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
Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 29th March - Valais
Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 29th March - Valais
Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 29th March - Valais
Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 31st March - Valais
Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 31st March - Valais
Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 1st April - Vaud
Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 3rd April - Valais
Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 3rd April - Valais
De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 3rd April - Valais
Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 3rd April - Valais
Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 21st April - Vaud
Green-underside blue(Glaucopsyche alexis) - 22nd April - Valais
Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 22nd April - Valais
Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 22nd April - Valais
Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 22nd April - Valais
Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 22nd April - Valais
Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 22nd April - Valais
Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 22nd April - Valais
Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 22nd April - Valais
Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 22nd April - Valais
Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 22nd April - Valais
Pearl-bordered fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne) - 22nd April - Valais
Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 23rd April - Valais
Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 23rd April - Valais
Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 23rd April - Valais
Nickerl's fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) - 29th April - Valais
Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 29th April - Valais
Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 29th April - Valais
Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 29th April - Valais
Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 30th April - Vaud
Short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades) - 30th April - Vaud
Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 9th May - Valais
Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 13th May - Valais
Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 13th May - Valais
Geranium argus (Aricia eumedon) - 13th May - Valais
Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 16th May - Vaud
Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 20th May - Valais
Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 21st May - Valais
Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 21st May - Valais
Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 21st May - Valais
Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 21st May - Valais
Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 25th May - Vaud
Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 26th May - Valais
Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 27th May - Geneva
Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 28th May - Geneva
Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) - 28th May - Geneva
Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 28th May - Geneva
Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 28th May - Geneva
Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 28th May - Geneva
Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 28th May - Geneva
Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 28th May - Geneva
Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 28th May - Geneva
Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 29th May - Vaud
Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 29th May - Vaud
Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) - 29th May - Vaud
False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 29th May - Vaud
Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 31st May - Valais
Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 31st May - Valais
Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 31st May - Valais
Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione bersalii) - 31st May - Valais
Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 31st May - Valais
Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 31st May - Valais
Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 2nd June - Vaud
Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 2nd June - Vaud
White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 3rd June - Geneva
Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 3rd June - Geneva
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 6th June - Vaud
Titania's fritillary (Clossiana titania) - 9th June - Vaud
Sloe hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae) - 10th June - Vaud
Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 10th June - Vaud
Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 11th June - Vaud
Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 13th June - Vaud
Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 13th June - Vaud
Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 16th June - Valais
Swiss zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 16th June - Valais
Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 16th June - Valais
Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 17th June - Valais
Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 17th June - Valais
Darwin's heath (Coenonympha gardetta darwiniana) - 17th June - Valais
Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 17th June - North Italy
Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 17th June - North Italy
Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphpia) - 17th June - North Italy
Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 17th June - North Italy
Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 17th June - North Italy
Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 17th June - North Italy
Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 18th June - Vaud
Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 18th June - Vaud
Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 18th June - Vaud
Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 18th June - Vaud
Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 18th June - Vaud
Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 18th June - Vaud
High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) - 21st June - Vaud
* Some recent books count gardetta and darwiniana
as different species, against the more general consensus they are
subspecies. Either way, they are very different butterflies (away from
the hybrid zones), so I include them both here. 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.
27th: Small tortoiseshells flying around Huémoz.
29th: Working in morning but cycled down to valley in afternoon.
Southern small whites are now flying, as well as small whites and
green-veined whites - here are both species in one picture. Southern grizzled skippers are now on the wing (and here).
Also seen were: brimstone, orange tip, holly blue, comma, small
tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell, peacock, Queen of Spain and
30th: I had time after school to check the woods, now the evenings are
lighter. Some of the sallow is in leaf so I scanned for any first signs
of purple emperor feeding. High up one, some 7-8m off the ground, I
spotted this clump of nibbled leaves with a caterpillar
resting on his seat leaf. I named him Kyle (South Park characters for
the 2016-7 season!). He's not going to be easy to follow, at that
height, but I hope to find more before long.
31st: A trip to the valley, where despite haze and a strong wind I was able to find 21 species: swallowtail and scarce swallowtail, small, green-veined, eastern Bath and wood whites, orange tip (and here, rudely intruding on a pair of mating beetles), brimstone, clouded yellow, green hairstreak, holly blue, Queen of Spain (and here), comma, large tortoiseshell (and here, a different individual), small tortoiseshell, peacock, Camberwell beauty, red admiral, speckled wood, dingy skipper and grizzled skipper.
