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YEAR LIST, 2012


For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click: 2011, 20102009; 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 2012 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2012

1      Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 15th January - Valais
2      Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 18th February - Valais
3      Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 18th February - Valais
4      Queen of Spain (Issoria lathonia) - 21st February - Valais
5      Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 29th February - Valais
6      Small white (Pieris rapae) - 10th March - Valais
7      Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 14th March - Valais
8      Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 15th March - Vaud
9      Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 17th March - Valais
10    Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 17th March - Valais
11    Peacock (Aglais io) - 21st March - Vaud
12    Camberwell Beatuy (Nymphalis antiopa) - 24th March - North Italy
13    Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 24th March - North Italy
14    Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 24th March - North Italy
15    Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 24th March - North Italy
16    Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 24th March - North Italy
17    Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 24th March - North Italy
18    Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 24th March - North Italy
19    Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 24th March - North Italy
20    Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 25th March - Valais
21    Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malovoides) - 25th March - Valais
22    Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 25th March - Valais
23    Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 25th March - Valais
24    Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)    - 25th March - Valais
25    Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 28th March - Valais
26    Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 28th March - Valais
27    Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 31st March - Italy
28    Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 31st March - Italy
29    Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 31st March - Valais
30    Berger's pale clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 31st March - Valais
31    Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 31st March - Valais
32    Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 31st March - Valais
33    Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 21st April - Vaud
34    Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 22nd April - Valais
35    Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 22nd April - Valais
36    Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 28th April - Valais
37    Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 28th April - Valais
38    Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 28th April - Valais
39    Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 28th April - Valais
40    De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 28th April - Valais
41    Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 28th April - Valais
42    Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 6th May - Vaud
43    Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 6th May - Vaud
44    Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 14th May - Vaud
45    Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 14th May - Vaud
46    Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 20th May - Valais
47    Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 20th May - Valais
48    Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 20th May - Valais
49    Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 20th May - Valais
50    Nickerl's fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) - 20th May - Valais
51    Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 20th May - Valais
52    Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 20th May - Valais
53    Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 20th May - Valais
54    Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 26th May - Valais
55    Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 26th May - Valais
56    Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 26th May - Valais
57    Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 26th May - Valais
58    Swiss Zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 26th May - Valais    
59    Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 26th May - Valais
60    Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 26th May - Valais
61    Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 26th May - Valais
62    Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 29th May - Vaud
63    Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 29th May - Vaud
64    Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 29th May - Vaud (I am now treating this as a separate species from P. malvoides)
65    Short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades) - 29th May - Vaud
66    Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 30th May - Vaud
67    Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 2nd June - Geneva
68    Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 2nd June - Geneva
69    Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) - 2nd June - Geneva
70    Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 2nd June - Geneva
71    Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 2nd June - Geneva
72    Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 2nd June - Geneva
73    Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 2nd June - Geneva
74    Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 2nd June - Geneva
75    Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 9th June - Valais
76    Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 9th June - Valais
77    Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 9th June - Valais
78    Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione berisalii) - 9th June - Valais
79    Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 9th June - Valais
80    Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 9th June - Valais
81    Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 15th June - Vaud
82    Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 15th June - Vaud
83    Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 16th June - Vaud
84    Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 16th June - Vaud
85    Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 16th June - Vaud
86    Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 16th June - Vaud
87    Northern wall brown (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 16th June - Vaud
88    Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 16th June - Vaud
89    Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 17th June - Vaud
90    High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) - 17th June - Vaud
91    Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 17th June - Vaud
92    Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 17th June - Vaud
93    Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 18th June - Vaud
94    Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 23rd June - Valais
95    Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 23rd June - Valais
96    Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 23rd June - Valais
97    Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 24th June - Valais
98    Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 24th June - Valais
99    Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 24th June - Valais
99    Asian fritillary (Euhpydryas intermedia) - 24th June - Valais
101  Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 24th June - Valais
102  Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 24th June - Valais
103  Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 27th June - Italy
104  Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 27th June - Italy
105  Scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae) - 27th June - Italy
106  Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 27th June - Italy
107  Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 30th June - Vaud
108  Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 30th June - Vaud
109  White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 4th July - Vaud
110  Common brassy ringlet (Erebia cassioides) - 4th July - Vaud
111  Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 4th July - Vaud
112  Alpine argus (Plebejus orbitulus) - 4th July - Vaud
113  Cynthia's fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia) - 4th July - Vaud
114  Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 4th July - Vaud
115  Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 4th July - Vaud
116  Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 4th July - Vaud
117  Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 4th July - Vaud
118  Alcon blue (Phengaris alcon) - 7th July - Vaud
119  Damon blue (Polyommatus damon) - 7th July - Vaud
120  Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 7th July - Vaud
121  Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 7th July - Vaud
122  Titania's fritillary (Boloria titania) - 7th July - Vaud
123  Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 8th July - Vaud
124  White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 9th July - Vaud
125  Darwin's heath (Coenonympha [gardetta] darwiniana) - 12 July - Valais
126  Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 12 July - Valais
127  Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 12 July - Valais
128  Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 12 July - Valais
129  Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 12 July - Valais
130  Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 12 July - Valais
131  Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 14th July - Vaud
132  Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 14th July - Vaud
133  Piedmont ringlet (Erebia meolans) - 16th July - Valais
134 Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 16th July - Valais
135 Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 16th July - Valais
136 Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 16th July - Valais
137 Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 16th July - Valais
138 Meleager's blue (Polyommatus daphnis) - 18th July - Valais
139 Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 19th July - Valais
140 Purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus) - 19th July - Valais
141 Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon) - 19th July - Valais
142 Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 19th July - Valais
143 Grisons fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 23rd July 2012 - Valais
144 Warren's skipper (Pyrgus warrenensis) - 23rd July 2012 - Valais
145 Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 23rd July 2012 - Valais
146 Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 23rd July 2012 - Valais
147 Sooty ringlet (Erebia pluto) - 23rd July 2012 - Valais
148 Pale clouded yellow (Colias hyale) - 25th July - Vaud
149 Dryad (Minoas dryas) - 25th July - Vaud
150 Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 26th July - Vaud
151 Hermit (Chazara briseis) - 31st July - Jura
152 Map (Araschnia levana) - 31st July - Jura
153 Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - 4th August - Valais
154 Tree grayling (Hipparchia statilinus) - 13th August - Valais
155 Water ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 6th October - Valais
156 Common emigrant (Catopsilia pomona) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
157 Common castor (Ariadne merione) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
158 Common grass yellow (Eurema hecabe)- 25th October - Mumbai, India
159 Common mormon (Papilio polytes) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
160 Danaid eggfly (Hypolimnas misippus) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
161 Tailed jay (Graphium agamemnon) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
162 Common crow (Euploea core) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
163 Great eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
164 Gram blue (Euchrysops cnejus) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
165 Dark grass blue (Zizeeria karsandra) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
166 Zebra blue (Leptotes plinius) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
167 Yellow orange tip (Ixias pyrene) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
168 Blue tiger (Tirumala limniace) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
169 Common wanderer (Pareronia valeria) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
170 Indian monarch (Danaus genutia) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
171 Grey pansy (Junonia atlites) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
172 Psyche (Leptosia nina) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
173 Common albatross (Appias albina) - 25th October - Mumbai, India
174 Common sailor (Neptis hylas) - 27th October - Mumbai, India
175 Fulvous pied flat (Pseudocaledenia dan) - 27th October - Mumbai, India
176 Small branded swift (Pelopidas mathias)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
177 Common bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
178 Great orange tip (Hebemoia glaucippe) - 27th October - Mumbai, India
179 Small cupid (Chilades parrhassius)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
180 Plains cupid (Chilades pandava)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
181 Club beak (Libythea myrrha)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
182 Lemon pansy (Junonia lemonias)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
183 Peacock pansy (Junonia almana)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
184 Baronet (Symphedra nais)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
185 Plain tiger (Danaus chrysippus)- 27th October - Mumbai, India
186 Striped albatross (Appias libythea) - 28th October - Tirupur, India
187 Tiny grass blue (Zizula hylax) - 28th October - Tirupur, India
188 Tawny coster (Acraea violae) - 28th October - Tirupur, India
189 Small salmon Arab (Colotis amata) - 28th October - Tirupur, India
190 Rounded pierrot (Tarucus nara) - 29th October - Tirupur, India
191 Common banded awl (Hasora chromus) - 29th October - Tirupur, India
192 Crimson tip (Colotis danae) - 30th October - Tirupur, India
193 Common rose (Atrophaneura aristolochiae) - 30th October - Tirupur, India
194 Mottled emigrant (Catopsilia pomona) - 30th October - Tirupur, India
195 Grass jewel (Freyeria trochylus) - 30th October - Tirupur, India
196 Common gull (Cepora nerissa) - 31st October - Tirupur, India
197 Plain orange tip (Colotis eucharis) - 31st October - Tirupur, India
198 Common threering (Ypthima asterope) - 31st October - Tirupur, India
199 Common silverline (Spindasis vulcanus) - 1st November - Tirupur, India
200 African babul blue (Azanous jesous) - 1st November - Tirupur, India


