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YEAR LIST, 2015

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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 20102009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have lost the file for 2000.
Some of my friends also keep online year-lists, though Tim and Matt have rather let them slip in recent years! Tim Cowles, living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland, has his HERE. Both of these seem to have let their lists slip recently, but another friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2015 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2015
  1. Small tortoiseshell - (Aglais urticae) - 16th February - Vaud
  2. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 18th February - Valais
  3. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 20th February - Valais
  4. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 20th February - Valais
  5. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 7th March - Valais
  6. Peacock (Aglais io) - 7th March - Valais
  7. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 18th March - Vaud
  8. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 24th March - Valais
  9. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 24th March - Valais
  10. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 28th March - North Italy
  11. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 28th March - North Italy
  12. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 28th March - North Italy
  13. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 7th April - Suffolk, UK
  14. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 10th April - Valais
  15. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 10th April - Valais
  16. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 10th April - Valais
  17. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podlirius) - 10th April - Valais
  18. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 10th April - Valais
  19. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 10th April - Valais
  20. Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 10th April - Valais
  21. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 13th April - Vaud
  22. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 14th April - Vaud
  23. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 23rd April - Vaud
  24. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 27th April - Vaud
  25. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 6th May - Vaud
  26. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 7th May - Vaud
  27. Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 10th May - Valais
  28. Chapan's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 10th May - Valais
  29. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 10th May - Valais
  30. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 10th May - Valais
  31. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 10th May - Valais
  32. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 10th May - Valais
  33. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 10th May - Valais
  34. Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 10th May - Valais
  35. Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 10th May - Valais
  36. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 10th May - Valais
  37. Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 10th May - Valais
  38. Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 10th May - Valais
  39. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 10th May - Valais
  40. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 10th May - Valais
  41. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 12th May - Vaud
  42. Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 12th May - Vaud
  43. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palemon) - 13th May - Vaud
  44. Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 13th May - Vaud
  45. Red underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 13th May - Vaud
  46. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 13th May - Vaud
  47. Mazarine blue (Polyommatus semiargus) - 17th May - Valais
  48. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 17th May - Valais
  49. Mountain dappled white (Eucloe simplonia) - 17th May - Valais
  50. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 17th May - Valais
  51. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 23rd May - Vaud
  52. Violet copper (Lycaena  helle) - 23rd May - Vaud
  53. Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 24th May - Valais
  54. Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 30th May - Geneva
  55. Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 30th May - Geneva
  56. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 30th May - Geneva
  57. Idas blue (Plebejs idas) - 30th May - Geneva
  58. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 30th May - Geneva
  59. Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) - 30th May - Geneva
  60. Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 30th May - Geneva
  61. Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 30th May - Geneva
  62. Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 30th May - Geneva
  63. Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 2nd June - Vaud
  64. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 2nd June - Vaud
  65. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 5th June - Vaud
  66. White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 6th June - Geneva
  67. Poplar admiral (Limenitis populi) - 6th June - Geneva
  68. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 6th June - Geneva
  69. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 6th June - Geneva
  70. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 7th June - Valais
  71. Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 7th June - Valais
  72. Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 7th June - Valais
  73. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione) - 7th June - Valais
  74. Swiss Zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 7th June - Valais
  75. Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 7th June - Valais
  76. Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 18th June - Vaud
  77. Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 20th June - North Italy
  78. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 20th June - North Italy
  79. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 20th June - North Italy
  80. Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 20th June - North Italy
  81. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 20th June - North Italy
  82. High brown fritillary (Argynnis ) - 20th June - North Italy
  83. Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 20th June - North Italy
  84. Short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades) - 20th June - North Italy
  85. Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 20th June - North Italy
  86. Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 22nd June - Vaud
  87. Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 22nd June - Vaud
  88. Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 23rd June - Valais
  89. Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 23rd June - Valais
  90. Asian fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia) - 23rd June - Valais
  91. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 23rd June - Valais
  92. Geranium argus (Aricia eumedon) - 23rd June - Valais
  93. Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 24th June - Vaud
  94. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 24th June - Vaud
  95. Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 24th June - Vaud
  96. Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 24th June - Vaud
  97. Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 24th June - Vaud
  98. Titania's fritillary (Boloria titania) - 24th June - Vaud
  99. Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) - 26th June - Vaud
  100. Cranberry fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris) - 27th June - Vaud
  101. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 27th June - Vaud
  102. Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 27th June - Vaud
  103. Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 29th June - Vaud
  104. Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 30th June - Vaud
  105. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 4th July - Vaud
  106. Alcon blue (Phengaris alcon rebeli) - 7th July - Vaud
  107. Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 7th July - Vaud
  108. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 7th July - Vaud
  109. Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 9th July - Valais
  110. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 9th July - Valais
  111. Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 9th July - Valais
  112. Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 9th July - Valais
  113. Damon blue (Polyommatus damon) - 9th July - Valais
  114. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 9th July - Valais
  115. Meleager's blue (Polyommatus daphnis) - 9th July - Valais
  116. Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 9th July - Valais
  117. Thor's fritillary (Boloria thore) - 10th July - Bern
  118. Alpine argus (Albulina orbitulus) - 10th July - Bern
  119. Scarce copper (Lycaena virgaurea) - 11th July - Valais
  120. Rätzer's ringlet (Erebia christi) - 11th July - Valais
  121. Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 11th July - Valais
  122. Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 11th July - Valais
  123. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 11th July - Valais
  124. Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 11th July - Valais
  125. Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 11th July - Valais
  126. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 12th July - Vaud
  127. Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 13th July - Valais
  128. Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 13th July - Italy
  129. Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 13th July - Italy
  130. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 13th July - Italy
  131. Glandon blue (Plebejus glandon) - 15th July - Valais
  132. Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 15th July - Valais
  133. Mnestra's ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 15th July - Valais
  134. Silky ringlet (Erebia gorge) - 15th July - Valais
  135. Grisons fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 15th July - Valais
  136. Cynthia's fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia) - 15th July - Valais
  137. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 15th July - Valais
  138. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 15th July - Valais
  139. Piedmont anomalous blue (Polyommatus humedasae) - 17th July - Italy
  140. Woodland grayling (Hipparchia fagi) - 17th July - Italy
  141. Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 17th July - Italy
  142. Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 17th July - Italy
  143. Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 19th July - Vaud
  144. Warren's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus warrenensis) - 21st July - Valais
  145. Dryad (Minois dryas) - 23rd July - Vaud
!! THIS LIST IS CURRENTLY INCOMPLETE. I HAVE JUST TRIED TO UPDATE THE COMMENTARY, BELOW, HAVING NEGLECTED IT SINCE THE END OF JULY, AND WILL UPDATE THE CHECK LIST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. MY APOLOGIES TO ALL WHO FOLLOW THIS PAGE !!

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

January
1st: The year has started bitterly cold and there was no chance of butterflies flying even in hotspots in the Rhône Valley. It was brilliantly sunny today but a few, brave flies were the only insects to be seen. The bulk of bushes at my favourite brown hairstreak site were bowed under the snow but the sun had melted outer branches and twigs and I was able to locate a couple of eggs (here and  here). This robin was looking surprisingly sanguine given the conditions. Here is the moon seemingly hovering above the Grand Chamossaire, seen from Aigle on my way home.
