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YEAR LIST, 2016

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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 20102009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have lost the file for 2000.
Some of my friends also keep 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 2016 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2016
  1. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 24th January - Valais
  2. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 25th January - Vaud
  3. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 26th January - Vaud
  4. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 30th January - Valais
  5. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 21st February - Valais
  6. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 12th March - Valais
  7. Green hairstreak - (Callophrys rubi) - 19th March - North Italy
  8. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 19th March - North Italy
  9. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 19th March - North Italy
  10. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 19th March - North Italy
  11. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 19th March - North Italy
  12. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 19th March - North Italy
  13. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 19th March - North Italy
  14. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 19th March - North Italy
  15. Eastern Bath White (Pontia edusa) - 20th March - Valais
  16. Peacock (Aglais io) - 20th March - Valais
  17. Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 20th March - Valais
  18. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 10th April - Valais
  19. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 10th April - Valais
  20. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 10th April - Valais
  21. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 10th April - Valais
  22. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 10th April - Valais
  23. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 10th April - Valais
  24. Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 10th April - Valais
  25. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 10th April - Valais
  26. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 10th April - Valais
  27. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 10th April - Valais
  28. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 10th April - Valais
  29. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 10th April - Valais
  30. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 12th April - Valais
  31. Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 12th April - Valais
  32. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 12th April - Valais
  33. Short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades) - 21st April - Vaud
  34. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 28th April - Vaud
  35. Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 30th April - Valais
  36. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 30th April - Valais
  37. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 30th April - Valais
  38. Green-underside blue (Glaucopysche alexis) - 30th April - Valais
  39. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 30th April - Valais
  40. De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 30th April - Valais
  41. Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 6th May - Vaud
  42. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 7th May - Valais
  43. Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 7th May - Valais
  44. Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 7th May - Valais
  45. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 7th May - Valais
  46. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 7th May - Valais
  47. Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 7th May - Valais
  48. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 7th May - Valais
  49. Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 7th May - Valais
  50. Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 7th May - Valais
  51. Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 8th May - Valais
  52. Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 8th May - Valais
  53. Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 8th May - Valais
  54. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 8th May - Valais
  55. Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 15th May - Valais
  56. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 15th May - Valais
  57. Mazarine blue (Polyommatus semiargus) - 15th May - Valais
  58. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 15th May - Valais
  59. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 21st May - Valais
  60. Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 21st May - Valais
  61. Swiss Zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 21st May - Valais
  62. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 21st May - Valais
  63. Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 21st May - Valais
  64. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 26th May - Vaud
  65. Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 27th May - Vaud
  66. Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 27th May - Vaud
  67. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 28th May - Geneva
  68. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 28th May - Geneva
  69. Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 28th May - Geneva
  70. Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) - 28th May - Geneva
  71. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 28th May - Geneva
  72. Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 28th May - Geneva
  73. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palemon) - 31st May - Vaud
  74. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 31st May - Vaud
  75. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 17th June - Vaud
  76. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 17th June - Vaud
  77. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 18th June - Vaud
  78. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 19th June - Valais
  79. Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 19th June - Valais
  80. Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 19th June - Valais
  81. Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 19th June - Valais
  82. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione berisalii) - 19th June - Valais
  83. Southern white admiral (Liminitis reducta) - 19th June - Valais
  84. Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 19th June - Valais
  85. White admiral (Liminitis camilla) - 22nd June - Geneva
  86. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 22nd June - Geneva
  87. Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) - 23rd June - Vaud
  88. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 26th June - Valais
  89. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 26th June - Valais
  90. High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) - 27th June - Vaud
  91. Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 1st July - North Italy
  92. Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 1st July - North Italy
  93. Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 1st July - North Italy
  94. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 1st July - North Italy
  95. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 1st July - North Italy
  96. Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 1st July - North Italy
  97. Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 3rd July - Valais
  98. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 3rd July - Valais
  99. Asian fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia) - 3rd July - Valais
  100. Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 3rd July - Valais
  101. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 3rd July - Valais
  102. Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 3rd July - Valais
  103. Mountain alcon blue (Phengaris alcon rebeli) - 3rd July - Valais
  104. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 3rd July - Valais
  105. Thor's fritillary (Boloria thore) - 4th July - Bern
  106. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme - 4th July - Bern
  107. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 4th July - Bern
  108. Geranium argus Aricia eumedon) - 4th July - Bern
  109. Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 5th July - Vaud
  110. Alpine argus Plebejus orbitulus) - 6th July - Valais
  111. Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 6th July - Valais
  112. Dusky grizzled skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae) - 6th July - Valais
  113. Cynthia's fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia) - 6th July - Valais
  114. Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 6th July - Valais
  115. Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 6th July - Valais
  116. Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 6th July - Valais
  117. Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 7th July - Vaud
  118. Arran brown (Erebia euryale) - 7th July - Vaud
  119. Dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) - 8th July - Bern
  120. Scarce large blue (Phengaris telejus) - 8th July - Bern
  121. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 8th July - Bern
  122. Purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus) - 10th July - Valais
  123. Chalkhhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 10th July - Valais
  124. Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 10th July - Valais
  125. Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 10th July - Valais
  126. Meleager's blue (Meleageria daphnis) - 10th July - Valais
  127. Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 10th July - Valais
  128. Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 10th July - Valais
  129. Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 10th July - Valais
  130. Chestnut heath (Coenonympha glycerion) - 16th July - Vaud
  131. Cranberry fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris) - 16th July - Vaud
  132. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 16th July - Vaud
  133. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 17th July - Vaud
  134. Geranium bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) - 18th July - Italy
  135. Woodland grayling (Hipparchia fagi) - 18th July - Italy
  136. Piedmont anomalous blue (Polyommatus humedasae) - 18th July - Italy
  137. Blue-spot hairstreak (Satyrium spini) - 18th July - Italy
  138. Pale clouded yellow (Colias hyale) - 18th July - Italy
  139. Damon blue (Polyommatus damon) - 18th July - Italy
  140. Glandon blue (Plebejus glandon) - 20th July - Valais
  141. Cranberry blue (Plebejus optilete) - 20th July - Valais
  142. Titania's fritillary (Boloria titania) - 20th July - Valais
  143. Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 20th July - Valais
  144. Mnestra's ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 21st July - Valais
  145. Grisons fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 21st July - Valais
  146. Peak white (Pontia callidice) - 21st July - Valais
  147. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 21st July - Valais
  148. Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 26th July - Vaud
  149. Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 28th July - Valais
  150. Warren's skipper (Pyrgus warrenensis) - 28th July - Valais
  151. Scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae) - 28th July - Valais
  152. Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 28th July - Valais
  153. Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 28th July - Valais
  154. Hermit (Chazara briseis) - 4th August - Jura
  155. Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 4th August - Jura
  156. Dryad (Minois dryas) - 6th August - Valais
  157. Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 10th August - Geneva
  158. Water ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 12th August - Valais
  159. Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron ) - 12th August - Valais

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

January
1st-4th: Still in UK. Weather wet and cold. No butterflies. Flew back to CH on 4th.
