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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

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, 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 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 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.

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December