2nd: Back to cloudy weather, though the day started bright. Here are a purple emperor caterpillar and a brown hairstreak egg (another here) from my local lunchtime walk. The purple emperor caterpillar is either Trijaṭā or Sugrīva (all my caterpillars have names). Last winter, Trijaṭā hibernated nearby, then disappeared, presumed eaten. Subseequently I lost Sugrīva, who had been on the same tree but not so near, and then I found this caterpillar, who might be Trijaṭā relocated for some reason or might be Sugrīva. There is a white admiral caterpillar inside this hibernaculum - or there was last autumn!
3rd: Increasingly grey and oppressive today, with light rain in the afternoon and heavier rain in the evening. I tried to photograph some more purple emperor caterpillars in natural light but it proved difficult. Here, here and here are three (Sarasvatī, Varuṇa and Durgā respectively). Here is Durgā again, this time taken with flash. Here is a further brown hairstreak egg. The weather is expected to brighten in a couple of days.
4th: Transition from a warm, stormy night, that washed all the snow away, through a cloudy day, to a brilliantly clear night. La Petite Gryonne, the river running through my woods, was in spate - so Minnie wasn't quite sure how we would cross it. I carried her across. This is Varuṇa. He has hibernated brilliantly, perfectly matching the curve and colour of a natural knot on the bole of his sallow. Nothing will find him by sight -  though that doesn't guarantee that he won't be found by sytstematic searching. This is Trijaṭā.
5th: Bright and sunny but a visit to the hotpsots in the Rhône Valley produced no butterflies. There was a slight breeze, perhaps keeping the air moving and preventing sufficient temperatures building up. Lots of flies were on the wing and a few lizards were there to eat them. The strawberry trees are full of ripe fruit. If any butterflies do emerge there will be plenty of nectar for them. There are carpets of speedwell everywhere.
6th: I spent the morning in Italy, where it was very warm and sunny, and the afternoon in the Rhône Valley. No butterflies flew at all. I got up very early to go to Italy and photographed the moon from the bus stop. The same moon was lightening the sky in the evening, making it difficult to observe comet Lovejoy. This is the best photograph I got of the comet. If conditions remain clear there will be better photo opportunities tomorrow.
7th: Again bright and sunny, but also distinctly cold in the valley. No butterflies. Here is a purple hairstreak egg. These have been thin on the ground of late and I was pleased to find this one.
8th - 13th: Mixed weather but generally warm. No butterflies flying even on the sunny days, either up here in the mountain or in the valley. Here is Sarasvatī on 8th. All four of the iris caterpillars whose hibernation spots I found are still there.
14th: Snow in the morning. This is Trijaṭā in the afternoon.
16th: I was thrilled to spot Sugrīva today, lurking in a fork above head height. It was late in the afternoon of a gloomy day and I couldn't get good pictures even with flash - he is not at all in an accessible position. But here and here are the proof shots. I'll try to get better shots tomorrow, in better light.
18th: Yesterday it snowed heavily and the sky was black with clouds all day. Today was much brighter. Minnie enjoyed a woodland walk in thick snow, nipping under snow-laden branches that blocked my path. Most of the purple emperor caterpillars were hidden beneath similar coverings but Sugrīva, who I refound two days ago, was poking out. These are badger tracks.
21st: Another bright day, though with bubbling cloud too. Here is Trijaṭā. Despite the better light I didn't get much better pictures of Sugrīva, who is in just the wrong place for the camera. This is a white admiral hibernaculum. The copious silk securing the leaf is easily conspicuous. I was trying to get a peep inside with the flash but failed.
24th: Here is the same white admiral hibernaculum as photographed on 21st, this time just showing the caterpillar lurking inside. It is very cold and snowed much of this afternoon, so there is no chance of any adults being tempted out of hibernation. Here is a purple emperor caterpillar (Trijaṭā).
25th: More snow. Most of my purple emperor caterpillars were completely hidden by the white stuff but Trijaṭā and Sugrīva were just showing their bottom and head respectively! Cold is good for caterpillars. Their natural predators, the tits, are all hanging around the towns and villages, where bird tables provide rich pickings - very few birds are attempting to glean a living from the icy woodland rides.
29th: A brief thaw this afternoon meant Sarasvatī was back to sitting in a puddle of water - as she did most of last summer. It didn't last. By evening it was snowing heavily and the temperature had dropped.

February
1st: The month has begun cold and snowy - tough work for a small Jack Russell! Trijaṭā never seems to get covered up, though.
6th: Still very cold in the woods.
8th: Continuing, unbroken cold. I managed to get slightly  better pictures of Sugrīva (and here), the awkwardly placed purple emperor caterpillar I only recently refound.
10th: I had a chance to drop down to the valley this afternoon. There, snow still lay in the vineyards and no butterflies flew, but it felt very different from a month ago. Here is a shot of the valley floor.
11th: Here are Sarasvatī and Durgā, still waiting patiently for the spring. Of the five purple emperor caterpillars I relocated after they went into hibernation, none have been predated yet.
16th: A single small tortoiseshell flew past me on my daily dog-walk before cruising up a hill and disappearing out of sight. Either it or a different individual descended the slope a little later, this time at tree level, and continued on its way. No possibility of any photos!
18th: Very cold and foggy in my part of Switzerland today, but the forecast for Valais was for sunshine so I headed off there to look for butterflies. A cold wind meant hotspots could not build up and the sun was filtered through haze, but small tortoiseshells were out in good numbers. Here, here, here and  here are some more. I saw at least 20 and probably many more. Two red admirals zoomed past too, one stopping just in range for a distant record shot. It will be sunny tomorrow and on Friday, perhaps bringing the Queen of Spain fritillaries out ... The meadows are full of Bulbocodium. Here is a lizard and here a rock bunting.
20th: A bitter wind was blowing in the valley but four species of butterflies were on the wing. Small tortoiseshells (and here, here and here) were the commonest thoughout the vineyards – I saw 20+, like the other day. In addition, Queen of Spain fritillaries are now on the wing (and here, here and here). I recorded 8 of these. Two red admirals crossed my path without stopping and a single large tortoiseshell circled a tree at a familiar breeding site before swooping off uphill. I set off in pursuit, as this is ususally a vertical territory for large tortoiseshells, but I didn’t see it again. It was in the afternoon and I suspect it was looking for a place to roost.
26th: Snow fell on 21st and it has been cold and snowy since. Today was sunny, though the temperature never rose above 3
°C in the mountains where I live. Despite this, I saw a small tortoiseshell in Chesières as I walked home at lunchtime and then several more in Huémoz, sunning themselves on this snowy bank and occasionally sparring with each other. Here is one posed next to some snow. A further individual on my dog walk brought the total to half a dozen.

March
4th: After cold and snow for the last week it was sunny today, though still cold. A single small tortoiseshell was making the most of it in Huémoz at 10h30.
6th: Several small tortoiseshells on the wing on a bright but chilly day.
7th: Cold in western Valais this morning, with hazy clouds veiling the sun and a chill breeze. Small tortoiseshells and a few Queen of Spain fritillaries were flying. I saw a single red admiral. Further east, in the afternoon, it was warmer and more sheltered (at the site I chose). Male brimstones accompanied me all afternoon, though none ever stopped flying so far as I could see - they were all looking for females. A single peacock flew up and away. Small tortoiseshells were common here and during the afternoon I saw half a dozen large tortoiseshells (and here).
8th: A morning trip to the valley. Again it was warm, but the best spots were disturbed by people out walking and very surprisingly yesterday's large tortoiseshell hotspot produced none. But there were a few elsewhere. Here is one. Also on the wing were numerous small tortoiseshells and male brimstones.