5th: Picked Minnie up from kennels. Bright in valley but clouds coming in and too cold for butterflies.
6th: Took Minnie for long walk in local woods. Rediscovered Gautama, the only purple emperor caterpillar I could still locate at hibernation time last year. I lost him when he hibernated but over Christmas he has changed location and moved back to near where he was born. He has also changed colour. When he set off for hibernation he was darker, with a death's head on his shoulders.
9th: It has been raining for the last few days. Between (and sometimes in) showers, Minnie and I checked on Gautama (and here, and here) and returned via my only local stand of blackthorn, to add brown hairstreak eggs to the early stages seen so far in 2016. Though wet and miserable, the weather is still warm. Primroses are in full flower in the woods and cowslips in the meadows.
10th: Here are primroses from the woods.
12th: As I returned from my walk today it began snowing in earnest. Just before that, I photographed this white admiral hibernaculum. The hibernaculum is the leaf on the left, while the leaf on the right is an old feeding leaf. Here are the same two leaves on 3rd September, together with two terminal leaves that have since fallen. Inside the hibernaculum is a tiny white admiral caterpillar, waiting for the real spring ...
16th: There is now thick snow over the countryside. Here is Gautama, and here Minnie waiting patiently while I photographed Gautama!
21st: Here is a white admiral caterpillar, clearly visible inside the hibernaculum. This is the hibernaculum viewed from another angle, and in context.
23rd: At school all morning. By the afternoon it was warm and sunny, so I visited a local hotspot for winter red admirals. There were none there. This is also a site for brown hairstreaks but this winter the eggs are very thin on the ground. In about an hour I located just one pair (and here).
24th: Set off early for the Rhône Valley, to catch the morning sun. By the time I arrived on site, at 10h30, it was already overcast and very cold, so instead of heading for the Queen of Spain hotspots I searched (in vain) for purple hairstreak eggs. Then, at 11h15, the first glimpses of sun appeared and between 11h30 and 12h15 there was almost unbroken sun. In this time I saw at least 8 and more probably 10 Queens. Here, here, here, here and here are five different individuals. I couldn't match any of them with those I photographed in the same places on 19th and 20th December 2015. All were fresh and dark and I think the products of overwintering pupae, not hibernated adults, but it is impossible to be sure of that. By 12h20 the cloud had overtaken the sun again and despite a couple of bright moments as I walked back to the train it was cold for the rest of the day.
25th: Warm and sunny all day. On my lunchtime walk I spotted this small tortoiseshell flying on a steep, sunny bank near my house. I was just able to get a quick proof shot before it was up and away. Later on the walk I saw a second small tortoiseshell, also cruising over a sunny bank.
26th: Warm but overcast in morning; increasingly sunny in afternoon. On my lunchtime walk I saw a single red admiral in the woods - which flew off after one poor photo - and later a single small tortoiseshell cruising over a sunny bank near my house. It was in the same place as the first one I saw yesterday but is clearly a different individual. In the woods I checked on Gautama, who is still fine!
27th: For a third successive day, small tortoiseshells are flying in Huémoz (c. 1000m). I had very little time at lunch to walk Minnie, but we photographed this small tortoiseshell just a few hundred metres from the house.
29th: After a colder, overcast day yesterday, a single small tortoiseshell was flying on my brief, lunchtime walk today.
30th: It was a cold, clear night, and still well below zero when I arrived at my Rhône Valley site at about 10h40 this morning. In addition, a chill wind was blowing. Despite this, I quickly found both small tortoiseshells (and here, and here) and Queen of Spain fritillaries (and here, and here, and here). In total, I saw both in double figures. The Bulbocodium is out already and attracting small tortoiseshells. After a very cold, cloudy spell between 12h00 and 13h00, the early afternoon was warm too and just before I left the site a clouded yellow crossed my path. It was in the vineyards downhill of me, and into the sun, but I got some distant, record shots (and here). That was my fourth species of the year. On the way back to the train I saw two red admirals.

February
1st: Gautama (a purple emperor caterpillar I have been followin) is still hanging in there.
2nd: It was not difficult to find white admiral hibernacula in the woods today. This one, which I had not seen before, is open-plan, with the caterpillar clearly visible.
9th: The sallow flower buds are bursting all over the woods. On Gautama's branch they are still tight, but on most of the rest of the tree the catkins are coming out. Here he is. The terminal buds are flower buds and will probably soon burst. The one behind him is a leaf bud.
12th: Winter has returned. Here is Gautama.
21st: Sunny all day today, though hazy, and my first chance to get down to the valley since January. As expected, despite the recent snow and cold, Queen of Spain fritillaries were out in double figures (and here), as were small tortoiseshells (and here, and here). Shortly before midday, a magnificent large tortoiseshell cruised into view. Immediately, a fighter squad of small tortoiseshells was dispatched to see it off and after some valiant resistance it moved off without stopping. I didn't see it again. Because of that, I left the Queen hotspots and walked back via the usual early large tortoiseshell sites, but saw none more. These took me past the Bulbocoidum meadows, which were in full bloom. In places, they were dug up by wild boar, but everywhere else small tortoiseshells and Queens of Spain were supping avidly on their nectar. Unfortunately, I had to be on my way home by 13h30, just as the afternoon was really hotting up. Near the station I saw a single red admiral, my fourth species of the day.
22nd: Back to coolish weather. No butterflies up here in the mountains. Gautama is still fine, looking exactly the same as on every other occasion I've photographed him ...
