HOME

YEAR LIST, 2010


For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click: 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have lost the file for 2000.
Two of my friends also keep 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.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2010 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2010

1    Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 27th February - Valais
2    Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 1st March - Huémoz
3    Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 13th March - Valais
4    Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 13th March - Valais
5    Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)  - 17th March - Huémoz
6    Small white (Artogeia rapae) - 19th March - Valais
7    Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 23rd March - Huémoz
8    Peacock (Inachis io) - 23rd March - Huémoz
9    Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 24th March - Huémoz
10  Common emigrant (Catopsilia pomona) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
11  Plain tiger (Danaus chrysippus) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
12  Striped tiger (Danaus genutia) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
13  Blue tiger (Tirumala limniace) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
14  Common jay (Graphium doson) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
15  Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
16  Psyche (Leptosia nina) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
17  Blue pansy (Junonia orithiya) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
18  Dark grass blue (Zizeeria karsandra) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
19  Tiny grass blue (Zizula hylax) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
20  Forget-me-not (Catochrysops strabo) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
21  Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
22  Common mormon (Papilio polytes) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
23  Common grass yellow (Eurema hecabe) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
24  Common fourring (Ypthima huebneri) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
25  Common castor (Ariadne merione) - 2nd April - Kolkata, India
26  Grey pansy (Junonia atlites) - 3rd April - Kolkata, India
27  Common crow (Euploea core) - 3rd April - Kolkata, India
28  Tawny coster (Acraea violae) - 3rd April - Kolkata, India
29  Lesser grass blue (Zizina otis) - 3rd April - Kolkata, India
30  Plains cupid (Chilades pandava) - 3rd April - Kolkata, India
31  Common banded awl (Hasora chromus) - 5th April - Mysore, India
32  Tailless lineblue (Prosotas dubiosa indica) - 5th April - Mysore, India
33  Transparent 6-lineblue (Nacaduba kurava) - 5th April - Mysore, India
34  Crimson rose (Atrophaneura hector) - 5th April - Mysore, India
35  Lemon pansy (Junonia lemonias) - 5th April - Mysore, India
36  Chocolate pansy (Junonia iphita) - 5th April - Mysore, India
37  Tailed jay (Graphium agamemnon) - 5th April - Mysore, India
38  Three-spot grass yellow (Eurema blanda) - 5th April - Mysore, India
39  Cerulean (Jamides celeno) - 5th April - Mysore, India
40  Dark cerulean (Jamides bochus) - 5th April - Mysore, India
41  Zebra blue (Leptotes plinius) - 5th April - Mysore, India
42  Pale grass blue (Pseudozizeeria maha) - 5th April - Mysore, India
43  Nilgiri clouded yellow (Colias nilagiriensis) - 6th April - Ootacamund, India
44  Gram blue (Euchrysops cnejus) - 6th April - Ootacamund, India
45  Lesser gull (Cepora nadina) - 7th April - Ootacamund, India
46  Red Helen (Papilio helena) - 7th April - Ootacamund, India
47  Indian fritillary (Argyreus hyperbius) - 9th April - Ootacamund, India
48  Common albatross (Appias albina) - 9th April - Ootacamund, India 
49  Club beak (Libythea myrrha) - 9th April - Ootacamund, India
50  Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 9th April - Ootacamund, India
51  Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 17th April - Valais
52  Southern small white (Artogeia mannii) - 17th April - Valais
53  Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 17th April - Valais
54  Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 17th April - Valais
55  Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 17th April - Valais
56  Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 17th April - Valais
57  Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 17th April - Valais
58  Berger's pale clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 17th April - Valais
59  Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 17th April - Valais
60  Violet fritillary (Clossiana dia) - 17th April - Valais
61  Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 17th April - Valais
62  Baton blue (Pseudophilotes baton) - 17th April - Valais
63  Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 17th April - Valais
64  Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 17th April - Valais
65  Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 17th April - Valais
66  Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 17th April - Valais
67  Green-veined white (Artogeia napi) - 17th April - Valais
68  Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 17th April - Valais
69  Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 17th April - Valais
70  Short-tailed blue (Everes argiades) - 17th April - Valais
71  Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 21st April - Huémoz
72  Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 24th April - Valais
73  Pearl-bordered fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne) - 24th April - Valais
74  Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 24th April - Valais
75  Chapman's blue (Agrodiaetus thersites) - 24th April - Valais
76  Provençal short-tailed blue (Everes alcetas) - 24th April - Valais
77  De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 24th April - Valais
78  Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 24th April - Valais
79  Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 8th May - Valais
80  Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 8th May - Valais
81  Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 8th May - Valais
82  Red underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 8th May - Valais
83  Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 8th May - Valais
84  Sooty copper (Heodes tityrus) - 9th May - Vaud
85  Réal's wood white (Leptidea reali) * - 9th May - Vaud
86  Adonis blue (Lysandra bellargus) - 16th May - Valais
87  Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 16th May - Valais
88  Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 16th May - Valais
89  Meadow fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides) - 21st May - Vaud
90  Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 21st May - Vaud
91  Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 22nd May - Valais
92  Heath fritillary (Mellicta athalia) - 22nd May - Valais
93  Pale clouded yellow (Colias hyale) - 22nd May - Valais
94  Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 22nd May - Valais
95  Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 22nd May - Valais
96  Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 22nd May - Valais
97  Nickerl's fritillary (Mellicta aurelia) - 23rd May - Valais
98  Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 23rd May - Valais
99  Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 23rd May - Valais
100  Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 24th May - Valais
101  Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 25th May - Vaud
102  Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 29th May
103  Large wall brown (Lasiommata maera) - 1st June - Vaud
104  Large skipper (Ochlodes venatus) - 4th June - Valais
105  Zephyr blue (Plebejus pylaon trappi) - 4th June - Valais
106  Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 4th June - Valais
107  Provençal fritillary (Mellicta deione berisalii) - 4th June - Valais
108  Large blue (Maculinea arion) - 4th June - Valais
109  Purple-shot copper (Heodes alciphron) - 4th June - Valais
110  Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 4th June - Valais
111  Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 4th June - Valais
112  Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 4th June - Valais
113  Turquoise blue (Plebicula dorylas) - 5th June - Valais
114  Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 5th June - Valais
115  Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 5th June - Valais
116  Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 5th June - Valais
117  Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 5th June - Valais
118  False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 11th June - Vaud
119  Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 11th June - Vaud
120  Clouded yellow (Colias croceus) - 11th June - Valais
121  Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 11th June - Valais
122  Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 12th June - Canton de Genève
123  Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 12th June - Canton de Genève
124  Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 12th June - Canton de Genève
125  Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni)   - 12th June - Canton de Genève
126  Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 12th June - Canton de Genève
127  White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 12th June - Canton de Genève
128  Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 22nd June - Vaud
129  Geranium argus (Eumedonia eumedon) - 23rd June - Vaud
130  Dark green fritillary (Mesoacidalia aglaja) - 23rd June - Vaud
131  White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 24th June - Vaud
132  Lesser woodland grayling (Hipparchia genava) - 27th June - Valais
133  Small skipper (Thymelicus flavus) - 27th June - Valais
134  Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 27th June - Valais
135  Escher's blue (Agrodiaetus escheri) - 27th June - Valais
136  High brown fritillary (Fabriciana adippe) - 27th June - Valais
137  Niobe fritillary (Fabriciana niobe) - 27th June - Valais
138  Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 27th June - Valais
139  Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 27th June - Valais
140  Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 27th June - Valais
141  Purple hairstreak (Quercusia quercus) - 27th June - Valais
142  Marsh fritillary (Euphydras aurinia) - 27th June - Valais
143  Scarce copper (Heodes virgaureae) - 27th June - Valais
144  Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 28th June - Vaud
145  Purple-edged copper (Palaeochrysophanus hippothoe) - 29th June - Vaud
146  Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 29th June - Vaud
147  Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 29th June - Vaud
148  Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 29th June - Vaud
149  Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 29th June - Vaud
150  Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 29th June - Vaud
151  Poplar admiral (Limenitis populi) - 29th June - Vaud
152  Piedmont ringlet (Erebia meolans) - 1st July - Valais
153  Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 2nd July - Valais
154  Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 2nd July - Valais
155  Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 2nd July - Valais
156  Mountain green-veined white (Artogeia bryoniae) - 2nd July - Valais
157  Cranberry blue (Vacciniina optilete) - 2nd July - Valais
158  Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 2nd July - Valais
159  Asian fritillary (Hypodryas intermedia) - 2nd July - Valais
160  Titania's fritillary (Clossiana titania) - 2nd July - Valais
161  Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 4th July - Vaud
162  Great banded grayling (Kanetisa circe) - 5th July - Vaud
163  Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 5th July - Vaud
164  Manto ringlet (Erebia manto) - 5th July - Vaud
165  Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 5th July - Vaud
166  Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 5th July - Vaud
167  Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 5th July - Vaud
168  Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 7th July - Canton de Genève
169  Meleager's blue (Meleageria daphnis) - 8th July - Valais
170  Alpine argus (Albulina orbitula) - 8th July - Valais
171  Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 8th July - Valais
172  Peak white (Pontia callidice) - 8th July - Valais
173  Grisons fritillary (Mellicta varia) - 8th July - Valais
174  Cynthia's fritillary (Hypodryas cynthia) - 8th July - Valais
175  Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 8th July - Valais
176  Mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 8th July - Valais
177  Cranberry fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris) - 9th July - Vaud
178  Eriphyle ringlet (Erebia eriphyle) - 9th July - Vaud
179  Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 9th July - Vaud
180  Dusky large blue (Maculinea nausithous) - 9th July - Vaud
181  Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 9th July - Vaud
182  Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 9th July - Vaud
183  Scarce large blue (Maculinea telejus) - 9th July - Bern
184  Darwin's heath (Coenonympha darwiniana) - 10th July - Valais
185  Glandon blue (Agriades glandon) - 10th July - Valais
186  Mnestra ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 10th July - Valais
187  Chalkhill blue (Lysandra coridon) - 10th July - Valais
188  Mountain alcon blue (Maculinea rebeli) - 11th July - Vaud
189  Damon blue (Agrodiaetus damon) - 11th July - Vaud
190  Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 13th July - Vaud
191  Common brassy ringlet (Erebia cassioides) - 13th July - Vaud
192  Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 13th July - Vaud
193  Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon) - 15th July - Valais
194  Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 15th July - Valais
195  Blue-spot hairstreak (Satyrium spini) - 15th July - Valais
196  Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 15th July - Valais
197  Small Apollo (Parnassius phoebus) - 15th July - Valais
198  Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 15th July - Valais
199  Warren's skipper (Pyrgus warrenensis) - 21st July - Valais
200  Silky ringlet (Erebia gorge) - 22nd July - Tessin
201  Yellow-banded ringlet (Erebia flavofasciata) - 22nd July - Tessin
202  Dusky grizzled skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae) - 22nd July - Tessin
203  Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 27th July - Vaud
204  Dryad (Minois dryas) - 31st July - Valais
205  Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 11th August - Suffolk
206  Water ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 31st August - Vaud
207  Tree grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus) - 1st September - Valais
208  Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - 1st September - Valais

*I believe it is possible to separate reali and sinapis in the field, without killing them. There is more work to be done here, though! Statistically, about 25% of wood whites in Switzerland are reali.


Commentary
(Links in the commentary are to pictures of the particular butterflies referred to)
January
16th: I went hairstreak egg hunting in the Rhône Valley on what turned out to be a bitterly cold day. This shows how cold it was in the woods! But the day was successful. I found about half a dozen brown hairstreak eggs at one site, and a single egg at another (this is a closer view of that egg), where I hadn't found them before. Some of them were tightly jammed into forks in the branches and all were at least near forks. There were also plenty of purple hairstreak eggs to be seen on low-growing sprigs of oak. Here are two together on the same twig, and here another two on a different twig. Here is another purple hairstreak egg. While looking for brown hairstreak eggs I found this egg, which I have not yet identified. These strange objects have nothing to do with butterflies, and I haven't identified them either!
17th: Grim weather - wet, cold, foggy. I took a walk to my local woods to see if I could find white-letter hairstreak eggs. When I got there I realised I couldn't identify wych elm in winter, with thick snow on the ground, and so no hope of finding leaves. Nevertheless, walking home I did check some oak trees and found this purple hairstreak egg (and here). It is my first evidence of purple hairstreak in the region (I moved here in November 2008), so was very pleasing.
23rd: A warm, sunny day in the Rhône Valley, but no butterflies were flying even in the hot spots. I had another look for purple hairstreak eggs and again found plenty. I didn't notice it at the time, but there are two eggs on the sprig in the background in this photo. Here and here are others, and here is one laid, unusually, away from the bud.
24th: More purple hairstreak egg-hunting, this time in the oaks around Huémoz. I found plenty of eggs, on many different trees in the same region where I found one on 17th. In addition to healthy eggs I found two that had been parasitised (and here). They were on different trees. I am told that the parasite is most likely to be a tiny wasp of the genus Trichogramma. The wasp eggs are laid through the micropyle (the pore in the central depression of the egg) and the large hole in the side of the eggs is the exit passage of the wasp.

February
13th: We have had almost unbroken cold recently, and it was cold again today. But as it was the first day of my half-term I went down to the Rhône Valley to look for eggs. This is a view along the valley - sunny, but through a freezing haze. The temperature never got above zero in the shade, as this photo, taken at about 1.00pm shows. But the good light meant it was easy to find eggs. Purple hairstreak eggs were very easy to find. Here is another. I  have now checked oak trees over a wide area and almost all have eggs in them. The species really must be abundant in these parts! Here is an egg I found dangling from attaching threads, which I think has been parasitised. I collected it but unfortunately then lost it trying to get a closer look! Brown hairstreak eggs were much more local but I did find them at two separate sites. Here are two laid very close together. In addition, I found this smooth egg on blackthorn while I was looking for brown hairstreaks. I don't know what it is, though it is likely to be a moth. Here is a (bad) photo showing its slightly greenish colour.
16th: My birthday began gloriously sunny and I decided to walk down to Ollon and look for early small tortoiseshells in the vineyards and other hotspots. Unfortunately, cloud came over by midday and there was no chance of anything flying. But the day remained quite mild and the prospect is for less bitter cold than in recent weeks. In the woods above the vineyards I checked the few appropriate oaks that were also accessible and rapidly found that purple hairstreak flies there too. Here is an egg. Lower down, however, the oaks seemed to be of a different species, with larger, persistent leaves and smaller buds. Many were accessible, by the quiet road running along their southern edge, but I found no eggs there.
27th: Bright and sunny morning in the Rhône Valley, but not warm. A chilly easterly breeze kept even the usual hotspots cool. There were other signs it was still winter -  notably, a lack of speedwell flowers, or any other nectar plants for early butterflies. The only prominent flowers were occasional patches of crocuses. It was thus little surprise that no small tortoiseshells or Queens of Spain were flying - my target species. I was very lucky, however, to see this single red admiral, struggling to stay warm in adverse conditions. By midday clouds had come over and it was too cold to expect anything else. Brown hairstreak and purple hairstreak eggs were still easy to find.