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

January
3rd: The sun shone in the valley in the morning, but by midday it had begun to cloud over. It was very cold and probably never reached higher than about 3°C - so no adult butterflies were on the wing. A few flies were out in the vineyards and this green lizard put in an unexpected appearance. I found a very few brown hairstreak eggs at the same place I saw a female laying last October. Here is another. Although I didn't spend long looking, I was surprised not to find any purple hairstreak eggs in their usual spots.
7th: After violent storms and blizzards this week I thought it worth checking up on Aurelian, my purple emperor caterpillar, in the woods. The winds had brought down some trees (this is a sycamore) but Aurelian's sallow bush was undamaged. Here he is (and here). On the way home I checked some oak trees and found this purple hairstreak egg (and here). A little further on I discovered a wandering female brown hairstreak had laid on the local patch of blackthorn, for the third year running. Here and here are eggs.
15th: In the mountains it has been sunny all week. In the valley it has often been cloudy, the upper limit of the cloud varying between Ollon and Huémoz. Today it was sunny everywhere, though bitterly cold (probably reaching a maximum of -1°C in the shade. I went looking for purple hairstreak eggs near Martigny but despite quite extensive searching found only two. Here is one. I can't explain the lack of eggs, given that the species was abundant in July and August. I didn't look for brown hairstreak eggs but noticed this sprig of blackthorn in leaf! Because of the low temperatures there was very little insect activity - I saw a few flies - and almost no lizard activity either. Nevertheless, just before I headed home, at 1.20pm, a small tortoiseshell crossed my path and flew into a garden. I got this distant proof shot of the sighting but because the car was in the drive I didn't venture into the garden for a better photo!

February
11th: It is bitterly cold, with nights regularly falling below 20°C. Here is a view from Huémoz and here a streamlet in the local woods, where Aurelian is still hibernating.
18th: After weeks of bitter cold and burst pipes the sun finally got the upper hand today. In the valley, in the morning, I found this male clouded yellow freshly emerged and crumpled (and here). I don't know if he was dangerously deformed or just still pumping up, but when I passed again later he had gone. Five small tortoiseshells crossed my path and a single red admiral. Firebugs were coupled up on the paths everywhere and honey bees were collecting pollen at the Bulbocodium plants, which were coming out all over the place. I was surprised not to see any Queens of Spain but if the sun continues some days they will surely fly soon.
20th: Here is Aurelian.
21st: A cold day in the valley (-9°C before dawn, rising to 6°C in the afternoon) with a cold wind blowing. But it was bright and sunny and the first Queen of Spain fritillaries were on the wing (I saw two in total). Three small tortoiseshells were competing for sunspots on a bank out of the wind. It does not look as though it will be an early season. The Potentilla plants used as foodplant by the grizzled skippers are barely in leaf and there are no flowers at all. Last year there were a few flowers in January and by the beginning of March there were whole banks covered in them.
22nd: I went further east along the valley today. It was really very warm, but by 2.30pm I had seen just one small tortoiseshell and so came home. I was at a Queen of Spain hotspot but not a single one flew.
24th: Free in the afternoon, so visited a red admiral hibernation site, arriving at about 4.00pm. No red admirals flew, perhaps because it was the wrong time of day, but I did see three small tortoiseshells and discovered some brown hairstreak eggs on blackthorn (and here).
25th: Mostly cloudy in the valley, despite forecasts of extensive sun. But the warmth brought out Queen of Spain fritillaries (and here - I saw 5 in total), small tortoiseshells (a total of at least 30) and a red admiral. The first Potentilla flowers are emerging - much later than in the last few years, suggesting the grizzled skippers might emerge later. In general, the vegetation is tardy, though there are plenty of Bulbocodium flowers out in the meadows. As well as brown hairstreak eggs on the blackthorn I found several of these eggs. I don't know what species this is, though it is not a butterfly.
26th: A search for poplar admiral hibernacula with Matt Rowlings proved fruitless but we had a good day in Valais in fine weather. Here (and here, and here) is a ruby tiger moth caterpillar that was poking out of the snow. We were in a cold spot but found plenty of small tortoiseshells in a warmer part of the valley on our return, at around 4.00pm
29th: Thanks to the leap year I was able to see a February large tortoiseshell in the Rhône Valley. I had very little time, as it was a teaching day, but the single individual I saw landed briefly near me, allowing a few photos, before zooming off. He was taking minerals on the clay and dirt of the vineyards. Small tortoiseshells were out in huge numbers - I stopped counting after I'd seen 40 of them - and Queens of Spain were also on the wing. A single red admiral was possibly the same one I saw on 25th. This was my first orange underwing of the year.