27th: I found another just visible white admiral caterpillar on my lunchtime walk with Minnie. This is what the hibernaculum looks like in context - rather long and straggly, rather than neatly cut to size. Elsewhere in the woods, the sallow buds are bursting. Almost all the branches on Gautama's tree now have furry flowers, but none of the buds on his twig have burst yet.

March
11th: My first butterfly of March was a single small tortoiseshell, seen as I returned home from school at about 15h10. There has been a lot of snow recently and snow lay thick on the ground, but sun today had melted some patches and the day had a springlike feel to it.
12th: I headed east along the Rhône Valley today, in search of large tortoiseshells. There were none at my first site, which I reached at about 11h00, though I saw a fair number of small tortoiseshells, a few male brimstones (my first of the year) and a single clouded yellow - a helice female. I didn't see either the brimstones or the clouded yellow stop. I left before 13h00 and carried on to a second site, a little further east. There, I saw at least three and possibly four (the last might have been a repetition of one of the earlier ones) large tortoiseshells. Here is a video of that one taking sap. This one spent more time on the ground and this one retreated soon after I saw it to a high tree. There were a few small tortoiseshells and at least one male brimstone at this site. On the way back, I watched a dipper on the other side of the river - too far for good photos - perching on stones, diving into the water, swimming around submerged while occasionally rising to the surface, and every so often flying off into a man-made gully where I think it must have had its nest.
13th: A few small tortoiseshells in Huémoz and the nearby woods, as well as a single red admiral. Things are beginning to move now. Cowslips are rife in the meadows and coltsfoot in the woods. The Buddleia is in full leaf.
14th: Lots of small tortoiseshells around on my lunchtime walk, sparring in twos and threes and courting. It feels very springlike. Gautama has not moved a muscle in the last few months but is still in perfect health. Here is a brown hairstreak egg waiting for the leaves to open.
15th: Cold, but sunny until about 14h30. Small tortoiseshells were active in the middle of the day in Huémoz.
17th: It snowed yesterday and no butterflies flew, but sun today brought them out again. Small tortoiseshells were common around Huémoz on all my walks, as well as in Villars, in smaller numbers, during the heat of the day.
18th: For the first time this year, brimstones were roding in Huémoz.
19th: Set off for Italy first thing in the morning, with nettle tree butterflies in mind. By the time I arrived at my first site, at about 11h00 and after a long hill climb by bicycle with a dog in the backpack(!), it was very hot. Immediately, I saw a couple of Queen of Spain fritillaries, a small copper and a green hairstreak. This boded well. As I started walking, large and small tortoiseshells were common and male brimstones regularly drifted by, never stopping. But for the whole of the outward leg of the walk I saw no nettle tree butterflies. It is still early here, and the nettle trees themselves are barely in bud, let alone in leaf. On the return leg I finally saw a single nettle tree butterfly (here's a different crop of the same picture) flitting around a flowering sallow, in the company of a large tortoiseshell and a small tortoiseshell. That was the only one I saw at that site. In total, I saw maybe two green hairstreaks and three or four small coppers. I also saw a single wall, and back near the bike, a small white drifted by. We moved on to our next site, which was even barer and wintrier. There, I saw a few orange tips, another nettle tree butterfly, several brimstones and a probable dingy skipper. This site is part of a hydroelectric plant and had been meticulously cleared of all scrub and undergrowth since last year, so it was a miracle I saw anything there at all. At my third and final site, in Domodossola itself, I saw a third nettle tree butterfly, a large tortoiseshell, several small tortoiseshells, a single southern grizzled skipper (but I didn't see it settle) and just before I left, a comma. This site, too, was very bare and wintry still. Here is a lizard, keeping a watchful eye on Minnie ...
20th: Another warm and sunny day. We went east along the Rhône Valley in the morning, where Eastern Bath whites are suddenly common. Males were constantly on the move. Females did occasionally settle for a few moments, usually to be chased off by a male immediately. I snapped just this one, very poor, shot of a female, before she moved on. I also snatched a quick shot of this male Berger's clouded yellow before he moved on. The other new species for the year was peacock. I saw two of these. The sallow was in full flower along the river, with brimstones, commas and small tortoiseshells all feeding on the catkins. Here is another comma. Other than these species I saw just a few small whites and Queen of Spain fritillaries. In the afternoon, I moved closer to Martigny, in the hope of finding grizzled skippers, but none were flying. Even by 14h00 it was cool, with some cloud cover, and a chill breeze was blowing. At that site I saw just small tortoiseshells and Queens of Spain.
24th: One last day in Switzerland before returning to the UK for Easter. We started at the western end of the Rhône Valley, looking for grizzled skippers, then moved further east. There were no grizzlies at my usual early site until just before I left, when a single one buzzed by. I did see loads of small tortoiseshells and Queens of Spain, as well as two large tortoiseshells and a single clouded yellow. At the second site, small whites and Bath whites (edusa) were common, and brimstones were regularly drifting along the path. I saw a couple more large tortoiseshells but loads of small tortoiseshells and Queens. There were also a few commas, especially around flowering sallow, and two peacocks. In general, though, there were very few nectar sources and little was flying except very locally. The year does not seem as advanced as 2014 at the same date. As I sat having a coffee, and Minnie chewed a pine cone, a male orange tip drifted past. Amazingly, he stopped briefly just by our picnic spot and I was able to get my first orange tip photo of the year. As I watched butterflies on the sallows, a blue tit was feeding with them (and here).
25th: Back to the UK and disrupted Easter trains! From the replacement bus between Newbury Park and Ingatestone I saw a comma.
31st: Apart from one brief comma sighting in the back garden, no more butterflies in the UK until today. The weather has been mostly bright but windy and quite cold. Today a peacock and a comma were enjoying less windy sun in the garden.

April
2nd: A male brimstone passed through our Suffolk garden in the morning, and two peacocks and a comma were present all day. On a short cycle ride further afield I saw a single brimstone, a couple of peacocks and nothing else.
3rd: Bright and sunny all day, but I spent little time in butterfly country. I did see a few peacocks in the garden and a single small tortoiseshell in the late afternoon. Here is a baby rat enjoying a feast on the compost.
