcharodus tripolinus) - 3rd April - Antequera
  35. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 3rd April - Antequera
  36. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 3rd April - Antequera
  37. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 8th April - Suffolk
  38. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 18th April - Suffolk
  39. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 14th May - Suffolk
  40. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 21st May - Suffolk


Commentary
(Links in the commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)

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, 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 afternoon dog-walk.
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 black head!
5th: Very grey and cold all day. Here are some distant avocets (and here, and here) 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°C 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 today. Here he is 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 deer 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 the moon 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, a black-tailed 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 moon.
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 and 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 more turnstones.
26th: Overcast 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, cloud-racing-in-clear-sky night.
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 and 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, and here with a dunlin flying in). This picture shows well the slightly upturned bill. Here is a pensive common gull.

February
1st: A grey day on the Deben. Flocks of dunlin were scattered across the mudflats at low tide.
2nd: Beautiful 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 to Rendlesham 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 dark cloud 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 and evening. 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 generally silhouetted against cloudy skies (and here). Only occasionally did I get a glimpse of colour (and here). Several were hunting around and between these wind turbines. Here, here and here 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 world!), here (there's a buzzard in that shot), here and 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 frosty morning. 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 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 and I 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 today.
18th: Overcast 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: 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 morning.
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.
27th: Comma 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 spell.
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.

March
1st: 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 headgear.
4th: Today would have been my mother's 88th birthday. Here is Minnie by the memorial 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 bright all 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 chimney stacks.
12th: Windy and rainy until the evening.
13th: Mostly overcast and windy. No time today for nature photography.
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 the river.
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 walk.
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.
22nd: Unrelieved grey (and here) from dawn till dusk - and quite cold too.
23rd: Partly sunny. In the early afternoon a couple of peacocks were flying in this lane. Back at home, I saw a comma in the garden at about 15h30. It didn't stop for photos, but this blue tit did (and here).
24th: Mostly warm and sunny with some cloudy spells. In the garden, peacocks, commas (and here, and here), a single small tortoiseshell and a single female brimstone were flying. In the countryside, peacocks were widespread. This one was nectaring on blackthorn in this lane. Here is another, in woods some distance away. A single male brimstone was roding that lane and I saw a pair of commas sparring there. A single red admiral appeared on the corner of a road as I was cycling home.
25th: Partially sunny, especially in the morning. Here is one of two or three commas present in the garden. I didn't have the opportunity to look for anything else.
26th: Sunny but cold in the morning. Every time I went into the garden, one or two commas were in evidence. I saw no other species today.
27th: Overcast from dawn till nightfall. No butterflies. Here are two lonely teal out on the river.
28th: Mostly cloudy in the morning, leading to mostly sunny in the afternoon. Whenever it was sunny, commas flew in the garden, and I saw one female brimstone (often being used as a sunspot by flies) and one small white too.
29th: A sunny day. I couldn't profit from it fully, as I had much to do in preparation for leaving tomorrow. But I saw: comma (several in the garden, as ever), peacock (in garden and around the countryside), small white (one, in garden), brimstone (one, in garden), small tortoiseshell (one, in local woods).
30th: Spent day travelling to Málaga. Was a beautiful day when I left Suffolk. Will post butterflies seen and some pictures during the next week, with full pictures to come when I return.
31st: The forecast was for rain until midday and cloud afterwards. That is exactly what happened. Here is a little egret standing in the rain as I began my walk out of Málaga into the hills. During the climb I found this single male Polyommatus celina roosting but I saw nothing else until I had put my umbrella away. Then, a painted lady soon appeared. This species was constant throughout the day, flying whether or not there was any sun and even after the rain returned (at about 17h00). The only other butterfly I saw before 15h00, when the sun suddenly came out, was a single wall. Then, with the sun, lots of other species appeared, beginning with Spanish festoon and Spanish marbled white, and continuing with black-eyed blue (I saw two males - neither stopped), small white, large white, Bath white, Provence orange tip, clouded yellow, lots more walls, green hairstreak and most surprisingly, this meadow brown. I was at my Provence hairstreak site when the sun came out but none flew. It might be too late for them - the meadow brown suggests this is a very early season. At 16h15 cloud returned, with only brief moments of relief after that. Painted ladies continued to fly. On my way back to the hostel I added red admiral (while still in the hills), monarch (in town) and long-tailed blue to the day's tally. Here is another painted lady from that part of the walk, when the sun shone.

