For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 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 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.
Both of these seem to have let their lists slip recently, but another
friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2016 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the
COMMENTARY for each month.
FOR THE YEAR 2017
Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 21st January - Valais
Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 29th January - Valais
Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 2nd February - Vaud
Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 15th February - Cantabria
Peacock (Inachis io) - 15th February - Cantabria
Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 15th February - Cantabria
Small white (Pieris rapae) - 15th February - Cantabria
Geranium bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) - 18th February - Málaga
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) - 18th February - Málaga
Southern common blue (Polyommatus celina) - 18th February - Málaga
Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) - 18th February - Málaga
Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 18th February - Málaga
Western Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 18th February - Málaga
Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 18th February - Málaga
Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia) - 18th February - Málaga
Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 18th February - Málaga
Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 18th February - Málaga
Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 18th February - Málaga
Iberian scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli) - 18th February - Málaga
Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus) - 18th February - Málaga
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 11th March - Valais
Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 11th March - Valais
Comma (Nymphalis c-album) - 11th March - Valais
Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 11th March - Valais
Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 25th March - North Italy
Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 25th March - North Italy
Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 25th March - North Italy
Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 25th March - North Italy
Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 25th March - North Italy
Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 25th March - North Italy
Commentary (Links in the
commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)
Began the new year in Suffolk, UK. It rained much of today and
butterflies were definitely off the menu. Here are some dunlin feeding on the mudflats and here some turnstone on the sea wall in Woodbridge.
11th: It has been very cold and, more recently, snowy in Switzerland. This picture was taken at 22h00 this evening, under a nearly full moon.
13th: Another evening photo, with heavy snow falling.
14th: Still heavy snow. No possibility of butterflies.
15th: A buzzard circling in the mountains.
21st: Forecast temperatures at Martigny were for a minimum of – 8°C before dawn to a maximum of – 1°C
during the afternoon. Despite that, I went to look for Queen of Spain
fritillaries, as it was also forecast to be a lovely day. I set off
late, arriving at my first hotspot shortly after midday. Within a
minute of my arriving, a male Queen of Spain flipped up from the
vineyards, spun over the path, flashing silver as it went, checked out
the sunny bank and flew on. I waited a further 15 minutes there but no
more appeared. This
is the location. Then I checked my other hotspots, without success.
Finally, from 13h00 to 13h30 I waited at the first hotspot, still
without seeing any more. By this time, the chilly breeze that had
prevented the earlier Queen settling was stronger and it felt
intrinsically unlikely any more Queens would appear. I saw no lizards
and just a handful of flies during the walk.
29th: Another trip to the valley on a sunny day. This time, although I still (probably) only saw one Queen of Spain, I was able to photograph it. Here is another shot. The ambient temperature was about – 3° but it felt warmer in the sun. In some places there was lots of snow, in others it had mostly melted. The only other butterfly I saw was this red admiral, my first of the year.
2nd: The Föhn was blowing today. At lunchtime I saw a single small tortoiseshell fly past my house.
11th: Sunny in the Rhône Valley with hazy cloud increasing during the
day. My first Queen of Spain hotspot was quite windy and I saw just one
there, which checked out the exposed rock but didn't want to settle. My
next hotspot was well shaded and I photographed four different
individuals (here, here, here and here), probably seeing more in total. Here is a shot with two individuals basking not far from one another and here is an underside. No other butterflies were on the wing. I came back via the first hotspot, again seeing a single Queen of Spain, and then the Bulbocodium
fields. These were already in flower but no small tortoiseshells were
nectaring on them. A few bees were visiting them. Otherwise, firebugs
and lizards were to be seen on the walk; but there are no real signs
yet of the beginning of the season.
13th: Sunny in the mountains and a little hazy in the valley. No
butterflies were on the wing in Huémoz (I expected the odd small
tortoiseshell) but at a wintering hotspot a little lower down I found a
couple of red admirals zooming around, defending territories. They were
rarely basking and I only got this one, record shot. Nearby I found this brown hairstreak egg.
15th: Arrived by bus in Santander, Cantabria (Spain), this morning. On a sunny bank in town I found a speckled wood (and here)
sunning itself and nectaring at about 10h00. I found at least two more
at the same site later in the day, when large and small whites were
also zooming around, very seldom stopping. Elsewhere, in an urban park,
I saw two peacocks, and during the day spotted at least three red admirals in flight.
16th: Met my sister off the ferry from Portsmouth at 14h15, for drive
south to Córdoba but had time in morning to look for a few butterflies
in town. Saw some of the same as yesterday, including several speckled woods (and here), lots of small whites and a few red admirals (and here).
17th: Day in Córdoba. I saw a few whites here and there but we didn't
leave town or visit any real green spaces. It is a lovely, old town.