Probably the commonest butterfly of the day was orange tip, though I
saw no females. Large tortoiseshells are common too, and I saw
Camberwell beauties at both sites I visited. In the morning, eastern
Bath whites were zooming around non-stop while the weather was still
reasonably good. By mid-afternoon it was predominantly overcast and by
16h00 I headed home.
1st: Grizzled skipper (malvae, rather than malvoides) in my local woods. Here is a slightly better picture of Kyle, the purple emperor caterpillar, than I was able to get the other day.
3rd: A trip to the valley. New for the year were violet fritillary and baton blue.
There were quite a lot of violet fritillaries about and at least three
baton blues. I also saw a single Berger's clouded yellow and a single
de Prunner's ringlet, both year firsts. Neither stopped for a picture.
I was surprised not to find any chequered blues yet, nor mallow
skippers. Other species flying were: swallowtail, scarce swallowtail,
small white, green-veined white, southern small white, wood white,
eastern Bath white, orange tip, brimstone, clouded yellow, holly blue, green hairstreak, small tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell, Camberwell beauty, peacock, comma, speckled wood, southern grizzled skipper, dingy skipper. 4th: Found a second purple emperor caterpillar,
in a part of the woods I regularly search but where I have never found
one before. I have called him Mr Mackey. Although I didn't even touch
the branch and did my best not to disturb him, he stopped feeding and
retreated to his resting position when he became aware of me. 6th-7th: Back in Suffolk, in the UK, the weather is mild and butterflies are on the wing. Today and yesterday I saw plenty of orange tips in the garden, male and female (and here),
as well as a few holly blues, commas, peacocks and a brimstone. Today
the first small white drifted through. Yesterday, on a cycle ride to
the coast, I also saw red admiral, small tortoiseshell and speckled wood. This peacock
was taken on blackthorn in local woods. I was surprised not to see any
small coppers but I am sure they will be on the wing any day now. 8th: An evening trip to local woods. Lots of commas (and here) and peacocks (and here) were sparring for the best sunspots. 9th:
Had a quick look in the morning to see if any green hairstreaks had
emerged yet. I didn't see any. Orange tips are everywhere, as well as
commas, peacocks and now a few small whites too. Holly blues are easy
to find but so far I have not seen one settle. Here is a blue tit. 11th: A holly blue in our Suffolk garden (and here).
18th: Back in Switzerland, here is Mr Mackey,
now in his 4th instar. If he keeps going at this rate he will be flying
in early to mid-June! But it's much colder now so things might well
slow down. Here is a new caterpillar I found this evening - Timmy (and here). It was too dark to find Kyle by the time I got there.
21st: It has been sunny but very cold for the last few days. Today at
lunchtime a Berger's clouded yellow was flying, as well as this green-veined white and a few small heaths, new for the year.
22nd: First trip to the Rhône Valley since my return to Switzerland.
Almost as soon as I got out of the train I saw my first green-underside
blue of the year, closely followed by my first Adonis blue. Unsurprisingly, many firsts for the year followed: Chapman's blue (locally very common), turquoise blue (just this pair, which I first spotted courting and here), Provençal short-tailed blue (a few), Osiris blue (locally common), Glanville fritillary (generally common), spotted fritillary (locally common), pearl-bordered fritillary (just one seen), rosy grizzled skipper, safflower skipper. Hibernators are still on the wing, with Camberwell beauty (and here),
comma, large tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, brimstone and peacock
all out in reasonable numbers. The full list for the day was: scarce swallowtail,
small white, green-veined white, southern small white, eastern Bath
white, orange tip, wood white, brimstone, Berger's clouded yellow,
green hairstreak (small numbers everywhere), small copper
(surprisingly, just a couple), green-underside blue, holly blue, Adonis blue, Chapman's blue, turquoise blue, baton blue,
Provençal short-tailed blue, Queen of Spain fritillary, pearl-bordered
fritillary, Glanville fritillary, spotted fritillary, large
tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma, Camberwell beauty,
red admiral, speckled wood, wall, de Prunner's ringlet, small heath, southern grizzled skipper, rosy grizzled skipper, safflower skipper, dingy skipper.
