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YEAR LIST, 2017

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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 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 2016 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2017
  1. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 21st January - Valais
  2. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 29th January - Valais
  3. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 2nd February - Vaud
  4. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 15th February - Cantabria
  5. Peacock (Inachis io) - 15th February - Cantabria
  6. Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 15th February - Cantabria
  7. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 15th February - Cantabria
  8. Geranium bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) - 18th February - Málaga
  9. Monarch (Danaus plexippus) - 18th February - Málaga
  10. Southern common blue (Polyommatus celina) - 18th February - Málaga
  11. Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) - 18th February - Málaga
  12. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 18th February - Málaga
  13. Western Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 18th February - Málaga
  14. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 18th February - Málaga
  15. Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia) - 18th February - Málaga
  16. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 18th February - Málaga
  17. Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 18th February - Málaga
  18. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 18th February - Málaga
  19. Iberian scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli) - 18th February - Málaga
  20. Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus) - 18th February - Málaga
  21. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 11th March - Valais
  22. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 11th March - Valais
  23. Comma (Nymphalis c-album) - 11th March - Valais
  24. Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 11th March - Valais
  25. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 25th March - North Italy
  26. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 25th March - North Italy
  27. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 25th March - North Italy
  28. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 25th March - North Italy
  29. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 25th March - North Italy
  30. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 25th March - North Italy

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

    January
    1st:  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.

    February
    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 change...
    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 dog-walk.
    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.

    April

    May

    June

    July

    August

    October

    November

    December