April
1st: Despite a forecast of generally good weather, it rained almost all day in the hills today. Between showers - sometimes downpours - it was mostly cloudy, with just a few sunny spells of about 10 minutes at most. Thus, I spent most of the day walking around with an umbrella, seeing very little. When the sun did come out, the first thing to fly was always painted lady, closely followed by clouded yellow. I also saw a long-tailed blue, a Bath white and a wall. I came down relatively early, to go to the bus station and get timetables for later in the week. In Málaga the weather was a little better and I saw several large and small whites, plenty of painted ladies and three monarchs. Finally, after I had been to the bus station, at about 17h00, it looked as if the sun might stay out and I headed back to look for African grass blues. I saw none, but did find my first green-striped white of the holiday (and here) and took some more photographs of monarchs. This is the same male I photographed yesterday. This (and here, and here) is a female. I also saw two red admirals. The green-striped white is a second brood individual, as evidenced by the slightly diffuse and yellowish underside markings. This confirms it is a very early year in Málaga.
2nd: The first day forecast to be properly sunny, at least for the morning. I climbed into the hills relatively early, reaching my hilltopping spot shortly after 10h00. On the way I saw two black-eyed blues and several painted ladies. There, the first hilltoppers - walls - were just arriving. These were soon followed by long-tailed blues and Spanish marbled whites. Swifts were swooping around in large numbers. I left before things really hotted up, to look for the Provence hairstreaks. At their site, usually so strong, there were none. I think they have finished for the year. On the way I saw two Spanish gatekeepers - a big surprise, given the date. I saw three more on my way back to the hilltopping site, where bee-eaters had joined the swifts and many more butterflies were on the wing, including swallowtails, Iberian scarceswallowtails, red admirals, painted ladies, walls, long-tailed blues and lots of Spanish marbled whites (and here). I visited the hairstreak site once more before heading back down the hill, seeing Provence orange tip and a single, female Cleopatra, as well as several Spanish festoons and a small copper, before heading back down the hill. Back in Málaga I finally caught up with a single African grass blue. Photographed monarchs again and found a lovely, fresh helice female clouded yellow. Full day list: Spanish festoon (quite a few, but not common), swallowtail (half a dozen at most), Iberian scarce swallowtail (several at hilltopping site and a few elsewhere), large white, small white, Bath white, probably dappled white but didn't stop, Provence orange tip, clouded yellow, Cleopatra (just one female), black-eyed blue, long-tailed blue, African grass blue, small copper, painted lady, red admiral, wall, speckled wood (just one seen, in Málaga), Spanish gatekeeper, Spanish marbled white, monarch.
3rd: Caught first bus for Antequera, with target species false baton blue, on the sole grounds that Tolman mentions it for this region. I hoped at least to find Panoptes blue, if the long-shot failed. Initially, it seemed I would see very little. On the way to the area I hoped to find the blues (which I had picked from Google Earth) I saw painted ladies, clouded yellows, walls, black-eyed blues and a handful of western dappled whites. When I got there, my first obstacle was cows with calves - which deterred me from the path I had initially chosen (one calf came towards me, followed by a very serious-looking mother ...). So I went a different way and soon came across a single Provence hairstreak. That was a good sign - but there were very few butterflies apart from it, and it scarpered after just a record shot. Then I found a southern brown argus and several more dappled whites. Finally, I hit gold and located a small colony of false baton blues (pictures will be much better when processed properly). I saw males and females and got reasonably good shots of both. Here is an underside. At the same site, Lorquin's blue was common - and as I returned to the bus station afterwards I found more of these over quite a large area. Here is a female and here another male. This male enjoyed taking sweat on my backpack. This is not a life tick but I've only seen one individual before, in June 1991, so it feels like one! Some individuals were beautifully fresh and again I found males and females. Also at this site I watched a female Cleopatra laying: unlike brimstones, she laid eggs one at a time on separate leaves, taking less than a second to lay - so impossible to get a focused shot. Here is one of the eggs she laid. What appeared to be common blues were also flying. They did not look like the Austaut's blues I am used to seeing in this region. Another surprise was a single Lysandra female. Since Provence chalkhill blue does not fly here, she must be Adonis. A further species new for the year was false mallow skipper, Carcharodus tripolinus. Although indistinguishable from mallow skipper in the field, the species is confirmed by distribution. I saw at least two small heaths. As I came down from the hills a holly blue rested on the path, my first of 2019. Full write up and pictures to come.