9th: A working day. It was warm enough up here in the mountain for small tortoiseshells to be common. This one was sunning itself after I came home from school, at about 16h30.
10th: A quick afternoon trip to the valley. Hazy cloud covered the sun but Queen of Spain fritillaries, small tortoiseshells and large tortoiseshells were all flying. Things have woken up.
11th: In the mountains where I live, brimstones, small tortoiseshells, red admirals and a single large tortoiseshell were all on the wing.
17th: I've just spent several days at a maths competition in Vienna, where it was very cold and overcast. In Switzerland it was sunny. Today it was still sunny and many small tortoiseshells, brimstones and red admirals accompanied me on my lunchtime dog walk, as well as a single large tortoiseshell.
18th: Again sunny and warm. I had very little time but saw small tortoiseshells, brimstones, red admirals, a large tortoiseshell and a single comma, my first of the season, on my lunchtime dog walk. At 20h15 precisely, some Valaisan mountains were illuminated by mountain guides as part of the celebrations of their 200 years' membership of the Swiss Confederation. It was quite eery. The spectacle lasted exacly three minutes, then all went dark again.
19th: Another warm, sunny day. Lots of small tortoiseshells around, and a few brimstones and red admirals, but mostly, lots of commas. These seem to have emerged en masse. Here, here and here are some more individuals.
24th: I had to go to Bex in the afternoon and as it was sunny headed off along the valley when I was finished, to see if anything new was flying. Although it was getting late in the day it was quite warm and there were plenty of Queen of Spain fritillaries, large tortoiseshells, small tortoiseshells and commas. These were joined by a few green-veined whites and small whites. Spring has really arrived. Pasqueflowers are coming out and crag martins have arrived. Potentilla flowers carpet the slopes but I saw no grizzled skippers. This might be because of the lateness of my visit. It felt as though they should be on the wing.
28th: It has snowed the last two days but today was sunny. Minnie and I set off early for Italy to look for nettle tree butterflies. Cycling up through villages to my first site I saw a couple of nettle tree butterflies in flight, as well as many large tortoiseshells a few small tortoiseshells and a comma. At the site, large tortoiseshells were by far the commonest butterfly but I did see probably half a dozen nettle tree butterflies in total. It is still very early. The buds of the nettle trees have not broken - and some are not even green yet - and most if not all the butterflies I saw were males, looking for females. They very rarely stopped and when they did, only for a few seconds. This is the best photo I could get - at long range and directly into the sun. I saw a single green hairstreak and a single small copper. Several brimstones passed, males and females, and there were two green-veined whites. At my second nettle tree site I saw no butterflies at all. It was very warm and sunny all morning - so just too early in the year. In Domodossola, on rough ground where I usually see several species, a single large tortoiseshell appeared and disappeared. I got back to Switzerland by 14h30, intending to visit one or two sites for grizzled skippers, but thick cloud moved in so I came home.
29th: Durgā (and here) has awoken to see if it is spring yet. Given the forecast for the near future she will probably decide it isn't.
31st: Arrived back in Suffolk, UK, to a reasonably fine afternoon and saw a peacock in the garden. That was the only butterfly seen.

April
1st: Sunny but very windy and cold in Suffolk. I set off to look for yellow-legged tortoiseshells, knowing the kinds of place they might have chosen to hibernate in. Sadly, the wind meant nothing could fly. The only butterfly I saw was a torpid comma, blown across my path by the gale. It was a little shredded and could barely move. I picked it up, warmed it up a bit and then placed it in a more suitable site, where it blended in perfectly!
2nd: Dreadful weather was forecast but in the event it was 50% sunny in the late morning and almost warm. I tried a second site I had selected for yellow-legged tortoiseshell but again found no butterflies at all. It just wasn't quite warm enough. Later in the day I saw a single small white in the garden. That was the only butterfly all day.
7th: The weather has been unfavourable for butterflies until today. I took a morning trip to potential yellow-legged tortoiseshell sites but saw none. At the sites themselves only peacocks and a couple of commas seemed to be flying. Cycling home I saw a few other species, including brimstone and my first speckled wood of the year, which I picked up, stunned, from the side of the A12. At home, peacocks, commas, brimstones, small whites, small tortoiseshells and a red admiral were flying in the garden. In the afternoon we visited Minsmere, where a few commas and peacocks were flying - but soon the clouds came. Here is a little ringed plover (and here), seen from the Scrape hide.
10th: Back in Switzerland I took a brief morning trip along the Rhône Valley with Minnie. Finally, things are starting to move, though the year is still late, relative to recent years. The full species list for the morning was: scarce swallowtail (a handful), small white (several), green-veined white (several), wood white (locally common), brimstone (several, including this one, with passenger), Berger's clouded yellow (one), orange tip (now common), holly blue (two), small copper (one), large tortoiseshell (several), small tortoiseshell (several), peacock (several), Camberwell beauty (just one, in flight), comma (common), red admiral (a few), Queen of Spain (quite common), speckled wood (locally common), grizzled skipper (locally common) and dingy skipper (common). In the afternoon I took Minnie down to the local woods where I discovered, sadly, that Indra's sallow has been cut down and other nearby sallows trimmed. Durgā is still alive and well, as are Sarasvatī and Sugrīva.
11th: Here is a white admiral caterpillar (and here) poised at the lip of its hibernaculum, ready to emerge and dig into the fresh honeysuckle leaves as soon as they unfurl.
12th: Some more photos of white admiral caterpillars in their hibernacula (and here, here, here and here).
13th: More white admiral caterpillars in their hibernacula. This one is just beginning to unzip while this one (and here) is now completely exposed. None that I found had begun eating yet, even though many honeysuckle bushes are now in leaf. Sarasvatī has not yet moved from her winter hibernation spot but is beginning to green up, in preparation for the move. At lunchtime and again in the evening I saw a single painted lady flying through the village of Huémoz.
14th: Three violet fritillaries flying in a meadow near my house this afternoon - and never stoppin. Also on the wing here and in the woods: wood white, small white, green-veined white, oranged tip, brimstone, comma, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, peacock and speckled wood.
15th: Most white admiral caterpillars are still in/on their hibernacula but this one (and here) has begun exploring his twig and leaf. This is Durgā (a purple emperor caterpillar) today, beautifully camouflaged against the swelling buds, which she will soon be eating.
18th: Some purple emperor caterpillars: Sarasvatī , Durgā , Sugrīva . At the moment, these are the only ones I know have survived the winter.
19th: At least one brown hairstreak egg has hatched. There was no sign of the caterpillar - it was probably safely tucked into one of the terminal buds of the twig. The blackthorn flowers are not yet open but some twigs have loosely furled leaves. This egg will hatch soon.
20th: Miraculously, Durgā's consort, Śiva, who disappeared completely at hibernation (I searched every twig on his sallow), has reappeared, a few leaves from Durgā. Here he is, feeding on new leaves. Sarasvatī has finally left her hibernation spot and is exploring the terminal leaves of a different twig (there were no leaves on her hibernation twig) some 70cm away.
21st: I found a new purple emperor caterpillar today - Agni (and here). He is more advanced than the others and will be changing skins into fourth instar soon. The white admiral caterpillars are nearly all out exploring now. This one was still hanging on to his hibernaculum.
22nd: The purple emperors are making short work of the new spring foliage.