March
1st: Bright and sunny all morning, though there was a chilly wind. At lunchtime, four small tortoiseshells were sparring, chasing and sunning in Huémoz.
2nd-7th: Return of cold weather. I have spent the last few days in Berlin, where temperatures have been hovering around zero and where it snowed today (7th).
11th: Still consistently cold, rarely breaking 0°C. It was -12°C yesterday morning and felt as cold this morning. Snow fell today. No butterflies.
13th: A very cold morning, but sun was forecast all day for Valais so I headed off, hoping for a few butterflies on the wing. I was not disappointed, though photography was a little hampered as I was walking a friend's dog and he hadn't been trained in butterfly etiquette! The first small tortoiseshell flew at 10.20am and I saw a total of 11 during the day. Very locally, Queen of Spain fritillaries (that was a very long shot!) were flying. I saw probably at least 5 in total, sunning, chasing and sparring by a vineyard path and on nearby rocks. Finally, a single large tortoiseshell put in an appearance at about 1.00pm. It was magnificent to see it swooping majestically and it even settled on some bare rock long enough for me to snatch a record shot. The usual butterfly eggs were easy to find: brown hairstreak, purple hairstreak and yet another mystery egg. There are now many signs of spring. Crag martins are flying, lizards are out and about, the pasque flowers are unfurling to be ready for easter and there are carpets of speedwell and also hepatica around the edges of woods. But it's still cold, and a bitter wind blew from about 2.30pm, as I set off home.
14th: Another gloriously sunny day, though not hot. I took a trip further along the Rhône Valley but ended up seeing exactly the same species as yesterday. In all, I saw more than a dozen small tortoiseshells, a couple of Queen of Spain fritillaries and a single large tortoiseshell, that didn't stop for a photocall. At about 11.30am the temperature in the shade was clearly about zero. Puddles were completely frozen and this stream was still solid ice. Even in the sun water had an icy crust on it.
16th: A small tortoiseshell flew in Villars.
17th: Still a chilly breeze, but there was warm sun and butterflies were flying. A few small tortoiseshells were on the wing in Villars and I saw about a dozen in a lunchtime walk near Huémoz. On the same walk I saw three male brimstones on the wing (two in the air at once at one point and a single one some way away). They didn't stop anywhere accessible, but I did get this shot of one as it drifted past me (and here). There is still plenty of snow on the ground in the woods.
19th:  Some of my students were up on the glacier for the day and I found myself with time to zoom down to the valley on my bike. It was a glorious day and actually felt warm (T-shirt warm) for the first time this year. Small tortoiseshells and Queen of Spain fritillaries were common, with dozens of each species flying. I saw half a dozen large tortoiseshells too, all looking rather worn, in contrast with a week ago. Here is a different one, and here is that last one taking minerals. My first small white of the year flew past quite close, without stopping for a photo. I can't be 100% certain it was small white and not green-veined, but I am confident enough to record it as small white here. I checked all my precocious grizzled skipper sites twice, at widely separated intervals, and none were flying. This is late for the species by recent standards. In fact, I was a little surprised at how few species were flying, on such a lovely day; but there must be many more just round the corner. Early dog violets were out, and sweet violets, and storksbill and various speedwells were common. Lizards were everywhere and I saw my first black redstart of the year. Other signs of spring were green tiger beetles, hummingbird hawk moths and lots of bees and hover flies.
23rd:  A lovely sunny morning. At lunchtime I visited my local woods to see if I could find my first peacock and comma of the year. I found two or three peacocks but my disappointment at not seeing a comma was more than compensated by a magnificent Camberwell beauty I disturbed from sunning on some corrugated iron - my first ever on the local patch. As so often with this species, it was up and away almost before I'd seen it, briefly pausing on a post and then disappearing. But it is a promising sighting - there are purple emperors and large tortoiseshells in the same area, and plenty of sallow. I waited 15 minutes for it to return, and revisited after a further half hour, but never saw it again. Also seen today were plenty of small tortoiseshells (many of them very enthusiastic about the abundant coltsfoot flowers), at least three male brimstones, two large tortoiseshells and a red admiral. On the way home I checked my local purple hairstreak site (in fact, I checked one egg by the path, that is easy to locate) to see if there were any changes. There weren't. The egg looks just as it did a couple of months ago. There was one surprise left, though. Casually checking some blackthorn just three minutes walk away from my house I discovered a few brown hairstreak eggs! Here is another. I should be able to check these eggs daily in a month or so and get photographs of the larvae. A great day!!
24th:  Warm and sunny again. I had a little time off at lunch, so nipped to the woods again, where my first commas of the year were flying (3 individuals). Here is an underside. More peacocks were on the wing than yesterday, as well as plenty of small tortoiseshells, three male brimstones and a large tortoiseshell. No more glimpses of Camberwell beauty!
29th: My last day in Switzerland before leaving on holiday was bright and breezy in the afternoon, after a cold morning. I had an hour to spare and checked the local woods, where small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma and brimstone were all flying.

April
1st:  Arrived in Kolkata, India.
2nd:  In the morning we visited a flower market to buy flowers to put on my grandfather's grave. I had my first views of Indian butterflies on the way, including common emigrant Catopsilia pomona, striped tiger, Danaus genutia, blue tiger, Tirumala limniace, and plain tiger, Danaus chrysippus, but no chances then to photograph them. My grandfather lies in the military cemetery in Kolkata, in a beautiful, peaceful setting, watched over by an Indian crow and with wonderful butterflies all around. Here is a common jay, Graphium doson, flying in another part of the cemetery (and here). European swallowtails flew there too, though none stopped for a picture. A third swallowtail, the common mormon, joined them - I got photos of that on later days. This blue pansy, Junonia orithiya, was in the military part of the cemetery. It is a lovely butterfly, with brilliant blue on the upperside, which sadly I failed to catch on film. Other species in the cemetery were:   the psyche, Leptosia nina, (a small butterfly related to the wood whites, which behaved very like the wood whites too), dark grass blue, Zizeeria karsandra (a common species in the cemetery - very small, found in all the rough grassy patches), tiny grass blue, Zizula hylax (an absolutely minuscule creature), forget-me-not (and here), Catochrysops strabo (an elegant species rather like a pale long-tailed blue, and with a similar flight), long-tailed blue, Lampides boeticus (this turned out to be the commonest blue of the whole trip, flying throughout India), common grass yellow, Eurema hecabe (common, flittering around the edges of the cemetery and around bushes), common fourring, Ypthima huebneri (a very variable butterfly, which looked rather different when I saw it in the south of India), and common castor, Ariadne merione (I saw several, but had great difficulty getting anywhere near them!). One plain tiger in the cemetery was a little more obliging than those I had seen earlier in the day. Here is another shot.
3rd:  Still in Kolkata. I did most of my butterflying today in the Eaden park, though I saw common emigrants (and possibly marbled emigrants too) and various tigers in the town too. In the park I had two new blues for the holiday, the lesser grass blue, Zizina otis, and the plains cupid, Chilades  pandava (and here). Both were reasonably common in the grassy areas and near or on hedges. I had a few chances to photograph common emigrants, but these are restless butterflies and it was not easy! This is a tawny coster, Acraea violae (and here) - a butterfly I saw a few of, but never found commonly. I also identified my first common crows, Euploea core, of the holiday. Here is a common mormon, Papilio polytes (and here). I was able to photograph a few common grass yellows today, but they were still usually quite difficult. This grey pansy, Junonia atlites, was the only one of this species I saw in the holiday.
5th:  Mysore, South India. Early in the morning I found my only skipper of the trip, this common banded awl, Hasora chromus. It was skulking around the hotel gardens. In the morning we went up the Chamundi hills to the temple of Chamundeshwari, where various large butterflies were on the wing, including swallowtails that could have been roses or female mormons (their mimics) and various tigers. On the way down, near Shiva's bull, I found this chocolate pansy, Junonia iphita (here is an underside), but never got close to it. I spent the afternoon in a park, where butterflies flew in their droves. Blue tigers numbered in their thousands, often roosting together in the shade (and here, and here), settling on the ground, and very occasionally visiting flowers. With them were plenty of common crows and a few striped tigers. This is one of the female forms of common mormon, mimicking the crimson rose, Aatrophaneura hector, which also flew in the park. The two can easily be told apart with a good view from the abdomen, which is red in the roses and dark in the mormon. Here is another crimson rose, rarely settled on a leaf towards evening at the hotel (it was disturbed by a hotel cleaner while I was approaching, otherwise I would have got great photos of it!). Here is a three-spot grass yellow, Eurema blanda, named for the three spots in the cell of the forewing. This was common in the park. Two new blues for the holiday were the cerulean, Jamides celeno, and the dark cerulean, Jamides bochus. This latter species has a brilliant, lustrous, deep blue metallic upperside, but it was far too hot for any to rest showing this wonderful colour. Another new blue was the pale grass blue, Pseudozizeeria maha. This is like the dark grass blue but considerably bigger and with a pale blue upperside in the male. Another new blue for me was this zebra blue, Leptotes plinius (and here), closely related to the European Lang's short-tailed blue. I also found several tailless lineblues, Prosotas dubiosa indica, puddling in sandy parts of the park. With them was onen of the tailed lineblues, the transparent 6-lineblue (Nacaduba kurava), which I didn't spot as being a different butterfly until I was looking at the photos some months later!! Otherwise, I would have gone in for better pictures. Two or three tailed jays were on the wing in part of the park, but I could never get close enough for a good shot - they never, ever, seemed to stop!
6th: Drove to Ooty, in the Nilgiri Hills. On the way we passed through the Mulamadai tiger reserve, where we saw wild elephants from the car (and here) as well as working elephants, families of monkeys (and here), buffaloes, deer and termites' nests. No tigers, unsurprisingly. The first butterfly I saw in Ooty was, appropriately, the Nilgiri clouded yellow, Colias nilagiriensis, endemic to the region. Here is another female and here a male at roost in the evening - the only male I was able to get a close shot of. The same evening I also got my first glimpse of gram blue, Euchrysops cnejus - a species I would get better views of later. A few blue tigers were also flying, but I was surprised at how little was on the wing after my experiences in the hot plains.
7th:  Still surprised at how little flies in the hills here. But an early morning trip to the Botanic gardens produced a new species for the trip, the lesser gull, Cepora nadina. I saw two or possibly three of these. Long-tailed blues and zebras also flew in the gardens and there were several Nilgiri clouded yellows too. Three-spot grass yellows had appeared by about 10.00am, when I set off back to the hotel. In the afternoon we took the blue train to Coonoor (or rather, its replacement, as the tracks were still under repair from flooding last November). I saw the unmistakeable red Helen, Papilio helena from the train.
8th: Mostly cloudy, but I saw Nilgiri clouded yellows and grass yellows around the Lawrence School at Lovedale, where we spent much of the day.
9th:  The last day of the trip. We drove up to Doddabetta peak in the morning, where I found my first fritillaries of the trip - the Indian fritillary, Argyrea hyperbius. In fact, that was the only species of fritillary I saw, though I got them later in the day lower down. There were also what appeared to be some kind of cabbage whites there, which I later identified as common albatrosses, Appias albina. Here is a female common albatross photographed later in the day, in the arboretum in Ooty. Blue tigers streamed past all day, in apparently endless succession, and I'm sure there were some Malabar tree nymphs flying with them, generally quite high and lazily, though I can't be certain of this. Various swallowtails were flying, including crimson roses and red Helens and one of the peacocks (Papilio sp) with brilliant blue on the hindwing, though this I only saw from the car and can't identify it to species. Instead of lunch I wandered along roads on the south side of Ooty lake, where I found lots of long-tailed blues around and on the broom, as well as this single painted lady, my first of the year. Near the arboretum I disturbed a club beak, Libythea myrrha, which promptly flew over the wall into the arboretum. I followed, and it did the same in reverse, flipping back over to the road. I never did get a picture of it... Also in the arboretum was this gram blue, giving me wonderful photo-opportunites (and here). On my way back to the hotel I popped into the churchyard of St Thomas's church, where more gram blues were flying.
12th:  Snow back home in Switzerland!
13th: Chilly but bright. In the local woods comma, small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral were all flying. No whites or brimstones, but it did feel distinctly cold. The purple hairstreak egg I have been monitoring to see when it hatches seems to be broken on the side (and here). This brown hairstreak egg is still in perfect condition, though.
17th:  A glorious, warm day in the Rhône Valley. 30 species were flying, at two sites - and I suspect I might have seen more at the second (near Martigny) if there hadn't been quite a strong wind, putting a damper on butterfly activity. Of the 30 species, I saw just a single, fresh individual of many, and it seems still to be rather a late year, if a good one. Small tortoiseshells were common throughout the day, as were peacocks and commas. Of the other hibernators, I saw a few large tortoiseshells (now looking mostly rather worn), one red admiral, one brimstone and one Camberwell beauty. Green hairstreaks were common, popping up all over the place, defending territories and buzzing around bushes. Early in the day I saw this male southern small white and probably saw several more during the day, though small whites were commoner. I saw no females of either species. Queen of Spain fritillaries were very common, as expected. Here is my first of many speckled woods, which were a constant accompaniment to the shadier parts of my walk. Grizzled skippers are now frequent, though it still seems to be early season for them, and at one site I saw a single rosy grizzled skipper. Here is the characteristic underside. Dingy skippers flew at both sites but surprisingly I only found one mallow skipper during the day. Bath whites were generally common at my first site, cruising around, nectaring and engaging in spring-time rough and tumble. At the same site were many Berger's clouded yellows. Orange tips were common everywhere, both males and females. I saw several swallowtails, many of them nectaring at dandelions, but fewer scarce swallowtails - just two or three. A few violet fritillaries were flying at both sites, though Queens greatly outnumbered them. Wood whites are now common. None stopped for a photo-call. Three baton blues crossed my path and plenty of holly blues (all males, I think). I saw just one green-underside blue. Here is my first small heath of the year. At my second site I started seeing green-veined whites, my first of the year. I was surprised not to see these earlier. A single wall brown was flying here too. I didn't stop to check brown hairstreak eggs but I did look at a purple hairstreak egg I have been checking every time I pass. It has hatched (the apparent hole in the side is just the sun cast through the upper hole - the caterpillar has emerged through the micropyle). I didn't see any sign of the larva, or any hole in the bursting bud, interestingly. But the best sighting by far was saved until last: this gorgeous female short-tailed blue, my first ever of the spring brood. She didn't hang around for pictures, but that one long shot already shows how pristine and blue she was. A marvellous day!
18th: A day of rather mixed weather, with warmth and sun really only in the late morning. I took that opportunity to visit a local site (c. 500m) where short-tailed blues were flying in August. I saw a single blue, quite probably Everes sp., but it didn't hang around. Other than that, a small colony of violet fritillaries was active, as well as small whites, orange tips, brimstone, peacocks and small tortoiseshells. I saw a couple of commas.
21st: Took a lunchtime walk in my local woods. Orange tips are suddenly common here, and female brimstones have appeared (until now, I've only seen males at this altitude). Peacocks are common but small tortoiseshells are almost over, with just a few tatty individuals still hanging around. Green-veined whites and small whites were both flying - no southern small whites here yet - and I saw my first large white (a female, strangely). Several commas, but no red admirals and no blues or skippers up here yet. I did see this green hairstreak, setting up a territory on low brush and herbs, my first for Huémoz this year.
23rd: A working day, but I had time to nip down to the valley after school and check out the local short-tailed blue site. No short-tailed blues were flying, but the colony of violet fritillaries was still strong, and I also saw brimstone, comma, peacock, small heath, small white and green-veined white.
24th:  A warm, sunny day in Valais, with Matt Rowlings. Altogether we saw 33 species, spread over three sites, then we visited a final site when the day was cooling and saw rather little. We saw: Peacock (continues to be very common this year - here is an egg batch on the underside of a nettle leaf, with some parasitic wasps attending, and here), Queen of Spain (present everywhere), dingy skipper (common), chequered blue (the first of the year, but the species was out in force, particularly at a new site for us further east along the valley than we normally find it - here is an upperside and here a mating pair), scarce swallowtail (quite numerous, with up to three being seen in the air together), swallowtail (a few), holly blue (not numerous, but present in small numbers everywhere), small tortoiseshell (not very many), orange tip (very common), mallow skipper (several), green-underside blue (not common, but we saw several during the course of the day), pearl-bordered fritillary (just the one seen, at our first site in the valley), brimstone (common throughout the day, mostly males but some females), Berger's pale clouded yellow (locally, becoming frequent but not yet really common), grizzled skipper (locally common, but never abundant), rosy grizzled skipper (we waited a long time for that one individual and searches on the neighbouring mountainside produced nothing), small heath (getting commoner), Chapman's blue (quite common now locally - here is a mating pair - no common blues), baton blue (a few individuals - here is another shot of the same one nectaring on Prunus blossom), green hairstreak (common, as last weekend), Eastern Bath white (a handful, rather locally), large white (just a handful), small white (similarly, not that many seen, but occasional everywhere - southern small white and green-veined white were not conclusively identified today so I don't include them in the list, though they were doubtless flying), Provençal short-tailed blue (just a very few - the species in not out yet in most of its haunts), Camberwell beauty (four fly-bys, perhaps by the same individual, perhaps by as many as four, spread out over about half an hour or perhaps more), comma (quite numerous), De Prunner's ringlet (locally frequent, but not yet common), violet fritillary (locally common), wall brown (just a small handful, locally, in the hottest part of the day), Glanville fritillary (this individual was attracted by dung and eventually landed on it - it was the only one we saw), speckled wood (common in the shady parts of the walk), brown argus (a single individual, seen poorly from the underside only - assuming it was a male it could only have been brown argus and not northern brown argus, from the wingshape), wood white (occasional everywhere). This viper was boldly climbing a rock face when we found it and posed for a few pictures.
25th: Forecast was for a sunny morning, degrading into cloud and later rain. So I stayed local, beginning with the meadows at Gryon and Les Posses. These are comparatively unadvanced still, with short grass, often overlaid with last year's dead grass. The season is just beginning here, though I found a few grizzled skippers, violet fritillaries, a green hairstreak, Queens of Spain defending territories in the grass, wood whites, green-veined whites, orange tips, Berger's pale clouded yellows, small tortoiseshells and peacocks. No blues at either of these sites. I looked for meadow fritillaries, but these are not flying yet. The grass is nowhere near long enough for Duke of Burgundies yet. After this I visited my local woods near Huémoz. Butterfly of the day was brimstone. This is a male, happily nectaring, and this is a female doing the same. This other female had no time for such trifles, though! She was busy laying eggs (here is a close-up of her concentrating very hard on getting that egg out and onto the bud - I think she's smiling). Here, here and here are some of the eggs she laid. Also in the woods were commas, a single small tortoiseshell, wood whites, green-veined whites, peacocks, violet fritillaries, a Queen of Spain fritillary, speckled woods and a single blue that didn't seem to me to be holly blue but which didn't stop flying. Although I saw relatively few butterflies, the woods seem poised to burst into new life at the moment, with buds bursting open and sap rising fast. This is a hatched purple hairstreak egg - the larva will be in the bud, which is just beginning to loosen and open. Close by was this green hairstreak. Nearer to home, my brown hairstreak eggs still haven't hatched, though they are now set in bushes breaking with new greenery. Here, here and here are some more eggs, all with greenery in the picture. A large tortoiseshell flew past as I walked home and another blue, that also didn't look like holly, zoomed across the field in front of me.
26th: The brown hairstreak eggs are hatching. Here is one at about 10.30 this morning, with the head of the caterpillar showing through the micropyle as a black spot. Here is the same egg when I got back from school in the evening. These three eggs were photographed this morning (two still intact, one hatched) and were in the same state in the evening. I searched for larvae but they were impossible to find - they must be hidden in still-furled leaves.
27th:  More brown hairstreak eggs had hatched by the time I checked them after school: here and here. A few others seemed to be getting ready for emergence, like this one perhaps, and this one certainly. Nevertheless, that last one hadn't emerged by the time I last checked it, at about 8.30pm. Doubtless, it will crawl out while I am at school tomorrow.
28th:  Yes, that egg hatched out while I was at school, as did several others. It still seems impossible to find an emerging or emerged larva!
29th:  Finished school late but wandered down to the woods to see how things were developing. Leaves are unfurling all over the place and the brimstone eggs laid on rather closed buds on Sunday are now changing colour from yellow to green as the buds open into leaves. Here, here and here are some photos. More brown hairstreak eggs have hatched but no larvae yet forthcoming. There are still some unhatched eggs!!