23rd: I had to be at a meeting in Montreux until after 13h00 and was
held up on the train by a signal failure after that, so couldn't get
very far along the Rhône Valley this afternoon. In a vineyard walk I
saw my first little blue
of the year, as well as walls, lots of Glanville fritillaries, Queen of
Spain fritillaries and a few dingy skippers. I then spent about an hour
at a mud patch, watching common blues (my first of the year, as the ones in Spain were celina), turquoise blues, green-underside blues (and here and here), Provençal short-tailed blues (this individual is apparently exuding waste or water from the tip of its abdomen), holly blues, wood whites, scarce swallowtails and a few more Queens of Spain and dingy skippers. It was late in the day but still warm.
29th: After two days of snow it was still very cold this morning. I
cycled down the hill at 09h30 and by the time I reached Aigle my hands
were numb. We headed off to a site in Valais at about 900m, arriving
shortly after 11h00. It was still cold and very little was flying -
some speckled woods and a few roding orange tips. By midday it had
warmed up considerably and during the afternoon more and more took to
the wing. Four species were new for the year: Nickerl's fritillary (a couple of males - here is another shot), Oberthür's grizzled skipper (quite common - and here), chequered skipper (just one seen) and Duke of Burgundy (just that female). Other species were: swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, Eastern Bath white, brimstone, Berger's clouded yellow, small copper, Adonis blue, little blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, holly blue, green-underside blue, Glanville fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, comma, large tortoiseshell, peacock, red admiral, small heath, southern grizzled skipper and dingy skipper. Here are a male and female orange tip and here a female rejecting a male's advances.
30th: Worked at home in the morning but cycled to a local 'tails' site
in the afternoon to look for short-tailed blues. There were plenty of Provençal short-tailed blues (this female laying on medick, and here - here is a male) and also common and Chapman's blues, but initially no short-tailed. Sooty coppers were on the wing (and here, and here). Here is a swallowtail and here a scarce swallowtail. Finally, a single, female short-tailed blue flew through, pausing briefly for that photo before moving on, over a hedge and out of the meadow.
May 5th: I am currently following five purple emperor caterpillars, named this
season after South Park characters. I checked on them all today. They
are: Mr Mackey (he has been in fourth instar some weeks and should enter 5th very soon), Timmy (also fourth instar, but a little younger), Wendy (third instar, currently laid up for shedding her skin), Stan (fourth instar for some weeks now - that picture was taken two days ago - here he is today) and Mr Garrison
(fourth instar - that picture also from two days ago - he was still
there today). It was sunny today. Brimstones, orange tips, wood whites,
speckled woods, peacocks and pearl-bordered fritillaries were all
flying in the woods.
9th: Took a trip after school to see if cardinals and iolas blues were
flying yet. It was sunny but windy and late in the day so perhaps not
surprising I saw no cardinals. No iolas blues either. The bladder senna
was not really in flower yet - no more than a few flowers on any bushes
- so I think it is still too early for this species. I did see my first
red-underwing skipper of the year, as well as turquoise blue, common blue, green hairstreak, Provençal short-tailed blue, Adonis blue, holly blue, wood white, Queen of Spain fritillary, wall and safflower skipper.
13th: A trip to the valley for cardinals and Iolas blues. It was sunny when I arrived at my first cardinal site and I saw a single male (and here),
which stayed just long enough for those record shots. As clouds were
brewing I moved to my second site but it was overcast by the time I got
there. At first, all that was flying were a swallowtail,
a turquoise blue, a wood white and a couple of Berger's clouded
yellows. I couldn't find any Iolas blues on the bladder senna. Then, by
a stroke of luck, I found a single, female Iolas blue perched out in the open (and here, and here). Here is an underside shot,
after she moved and settled on some rocks. It was still overcast so I
moved further up the valley to where sun was forecast, visiting two
different sites. Camberwell beauties (and here) are still on the wing, but rather tatty now. This is my first geranium argus of the year. There were no Provençal fritillaries but plenty of Queen of Spain fritillaries and a single Glanville. For the skippers, I saw southern grizzled, safflower and dingy. Eastern Bath whites were common, as were wood whites. Other species were: red admiral, comma, peacock, speckled wood, green-underside blue, turquoise blue, Adonis blue,
Provençal short-tailed blue, common blue, Chapman's blue, swallowtail
and scarce swallowtail. There were a few small heaths over the meadows
and brimstones drifting up and down near the woods.