23rd: On my after-school dog walk I found two more purple emperor caterpillars, Gaṅgā and Māyā. This is Agni, getting ready to shed his skin. Durgā has changed leaves and now adopted the classic purple emperor pose in her new leaf tip. Sarasvatī is finally greening up properly, though she is not there yet. I saw my first small heath of the year. Violet fitillaries are locally common in the meadows.
25th: After a working week of unbroken sunshine it was overcast and wet today. On my morning walk I discovered two more purple emperor caterpillars, bringing the total to 9 (all of which I saw and photographed today). Photographs were difficult in the gloom, but here are the two newcomers, Kṛṣṇa and his consort, Rādhā. Here and here are Agni, who is now in 4th instar. This is my first photograph of Sugrīva since he began feeding again.
26th: I added Arjuna and Bhīma to my mythical canon of purple emperor caterpillars, bring the total to 11, all of which I saw today. Bhīma is laid up for ecdysis (into fourth instar).
27th:  There was a little broken sun today, during which I saw my first pearl-bordered fritillary of the year. Here is a record shot. All the purple emperor caterpillars were doing fine, though I couldn't visit Kṛṣṇa and Bhīma because their part of the woods was closed off for wood cutting.

May
5th: It has rained almost continuously recently and I have had no opportunities to go butterfly-hunting, making this the slowest start to my butterfly year for the last decade or more! Instead, I have been spotting purple empeor caterpillars on my daily dog walks. I am now following 13 individuals. The most advanced have just graduated to 4th instar (this is Agni, yesterday, next to his old head and skin, and here). The least advanced are still in 2nd instar - I think it is not uncommon for individuals to pass the winter in 2nd instar.
6th: Some sun today, as well as cloudy intervals - on the whole, a bright day with a wet feeling. After school I saw my first wall of the year. Other species spotted on the wing during the day were brimstone, small and green-veined white, orange tip, holly blue, comma, peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell and speckled wood. Here is Agni, now growing rapidly. This is Śiva, who has just recently shed his 2nd instar skin and is now 3rd instar. I couldn't find Durgā and fear she might have been taken by something. But when she was younger she did spend a lot of time wandering around and I often couldn't find her, so it is not certain. Just one of my purple emperor caterpillars is high up a tree, making photography a little difficult. I have named him Nakula. This is a meadow brown caterpillar, found crossing a road in Huémoz.
7th: Here is a green hairstreak laying an egg on bird's foot trefoil, and here is the egg she laid. This is Nakula, high in his tree. Gaṅgā has just graduated into fourth instar. My first Provençal short-tailed blue for the year was flying in my local woods. In fact, there were quite a few of them.
9th: Several of my purple emperor caterpillars are lost - presumed dead. This is not surprising. Today I was unable to find Durgā, Śiva, Bhīma, Arjuna or Sugrīva; but I did find a new individual, Sahadeva. This is Agni, who is now 2.4 cm long - quite huge compared to Yudhiṣṭhira, who is still under 9mm from his tail to the tips of his horns. This white admiral caterpillar has moulted into 3rd instar.
10th: Finally, some sun at the weekend! In two sites in the Rhône Valley I saw: grizzled skipper (locally common), rosy grizzled skipper (one indivdual), dingy skipper (the commonest skipper), safflower skipper (locally common), scarce swallowtail (common - but no swallowtails), Apollo (one individual, late in the day, at a third stop on the way home), small white (a few), southern small white (one confirmed), green-veined white (a few), Bath white (just one!), orange tip (common), wood white (common), Berger's clouded yellow (a few), brimstone (a few), pearl-bordered fritillary (locally common), common blue (common - the one in my picture is form icarinus, without a cell spot), Chapman's blue (common), Adonis blue (only two), turquoise blue (two or three), Provençal short-tailed blue (common), holly blue (a handful), Osiris blue (locally several, including this aberrant individual with no underside spots), green-underside blue (several), chequered blue (just one; here is a rather bad upperside shot and here a shot with Minnie in the background), violet fritillary (a few), Queen of Spain fritillary (common), Glanville fritillary (very common), spotted fritillary (just one, in flight), comma (a handful), large tortoiseshell (two), Camberwell beauty (two - but there were too many walkers and cyclists for me to get a decent shot), red admiral (two), peacock (several), painted lady (several), speckled wood (locally common), wall (locally common) and small heath (quite common). Notable absentees were de prunner's ringlet - which I hope I haven't missed for 2015! and swallowtail. I looked for Provençal fritillary, Zephyr blue and cardinal all without success - it is still too early.
12th: Two new species for the year on my lunchtime dog-walk. First, a single female sooty copper (and here); secondly a single male Duke of Burgundy in the woods (and here). Other species flying were violet fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, red admiral, comma, speckled wood, small heath, small white, green-veined white, wood white, orange tip, Chapman's blue and grizzled skipper. This is Agni (and here).
13th: At lunchtime, chequered skippers (and here) were flying in wet meadows near my house - my first of the year. I finished work early in the afternoon and had time to cycle over to the Gryon side, where I found more Dukes of Burgundy, as well as my first meadow fritillaries, red-underwing skippers and little blues of the year. This is a male sooty copper (and here, in context). A species I was hoping to see but didn't was woodland ringlet. I trust I was simply too early. Agni is laid up for transition into 5th instar. This is Sarasvatī, still in 4th instar.
15th: Snow.
16th: Just 6 purple emperor caterpillars are left. These are Agni, who has just moulted into 5th instar, Sarasvatī, in 4th instar, Nakula, 4th or 5th (I found him late and he is high up in a tree), Māyā, 4th instar, Rādhā, 4th instar, and Yudhiṣṭhira, still in 3rd instar, having passed the winter in 2nd.
17th: With all-day sun forecast I headed off early to a mountain dappled white site, hoping to get photos of females laying, males sunning &c. In the event it was 100% cloud cover until about 11h30 and no whites flew at all in this time. In a meadow off the dappled white road I found roosting common blues, mazarine blues, small heaths and Glanville fritillaries, all of which opened up as the day grew hotter and as the first rays of sun broke through the clouds. Here is an open-winged mazarine blue. When the sun came out many species started flying, including dingy skippers, swallowtails, wood whites, small whites, painted ladies (lots - constantly zooming through), Queen of Spain fritillaries and Apollos. Finally, a single male mountain dappled white beetled in, checked out some Erucastrum nasturtiifolium without stopping, and carried on. He then did this again. I was on the point of leaving the site when a second mountain dappled white actually paused (on a daisy-type flower) and allowed me a single photo. It was hot by now and Minnie was tired and thirsty, having walked up and down the same road many times. So we cycled back down to the valley and had a quick look for cardinals. We were very happy to find two, first a female (and here) and then a male. The wet spring clearly hasn't put an end to this wonderful new colony.
23rd: I am now down to just 3 purple emperor caterpillars. The lost ones are not necessarily all dead - cold weather and the increasing shade from the thickening canopy may have chased some of them higher up their trees. Later instars like warmth and sun. The three remaining are Māyā (I think 4th instar, though looking back through my photos I think she might have sneaked into 5th ...), Yudhiṣṭhira (definitely still 3rd instar, laid up for his moult to 4th) and Nakula (4th instar, laid up for moult to 5th). Today was cold but with brief moments when the sun broke through the clouds. I went up the mountain in the early afternoon, seeing my first northern wall of the year (here is a very distant proof shot) and my first violet copper of the year (and here, and here). The only other butterflies seen were a little blue and a small white. It really is cold!