4th: Spent day in Gibraltar. Much of the day was really just a wander down memory lane but I enjoyed a few good butterflies. I watched several female Spanish festoons laying eggs on Aristolochia plants and was able to photograph both the eggs and some early stage caterpillars. Little else was flying. I saw a few female Provence orange tips and one male - none settled - lots of large and small whites, and in town speckled woods, a female Cleopatra and a monarch. This is me with a monkey on the way down.
5th: Rain all morning - sometimes heavy - clearing up by late afternoon. At about 17h00 I found African grass blues (and here) and monarchs flying in their usual place, as well as a single helice female clouded yellow, several painted ladies and a handful of small and large whites.
6th: Weather forecast bad, so decided to go back to the false baton blue site and look for the foodplant. The forecast was accurate. It was mostly rainy, always windy and generally very cold up at their site. I believe this is the foodplant, Cleonia lusitanica. I found it quite commonly near where I had seen the blues, but never in flower. Eggs are apparently laid on leaves, from where the caterpillars move to the flowers and spend the rest of their larval lives there. Yellow bee orchids were common all over the site and nearby - these were over in the Málaga region. Because of the weather, no butterflies at all flew. When I got back to Antequera there was some sun, though it was still cold. I looked for pelargoniums, hoping to find geranium bronzes, but although I found the plants there were no bronzes. The only butterfly flying near them was this painted lady (and here). The maximum temperature forecast for the day in Antequera itself (so lower up the mountain) was 11°C.
7th: Up early for the journey back to Suffolk. Left the hostel at 0700, arrived at Woodbridge 16h18. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos, so this is the first day of the year without evidence of its existence.
8th: Spring has sprung in Suffolk. Male orange tips were cruising up and down the garden all day (very rarely stopping) and commas, small whites and peacocks were much in evidence both in the garden and out on my dog walk.
9th: Cloudy at first but sunny (and cold) later. In the garden, commas, orange tips, small whites and peacocks were flying. On my afternoon walk I saw several more peacocks and two small tortoiseshells.
10th: Bright much of the day but cold and windy. In the garden, the first holly blues (and here) were nectaring avidly on alkanet and a few orange tips and peacocks were on the wing too. Generally, little flew, presumably because of the temperature.
11th: Often bright, sometimes overcast and always quite cold today. I wasn't able to get out much and saw no butterflies.
12th: Cold and overcast most of the day. No butterflies. Here is a pensive curlew, and here a distant group of redshanks at the water's edge.
13th: It snowed quite heavily in the morning, then alternated for the rest of the day between bright sun, cloud, sleet and rain. During the sunny periods, at least two orange tips (and here) passed through the garden, flying weakly and stopping often. I also saw a small white.
14th: Mostly cold but occasionally bright. No butterflies seen today.
15th: Sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, often with a cold wind. In the garden, at least three orange tips and a small white flew. On my afternoon walk I saw more orange tips and two peacocks.
16th: Again, sometimes sunny, more often overcast or densely hazy. In garden: commas, peacocks, small whites and orange tips. In local woods, orange tips, peacocks, a comma and my first Suffolk speckled wood of the year.
17th: Like yesterday, sunny with such dense haze there were often no shadows. In morning, peacocks, small whites and orange tips flew in the garden. Before lunch, I went off to see if any green hairstreaks were yet on the wing, but there was no real sun. I saw a few peacocks, a single male brimstone and my first Suffolk small copper of the year on a local heath. This last was very weakly marked and I would have liked better photos of him but he was off and the sun never returned.
18th: A beautiful, sunny day throughout. In the garden, comma, peacock, orange tip, holly blue, small white and green-veined white were all flying. The first female orange tips are on the wing, frequently checking out the garlic mustard, on which I hope they will lay. I searched locally for green hairstreaks, finding none but coming across brimstones, peacocks, orange tips, green-veined and small whites and a single small copper.