16th: First properly sunny and warm lunchtime walk for ages. Meadow fritillaries (and here) are now flitting over the meadows, though I only saw males today.
20th: Saw my first black-veined whites of the year while I was looking for ladies' slipper orchids. This geranium argus was roosting in the cold in a local meadow in the morning.
21st: Expedition to Valais for mountain dappled whites. Surprisingly,
although the foodplant was abundant and in full flower, I saw just one dappled white, a female (and here). I imagine they were very early this year - it is
difficult to believe this is the very beginning of the season. I also
saw a single cardinal zooming up the road. This is a considerable
distance from my usual cardinal site and I believe a satellite colony.
Also new for the year were northern wall, olive skipper and Apollo. I
thought I saw Escher's blue but have no proof this. Other species seen
were scarce swallowtail, brimstone, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded
yellow, small white, wood white, orange tip, Glanville fritillary,
Queen of Spain fritillary, wall, speckled wood, small heath, de
Prunner's ringlet (and here), common blue, Chapman's blue, little blue and
22nd: Current state of the purple emperor caterpillars I am following in my local woods.Stan (and here
- both photographs taken today), the most advanced, entered 5th instar
on 12th May.Today he moved from his old seat leaf and relocated to a
new leaf about 4m away. It is too soon for him to be pupating but it is
possible he sees his new site as a possible pupation site. Or, he may
move again in a few days. Mr Mackey
(that picture taken two days ago - he is still there today, on the same
leaf) entered 5th instar on 18th May. Mr Garrison probably entered 5th
instar yesterday. Here he is today. Wendy is still laid up for transition into 5th. I took this rather poor picture today.
25th: All the purple emperor caterpillars have moved and I couldn't
relocate them on today's walk. All ate half their resting leaf - a sign
they intend to travel some distance. Stan almost certainly went off to
pupate. I saw my first large walls of the year.
26th: Worked in the morning but had time in the afternoon to check on the cardinals. They were on fine form. Here, here, here and here are some females and here one of the few shots I got of an uperside. Here, here and here are some males. Good photographs were very difficult because it was so hot and they were very mobile. I also saw about a dozen iolas blues.
These were even more mobile and that was the only photo I got. I saw my
first marbled skipper of the year, as well as red-underwing skippers, a
safflower skipper, various other blues including turquoise, little and
Adonis and lots of Queen of Spain fritillaries.
27th: Trip to Geneva to see if poplar admirals were flying yet. They
weren't - and indeed very little at all was flying at my chosen site. I
did see my first meadow browns
of the year. Apart from that, the species list was: small white,
green-veined white, wood white, Berger's clouded yellow, black-veined
white, speckled wood, comma and chequered skipper.
28th: Another trip to the Canton of Geneva, this time for black
hairstreaks and large coppers. At my first site, black hairstreaks were
quite visible, flitting over the tops of blackthorn thickets or
disappearing deep into them, but almost impossible to photograph. Here
is one, distant shot of the first one I saw. It was a very hot day -
over 30 degrees C - and very little was settling, of any species. At
the same site I also saw my first heath fritillaries and pearly heaths
of the year. I have seen large coppers here in the past but there were
none in evidence today. Moving on to my main large copper site, I
thought at first they were not flying there, either. Then I caught site
of what seemed to be a male, at some distance, but it was not behaving
territorially like most of the males I see. I got a poor, long shot of it. At this site there were also heath fritillaries, and Glanville and knapweed too - and quite a lot of very fresh, summer brood violet fritillaries. As I was preparing to leave, I saw another large copper, this time a female,
and followed her. She was flitting around well away from the water.
Thinking large coppers laid their eggs near water I assumed she wasn't
doing this and wondered what she was doing - stopping for just seconds
at a time and always searching. But soon I had found another three females (and here), and these were definitely laying. Here and here
are some shots of the eggs laid by these females. These are in a hot,
dry field, near a river but not damp in any way. At the same site I saw
grizzled skipper and dingy skipper. Finally, I moved on to get a year
tick for Reverdin's blue. This had obviously been on the wing a while
and I saw just one, very worn individual.