March
1st: When I got back to Huémoz from school at 5.00pm a couple of small tortoiseshells were flying on a bank. These were my first altitude butterflies of the year.
3rd: Visited a couple of Camberwell beauty hotspots along the Rhône Valley. No beauties were flying but large tortoiseshells were well in evidence - I saw 9 in total at the two sites. In the morning these rarely settled and when they did they closed their wings and turned their backs on the sun. In the afternoon this individual (and here) spent more time basking. Small tortoiseshells were super-abundant - if I had counted them I would have reached double figures. On some tracks they flew up from under my feet as I walked and were often to be seen sparring in the air in groups of two, three or four.
4th: It is still cold in my local woods. Small tortoiseshells were flying today in quite good numbers but nothing else - no brimstones, commas, peacocks or large tortoiseshells. Aurelian was still in his usual hibernation spot.
10th: The first small whites are on the wing in the valley (and here). That second one was put up by a large tortoiseshell, which then settled, revealing itself to be quite worn. It could still fly powerfully, though. At another site, further east (which I visited first, in the morning), it felt cold and only small tortoiseshells were flying. At the small white site, spring was in the air. Other butterflies flying were clouded yellow (a single male) and Queen of Spain (in good numbers) and plenty of small tortoiseshells. The grizzled skipper banks are now covered in their foodplant, Potentilla recta, and plenty of other flowers are now out, including bulbous corydalis (here is a white one), violets and pasqueflower. The crag martins have returned.
11th: I stayed local. A single small white was flying at about 600m and small tortoiseshells were common in most places. Other than that, nothing flew. I have yet to see comma, brimstone or peacock.
14th: A quick trip to the Valley between lessons. I had hoped to see grizzled skippers but none were in evidence at any of the early sites I visited. Queen of Spain fritillaries were abundant, as were small tortoiseshells, half a dozen large tortoiseshells crossed my path and I saw three small whites, of which one was probably a southern small white, but only seen in flight. A female brimstone was my first of that species for the year. Sadly, I had to leave the site at 1.00pm and return to maths lessons. The afternoon was just beginning to hot up.
15th: At 4.30pm a large tortoiseshell was flying in Huémoz. In the woods I saw my first comma of the year (as well as many small tortoiseshells). No peacocks as yet...
16th: Three commas in my local woods (after school) but still no sign of a peacock.
17th: In the Rhône Valley the southern small whites (and here) are now firmly on the wing. Here is another male - I saw no females today. Small whites were flying too, in all the same places, and at one place there were a few green-veined whites. No grizzled skippers are on the wing yet. During the day I saw several large tortoiseshells, many small tortoiseshells and literally dozens of Queen of Spain fritillaries, now able to take nectar at the abundant flowers out in the valley. Plenty of hummingbird hawkmoths were nectaring at flowers in the rocks and walls. Glanville fritillary larvae are fattening up for pupation and could be found feeding in groups near paths. Here is another. Towards the end of this video clip you can see the use of that bright red face to scare potential predators. It looks as if I was scared, but I had decided to move away anyway...
18th: The weather turned today. Aurelian is still on his twig, looking very healthy.
19th: Woke up to snow.
21st: The snow has all melted. In the woods at lunchtime the sallow was in blossom, attracting good numbers of small tortoiseshells. A single male brimstone was roding at about midday, a single large tortoiseshell flew along the path ahead of me at one point and a single peacock, my first of the year landed briefly by the side of the track.
24th: I took a day trip into North Italy to look for nettle tree butterflies, emerged from hibernation. Although these proved far more elusive than I had imagined, I did find two in total. One didn't stop at all; the other stopped momently before being disturbed by a large tortoiseshell. I got this awful proof photo from a distance before it flew off. I will have to go back! It may still be a little early for this species, which seems to emerge quite late from hibernation. There were plenty of Camberwell beauties on the wing. I had hoped this couple would get together and so filmed them from a distance without risking putting them up. But the female didn't seem to want it. Here is a short video clip of the encounter. Other new species for the year were swallowtail (a single individual, flying across a meadow), violet fritillary (also a single individual), wood white (just the one of that, too...), holly blue (one), chequered blue (two individuals - here is the second), green hairstreak (two individuals) and orange tip. Large tortoiseshells were very common (that was one of two that desperately wanted to land on this telegraph pole but could only get a foothold where there were metal bands around because the surface was so shiny!), as were small tortoiseshells. Queen of Spain, brimstone (common - roding along hedges and edges), green-veined white (and here), small white and comma were also flying. In total, 14 species were flying - a good total for March.
25th: Back in Switzerland spring continues apace. Grizzled skippers are now flying in small numbers in several spots in the valley (here is one that has already had a narrow escape from a bird or lizard). I wasn't surprised to find a chequered blue in Italy yesterday but I was surprised to find this one today in the Rhône Valley, where my previous earliest record is 12th April. Here is the upperside. A single wall was my first of that species for the year. Bath whites were locally common, zooming around without pausing all morning but occasionally nectaring between zooms in the afternoon. A few speckled woods were defending territories in a shady part of my walk and I saw two scarce swallowtails. Orange tips were very common, as were brimstones, small and greeen-veined whites. Wood whites are suddenly very common. Queen of Spain fritillaries are genuinely abundant - a constant, numerous accompaniment wherever I went today. Here is one that might have been flying since the very beginning of the season... Other species flying were comma, small tortoiseshell, large tortoiseshell, peacock (now reasonably common), holly blue and this single green hairstreak. It was warm and springlike today and the weather is set to last some while.
28th: I had some time free in the morning to nip down to the valley and see how things were progressing. Although I had to leave early, for afternoon school, the valley was already alive with butterflies. Queens of Spain were out in their hundreds, literally. Large tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, all the small whites, grizzled skipper, brimstones ... New for the year were mallow skipper (and here), of which I saw four in total, and common blue - this single female, freshly emerged. At least two clouded yellows were aggressively defending long territories along the walk. Here is a video of southern small whites and small whites at lunchtime.
31st: Another glorious day was forecast so I got up at the crack of dawn and headed into Italy to try for better photos of nettle tree butterfly (and here). I struck lucky at the site I found last week and ended up with a series of photos including several of ovipositing (and here, and here). It was a real joy to see this weird and wonderful butterfly, that I have had so much bad luck with in the past, flitting around its nettle trees, posing and laying. Also flying were sooty coppers and small coppers (both new for the year), literally dozens of green hairstreaks, chequered blues, small and green-veined whites, large tortoiseshells, small tortoiseshells, Queens, wood whites, Camberwell beauties and brimstones. I saw a single grizzled skipper too. My site was not far into Italy so I was able to cycle back to the station and be at a site in the Rhône Valley by the mid-afternoon, where I met Matt Rowlings. Although a wind had blown up and parts of the site were very quiet, a few new species for the year were flying. These were baton blue (we saw just one), Berger's pale clouded yellow (two flew past), Provençal short-tailed blue (one certain, one seen flying after a holly blue) and large white (I saw one, Matt saw a different one). Apart from these, there were many orange tips, commas, holly blues and whites, as well as grizzled and mallow skippers, peacocks, small tortoiseshells (very few) and speckled woods. Brimstones are still common and now a few females are among them. But no Camberwell beauties put in an appearance - we hope this is because this is firmly an April species in Switzerland, even though I've seen many in Italy already this year.