May
7th:  The weather has been pretty grim recently. When the sun has come through briefly a few butterflies have flown in the Huémoz region - small white, green-veined white, orange tip, violet fritillary, small heath, wood white, comma and peacock have all been around. When I got home from school this evening I did a circuit of some of my early stages sites. In the woods I was thrilled to find this purple emperor caterpillar. Here is a picture showing his resting position on the centre line of the leaf and the characteristic nibble marks he has made to either side. The head apparatus really looks very strange from the side! Nearer to home I checked my brown hairstreak site and found a single larva. Because of the dull weather (and the fact it was evening) it was hard to get good photos or even see what I was looking at, but I am fairly certain this is a brown  hairstreak caterpillar. Here is another picture. Both these caterpillars are firsts for me and very exciting!
8th:  As the forecast was for cloud and not much warmth I went looking for mountain dappled whites in Valais - whites often fly in conditions other species consider too cold. But in the event the sun shone most of the day and although there was a chilly breeze I still saw 24 species of butterfly. These included at least a dozen mountain dappled whites, many drifting around on circuits, checking out their foodplant whenever they passed it, then moving on. The first one I saw I netted, for the record, and he decided he liked it so much in the warm, plastic box, which sheltered him from the wind, he refused to leave (and here)! I had to push him out, after which he flapped off in a sulk to look for another warm,  plastic box. Among the other species new for the year was Duke of Burgundy, which was flying in the same region as the dappled whites. Here is a pregnant female. At a different site, on the way home, I found these little blues mating, also new for the year, and a single common blue, again my first of the year. I saw, but could not photograph, a single red-underwing skipper in the valley, flying around its foodplant, which is just coming into flower. The other species seen today were: Dingy skipper, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, large white, small white, green-veined white, southern small white, orange tip, brimstone, Berger's pale clouded yellow (I still haven't seen a clouded yellow this year!), Provençal short-tailed blue (this is not yet common, but I saw a few near valley level - here is a female), green-underside blue (that was a male - here is a female), Chapman's blue, green hairstreak, Camberwell beauty (as so often, I got nowhere near it, but I did get this proof shot...), small tortoiseshell (just one, at altitude), small heath, De Prunner's ringlet and comma. Instead of going straight home I visited the site where I found the purple emperor caterpillar yesterday and checked him out. To all appearances, he hasn't moved!! I pointed him out to some Swiss gentlemen taking a woodland walk and they were delighted to see him!
9th:  Forecast gloomy again but in late morning I decided to risk it and take a trip to a local site in the valley, in the hope of short-tailed blues. These didn't materialise, though I saw several Provençal short-tailed blues (and here). The sun shone rarely but its presence was felt continuously through the cloud and a few other things did fly. These included my first, freshly emerged, sooty coppers of the year (and here, and here), several green-underside blues, including this stunning male, small whites, green-veined whites, wood whites, small heaths, a single swallowtail, orange tips, a single Chapman's blue, lots of walls (and here) and my first Swiss painted lady of the year (I saw at least two in total). I am quite sure this is Réal's wood white, and have recorded it as such for the year list (both species of wood white are common in Switzerland). On the way home I stopped off at Gryon, despite the fact it was starting to rain. I was pleasantly surprised to find this Duke of Burgundy braving the weather. This violet fritillary shows what the conditions were like... OK, that was unnecessarily dramatic: this picture shows what it was really like. The only other species foolish enough to be on the wing was little blue. Later, I revisited my brown hairstreak site, where this larva was pretty much where it was two days ago. This purple emperor caterpillar was in exactly the same position as it was two days ago. It may be shedding its skin, and taking its time because of the low temperatures.
10th: The purple emperor caterpillar still hasn't moved - he's been immobile like this since Friday, at least.
11th:  This evening I was relieved to find the purple emperor caterpillar had shed his old skin and would now be able to start eating up again! I think the pad next to his bottom is his silken throne, where he has been sitting for the last few days, rather than his old skin. Here is another angle. The light was fading and it was foggy, so it was difficult to get pictures. Earlier in the day, when the sun shone briefly, I found a female large tortoiseshell cruising around my garden. There is a young sallow in the garden, which I hope she has laid eggs on...
13th: It rained all day today. Here, here and here are some photos of my now growing purple emperor caterpillar. It is far too wet to search for those tiny brown hairstreak caterpillars at the moment!
15th: Still rain. More caterpillar pictures: Purple emperor (and here, and here, and here); brown hairstreak (and here).
16th: The forecast and the view from the window this morning was dismal. Nevertheless, I joined Matt Rowlings to see if we could find Oberthür's grizzled skipper in Valais. We both suspected we might see absolutely no butterflies all day, especially as the outside temperature was 7° C at our first site. Nothing flew there, though we enjoyed the orchids - here is a lady orchid and here a butterfly orchid. We moved on to another site, by which time the outside temperature was 8° C, and were quite pleased to find this Adonis blue roosting. More Adonis blues followed - here is a male and here a female. Locally, the species was almost common. There were also small heaths flying, and a wall, and a single Oberthür's grizzled skipper, our first for Switzerland (not counting the one we thought we had last year...). Here is an underside, taken in its plastic box (I netted and released it). Here, here and here some more pictures of the upperside. At the same site a spotted fritillary flew, my first for the year. We found no more Oberthür's grizzlies. Despite the weather, we saw a total of 17 species during the day, including common blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, little blue, small white, green-veined white, wood white, orange tip, Berger's pale clouded yellow, dingy skipper, green hairstreak, Queen of Spain fritillary and violet fritillary. I arrived home in Huémoz to rain and an evening as grim as the early morning. But a most successful day, all things considered!
17th: Yet another cold (very cold) and sometimes rainy day. In the evening I went to the woods to check on Nero, my purple emperor caterpillar. Then, without much hope I again started searching for his brothers and sisters. To my delight and amazement, I found two of them, both far more developmentally advanced than Nero, doubtless because they are higher up fuller sallows with a more southerly aspect, and so their spring will have begun earlier than his. This is Julius and this is Augustus. Here and here are photos of them in context, showing how beautifully camouflaged they are against their leafy background. While searching the sallows I also came across this fascinating creature, and this geometer.
18th: Another evening visit to my various caterpillars. Nero is still in exactly the same place I found him 11 days ago. Julius and Augustus have both moved to different resting leaves, here and here respectively. Nearer home, this brown hairstreak caterpillar was hard to photograph because of the failing light. Here and here are more pictures. He is nowhere near full size yet.
21st:  School finished at lunchtime, so after lunch I visited relatively local sites on my bike. In my local woods I was delighted to see a Camberwell beauty parading. I might have had wonderful pictures of him, but a local farmer engaged me in conversation (about butterflies) and they didn't happen! Pearl-bordered fritillaries are now flying in the woods, with brimstones (plenty, males and females), commas, a single peacock, wood whites, green-veined whites, small whites, a single Provençal short-tailed blue and speckled woods. Nero was still on the same leaf he has always occupied and Julius was on his, but Augustus has disappeared. At my next site I hoped to find spring brood short-tailed blues. I spent two hours there, seeing plenty of swallowtails, mostly past their prime, scarce swallowtails, small heaths, common blues, Adonis blues, little blues, green-underside blues, walls, wood whites, green-veined whites, orange tips and a single large white. Then, finally, I found a female short-tailed blue. I had been waiting and watching by clovers and bird's-foot trefoil, but she was interested only in sainfoin, on which she was laying eggs. Here is a sainfoin head with a pale green egg visible, and here a closer view of the egg. I didn't know short-tailed blue used this foodplant. She nectared readily on sainfoin, but between bouts of egg-laying took sustenance at kidney vetch too (and here). While checking some blackthorn for evidence of brown or black hairstreaks, I found this beetle larva (I think) just crawling out of his old skin. At my final site I found my first meadow fritillaries of the year (here is a female, and here a heavily marked male) and two woodland ringlets, also my first of the year. At the same site were common blues, little blues, a female green-underside blue, a few whites and small heaths. As well as the fresh meadow fritillaries there were violet fritillaries, but these were all looking past their youth.
22nd: The first really hot day of the year! I took my bike on the train to a couple of sites in the Rhône Valley, where, although it was still early season (notice all the snow still on the mountains in this picture) and I missed most of my targets for the day, I managed to see 40 species of butterfly, including 5 new for the year. The missed targets were zephyr blue, Provençal fritillary, turquoise blue and Osiris blue (though I think I did probably see Osiris in flight). It is simply too early this year for these species. What I did see, roughly in the order I saw them, were: green-veined white (seen here with a grizzled skipper), scarce swallowtail and swallowtail, Provençal short-tailed blue, short-tailed blue (I took this picture thinking it was a Provençal short-tailed blue, but changed my mind when I saw the photograph, noting in particular the long tails and the orange spots, which although not well marked are too big for Provençal I think), de Prunner's ringlet (and here - the species was regular throughout the day), orange tip, dingy skipper (here is a beautiful golden one!), painted lady, small white and southern small white, large white, small heath, wood white, olive skipper (just one seen, with notably large spots on the forewings), mallow skipper, grizzled skipper (in countless varieties - here, here, here and here), little blue (and here), brimstone, Queen of Spain fritillary, comma, red admiral, peacock, Duke of Burgundy, Camberwell beauty (this was so common today, at both sites, that I almost stopped pausing to watch them!! Here and here are a couple more shots. I found it more enjoyable just to witness them cruising around than to try and photograph them), speckled wood, heath fritillary (this individual was at the Provençal fritillary site, but although I didn't see the underside I am confident from the upperside it is heath, not Provençal), Adonis blue, chequered blue (this was at a place I've never seen them before, and it was noticeably bluer than the ones further west along the valley, where I normally see them), baton blue, green underside blue (mostly looking very old now), Glanville fritillary, common blue, Chapman's blue, small copper (two seen, that last one caerulopunctata and the other not), brown argus, pale clouded yellow (I identified that male in the hand but then he didn't hang around for good shots!), Berger's pale clouded yellow, safflower skipper (just one seen, my first of the year), mazarine blue (a single male seen). This yellow spider was quite dramatic, and quite frightening in its miniature world.
23rd:  Another trip into Valais, on another hot day. The target for the day was Nickerl's fritillary, of which I saw about four individuals. Here and here are shots of the same individual as in the first picture, and here is a different individual. This last one was seeking shade in the heat of the day (taking minerals on a dung heap) - the species is not a heat lover, and will rarely open its wings in direct sun. I expected to see Amanda's blues and in the end found just one. I am certain I found a small colony of Osiris blues, but the one male present had no intention of stopping incessant flights between two separated patches of sainfoin and the clearly Osiris female (which I examined closely) magically avoided getting caught on camera! Other blues on the wing were Provençal short-tailed, Chapman's blue, common blue and little blue. I saw two green hairstreaks and quite a lot of Duke of Burgundy fritillaries, including this one who had obviously been on the wing a while!! All the hibernators were still around, small tortoiseshell and large tortoiseshell (just one) looking very old now, but brimstones and peacocks still seeming fresh. Camberwell beauties were defending territories, as ever! In this picture, there is one clearly visible - he was attacking anything that flew into the gorge. If you can't see him, here is a detail from the same picture. Glanville fritillaries are common now, but there were no heath or false heath fritillaries with the Nickerl's fritillaries. Elsewhere, in the woods, pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying. Here is a pair of mating Queen of Spain fritillaries. For the skippers, I got this one very distant record shot of an olive skipper, saw a single safflower skipper, plenty of dingies and plenty of grizzlies. I am sure I found an Oberthür's grizzled skipper, but as I backed off to get my net it decided to zoom off to a different field. Berger's clouded yellows were flying but I have still yet to see my first clouded yellow of the season. I did see my first Apollos - the proof of which is this awful shot, also taken from a great distance! Scarce swallowtails were flying, but no swallowtails. Green-veined whites, small whites and wood whites were all common, and orange tips are still drifting along rides and roads. Here is an orange tip egg, laid on a crucifer I haven't identified yet (not one of the usual foodplants). Here is another shot. The egg is laid at the base of an opening flower. Small heaths and speckled woods held the fort for the Satyrids, with one or two walls flying too.
24th:  Had time in the afternoon to nip down to the Valley, where I saw at least one male iolas blue (and here), nectaring on the foodplant, bladder senna. A wonderful butterfly. Few other things were flying at the site - a small handful of other blues, including green-underside, a few Queens of Spain, a pearl-bordered fritillary, a red-underwing skipper and a few whites and Berger's clouded yellows. I didn't stay very long, as I wanted to check a couple of other sites. At one, idas blues were not yet flying and at the other I failed to find brown hairstreak larvae, despite having seen lots of eggs there earlier in the year. The iolas blue more than made up for these setbacks!
25th: The last (forecast) hot day for the time being. I took advantage of some time off in the afternoon to look for violet coppers at some local sites. Initially, it looked as though they weren't on the wing yet, as I searched for about 40 minutes in prime habitat without finding any. Then I found this female (and here) guzzling at aconite-leaved buttercup flowers. Here she is, getting really stuck in!! Nearby, this female was more interested in bistort leaves. I didn't chase her for shots of egg-laying because I knew this was her last day of sunshine for a while!! Then, just across a wet gully, I found about half a dozen fresh males sparring for sunspots. Here is a different individual - rather darker. As well as violet coppers I saw various whites (here is a green-veined white), little blues, common blues, loads of green hairstreaks tumbling in 3s and even 4s over the same marshy ground where the violet coppers were flying, two unidentified Erebia (I didn't expect them. Woodland ringlet is possibly the most likely, by the date), a fair few small tortoiseshells, dingy skippers, grizzled skippers (including one ab. intermedia) and this Duke of Burgundy - another surprise.
26th:  The weather broke today, with thunderstorms striking in the evening. Just before the first drops of rain I went to check on my purple emperor caterpillars. Nero has now moved from his original resting leaf, where I first found him on 7th May. It took me a little time to find him, but here he is, on a quite fresh bunch of leaves! Sadly, good photographs were impossible in the failing light. Here is the resting leaf he vacated and here the silken mat by which he had stuck himself to it. Julius is still in the same place I last saw him. He looks rather fresh and as if his skin is slightly too big for him, so I suspect he might just have undergone a skin change. I searched again for Augustus and was delighted to find what I think is him, some distance from where I discovered him initially. He is a little further out and higher up, so it was not possible to get close-up shots. Here is the best I could get without flash (he is just right of centre) and here a zoom in using flash. This picture clearly shows he too is sitting on a silken mat, and also that he is in the shrugged position, with the slightly awkward head, that Nero adopted just before his skin change. I think Augustus is about to shed his skin too. As I type this up, the storm is already abating and I hope that is it for the night - all these caterpillars would be vulnerable in a heavy alpine thunderstorm.
27th:  Nero, Julius and Augustus (whose present resting leaf is out of reach of good photos) were still all there this evening after the storm last night! Augustus is certainly laid up for ecdysis - his next skin change. Elsewhere in the woods I found this white-letter hairstreak caterpillar (and here). He was resting on the underside of the leaf, near the midrib and was clearly visible as a silhouette from below. After being disturbed by me he began walking off in a huff, so I left him to enjoy the rest of his evening in peace.
28th:  Julius is growing larger every day. Augustus did shed his skin - here he is now. Nero is still small but looking healthy. Here is a buff/brown white-letter hairstreak caterpillar.
29th: Mixed weather, with some warm sun but rain in the afternoon. Meadow fritillaries and Chapman's blues were common around Huémoz, and this chequered skipper male, defending his territory, was my first of the year.
30th:  Very dark and rainy day, so only caterpillars to see! Here are a white-letter hairstreak (and here) and a brown hairstreak (and here, and here). Finally, here are Nero, Julius and Augustus.

