YEAR LIST, 2007
1 - Clouded yellow (Colias croceus) - 14th January - Valais
2 - Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 20th January - Bex
3 - Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 3rd February - Valais
4 - Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 3rd February - Valais
5 - Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 19th February - Gibraltar
6 - Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) - 19th February - Gibraltar
7 - Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 19th February - Gibraltar
8 - Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) - 19th February - Gibraltar
9 - Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 19th February - Gibraltar
10 - Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 19th February - Gibraltar
11 - Geranium bronze (Cacyreus mrshalli) - 19th February - Gibraltar
12 - Small white (Artogeia rapae) - 21st February - Gibraltar
13 - Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia) - 21st February - Gibraltar
14 - Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 21st February - Gibraltar
15 - Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 21st February - Gibraltar
16 - Provence orange tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) - 21st February - Gibraltar
17 - Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 23rd February - Gibraltar
18 - Lang's short-tailed blue (Leptotes pirithous) - 23rd February - Gibraltar
19 - Western dappled white (Euchloe crameri) - 24th February - Malaga
20 - Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 4th March - Martigny
21 - Green-veined white (Artogeia napi) - 11th March - Near Fully
22 - Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 15th March - La Barboleuse
23 - Southern small white (Artogeia mannii) - 17th March - Martigny
24 - Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 18th March - La Barboleuse
25 - Peacock (Inachis io) - 5th April - Suffolk, UK
26 - Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 10th April - Suffolk, UK
27 - Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 12th April - Near Martigny
28 - Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 12th April - Near Martigny
30 - Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 12th April - Near Martigny
31 - Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 12th April - Near Martigny
32 - Berger's pale clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 12th April - Near Martigny
33 - Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 12th April - Near Martigny
34 - Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 12th April - Near Martigny
35 - Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 12th April - Near Martigny
36 - Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 12th April - Near Martigny
37 - Baton blue (Pseudophilotes baton) - 12th April - Near Martigny
38 - Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 12th April - Near Martigny
39 - Provençal short-tailed blue (Everes alcetas) - 12th April - Near Martigny
40 - Violet fritillary (Clossiana dia) - 13th April - Gryon
41 - Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 13th April - La Barboleuse
42 - Duke of Burgundy fritillary (Hamearis lucina) - 15th April - Near Martigny
43 - Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 15th April - Near Martigny
44 - Pearl-bordered fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne) - 15th April - La Barboleuse
45 - Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 17th April - La Barboleuse
46 - Large wall brown (Lasiommata maera) - 20th April - La Barboleuse
47 - Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 21st April - Near Martigny
48 - Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 21st April - Near Martigny
49 - Adonis blue (Lysandra bellargus) - 21st April - Near Martigny
50 - Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 21st April - Near Martigny
51 - Chapman's blue (Agrodiaetus thersites) - 21st April - Near Martigny
52 - Sooty copper (Heodes tityrus) - 21st April - Near Martigny
53 - Pale clouded yellow (Colias hyale) - 21st April - Near Martigny
54 - Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 24th April - La Barboleuse
55 - Heath fritillary (Mellicta athalia) - 24th April - La Barboleuse
56 - Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 26th April - La Barboleuse
57 - Meadow fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides) - 28th April - Gryon
58 - Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 28th April - Villars
59 - Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 29th April - near Martigny
60 - Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 29th April - near Martigny
61 - Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 7th May - Gryon
62 - Geranium argus (Eumedonia eumedon) - 10th May - La Barboleuse
63 - False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 10th May - La Barboleuse
64 - Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 10th May - La Barboleuse
65 - Provençal fritillary (Mellicta deione berisali) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
66 - Zephyr blue (Plebeius pylaon trappi) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
67 - De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
68 - Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
69 - Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
70 - Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
71 - Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 12th May - Rhône Valley
72 - Purple-edged copper (Palaeochrysophanus hippothoe) - 16th May - Gryon
73 - Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 18th May - La Barboleuse
74 - Northern wall brown (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 19th May - near La Barboleuse
75 - Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 19th May - near La Barboleuse
76 - Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 20th May - Rhône Valley
77 - Large skipper (Ochlodes venatus) - 22nd May - La Barboleuse
78 - Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 23rd May - La Barboleuse
79 - Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 3rd June - Rhône Valley
80 - Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 3rd June - Rhône Valley
81 - Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 3rd June - Rhône Valley
82 - Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 3rd June - Rhône Valley
83 - Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 3rd June - Rhône Valley
84 - Southern white admiral (Liminitis reducta)
85 - Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 4th June - La Barboleuse
86 - Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
86 - Large blue (Maculinea arion) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
87 - Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
88 - Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
89 - Mountain green-veined white (Artogeia bryoniae) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
90 - Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
91 - Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
92 - Dusky grizzled skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae) - 9th June - Rhône Valley
93 - Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) - 10th June - La Barboleuse
94 - Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 10th June - La Barboleuse
95 - Dark green fritillary (Mesoacidalie aglaja) - 10th June - Gryon
96 - High brown fritillary (Fabriciana adippe) - 10th June - Gryon
97 - Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 10th June - La Barboleuse
98 - Poplar admiral (Liminitis populi) - 11th June - Gryon
99 - Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 16th June - Gryon
100 - Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 16th June - Villars
101 - Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 16th June - Villars
102 - Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 16th June - Villars
103 - Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 16th June - Villars
104 - Titania's fritillary (Clossiana titania) - 16th June - Villars
105 - Purple-shot copper (Heodes alciphron) - 17th June - Valais
106 - Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 18th June - Gryon
107 - Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 19th June - Villars
108 - Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 23rd June - Gryon
109 - Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 23rd June - Valais
110 - Asian fritillary (Hypodryas intermedia) - 23rd June - Valais
111 - Peak white (Pontia callidice) - 23rd June - Valais
112 - Alpine argus (Albulina orbitula) - 24th June - Valais
113 - Sooty ringlet (Erebia pluto) - 24th June - Valais
114 - Glandon blue (Agriades glandon) - 24th June - Valais
115 - Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 24th June - Valais
116 - Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 24th June - Valais
117 - Meleager's blue (Meleageria daphnis) - 24th June - Valais
118 - Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 28th June - Gryon
119 - Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 28th June - La Barboleuse
120 - Mountain alcon blue (Maculinea rebeli) - 29th June - Villars/Gryon
121 - Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 29th June - Villars/Gryon
122 - Turquoise blue (Plebicula dorylas) - 29th June - Villars/Gryon
123 - Chalkhill blue (Lysandra coridon) - 29th June - Villars/Gryon
124 - Darwin's heath (Coenonympha darwiniana) - 30th June - Valais
125 - Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 30th June - Valais
126 - Scarce copper (Heodes virgaureae) - 30th June - North Italy
127 - Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 30th June - North Italy
128 - Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 30th June - North Italy
129 - Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 30th June - North Italy
130 - Niobe fritillary (Fabriciana niobe) - 30th June - North Italy
131 - Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 30th June - North Italy
132 - Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 30th June - North Italy
133 - Small Apollo (Parnassius phoebus) - 30th June - North Italy
134 - Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 30th June - North Italy
135 - Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 30th June - North Italy
136 - Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 7th July - Vaud
137 - Piedmont ringlet (Erebia meolans) - 7th July - Vaud
138 - Eriphyle ringlet (Erebia eriphyle) - 7th July - Vaud
139 - Dusky large blue (Maculinea nausithous) - 7th July - Vaud
140 - Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 7th July - Near Martigny
141 - Purple hairstreak (Quercusia quercus) - 7th July - Near Martigny
142 - Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
143 - Oberthur's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
144 - Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
145 - White admiral (Liminitis camilla) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
146 - Escher's blue (Agrodiaetus escheri) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
147 - Amanda's blue (Agrodiaetus amandus) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
148 - Sloe hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
149 - Blue spot hairstreak (Satyrium spini) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
150 - Woodland grayling (Hipparchia fagi) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
151 - Map butterfly (Araschnia levana) - 12th July - Val d'Aran
152 - Spanish brassy ringlet (Erebia hispania) - 13th July - Val d'Aran
153 - Clouded apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 13th July - Val d'Aran
154 - Lefebvre's ringlet (Erebia lefebvrei) - 13th July - Val d'Aran
155 - False dewy ringlet (Erebia sthennyo) - 13th July - Val d'Aran
156 - Manto ringlet (Erebia manto) - 14th July - Val d'Aran
157 - Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 15th July - Val d'Aran
158 - Common brassy ringlet (Erebia cassioides) - 20th July - Vaud
159 - Cranberry blue (Vacciniina optilete) - 20th July - Vaud
160 - Dryad (Minois dryas) - 21st July - Valais
161 - Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 27th July - Valais
162 - Grisons fritillary (Mellicta varia) - 27th July - Valais
163 - Rock grayling (Hipparchia alcyone) - 27th July - Valais
164 - Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 27th July - Valais
165 - Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 27th July - Valais
166 - Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 27th July - Valais
167 - Damon blue (Agrodiaetus damon) - 27th July - Valais
168 - Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 31st July - La Barboleuse
169 - Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 11th August - Rhône Valley
170 - Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 1st September - Vaud
171 - Tree grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus) - 7th September - Valais
172 - Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) 15th September - Valais
10th: Switzerland is languishing under very high temperatures for the time of year and it was warm and sunny today. I visited a site near Martigny and checked the blackthorn bushes for brown hairstreak eggs. I found a very few, including this one. No butterflies were flying yet, despite the warmth. This is probably a very good thing for them, as there must be a winter to come...