April
1st: Stayed local. Small whites, orange tips and wood whites are flying here in the mountains and there were large tortoiseshells, small tortoiseshells, commas and a single peacock in the woods. No brimstones. Compared with the valley things are remaining calm and normal at altitude.
3rd-10th: Back to East Suffolk, UK. Cold weather reigned (here is a stonechat in the bleakness) and I saw just three butterflies in the whole time - two small whites and an orange tip, all in urban areas. I did look for green hairstreaks and other species on the two sunny days but both were cold and nothing flew. On the second of these I decided to look for purple hairstreak eggs and found several. All had hatched, regardless of the state of leaf of the oak they were on.
12th: Overcast and cold in Huémoz, with just occasional, surprising moments of brightness. Aurelian is still alive and well on his twig, which will soon be in leaf. In the more open parts of his sallow bush  the flowers have gone to seed and the leaves are just opening. My local purple hairstreak eggs are still unhatched and the blackthorn with brown hairstreaks is just coming into flower.
18th: A single comma and single violet fritillary seen in Villars as I cycled in for afternoon school.
21st: A possible break in the persistent gloom persuaded me to cycle to a local short-tailed blue site. The sun did shine occasionally but it was too cold for most butterflies to fly and all I saw were a single violet fritillary and a single small heath (my first of the year). In two hours, nothing else stirred. In the afternoon I checked on Aurelian, who has now been caught up by the leaf bud behind him but is not moving yet himself! As I walked home the sun came out again and I saw a peacock, wood white, orange tip, green-veined white and violet fritillary - just the one of each.
22nd: Rain in the morning, but I wasn't free anyway. In the late afternoon there was some sun in the Rhône Valley and I saw my first Adonis blue of the year, my first Chapman's blue of the year, several Bath whites and Berger's pale clouded yellows, a few peacocks, small whites, green-veined whites and wood whites, a single brimstone and a single common blue. It was rather windy and a little cold, even in the sun.
28th: The Föhn blew bringing warm windiness to the Rhône Valley. For the first time since the end of March, butterflies flew in decent numbers: I saw 35 species and witnessed tight fists of blues and other species battling it out for the sunspots they'd been waiting for all April. New for the year were rosy grizzled skipper (and here, and here), of which I saw probably 8 or 9 in total, dingy skipper, now common, de Prunner's ringlet (and here), quite numerous by the afternoon, Glanville fritillary (a very few), green-underside blue (three) and northern brown argus (one). The other species flying were Camberwell beauty (and here - looking remarkably battle-scarred considering he can't have been on the wing much in April; today he was up in the air dog-fighting with another Camberwell beauty and several peacocks), peacock (common), large tortoiseshell (two), small tortoiseshell (three or four), Queen of Spain, violet fritillary, comma, red admiral (just one), wall, speckled wood, small heath, brimstone, Berger's pale clouded yellow, orange tip, wood white, small white, green-veined white, Bath white, common blue, Adonis blue, Chapman's blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, holly blue (including a female laying on dogwood) small copper, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, mallow skipper and grizzled skipper.
29th: Aurelian is finally feeding again (and here)! Here are the characteristic signs of a purple emperor caterpillar at work. I think he is about to undergo a skin change.
May
5th: After a morning of cloud, rain and low visibility, the afternoon was bright and blustery, often very warm. Nevetheless, at a local blues meadow, where short-tailed blue fly, almost nothing was on the wing. Walls and orange tips drifted around, small heaths were the commonest species, a single swallowtail was present most of the hour and a half I was there and a few whites passed through (here is a wood white), but for the first hour I saw no blues at all. Then a single baton blue dropped in and out, a common blue flew and an Adonis blue passed through. I moved to the Rhône Valley but the clouds caught up again and I nothing flew except a few common blues and a Queen of Spain. The bladder senna is coming into flower.
6th: As yesterday, a gloomy morning was followed by sunny patches in the early afternoon, though these were few and by 4.00pm it was pouring again. I found Aurelian guzzling away in a new skin. Also in the wood I saw my first pearl-bordered fritillaries between clouds - and found another later in the meadows. Also flying locally were plenty of common blues and Chapman's blues, small whites and wood whites, at least one southern small white, dingy skippers, a green hairstreak, sooty coppers, this possible Réal's wood white (though not convincing enough to name positively) and my first painted lady of the year. No sign of chequered skippers yet.
14th: During a brief lunchtime walk I found a chequered skipper in a local meadow. Also flying were fresh small tortoiseshells, pearl-bordered fritillaries, violet fritillaries, small heaths, orange tips, sooty coppers and my first large wall of the year. Several Berger's pale clouded yellows were drifting around the village. In the evening I went down to check on Aurelian for the first time in over a week and found he had vacated his resting leaf. I have no reason to believe he has perished - it is more likely he has found a better place, though I searched in vain on adjacent branches. I will keep looking!
16th: It snowed all day.
19th: Aurelian is alive and well (and here). He was nowhere to be found on Monday but today was back on the same leaf island he occupied last autumn and on which he was born. I only had a brief walk to his woods but saw a few other butterflies too, including painted ladies, violet and pearl-bordered fritillaries, small heaths, various whites, chequered skippers, orange tips, a comma, small tortoiseshells and sooty coppers.
20th: Spent the middle of the day at a site in the Rhône Valley, arriving at about 11.00am. The weather was overcast for much of the time but it was quite warm and plenty of butterflies were on the wing, including: peacock (common still - it often remains at large late in the year at this site), large wall (a few), speckled wood (a few in the woody parts of the walk), wood white (common), pearl-bordered fritillary (two seen, including one female), Duke of Burgundy (several - that was a female, with three pairs of legs, and here is a male), dingy skipper (common), Adonis blue (quite a few about, but not abundant), little blue (quite common), green-underside blue (easily the commonest blue), Chapman's blue (a few about), common blue (a very few about), Osiris blue (several males around sainfoin at one point in the walk), safflower skipper (two or three seen), Oberthür's grizzled skipper (two or three seen in a rather lush meadow which I didn't want to move into and crush!), chequered skipper (here is a video of this one shivering to warm up during an overcast period), Provençal short-tailed blue (common), Nickerl's fritillary (amazingly common - here is a female and here a male), Glanville fritillary (a few around), Queen of Spain fritillary (two or three), red-underwing skipper (a few - commoner at a site I visited on the way home, though by then it was wholly overcast), small heath (common), Berger's pale clouded yellow (common), black-veined white (I didn't notice any until I bumped into Matt R and he spotted one), spotted fritillary (a single male, just as I left), orange tip (males and females cruising around quite commonly), comma (just the one).
26th: A hot and windy day in the Rhône Valley, with 42 species crossing my path. They were: scarce swallowtail (several), Apollo (a handful drifting around at one site), large white (a very few), small white (I probably saw some southern small whites too, but didn't consciously register any), green-veined white (several), wood white (common), black-veined white (not common yet, but quite a few about), orange tip (plenty of males and females still on the wing), Bath white (locally very common), brimstone (amazingly numerous - flying at all sites, all day), Berger's pale clouded yellow (common), green hairstreak (just the one), small copper (just the one), chequered blue (probably two), Swiss Zephyr blue (one or two fresh males at one site), green-underside blue (quite common), holly blue (one or two), little blue (locally a few - not common), Provençal short-tailed blue (very common), common blue (common), turquoise blue (quite a few, at two sites), Adonis blue (quite common now), Chapman's blue (common at one site), iolas blue (that is a female; I arrived too late in the morning to photograph males nectaring - but in about half an hour I saw two different males looking for females on every bladder senna bush but never settling), mazarine blue (becoming locally common), comma (several), small tortoiseshell (now common), Camberwell beauty (a single, rather tatty, individual), southern white admiral (5 territorial males, spread over two sites), red admiral (a single), painted lady (several), Queen of Spain (several), spotted fritillary (now quite a few about, but not common yet), Glanville fritillary (locally common), wall (common), small heath (very common), marbled white (the first few individuals of the year now flying in grassland by the Rhône), de Prunner's ringlet (still quite common), red-underwing skipper (locally common), marbled skipper (a total of about 5 rather fresh males), mallow skipper (a few), safflower skipper (locally quite common).
28th: Aurelian has entered his last instar. Here he is, next to his old skin.
29th: A quick trip between lessons to some local meadows. Meadow fritillaries were common, both males and females, but I saw just a couple of woodland ringlets - something I had expected to see plenty of. There were common, Chapman's and Adonis blues but no northern brown argus, surprisingly. A few chequered skippers were on the wing, as well as large walls, green hairstreaks and a few grizzled skippers. A single swallowtail crossed the meadows. After school I visited a short-tailed blue site where I saw just one very tatty female - the spring brood of this species seems to be over. There were plenty of common and Adonis blues and a single painted lady.
30th: I visited a local violet copper site after school, seeing about a dozen males and no females in the course of an hour. This is also a good marsh fritillary site but none were flying. I found a single caterpillar, preparing for pupation. Green hairstreaks were common, as were dingy skippers and little blues. Whites were also flying through and small tortoiseshells were common but otherwise there was nothing on the wing at that altitude (1600m-1800m).
31st: Aurelian is in fine form (and here, and here).