June
1st: Bad weather forecast, but in the event there was sunshine for much of the day, albeit with clouds rushing across. In my woods speckled woods, Provençal short-tailed blue, orange tips and wood whites were flying when they could, and I also saw my first large wall brown of the year. I found a different white-letter hairstreak caterpillar from the ones I had previously found, on a nearby wych elm. Nero is again laid up for ecdysis, which might give him a chance to grow a little bigger! Julius was mobile when I visited his site, and moved to a different resting leaf while I watched. Once there, he set about nibbling round the edge of the leaf. Here and here are two more photos, the first action photos I have been able to get so far of purple emperor caterpillars!! Augustus was motionless on his leaf, dangling out of reach over the void.
3rd:  After work I visited the emperors, to find that Augustus and Julius were nowhere to be found. They are both full grown now and I wonder if they have wandered off to look for a leaf to pupate under. Julius was behaving differently on Tuesday, eating during the day rather than resting up. Nero was still in his place today, all shiny and new after his skin change.
4th:  A beautiful, hot day at a single site in the Rhône Valley with a friend. Summer is now here, and some of the summer species were now fresh on the wing (as well as some summer broods, of small white and small tortoiseshell, for example), while spring species were looking rather worn. Altogether we saw 43 species, including many new for the year. In roughly the order they were seen: Large wall (reasonably common now), small white (summer broods looking large and fresh), scarce swallowtail (very common), large skipper (the first of the year, but there were quite a few about), Queen of Spain fritillary (several), Zephyr blue (just that one, looking very fresh - the species doesn't seem to be fully on the wing yet), small heath (quite common), Berger's pale clouded yellow (frequent - I didn't check them all for pale clouded yellow, but this latter species is often common at the site), black-veined white (common - here are more in a group with green-veined white, southern small white and safflower skipper), Provençal short-tailed blue (common, as ever!), southern small white (common), Apollo (common), orange tip (still quite a few males and some females around), Adonis blue (common), Provençal fritillary (easily the commonest fritillary - present all over the site - here is another shot), green-veined white (common), comma (a few around), Camberwell beauty (three individuals), wood white (quite common), wall (quite common), large blue (a single very dark male found), purple-shot copper (two individuals - my first of the year), baton blue (one very tatty male), brimstone (several males wandering up and down the rides), southern white admiral (a single male, cruising around and occasionally taking minerals), mazarine blue (several), common blue (common), small/Essex skipper (a single one found, but I didn't get close enough to identify it before it zoomed off), dingy skipper (common - but no grizzled skippers around), safflower skipper (several - here is one with an olive skipper), olive skipper (several, but only when the day got really hot - here is another individual with a slightly different pattern), swallowtail (just a few), marbled skipper (a single individual, freshly emerged and zooming all over the place without stopping!), marbled fritillary (several individuals, but not common yet), heath fritillary (two individuals), painted lady (a single one), small tortoiseshell (several - all very fresh), Chapman's blue (a single, worn female, from the first brood), speckled wood (common), little blue (very few individuals, and often not easy to separate from the female Provençal short-tailed blues that were now rather worn), green-underside blue (just that female), de Prunner's ringlet (quite a few, all over the site), green hairstreak (I didn't discover we had seen this until I got back. It was lurking in this photograph behind an olive skipper I was keen to get a picture of!). All in all, an excellent day!
5th:  Another good day in the Rhône Valley, this time with Philippe Bricaire, who was visiting from France, joining up with Matt Rowlings for some of the trip. We reached our first stop, for Iolas blues, too early in the morning (about 8.00am), but this was to guarantee Philippe some upperside shots. When the blues got up they did indeed open their wings while they nectared on the flowers of bladder senna! Later, in the heat of the day, they will only offer undersides. New for the year at that site was turquoise blue. Adonis blues, little blues, a Queen of Spain and a wall were also flying there - but actually very little altogether. At our next site, Zephyr blue was the target. This is a female on the foodplant. There were males on the foodplant when we arrived but they moved off, probably to take minerals in the heat of the day. Here is one doing just that (and here). At this second site were Chapman's blues, common blues, large blues (two or perhaps more seen), Osiris blues (just females seen, making the determination difficult), baton blues, little blues, pearl-bordered fritillaries, a single Alpine grayling, new for the year, that was particularly interested in Matt, several Camberwell beauties, in various states of repair from fresh(ish) to very worn, crowds of grizzled skippers, red-underwing skipper, olive skippers, safflower skippers, northern wall browns, small heaths, heath fritillaries,Queen of Spain fritillaries, dingy skippers, scarce swallowtails, swallowtails, Berger's clouded yellows, wood whites, small whites, green-veined whites, brimstones and doubtless other species that I am forgetting about as I write up (in a hurry). Ah yes - painted lady - a butterfly which is present but not very common this year. Matt located some mountain dappled white eggs - here is a freshly-laid one, pale sky blue. At our last site in the Rhône Valley many things had stopped flying, but there was still a Camberwell beauty, plenty of Apollos, whites and yellows, several blues and this Essex skipper, my first (officially) for the year. There were also plenty of caterpillars, including quite a few of what seemed to be spotted fritillaries on the foodplant of Provençal fritillary (toadflax). Here is a marbled fritillary caterpillar. Back home we hunted for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars and found two. The search for brown hairstreak caterpillars was much harder and we had almost given up when I found this beauty. Here is another shot of the same caterpillar. We found Nero in his usual place but again couldn't locate either Julius or Augustus.
8th:  I had a little time during the early afternoon to visit my local woods. I searched thoroughly for Julius and Augustus without finding them or any pupae - I think they have both moved some distance from where they were, perhaps higher up into the branches of the sallow. Nero, however, was still on his usual resting leaf (and here). This is a white-letter hairstreak caterpillar laid up for pupation (and here).
10th: Despite gale-force winds last night and today, the white-letter hairstreak caterpillar I found on 8th June has managed to pupate. He was still a caterpillar last night so he must have shed his last skin during the winds. Here and here are two more photos of the pupa. Elsewhere, Nero's perch had become more exposed due to the wind stripping leaves near him (or perhaps, more alarmingly, due to chamois or roe deer, both of which I have seen in that part of the wood), but his own leaf was still intact. Here he is.
11th:  Sunny, though very windy. I had some time off, so went to Gryon, arriving just as the cloud arrived. Despite this, and the wind, I saw my first false heath fritillary of the year and my first northern brown argus of the year (here is an underside). Meadow fritillaries were flying, and woodland ringlets (here is a female) but on the whole there was little to be seen because of the cloud and wind. No geranium arguses, for example, or large grizzled skippers, both of which I had hoped to find. There were Chapman's blues, little blues, several whites (including black-veined), a dingy skipper, wall browns, large walls and some Adonis blues. It looked better in the valley, so I carried on cycling down the hill and caught the train to Martigny, from where I visited many sites with blackthorn and privet in the hope of finding a black hairstreak. None appeared, but despite the wind (locally very strong indeed) there was plenty on the wing. Idas blues were flying near their foodplant, sea buckthorn (here is an underside) and a single purple-shot copper was nearby. Adonis blues, common blues and little blues were all common and chequered blues were still on the wing in rather reduced numbers from earlier in the year. I was thrilled to see my first clouded yellow of the year!! It flew off without stopping for a picture. On one site with blackthorn and privet many fritillaries were enjoying the privet blossom. These included Queen of Spain, marbled fritillary and spotted fritillary, as well as at least half a dozen Provençal fritillaries. These seem to be on the increase now in the western Rhône Valley and it was lovely to see them so close to home. The heat, coupled with the great wind, made photography difficult. Female safflower skippers were quite in evidence and I watched one lay this egg on the underside of a cinqfoil leaf. Here is another shot. Scarce swallowtails were still flying over the Prunus. There were several large skipper males defending territories and a small patch of Essex/small skippers. I never got close enough to identify them properly but I had the impression they were small skippers. They were annoying each other and settling very briefly, then suddenly disappeared.
12th: With awful weather forecast for our part of Switzerland, Matt Rowlings and I decided to head west and look for Reverdin's blue and other species in the Canton of Geneva, where sun and high temperatures were predicted. In the event, we arrived in cloud and spent most of the day in cloud, though this did not stop some excellent butterflies flying. The first to take to the wing were meadow browns - our first of the year. These were closely followed by marbled whites - again our first of the year. Small heaths flew too - then eventually Matt spotted a female Reverdin's blue in the grass. Here is her underside. We saw another female at the same site, also in apparently pristine condition, and wondered why there were no males. On leaving the site, some way away from the females, we came across this very worn male (and underside). It appears we were too late for the peak flight season. At the same site were both common blue and Adonis blue, and before we left we had seen mazarine blue too and one or two heath fritillaries. Arriving at our next site, where we hoped to find some hairstreaks, we saw a black-veined white, scarce swallowtail and small white. Much more exciting, though, was this female black hairstreak, which we were lucky to find at the first set of bushes we checked. Here is a closer view, and here a view in full sun, showing the bright orange colours. Matt glimpsed a second one later, dashing over blackthorn bushes, and I found a third, a rather worn male, nectaring on privet blossom (and here). These were my first black hairstreaks outside England! By this time the weather was turning again, as this shot of the very many black kites circling overhead shows. Flying at the same site were plenty of pearly heaths, some heath fritillaries, two green hairstreaks, another female Reverdin's blue (underside), Adonis blues, a grizzled skipper, a couple of mallow skippers, Berger's pale clouded yellow, black-veined whites and a peacock. A fresh small tortoiseshell and a brown argus were lurking in the grass some way off the main bushes and several marbled fritillaries were about. A male brimstone passed through at one point, looking rather pale, but on the whole there were few Pierids. Leaving that site we found a dead white admiral on the road. It hadn't been there when we arrived and sadly must have been freshly killed. At a third site, some distance away, we saw a single live white admiral, but by then the clouds had set in for good and effectively nothing was on the wing. During the day we saw several orchids, including butterfly orchids, a spectacular lizard orchid, several bee orchids and pyramidal orchids. Despite the weather, a really rewarding day in nature.
13th: Some sunshine in the middle of the day. In my local woods the white-letter hairstreak chrysalis was looking very smart. Here it is again, seen in a larger context. I couldn't find any more pupae but there are still some caterpillars about. Here is one high up in an elm tree - and here is the best picture I could get zooming in and cropping the photo. Nero was still sitting on his perch deep in the shade. He has been there since I found him, on May 7th. A few butterflies were flying: several commas (I didn't check them to see if they were hutchinsoni or the dark form), speckled woods, a female Provençal short-tailed blue, several wood whites and two Dukes of Burgundy (here is the other). These were competing for sunspots on the Japanese knotweed that is unfortunately invading their corner of the woods.
18th:  Continued bad weather, including heavy rainstorms. A single meadow brown was visible flying briefly in the middle of the day in meadows near my house, but otherwise no butterflies got off the ground. In my local woods the white-letter hairstreak chrysalis is still safe and sound and Nero has moved to the third resting leaf I have seen him use since I first found him on May 7th. Still no sign of Julius or Augustus or any pupae in their tree, but I did find this used resting leaf in a neighbouring tree, suggesting I have missed at least one caterpillar there.
19th: Nero is again laid up for ecdysis. This will be his third skin change since I found him.
20th: Awful weather again, but during a brief period of hazy sun I found a large skipper, a female mazarine blue, a meadow brown and a few green-veined and small whites in Huémoz. Nero was still laid up.
21st: Very cold, as well as overcast. No possibility of anything flying. Nero's new skin is visible under his old now. He also seems to have a beatific smile on his face. I can still find no trace of Julius or Augustus, but in a neighbouring sallow I was thrilled to find this purple emperor pupa, which I have christened Diocletian. I think he is too far away from where Julius and Augustus were to be one of them, but it is possible. Here and here are some more shots. This is from slightly further away, showing how much he is lost among the leaves - almost impossible to see.
22nd: Yet another incredibly cold day, despite good sunshine in the morning. Nothing was flying in the woods, though I saw my first ringlet of the year in the track leading there. Nero has obviously finished his skin change and is now nowhere to be seen. He is definitely not anywhere on the branch he has occupied since I found him on May 7th. This seems to be the pattern - after the last skin change the caterpillar goes wandering, presumably looking for fresh leaves to fatten up on, then somewhere to pupate.
23rd: The sun shone and it felt almost warm, after seemingly weeks of cold. In the woods, very few butterflies were there to greet the sun. It was strange, walking on a glorious day in empty woods, just the odd ringlet flying at the entrance and a few speckled woods and large walls in the woods. Whites (small and green-veined) were drifting around and there were one or two small tortoiseshells, but really very, very little. In meadows near Gryon it was a similar story. I saw my first geranium arguses (and here) of the year (but very few) and caught a brief sighting of a dark green fritillary. Northern brown arguses were commoner than usual, but on the whole the blues were not in evidence, with just the odd Chapman's blue and Adonis blue around. I saw several red-underwing skippers but no other skippers at all (my target skipper for the day was tufted marbled, of which there was not a trace). Heath fritillaries now largely replace meadow, but there are some meadow fritillaries around nonetheless. Meadow browns, marbled whites, ringlets, walls, large walls and small heaths represented the Satyrids - no woodland ringlets or Arran browns on the wing yet, apparently. After the meadows I visited a site near my old house where Osiris blue and silver-studded blues flew, as well as many other species. There was absolutely nothing there at all. In half an hour the only butterfly to pass by briefly was a male mazarine blue. This small tortoiseshell was one of several seen today with particularly dark edges - very little blue in the dark border.
24th: Hot again, but I had to work all day. After school I nipped down to the woods, but very little was flying. A few ringlets and large walls, a fresh (dark) comma and a single pearl-bordered fritillary. This really is low season, while we wait for the summer species to fly, the spring species having been fairly comprehensively wiped out by the terrible weather for the last few weeks. HOWEVER, sitting on my balcony at half past seven in the evening I was amazed to see a hairstreak messing about on blossom in the garden (I don't know what the tree is). I took my binoculars and saw a fresh, male white-letter hairstreak enjoying the evening sun, my first of the year. I must have missed a trick before, because I've never seen them in the garden until now. My little compact camera, even on 24x magnification, couldn't resolve a good picture, but this stands as proof of the sighting (that is 24x zoom and then cropped heavily)! It then flew up into the tall ash tree in the garden and flitted around there for a while. It would be too much to hope this tree (the tallest in the neighbourhood) is their master tree...
26th: Another hot day, but again almost nothing was flying in the woods in the morning. For half an hour I saw no butterflies, then found a large skipper and a marbled fritillary. On the track leading into the woods speckled woods and ringlets were flying and a red admiral passed through. The cold weather has really taken its toll.
27th: I took my bike on the train along the Rhône Valley and then cycled up to a little over 1000m. In contrast with yesterday, buterflies were abundant and I saw 54 species along the way. I didn't go out of my way to track down common things like small heath, meadow brown or mazarine blue, and the total could have been much higher if I had done this. In brief, the species were: Large white (a single one), small white (common), southern small white (a few summer brood males, but no females), green-veined white (several in woody regions), black-veined white (really not common - maybe half a dozen seen all day), wood white (just a few - it is between broods - and the one in that picture could well be reali), orange tip (still common), Berger's pale clouded yellow (just one male seen), Apollo (common, especially at altitude), scarce swallowtail (common - this one has lost its tails and all were looking rather old), Adonis blue (quite common), common blue (locally common), Chapman's blue (just one seen - a first brood male), baton blue (this is a second brood female), little blue (just one!), turquoise blue (a single, very flighty individual!), Escher's blue (one formally identified, but probably more seen), holly blue (a few fresh males and one ancient female), Zephyr blue (just one male seen, but I didn't hang around at its sites as I was exploring), idas blue (two males seen), ilex hairstreak (now locally common - and here, and here with a Provençal fritillary), purple hairstreak (a single individual seen, flashing around the lower branches of an ash tree), small tortoiseshell (quite common), marbled fritillary (common), large tortoiseshell (two fresh individuals seen - one puddling, but it flew just before I got the picture!), peacock (several very ancient individuals seen, and plenty of caterpillars! - and here), high brown fritillary (several fresh males seen), dark green fritillary (just one male seen), Niobe fritillary (just the one, form eris), Queen of Spain fritillary (a few), Provençal fritillary (quite a few low down, looking rather old, but very many higher up, at about 1000m, looking fresh), heath fritillary (a few), violet fritillary (just that one), knapweed fritillary (quite a few - and here), southern white admiral (two individuals), marsh fritillary (a single individual seen, in flight next to the bike - almost certainly aurinia, not debilis), Glanville fritillary (just one seen), lesser woodland grayling (common all along the valley I cycled up), grayling (a single, very early, individual. No photo ops but I took this record shot from a long way off as proof!), large wall (common), wall (just a few seen, high up), speckled wood (common), ringlet (common), marbled white (very common), Alpine grayling (a single individual seen, at only 1000m!), large skipper (common), small skipper (very common), Essex skipper (one or two formally identified), dinvy skipper (just a very few), red-underwing skipper (two or three), safflower skipper (locally common - here is a female), marbled skipper (locally several very fresh males - and here), scarce copper (just this one male seen, at about 1000m), great sooty satyr (males were very common at 1000m - no females). I don't think I've left anything out, but I'm not going to count! I was watched by a fox while I was photographing great sooty satyrs - that didn't happen while my dog was alive... A wonderful day!
28th: A working day, but I had time to nip down to the woods in the afternoon. A little more was flying, including my first Arran brown of the year (constantly flying, in the heat of the day, so no chance of a photo). My white-letter hairstreak pupa will not hatch, sadly: it has been commandeered by shieldbugs and they have been drinking it dry. The white spots on it are where they have already fed. There was no point in chasing the bugs away - it is either dead or doomed, as the penetrating mouthparts will have brought bacteria into the pupa aiding digestion (for the shieldbugs). Here and here are some more pictures. On a brighter note, my purple emperor pupa is still looking fresh and healthy.
29th: After a morning's work I cycled to my old house at Gryon, to see if the garden was still producing butterflies. It is. I saw several purple-edged coppers, at least two large grizzled skippers, at least one tufted marbled skipper and a few lesser marbled fritillaries, all new for the year. Also there were common blues, heath fritillaries, northern brown argus (the wind made photography rather difficult), a pearl-bordered fritillary, ringlets, meadow browns and red-underwing skippers. I didn't stay long, because I didn't have much time, but headed off to nearby meadows and woods where I found my first woodland brown of the year, loads of dark green fritillaries, a few silver-washed fritillaries, and, most exciting of all, a magnificent poplar admiral. It appeared from nowhere, circled me once, flew off, flew back, right under my nose, then simply eased over a nearby copse, all in seconds. I did go after it, because you do, but there was no point. Poplar admirals are effortless flyers that can be in the next canton before you have got your camera out. I also searched for local aspen, as this is my third sighting (in three different years) of poplar admiral within a 500m stretch of track, but yet again I couldn't find any significant quantity. Other species on the wing were Berger's pale clouded yellow, meadow fritillary, wood white, lesser marbled fritillary and large wall. I saw a single painted lady twice, or two once.