4th: A male small white flew through the garden (still in Suffolk) this morning.
6th: Back in Switzerland, in cloud and rain, I checked on my purple emperor and white admiral caterpillars. Although the honeysuckle is in leaf in most of the forest, the bushes where I found hibernacula are still bare. Here and here (and here - a closer shot of the same one) are two caterpillars still in their hibernacula, patiently waiting for their time. This is Gautama, now just days away from his first meal of 2016. This almost identical picture shows him two months ago. He has moved less than a millimetre since then!
10th: Few photographs for today, as for most of my walk in the valley my camera refused to work, giving 'lens error' every time I turned it on. Eventually, shortly before I left, I managed to clear whatever the problem was by blowing lustily down the barrel and it seems to work perfectly now. I suspect it was a dog hair - these get everywhere. It was a warm, if breezy, day and plenty of butterflies were flying. Most notable were the painted ladies. I saw at least half a dozen and probably more, suggesting they have 'arrived' - a month or so ahead of schedule. Other species on the wing were: swallowtail (common), scarce swallowtail (several), large white (unusually common), small white (common), green-veined white (just one, surprisingly), eastern Bath white (common), clouded yellow (a few), brimstone (common), wood white (a few), holly blue (two), small copper (one), green hairstreak (a small number), Queen of Spain (common), violet fritillary (a few), peacock (common), small tortoiseshell (a few), comma (common), large tortoiseshell (one), Camberwell beauty (one), small heath (a couple), speckled wood (common), dingy skipper (one), southern grizzled skipper (a couple). Surprisingly, I didn't consciously record wall - perhaps it is not flying at this site yet.
12th: A very quick afternoon trip to the Rhône Valley. Again, lots of painted ladies around - certainly into double figures. New for the year were common blue (a single male), mallow skipper (quite a few, but all very active, as it was the heat of the afternoon) and chequered blue. Also flying were swallowtail, large white, small white, green-veined white (no southern small white consciously identified), wood white, orange tip, clouded yellow (now generally common, even higher in the mountains - so clearly survived the winter), brimstone, holly blue, comma, small tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain, peacock, wall and grizzled skipper.
13th: Gautama is still being patient - but surely not for long.
14th: Here is a white admiral caterpillar, still waiting for his honeysuckle bush to burst into leaf. This is a smooth snake (and here) we found basking on the path. I moved it on, as it risked being trodden on by walkers. Here is Minnie sniffing around a raptor's plucking post in the woods. Orange tips were flying in the woods - my first for the year at this altitude - as well as brimstones and small whites.
16th: After a rainy morning, it cleared up beautifully and unexpectedly in the afternoon. On our local walk, Minnie and I saw small whites, green-veined whites, brimstones - including females, commas, peacocks, a red admiral, a speckled wood and at least half a dozen violet fritillaries. Violet fritillaries are generally common in the region but I have never seen them in these woods before. They seemed all to be males, freshly emerged, and were buzzing around incessantly, just occasionally pausing for a second or two with wings closed or very occasionally open. Here is a record shot of one and here a different individual. Gautama has still not begun feeding ...
19th: Snow yesterday but bright sun today. On my afternoon walk in the local woods I saw orange tips, brimstones (that is a female), holly blues, a single green hairstreak, violet fritillaries and a single painted lady. This white admiral caterpillar has left his hibernaculum - which has also disappeared and is testing leaves. When I passed the same spot on the way back he had retired to a twig. Gautama is still waiting ...
20th: Sun again, but I was at school all day. In the evening I got down to the woods, to discover Gautama had left his hibernation spot. He had nibbled a little more at his leaves (this picture shows the extent of his nibbling) and then travelled some 60cm to a new spot - very similar to the leaves he left. Here is a detail from that picture, showing Gautama a little better. The one white admiral caterpillar I've found that has left its hibernaculum had nibbled more of its still furled leaves and retired again to its twig. This picture shows how tiny it still is. Here (and here) and here are two more white admiral caterpillars. Neither of these has fed at all, even though the leaves are more advanced on these twigs. It was too late for most butterflies but this violet fritillary was enjoying the last of the sun.
21st: During some free time in the afternoon I visited a local short-tailed blue site lower down the mountain - as there are no short-tailed blues flying up here yet. At this site a single male short-tailed blue was doing circuits of a meadow. His underside was very weakly marked (and here) but the tail length and upperside colour and jizz confirmed short-tailed. I also saw, separately, a male and female of a larger species of blue, presumed green-underside, but neither paused. Orange tips were common and there were a few violet fritillaries and a single swallowtail, but otherwise little was on the wing at this site. The weather was sunny but rather cool. Back in Huémoz, orange tips and wood whites are now common. By this time it was mostly hazy cloud.
25th: Snow has returned (and here). A local driver kindly sent me this photo he took of me and Minnie heading off for the valley yesterday (when it had just started snowing).
26th: Most of the snow has melted but a little was still falling today, alternating with sleet, rain and the very occasional sunny spell. In the sunny spells, orange tips flew in Huémoz and I saw a violet fritillary on my forest walk in the afternoon. Otherwise, today was a caterpillar (and egg) day. Here is a white admiral caterpillar, resting on his hibernaculum, and here the leaf he has been eating since he woke up from hibernation, nibbled down to a stump. This is Gautama (and here), my purple emperor caterpillar. Here is a brown hairstreak egg. The blackthorn is in flower but not leaf yet. There were hundreds of small tortoiseshell caterpillars in the meadows, all over the nettles. Here, here, here and here are some more photos. The caterpillars seem to be at a great variety of ages, from young and yellow to nearly full grown and black.
27th: Heavy snow overnight and during the day. This photo was taken early in the morning. By the evening it had cleared up. On my early evening walk I came across a flock of ring ouzels (and here and here and here).
28th: After yesterday's snow it was back to sun today. It was very cold and little flew, but I did see my first pearl-bordered fritillary of the year in the local woods, as well as commas, a peacock and a few orange tips. Gautama (and here) is still enjoying his sallow leaves and I was delighted to find a second caterpillar in a different part of the forest. I have named him Śuddhodana, after Gautama's father. I was only able to spot him by his shadow through the leaves (and here) and he is inaccessibly over a steep slope - but it should be easy for me to follow his progress if he stays on the same branch. Most of the white admiral caterpillars are out and about. This one hasn't moved from his hibernaculum yet and I wonder if he is still alive. We will see.