13th: Very warm, sunny weather all day but no butterflies were flying in the Gryon region.
14th: Distinctly cooler than yesterday and overcast in the morning in Gryon. Gambling on a weather forecast for sun in Valais I took a trip to near Martigny. Matt Rowlings saw red admirals in Valais yesterday but none were evident today (the ambient temperature was significantly cooler and they may have gone back into hibernation). However, a single male clouded yellow present persistently (over a period of two hours) in what it must have regarded as its territory.
20th: Intermmittently sunny/cloudy in the mountains, with fairly cool ambient temperature. I cycled to Bex (to take my bike for a service) and found it much warmer there, though a little windy. Saw and photographed two red admirals, one flying around Lawson's cypresses near the railway tracks and one in Bex itself.
3rd: Since 23rd January the weather has been essentially cold, with snow on 23rd and 24th and the Bise (the cold wind) blowing. Today the Bise was still blowing but it was very sunny and I risked a trip to the Rhône Valley. The temperature was low when I arrived in Martigny (cold enough for ungloved hands to feel slightly numbed) but a single Queen of Spain fritillary was flying at my first site, freshly emerged, it appeared. The same site produced nothing else for a while, then small tortoiseshells started appearing as I moved eastwards. I saw a total of 6+ of these during the day. In the vineyards, it was clear that the Queens of Spain had not noticed that it was winter at all. I saw 20+ (16 definitely distinct individuals on the eastward leg, but probably more, and still more on the way back, which I didn't count for duplication) in all states of repair from pristine to threadbare, as well as in courting couples and sparring triples. Here is one of them and here another. I saw a single female clouded yellow, form helice at my turning-round point. A most unusual haul for a chilly but bright 3rd Feb.
4th: Revisited the same sites as yesterday, this time with Matt Rowlings. Today there was a rather cooler breeze blowing but all the same species were flying. We saw about half a dozen Queens of Spain, probably 15+ small tortoiseshells and 2 clouded yellows, both males. Here is a photograph of one of the clouded yellows, and here Matt photographing the same butterfly. Finally, Matt (on the left) and me having a beer at about 4.00pm, outside a restaurant in Bex. This would be a very unremarkable photograph, were it not Feb. 4th, at 500m in the Alps...
5th-15th: Snow and colder weather dominated until about 14th-15th, when it got milder again (rain on 13th-14th, destroying most of the snow at my altitude, and warm patches on 15th).
16th: My birthday saw a single red admiral cross my hill road in La Barboleuse. It didn't stop, so no photographs. Given the wonderful, warm, sunny weather, I doubt it was the only butterfly to fly today, but I saw no others on my brief lunchtime dog-walk.
18th: For the first time ever, my school got a winter half-term, so I took the opportunity to go to the south of Spain and kick-start my butterfly year. Today, flew to Malaga, arriving at about 3.00pm. It was a bright, windy day, and I could see whites flying along the railway track during the journey from the airport to the town, but could not identify them confidently. It is carnival time in Spain. Here is a picture looking over La Plaza de la Marina from my cheap (but very pleasant) hostal in the evening.
19th: Set off for Algeciras by bus first thing in the morning, arriving in time to dump my belongings (at a 10 euro per night hostal) and head back to Gibraltar, where I used to live and so know many of the butterfly haunts. Much of the morning it had looked awful, with heavy cloud looming. But I arrived on the Rock at midday and had at least two and half hours of good sun, during which time I found large whites quite commonly, several red admirals, plenty of Spanish festoons (male and female), a couple of male Cleopatras, speckled woods (the very orange, southern variety), a single painted lady, one or two geranium bronzes, and a single, female, wall brown. Not bad for a February day! Best of all were the festoons, which I haven't seen since 1983. Here is a photograph of their habitat, and here the Aristolochia species which I think they were using as a host plant. In the early afternoon, cloud set in - here is a view over the Bay of Algeciras towards where I was staying. While I was up the Rock I took a few photos of the most famous residents, too - the monkeys (Barbary 'apes', though they are really tailless monkeys, not apes). Here is a mature female, thinking, and here a couple of babies, playing.
20th: The weather was awful today. I hung around on the East side of the Rock for a while, hoping for a break, but none was forthcoming. This is the Mediterranean today... I did a spot of birdwatching from Europa Point and saw several gannets, cormorants and Sandwich terns, but little else. This blue rock thrush was nice, but I don't really have the equipment for photographing birds. On the south-east corner of the Rock I found monkeys scavenging on the local tip - quite an unusual site in most of Europe...
21st: Sun all day today - the only day of the holiday this happened! In the morning I visited a site where I used to see green-striped whites and perched on the hillside under the watchful eyes of hundreds of yellow-legged gulls. I did see green-striped white, but only at a distance through binoculars or flying with characteristically rapid, purposeful flight past me. Large whites (male, female) and small whites were plentiful (here's a mating pair), as were speckled woods and red admirals. A single Provence orange tip made a couple of fly-pasts, including one with photo-opportunities (here and here) and a small copper was defending a territory. Saw a couple of holly blues and watched a blue rock thrush perched for a long time near me. In the afternoon saw more Spanish festoons and several Cleopatras, including females, another painted lady and lots more speckled woods and red admirals.
22nd: Cloudy and cold most of the day. No butterflies, so I went to my old house, the Flying Angel Club, courtesy of the present occupant, and had a look around the old Seamen's Mission.
23rd: Sun in morning, but with cloud coming over by 11.30 and completely obscuring the sky by the afternoon. Tried to get photos of green-striped white but failed again (didn't even see one this morning). But did get my first common blues of the year. Also saw a male clouded yellow, the now habitual speckled woods, red admirals and Cleopatras, a single Provence orange tip, and a Lang's short-tailed blue - a female that did not hang around long enough to photograph. Saw a holly blue in the Alameda gardens in the afternoon. Here is the view of Algeciras from Europa Point in the afternoon - not nice weather...
24th: Woke to glorious sunshine, which was a little disappointing, as I had to leave on an early bus to Malaga. However, I had some time to kill in Malaga before getting the plane back to Switzerland, and so wandered around looking for rough ground in the town in case there were any butterflies. There were. I found an extended patch covered in whites. Mostly, they were large and small whites, but also several green-striped whites, which gave me my first chance at photographing them this holiday. They were incredibly mobile and did not stop more than a second or two on any plant - so photographing was difficult and the results not good - but I have the record, at least. It was too hot, I think. Here is an upperside and here and here a couple of undersides. Miraculously, I got my first life tick of the year today - a female western dappled white. Again, I couldn't get close, but the photograph shows enough for firm identification (the only similar butterfly in the region is Portuguese dappled white, which has a smoothly curved costa to the hindwing). In Switzerland we have only mountain dappled whites and previously I have seen eastern dappled white in Greece - so it was nice to get this butterfly. Common blues, clouded yellows, red admirals and painted ladies were all flying in the same patch. All in all, a very successful opening to the butterfly season.
4th: After over a week of really rather poor weather - snow and more recently heavy rain - it was gloriously sunny today. Near Martigny, six species of butterfly were flying: Queen of Spain fritillary (common especially in the vineyards); small tortoiseshell (common); large tortoiseshell (I saw just one, but I didn't spend long on their home territory); clouded yellow (one male); wall (two, both males); red admiral (two, both in flight). Fresh grass and spring flowers covered many areas and it felt very summery.
