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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 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. 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 2018 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
  1. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 6th January - Valais
  2. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 6th January - Valais
  3. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 13th January - Valais

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

    1st: Spent the New Year in Suffolk, UK, where there was no possibility of seeing any butterflies! Here are an avocet and a redshank paddling in the river Deben in the grey gloom of an overcast day.
    5th: Took my first forest walk of the year. The damage caused by storm Eleanor is horrific - there are trees fallen all over the place and broken branches strewn on the ground. I noticed some branches had come off one of the elms where white-letter hairstreaks lay, so checked briefly for eggs on the accessible twigs. I’ll check more thoroughly over the next few days, but came home today with two eggs (here and here), which I put in the fridge to keep safe until the spring. Here and here are shots of the first of those eggs taken through the microscope (with my iPhone).
    6th: Sun forecast for the valley, so I set off for my Queen of Spain hotspots just in case anything would fly. With a stiff breeze blowing when I arrived, I didn’t really expect anything, so was pleasantly surprised when a red admiral cruised past, saluting me en passant. Finally, at about 12h30, I found at least two Queens holding fort near the top of a high bank at one of my hotspots. The first flew down and away; the second stopped a short while and allowed a distant, proof shot on full zoom. The season has begun!
    13th: Sunny but very cold in Valais, rising to a maximum of probably 1 degree. There was also a chilly breeze, making it feel colder and preventing the build-up of any real hotspots. I saw a single Queen of Spain fritillary - the same individual as I photographed last week - and, much more surprisingly a single large tortoiseshell. I accidentally put up this last from a woody path where I wasn’t expecting to see any butterflies and it quickly disappeared up a slope and over trees - no chance of a photo of the butterfly. I wonder if it had been disturbed from hibernation by storm Eleanor at the beginning of January. It shouldn't have been flying and I hope it manages to hunker down for another few weeks until its friends join it.