19th: Another beautiful day. I had limited time for butterfly-hunting but even in the garden saw holly blues, speckled woods, orange tips, green-veined and small whites, peacocks, a  small copper and a small tortoiseshell. I had two short excursions to local spots to look for green hairstreaks, finding none but seeing plenty of other butterflies, including more speckled woods (and here), orange tips, whites, peacocks, coppers and a comma.
20th: A busy day, with only one short break to look for butterflies beyond the garden - or indeed in the garden. This was a shame as it was very warm and sunny all day. In the garden, holly blues, speckled woods, orange tips, commas, peacocks, brimstones and whites were all flying. On my outing to look for green hairstreaks (none found) I encountered plenty of peacocks and orange tips and more speckled woods. Exceptionally, I took no photos at all today.
21st: Easter Sunday and hot all day. In the garden, holly blues, orange tips, peacocks and whites were on the wing. I went searching for green hairstreaks in the early afternoon, again finding none. It is very strange. I am looking in perfect habitat and simply not finding any. I did see quite a few peacocks, speckled woods, whites and small coppers, and a single comma. In the late afternoon this slightly wing-damaged orange tip was ranging the whole length of the garden. Its deformity had no obvious effect on it, except that it did perhaps stop to rest more frequently than others. At least two holly blues were hanging around our large holly tree at the same time. This teneral female large red damselfly was near our pond in the morning.
22nd: Another hot day, and another afternoon walk spent failing to find green hairstreaks. I have searched in lots of suitable sites and am amazed not to find this common species. On the continent I don't look for it - I just see it in every patch of scrub or wasteland from March onwards. In my garden, all the usual species flew: speckled wood, orange tip, holly blue (now common - here is one on apple blossom and here one taking minerals on our alpines - several males were hanging around the holly in the evening), peacock, small white, green-veined white and comma. On my afternoon walk I saw dozens of peacocks, lots of orange tips and a single brimstone. Orange tip males are showing a distinct interest in garlic mustard, which is now in flower all over the garden, and I have found a few orange tip eggs on this plant.
23rd: Cloudy at first but generally warm and sunny by late morning. In the garden I found more orange tip eggs (and here). Orange tips, small whites, green-veined whites, commas, peacocks and holly blues were all much in evidence. Speckled woods are common in the local meadow and woodlands. In Martlesham, small coppers (and here), speckled woods, commas, holly blues, orange tips, peacocks and a single male large white were on the wing. I am confident I saw a single green hairstreak at a site where I have been looking for them but only saw it silhouetted as it flew over my head and there were small coppers at the site, so cannot formally register it. There are newts in the pond. For the last week I have been hearing - and once or twice seeing - plenty of nightingales, at at least four different locations.
24th: Mixed cloud, rain and sometimes very warm sun. No chance to hunt for butterflies beyond the garden, where principally holly blues, orange tips and small and green-veined whites were flying. Here is a freshly laid orange tip egg - creamy white rather than bright orange, as the eggs become after a day. This is a large red damselfly - possibly the same one I photographed on 21st. Like that one, it has green eyes, without a hint of red.
25th: Raining at daybreak and much of the morning, clearing later, but with a cool wind. The only butterflies flying in the garden were orange tip and holly blue.
26th: Have a chesty cold, affecting my larynx. So though much of day was sunny, spent it mostly inside. On my morning walk with the dogs - all three, as I chose not to take Boo for her morning run today - saw orange tips, speckled woods and a holly blue already on the wing. On my afternoon walk a red admiral flew past. In the garden, orange tips and holly blues took advantage of every moment of sun, though it wasn't really warm. I took this iPhone shot of a male orange tip because it just seemed to become one with the flower heads of shepherd's purse it landed on. It is very really excellent cryptic colouring.
27th: Spent all day in bed with a streaming cold (apart from taking the dogs out for short walks). Rained much of day and cloudy most of the rest. Read Jules Verne's Voyage au centre de la Terre - the perfect length for a day in bed.
28th: In bed all day with fever.
29th: Again, in bed all day, now mostly recovered. I didn't really see what the weather was today or yesterday.
30th: Mostly cloudy today, with some sunny spells. I had much to do to make up for time off ill, and couldn't get off specifically to look for butterflies. Here and here are two orange tip eggs in the garden. The first of these is probably 9 days old now so the caterpillars should be emerging soon. It was completely overcast during my afternoon dog walk but this green-veined white was taking no notice of the weather.