24th: Lots of cardinals in the valley today. I got up late (after watching the song contest last night ...) and didn't arrive on site until about 11h30, when the day was already hot. Between then and 13h00 I photographed at least 6 different individuals and saw more. Here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here are some photos. This male (and here) and this female (and here) both showed some wing damage that might have been due to the recent protracted spell of cold weather. I had initially gone to the valley to look for iolas blues but because of the cardinals spent almost no time checking the bladder senna. Here is a male iolas blue photographed at full zoom from some distance just as I was leaving. Also seen were turquoise blues, common blues, Provençal short-tailed blues, Adonis blues, little blues, red-underwing skippers, Berger's clouded yellows, speckled woods, a few swallowtails and scarce swallowtails, a red admiral and a few painted ladies, including this female who spent a considerable time laying eggs.
30th: Today was the annual pilgrimage for black hairstreaks and large coppers near Geneva. It was sunny when I arrived at my first site, soon after 10h00 but strangely little was flying. I quickly found my first pearly heaths and brown arguses of the year and soon after that saw my first Reverdin's blue. Fritillaries were mostly meadow and Glanville with just a few heaths thrown in and although there were a few meadow browns I saw no marbled whites or ringlets, confirming that this is a late year in Geneva too. I did see plenty of black-veined whites, my first for the year. The black hairstreaks were out in numbers but very active and rarely settled at this site, partly because there were no nectar flowers yet - the most advanced privet was still in flower bud. A few male large coppers were flying, brilliantly burnished gold on the wing. Here is a particularly fresh individual, and here his underside. This one shows a little wear, but not much. The clouds were extending so I moved on to my second site, where a few black hairstreaks were more obliging. Here, here and here are some more photos. Throughout my stay at this site clouds covered the sun, just very occasionally letting the sun through. The light was constantly changing and photography was difficult. There were several male large coppers at this site, all looking in pristine condition, and this single female large copper. Speckled woods, small heaths, wood whites and green-veined whites were also present. Other species seen during the day were swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, marbled fritillary (my first of the year), Queen of Spain fritillary, common blue and Provençal short-tailed blue.
31st: Spent the morning marking up cardinals (and here) to gain an idea of their movements and longevity. Although I couldn't concentrate on other species I noticed lots of painted ladies, several turquoise blues, Berger's clouded yellows and several iolas blues while I was there, among other species.

June
2nd: Nipped to a nearby meadow in the Rhône Valley after our school sports day. I was too late (in the season) for short-tailed blues but saw plenty of Adonis blues and Chapman's blues, as well as my first marbled whites and large walls of the year.
3rd: Purple emperor update. Most surviving caterpillars are now 5th instar. The latest to moult into this stage was Māyā. Here she is at prayer just before her transformation, and here she is today. The most advanced, Agni, has just spent several days hanging around on a high seat leaf, before disappearing to pupate (I think). He moulted into 5th instar on 16th May. High in another tree, Kālī and Nakula are maturing and close to pupation. A further caterpillar, Gaṇeśa, moulted into 5th instar on 28th May. Here he is, looking down on me from his leaf, showing two heads - his old head, beneath, and his new head, above.
5th: Saw my first silver-studded blue of the year in my local woods.
6th: Woods near Geneva were heaving with white admirals (and here and here). I had gone there to see poplar admirals and they were out in unprecedented (for me) numbers, though only males. In total, morning and afternoon, I saw a minimum of 11 and probably more. Here is one with stronger white markings on the wings and here one with greatly reduced white markings. This was about the average. For the most part, the butterflies were hugging the shade, as it was a very hot day. They were interested in human sweat, coming to my shoes in the morning and Matt Rowlings's trousers (he joined me for the afternoon) in the afternoon. He was able to pick that one up easily and show it on his finger. Minnie didn't know what all the fuss was about! In this picture there are two poplar admirals with a mass of white admirals - here is another shot of the same thing. Here and here are some undersides. A truly wonderful butterfly. Also on the wing were woodland browns, meadow browns, marbled fritillaries, a few whites and my first ringlet of the year. But mostly my attention was on the admirals!
7th: After a long day yesterday I got up late today so decided to visit sites in the Rhône Valley. The two main target species were Provençal fritillary and Zephyr blue. I saw only one of the former, shortly after I arrived, and as I hadn't got my camera ready (or even upacked the dog!) I didn't get a photo. No more appeared. Zephyr blues were better though and I saw several during the late morning and early afternoon, all fresh males. Another species I had hoped to see was southern white admiral. Again, just one individual. He was defending a high perch against some ageing Camberwell beauties but I managed one or two poor shots between bouts of aggression. Here is one of them. Other new species for the year were large skipper, olive skipper and Essex skipper. In general, little was on the wing. It was a sweltering day and I think some butterflies were taking it easy. I saw very few blues - mainly Provençal short-tailed, Adonis and Zephyr - just a couple of swallowtails and scarce swallowtails, no de Prunner's ringlet (a species I have yet to see this year) and rather few whites (wood white, black-veined white, small, green-veined and southern small whites). Here is one of a handful of marbled fritillaries seen, and here a safflower skipper. The weather turned from hot to cloudy and I headed home.
9th: Here are a white admiral caterpillar and a purple emperor caterpillar, both final instar and soon to pupate.
12th: I discovered what I took to be a marbled fritillary caterpillar (and here) beneath a honeysuckle leaf. It was not final instar and I wondered what it was doing there, but it refused to take bramble so I left it. There was a reason ....
15th: ... The 'marbled fritillary' caterpillar was in fact a 4th instar silver-washed fritillary, as I discovered today when it moulted into fifth instar (and here). It is a good job I left it there! It will not go back down to the undergrowth and continue feeding on violets.
18th: Following a tip-off from a friend, I nipped down to a nearby site in the valley this afternoon to look for lesser purple emperors. Here is one (and here, from a different angle, showing no blue, and here), enjoying an appetising meal. He also took minerals at mud. There are plenty of poplars in the region but unfortunately all too high to make searching for eggs and larvae possible later in the year.
19th: The first woodland browns are on the wing in my local woods.
20th: Although I had a lot of work to do today, it was the kind of work I could do on the train, so Minnie and I took a trip to North Italy to see if we could find Hungarian gliders. It is quite a long cycle ride uphill to our normal site so we broke the journey at a nettle tree butterfly site. To our surprise, the first butterfly we saw there was a Hungarian glider. There is no foodplant - it must just have been passing through, indicating it is quite widely distributed in the area. Also at that site (including my return visit on the way back to the station) were heath fritillaries, chequered blues, small skippers, purple-shot coppers, a holly blue and at least two nettle tree butterflies. The first I saw in the morning - a tattered individual I assumed was a hibernator on its last legs. The next came to me as I was packing up to go in the afternoon. This one was very fresh - obviously summer brood. Higher up the valley, at my glider site, there were indeed more gliders, but they were very inaccessible. I had to cross the river twice and fight through dense undergrowth at some points and this is the best shot I got! Here is Minnie wondering whether to cross the river ... Away from the river, in the meadows, many fritillaries were flying, including heath, knapweed, dark green and high brown. This is a male high brown, form cleodoxa (here is the upperside). Just before I left this upper site a woodland ringlet drifted past. Before catching the train home I visited some rough ground in Domodossola for short-tailed blues. These were in varying condition, from very fresh to very tatty, suggesting they are essentially continuously brooded there. A grayling was a nice surprise, and then suddenly a lesser purple emperor, form clytie dropped in. This was the only, poor, shot I got of the upperside. Again, while I was packing to go, a nettle tree butterfly appeared.