Like large coppers, Reverdin's blues are double brooded and will fly
again in August. Other species seen during the day were comma, speckled
wood, meadow brown, common blue, my first brown arguses of the year, my
first marbled fritillary of the year, swallowtail, brimstone and
29th: Went locally in the afternoon for violet coppers. These were out
in force, with plenty of males competing for sunspots among the Ranunculus
plants. Some males were tatty and none very fresh, suggesting we are
well into the flight season. I saw no females. These lay a little
distance from the main male territories. Also on the wing were very
many marsh fritillaries (and here) and a few green hairstreaks, as well
as plenty of little blues, a single false heath fritillary, sooty
coppers, a couple of tufted marbled skippers, an olive skipper, several
grizzled skippers, several dingy skippers and lots of small
tortoiseshells. A few painted ladies and a couple of red admirals
passed through. Small heaths were common. I tried higher up the
mountain but by that time clouds had come over and I only saw a single
31st: Last day of half term. I took a trip to the Rhône Valley hoping mostly to see Provençal fritillary. I found just a few males, all fresh, suggesting the species is only reccently on the wing. I also saw a single ilex hairstreak - my first of the year. Southern white admirals were out in good numbers and marbled whites (here is a female) were suddenly common. Other new species for the year were large skipper and northern brown argus - very surprising it has taken me until now to see one. Here is a marbled skipper and here a turquoise blue.
Other species flying today were: Apollo, swallowtail, scarce
swallowtail, small white, southern small white, green-veined white,
Eastern Bath white, wood white, orange tip, brimstone, Berger's clouded
yellow, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, little blue,
Provençal short-tailed blue, Queen of Spain fritillary, marbled
fritillary, Glanville fritillary, comma, small tortoiseshell, speckled
wood, wall, large wall, meadow brown, small heath, southen grizzled
skipper, safflower skipper and dingy skipper. I'm sure I've missed some
out there ... Notably absent were Swiss zephyr blue and purple-shot
copper. It is not a particularly early year for many of these valley
June 1st: After a week's absence, Wendy came down to her old leaves again. This is the 10th day of her 5th instar. Here is a video of her. She was very active when I first found her, looking all over the lower branches for a good seat leaf. When she found this she settled down. I think she is actually a male. I am waiting for someone to confirm that these blue patches on her back indicate her (or therefore his) sex. Here is a white admiral caterpillar, poised over a spider's web (where he has been living and feeding for a week or two now, with no interaction with the spider). Finally, here is a brimstone caterpillar.
2nd: New for the year in my local woods were dark green fritillary (three or four males in different parts of the woods) and Essex skipper. Here is Wendy again (and here).
3rd: Back in Geneva to hunt for poplar admirals with a friend. Again, populi didn't put in a show, thought there were plenty of white admirals on the wing (and here, and here) - and not a few perished along the path too. A few woodland browns were flying too. Moving on, we checked for large coppers at a different site, seeing one male and one fresh female as well as more eggs than last week (here is a hatched egg) and this caterpillar (and here, showing its position on the leaf). At a third site a couple of black hairstreaks
were seen, despite the weather having turned by then. Other species
seen during the day were: Other species seen today were small white,
green-veined white, wood white, black-veined white, common blue, little blue, small copper, brown argus, Queen of Spain fritillary, heath fritillary, violet fritillary, marbled fritillary, comma, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell, meadow brown, speckled wood, pearly heath, small heath, grizzled skipper and dingy skipper.
4th: In the pouring rain, I discovered a nest of large tortoiseshells, defoliating a local cherry tree. Here is one of the caterpillars. These, I believe, are the discarded skins of earlier instars.
5th: Spot the caterpillar! Here is a close-up of him (it is Wendy, but I'm sure Wendy is a he). Here is one of the large tortoiseshell caterpillars.
6th: Here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here
are some photos of brimstone caterpillars. The eggs were laid on
10th-15th May and the larger caterpillars are now over an inch long.
Here is Wendy. I saw my first ringlet of the year today.
9th: First Titania's fritillary of the year seen flying locally.