6th: Rain and light snow yesterday but sun today. It was not warm - a maximum of about 11 degrees C at Barboleuse and a cool breeze too - but a small tortoiseshell was flying at lunchtime near my house.
10th: Snow fell last night and there was a cool breeze this morning, which lasted into the afternoon. But it was bright and sunny and a small tortoiseshell flew over the Barboleuse ski piste while I was walking Asha.
11th: Walked Asha in the vineyards of the Rhône Valley. The first butterfly of the day was a small tortoiseshell, seen from the train down to the valley at about 9.50am (so the days are distinctly warmer, earlier, now). Saw many more during the day, including some now looking very weary. However, Queens of Spain still outnumbered them, as they have done in the vineyards since about February. Here is one feeding on the rosemary that grows along the vineyard edges, and here another that preferred speedwell. I saw a total of 5 large tortoiseshells during the day, mostly cruising around over the vineyards or in the canopy. None let me photograph it properly, but I did snatch this badly-focussed view through the binoculars at one point. Wall browns seemed to be emerging during the day. I saw a lone singleton early on but by about 2.00pm they were frequent sightings. Again, photography was difficult (not least because so many other people had chosen to enjoy this sunny Sunday in the vineyards) but I snatched this record shot. A single, male small white was flying near Fully and another near Martigny. Similarly, a couple of green-veined whites put in an appearance in the vineyards, fussing around small wild crucifers. Half a dozen lone clouded yellows, males and females, punctuated the day. Spring is definitely sprung in the Rhône Valley. Crag martins were zooming around catching insects, pasque-flowers were blooming and big fat hairy caterpillars were wandering around on the roads (I think this is a fox moth). Here is Asha delicately pointing out some violets she found and another of her cooling off in a channel next to the Rhône.
12th: A clear night led to a frosty morning. But the sun reigned throughout the day and small tortoiseshells were cruising around the Gryon region from about midday onwards. Here is one sunning itself on my track.
13th: More sunshine. Small tortoiseshells were frequent in the Gryon region and a single large tortoiseshell was cruising around near the télécabine.
14th: Still warm and sunny. My garden is in full spring bloom. Plenty of small tortoishells around.
15th: The Ides of March proved auspicious this year, for insects at least. The pussy willow in my front garden was audibly abuzz with activity at lunchtime today. Most of this was bees and flies, but there were also 3 or 4 small tortoiseshells (which also settled on the grass), a comma (which was still there when I returned after school at about 4.00pm) and a red admiral (also there on my return). Here is a binocular shot of the red admiral - the butterflies were all hanging around on high branches and were difficult to reach! A large tortoiseshell was cruising around in the vicinity, up and down the track to my house.
16th: A similarly hot day. Small tortoiseshell, comma and red admiral (the same individuals as yesterday, I am sure) were all feeding on my sallow again. Didn't see the large tortoiseshell.
17th: Worked all morning but was able to get to the Rhône Valley by 1.30pm. It was windy but a lot was flying. Apple blossom was in full flower. Species of the day was undoubtedly large tortoiseshell, which was gliding and swooping all over the place, and frequently settling on tracks and rocks. I had bad luck with some perfect picture poses (one because Asha saw a friend ahead and bounced the butterfly as I took it, and one because the batteries died at the critical moment) but did manage a male and a female. I have never seen so many large tortoiseshells in one afternoon, though counting was impossible because of recurrent sightings of the same individuals. Queens of Spain were out in huge numbers too. Some were clearly enjoying retirement while others were busily engaged in ensuring the survival of the species. This study in blue was nicely punctuated with a Queen of Spain (here is a closer shot of the same insect). Small tortoiseshells were frequent but not abundant, wall browns were frequent and clouded yellows were present (about 5 seen in total). My only permissible year tick was a single female southern small white in the vineyards. I couldn't approach her but got this shot for the record by pointing the camera down the binoculars - here is a detail from the same photo. I also had distant, inconclusive views of a female brimstone and saw a skipper buzz out of one of my usual early grizzled skipper sites (to disappear over the road). I later met a couple of friendly naturalists who had seen a settled grizzled skipper but I failed to relocate it and when I returned to the spot a little later the sun had hidden behind thick haze.
18th: A really lovely morning and early afternoon, before cloud, rain and snow set in. At lunch I sat outside by my sallow tree, watching 3 large tortoiseshells, 2 commas and several small tortoiseshells feeding avidly on the blossom above me. My first brimstone of the year flew past -a bright male - and a female small white too, stopping just briefly here and there. By about three o'clock all but one of the large tortoiseshells had left, and by 4.00pm all of them had. But it turned out they were now round the back, sunning themselves on the grassy slopes of my garden. Sadly, my dog and cat insisted on following me every time I tried to get a picture and kept putting the butterflies up. Oh well.
19th-24th: Snow every day. The sallow blossom on which the butterflies were drinking so deeply on Sunday was covered with snow by Monday and remained that way for the rest of the week. Here is morning walkies on 24th. This eagle was flying over Gryon at lunchtime on 24th.
26th: The ambient temperature was still cold - not much above freezing - but this small tortoiseshell had a go at flying anyway. It crash landed near me as I walked the dog at lunchtime, clearly unable to fly any more. I picked it up, cupped it in my hands to warm it for a few minutes, then released it, at which it cruised off to find a more suitable place to rest.
27th: Saw a total of 3 small tortoiseshells flying around rather weakly in Gryon during the course of today. One looked as though the air could scarcely take its weight - presumably the air was simply too cold for it to keep its thorax muscles operating at optimum flight temperature after it had left the sunny corner it had warmed up in.
28th: 2 small tortoiseshells, including this one in my garden.
29th: 1 small tortoiseshell.
30th: Cold - snow arrived in the evening.
31st: A single small tortoiseshell braving the bright but arctic weather.
1st: Bright and already quite warm in the early morning. This aberrant small tortoiseshell, form ichnusoides, spent a little while hanging around on my path [note to my future biographers: that was a fake picture I knocked up for April Fools Day]. The day grew steadily chillier and haze then cloud moved in. A couple more small tortoiseshells.
2nd: To England for Easter break. A white seen from the Gatwick Express, but otherwise no butterflies today.
3rd: Cold and cloudy with drizzle (East Suffolk). No butterflies.
4th: A single red admiral flew through the garden in the afternoon.
5th: Morning cycle ride to local woodland. Plenty of peacocks (here is a closer view of the same insect and here a different one). This green-veined white settled but other whites kept flying so I couldn't identify them for certain. Two male brimstones were flapping along busy country roads, stopping only until the next car came along, which was generally very soon. Peacocks similarly common during afternoon walk at Ramsholt, on the Deben, where a single comma put in an appearance. 4 little egrets and a marsh harrier were among the birds seen.
6th: Peacocks still the commonest species. Small whites and large whites were nectaring on honesty in my garden and on a woodland walk in the afternoon two or three commas were in evidence (and here).
7th: More of same. Peacocks and commas (and here) were sunning in the woods in the morning, while whites and brimstones were cruising through on missions. A single red admiral appeared and later in the afternoon this green-veined white took to feeding on the honesty in my garden.
8th: Easter day. More of same butterflies, notably (again) peacock and comma.
10th: Mainly cloudy, but briefly sunny just before lunch. A female orange tip flew through the garden (and here), pausing briefly, and a holly blue, without stopping.
12th: Back in Switzerland and visited Martigny and environs. It was extremely hot (until the clouds moved in in the afternoon) and a little windy with it, so the butterflies were very restless and the ones that did stop moving often slapped their wings firmly shut on landing. Some species escaped me (I think I had green-underside blue, for example, but I lost it, and probably also had common blue) but it was an excellent day anyway. Species seen: large tortoiseshell (still frequent, including one in the middle of Bex, seen from the train); small white (several to many - I didn't always distinguish between small and southern small); southern small white (probably many, locally); orange tip (quite common); clouded yellow (common); Berger's pale clouded yellow (quite a few - none stopped for firm distinction from pale clouded yellow but Berger's is the commoner in this region); swallowtail (several, none stopping even a moment); scarce swallowtail (similar numbers to swallowtail, also not stopping!); wall (very common); green hairstreak (2 or 3); holly blue (2 or 3); grizzled skipper (common locally); dingy skipper (common locally); mallow skipper (common locally); baton blue (one, in the vineyards); Provençal short-tailed blue (common locally, some looking a little in the wars); wood white (a few dithering around the place); chequered blue (just this one, which soon buzzed off in search of a mate); Glanville fritillary (present at one locality in small numbers); small tortoiseshell (a very few); peacock (one); Queen of Spain fritillary (locally common).