July
1st: Set off at about 11.30am to look for Satyrium hairstreaks in Valais. It wasn't the best time of day, because it was far too hot, and I didn't see any convincingly. But there was plenty on the wing. This Piedmont ringlet had been stunned by a car and I picked it up and moved it to shade and safety. Here and here are other shots. It is quite unlike any Piedmont ringlet I've seen before, especially on the upperside, but then again I've never seen the species so low down. Nearby, purple-shot coppers were out in good numbers (i.e., I saw three) and there were a few spotted fritillaries. Great sooty satyrs were very common, though only males, and large walls, Queens of Spain, Adonis blues and various whites were conspicuous too. I did have one sighting of what might well have been a blue-spot hairstreak, near some Rhamnus bushes, but not so as I could count it. At another site, not far away, this purple hairstreak dashed up into the trees - it was just where many of my purple hairstreak egg photos earlier in the year came from. A few Provençal fritillaries were flying but rather more heath fritillaries, which was now the dominant butterfly. I'm not entirely sure which one this is (Provençal or heath - and here) - it's not really like the standard forms of either. Marbled fritillaries and silver-washed fritillaries were flying there too, as well as safflower skippers, large and small skippers, marbled whites, ringlets, violet fritillaries, scarce swallowtails and again some whites (including wood whites). I came home via my local woods to check Diocletian, the purple emperor pupa, and was thrilled to find a second one, which I have christened Constantine. There is more than an outside chance Constantine is Julius or Augustus, but I have no way of telling. Here is another shot and here a shot of him in situ. These pupae are really not easy to find!
2nd:  A trip to a tributary valley of the Rhône Valley in search of the Asian fritillary. The day produced several new species for the year, including the target species, but some species were notably missing - dusky grizzled skipper and Alpine grizzled skipper. I found the Asian fritillaries (and here, and  here), though they were very thin on the ground and I had a total of just four sightings during the day. It was difficult to be sure whether this was because it is late in the season, early in the season or just that there aren't very many. Other new species for the year were almond-eyed ringlet, which was flying very locally, large ringlet, which was pretty well everywhere, in excellent numbers (here are two on my hand - both males, as were all the individuals I saw, so these are just fresh on the wing), blind ringlet (quite common), cranberry blue (quite common), mountain green-veined white (common), Alpine heath (unambiguously Alpine, not Darwin's - common) and Titania's fritillary (several fresh individuals about. Also flying were chequered skipper (here is a mating pair), grizzled skipper, dingy skipper, small white, large white, black-veined white, peacock (still the spring butterflies!), northern wall, large wall, Alpine grayling, Amanda's blue, common blue, large blue (and here, laying), little blue (abundant), geranium argus, mazarine blue, Adonis blue, turquoise blue, pearl-bordered fritillary, false heath fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, glanville fritillary, small tortoiseshell, comma and scarce swallowtail. Back home I checked on my two purple emperor pupae. Here is Constantine. Neither is ready to pupate tomorrow morning, so I might get a lie-in!
4th: Nipped down to the woods in the early afternoon. The day was far too hot for good photography, but I was pleased to find plenty of white admirals (and here), several woodland browns, a handful of Arran browns, a southern small white, commas, a peacock, a male brimstone, common blue and holly blue, meadow browns and ringlets, but probably best of all, this freshly emerged purple emperor. It was high up a tree, out of reach of decent pictures, but a great pleasure to see. In fact, it was right next to where Nero spent his life (and is now, presumably, pupating, though I have looked for him in vain). The two pupae I have been following are still green and not showing any colours, so I don't expect them to emerge tomorrow. Since I found the first one on 21st June, though, it should not be long now (they spend between 2 and 3 weeks as pupae). I also found this wonderfully camouflaged poplar hawk moth.
5th:  Went up my local mountain in the morning, catching sight of my first great banded grayling of the year on the way to the bus. The weather thwarted me somewhat - it was overcast at all my hotspots up the mountain - but I managed to see a few species. This Eros blue was my first for the year, as was this dewy ringlet (one of about half a dozen I saw). This cranberry blue was not my first for the year but it posed very beautifully for my first picture of the year! Shepherd's fritillaries were quite common, though pearl-bordered fritillaries were commoner. Manto ringlets and bright-eyed ringlets were equally common in the higher meadows - only males of both, though, looking really black. This is a Piedmont ringlet, one of the first butterflies I found up the mountain. Other things flying were little blue, small tortoiseshell, marsh fritillary (debilis), a few grizzled skippers and plenty of Alpine heaths. I didn't see two of my target species, Alpine argus and clouded Apollo, but this could we have been because of the weather. Back down the mountain I visited Constantine and Diocletian, neither of whom looks set to emerge tomorrow. In the woods white admirals were common and woodland ringlets were frequent. White-letter hairstreaks were flitting around the top of their favourite ash tree and meadow browns and ringlets were flitting around in the grass. Silver-washed fritillaries and marbled fritillaries were both quite common and commas were cruising along the rides too.
6th: Had to work most of the day, but found time to nip down to the woods in the evening - I have to do this each evening, to find out if one of my purple emperor pupae will be hatching the following day (neither is due tomorrow). On the way I saw several great banded graylings, and in the woods found dark green fritillaries commonly, as well as silver-washed. Woodland browns, ringlets and meadow browns were all flying. White letter hairstreaks were again flitting around the top of their favourite ash, sometimes leaping into the air in pairs or more, spiralling, sparring, then returning. A purple emperor was circling the same ash - here is a shot of him from a great distance (24x zoom, and cropped), as he was near the top of the tree. At about 5.00pm one of the hairstreaks came down briefly to the ground, but on the whole they remained up their tree, having fun.
7th-11th: Visit from three members of UK Butterflies. I held back a little with the photography, so the visitors could take pictures, so there are not many illustrations for these few days.
7th:  Met Roger, Nick and Paul (from left to right in that picture) at Geneva and visited woodlands nearby. Immediately on stepping out of the car a purple emperor came to check us out. It might have been a lessser purple emperor, as we never saw it stop, but my impression was of purple emperor. White admiral and silver-washed fritillary soon followed. In the woods, good numbers of woodland species were about. Most notable were many lesser purple emperors, locally clustered where there were good carnivore droppings to be had. Here is an upperside. White admirals were common too, and locally brimstones were visible in good numbers, males and females, all nectaring. Woodland browns were our constant accompaniment, though very difficult to get close enough to for a photograph! Other species seen here were comma, purple hairstreak (including this apparently injured individual, who came down to the path), large white, meadow brown (particularly in and near the meadows), wood white, Réal's wood white, ringlet, large skipper, holly blue, speckled wood, green-veined white, lesser marbled fritillary (found only along a path adjoining a meadow full of meadowsweet), marbled fritillary (concentrated in a bramble corner of the woods), short-tailed blue (just one), Provençal short-tailed blue (several) and red admiral. Driving home, we stopped off at my woods to see the state of my purple emperor pupae. White-letter hairstreaks were visible around the tall ash in the sun, but otherwise it was too late for most butterflies. No emperors were ready to emerge.
8th: A late rise, but soon we were out and on the road. Our first stop was a site in the Rhône Valley, at valley level. There we found Provençal fritillaries flying, but in small numbers, as well as heath fritillaries, knapweed fritillaries, marbled fritillaries, dark green fritillaries, spotted fritillaries and high brown fritillaries. A couple of Bath whites (edusa) were freshly emerged and there were also wood whites, southern small whites, small whites, green-veined whites, black-veined whites and a large white. Great sooty satyrs were numerous, including females, and ilex hairstreaks present in all the densely flowery parts, nectaring. One oak had a couple of purple hairstreaks nectaring on honeydew on its leaves. The first Meleager's blues of the year were on the wing here too - perhaps three males, all nectaring in the heat of the day. Other species were ringlet, Adonis blue, common blue, small skipper, Essex skipper, red-underwing skipper, Apollo, comma, large skipper, scarce swallowtail, speckled wood and lesser woodland grayling, of which we saw just one, surprisingly, though we didn't stay long on the site. We were all glad to see a single southern white admiral cruising along the path beside us. Our next stop was the top of the moutain! On getting out of the car here we immediately had some classic upland species: alpine heath, mountain clouded yellow and Eros blue. There were several little blues around too, but we had no idea quite how many of these were were going to see!! By the time we left we were walking past clusters of 30 or 40 (sometimes more) little blues roosting in the grass or supping minerals or poo without even stopping to look! Both shepherd's and mountain fritillaries were flying, but only males, so determination was not always easy. This underside is probably of a mountain fritillary and this upperside is certainly the same species. I studied  upperside photos taken by the group and both species are clearly shown in these. Grisons fritillaries and marsh fritillaries (debilis) were present on parts of our walk and at the very highest point we were delighted to find Cynthia's fritillaries - all males and nectaring on buttercups. Nearby, peak whites were cruising around, offering a few rare photo opportunities to the group. Other species seen were alpine grayling, alpine argus (quite a few seen - here is a female), idas blue, geranium argus, grizzled skipper, dewy ringlet (not numerous, but present in some numbers higher up), a painted lady, small mountain ringlet (I netted one and saw another, but have no photos worth posting here), swallowtail, mazarine blue, mountain green-veined white, sooty copper and a probable silky ringlet, though I am not counting this officially as I didn't get close enough for formal identification. At some stage in the day we saw at least one small tortoiseshell, though I can't remember if this was in the upland or lowland walk. It was interesting to note the greater abundance of blues as we came down the mountain - in the lengthening shadows and relative cool of the late afternoon they were clustered along the path. Back home, Diocletian looked ready to emerge, though no white spots were visible through the chrysalis, suggesting a possible iole!
9th: The mission had been to go up high again, but we got up early and waited in vain for Diocletian to emerge. Unbeknown to us at the time, he was dead - a tragedy due, I think, to the recent heatwave coupled with cold and sunless conditions at the time of pupation, so he was in far too hot a position. At midday we stopped waiting and watching and decided to visit relatively local sites rather than go along the Rhône Valles and up the mountains. The time in the woods was not wasted for my visitors, though, as there were good views of several species, including purple emperor, white admiral, silver-washed fritillary, high brown fritillary, comma, Provençal short-tailed blue, white-letter hairstreak, woodland brown, Arran brown, large wall and others. Our first target having left the woods was Eriphyle ringlet, of which we found just one at a secret, local site! I netted it, and all the group were able to see the golden underside forewing and the prominent spot at s4 on the underside (and upperside) hindwing. It was just one, but a classic individual. I released it very soon and it flew off. Other ringlets flying at that site were Piedmont ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, manto ringlet, blind ringlet, bright-eyed ringlet and large ringlet. Their density was on the whole low, though. We also saw silver-studded blue and I think it was there that an orange tip flew by (I have it on my records, but can't remember at which site we saw it). Moving on, we picked up cranberry fritillaries (and here) and saw moorland clouded yellows at the same site. Titania's fritillaries were flying too, mostly near the trees rather than in the open cranberry bog. Marbled whites and small heaths were common. Still moving, we had time to pick up a single dusky large blue by the side of the road before heading to our last site of the day, in the Canton of Bern. Here the target was scarce large blue, of which we saw very many, mostly females and quite frequently ovipositing, but we also found huge numbers of dusky large blue - more than I have ever seen before. Here are four in a single picture. Other species seen during the day were: swallowtail, black-veined white, large white, small white, mountain green-veined white, wood white, Réal's wood white, brimstone, purple-edged copper, holly blue, mazarine blue, silver-studded blue, little blue, geranium argus, small tortoiseshell, marbled fritillary, lesser marbled fritillary, false heath fritillary, marsh fritillary, ringlet, meadow brown, alpine heath, great-banded grayling, northern wall brown, chequered skipper, small skipper, Essex skipper, grizzled skipper and large skipper.
10th:  Another morning spent waiting for Diocletian to emerge. I think the others realised before I did that he never wood, perhaps because they had less emotional energy invested in him. Again, their time was not wasted, as there was much in the woods, including white admirals, large walls, woodland browns, silver-washed fritillaries, a high-brown fritillary, commas, white-letter hairstreaks, Arran browns, meadow browns and ringlets, Provençal short-tailed blues, great-banded graylings, large whites, wood whites, small whites, small skippers and large skippers. By 11.00am the truth had dawned on me too, and slightly dampened I went home and we all set off at about midday for the hills. The afternoon weather was less clement, but we still managed to find most of our targets, with heavy clouds and sometimes rain in the sky. In fact, the rain hit as we reached our first site, and although we found the lesser woodland graylings we wanted (mostly seeking shelter from the weather) the dusky meadow browns wisely kept hidden away. We did see our first chalkhill blue of the trip, though (and my first of the year). Higher up in the mountains, cranberry blues and moorland and mountain clouded yellows were all numerous, and we found mountain fritillaries nectaring on flowers on the slopes, and later, roosting. I didn't formally identify any shepherd's fritillaries. Grisons fritillaries were flying, and marsh fritillaries (debilis), as well as beautiful, pure Darwin's heaths (I say 'pure' because they frequently hybridise with alpine heaths in mixed zones). A couple of us ignored the approaching storm (having less expensive camera equipment with us!!) and climbed to the higher parts of the slope. There we found several glandon blues and a single, absolutely fresh, Mnestra ringlet. Here is a bad photo of him in the box (I netted him as he flew past, identified him, then released him almost immediately, after which he flew a bit then went to roost). Other species found were: large ringlet, mazarine blue, lesser mountain ringlet, small mountain ringlet, pearl-bordered fritillary, swallowtail, little blue and small heath. We probably had Escher's blue, but it came by as the rain hit. Some members of the group got photos and I will examine those later for confirmation.