May
1st: Little time to do anything, though there was some sun in the afternoon. In the garden, holly blues and orange tips are both very common, even when it is dull. On a swift, afternoon walk, during sunny spells, I saw plenty of small coppers, green-veined whites, small whites, orange tips, holly blues and peacocks.
2nd: Again, holly blues and orange tips very common. Speckled woods common in the local meadow, and small coppers on rough ground almost everywhere now. In the garden, some of the orange tip eggs are looking ready to hatch. The caterpillar is (sort of) visible within that egg. Here is another. Other eggs are still bright orange. There was a comma in the garden, in the same place all the commas have been this year.
3rd: Cloud and rain. Here and here are photos of orange tip eggs I expected to hatch today but will, I hope, tomorrow.
4th: A very cold day, with alternating rain, heavy hail, cloud and sunshine. In the evening, the two orange tip eggs I have been expecting to hatch did hatch. Here and here are one of them. Here and here are the other.
5th: Another cold day, and almost entirely overcast. The two orange tip caterpillars that hatched yesterday were still by what remained of their eggs and didn't seem to have ventured onto the seed pods to feed. Here is one and here is the other. Here is a still orange egg. While I was examining and photographing the eggs, I completely failed to notice a female orange tip was sitting on the flowerhead, motionless!
6th: Cold again. Here is one of the orange tip caterpillars. As I was photographing him I again totally failed to see a female orange tip - perhaps the same one as yesterday - on the flowerhead in front of me. The camouflage is brilliant.
7th: Mostly overcast with some sunny spells. Generally cool. Holly blues were hanging around the holly in the garden but I saw no females. I couldn't relocate either of the hatched orange tip caterpillars.
8th: Pouring with rain most of the day. In a brief dry spell I managed to relocate one of the orange tip caterpillars.
9th: Mostly rain. Again, I was able to relocate just one of the orange tip caterpillars - but the one I couldn't find yesterday. Here it is, on a garlic mustard fruit. A female large red damselfly was sheltering on the side of our house in the afternoon.
10th: Mixed cloud, rain and a little sunshine. I was able to locate both the hatched orange tip caterpillars (here and here), though it took me until the evening to find the second of them! Both have moved to the tips of fruiting bodies. They are still very small and extremely difficult to spot among the flowers, even if they are obvious once the photo is taken.
11th: The orange tip cats are both still in first instar: here and here.
12th: Mostly sunny today but still cold. Clementine and Tangerine (and here), my two orange tip caterpillars, are still 1st instar. There are plenty of orange eggs around. This white egg has been freshly laid on Clementine's garlic mustard today. It will turn orange soon. Otherwise, holly blues, orange tips and a peacock were at large in the garden.
13th: Sunny all day, though I couldn't get out much. Both caterpillars (Tangerine and Clementine) are still small and still apparently first instar. Tangerine's flowerhead is still covered in ants but they don't seem to cause her any bother. When I cycled off to buy groceries I checked a local heath, where I saw peacocks, commas (several sparring and sunning), orange tips, holly blues and small coppers. A male brimstone passed through the garden in the morning.
14th: In the afternoon I finally found my first Suffolk green hairstreaks of the year (and here). At least three males and probably more were holding fort in a patch of dense broom and gorse. I have searched there earlier this year without success, though not in the last week or so. I suspect the species is newly on the wing at this site. As well as resting on broom and gorse they sometimes flew up into the birches and settled on leaves a while before coming down again. On my way back to the bike I spotted my first common blue of the year (assuming all those I saw in Málaga to be celina). Other species flying were peacock, orange tip, speckled wood, brimstone and small copper. In the garden I saw brimstone, orange tip and plenty of holly blues, including this presumed female checking out holly flowers high up. In the woods I got a single photograph of this hairy dragonfly before it zoomed off. There are lots of large red damselflies hanging around near our pond in the garden. Clementine was in exactly the same place she was yesterday. I couldn't see Tangerine but I didn't look for long.