13th: Warm but also windy and often cloudy. Late morning dog walk in Gryon produced small tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell, whites, a red admiral and a fieldful of violet fritillaries. In fact, two or three adjacent meadows were enlivened by these butterflies, which seemed to be constantly on the move, hardly ever stopping and then only for a second or two. Back at home, I discovered a few violet fritillaries were passing through my garden too - this is one. The garden had also come alive with grizzled skippers, about a month earlier than I saw them here last year. Here is a courting couple, the male being the larger, paler one. He pursued the female for a long while but eventually gave up, realising no doubt that she was already pregnant. This large tortoiseshell passed through and posed on flowers, and this female wood white spent most of the afternoon happily pottering around the garden, occasionally laying eggs like this one at choice spots. Finally, a single small heath, my first for the year, popped in for a photo.
14th: Very similar day and species haul to yesterday. Small heaths more common.
15th: Last day of freedom before term begins tomorrow. It was a glorious day and I spent the morning in the Rhône Valley near Martigny. Here, wall browns were abounding. I saw all three local Artogeia species (small white, southern small white and green-veined white), as well as plenty of wood whites and orange tips. Chequered blues (and here) were greatly increased in numbers as compared with last Thursday (12th April) and Provençal short-tailed blues were almost abundant. These last were also huge - many bigger than a normal common blue (of which a few were about today), so I was reluctant to identify green-underside blues on the wing. I think I saw a few of these though. Two or three Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries (underside of a different one) were lovely to see, and very early. A single brown argus was extremely early for Switzerland - where they are supposed to emerge at the end of May. Plenty of Berger's pale clouded yellows, as well, probably as some pale clouded yellows but I didn't confirm any, looked similarly coloured to the one or two brimstones I saw. Clouded yellows were common. The skippers were represented by mallow, grizzled and dingy, with mallow being really quite common on the low-growing mallow in the vineyards and elsewhere. A few large tortoiseshells were on the wing but I didn't consciously note small tortoiseshell. Glanville fritillaries now common and Queen of Spains still thriving! A single green hairstreak. Orange tips flitting about everywhere. All in all, a lovely day, capped by confirmed pearl-bordered fritillary at Barboleuse (two, including one in my garden) and violet fritillaries also.
16th: A working day, but saw a red admiral, several wood whites (close-up here), violet fritillaries, grizzled skippers, dingy skippers, a large tortoiseshell, several orange tips, several commas (and here) and a green hairstreak, all around my house at La Barboleuse or in Gryon. It rained a little in the early evening.
17th: First little blue of the year flying in my garden, and another elsewhere in Gryon. Also in the garden were dingy skippers, lots of grizzled skippers, some wood whites, orange tips and lots of violet fritillaries. This pair was very obliging and allowed me to get my first good photographs of the underside of this highly mobile butterfly. Here is another picture, showing the upperside of the female.
18th-19th: Still warm - more of same species, including numerous violet fritillaries.
20th: First large wall brown of the year seen in La Barboleuse - a very dark male. Grizzled skippers still abundant in my garden. Here is a pair.
21st: Spent morning near Martigny, at several sites, meeting up with Matt Rowlings. A hot day, with very good numbers of early species, though actual numbers of butterflies were often low, especially as the day heated up. All the expected whites showed up: small white, southern small white, green-veined white, large white, wood white and orange tip. Small numbers of mountain dappled whites were also on the wing at a habitual site in the early afternoon, though they were extremely mobile and not photographable (one was confirmed by netting). Clouded yellows, Berger's clouded yellows and probably pale clouded yellows (to be confirmed after examination of photographs ***DONE***) were flying commonly. For the skippers, grizzled were present but not particular common (very common back at home afterwards, in my garden!), dingy too, and mallow, with a single possible/probable safflower skipper that escaped both lens and net. Blues were the group of the day, with Provençal short-tailed blue, green-underside blue, common blue, baton blue, Chapman's blue, adonis blue, mazarine blue, chequered blue (I'm convinced these lovers are holding hands) and little blue all putting in appearances. Only one mazarine blue was flying - a male - but I think this is a very early date for the species. Violet fritillaries, Glanville fritillaries and Queen of Spain fritillaries were about, as were Dukes of Burgundy at a couple of sites. Green hairstreaks were sparse but present. Swallowtail and scarce swallowtail were about, rather conspicuously, and for the Vanessids a single small tortoiseshell, a single red admiral, a single large tortoiseshell (first thing in the morning) and a few peacocks were flying the flag. Small heaths were getting more common and on my return to Barboleuse a single large wall brown was flying. Wall browns were very common at several hot sites in the vallley.
22nd: Spent day around La Barboleuse and Gryon, where it was very hot. No new species for the year, but several new for this altitude, including sooty copper, Adonis blue and swallowtail. Grizzled skippers still very numerous in the garden, and dingy skippers too (though not so numerous as grizzlies). A single pearl-bordered fritillary cruised through the garden on a regular circuit, easily distinguishable from the commoner, fluttery violet fritillaries, and a single Berger's pale clouded yellow seemed to have set up a similar circuit. Common blue and little blue in garden, and a few green hairstreaks around. Wood whites, small whites and orange tips also common. A single large tortoiseshell flew through the garden in the early afternoon. In the valley, sainfoin flowers are already out. Up here, the plants at one of my local Osiris blue sites are on the point of flowering - here is a flower head. Last year I checked the same site daily and it wasn't in flower until well into June, with the first osiris appearing there on June 20th (earlier elsewhere). It will be interesting to see if the butterflies synchronise with the flowers - I suspect they will!
23rd: Continued hot weather, which is great for now but will become disaster if we don't get some rain soon. The garden abounded in grizzled skippers, which I still can't resist photographing as they pose so readily. Violet fritillaries fluttered through, with the occasional pearl-bordered, as did Berger's pale clouded yellow. Wood whites common, and also orange tips. Dingy skippers, small heaths, common blues and small whites all frequent now. This sooty copper was wandering over the whole garden but never leaving it. Green hairstreaks elsewhere in Gryon and Barboleuse, as also large tortoiseshell. At another local osiris site the sainfoin is now in full flower and so I expect the butterflies to follow before too long.
24th: A single woodland ringlet in my garden and a single heath fritillary in Gryon were both firsts for the year.
25th: My first female sooty copper for the year was flying in my garden today, as well as this pearl-bordered fritillary (it has been doing circuits for the last couple of days and actually stopped briefly today). Violet fritillaries are now looking rather weary, but they are very numerous. This green hairstreak was quite amenable by the side of the main road to my house. Brimstone, Berger's pale clouded yellow, wood white, green-veined white, all the common skippers, small heath, adonis blue, common blue and little blue were abounding in the garden and a single small tortoiseshell flew through at one point.
26th: The weather changed this afternoon, with cloud and even rain coming through, though not much yet. As the clouds moved in, I found this pristine red-underwing skipper (a female, I think), lurking in the undergrowth of my garden. Here is another shot showing the characteristic flame shoulders.
27th: Cloud and a fair amount of rain. But also warm and many butterflies were on the wing, including this green hairstreak (and here), this red-underwing skipper and this grizzled skipper. There were plenty of blues around - little blue, adonis blue and common blue notably.
28th: Sunny morning, with all the recent species flying. New for the year was meadow fritillary, which has suddenly appeared in Gryon's meadows. Pearl-bordered fritillaries (another one here) are now common around Gryon and La Barboleuse and woodland ringlets have become commoner but are not nearly at their peak yet. Sooty coppers are becoming common, though most seen are still males. Green hairstreaks now very common. In afternoon visited a local violet copper site on a whim and found that they were already well on the wing. Here is a male upperside and underside, and here a female. Several individuals showed signs of wear, like this female, suggesting they had already been on the wing a few days. [On reflection, I now think all these are males, but almost entirely lacking any violet suffusion so the orange ground colour shows through.] Normally I find my first ones at this colony at the end of May - demonstrating again how ridiculously early 2007 is. This grizzled skipper was an interesting variation on the norm. Here is my first female Adonis blue of the year (I think).