June
2nd: Up at 05h15 and out by 06h15 for a day trip to the countryside west of Geneva, mostly to search for black hairstreaks. I arrived at my first site (cycling from Geneva station) at about 09h15 and immediately found plenty of pearly heaths. There were also a lot of meadow fritillaries and increasing numbers of heath fritillary as the day heated up. A single knapweed fritillary was my first of that species for the year. At the same site were a lot of black-veined whites and other whites, several Berger's pale clouded yellows (here is an egg laid on crown vetch) and plenty of small heaths, as well as little blues, common blues, Adonis blues, small tortoiseshells and marbled whites. The first meadow browns of the year were on the wing. Black hairstreaks were very visible above some of the Prunus bushes, but although they frequently spun down to lower levels they were not keen on settling or nectaring. This picture shows thebest view I was able to get at this site, despite very healthy numbers (at least a dozen in one of the bushes). I am not sure of the identity of this Plebejus male (and here) found at the same site. It has much of the character of Reverdin's blue but also features which seem incompatible with that. As I cycled away from the site I found this second Plebejus male taking minerals at dung. I think he is silver-studded or possibly Idas (but never revealed his upperside). He is most certainly not Reverdin's. At this second site black hairstreaks were also easy to find, though they were now going more into the shade rather than hanging around on the tops of bushes. Very little else, and nothing new, was flying at that site. A third site produced more black hairstreaks, as well as my first brown arguses of the year. Other species were much the same as those already recorded. Finally, I moved to a third site, where I looked for and found Reverin's blues - but only two, a male and a female. It was extremely hot by now and the female in particular only wanted to dive deep into the grass. The intense heat probably affected the number of species I saw there. Most excitingly, though, my first ever Swiss large copper passed through the meadows, heading for some wetland. It only paused a moment on some vetch to nectar, then moved on, but I got a couple of proof shots for my records. Here is one.
4th - 8th: Aurelian is still in 5th instar. That photo was taken on 8th June.
9th: Bright, blustery day in Valais. I visited two sites quite near each other. Because of time pressures, I simply list here the species flying, with some comment. They were: Apollo (now locally common), swallowtail (just one or two - with the next species commoner), scarce swallowtail, large white (just a few), small white (common), southern small white (locally quite numerous), Bath white (very common), black-veined white (now common), wood white (not common at the moment - between broods), orange tip (plenty flying back and forth at both sites), Berger's pale clouded yellow (common - I didn't check for pale clouded yellows but all seemed to be Berger's from flight appearance), brimstone (still amazingly common - all hibernators),  ilex hairstreak (just one individual, which I saw twice, or possibly two individuals - it is clearly still early for this species), little blue (just one or two), Provençal short-tailed blue (still common), Osiris blue (locally several), mazarine blue (not common and looking worn), common blue (common), Chapman's blue (locally common), Amanda's blue (locally common - here is a female upperside and here a male underside), Adonis blue (common), turquoise blue (locally common), northern brown argus (now common at both sites - here is a darker one, and underside), Swiss Zephyr blue (several, but not many, at one site), painted lady (one or two), small tortoiseshell (very common), comma (the old flying with pristine hutchinsoni individuals), Camberwell beauty (just that one, rather worn but happy, individual), southern white admiral (about 10 individuals, including this one that landed first on my left heel, then on my camera bag - and here), marbled fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, Glanville fritillary, Provençal fritillary (locally very common now - and here), knapweed fritillary (a few), wall, speckled wood (a few, locally), small heath, grayling (an exceptionally early individual for this late year), de Prunner's ringlet (just two seen), large skipper (now common everywhere), small skipper (locally very common), Essex skipper (locally common), mallow skipper (just that one seen), marbled skipper (locally common), dingy skipper (common), safflower skipper (very common at both sites).
15th: Aurelian is still a caterpillar! A single woodland brown was my earliest altitude record for this species. There were several large walls around and two dark green fritillaries, my first of the year.
16th: I went high locally in the afternoon. The season is later than in recent years at altitude and I didn't see clouded Apollo, cranberry blue or alpine argus. I did see (in list form for now, with comments and pictures to be added later): Grizzled skipper, alpine grizzled skipper, olive skipper, dingy skipper, chequered skipper, marsh fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, shepherd's fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, red admiral, painted lady, small tortoiseshell, small white, large white, Berger's pale clouded yellow, dewy ringlet, probable bright-eyed ringlet, northern wall, violet copper, green hairstreak, little blue, Adonis blue.
23rd June: Worked in the morning. In the afternoon cycled to a mountain dappled white site to see if this species was still flying. It wasn't - nor was there any foodplant left. It had flowered, seeded and mostly been scythed. Instead, I found my first Escher's blues of the year, including this mating pair. Plenty of Apollos flying, and the first great sooty satyrs, which we already quite common. The other first was a single rock grayling. Other species: large white, small white, southern small white, Berger's pale clouded yellow, green-veined white, black-veined white, wood white, common blue, Adonis blue, pearl-bordered fritillary, marbled fritillary (now very common), Queen of Spain, wall, large wall, large skipper, small skipper, Essex skipper, red-underwing skipper, grizzled skipper, marbled white.
24th June: Visited an Alpine valley for Asian fritillary. I saw just half a dozen of these during the day, all very fesh, suggesting it is just the beginning of the flight season. Few were nectaring. Most were in flight, posing on leaves or taking minerals. Other species new for the year were large blue (including this exceptionally dark individual), mountain green-veined white, Alpine grayling, large ringlet, Alpine heath, false heath fritillary and geranium argus. Other species recorded included large skipper, dingy skipper, grizzled skipper (no Alpine grizzled skipper though this is a good site for the species - so it must already be over), chequered skipper, green hairstreak, small white, pearl-bordered fritillary, heath fritillary, sooty copper, Queen of Spain, small tortoiseshell, black-veined white, little blue, northern brown argus and northern wall. No cranberry blues or Alpine argus were flying though the weather was good, suggesting these species are not on the wing yet, or not in any great numbers.
27th June: Visited the same sites in Italy where I found nettle tree butterflies in the spring. These were now much more overgrown and considerably more difficult to negotiate! I did see one nettle tree butterfly, in passing (and here are the well eaten nettle tree leaves where I watched a female laying dozens of eggs, back in March.), but this was not the main target, which was large chequered skipper. In fact, I also saw just one of these, pogoing around its patch, but as the day was very hot and it never stopped I didn’t try for a photo. That proved to be my only sighting all day, so I suspect it is still very early for this species this year. Also on the site were lots of chequered blues and purple-shot coppers. Silver-washed fritillaries, knapweed fritillaries, Queen of Spain fritillaries and heath fritillaries were common, as were pearly heaths. A couple of large tortoiseshells were flying around – the first of the summer brood – and there were a few commas. Lots of fresh, summer brimstones – all males – and plenty of whites, including large whites and black-veined whites (but no orange tips). I then moved on to a higher site where I hoped to see Hungarian gliders. Again, I saw exactly one of these (and here) – something of a disappointment as I saw many there when I visited at the same time of year some years ago. One dense patch of foodplant (goatsbeard) had been removed, where they were so visible then, and I suspect that they are still throughout the region but just not so easy to see without that honey-trap. I also saw a couple of nettle tree butterflies. It was a very hot day and little was stopping – certainly not the nettle tree butterflies. Other species seen during the day were meadow brown, ringlet, holly blue, both swallowtails, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, a single great sooty satyr, sooty copper, small copper, scarce copper, common blue, northern brown argus, large skipper and small skipper.
28th: My parents arrived for their annual holiday. In the afternoon I searched thoroughly for Aurelian's pupa but found nothing. I am certain he is up there, somewhere in the canopy.
29th: First ceps of the year, at Gryon.
30th: Went up a local mountain with my parents, taking a walk at about 1800m. There were plenty of silver-studded blues on the wing and several large grizzled skippers - my first of the year. Olive skippers were also present, as well as grizzled skippers and chequered skippers. I didn't spend much time photographing or indeed looking for butterflies but saw several pearl-bordered fritillaries, lots of high alpine (subalpinus) sooty coppers, Adonis blues, little blues, small tortoiseshells, false heath fritillaries and a few geranium arguses. Berger's pale clouded yellows zoomed through occasionally.