30th: Out early, as the forecast was for sun in the morning, cloud and cold in the afternoon and rain later. I arrived at my chosen site in the Rhône Valley shortly after 09h30, when it was, as predicted, sunny. By 12h15 clouds were occasionally covering the sun and by 13h30 it was all over. During that time I saw good numbers of butterflies, though probably not so many as I would expect for the end of April. New for the year were rosy grizzled skipper (out in excellent numbers - here, here, here and here are more pictures), Chapman's blue (just a few, both males and females), Adonis blue (a few males), Osiris blue (just the one seen - and here), green-underside blue (just a few) and de Prunner's ringlet (just the one). Other species flying were southern grizzled skipper (not as common as rosy grizzled), dingy skipper (quite a few), scarce swallowtail (just one or two), large white (one), small white (a few), green-veined white (a few - here is one with a southern grizzled skipper), wood white (drifting around all over the place), Eastern Bath white (quite a few), clouded yellow (two or three), Berger's clouded yellow (quite a few), brimstone (quite a few, including males and females), small copper (just one), green hairstreak (probably four in total), holly blue (several), red admiral (just one), painted lady (two or three), comma (a few), large tortoiseshell (three), peacock (quite a few), Camberwell beauty (a female, nectaring, and here, and here), Queen of Spain (very few, but I wasn't in their hotspots), violet fritillary (half a dozen), small heath (quite common now), speckled wood (locally common, in shady parts of the site) and wall (half a dozen or so).

May
1st: May began with snow  (and here). Unsurprisingly, no butterflies flew. In the middle of the day, with temperatures hovering around zero, Gautama didn't look too happy.
3rd: Gautama has perked up a bit since the big freeze but is still in exactly the same place (and here). Śuddhodana was easy to locate again, but still inaccessible.
4th: I found a third purple emperor caterpillar today, located, like Śuddhodana, by his shadow beneath backlit leaves. He is well above head height. I have called him Rāhula (the Buddha's son). Gautama (and here) is still immobile and presumably preparing to shed his skin and enter 4th instar.
5th: Another sunny day, and warmer than yesterday, but little flew on my lunchtime walk. I checked for chequered skippers - none. In total I saw two pearl-bordered fritillaries, a few violet fritillaries, a peacock, a comma, a brimstone and an orange tip. Not a lot for a lovely day! But I did find another purple emperor caterpillar. This is Kanthaka (the name of the Buddha's horse). Again, I spotted him by his shadow, above my head, but because he was on a young sapling I was able to bend the tree down and get that first close-up of him. The other caterpillars are doing fine. This is Rāhula's shadow and this is Gautama - clearly preparing to shed his skin.
6th: Carrying my bike through the woods on my way back to school after lunch, I saw my first grizzled skipper (malvae) of the year. The grizzled skippers in the Rhône Valley are all southern grizzled (malvoides). During the lunchtime walk pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying, sometimes chasing violet fritillaries. In the evening I found a 4th instar purple emperor caterpillar. I called her Kisāgotamī. She must have shed her skin this morning, as it is still visible at her tail.
7th: In the morning, visited a site in the Val d'Hérens. We arrived at about 09h00, when nothing was flying yet apart from the odd speckled wood. As the morning hotted up, butterflies started appearing, as if from nowhere. Among the first were southern grizzled skippers and small heaths. These were soon joined by Oberthür's grizzled skipper (and here, and here, and an underside), which turned out to be a common butterfly today. Other skippers flying were dingy, mallow and, just as I left, at about 13h00, a single olive skipper. I saw no safflower skippers - a common butterfly at this site. They are obviously not on the wing yet. All four Swiss Cupido species were flying. The first I found was this female short-tailed blue, showing lots of blue on her upperside. Next was this Osiris blue. In the same field, little blue was flying, but every time I was about to press the trigger for a photo, an Adonis blue would buzz it. That happened throughout the day, every time I saw a little blue! The last Cupido was Provençal short-tailed blue. There were several of these on the wing, all males and all fresh. Here is one of the Adonis blues that were bugging the little blues (and here). Other blues flying were baton blue, holly blue, green-underside blue and Chapman's blue. Green hairstreaks were reasonably common and I saw a couple of small coppers. In general, there were lots of species but few individuals of each. I had expected to see Dukes of Burgundy, and in fact did see two, but they were obviously not really up and going yet. Here is a poor photo of one of them. For the fritillaries, I expected Glanville to be on the wing but saw just one, in the distance, shortly before I left. A couple of Queens of Spain were present and pearl-bordered fritillaries were about in small numbers. Other species seen were swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, wood white, orange tip, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, comma, peacock, Camberwell beauty, wall and large wall. Instead of going home when the clouds came over I visited a site for ladies' slipper orchids. I was too early for the flowers but found the plants and was able to see this future, embryonic slipper in the tip of one of them. Back home, we went straight out to the woods to check whether Gautama had indeed graduated into 4th instar. He had (and here).
8th: Today's targets were cardinal and iolas blue, which fly in close proximity to one another in Valais. On arriving at the site at about 09h45 the first thing I noticed was that the bladder senna is not yet in flower. Just one or two sprays on the whole site showed splashes of yellow - otherwise, nearly all the bushes were adorned only with last year's bladders. That made iolas blues unlikely. Nevertheless, a single male did come bounding through and I was able to intercept it for a few brief, distant shots before it zoomed off. This was the best of them. No cardinals appeared. I moved on to another favourite site for them, not far away, and none appeared there either. By this time a strong wind was blowing, which might have kept them at bay, but I think they have simply not emerged yet. New for the year at this site were red-underwing skipper and turquoise blue. Other species flying were whites, Berger's and clouded yellows, Queen of Spain, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, painted lady, common and Adonis blues and wall. Here is a chequered blue. In the afternoon, with strong winds and cloud, I moved further along the valley. There, another new species for the year was safflower skipper. Rosy grizzled skippers were common. Baton blues, Adonis blues, green-underside blues, holly blues and Chapman's blues were all flying despite the weather, as were speckled woods and walls, but on the whole things were not up. Here is a pair of Glanville fritillaries getting intimate. This close-up shows their antennae touching, I think. Also on the wing were brimstones, Berger's and clouded yellows and wood whites, even long after 100% cloud cover, and even in strong wind. I searched a little for southern white admiral caterpillars, with very little success. This (and here, and here) was the only one I found - and it was not near any obviously nibbled leaves, which is what I had been looking for.