29th: In a bid to get 60 species before the end of April I spent the morning in the Valley, having to be home by lunchtime. Sure enough, the two year ticks came: first, Apollo, of which I saw two, flying along the vineyards, then Iolas blue, of which I also saw two in total. Here is another shot of the underside - I didn't get any good views of the uppersides. Although this extremely early for this butterfly, the synchronisation with the plants is perfect. Here is a typical sprig of bladder senna, and here some new bladders, ready for eggs to be laid in them. I was in a hurry, so couldn't observe everything, which was sad because butterflies were out in huge numbers. Queen of Spain fritillaries were everywhere. Swallowtails and scarce swallowtails, speckled woods, wall browns, baton, Adonis, common, Provençal short-tailed, little and chequered blues, clouded, pale clouded and Berger's pale clouded yellows, orange tips, skippers... the list of things flying is now vast. Notable were several red admirals and small tortoiseshells.
1st-6th:May began cloudy, rainy and sometimes misty, as it usually does, though it was sometimes warm too, and the sun did get through occasionally. I saw nothing new in the working week from April 30th to May 5th, but did photograph a few butterflies off and on when walking the dog and the sun came out. Here are a few pictures: Male Chapman's blue; another male (both these on the host plant, sainfoin) female Chapman's blue; the same female oviposturing (she never got round to laying that egg...); little blue; male grizzled skipper; underside of the same male; another; underside of the same grizzly; green hairstreak; woodland ringlet (and here).
7th: The rain stopped today and by the afternoon there was warm sun for a while. Male osiris blues were flying on one of my local patches at lunchtime. Here is another upperside and here an underside. By later in the afternoon (after I came home from school) cloud had set in again, but I was able to locate this male roosting. He was a little cold and quite inert, so I could take pictures from very close up. Here is a couple of spots on the underside of the hindwing, looking a little like sunspots. It seems that the black spots are defined by lack of scaling, rather than black scales.
9th: Still mostly cool with some rain, but also bright patches. Many butterflies were roosting and some flying during the warm periods, including this red-underwing skipper, this common blue, this small heath, this orange tip, this Berger's pale clouded yellow and this osiris blue (here he is roosting).
10th: The sun came back in force today, and many butterflies with it. My garden was a war-zone, with assorted blues and coppers fighting for the best places. Among them were geranium arguses, new for the year (and here), sooty coppers, mazarine blues, Adonis blues and little blues. Chapman's blues were common, but this picture was not taken in my garden. This was my first false heath fritillary for the year, also in my garden. A single large grizzled skipper appeared in the evening - here is the underside. Pale clouded yellows (but not photographable), Berger's pale clouded yellows (female) and clouded yellows were all about, and plenty of red underwing skippers. Here is an orange tip that was very amenable (another picture). There were no Osiris blues on their patch, which surprised me. Several green hairstreaks in my garden and round about. Pearl-bordered fritillaries were cruising through, but violet fritillaries seem to have disappeared already.
12th: Set off from home at 7.30am for train journey to some favourite spots along the Rhône Valley. The forecast was good, but it was overcast until about 1.00pm and I arrived at my first destination at about 9.30am. So I thought the day was a wash-out - but it matured into a successful mission. Blues were prominent: Provençal short-tailed was very common (here is another male); green-underside was common (here a male underside and here a female); common blue occasional; adonis frequent; Zephyr blue was already on the wing in some numbers and this male had obviously not emerged today!! Here is an underside view. Little blue, baton blue and mazarine blue were all around, as well as a few holly blues. I saw three different Camberwell beauties, all in quite a dire state (here is the second and here the third). Red admiral and small tortoiseshell were around but no painted ladies. Wall and speckled wood too. Berger's pale clouded yellows and pale clouded yellows were prominent. The first male Provençal fritillaries were flying - here is an underside view. Queens of Spain were common. I saw my first Bath whites of the season and a single black-veined white, as well as small white, large white and Southern small white. Very few skippers. Mostly I saw dingy, but there was this single Pyrgus skipper which looks like cirsii but before I got to the underside a group of cyclists came past. Swallowtail and scarce swallowtail were zooming around. This is a De Prunner's ringlet, and here is one I caught to confirm identity. I also caught this spotted fritillary as it zoomed past (and released it immediately). I enjoyed watching these wood whites courting, the male flicking his proboscis past the female. Here is a very short video clip of the encounter (broken when another herd of cyclists came by). Small heaths were numerous and I saw a couple of apollos. I am sure I have forgotten things and will add them when I remember!! All in all, a successful day! Ah, I did forget this courageous little dung beetle, rolling his ball like Sisyphus along the middle of a road. I moved him to the side.
13th: Spent day at home and saw no new species for the year. The local meadows are now abounding in meadow fritillaries (and here) but still only males so far as I can see. Violet fritillaries seeem to be completely absent, where just a couple of weeks ago they were abundant. Woodland ringlets are increasingly common too.
15th: Very cold rain and even snow in the morning, with the temperature 5 degrees as I left for school. But I still managed to find this female Osiris blue roosting in a patch of sainfoin in the afternoon!
16th: Frost on ground in morning and the day remained cold (never into double figures, Celsius). Nevertheless, the morning was sunny and my first purple-edged copper of the year was flying in meadows in Gryon. Here is a picture showing the underside too. This female mazarine blue was in my garden, as was this aberrant grizzled skipper. Small tortoiseshells are around in good numbers at the moment.
18th: Bright sunshine today after a day of bitter cold rain, without respite, yesterday. My first chequered skipper for the year flew in the garden (and here) and I watched a female Osiris blue laying eggs in the flowers of sainfoin. Here is one of the eggs. This female Adonis blue was exceptionally blue - approaching the form ceronus. Heath fritillaries flew in the garden but not a single violet fritillary - this species seems to have finished its first brood for the year.
19th: Stayed local today, though I climbed to about 1700m. Found my first northern wall browns for the year and two vibrant colonies of marsh fritillary (and here). Pearl-bordered fritillaries were the commonest fritillary around here, though there were also a few Queens of Spain. Little blues were abundant, swallowtails common, common, Chapman's and adonis blues quite obvious in many places and yellows (mostly Berger's) constantly in the field of view. Here is a group of little blues with a couple of dingy skippers and a large grizzled skipper. Here is another view of the group (without the large grizzled). I probably had carline skipper, but it got scared off by a runner (all the world and his dog was out today, enjoying the warm sun). In the afternoon I visited a local violet copper colony and found plenty of males, including this one which was actually showing some real violet (my first this year that has not been dull). This one was more typical for the year. Lesser marbled fritillaries are not out yet and no summer satyrids (meadow brown, marbled white, ringlet) or orange skippers showed themselves. Green hairstreaks were almost abundant.
20th: An overcast but very warm morning. This woodland ringlet was flying entirely without sun on my early morning dog-walk. In the afternoon I set off for Rhône Valley hoping to photograph a female Iolas blue. Better than that, I found one prepared to hang around while I photographed her laying eggs in the base of bladder senna bladders. Here she is feeding up before laying (I think this is the same female, but I am not actually sure). Here she is checking out bladders, here laying, and here, and here reposing on the bladders afterwards. I also saw my first safflower skippers of the year, but many other species looked weary and on their way out. Some chequered blues were very tatty, but this one was still enjoying itself. This apollo was fresh, though heavily pregnant. Glanville fritillaries were very worn, as were wall browns, and the whole region looked much less lush than a couple of weeks ago. Summer is here.
21st: Saw marsh fritillary in my garden for the first time ever. Also found this female osiris blue on one of my local sites.
22nd: Very warm sun brought things out in droves. On my lunchtime walk I found my first ever glanville fritillary for the local area and my first local Duke of Burgundy this year (not fresh, so I must have missed them earlier). Both my local Osiris patches produced the goods, with this female laying in one and this male sunning himself and feeding at the other. Then, to my great delight, I found my first ever Osiris blue in my garden (the chalet in the background is my next door neighbour's, but the butterfly was on my territory)!! This was so exciting I have to post more pictures of it, here and here. Here is a commemorative video of him doing absolutely nothing. Other butterflies seen today were false heath fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, meadow fritillary and my first large skipper of the year, also in my garden. Woodland ringlets are having a good year and grizzled skippers are still on the wing in numbers. I almost certainly had my first tufted marbled skipper of the year in my garden, but the large skipper wouldn't let it settle and it flew off in a huff. Saw my first Swiss painted lady for the year in Gryon.