18th: Left for Málaga on the earliest bus, which unfortunately didn't
get me there until 11h15. On the way south the weather seemed to get
worse and worse, with thickening cloud and mist, but suddenly as we
approached Málaga itself everything cleared and it was hot when we
arrived. I began my butterfly search by looking for African grass
blues. It seems too early still for this, as I found none despite
thorough searching (on my way back, too). But I did see a couple of geranium bronzes (and here) in the usual grass blue sites. Then suddenly a pair of monarchs
gliding majestically high up caught my eye. One landed very briefly and
I got a record shot but I didn't get any half decent shots until I came
back the same way later in the day. here, here and here
are three shots of the same monarch. In total I saw eight of them,
including one mating pair in flight. Apart from the one, none were
interested in posing for pictures and even that one was not very
cooperative! I saw my first of many clouded yellow
in the same place - these were reasonably frequent all day. I left the
town and headed for the hills, photographing this presumed female Polyommatus celina - presumed because I am fairly confident this is a male celina and they were at the same place. Later I photographed this underside, which might also be celina - I'm not sure if icarus flies here too. As I climbed up towards my hilltopping site I got this record shot of a Bath white and my first Spanish festoon of the day. I saw about three festoons in total. Hilltopping were red admirals, painted ladies, green-striped whites, western dappled whites, long-tailed blues, walls, swallowtails and southern scarce swallowtails (and here).
I saw a single small tortoiseshell heading off down the hill. Leaving
the hilltoppers, which were so active it was almost impossible to
photograph them, I set off to look for Provence hairstreak. I wasn't
sure if this would be on the wing here yet but was delighted to find at
least two individuals - here and here. All in all, it was a wonderful day in the hills, capped by the monarchs in town.
23rd: A few small tortoiseshells drifting around Huémoz banks during my short, mid-morning walk.
25th: Very cold in the mountains but sunny, with snow still on the
roads. I waited until 11h00 to cycle down the hill, but even then it
was freezing on the hands. In my usual wintering spots in the valley
about half a dozen Queen of Spain fritillaries were flying, upwards of 20 small tortoiseshells and a couple of red admirals.
26th: Sunny in Huémoz for much of the day, with episodes of clouds.
Small tortoiseshells were flying freely over all the grassy areas.
March 2nd: Small tortoiseshells were on the wing in Huémoz.
5th-7th: Heavy snow returned.
10th: Peacock flying over the meadows near my house after school.
12th: Last year on 12th March I set off along the Rhône Valley in
search of large tortoiseshells. Then, I found none at my first site so
headed further east in the afternoon to a second site, where I found
the species. So today I headed directly for the second site, arriving
at about 11h00. No large tortoiseshells. In fact, no butterflies at all
except a handful of brimstones doing circuits along a track and up a
hillside. Here is a grey wagtail by the water. In the afternoon I went back to last year's first site and soon found my first large tortoiseshell (and here).
This one didn't bask at all, but further along I found several more -
at least 4 in total but probably more - some of which were prepared to open up (and here) The problem was, they were constantly being harassed by the many small tortoiseshells at the site. Small tortoiseshells and brimstones were nectaring on sallow catkins (and here, and here with a passenger).
There were lots of brimstones - usually several nectaring on the same
tree at once and always one or two roding along the track. Other
species seen were a couple of Queen of Spain fritillaries, several commas and a single eastern Bath white, Pontia edusa.
I left before 15h00 because I had a lot of work to do back home. As I
left, things were apparently beginning to hot up. Roll on the clock
13th: After a cloudy start it was a warm day. Although I had to spend
it working I did see several small tortoiseshells on my lunchtime
14th: Warm again - small tortoiseshells flying.
15th: Intermittently cloudy and sunny. I saw three brimstones as I
cycled into school at lunchtime, as well as one each of small
tortoiseshell and red admiral during the day.
16th-17th: Sunny. Small tortoiseshells in Huémoz and a few brimstones seen as I cycled into work on both days.
19th: Mostly cloudy. This is (I believe) the remains of a silver-washed fritillary pupa (and here),
found on honeysuckle while looking for white admiral caterpillars. The
honeysuckle is coming into leaf throughout the wood. Here is a white admiral caterpillar, probably on his first sortie outside the hibernaculum.
25th: Up early and off to Italy, arriving at Domodossola shortly after
10h00, in the hope of nettle tree butterflies, green hairstreaks and
maybe chequered blues. Despite a good forecast, it was in fact cloudy
almost all day, with sunny intervals of a few minutes at a time. As I
cycled to my first nettle tree spot I saw brimstones and small whites.
At the site, I initially saw only large tortoiseshells, flying despite
the cloud - this was the commonest species of the day (a large tortoiseshell from my second site). Then a first holly blue put in an appearance, then a wall, and then finally I spotted this nettle tree butterfly in a nettle tree, sihouetted agains the sky. Suddenly, the sun came out and I got this shot
with the light coming through. Throughout the rest of the day I saw
nettle-tree butterflies here and there in the brief sunny intervals.
There were no good photo opportunities but here, here and here are some more shots. Green hairstreaks (and here, and here)
were also flying in the sunny spells, disappearing as if by magic when
the clouds came over. The full species list was: small white,
brimstone, orange tip, wood white, small copper,
green hairstreak, holly blue, nettle-tree butterfly, large
tortoiseshell, Camberwell beauty (I put up the same individual twice
during a long cloudy spell but never saw where it landed) small
tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, wall.