11th: The UK Butterflies group had to leave by midday so we stayed local. Our target was mountain alcon blue, which we found first skulking in the grass under heavy skies and then more openly, flying around, nectaring and laying as the clouds gave way to hazy sun. Here is another shot. Here are some eggs, laid near the flower buds, though on many plants there were dozens of eggs and no flowers visible. Other blues seen were large blue (two rather worn females), little blue, silver-studded blue, mazarine blue, damon blue, Eros blue and Osiris blue. A single Berger's pale clouded yellow flew by, as did a single northern wall brown - both species I had expected to see more of, but today's weather was not conducive. Dingy skippers and small skippers were present, but again, our visit to the flowery, woodland end of the site was under cloud. Other species flying were meadow brown, large skipper, bright-eyed ringlet, black-veined white, large white, Titania's fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, northern brown argus and a few more... I didn't make a formal list because we retired to the pub for a final drink to celebrate a really good few days in the hills!
13th: A trip up one of my local mountains, hoping for some of the species I missed up there last time I went. Almost immediately on the terrain, I found a carline skipper, and then proceeded to see more of these during the day. Here is one with a rather diminished 'c' spot (underside), but which I don't think can really be anything else. Also new for the year were common brassy ringlet (freshly on the wing - just one or two) and clouded Apollo, of which I saw just one, well past its best. I then checked the Vacciniinum for cranberry blues, which I found, and discovered that there were several moorland clouded yellows there, including a female laying on the Vacciniinum. I don't know why I haven't noticed them there before, but they're not noted on the maps either for the region. I saw at least half a dozen in total, over quite a large area. Elsewhere, mountain clouded yellow was dominant. I did think I had a cranberry fritillary, but must conclude it was a small female shepherd's fritillary, as I couldn't locate a colony there. Blind ringlets, bright-eyed ringlets and manto ringlets were all flying too, as well as several other fritillaries, including pearl-bordered and Titania's. I found what appeared to be a small idas blue at altitude, but it is possible it was silver-studded. Alpine arguses were certainly flying, and chalkhill blues, mazarine blues and a single Adonis blue. Along a well-walked track I found dozens of bright-eyed ringlets, as well as a few mantos. Here is a bright female bright-eyed. Also here I saw what was almost certainly a silver-spotted skipper, my first for the year, but I didn't see it close enough to confirm it wasn't a large skipper (which would have been more surprising at that site). In the evening, in Huémoz, I found this Niobe fritillary preparing to roost (underside). Constantine is not going to emerge tomorrow - I wonder now whether he too is parasitised.
15th:  I joined Yannick Chittaro to go looking for poplar admirals at a site in Valais. Initially, we found just lesser purple emperors, but just as we were leaving the site saw a single, rather worn, very dark male poplar admiral at the roadside. It stopped a couple of times on the ground and once on a tree but there were too many cars coming past for it to stay put for long. Lulworth skippers were flying in small numbers at the site and Scotch argus was already out in good numbers, my first of the year. Other woodland species were flying, including many white admirals, commas, speckled woods, marbled fritillaries, dozens and dozens of spotted fritillaries and false heath fritillaries and a few Meleager's blues. We then moved on to a couple of sites higher up, still in Valais. The first was bushy and this blue-spot hairstreak was quick to make an appearance, the only one we saw. At the same site plenty of dusky meadow browns were flying. I couldn't get any decent  pictures (heat of the day, and we were not really stopping for photos) but here is a poor record shot. Heath fritillaries were flying there too and we found the eggs of mountain alcon blue. Still higher up the mountain, I saw my first small Apollo of the year - I hope the first of many because it didn't stop for photos after we had identified it. It was a site rich in butterflies and I also saw my first silver-spotted skipper of the year, this rather amenable clouded Apollo, loads of pearl-bordered fritillaries (no small pearl-bordered - we searched), Titania's fritillaries, false heath fritillaries, large blues, mazarine blues, idas blues, turquoise blues, Adonis blues, little blues, Provençal short-tailed blues, large walls, dark green fritillaries, high-brown fritillaries and several species of ringlet, including large ringlet (very common), lesser mountain ringlet, blind ringlet, almond-eyed ringlet and mountain ringlet. For the skippers there were small, Essex, mallow, dingy, large grizzled and of course, the silver-spotted skipper. This is not a complete record - I didn't write down everything at the time. I will probably add more as I remember them!
16th: Visiting Constantine (no change) during the afternoon, I found this female white-letter hairstreak feeding at about 3.30pm. She is heavy with eggs.
19th: Left home at about midday, checking on Constantine in the woods on my way down to the Valley. He is almost certainly dead, but I will keep looking in, just in case! Flying in the woods were small whites, large whites, wood whites, silver-washed fritillaries, white admirals, lesser marbled fritillaries, woodland browns, ringlets, meadow browns, marbled whites, Arran browns, commas and lots of Provençal short-tailed blues. I didn't see white-letter hairstreaks, but I didn't stare up at the top of their tree either. Next stop was a clutch of sites where I saw short-tailed blues last year and saw a single female short-tailed blue this spring. There were only Provençal short-tailed blues to be found, though, as well as scarce swallowtails, small heaths, Adonis blue and meadow browns and ringlets. Finally, I came up via Gryon and looked for poplar admirals. I saw none, but there were plenty of dark green and high brown fritillaries about, and woodland browns, heath fritillaries, great banded graylings, marbled whites, wood whites and large walls. I saw a single white admiral.
20th: In the woods this evening, I discovered Constantine has disappeared. It is a mystery what has happened to him. He has probably not simply hatched, as he would have left parts of the pupal case still attached to the leaf. This is the underside of the leaf where he was (the red patches are my hand, visible through holes in the leaf). He was not on ground below, among the leaf litter.
21st: My mission was to find Warren's skipper - a life tick for me. Altogether, this involved 4 hours on public transport, 46km cycling and 14 km walking, but it paid off because not only did I find probably four Warren's skippers but I saw a great deal else besides. Firstly, the skippers. I caught two (separately) for identification: here are the ups and uns of one, and here are the ups of the other. Unfortunately, given the very difficult terrain and the great heat (so everything was very mobile) I couldn't get any natural shots. Rest assured the butterflies spent no more than a minute in captivity. Other Pyrgus skippers flying today included carline skipper and this one, which might be another carline but might also be Oberthür's. The underside was deep reddish with yellow veins. Red underwing skippers were bouncing around too, though it was not difficult to eliminate them while looking for Warren's. I believe I saw one or two large grizzled skippers too, on the way to where I eventually saw the Warren's skippers. Essex and small skippers were flying, as well as very ancient dingy skippers and very fresh silver-spotted skippers. For the ringlets, large ringlets were everywhere, clustering in great numbers wherever there was nectar. Here are some with some burnet moths, a dark-green fritillary and an Apollo. I also saw lesser mountain ringlets, Swiss brassy ringlets, almond-eyed ringlets and I believe this one, which settled on me, is a Piedmont ringlet. Scarce coppers were anything but scarce - here is a rather dark female - and there were a few purple-edged coppers about too, and sooty coppers. Blues included chalkhill blue, Chapman's blue, Escher's blue, little blue, mazarine blue, idas blue, eros blue, silver-studded blue, turquoise blue and large blue. Mountain clouded yellows were common and there were a few Berger's pale clouded yellows with them. As well as dark green fritillaries I saw Grison's fritillaries, Queen of Spain, knapweed fritillaries, spotted fritillaries, heath fritillaries and this interesting melanic pearl-bordered fritillary. I only got a poor shot of the upperside as it flew, but that showed a lot of melanism. Black-veined whites, small whites and large whites were all around in small numbers. The predominant heath was alpine heath but there were some small heaths too. Plenty of marbled whites and large walls, and lower down, a good number of dusky meadow browns. There were several Aricia arguses at altitude, some of which (like this one) really did look like brown argus, not northern brown argus! This one looks more like a northern brown argus. A few swallowtails were on the wing, and in the valley below there were scarce swallowtails. A wonderful day!
22nd: Another day with a mission, this time to find the yellow-banded ringlet, a very local species of the high Alps. I went with Yannick Chittaro, who found the species last year. We set off in good weather but by the time we reached our base camp and left the car clouds were already brewing up and it looked at times as if we might be out of luck. Climbing the steep ascent from the car we saw plenty of large ringlets and a few blind ringlets and Swiss brassy ringlets. We also saw a single silky ringlet, which appeared to be glued flat to a rock. It wasn't, though, and sadly I missed the photo opportunity of a lifetime for this species!! Higher up, small mountain ringlets were flying, and it seemed when we reached the site this was all we were to see. However, after about an hour, because a wind was also rising, I decided to search in sheltered gullies right at the crest of the mountain, and there I found at last a yellow-banded ringlet. The first one I saw escaped me, and disappeared down inaccessible terrain, but the next one proved far more amenable. Here is a view from one side, here from the other, and here the upperside. The butterfly has many red acarian mites on it, but these are common on Erebia and do no real harm. It was a great moment to see this species for the first time. In total, I saw at least three and not more than five different individuals, at the end of a very long search! The weather closed right in shortly after this and it rained on us as we descended the mountain. Other species seen were shepherd's fritillary, mountain fritillary (that female is true colour!!), Cynthia's fritillary (several males and several females) and dusky grizzled skipper, my first of the year (here is an underside). As we drove back, the sun came out and we stopped by the side of the road at a place where Yannick said we would see second brood chequered blues - something special for Valais, which is supposed only to have one brood. He was right - here is one, freshly emerged! Today I reached a grand total of 200 species of butterfly for the year!
26th:  Around midday I wandered down to the woods as I hadn't been for a few days. The weather was warm but often overcast. I saw a single white-letter hairstreak, a few (not many) white admirals, several woodland browns still on the wing, though looking past their best, silver-washed fritillaries, a high brown fritillary, Scotch arguses, holly blues, Provençal short-tailed blues, meadow browns, ringlets, large wall browns, speckled woods and a few whites. On the way down I did check, rather half-heartedly, to see if any brown hairstreaks had emerged at my local site, but it is such a small, satellite colony there is little chance of my finding one there!
27th:  I met Roger and Ann Gibbons in the morning and we went up a local mountain. The mission was to find water ringlet, but in the end we missed this, probably because we had to leave just as the Erebia butterflies were just getting going on the mountain track. Nevertheless it was a good walk, with sightings of bright-eyed ringlet, large ringlet, Scotch argus, manto ringlet (now common, males and females), lesser mountain ringlet and this marbled ringlet (caught and immediately released), my first of the year. As the early afternoon heated up more and more butterflies were coming down to join the ringlets, including lots of large grizzled skippers (and here, and here), chalkhill blues, northern brown argus and eros blue. In the flowery areas and slopes around the path dark green fritillaries were flying, and Titania's fritillaries, large wall browns, silver-spotted skippers and probably a single large blue. At one point a stoat showed off among the rocks near the path. It was zooming around fast, and impossible to photograph properly, but I did get a blurry record of its antics!!
31st:  In the late morning I was free to go down the valley and take advantage of the glorious sun today. I hoped to find a male brown hairstreak or two, but was either too late in the day or too early in the season. I did find a great many purple hairstreaks, though. At many places they were conspicuous, zooming across clearings, dashing up into the trees, fighting for sunspots or, in the case of the females, checking out laying spots on eye-level oak branches. Here is a female doing just that. She was taking a great interest in oak buds and acorns, creeping around in the shade, but I don't think she was quite ready to lay yet. New for the year was dryad, which was already numerous and some had clearly been on the wing a while, like this one. Great sooty satyrs were still flying, including good numbers of females. For the fritillaries, it was heath around the bushes, spotted in the meadows and silver-washed in the more shady, woodland areas. Queens of Spain were common too, around paths and hotspots. Common blues, Chapman's blues and chalkhill blues were all in evidence, and large, small and Essex skippers. I saw both swallowtail and scarce swallowtail, as well as plenty of walls and marbled whites. Berger's clouded yellows were common, though no clouded yellows, and I saw a single brimstone. Small white, green-veined white and southern small white were all flying. Here is a couple of grasshoppers mating - beautifully camouflaged!! And here.