23rd: Yesterday's Osiris blue was still in the garden today, and there was another male there too! This is all a little strange, as there is no sainfoin in my garden... A single, very brightly marked northern brown argus (and here) was my first for the year, and competing for sunspots with the new osiris blue. I am sure I saw tufted marbled skipper again, but there was so much activity and competition it never found a place to stop.
24th: One of yesterday's Osiris blues was still in the garden today, though looking a little worse for wear now. The most common butterfly by a long way, however, was geranium argus, which must have numbered in the three figures. Here is a short video of a couple flirting and here one of a pair mating. Also around were large grizzled skipper, red-underwing skipper, yellows, heath, false heath and pearl-bordered fritillaries, sooty coppers, a single purple-edged copper (on sainfoin in my neighbour's garden - but there is not enough, I think, for a colony of Osiris to be sustained), chequered skipper, common blue, Adonis blue, little blue, mazarine blue, large skipper, northern bown argus and green hairstreak. Large wall browns are now increasingly common. No silver-studded blues have emerged in the region, which is a little surprising given the early year.
25th: Sunny in morning, breaking in afternoon. At lunchtime a few butterflies were around, including this male purple-edged copper in my garden, and this female. The female was then wooed by a male sooty copper (and here, and here) and I took this brief video of them before he gave up. This is a false heath fritillary and this a woodland ringlet, both also in the garden.
26th: Overcast and occasionally wet, with brief sunny spells. Here is a view of the hills near Bretaye from Gryon in the eerie light.
28th: Woke up to torrential rain, which rapidly became snow. This is my garden at lunchtime.
30th: The snow melted in the morning sun, revealing a crushed world. Butterflies flew over it nevertheless, including probably my first silver-studded blue of the year, which flew out of sight over a garden wall so I can't count it. Other observations were this female Osiris blue (and here), several purple-edged coppers (and here), several pearl-bordered fritillaries in the woods, common blues, now looking really rather weary, little blues, mazarine blues (here's a female on sainfoin) and a fine male large wall brown, which hung around near my house posing.
3rd: Trip along the Rhône Valley to two different sites. The morning was sunny but clouded over by 11.30am or so; the sun came out again as I arrived at my second site at about 1.30pm. Provençal fritillaries were common at one site, and I saw up to 4 together in the air at once (here is an upperside). Heath fritillaries were present at the other site. New for the year were marbled fritillaries, which were quite plentiful, and Queens of Spain were still around, some fresh, some old. A few pristine ilex hairstreaks were flying, my first for the year, looking very large and black. Another year tick was marbled skipper, present at both sites, and marbled whites were present at one (also my first for the year). Large skippers were common. I found a new site for iolas blue, with bladder senna spread over quite an extensive area, though thinly. I saw one male and one female feeding (separately). The first hutchinsoni commas are now on the wing and at one site southern white admirals were flying, setting up territories and feeding. Other species included Provençal short-tailed blue, green-underside blue, safflower skipper, black-veined white, Bath white, turquoise blue (my first for the year - several individuals flying, or sparring, with Adonis blues), small copper, Essex skipper (my first for the year - I saw just a handful), small white and southern small white, peacock, red admiral, large wall, Chapman's blue, Apollo, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail and probably a couple of dark-green fritillaries, though they never stopped so I couldn't formally identify them. An excellent day, despite a slightly dodgy weather forecast!!
4th - 11th: Things have been very busy recently and I'm writing this week up in retrospect. I hope to add the pictures when I get a little more time. 4th: Silver-studded blues appeared in Barboleuse, including one in my garden. In common with those in my garden in previous years, this one lacked silver studs and had narrow borders, rather like an idas blue. However, after considerable study, and watching others emerge over the next few days (all similar), I concluded these really are silver-studs (as I conclude every year). 5th-8th: Mixed weather, often cloudy and even rainy, but butterflies flying whenever they could. AQ few large fritillaries that never settled tantalised me. Female osiris blues were still in evidence in Gryon, with a fresh female on the 8th. Northern brown argus still present in my garden, and geranium arguses common, but most other blues looking very tired indeed. Marbled whites emerging in the meadows around Gryon. Grizzled skippers now seem to be over at my altitude but red-underwing skippers are hanging on - they emerged a little later. Pearl-bordered fritillaries very common and false heath too. Purple-edged copper prominent in my garden and many local meadows. Large wall browns very common. 9th: Trip to several sites in the Rhône Valley, with Matt Rowlings. First off, an iolas blue hunt in a place where I understood the last person to see them was Vladimir Nabokov!! We found the foodplant aplenty and probably saw at least two individuals, a male and a female, with a third more doubtful one. It seemed we were a little late in the year and most of the plants had very few flowers. But an exciting find all the same. Secondly we visited a wetland site, where apart from a slight false alarm over a comma we both misidentified in flight as lesser purple emperor, we saw little. Next, on to a speculative black hairstreak site, where Matt had photographed brown hairstreak eggs on blackthorn in the winter. Interestingly, the blackthorn turned out to be sea buckthorn and the area was crawling with idas blues and ants! Matt has concluded his 'brown hairstreak' eggs were actually idas blue eggs! Here is a short encounter between ants and some idas blues. At the same site were a couple of fresh chequered blues and a large blue, as well as some caterpillars we took to be knapweed fritillaries. Our third site, further away, was specifically to look for Asian fritillaries, which would not normally be on the wing yet but might have been given the early year. We didn't find any (apart, possibly, from one Euphydryas fritillary I saw in flight, which could have been marsh or Asian). But we did find abundant northern wall browns, plenty of pearl-bordered fritillaries, plenty of mountain green-veined whites, a few Alpine heaths, a single dusky grizzled skipper, some green hairstreaks, a couple of commas (for the second time in one day we misidentified these, suspecting Asian fritillary at first!!) and a few other things. On the way we saw knapweed fritillary - my first for the year.
10th: Matt Rowlings came up the mountain to investigate some of the local specialities up here, despite potentially very poor weather. In my garden, my first settled tufted marbled skipper of the year put on a nice show (a pregnant female, so certainly not the first of the season in reality) and the first ringlets were on the wing. At a nearby site purple-edged coppers, silver-studded blues and a single osiris blue were flying, but not the early mountain alcon blue we had hoped for, nor woodland brown or poplar admiral in the woods (though in the woodland meadows high-brown and dark green fritillaries were both flying). A good day, but short on the really special species.
11th: I revisited last year's poplar admiral site on my dog walk, on a thundery afternoon, and was startled to find this male poplar admiral showing an interest in me! It circled me a few times, settled briefly about 15 feet away (when I took the single photo, with maximum zoom and a lot of cropping!), circled me again and then lifted up into the sky and stepped over a meadow, over some houses and away. Wow!
12th-16th: Very busy at school and very little time to write up this log! Searched for poplar admiral on dog walks, at morning, lunchtime and evening, but no more sightings. The meadows are alive with marbled whites now, with dark green and high brown fritillaries common, second brood violet fritillaries prominent, some pearl-bordered fritillaries sitll around and the first silver-washed fritillaries now on the wing. Ringlets and meadow browns are out in force too. On afternoon of 16th I took my first trip to altitude, on my local mountain. Red admirals (instead of the usual swallowtails) were hilltopping, along with painted ladies, though the latter didn't do it properly. A few alpine heaths were flying, but not many. Bright-eyed ringlets were numerous, both the bright-eyed form and the more obscure form, lugens (which I initially mistook for manto ringlet). A couple of dewy ringlets were right at the top of the mountain, where little blues were numerous and the first shepherd's fritillaries were flying. It was a mixed day, quite cold with occasional rain and occasional sun, so difficult to be sure exactly what was about. A single mountain clouded yellow. At end of walk found a single female violet copper still flying and a few Titania's fritillaries.
17th: Near Martigny in morning, to look for black hairstreaks. Didn't find any! But did find my first purple-shot copper of the year (here is a 'record shot'), a couple of spotted fritillaries (including caterpillars - this one is shiny and new beside his old skin) and, most excitingly, my first Provençal fritillaries for this region. I saw at least two females, laying on toadflax (video here), and one male but could not be sure of the identity of everything on the wing because heath fritillaries were also flying. I think Provençal fritillaries were locally quite common. Wall browns, Queens of Spain, meadow browns, ringlets, marbled whites, mallow skippers and other species were flying but on the whole the count was limited. Joined Matt R at the end of the morning to visit another site; there, too, we are still waiting for the real high summer season! There is a 'between seasons' feel about the region.