July
4th: Another high mountain trip with my parents. Again, I didn't go far butterflying but again saw quite a few species in a short walk. These included my first confirmed bright-eyed ringlets, common brassy ringlets and a single dewy ringlet. I saw my first ever Cynthia's fritillary for my local patch, briefly (apparently) hilltopping on a patch of dandelions but soon disappearing over the ridge. A swallowtail spent at least an hour hilltopping at our lunch site. I briefly saw a few idas blues and an alpine argus. There were also olive skippers, eros blues, marsh fritillaries and mountain clouded yellows and a fair few shepherd's fritillaries now zooming, bright orange, over the alpenrose.  After we came down thi hill I left my parents watching the tennis and went to look for short-tailed blues. By the time I reached the site it had clouded over and it seemed only meadow browns and marbled whites were prepared to fly. But a very few common blues and Adonis blues took to the air and I was happy to find my first long-tailed blue of the year. I saw another shortly afterwards on a different part of the site, which might have been the same or a different individual.
7th: A walk with  my parents in the local region. Mountain alcon blues - now considered to be the same species as alcon blue - were out in some numbers and eggs were quite easy to find. Here is a female with unusual spotting. Also new for the year were carline skipper, tufted marbled skipper and Titania's fritillary. There were lots of silver-studded blues in the cattle meadows, as well as little blues, mazarine blues, little blues, turquoise blues and Eros blues. Pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying near the woods and there were black-veined whites, small whites and green-veined whites, as well as some large whites and a few wood whites. Purple-edged coppers were already looking a little past it. Here is a purple-edged copper egg I saw being laid and here a male with a bright-eyed ringlet in the background. Several false heath fritillaries.
8th: Here is a pair of high brown fritillaries in my local woods.
9th: In the morning I saw white admirals and woodland browns in my local woods (I'm still looking in vain for Aurelian's pupa, though time is now running out). The rest of my day was changed by the discovery of a grounded young swift, otherwise in perfect health. I raced around from vet to vet instead of looking for short-tailed blues as intended. The swift spent that night at my house.
10th: I took the swift to the wild bird hospital/sanctuary at Etoy first thing in the morning and then continued to Geneva to make the most of the day. I cycled from Geneva to some woods where emperors and admirals fly, but as I reached them the rain came. I saw plenty of white admirals, even in the rain, and meadow browns, ringlets and this Provençal short-tailed blue, but nothing else. After a couple of hours, with no sight of weather relief, I headed back to Geneva and caught the train  home.
12th: A very energetic day! I caught the train into Italy with the hope of photographing large chequered skippers but failed to do this. I saw only one and it didn't stop. At the same site were sooty coppers, purple-shot coppers, small coppers, loads of chequered blues, small skippers (some very dark, looking a little like Lulworth skippers), and various fritillaries, including heath, knapweed, dark green and silver-washed. Lots of pearly heath. I cycled up the hill to my Hungarian glider site of a couple of weeks ago but saw very little there. No large chequered skippers. I then returned to Domodossola and caught the bus up the south side of the Simplon, getting off at what I knew to be a site for Rätzer's ringlet. Unfortunately, a gale was blowing and almost nothing dared put its head above the grass - and when it did, it disappeared 50m across the hillside in a second. I did see several new species for the year, including almond-eyed ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, Darwin's heath, marbled ringlet, Swiss brassy ringlet and chalkhill blue. Also seen were knapweed fritillary, heath fritillary, black-veined white, Apollo, Escher's blue, large blue, bright-eyed ringlet and others.
14th: A local walk in the afternoon to what is usually a rich lesser marbled fritillary site turned up just a very few - surprisingly few. None stopped long enough for a proper photo but here is a record shot of one in a tree. I also found my first Scotch arguses of the year.
16th: Although it is really too late to look for Erebia christi now - they are very scarce and modtly over by mid-July - I decided to take advantage of a sunny day today and explore some of the valleys they are known to fly in. In the end, I spent all day at one site because it appeared perfect for the butterfly. It was steep, rocky, abounding in thick tufts of sheep's fescue and with bare patches and thyme for them to take moisture and nectar. I didn't see any christi but it was an excellent day. Erebia species abounded and it is no exaggeration to say I saw about 1000 individuals. Probably 900 of these were euryale, which was always visible in good numbers in every field of vision. The rest were meolans, aethiops, montana, melampus, tyndarus and epiphron. I think the honey suncream I bought at Brig station attracted Erebia euryale, because every time I approached one to take a photo it jumped off the flower onto me. E. tyndarus was doing the same thing - this one really liked me and was not in the least scared of the net (a tool I only needed to deploy today on the half dozen epiphron I saw, which were potential candidates for christi). Other species seen today (using vernacular names now) were: mountain green-veined white, Apollo, little blue, alcon blue (just one male - rather worn), mazarine blue (here with turquoise, Geranium argus and chalkhill blue), turquoise blue, chalkhill blue, Idas blue, probably Escher's blue, Geranium argus, northern brown argus, sooty copper, purple-edged copper, olive skipper, small skipper, silver-spotted skipper (my first of the year, but already quite common), tufted marbled skipper, heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, dark green fritillary, Niobe fritillary (and here), large wall and both Darwin's heath and alpine heath (and individuals showing characters of both, like this one).
18th: A working morning, with a short trip in the afternoon, hoping to find the first short-tailed blues of the second generation (again). Unfortunately, the meadows had just been scythed and almost nothing was flying. So I headed on to Valais to look for Meleager's blues. The usual site there had also been scythed but I found another site, not far off, where this was the commonest Lycaenid by a long chalk. Here is a male and here a female. Great sooty satyrs and spotted fritillaries were very common.
19th: A trip to Valais, to look for emperors and Lulworth skippers produced four new species for the year: lesser purple emperor (and here - but no purple emperors), purple hairstreak, Lulworth skipper (and here) and dusky meadow brown (here is a female). The day began slowly, with cloud over the sun, but soon hotted up and many species came out. These included large blue, little blue, common blue, turquoise blue, Adonis blue, Meleager's blue, baton blue and scarce copper as well as Berger's pale clouded yellow, small skipper, large skipper, various whites, loads of great sooty satyr, large wall, both swallowtails, heath, false heath, dark green, silver-washed and Queen of Spain fritillaries and others.
23rd-26th July: Due to a computer mix-up I have to rewrite these reports (I uploaded without saving, then later re-uploaded the saved version...). They will therefore be briefer and I will add the pictures later, when time permits.
23rd: A sunny day forecast. I got up early and travelled to a site in Eastern Valais where I found Warren's skipper two years ago. Soon after I arrived I saw this probable Warren's skipper but didn't get a proper look at the underside. Also flying were Carline skipper (and here, probably), large grizzled skipper and red underwing skipper. I climbed to as high as 2400m at the site, seeing a couple of probable Warren's skippers on the way (but the very steep terrain made it difficult to reach them) and then clouds covered the sun and a bitterly cold wind got up. All butterflies crashed down, with many Erebia species lying flat on their sides on the earth. Then, by a stroke of incredible good fortune, an eddy of wind deposited a semi-torpid Warren's skipper on the ground in front of me, where it got caught in some grass. I picked it up in a plastic box, took some record shots of it, and took it 50m down the hill to wait for the sun. 45 minutes later I was able to tip the butterfly onto the ground in the lee of a rock (because of the cold it was completely torpid by now) and warm it up under plastic. It soon became mobile and I took several shots of it: here, here, here and here. The sun remained behind clouds until I had to begin my long journey home. As well as Warren's skipper I saw several other new species for the year, including glandon blue, Grisons fritillary (that is the Matterhorn in the background), mountain fritillary, blind ringlet and what I am fairly confident is sooty ringlet - it was torpid and never opened its wings until suddenly it did, and flew off! Other species flying were silver-studded blue, knapweed fritillary (including several beautiful white examples, like this one), Queen of Spain fritillary, false heath fritillary, mountain green-veined white, common blue, chalkhill blue, Eros blue, Apollo, mountain clouded yellow, large ringlet, marbled ringlet, large wall, alpine heath, large grizzled skipper, carline skipper, silver-spotted skipper, various orange skippers, various whites.
25th: During a cycle ride in Vaud I came across a field of clover with at least half a dozen pale clouded yellows flying over it. This meant for once I could get good pictures of this species in 100% confidence they were not Berger's pale clouded yellows. Here is another male (or possibly the same male, though it was photographed at a different time) and here is a female. On the way home I also saw my first dryads of the year. I made a trip to a local reserve where I have once seen map butterfly but found none. There were plenty of Provençal short-tailed blues but no short-tailed blues. Other species seen during the day were meadow brown, red admiral, speckled wood, large, small and Essex skippers, dingy skippers and more.
26th: A day trip in the canton of Geneva, visiting two sites. At the first I was looking for emperors but in the end saw just one, a female, flying from a sallow bush. It seems the (rather weak) emperor season is already over. Exciting for me were my first ever Swiss gatekeepers, which were very common, but I was a little disappointed not to see maps. White admirals were abundant still, if mostly rather worn and the other very common woodland butterfly was silver-washed fritillary. I didn't see short-tailed blue there but caught up with this at my second site. Here is a female. At this site were several Reverdin's blues (here is another male, and here a female. This female Idas blue, photographed nearby, makes an interesting comparison. Chalkhill blues were common and there were several common blues too. Here is a brown argus (underside). Dryads were out in good numbers and unusually I found myself with one on my boot and one on my hand at one point! I had hoped for a large copper but I visited this site in the heat of the afternoon and it is still the beginning of the large copper second generation.
31st: A trip to the Jura to see hermits. It was very successful and I have posted some of the best pictures - all males - on my new hermit page (these were my first ever). I walked extensively in the local region, looking for more colonies on similar habitat, but found the species at just the one site. There, it was out in good numbers. The fact they were all males suggests it is still the beginning of the season for the species in Switzerland. A very exciting day! At the same site were many blues - common, Adonis, chalkhill and turquoise, at least - and silver-spotted skippers, pale clouded yellows, Berger's pale clouded yellows, wood whites, meadow browns and more. Great banded graylings were flying, looking huge compared with the hermits. Locally, Scotch argus was common and I saw graylings on my walk (and here), though not at the hermit site itself. I saw my first, freshly emerged, map of the season and plenty of gatekeepers - making this the second day of my life when I've seen gatekeepers in Switzerland! The Jura is much less extreme than the Alps and sometimes, walking through wooded regions, it felt very like Britain! Red admirals and peacocks were on the wing, with gatekeepers, ringlets and common whites. A most enjoyable day.