10th: A glorious day. Here is Kisāgotamī (and here) one of my purple emperor caterpillars, photographed on my lunchtime walk.
11th: On today's lunchtime walk I photographed all six of the purple emperor caterpillars I have found this year. Here they all are. Gautama and Kisāgotamī are both about an inch (2.5 cm) long now. The first Dukes of Burgundy are now on the wing in my local woods.
14th: A rainy day. Again, I photographed all six purple emperor caterpillars. They are: Gautama, Kanthaka, Svapna, Kisāgotamī, Rāhula and Śuddhodana. I also found a white-letter hairstreak caterpillar. This picture (and here) shows his position on the wych elm leaf.
15th: The two targets for today were mountain dappled white and cardinal. I began with the mountain dappled whites, meeting a friend from Germany who had come specifically to see them. These fly right next to a rather busy, winding road, and it is always dangerous getting photos, but here, here and here are some - and here a picture of my friend photographing his first ever mountain dappled white. Also flying along the road were small whites, green-veined whites and wood whites, and one or more of each of Adonis blue, Chapman's blue, little blue, green-underside blue, peacock, wall, northern wall and red-underwing skipper. Higher up, where we turned off the road into meadow, we saw mazarine blue, Duke of Burgundy, Berger's clouded yellow and Glanville fritillary. I had to be back early, and wanted to fit in a cardinal trip too, so left my friend and zoomed back down to the valley. There, there was a strong wind and no cardinals were nectaring in the first place I checked. As I didn't have time to go to the second usual nectaring site, I went instead to where I believe they breed, in the vague hope I might find one freshly emerged. I struck lucky. This male cardinal (and here) was obviously straight out of the chrysalis. I watched him for about ten minutes without him making any attempt to fly, even when pestered by a Queen of Spain. Every scale on his wings and hair on his body is intact. After a little while he would occasionally open his wings a bit, as if flexing for his first flight, but always closed them again. I did not approach closely, so as not to disturb him at this crucial time. This is the context. Somewhere in all that mess of twigs and vegetation is his chrysalis.
16th: Here is the same white-letter hairstreak caterpillar as the other day, this time photographed without flash to show the feeding pattern. I found this second caterpillar a little higher up on the same elm. This is a flowering elm with accessible branches. It will be a good place to look for eggs in the winter. All my purple emperor caterpillars are still fine. The bright sunlight this morning allowed me to photograph Rāhula (and here), high in the canopy, properly for the first time. Kisāgotamī has stopped feeding and is laid up for her next transition, into 5th instar. One of my nearby white admiral caterpillars (about 15 minutes from my house) is still alive, having survived the snow at the end of April. Here he is, and  here a more contextual picture.
17th: I found five white-letter hairstreak caterpillars on a single elm today. Here are two of them (and here), very close to each other. Here and here are two others. The fifth one seemed paler against the leaf and slightly smaller. This is a closer shot of him. All my six purple emperor caterpillars are still thriving. Gautama and Kisāgotamī are laid up for transition to fifth instar. The others are all still active fourth instar. This is Svapna. The white admiral caterpillar I posted yesterday has fallen prey to a spider. I found this one not far away.
19th: Gautama and Kisāgotamī are still both laid up for ecdysis. I was able to check on all the purple emperor caterpillars except for Śuddhodana (because he is in a different bit of the wood) and all are still fine. The white-letter hairstreak caterpillars had all moved and I was only able to relocate one in the short time I had. Here and here are pictures of it.
21st: I had great difficulty deciding where to go this morning but in the end settled on two sites in the Rhône Valley. It's a late year so I will put off visits to Geneva and the Jura for a week. Despite generally low numbers of most species it was an excellent day, with the tally passing 40 species (41, to be precise) for the first time this year. Many species were represented by single individuals and some were notably absent - marbled skipper and Provençal fritillary, for example. I've seen this latter species as early as April in some years. The full list was: Swallowtail (a few), scarce swallowtail (quite common), Apollo (two, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, both in flight only), small white, green-veined white, wood white (common) orange tip (several, drifting around), black-veined white (one or two - the first of the year), clouded yellow (a few), Berger's clouded yellow (several), brimstone (several, male and female), small copper, green hairstreak, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue (locally common), holly blue (a few), green-underside blue (just one seen), baton blue (locally, several, all looking worn), little blue (one or two), Provençal short-tailed blue (common), Osiris blue (and here - locally common), Swiss Zephyr blue (just one - amazingly - and it flew before I could photograph it), northern brown argus, Queen of Spain, pearl-bordered fritillary, Glanville fritillary, spotted fritillary, comma, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, Camberwell beauty (and here), small heath, wall, large wall, speckled wood, de Prunner's ringlet (just that, very worn, individual), southern grizzled skipper, safflower skipper, olive skipper, dingy skipper. In the evening I checked up on the purple emperor caterpillars. Gautama has transitioned to his fifth and final instar. Nearby, Kisāgotamī is still laid up for ecdysis. Yesterday, I thought I had lost Rāhula, who wasn't on his usual leaf cluster. Tonight I found him again, some clusters away. Here he is, high in the sallow.
22nd: A mostly sunny day but I stayed local. Kisāgotamī, who was laid up for ecdysis yesterday, has graduated to 5th instar. Here you can see her with her old clothes at her tail. Kanthaka is now laid up and will shed his skin in a few days. Little was flying in the woods but I did see my first local Melitaea in the meadows (two males). Unfortunately, neither stopped and I didn't have my net so I don't know if they were heath or meadow fritillaries.
26th: Saw my first sooty copper of the year - rather late! - on my lunchtime walk. I think she has been damaged by the strimmers they have cut the verges with but she is otherwise healthy.