18th: Found two woodland browns while I was looking for poplar admirals in the morning. Both were high in hazel bushes and out of reach of good photography, but I got this record shot. High brown and dark green fritillaries common now, and lesser marbled increasingly so. Plenty of fresh swallowtails around.
19th: After school nipped up to altitude again, as it was a very hot day. Found my first Alpine grizzled skipper of the year (and here). Also, plenty of little blues, a large blue, plenty of bright-eyed ringlets, whites, painted ladies, red admirals, a few shepherd's fritillaries, northern wall brown and more. Probably the most abundant butterfly was marsh fritillary, form debilis, which was out in a huge variety of shades and sizes (here is a long-distance shot of one without any spots on the hindwing).
23rd: After days of rain, and despite a dodgy forecast, today was sunny almost from the start. I had to attend school graduation in the morning, but set off in the afternoon with Tim Cowles, Philippe Bricaire and Matt Rowlings, to a remote part of Valais where we hoped to find Asian fritillary. At our proposed site we also met Peter Groenendijk, and the five of us pursued our quarry! The day was highly successful, not only because of the Asian fritillaries, which were stunning (also here and a courting couple here), but also for the many other species that turned up, some unexpectedly. These included a beautiful female peak white (underside), a single mountain dappled white, plenty of mountain green-veined whites, several dusky grizzled skippers and alpine grizzled skippers, lots of pearl-bordered fritillaries and false heath fritillaries, several alpine graylings, commas, a few large blues, an idas blue or two and more. I'm sure Philippe and Matt won't mind my posting this picture of them worshipping at the altar of an Asian fritillary...
24th: Another day trip to the Valais, with Matt, Tim and Philippe. We began at altitude, where it was clear it was still a little early for many things. It was also a little windy. Nevertheless, a single alpine argus was flying and the first sooty ringlets of the year were on the wing. A few shepherd's fritillaries were around, but no mountain fritillaries, and dewy ringlets were quite common, often stopping (and here). Peak whites were present, and quite a lot of alpine heaths - of the variety that is somewhere between alpine heath and Darwin's heath. There was no sign of Cynthia's fritillary, which flies at that location, nor of any other Erebia species. It was interesting to see both alpine skipper and dusky grizzled skippers flying - the latter being something I am seeing more and more of. A little lower down the mountain, in meadowland, more species were on the wing, including alpine grayling, moorland clouded yellow, glandon blue, almond-eyed ringlet (and here), large blues, idas blues, and northern brown argus. Still lower, at a third site, Provençal fritillaries were still on the wing, taking minerals at puddles, as well as zephyr blues, a single (possibly two) male Meleager's blue, Apollos, a southern white admiral, black-veined whites, ilex hairstreaks and both swallowtails.
28th: Had a glimpse of another poplar admiral on my lunchtime walk, and formed some more ideas of how to look for it - but so far I have only ever seen this species at random! Great banded graylings were out in force, and other species of interest were high brown fritillaries, lesser marbled fritillaries, dark green fritillaries, violet fritillaries, heath fritillaries, a few commas, a single tufted marbled skipper, silver-studded blues, marbled whites, small skippers, and ringlets. Meadow browns were about in plenty and the first arran browns were on the wing. Woodland browns were quite numerous in the meadows near the woods.
29th: Another day spent in my local region. This is a high brown fritillary, near my house. A little higher up, mountain alcon blues were flying. Here is a male, a fresh female, a worn female and a female laying. Large blues were also around, which made it difficult to count exactly how many mountain alcons there were. Eros blues were flying, but not many and they were hard to photograph. But the turquoise blues were more amenable - here is the characteristic underside. At altitude, the first chalkhill blues were flying, and there was also a single female clouded yellow, form helice. I think this is a female meadow fritillary.
30th: The last day of June proved quite an exciting day! A planned trip along the Rhône Valley with Matt Rowlings turned into a trip into Italy - Asha's first ever journey outside Switzerland! On the way we found Darwin's heath (the pure variety, not intermediate between Darwin's and alpine heath), plenty of almond-eyed ringlets and a few brave red admirals, amongst other things. In Italy, the first year tick was scarce copper - this is just a record shot taken from some distance. Much more exciting, however, were the large chequered skipper and Hungarian glider we saw from the car. We later found both flying at a secluded woodland site that Matt had visited before. Here are the upperside and underside of a Hungarian glider, and here the upperside and underside of a large chequered skipper. Several nettle tree butterflies were zooming around the site and settling for milliseconds before zooming off again. This is the best photo I could get - from about 15ft!! Soon after arriving I spotted a poplar admiral high in the canopy and we saw another later - again, neither was photographable, sadly. The same site had a lot of pearly heaths, my first of the year. We moved on to another, higher, site, also in Italy, where woodland ringlets were still flying, along with blind ringlets and small mountain ringlets. Here is a marsh fritillary, of the characteristic, high alpine variety, debilis. Matt found a small apollo, my first sighting of this butterfly this year, and we saw a single Swiss brassy ringlet. This is a mountain fritillary - again, my first of the year. Other species flying were idas blues and purple-edged coppers, though while we were at the site clouds came over and it was rather dull.
1st-8th: Some quite bad weather at the beginning of July, with snow
coming down to not far above my altitude. But the butterflies flew
between bouts of rain! Here is a woodland brown, posing unusually well
for the picture, and a marbled white, a great banded grayling and a
high brown fritillary, all on 3rd July in Gryon. This is the view near
me on 5th July. On 6th, Paul Kipling visited me in rather grim weather,
and against all odds we found this female mountain alcon blue. On 7th
there was a brief break in the poor weather and Matt Rowlings joined me
to hunt around the local parts of Vaud and Valais. Top butterfly was
eriphyle ringlet, and here. This male Meleager's blue was exciting for
me as I normally only see females, and this mating pair posed for a
long time. 8th July was fine until about 10.30 am, when the heavens
opened and violent storms began!!
10th-19th: Set off on 10th for Barcelona, whence to the Val d'Aran (all by bus). In Barcelona I found the usual geranium bronzes and also a couple of long-tailed blues. The weather then remained good for the whole week I spent in the Val, though it was windy throughout and cloud spoiled a couple of afternoons. A complete list of all the species I saw follows, and pictures and commentary will be added to it in due course. Several species were notably missing or much scarcer than usual. Thus, I saw no lesser purple emperors at all and only one map butterfly. Both of these are usually easy to find and maps numerous. Only two purple emperors revealed themselves to me and no white-letter hairstreaks at all, despite my looking. Amazingly, I saw not a single scarce swallowtail!! This might be because I went a little earlier than usual, but I think there might be more to it than that. I saw no silvery argus or glandon blue, but that was explicable by the fact my puddling trip to altitude was spoiled by cloud and wind. Provence orange tips were quite common, as were sloe hairstreaks, and my impression was that the year was certainly not early in the Pyrenees and probably a little late. A single, rather worn, Duke of Burgundy was remarkable for July. I established, I think, that the predominant Pyrgus skipper in the Val is armoricanus - Oberthur's grizzled skipper, which I found puddling in sometimes large numbers at middle altitudes. Here is the full list of 103 species (possibly more, but these are the confirmed ones), with pictures and commentary to follow:
Swallowtail, Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Large white, Black-veined white, Small white, Green-veined white, Bath white, Peak white, Orange tip, Provence orange tip, Mountain clouded yellow, Clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, Brimstone, Wood white, Purple hairstreak, Ilex hairstreak, Sloe hairstreak, Blue spot hairstreak, Purple-shot copper, Scarce copper, Sooty copper, Purple-edged copper, Small copper, Long-tailed blue, Lang's short-tailed blue, Holly blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, Little blue, Large blue, Silver-studded blue, Brown argus, Northern brown argus, Mazarine blue, Escher's blue, Amanda's blue, Turquoise blue, Chalkhill blue, Adonis blue, Common blue, Eros blue, Duke of Burgundy, Purple emperor, White admiral, Map, Red admiral, Small tortoiseshell, Peacock, Large tortoiseshell, Painted lady, Comma, Silver-washed fritillary, Dark green fritillary, Niobe fritillary, High brown fritillary, Marbled fritillary, Lesser marbled fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, Shepherds' fritillary, Pearl-bordered fritillary, Violet fritillary, Knapweed fritillary, Spotted fritillary, False heath fritillary, Provençal fritillary, Heath fritillary, Meadow fritillary, Marsh fritillary, Marbled white, Woodland grayling, Great sooty satyr, Great banded grayling, Large ringlet, Black manto ringlet, Small mountain ringlet, De Prunner's ringlet, Spanish brassy ringlet, Lefèbvre's ringlet, Bright-eyed ringlet, Piedmont ringlet, False dewy ringlet, Meadow brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small heath, Pearly heath, Speckled wood, Wall brown, Large wall brown, Grizzled skipper, Large grizzled skipper, Oberthur's grizzled skipper, Red underwing skipper, Mallow skipper, Marbled skipper, Tufted marbled skipper, Dingy skipper, Chequered skipper, Lulworth skipper, Small skipper, Essex skipper, Large skipper.