22nd: Arran browns have suddenly appeared in my local woods. This one has blind spots on the forewing uppersides. Woodland browns have been on the wing here a few days now and white admirals are gaining in numbers. This is a female summer brood green-veined white. Amazingly, I saw my first purple emperor of the year today too. I put it up while I was homing in on a woodland brown and it soon disappeared - but there was no doubt about the ID. Marbled fritillaries are now replacing the pearl-bordered fritillaries, though a few female pearl-bordered are still on the wing.
23rd: I had a day off so went to look for Asian fritillaries (Euphydryas intermedia). It was pouring with rain as we set off down the hill and spitting as we arrived at the site but during the afternoon there were significant sunny spells and little by little butterflies began to fly. Here is a female Asian fritillary (and here, and here, and here) and here is a male. Also new for the year for me were alpine grizzled skipper, mountain green-veined white (though I only saw females), alpine heath and geranium argus. A few pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying up and down the track and there were a few small whites, dingy skippers and chequered skippers, but the commonest butterfly by far was northern wall. This species doesn't mind flying in cloud and light rain. Apart from a few little blues and mazarine blues there were no blues, probably because of the weather. I had expected alpine argus, perhaps cranberry blue, and large blue.
24th: I spent the afternoon up my local mountain, where good sunshine brought out a lot of species - but it is still early and many things I expected to see were not on the wing. The first new species for the year was bright-eyed ringlet (and here - and here is a female). Higher up the mountain, dewy ringlets were also flying, though never settling! This is the only shot I could get! Marsh fritillaries are now common and locally there were a few Titania's fritillaries. High up, several clouded Apollos were hilltopping. Again, these hardly ever seemed to stop and that photo was taken from some distance. Pearl-bordered fritillaries were quite common and there were a very few shepherd's fritillaries with them. This skipper, I am sure, is olive skipper. Here is its underside. The upperside is extremely well marked but I cannot see what else it could be. I am not sure about this individual (poor underside shot here). There were dingy skippers and northern walls flying along an upland track and plenty of mazarine blues and little blues. Later in the day, in my local woods, white admirals, woodland browns, red admirals and ringlets were all flying. There were dark green fritillaries and heath fritillaries in the meadows.
26th: Coming back from my morning dog walk I spotted this female tufted marbled skipper flitting around the cut edges of a meadow, just a few hundred metres from my house. It is the first of this species I have seen in Huémoz and a very welcome sight.
27th: School in morning (graduation). In the afternoon, I took a friend to see a small colony of cranberry fritillaries. It is still early for this species but a number of fresh males were out and about. Here is one on the foodplant, and here another on cotton grass. Here is a third and here and here a couple of underside shots. False heath fritillaries were new for the year and just before coming home we saw a single lesser mountain ringlet. Other species on the wing included Titania's fritillary, silver-studded blue, mazarine blue and small white. There was little about because it was a rather overcast day, with sunny intervals.
29th: On my lunchtime walk, between school meetings, I visited my nearest lesser marbled fritillary site. It was very hot and none settled, but there were plenty about, males and females.
30th: We are in a heatwave. My parents are here for their annual mountain holiday and today we did a short lake walk at about 2000m. Clouded apollos were flying and plenty of bright-eyed ringlets, though I was mostly looking after my parents, not photographing butterflies. I did see my first large blues of the year.

July
4th: A local high mountain walk with my parents. Swallowtails were hilltopping and clouded apollos were flying. I spent most of the time helping my parents but did see my first mountain clouded yellows of the year.
7th: I took a walk with my parents and some friends at one of my favourite mountain alcon blue sites. I didn't have any real time to watch or photograph butterflies but I did see a reasonable number of the alcon blues, including males and females. Here is the only photo I took. Also seen were silver-studded blues, mazarine blues, eros blues and common blues. There is a lot of bistort at this site and my first purple-edged coppers of the year were flying.
9th: My parents left yesterday. This morning I set off to check whether the cardinals had returned from their (presumed) summer break up the mountains. They hadn't. In two hours at my usual late summer Buddleia site, with the Buddleia in full bloom, I saw none. I did see plenty of white admirals and two purple emperors (and here, and here). The Buddleia were covered in butterflies: red admiral, painted lady, scarce swallowtail, great sooty satyr, heath fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, Berger's clouded yellow, clouded yellow, various whites and various skippers. Idas blues (on the left in that picture, with northern brown argus on right), Provençal short-tailed blues, northern brown argus and common blues were all on the wing nearby though there were no hairstreaks yet. I took this skipper to be large grizzled when I photographed it - a species I know to fly here - but on reviewing the pictures I was not so sure. Because there were clearly no cardinals I decided to head on up the Rhône Valley, to catch up on species I have missed over the last couple of weeks. At my next site the high summer blues were flying: Escher's, damon, Meleager's, chalkhill, second brood chequered. There were also plenty of common blues and Provençal short-tailed blues but no Adonis blues - we are exactly between broods. This is a Camberwell beauty site, where the beauties were still flying a month ago, on 7th June. Today they were clearly over. All their favourite spots were occupied by southern white admirals (which were competing with them for the sites a month ago). Marbled fritillaries, Queen of Spain fritillaries, heath fritillaries and knapweed fritillaries were common, with some Provençal flying too, though not many. The full day list was: Scarce swallowtail, swallowtail, Apollo, Large white, small white, southern small white, green-veined white, eastern Bath white, wood white (and here), black-veined white, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, brimstone, ilex hairstreak, northern brown argus, common blue, Eros blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, idas blue, holly blue, little blue, chalkhill blue, Escher's blue, Meleager's blue, Damon blue, chequered blue, silver-washed fritillary, Queen of Spain fritilary, heath fritillary, Provençal fritillary, knapweed fritillary, marbled fritillary, high brown fritillary, large tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, painted lady, white admiral, southern white admiral, purple emperor, grayling, rock grayling (and here, and here), great sooty satyr, meadow brown, small heath, large skipper, small skipper, Essex skipper, grizzled skipper, large grizzled skipper, dingy skipper, marbled skipper, mallow skipper.
10th: Two years ago, on 8th July, I found a good site near Kandersteg for Thor's fritillary. I couldn't visit last year, so this morning I was up at 06h00 and arrived at my site at 10h00. At first it seemed I was too late. I quickly saw Titania's fritillaries and false heath fritillaries, and even several pearl-bordered fritillaries, but no Thor's. Then, lurking in half-shade and shadows I found a male Thor's fritillary (and here, and here). Soon after, I found a second, though I am not sure of the sex. I thought it was a female, from the paler look in flight, but never got a view of the upperside. Having reconfirmed that colony, I walked with Minnie through woods and on tracks up to nearly 400m higher but saw no more. Returning, I found a further two males at the original site. Here is one of them. It seems this is a very local butterfly. All my confirmed sightings are within about a 100m radius. Other species seen today included a single pearly heath - looking most like common (cassioides), though I only saw it briefly - and my first alpine argus of the year (a female). Away from the Thor site, silver washed and high brown fritillaries were common and I saw a few bright-eyed ringlets and alpine heaths.