10th: Visited blackthorn scrub in the Jura part of Vaud for sloe hairstreaks. These were numerous, mostly very fresh but some alreadyrather worn. Here, here and here
are a few more shots. I also saw a few ilex hairstreaks, though none
stopped, but no blue spot, which I was looking for. Nor were there any
black hairstreaks, despite the extensive blackthorn. Mazarine blues
were quite common - here is a female - and there were plenty of Adonis
blues but no other blues except a possible northern brown argus (which
got away before I could really get a look at it). Other species seen
during the day were green-veined white, black-veined white, small
copper, wall, large wall, meadow brown, marbled white, small heath,
pearly heath (very common), violet fritillary, Queen of Spain
fritillary, Essex skipper and large skipper.
11th: A working day, but on my lunchtime walk to my local lesser
marbled fritillary site I found many males flying. They never stopped,
searching incessantly among the meadowsweet and on flowers for females.
Mazarine blues were flying at the same site. Dark green fritillaries
are common and there were probably high brown among them - from what I
could see when they passed close - but none of these stopped either. It
was a hot, active afternoon.
12th: Cloudier today. On my lunchtime walk I was able to photograph a beautifully fresh male lesser marbled fritillary (and here). I also discovered - embarrassingly, since this is just 10m walk from my house - a rather worn violet copper! I have been sitting on a colony without knowing it!
13th: Very hot. The Tour de Suisse came through Huémoz (and here, and here). In the woods in the afternoon I saw my first Arran brown of the year, but it didn't stop. Here and here are two of the brimstone caterpillars I have been watching for a while, all of which are now huge. They have completely stripped
several branches of their alder buckthorn. Finally, as I took Minnie
for her evening walk I saw my first great banded grayling of the year
right next to my house.
16th: An afternoon trip to Valais to look for blue-spot hairstreak
where a friend saw one very recently. I didn't see any but did find my
first great sooty satyrs of the year. Also plenty of Adonis blues, safflower skippers, marbled skippers, knapweed fritillaries, marbled fritillaries and heath fritillaries.
17th Up and out early to join a friend looking for Hungarian gliders in North Italy. We stopped on the way for Swiss zephyr blues (and here, and here), where we also saw the first rock graylings, a few Apollos and several Escher's blues, and got out briefly higher up too, where we saw Darwin's heaths and mountain green-veined white.
In Italy, before heading to our main glider site we looked for large
chequered skippers, seeing just one. At the same site were purple-shot
coppers, a huge baton blue that I mistook at first for a chequered
blue, great sooty satyrs, some more rock graylings,
silver-washed fritillaries, wood whites, sooty coppers and more. The
glider site has changed considerably over the years, my normal point of
entry now being barred and normal path overgrown. Large banks of
goatsbeard that were cut down have only just started growing back.
Nevertheless, we eventually saw plenty of gliders at two different
spots. They very rarely came to rest and I was hanging back anyway so
my friend could get in closer, but I did get a few very poor shots (and here, and here, and here) at the second, drier, site. This is a male pestering a female. While we stood by the river, a lesser purple emperor was flying around. Two Camberwell beauties, relics from the wintering generation, were still going strong. Also flying at the site were heath fritillary (and here),
knapweed fritillary, several large fritillaries (that never stopped),
purple-shot copper, idas blue, brimstones, whites, grizzled skippers
and large walls. It was a great shame to have to leave and catch the
train back to Switzerland ...
18th: A lazy morning, then a trip up the local mountain on a beautiful, cloudless day. New for the year were bright-eyed ringlet, which is sudenly common everywhere at altitude, carline skipper, mountain clouded yellow, purple-edged copper
(a very poor shot!), clouded Apollo and large blue. Locally there were
dozens of clouded Apollos but they never stopped longer than the time
it took to focus the camera and I got a single, record photograph.
I will have to go up again as soon as possible earlier in the day - or
on a day with clouds. Other species flying included black-veined white,
Berger's clouded yellow, Queen of Spain, false heath fritillary,
Titania's fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, small tortoiseshell,
sooty copper, Adonis blue, common blue, geranium argus, little blue,
alpine heath and dingy skipper.
21st: White admirals suddenly common in my local woods. Woodland browns
also very common. I saw several Arran browns during my afternoon walk,
as well as plenty of dark green fritillaries and a few high brown
fritillaries. But best, two cardinals over the meadows as I came back
home. The meadows are covered in clover and I am sure this is what
attracted them. I lost both and couldn't follow them over the meadows
our of courtesy to the owners but will check again tomorrow morning,
when the sun will be better placed for the accessible parts.