20th: Back home, I went hunting locally for cranberry blues and Erebia. The weather turned cool and overcast, but I did find common brassy ringlets in small numbers, shepherds' fritillaries, silver-studded blues and this single female cranberry blue - which i was very pleased about!
27th: Even though I haven't finished previous days, I thought I would
hastily put up today's account (in extreme brief), or I will get too
far behind to correct! So, today visited eastern Valais, getting up
early and travelling by train. The weather was hot and I saw a lot of
butterflies, including seven new for the year, but photography was
harder because of the wind, which has been quite a plague this year!
Some notable species I did manage to photograph included: marbled ringlet (male and female), Swiss brassy ringlet, chalkhill blue, turquoise blue, damon blue, Apollo (this one sheltering from the wind in my hand), almond-eyed ringlet, dusky meadow brown, rock grayling (and here a flirting couple, the female holding her wings open), grayling, pale clouded yellow and silver-spotted skipper. Here is Asha cooling off in the river afterwards...
31st: Several Scotch arguses flying around at a local site (underside here).
Various commitments have prevented me keeping up to date with these write-ups. But I have been out butterflying and a brief summary of the important points follows:
To 11th: I checked regularly for brown hairstreaks at the end of July and beginning of August at the site I saw them last year (and photographed eggs too). Until I left Switzerland on 17th August I had seen none - very strangely, as there is ample blackthorn on the site. Saw a single purple emperor in Gryon in early August - my only one up here this year - and a single white admiral at La Barboleuse too. On 11th August I took a trip along the Rhône Valley, where second brood southern white admirals were flying, as well as turquoise blues, adonis blues, common blues, second brood osiris blues, silver-spotted skippers, dryads, great sooty satyrs, spotted fritillaries, large fritillaries and lots more. It was an active day for butterflies. Best of all, however, were at least two rosy grizzled skippers - life ticks for me. I have photographs but will have to wait until I return to Switzerland to post them and a page on the site. Like some (but not all) Pyrgus species, rosy turns out to be quite distinctive and easy when you get a good view of the real thing!! There were also grizzled skippers on the site. Found Meleager's blues (two females) at a new site on the way home.
12th-16th: Few good butterfly days and lots of obligations. Browns dominate - with Scotch argus now common in my garden, meadow browns everywhere, dryads particularly common from valley level up to Gryon, speckled woods, great sooty satyrs, &c. Arran brown and large wall still around but in small numbers. Damon blues have still not put in an appearance in La Barboleuse, which is very worrying, and second brood blues in general are a little thin on the ground. No brown hairstreaks up to the time of my leaving Switzerland (17th), nor tree graylings (though I didn't look hard for these as they are common at my site for them throughout September). Purple-shot copper still on the wing and little blues surprisingly frequent too, looking rather worn - though sometimes it was not possible to determine whether an individual female was a large little blue or a small osiris blue. Osiris blues flying in second brood in several places at low altitude.
18th: Sunny and warm at times. Visited local woods in Suffolk, UK, and enjoyed watching graylings (and here), brown arguses, gatekeepers, red admirals, small coppers, whites, speckled woods and meadow browns. Huge numbers of darter dragonflies filling the air.
24th: Saw my first ever wryneck at Minsmere.
26th: Left for France, staying overnight near Pougy. An evening walk revealed that the dense masses of hemp agrimony by the roads were sometimes covered in map butterflies - though these were difficult to photograph (and here). Red admirals were also flying in the woods, and peacocks.
31st August: Large ringlets still flying in the woods near me...
1st: ... and lesser mountain ringlets at altitude, despite the weather!
2nd: Good weather, for a local walk with my parents. Confirmed my first carline skippers of the year (and here) and also found large grizzled skippers on the wing. Several species of blue still flying, including damon and adonis.
7th: Tree graylings flying in the Valley. Here is one. No brown hairstreaks - and I have been looking off and on since July - but I did get this very distant shot of a purple hairstreak, that was flying near sloe. At the same site were Chapman's blues, little blues, Provençal short-tailed blues, lots of wall browns, dryads, whites (including southern small white) and more.
8th: A pair of adonis blues in my garden.
10th: Little on the wing, but did find this Queen of Spain fritillary near my house.
13th: Violet fritillary still on the wing at La Barboleuse. This one is melanic.
15th: At Last! My first brown hairstreak(s) of the season! This female was flying nowhere near any sloe bushes, not far from Martigny. I saw another one nearby. A single purple hairstreak was a surprise for mid-September! Also tree graylings, damon blues, Queens of Spain (and here), mallow skippers, and, fantastically, about a dozen long-tailed blues (and here). This wasp spider was doing its best to decimate butterfly populations - here and here are some of its catches!
16th: Silver-spotted skipper still on the wing in my garden.
21st: Adonis blue still flying in my garden.
22nd: Higher up the mountain than where I live it was sunny today but nothing flew except Queens of Spain and red admirals.
23rd: I think today was the season's swansong. Went back with Matt Rowlings to where I found long-tailed blues a week ago and found there were even more there now. Here is a male and here a female. Not far away we saw two brown hairstreaks, at a site with Chapman's blues, idas blues, common blues, chalkhill blues, adonis blues and brown argus. Red admirals were flying and both clouded yellows and Berger's clouded yellows. Most surprisingly, perhaps, this marbled ringlet was feeding on Buddleia, about 100km from the nearest place I have previously seen the species.
29th: Winter has arrived, up the mountain at least...
1st-3rd: Intermittently fine and warmer than recently. Red admirals cruising around well above head-level and clouded yellows doing the same thing nearer the ground. A single painted lady on 2nd and a very tatty common blue on 3rd.
4th: Rainy all day.
5th: Fine again. Red admirals and clouded yellows still around, as well as a single small heath (very tired!).
8th: Red admiral, small tortoiseshell, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow and Queen of Spain still flying around the Barboleuse/Gryon region.
14th: A trip to the Rhône Valley revealed that butterflies are still flying down there, though in paltry numbers compared to two or three weeks ago. Species seen included red admiral, small tortoiseshell, clouded yellow (here is the upperside of a female), Berger's pale clouded yellow, wall, tree grayling, small white, southern small white, common blue and adonis blue (female).
16th: Small white, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, a single comma and several clouded yellows in Barboleuse.
19th: Mostly, the red admirals I have seen recently have been cruising around and not stopping. This one, however, was flying early on a very cold, froyty morning and settled frequently to sun itself and even to feed on nectar.
24th: After a series of sub-zero nights and frosty mornings I thought everything had been killed off up here on the mountain. But this male pale clouded yellow appeared this afternoon and fed on the dandelions in my front path. It flew relatively weakly and it was obviously cold. Nothing else flew.
26th: In Bex a small white was braving the chill, and this red admiral was hanging around flowers at the station.
4th: Trip down to the Rhône Valley, near Martigny, where 6 species of butterfly were still flying. These were: red admiral (but none stopped for a picture), Queen of Spain fritillary (common along the vineyards), wall brown (also common) - here's a female, adonis blue (locally common, amazingly!), common blue (just the one) and clouded yellow (also common). No other species of clouded yellow were flying. The butterfly day was very short and it was actually cold before about 10.30am and after 3.00pm. I think this is one of the last days there will be significant activity here.