15th: The presumed orange tip egg laid on the same garlic mustard plant as Clementine the caterpillar is still white, so must be a green-veined white egg. I watched several orange tip females laying on hedge mustard today. Here and here are two of the eggs. In the garden, Clementine appears to have died. She is in exactly the same position as two days ago, and visibly darker. My only shot of her didn't come out very well. Tangerine appears to be thriving and is in 2nd instar now. A female holly blue was apparently laying on low holly flowers, though I couldn't find any of the eggs. I will keep looking tomorrow. Other butterflies seen during the day were peacock, brimstone, speckled wood (first brood now looking very tatty), comma and lots of small tortoiseshells.
16th: The presumed orange tip egg that I decided had to be green-veined white has finally turned orange, so is indeed an orange tip egg. It was laid on 12th (or before - I found it on 12th) and turned orange today, 16th. Clementine is certainly dead. Tangerine is alive and well, though I am told she is still 1st instar, despite her age and size. It was beautifully sunny but windy today. I had little chance to get out. Here is a speckled wood in local woodland. I was checking for green hairstreaks (where I saw them two days ago) but either the wind or the lateness in the day meant none were flying.
17th: Cloud all day with a few showers. No butterflies flew and though I spotted Tangerine in the same place as yesterday I took no photos.
18th: Cloud all day but with good sunny breaks. This is Tangerine this morning, now 13 days old. In a nettle bed in the garden I found this larval tent (and here for a peep inside, showing frass I think). I am not experienced enough to know if this is red admiral but I think it might be. Also on the nettles were these shield bug eggs. On bramble in the nettle bed was this moth caterpillar.
19th: Mostly cloud and rain. Day of the round Woodbridge race. Found a strangely placed orange tip egg in the garden. But it has stuck, and the caterpillar will probably be able to make it onto the plant. Here is another possible red admiral tent, and here the frass on the leaf beneath. I'm not convinced, as there have been so few red admirals around this spring and none of the eggs I saw laid last autumn appeared to have survived.
20th: Mostly cloudy with some rain and some sun, especially later. Tangerine is nowhere to be seen, alive or dead. Lots of holly blues, male and female, are hanging around our holly tree. This female spent much time feeding on honeydew on the nearby sycamore and supping at holly flowers. The shieldbug eggs are still unhatched. There were several hairy shieldbugs (Dolycoris baccarum) on the same nettles, so I imagine this is what the eggs are.
21st: Mostly sunny until mid-afternoon. In the morning I cycled to woodland where I have seen white admirals in my youth, to look for honeysuckle - and caterpillars, of course. After searching for over an hour I eventually found a ride with some honeysuckle (and here), but all nearby rides were closed for forestry. I didn't find any caterpillars on the plants I searched but will return (perhaps at the weekend when foresters might not be working) directly to the right place. In the early afternoon I spotted my first brown arguses of the year in my local meadow. I was handling a lively dog so couldn't really get photos but snatched this one, record shot. I also saw a single, male common blue. The hairy shieldbug eggs have not hatched yet.
22nd: At lunchtime returned to my green hairstreak site. Initially I couldn't find any. Eventually I spotted one, resting motionless on broom (until I tried to photograph him), and then saw there were plenty more on the trees behind, either resting on leaves or nectaring on hawthorn. This female common blue damselfly (and here) was my first of the year.
23rd: A warm, sunny day. Little time to get out except for the usual dog walks. In the local meadow, common blues, holly blues, speckled woods and brown arguses are all flying. The garden is still full of holly blues and orange tips. In the afternoon I had a quick trip to a potential green hairstreak site. I had two 'corner-of-eye' sightings but because of the huge numbers of small coppers (and here) and the presence of holly blues I couldn't confirm these as definite green hairstreaks.
24th: Revisited the green hairstreak site in the morning. Again, the butterflies were to be found resting on leaves in the trees or nectaring on hawthorn, above and beyond the broom where I first found them. Here is the context. I saw my first UK small heath of the year not far away, sparring with a small copper. Small coppers are very common and seemingly everywhere in the countryside. In the local meadow, common blues and brown arguses are now becoming common. At another site near heathland, peacock and comma were still flying. Holly blues and orange tips are almost as ubiquitous as small coppers. On my excursions today I saw my first male common blue and azure damselflies of the year and in the garden found this pair of large reds mating.

June

July

August

September

October

November

December