August
4th: I had another try for brown hairstreak males today, this time leaving earlier so I might catch them nectaring. But none were to be found. As last time I did see loads of purple hairstreaks, though. All the whites were on the wing (large, small, green-veined, southern small, wood) and I saw not only brimstones and Berger's pale clouded yellows but also my second clouded yellow of the year! Only my second... Silver-washed fritillaries were still out in good numbers, including this valesina female, and spotted fritillaries were common too (that picture of two females shows what great variation there is in this species). Here is a spotted fritillary caterpillar that has been killed by wasp larvae - they have left its body (which was empty and floppy) and pupated next to the corpse. Great sooty satyrs were still flying - here is a female with very prominent spotting - and dryads were abundant. No tree graylings yet. Wall browns and speckled woods were both present. Both swallowtail and scarce swallowtail were flying. I watched a female scarce swallowtail lay eggs individually on the sloe - here is one. Blues flying included common blue, chalkhill blue and Adonis blue. I probably saw a few holly blues and some Provençal short-tailed blues but I was concentrating on trying to find hairstreaks and didn't examine everything I saw. There were several orange skippers (small or Essex - again, I didn't check, though both fly there). At a second site nearby there were also no brown hairstreaks but I did find some Meleager's blues. Here is another picture of the same male.
7th: I had to cycle to the shops in the valley, so called in at a local site where I  hoped to find second brood short-tailed blues. I only had half an hour there but saw at least one male and one female - here is another shot of the same female. There were also plenty of common blues, a few swallowtails, some whites and, surprisingly, this female white-letter hairstreak nectaring in the same meadow.
8th: Mixed weather, but bright and sunny for some of the afternoon so I nipped down to the woods. There, it felt like late season, but there was still plenty flying. White admirals were gliding around, often almost getting underfoot, and silver-washed fritillaries were nectaring and flirting over the rampant thistles which have not been cut this year so are providing a great attraction for the butterflies. Several white-letter hairstreaks were nectaring too, although it was only early afternoon - here is the same one, tucking in with a honey bee, and here is another. Provençal short-tailed blues were common, and holly blues were conspicuous too. For the browns, Scotch argus and meadow brown were common but I didn't see any ringlets or woodland browns. Best of all, though, was this purple emperor egg, laid right at the spot where Nero, my first purple emperor caterpillar of 2010, had spent his/her childhood.
9th: Last day in Switzerland before flying back to the UK. In my woods at lunchtime white-letter hairstreaks were common, nectaring on banks of thistle or hemp agrimony, despite the fact it was only 1.30pm. Here, here and here are different individuals. A few white admirals were still cruising around, though all looking rather faded now. Scotch arguses, meadow browns and speckled woods were all flying but again I look carefully and saw no woodland browns. Commas were on the wing, and silver-washed fritillaries, and holly blues and Provençal short-tailed blues. Here is the same purple emperor egg I found yesterday.
11th: Back in Suffolk to see my parents. The morning was bright and as soon as I went out into the garden after breakfast my first gatekeeper of the year appeared. The first of many - during the day, despite frequent cloud, gatekeepers were regular and common. Here is a female from Minsmere. Also at Minsmere the red admirals and peacocks were out in force, though I didn't see a grayling, surprisingly. Locally, common blues were present, males and females, and best of all, a single female clouded yellow flew past along the coast. This was only my third clouded yellow of the year, so it was especially nice to have seen it in Suffolk. The clouds came over before we reached good purple hairstreak country.
13th: It rained much of the day but gave us a short break in the mid-afternoon. Despite cloud, several gatekeepers took to the wing in the woods and this painted lady was my first since arriving back in the UK. I also saw a meadow brown but no graylings, disappointingly. I know they're there - they just like it a little warmer.
14th: During occasional bright spells in the morning large whites were very visible in the garden, as well as gatekeepers and a single holly blue. Later, several more holly blues took to the wing and as we left for the coast in the afternoon a female was apparently laying on ivy in our front garden, though a search later in the day found no eggs. After a quick swim in the sea I wandered over the coastal dunes and sea wall, finding good numbers of wall (and here) and gatekeeper, as well as a few small coppers, plenty of common blues, a single, worn Essex skipper, meadow browns, a peacock and large and small whites. On bramble blossom there were little accumulations of butterflies, which included gatekeepers, small heaths and brown arguses. Here is a group with a brown argus. Back home, a red admiral flew through the garden, bringing the day total to 13 species.
15th: Mixed weather with some bright spells. In East Suffolk woods gatekeepers and speckled woods were common and there were some small skippers hanging on too. I saw just this single grayling - surprisingly, as I expected to see many, but again the weather had a habit of turning dull when I was in the grayling places. Here is another shot.