27th: I was free in the afternoon so nipped over to my old local patch near Gryon for woodland ringlets and meadow fritillaries. The latter (and here) were flying (very commonly, but rarely stopping) but there were no woodland ringlets. This species has been declining in many parts of Switzerland. I hope it is just very late this year. A later trip will tell. Here is a female red-underwing skipper on the foodplant, salad burnet. I didn't have time to look for Dukes because I wanted to be back in time to catch the train up the mountain and look for violet coppers. There is still snow at the altitude they fly and the vegetation is very late - no flowers on the aconite-leaved buttercups yet - but I found a handful of pristine, male violet coppers. Here, here and here are more shots of one of them. The clouds came over and it was raining before I left the site. This is Minnie after the marshes ...
28th: Up early and off to Geneva, from where I cycled out into the countryside to look for black hairstreaks, large coppers and Reverdin's blue. The weather was not good when I arrived - mostly overcast, with sunny breaks - and I saw very little of anything. But some butterflies were flying, including my first heath fritillaries  and knapweed fritillaries of the year, and it seemed simply too early for the target species. Glanville fritillaries were also flying. By midday I had seen one silver-studded blue - also my first of the year - plenty of small and sooty coppers but no Reverdin's, no large coppers and no hairstreaks. Other species flying at the first site were small heath - the commonest butterfly - common blue, Adonis blue, brown argus, dingy skipper, mallow skipper, scarce swallowtail and swallowtail, speckled and wall. At my second site, where large coppers have flown for the last three years of visits in both broods, the weather improved a little but was still mostly grim. No large coppers or hairstreaks. Marsh fritillaries were flying - freshly emerged and bright. At about 14h00 I moved on to a third site, where finally, just before I left, I found first a male Reverdin's blue (and here) then a female. Brimstones and orange tips were drifting along the track. On the way I found a woody, river spot where lots of beautiful demoiselles (and here) were flying. This brown argus (and here) was at the final site. Very little else was flying, even though it was hot and sunny by now - building up for storms later. I cylced back to Geneva in sun and the storms broke shortly after I arrived home in Huémoz in the evening.
31st: Took a friend round my woods to see the four remaining locatable purple emperor caterpillars - Svapna, Kanthaka, Kisāgotamī and Rāhula. All except Rāhula are 5th instar. Rāhula is laid up for his final larval transition into 5th instar. Although it was essentially dull and wet today, there was a brief sunny spell when a wood white, a small white, a Duke of Burgundy, a grizzled skipper and a chequered skipper flew. On the way home I spotted my first meadow brown of the year.

June
4th: June began wet and I have spent dog walks over the last few days watching caterpillars. One by one, the purple emperors have crept off, after reaching 5th instar. This is normal. They take a hefty meal and move away, often higher up the tree. Today I could locate just two of them, Kanthaka and Rāhula. Rāhula has been fifth instar a few days and is high up a full sallow tree. I expect to lose track of him. Kanthaka is alone in a sapling and I have more chance of finding his pupa, if he survives. I took home a small tortoiseshell caterpillar today that is on the point of pupating. It was in a nettle bed in a very vulnerable position, from the point of view of farm vehicles and cows. It will be much safer at home.
5th: I had to be in Lausanne all morning but headed west to the Martigny region in the afternoon to photograph cardinals and iolas blues. It was overcast but hot when I arrived and the iolas blues were down taking minerals near the road. As the afternoon hotted up I saw several doing this (here and here) and also several males flying around the bladder senna. There were lots of cardinals - at least a dozen. Here is the same male as in the previous photo and here a different one. Some males were taking minerals too. This shot shows a male (in the background) and a female (foreground) nectaring close together, seemingly ignoring each other. Occasionally there was some interaction between males and females but this is not the breeding season - it is the feeding season. This female (and here, and here) seemed to be aberrant. This female is more typical. This one had crumply, damaged right wings but she could fly perfectly well, and strongly. Other species seen during the afternoon were swallowtail, safflower skipper, red-underwing skipper, several smaller blues (but I was only really focusing on iolas today), Queen of Spain and Glanville fritillary (and here). When I got up this morning I found my small tortoiseshell caterpillar had pupated. I took this photo of it this evening.
6th: I managed to arrange Monday morning and the early afternoon off, so headed to Geneva to the same site where on this day last year I saw over a dozen poplar admirals and literally thousands of white admirals. It was sunny and warm but neither of these species was on the wing today, illustrating how much later this year is than last. The only admiral I saw was a red admiral. Very few butterflies at all were on the wing, the commonest being speckled wood. Other species flying were chequered skipper (one individual), black-veined white, a brimstone or two and a heath fritillary. Amazing!
7th: I'm still monitoring purple emperor caterpillars and can still locate just two individuals - Kanthaka and Rāhula.
10th: The weather has been bad recently but it was sunny for part of today. Here (and here) is a white admiral caterpillar about to shed its skin into the last instar. Nearby I found this more mature individual. This is an Aesculapian snake, not quite sure what to do about Minnie. In the end, it slithered off and down a hole by a tree. It was at least 1.5m long. Kanthaka and Rāhula were still both locatable.
11th: Kanthaka has moved on, leaving a characteristically demolished leaf. It was pouring with rain on our walk today so though I spent a little time trying to find where he had gone it was not easy and I failed! Rāhula remains where he was. Here is the mature white admiral caterpillar I found yesterday, and here the one shedding its skin - who has not got around to doing it yet!
17th: After continually wet weather, the sun shone a little today. When I got back home from school I went to check my local lesser marbled fritillary site. None were flying yet but I did see my first large skipper and false heath fritillary of the year. At lunchtime I had checked up on Rāhula, my last remaining purple emperor caterpillar - he was still there, now in his 17th day of 5th instar. I checked again after visiting the lesser marbled fritillary site and he had not moved. I expect him to move on any day now and would like to catch him at it so I know where he goes!
18th: Again, a little sun, during which my first ringlet of the year flew. I also saw a local meadow fritillary.
Rāhula was still on his leaf, at lunchtime and in the evening. This is day 18 of 5th instar.