August
2nd: In my local woods this purple emperor egg proved that although conditions have not suited males this year at least one female has passed through keeping the cycle going. After heavy storms last night there was little about. Several silver-washed fritillaries, a single white admiral, a single white-letter hairstreak, several Provençal short-tailed blues, common blues and holly blues, as well as Scotch arguses, meadow browns, large walls, ringlets and large skippers. I then visited the short-tailled blue site that had been so severely mown recently. It has not recovered and there were no short-tailed blues - just a few common blues drifting over what foodplant remained. However, at least two male long-tailed blues were proactively defending territories, zooming across the medaow to attack anything and spiralling high into the sky whenever they met each other.
4th: I went to look for nectaring male brown hairstreaks in the valley. There were none on the hemp agrimony and other nectar plants I checked but I saw a single male fly past and climb up into the canopy again. Following the direction it went in I discovered a complex of blackthorn meadows where females doubtless lay and where Meleager's blues (here's a detail of that shot - those are shieldbug eggs below the butterfly) were enjoying the late summer. This male Meleager's blue was lower down at one of the nectaring sites. Also nectaring were violet and heath fritillaries, marbled fritillaries, silver-washed fritillaries, Queen of Spain fritillaries, various browns, large skippers, Provençal short-tailed blues, clouded yellows, red admirals, Berger's pale clouded yellows, idas blues, little blues and at least half a dozen long-tailed blues. I saw one male long-tailed blue but most were females, frequenting the plentiful bladder senna at this site. Here is another. After this I moved off to another bladder senna site to look for short-tailed blues. Clouds had begun to come over - rain and storms moved in later - but I did find one or two more long-tailed blues at this site too. There were also Adonis blues, plenty of turquoise blues (and here), common blues and more Provençal short-tailed blues.
10th: The purple emperor egg found on 2nd August has changed colour, ready to hatch. The dark at the top of the egg is the huge head of the larva inside.
11th: The purple emperor egg has hatched into Tiberius. That picture was taken in the morning, at about 10h30, when he would have been just a few hours old.
12th: Tiberius has moved to a different leaf cluster, having eaten none of his original resting leaf. This contextual picture shows how small he is.
13th: Tiberius is growing slowly. You can see some nibbling of his resting leaf. On the left of the picture. I went to the valley to look for brown hairstreaks but found none, perhaps because of the howling gales at my best site. Elsewhere, at two different sites, long-tailed blues were flying and at one I saw my first tree grayling of the year. It had crumpled, deformed hindwings but could fly perfectly well.
16th: Tiberius is on the same leaf and growing well. Here is another shot.
17th: I checked on Tiberius late in the day and he was in the shade, so photos were hard to get. This and this are the best I could do. When he reaches second instar I will check on him less frequently.
18th: Tiberius has moved back to his birth leaf.
19th: Tiberius has moved to a different leaf, in deepest shade.
20th: Tiberius remains on his latest leaf and I suspect he will stay there until he has changed into his second instar skin.
21st: Tiberius (and here) has adopted the posture for his first skin change, I think, and should move into the second instar any day now.
22nd: Tiberius is still in first instar. He is growing thicker shoulder pads - these are the horns of the next instar within the old skin.
23rd: In the morning Tiberius was apparently ready to shed his skin (and here). By the evening he had done it. This picture was taken with flash at about 20h15.
24th: Here is Tiberius on the first full day of his second instar (and here).