11th: Visited a Swiss Erebia christi site with Matt Rowlings. This site is on a very steep, rocky slope, and it was possible to do little else apart from look out for christi and where one put one's feet (!), so I took very few photographs. Here is Minnie waiting patiently. We split to separate ends of the site, out of communication. I was the lucky one, and managed to catch and photograph one individual, a male. Here and here are pictures of him in his box and here a further picture on release. Other Erebia species flying included montana, melampus, euryale, epiphron, alberganus and mnestra, though I didn't consciously see mnestra. On the way home we found this mountain alcon blue on an otherwise almost deserted mountain pass (though we did see a few mountain clouded yellows there too, and some idas blues). This is a Swiss Zephyr blue from lower down and this an Escher's blue from the same site, where plenty of rock graylings were also flying.
12th: A single white-letter hairstreak in my local woods.
13th: Up early and spent the day in Italy with Paul Kipling. First, we looked for large chequered skippers near Domodossola but it seemed they were over. We did see one individual in flight but searches of all the places I saw them last year turned up nothing. There were plenty of purple-shot coppers, chequered blues and, at one site, short-tailed blues. Great sooty satyrs were on the wing and we saw a single white-letter hairstreak feeding on daisies. I saw my first gatekeepers of the year. In the afternoon we headed higher, to a well-known Erebia christi site. We didn't see christi - nor expected to - but did see plenty else, including thousands of large ringlets and quite a few marbled ringlets, as well as lesser mountain and blind ringlets. I saw my first (and only) woodland ringlet of the year. At altitude this is not only a spring butterfly. This is a purple-edged copper, subspecies eurydame.
14th: A male purple emperor was cruising my local woods this morning. I have seen no females so far, and no eggs.
15th: Minnie and I had a wonderful day at altitude today in Valais, walking up to well over 2600m. It meant a 05h00 rise so we could be on site by about 08h30 but it was definitely worth it. The main purpose was to photograph shepherd's and mountain fritillaries - especially males - but so much else of interest was flying we didn't just do that. Several species of Erebia were on the wing. At the lowest end of the walk, melampus (lesser mountain ringlet) was flying. A little higher up tyndarus (Swiss brassy) and mnestra were common, with pharte (blind ringlet) above them and finally gorge (silky) and pandrose (dewy) still around even at 2600m. As well as the target mountain and shepherd's fritillaries, Grisons fritillaries were quite common, with marsh fritillaries, form debilis, at all altitudes and Cynthia's fritillaries at the upper end of the walk. Lower down, below the tree line, Niobe fritillaries were flying. I saw few blues - predominantly idas but with quite a lot of glandon too, and a few northern brown argus and other common blues at the lower end. Clouded yellows, Berger's clouded yellows, mountain clouded yellows and moorland clouded yellows were all on the wing, with mountain clouded yellow predominating by a long way, especially higher up. I don't think I saw any whites, swallowtails or Apollos. Lower down there were a few olive skippers and higher up dusky grizzled skippers. Other skippers on the walk were southern grizzled, large, small and silver-spotted. I took hundreds of photos of shepherd's (that is a female) and mountain fritillaries (that's a female too) and am still sorting them out to see if I can draw any conclusions about the males. Shepherd's was much commoner but both species were certainly flying, as evidenced by the females. There was a small pond on the walk that seemed to be a death trap for butterflies and moths, its surface being covered with them, like petals. A majority were moths but there were dozens of butterflies, including dewy ringlets (and here), little blues (that is Psodos quadrifaria with a little blue), mountain fritillaries (and here), silky ringlets, Cynthia's fritillaries and more. I am not quite sure what this ringlet is. Alpine heaths were common at all altitudes and there were still some alpine graylings about (and here, for a very worn individual).
17th: Trip to the Aosta Valley to see Piedmont anomalous blue (Polyommatus humedasae), which only flies there. Unusually for this year it was cloudy and even raining for much of the time, becoming a storm by the end of my visit. The overcast conditions were not good for photographs but I did get some I was pleased with. Here, here, here, here and here are a few. Unfortunately, because of the weather, none of them were showing their uppersides - I had wanted a good shot of the male upperside, showing the androconia. This was the nearest I got to an upperside. Several woodland graylings were flying, my first of the year, and there were plenty of other blues, including Escher's, Chapman's, Damon (this is a female), chalkhill and Meleager's (here is a female). Dusky meadow browns were common. I expected to see blue-spot hairstreaks but didn't - perhaps due to the weather or perhaps because they had already burnt out in the recent heatwave and were over. I saw my first Oberthür's grizzled skippers of the year. Here is a female safflower skipper (and here). This is a small heath. Great sooty satyrs were common but I didn't see any dryads.
19th: I found my first white admiral eggs in the local woods. Scotch arguses are now beginning to fly there and there are southern small whites among the small whites.
21st: Up very early and out to my Warren's skipper site (Pyrgus warrenensis) in Valais. I got there early (relatively speaking), at about 10h00 but didn't see a confirmed warrenensis until well after midday. Here, here and here are poor shots of the only one that posed (briefly) for me. There were many Pyrgus, probably including carlinae, alveus and serratulae as well as warrenensis. The very steep terrain made tracking them difficult but it was clear most of the ones that stopped were too big for warrenensis. This one is most probably a small male alveus and this perhaps a female carlinae (underside). Here and here are two more Pyrgus sp., both unfortunately photographed only from the upperside. Here is Minnie resting while I had a beer, and here she is on the road again! Erebia species flying included alberganus, montana and melampus. Sooty and purple-shot coppers were both on the wing. For the blues, Escher's, silver-studded, idas and little were all common during the day, with little predominating in the high ground where warrenensis flies. Silver-spotted skippers were numerous. Knapweed, Grisons, Queen of Spain, silver-washed and Niobe fritillaries were all much in evidence.
22nd: The local woods are full of tiny - and some not-so-tiny - white admiral larvae, cutting their characteristic patterns into the ends of honeysuckle leaves. Here, here, and here are some more. This one (and here) is new-born and almost invisible to the naked eye. There are two eggs, one hatched and one not hatched on this leaf. The larva at the end of the leaf is missing, though.
23rd: I saw my first dryad of the year locally.
27th: Saw my first ever local short-tailed blue (and here), in a ride of my local woods.

August
1st: Went to Graubünden, to spend the night on a mountain and look for little fritillary (Melitaea asteria). Minnie and I bivvied at about 2000m on 31st July before continuing on 1st August. It was pleasantly cool for the climb on 1st, with no butterflies. The forecast for 2nd was very good, but the actual weather was cold and cloudy and we didn't get any real sun until it was almost time to come down again. Unsurprisingly, we saw very few butterflies. I took very few butterfly pictures - most being shepherd's fritillaries, like this female.
10th: Minnie is recovering from her sterilisation op. Today, I visited a relatively local site for long- and short-tailed blues. Here, here, here and here are some long-tailed. Here is a short-tailed.