16th-30th: With my family, in England and Switzerland. I had no time to write up my daily notes so will add them little by little as time permits.

31st:  A high mountain hike with a friend, visiting some local peaks I have never visited before. It was about a 25km hike, all done in the afternoon, so there was little time for butterflying. Nevertheless, we saw plenty. Many Erebia species clustered around the route, including manto ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, blind ringlet, marbled ringlet, Scotch argus and water ringlet, my first of the year. Here is a better shot of the upperside of this individual (we saw several), which is rather well-marked compared with many males. Damon blues and chalkhill blues were common and large grizzled skippers and carline skippers. Also mountain clouded yellows, Berger's pale clouded yellows and a single swallowtail. This shepherd's fritillary was in  good condition considering how late in the year it is. This is a spurge hawk moth caterpillar (and here). High up near the rocky crags we saw a single golden eagle and, later, this lammergeier! Kestrels were constant companions to the walk.

September
1st:  Trip to the Rhône Valley to look for brown hairstreaks. I arrived at my site rather late (after midday) and so considered myself lucky to find this female brown hairstreak busily laying eggs all over a stand of blackthorn. She is rather tatty, but that is natural for a butterfly who spends so much time scrabbling around a thorn bush! Here is another picture, and an underside, and here one of her laying eggs. This is one of the eggs she laid. It will not hatch for another seven months... Also at that site were plenty of tree graylings, though not yet in the numbers they will build up to as the autumn progresses. I saw a single grayling too. Dryads were common but great sooty satyrs have now finished their flight, it seems. Wall browns were abundant. For the fritillaries, silver-washed were everywhere, and there were a few Queens of Spain and some spotted fritillaries still. Provençal short-tailed blues and holly blues were prominent and there were also common and Chapman's blues around. No small tortoiseshells but a single red admiral and several painted ladies, after a season with very few of this latter. All the whites were flying - small white, southern small white, green-veined white, large white, wood white and even a Bath white. Berger's pale clouded yellows were about, but in small numbers, and I saw no clouded yellows today. Other species on my day list were swallowtail and great-banded grayling. I had to go home after just a couple of hours, but it was a very fruitful brief visit.
5th: A glorious, warm and sunny day. I joined Matt Rowlings for a short trip into Valais. We were hoping to find brown hairstreaks, and indeed a female of this species was pretty much the first thing we saw, but it turned out to be the only one. There was plenty else on the wing, though. Very large idas blues were common, both males and females, and were joined at our first site by common blues, Adonis blues, chalkhill blues, Provençal short-tailed blues, Northern brown arguses and a few scarce coppers. At a second site, near woodland, holly blues were also flying. We saw at least one male Meleager's blue at this site and I'm quite confident I also saw a rather worn male Amanda's blue. For the browns, dryads, walls, graylings, tree graylings, speckled woods and marbled whites were all present, with plenty of small heaths in the grassy areas. Meadow browns and dusky meadow browns were both quite common locally, the latter never resting with wings open but the former frequently doing this. Most interesting, though, were the many Oberthür's grizzled skippers we found in the same meadows where we have had speculative sightings of this species in the spring brood. Here, here and here are three more individuals. Other skippers flying today were large skipper, Essex skipper, silver-spotted skipper and dingy skipper. Clouded yellows were quite frequent, in stark contrast to earlier in the year, and there were also plenty of Berger's clouded yellows. For the whites, we recorded small white, large white, wood white and a single Bath white. A few red admirals crossed our path and this single white admiral - a great thing to see in September. This is a rather fresh dark green fritillary. High brown fritillaries were commoner and silver-washed commoner still. Other fritillaries were Queen of Spain, lesser marbled and violet. Locally, the autumn meadows were alive with butterflies and it was a great shame we both had to leave them and get back home rather early in the afternoon.
11th: After a working week, when I couldn't really get out, I visited the local site where I have seen short-tailed blue this year and where long-tailed blue was flying in August last year. I was delighted to find long-tailed blues there again today, in exactly the same part of the same field where they were flying last year. Here is another shot of the same individual. I only saw males and they were all defending territories and nectar spots very actively. Whenever one long-tailed blue caught sight of another he zoomed at it and the pair of them would then disappear from view, spiralling together right up into the sky. There were at least half a dozen present, and probably twice that number, and photography was very difficult indeed because of this behaviour. Several short-tailed blues were flying there too - mostly males, but I did find this wandering female not far away. Provençal short-tailed blues were flying, and also Adonis blue, mazarine blue, common blue, small heath, wall brown, swallowtail, violet fritillary, painted lady and all the common whites. While I was photographing the long-tailed blues, someone stole my bicycle crash helmet - very annoying!
12th: I enjoyed a wonderful high climb with a friend, up to 3000m, where no butterflies at all were flying! This is me not looking down... But on the way, despite closing weather (and even after the clouds have rolled in), we did see a surprising number of Erebia butterflies, as well as a few other species, like mountain clouded yellow, small tortoiseshell and whites. The commonest Erebia was Swiss brassy ringlet. Also flying were water ringlets,Scotch arguses, silky ringlets (that one was a long way away!) and manto ringlets. On the way down we found this female Cynthia's fritillary, our last butterfly of the day.
19th: I visited briefly the long-tailed blue field where I had seen this species on 11th September. They were still there, and still doing exactly the same things! Admittedly, many looked a little the worse for wear after over a week of intesne activity (possibly quite a lot longer, as I don't know when they arrived), but some were in reasonable condition. Adonis blues were around too (here is a female), and common blues, but I didn't see any short-tailed blues. Other species seen were wall, small white, green-veined white, large white, peacock, red admiral, dark green fritillary, small heath, swallowtail and specled wood. I saw no yellows, but wasn't there very long.

October
2nd: Working all day, but time to nip down to my local woods for half an hour after lunch. Almost nothing was flying - a single speckled wood, a single red admiral and a comma.
3rd: I had time in the morning to zoom along the Rhône Valley, returning home by early afternoon. So it was a race, but well worth it. Tree graylings (that's quite a worn individual) were out in Biblical numbers. As last year, I saw them taking nutrients at fermenting grapes, but I also found them in huge numbers on rotting apples. Among the tree graylings were a few graylings, mostly on their last legs. Walls were common, though end-of-seasony, and there were a few speckled woods in shady parts of the walk. No small heaths. A couple of Bath whites were around, though none posing for photos (this is a proof shot, should anyone doubt the sighting!), and plenty of small whites. For the first time this year, I saw a lot of clouded yellows - all males - as well as the commoner Berger's clouded yellows (here is a female). The only fritillary on the wing was Queen of Spain and there were no swallowtails or apollos. The commonest blue was Adonis but surprisingly there were plenty of chalkhills on the wing too. Also flying were common and Chapman's and several northern brown arguses. I was surprised not to see any late dingy skippers but grizzled was still around, as well as another species of Pyrgus that I think is probably large grizzled. I left the site at midday while it was still absoutely alive with butterflies, seeing a red admiral as I made my way back to the train.
9th:  A glorious, warm day, with plenty of butterflies still flying in the Rhône Valley. I saw 21 species in total. Of these, the most surprising by far was this green hairstreak. It must have been confused by the cold weather in September, followed by the recent hot spell, and thought it was spring. Although it was a little sad to see, it was having a great time nectaring with all the normal autumn butterflies. Other Lycaenids flying were common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue (on the left, with a female Chapman's blue), chalkhill blue, brown argus, northern brown argus and small copper. All these species were spread out over most of my walk, but the greatest concentration was at one particular field of dandelions. Small whites, green-veined whites and southern small whites are flying, as well as clouded yellows and Berger's pale clouded yellows. Graylings are currently common, but tree graylings are abundant - really abundant! Here is a small group enjoying an apple (with a grayling towards the right of the picture)... Other Satyrids were wall and speckled wood, the former still very common. Queen of Spain was the only fritillary I saw and comma the only Vanessid - surprisingly, no red admirals were flying today, though they are obviously still on the wing and I have seen them daily recently. Mallow skippers were locally common and there were also several of this skipper, which I take to be large grizzled. Here is an underside.
10th-19th: Despite initially favourable forecasts, it has been cold and mostly overcast or worse since the outing on 9th. Snow fell on the weekend of 16th-17th and though it was bright and sunny for much of today, 19th, it remained cold and no butterflies flew at the altitude of Villars.
23rd: A little sunshine was forecast for today, so I went off to the Rhône Valley, where a little sun did indeed shine. I got off the train at about 10.00am, when it was bitterly cold and a hazy sun had only just crept over the mountains. Nothing flew at all. At about 11.00am I found my first butterfly - a male Adonis blue that tumbled off a grass stem and fell as if dead at my feet. It was quite torpid - too cold to do anything. I picked it up and held it in what little sun there was, upon which it opened its wings, basked for a few moments, then flew off. At nearly 11.30am I saw my first tree grayling of the day - still under hazy sun and with a real nip in the air. Then, just as I was about to give up and go home, the sun suddenly came out, bringing loads of butterflies with it. Here is another tree grayling enjoying a drink. Wall browns were soon very common in one field with scattered dandelions - here is a male. One or two fresh male large wall browns appeared with them (here is another shot). This was the only grayling I saw, but it did look reasonably fresh. The commonest blues were Adonis, which came out in greater and greater numbers as the field warmed up. Here is a bird-pecked one (there were loads of robins, tits, blackbirds, thrushes and black redstarts hanging around waiting to pick things up!) with a wall and female common blue on a dandelion in the background. That pattern of bird-pecking was common today - the male wall shown above had it and here is a common blue with the same thing. It looks as if the birds have chased the butterflies from behind and the butterflies have got away. Here is a clouded yellow with the same damage. Many butterflies were not worn or damaged, though. Here is a fresh small copper (and here an older one), and a fresh common blue. As well as clouded yellows there were lots of Berger's clouded yellows and I think this is a pale clouded yellow. I didn't net it for close examination though. The only other species flying at the site was Queen of Spain, of which one or two were zooming around. There were no whites or skippers, though I did see some small whites from the train as I went home.
28th: A glorious day (as was yesterday, but I was working all day then). I finished at school by 3.15pm and was able to get away to a local site by about 4.00pm. On the way I saw small whites flying around cultivated crucifers. At the site itself, where there were plenty of blues just a month ago, nothing was flying except for red admirals basking in the low sun. Here is another, resting on the ground. I had the impression there were about half a dozen there altogether.
29th: Several red admirals were flying around school during the afternoon - on a very warm autumn day.
30th: Took a local walk to look for butterfly eggs. For the second year running, the only local patch of blackthorn for some considerable radius has brown hairstreak eggs on it. Here and here are different eggs. It was harder looking for purple hairstreak eggs with so many leaves still on the trees and the only one I did find was parasitised. Lastly, I was looking for white-letter hairstreak eggs. I found none, except for this possible hatched egg from last season (and here). It is certainly a hatched egg, and it does resemble white-letter hairstreak, but I am not sure.

November
3rd: The forecast was for sun, so I went down to the Rhône Valley. In reality, it was 100% cloud cover east of Sierre and the only thing flying was wall brown (and here, and here). Despite the cloud this species was actually quite common. I cut my losses and headed back to a site near Martigny, further west, where a further 6 species were flying: clouded yellow, Queen of Spain (and here, a fresher individual), Adonis blue, common blue, small white and tree grayling. By mid-afternoon it was quite warm, but being winter the heat quickly faded. Here is a brown hairstreak egg from the Rhône Valley today.
5th: A warm, sunny day. 14 species of butterfly were flying in the Rhône Valley. Adonis blues were out in some numbers - and here - and the odd chalkhill blue was flying with them. Here is another shot of that chalkhill blue, and here one of its underside, which was completely washed out! A single northern brown argus brought the blues up to three species, though it is possible I overlooked one or two common blues in flight. Here is a small copper hanging upside down and here another shot of the same individual. Clouded yellows were quite common, with a few Berger's among them. At one site a few small whites were flying (but not stopping) and at another a single, male brimstone cruised past me. For the browns, there are still speckled woods on the wing, though not many. Walls are commoner - still quite numerous - and tree graylings are easy to find, though not nearly so numerous as in recent weeks. This was the only grayling (semele) I found - a very late record for this species. I saw a single red admiral near the beginning of my walk and plenty of Queens of Spain during the walk. Quite an amazing tally for a November day!
13th: Went for a dog walk with a friend in the Valley. A warm day, with clouded yellows common (and here), as well as small whites, walls, a red admiral, a tree grayling, Queens of Spain and common blues. I think this picture is of a female common blue - I never got close to her and she might be an Adonis blue. But I saw a definite male common blue, so that species was certainly on the wing.
16th-30th: Dominated by cold and snow, the snow falling particularly heavily towards the end of the month.

December
1st: The month began very cold, with snow falling all day. Temperatures have not risen above zero for some time now and there has been no possibility of butterflies flying.
7th: Took a walk locally in the late afternoon. Very cold, but bright. This brown hairstreak egg was on the opposite side of the bushes from where I found eggs on 30th October this year.
11th: A bright, sunny day in the valley, locally warm but generally very cold. Here is a purple hairstreak egg, one of only a few I found, despite the adults having been abundant in July and August. Perhaps the leaves still clinging to the trees meant I missed many eggs. Brown hairstreak eggs were easier to find. Here is another, and here a third.This is the river Rhône, looking dark and cold...
21st: Back in Suffolk, UK. Cold and grey - unbelievably dark even at midday. Here is the river Deben, and here, and here some dunlin, a curlew and a black-tailed godwit digging around in the mud near the edge.
22nd: Still dark and grey. I went out to look for purple hairstreak eggs but failed to find any - the closest being this moth (presumably) egg half dangling off an oak bud. On the Deben a female scaup (and here) was swimming way out in the middle of the stream.
25th: Christmas day. Little groups of goldeneye were swimming on the Deben, diving together (and here). Here is a curlew and here some godwits, photographed as the sun dropped down behind trees.
26th: Brighter today, but still quite cold. Off the coast at Shingle Street were several eider duck. Here is a female and here a male.
29th: Towards evening, found some purple hairstreak eggs in Woodbridge, but it was too dark for decent photos.
30th: Weather very grey and gloomy, as it has been fairly consistently over Christmas. In late morning I photographed the eggs I found yesterday, but the dark, foggy conditions made it difficult. Here is one egg, over a railway cutting. Here is another, drowing in permadew.