As so often, I have got very behind in my diary! I will try to fill in what I can, in as much detail as I can, but I'm writing 25th August onwards on 7th October ...
25th: Last day before leaving for England for a week. In my local woods high brown fritillaries were still flying, as well as silver-washed fritillaries, Provençal short-tailed blues, Scotch arguses, red admirals, commas and dryads.
28th-31st August: Suffolk, UK. We had mixed weather during my stay in Suffolk. In the garden were holly blues and a few whites. Graylings were common in many places (and here, and here). Other species seen were gatekeepers, speckled woods, red admrials, commas and whites.

September
3rd: Back in Switzerland, I found Tiberius was still there!
8th: After some cool weather summer is sort of returning. In the Rhône Valley plenty of species were flying, including tree grayling (very numerous), grayling, southern white admiral (three individuals), long-tailed blue (males and females - this is an excellent year for them), turquoise blue, chalkhill blue, Adonis blue, Chapman's blue, common blue, brown and northern brown argus, Provençal short-tailed blue, small and southern small white, spotted fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, comma, speckled wood, wall, small heath, dryad and rosy grizzled skipper.
15th: Back in the Rhône Valley, at the same site as last week. Most of the same species were flying, including southern white admiral (and here), making this my latest ever sighting for this species. Rosy grizzled skipper was still on the wing and I saw a single baton blue, which I didn't see last week. Long-tailed blues are still common. Some photos of various species: Tree grayling, grayling, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, common blue, Chapman's blue, turquoise blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, northern brown argus, rosy grizzled skipper, speckled wood, southern small white.
16th: A mantis.
23rd: Plenty flying at another site in the Rhône Valley, including: spotted fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, high brown fritillary, Niobe fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, grayling, tree grayling, dryad, small heath, wall, large wall, speckled wood, Adonis blue, common blue, chalkhill blue, northern brown argus, Provençal short-tailed blue, olive skipper, silver-spotted skipper.

I had very little time for butterfly-watching in September, partly because of the pressure of work, partly because of the weather and partly because I was laid up with bad cold for some time. Between the trips above I saw lots of red admirals cruising around Villars, where I work, and a few whites and the odd blue on my walks to and from school.

October
6th: Another day at two different sites in the Rhône Valley. In all, I saw 22 species, mostly spread rather thin. The most numerous were tree graylings and walls. Also flying were grayling, small white, southern small white, green-veined white, Bath white, brimstone, clouded yellow, pale clouded yellow, small copper, common blue, Chapman's blue, chalkhill blue, Adonis blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, northern brown argus, comma wall, speckled wood, silver-spotted skipper and one Erebia butterfly (and here). I'm still uncertain about the identity of the Erebia. At the time I assumed it was marbled ringlet, Erebia montana, but later wondered about the nominate form of water ringlet, Erebia pronoe. I've never seen this, so have no experience to judge by - nor do I know at the moment if the form flies where I saw it. It will probably turn out to be Erebia montana.
7th: A miserable wet day, but hugely cheered up by a sighting of Tiberius (and here), exactly where he was the last time I saw him, on 3rd September. Since then I have searched for him in vain, examining every accessible leaf individually on three occasions. I have no idea how he slipped my notice - perhaps by spending some time higher up the tree. But he is back and I am very glad!
24th - 2nd November: INDIA. Write-up to come shortly, or see HERE for summary.

November
3rd: Back from India. The leaves on the sallow in the woods have turned and Tiberius is clearly in hibernation but I can't find him. He's probably crawled a little higher up the tree where it is difficult to see.
17th: It has been cold recently and I have also been very busy. Snow has lain on the ground in Villars and it has snowed on occasion quite low down the mountain. Today I worked till lunchtime then caught the train along the Rhône Valley to a favourite autumn spot. The sun struggled through high haze and although it did sometimes seem almost warm nothing flew apart from a single Berger's pale clouded yellow, flying weakly up a hill, pausing frequently to warm up. At this time of year the shadow of the mountains falls quickly and most of my site was in shade by 2.00pm.
18th: I stayed closer to home today, but still in the Rhône Valley, and saw three species of butterfly. Commonest were clouded yellows - I counted 24 in total on my circuit. When I arrived, at about 11.30am, they were pressed against the earth, walls or other sloping surfaces, warming up - here. Here is a female, form helice. Later, they flew energetically, nectaring, sparring, flirting and laying eggs. Here, here and here are some more pictures. I saw just two Queens of Spain and as I left a single southern small white (I think it is southern - it is a little difficult to tell in its condition). A very pleasant, warm dy.
24th: I still can't locate Tiberius. As every year, a female brown hairstreak has left eggs on local sloe bushes: here, here and here.
28th: Snow down to the valley.

December
1st: December has begun cold. Huémoz was under snow when I left the house in the morning and when I returned the snow hadn't even melted off the trees, meaning the temperature never rose above freezing. In the valley temperatures did rise to 2°C in the afternoon but it felt bitter most of the day. At 11h30 I saw my first clouded yellow, quickly followed by this female, form helice - though her colour was a little confusing. In flight she revealed very pale lemon uppersides, similar to a washed-out pale clouded yellow. Here is another helice from later in the day and here a male. Altogether I saw seven or eight clouded yellows. Also on the wing were Queen of Spain fritillaries. Here is the first one I saw, pressed to the earth for warmth, and here a later one, nectaring. They were the only two I found. Two hoopoes flew by at lunchtime. Unharvested grapes are withering on the vines but some of them are deliciously edible! Here is a meadow at 14h00, showing snow still on the ground in the shade. By 15h00 it was very cold and becoming overcast - nothing could possibly fly.