20th: I visited my cardinal site in the valley today. I saw none of these on two visits in July, even though the Buddleia was fully out, and just one (male) on a flying visit earlier this month. But today they were out in force. Arriving on site at about 12h30 I had seen half a dozen males by 12h40. From then on, males were constantly in view, sometimes in twos, sometimes threes and even fours, belting around attacking anything that moved and very, very occasionally stopping to nectar. At about 13h30 we went to a nearby spot where purple and brown hairstreaks often come down for minerals (just purple today) and spent about an hour there. During this time, more male cardinals would zoom in and out at random, never pausing but instantly recognisable in flight. I also saw a single purple emperor - probably a female - but this moved on before I had trained the camera on it. Returning to the buddleia bushes, I found the female cardinals had arrived. These spend more time nectaring and were a little more amenable - but not much, as it was hot and everything was active. Other species seen included wood white, Bath white, large white, smalll white, southern small white, green-veined white, clouded and Berger's clouded yellows, brimstone, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, common blue, Chapman's blue, idas blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, long-tailed blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, Queen of Spain, high brown fritillary, heath fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, red admiral, comma, painted lady, wall, speckled wood, dryad, tree grayling ... and probably lots of others that I have forgotten. Most of the time I only had eyes for the cardinals. Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here are some pictures of the cardinals.
21st: To Suffolk. Little opportunity to watch butterflies, though it was striking how many holly blues there are this year. Here is a grayling, with my Mum watching it too.
31st: Back in Switzerland, I went looking for Lang's short-tailed blues - just as a long shot! I found none. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing butterflies in good numbers - including hundreds of tree graylings and a good number of spotted fritillaries. The site has southern white admirals but not white admirals, so I also hoped to find some early instar caterpillars of this species. Most of the honeysuckle where I found these last year has been swamped with other bushes but I did see a couple of adults. One stopped for a distant shot. Some distance away I located a caterpillar on one of the few still exposed honeysuckles. I returned home via my favourite local tails site, where I found long-tailed blues in profusion, as well as short-tailed and Provençal short-tailed. The long-tailed blues were highly active in the heat and hardly ever stopped, even for a second - and when they did another usually displaced them immediately and I would watch in awe as they spiralled away into the heavens. Amongst them were some that looked a brighter shade of blue and were slightly smaller, so I hoped for Lang's, but none of these ones ever stopped. Short-tailed blues have a similar flight but much more pedestrian than Lang's or long-tailed, and tellingly, they never spiral into the sky on meeting. So slower moving, bluer individuals that failed to zoom heavenwards were easily dismissed as short-tailed. Adonis, common and Chapman's blues, as well as brown arguses, were also present, but these have a completely different flight. Here is Minnie.

September
6th: Back to the tails site, where long-tailed, short-tailed, Adonis and common blues were all flying, along with good numbers of clouded yellow.
12th: A windy but mosty sunny day in the Rhône Valley. Butterflies seen included: mallow skipper, rosy grizzled skipper, swallowtail, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, Bath white, small white, green-veined white, southern small white, small copper, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, turquoise blue, long-tailed blue, northern brown argus, red admiral, spotted fritillary, grayling, tree grayling, small heath, speckled wood, wall, large wall, meadow Brown. It's not a huge list but I was only at one site and spent quite a lot of time up a windy hill. Here is a little group of blues with a rosy grizzled skipper and here a new path Minnie and I had not taken before. There were lots of brilliant red oak galls on the oak trees. Here is a mantis, lurking upside down.
13th: Saw my second ever local tufted marbled skipper! It was not far from where I saw my first, also this year.
26th: Visited my cardinal site again, where I found two females flying. The Buddleia is over - these were among the vines, presumably laying. Here is the first and here the second. Other species flying were wall, large wall, small, southern small and green-veined whites, common and Adonis blues, clouded and Berger's clouded yellows, tree graylings, Queens of Spain, commas and red admirals. I didn't see any brown hairstreaks, my actual target species for the day. Much of the afternoon was taken up with Minnie having an adventure. She got lost underground and I had to call the fire brigade. Here is the moment we finally retrieved her, after two hours under the rocks, and here is the group photo a few moments later. I must praise the local fire men and women!!

October
3rd: No cardinals but plenty of Queens in the valley. Here is a late marbled ringlet (and here). Not much else was on the wing, partly because of the weather, which rapidly deteriorated. I saw clouded and Berger's clouded yellows, walls, red admirals, tree graylings, assorted whites and common and Adonis blues. This is an Adonis blue.
10th: Back to the UK for the day, to recreate a family photo of 1902. Here is the group gathering, 113 years later ...  The house is Fenton House in London.
18th: It has been bitterly cold in Switzerland. A valley walk produced very few butterflies and it seemed as if the season was drawing to its close. I saw just one brimstone, two clouded yellows and a small copper, though to be fair it was in a part of the valley where I don't normally see the late species.
24th: Much more flying in the Rhône Valley today, including tree grayling, wall, Queen of Spain, Berger's clouded yellow, clouded yellow, small white, small copper, Adonis blue, common blue, Chapman's blue and rosy grizzled skipper.
26th: Venus, Jupiter and Mars together in the sky before dawn, below Leo. Here is a later shot. There are still rosy grizzled skippers flying in the valley, as well as graylings, tree graylings, northern brown arguses, small coppers, Adonis blues, common blues, speckled woods, clouded yellows and Berger's clouded yellows.

November
1st: Warm air from the south has brought blue skies and summer temperatures back. I deliberately stayed home and worked yesterday so I could get out today and clock up the weekend's species to November. In the event, I didn't have a lot of time today, but during a couple of hours' walk in the valley I found 11 species still on the wing. These were: rosy grizzled skipper (three seen, all quite worn), small white (half a dozen), clouded yellow (common), Berger's clouded yellow (common), small copper (more common than last week, including lots of fresh individuals), common blue (a few), Chapman's blue (a few, locally), some very fresh, Adonis blue (the commonest blue), Queen of Spain (quite common), wall (still common) and tree Grayling (very few left now). Here is a red kite passing over.
7th: After heatwaves in July and August we are expriencing another one now, keeping the butterflies on the wing. Up in the mountains, I've been seeing red admirals, clouded yellows and Queen of Spain fritillaries all week. Today I went down to the valley, where 14 species were flying. For the Pierids, there were small whites (several - not that many), clouded yellows (very common, drifting along every track and over every hillside), Berger's clouded yellows (common, but less so than clouded yellows) and a single female brimstone. Four blues were on the wing still: common blue (the commonest), Adonis blue (quite common), Chapman's blue (I only actually confirmed one, suggesting this species is just about over) and northern brown argus (two individuals - this is the other). A single small copper flew, despite there having been loads around just a week ago. Queens of Spain are still common and a single comma was apparently looking for somewhere to go back to sleep. Finally, for the Satyrids, there were a few tree graylings, a single grayling and loads of walls - predominantly females. I thought this might be a female chalkhill blue but am not sure so have it down as Adonis. Another red kite in the sky.
25th: Cloudy night of the full moon.
26th: The snow is here. Here is another shot of the local scenery.

December
6th: The cold weather was short-lived. In the Valley, clouded yellows were flying (I saw half a dozen) but I looked in vain in my hotspots for Queens of Spain.
12th: The current warm spell is lasting. Despite a maximum temperature of 2 degrees in the valley today, both Queens of Spain and clouded yellows were flying.  This lizard is on Minnie's carry bag. This picture, and this one, taken at about 14h30 a little further up the valley, show how low the ambient air temperature is.
18th: Amazingly, this male Berger's clouded yellow was flying near my house in Huèmoz today, at 1000m.
19th: Queen of Spain and clouded yellow both flying in the valley - about half a dozen of each (or more of clouded yellow).
20th: Still hot and still both Queen of Spain and clouded yellow in the valley. Again, I found about half a dozen Queens flying, though fewer clouded yellows. The warm weather is forecast to continue over Christmas but I will be leaving tomorrow for the UK, where I doubt I will see any butterflies!!