19th: The best weather today was forecast for central Valais, and though 'best weather' amounted in total to about an hour's sun, divided up into 5-minute portions between 11h00 and 16h30, when I left, I managed to play catch-up on a few species. My first port of call was a site for ilex hairstreak, where I also hoped to see Provençal fritillary, marbled skipper, purple-shot copper and southern white admiral and rock grayling. None of these put in an appearance in the morning, though there really was very little sun. Instead, I saw plenty of large skippers (and here), my first small skippers of the year, my first marbled fritillary of the year, my first marbled whites of the year and a few Adonis and common blues. It started raining at about 12h30 so I decided to move on and up, to a higher site up the same valley where Provençal fritillaries fly. There, the situation was similar - mostly cloud with very occasional moments of sun. But it was different terrain, and it was possible to look for roosting butterflies. Before long I had seen my first Provençal fritillary (here and here are two more) and over the course of the walk saw heath and spotted fritillary too. Shortly after I arrived I put up a rock grayling, which immediately disappeared into a tree, and among the roosting butterflies I spotted was this safflower skipper. Apollos and marhled whites were reasonably common up here. Walls and large walls were flying. This large wall, sadly, wasn't flying, but was caught in the jaws of a yellow spider. I cycled back down the hill via my morning site, where there was now more sun and a few more butterflies, though the shadow of the mountain was beginning to fall on it. Before I had even taken Minnie out of her backpack I spotted this southern white admiral - and I saw another of these later. I also saw a single marbled skipper and another rock grayling. The full list for the day was: Large white, small white, green-veined white, wood white, black-veined white, orange tip, Berger's clouded yellow, scarce swallowtail, Apollo, common blue, Adonis blue, marbled fritillary, heath fritillary, Provençal fritillary, spotted fritillary, knapweed fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, comma, red admiral, southern white admiral, painted lady, wall, large wall, rock grayling. Here, here and here are some views from the day.
22nd: We ran a race in the morning, then zoomed off to a poplar admiral site in the canton of Geneva in the afternoon. We last visited on 6th June, when nothing was flying. Today, little was flying. I saw my first white admirals of the year, in rather small numbers for the site (fewer than 100, as compared with many thousands last year and the year before), my first woodland browns of the year and a few other butterflies in singles, mostly black-veined whites, speckled woods and meadow browns. It was a glorious, hot day but just with very few butterflies. June has been miserable so far and clearly has yet to kick off here.
23rd: I didn't take my camera on  my early-morning walk, which was silly, because I saw my first tufted marbled skipper of the year in Huémoz village. I got this poor shot with my iPhone before it flew off.
26th: Got up late, feeling tired after quite intense school activities recently, and headed off to my favourite Asian fritillary spot. I didn't really expect to see them, as this is such a late year, and I was right - none flew. It wasn't very nice weather either - almost entirely cloudy while I was there. Also notably absent were alpine heaths and alpine grizzled skippers, both of which I normally see in good numbers. I did see my first northern walls of the year (and here) and the first mountain green-veined whites, though only males of this species. Other butterflies on the wing were little blue and dingy skipper, but really very little else. Here is a morel, remarkably late in the year - which I took home to eat.
27th: First high brown fritillary on the wing in my local woods. All the purple emperor caterpillars have now gone off to pupate and I have found none of them yet!
29th: Last day of term. A trip up my local mountain in the afternoon proved a great walk but very poor for butterflies. No Erebia were on the wing - I would have expected both oeme and pandrose. I also saw no clouded Apollos. The first high-mountain marsh fritillaries (debilis) were flying, and I saw a couple of little blues and a grizzled skipper or two but that was about all.

July
1st: Term finished a couple of days ago and I had a lie-in yesterday so today I got up early and headed off to Italy for large chequered skippers, Hungarian gliders and nettle tree butterflies. I saw all three species but came home with very few photos. Conditions were very hot and muggy - and cloudy in much of the afternoon - and things were not posing for their portraits. At my first site, a few hundred metres above the valley, little was flying at all, but I did see three large chequered skippers, just one of which paused briefly in its bouncing for me to snatch a couple of record shots (here and here). This is a good nettle tree site but none were flying so I presumed the summer brood was not on the wing yet. Other species I did see were silver-washed fritillary - all males, but quite common - heath fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, pearly heath, speckled wood, large wall, great sooty satyr, meadow brown, ringlet, small copper, sooty copper, purple-shot copper, common blue, baton blue, large tortoiseshell (freshly emerged - unfortunately it landed on my right shoulder, impossible to photograph!), small tortoiseshell, red admiral, painted lady, small white, brimstone, small skipper, large skipper, dingy skipper and swallowtail. Moving back down to the valley I saw more of the same, including another large chequered skipper, plus several spotted fritillaries and a dark green fritillary. This is a heath fritillary from that site and this a spotted fritillary. This is a pair of small skippers. Someone has planted a bank of bee hives there and both Minnie and I got stung when they swarmed and attacked us! Luckily neither of us really minds being stung, though it did take her by surprise! We then cycled up a different valley, seeing a Hungarian glider on the wing near the bottom, by the side of the busy road, and a nettle tree butterfly on the road higher up. At our main glider site we first saw nothing, but then, sitting by the river at one of our favourite spots, looking across to some goatsbeard, we were surprised by two of them, both males, both behaving territorially, neither settling at all. Those were the only gliders we saw, bringing the grand total to three, with no photos. What we did see, very surprisingly, was a spring male Camberwell beauty, still valiantly defending a territory against all comers. We had hoped to see a summer individual - they must be emerging now. We also found a rather tame nettle tree butterfly taking minerals on what now looks like a newly constructed road (going nowhere) but was a beautiful, open meadow just two years ago. Other species seen included black-veined white and very little else. This is a purple emperor site but none appeared to be on the wing yet. We cycled back down the hill to our second site, where another large chequered skipper was bouncing around incessantly - never stopping - and I got stung again. A male orange tip was doing his patrol. It is unusual to see orange tips at this low altitude in Italy in July. Finally, back to the station and en route to Switzerland.
3rd: As usual on a Sunday I had very little time but nevertheless spent the morning at my Asian fritillary site, where plenty of Asian fritillaries were to be seen (and here, and here). I had to leave before things really hotted up but also saw false heath fritillaries, pearl-bordered fritillaries, my first blind ringlets and large ringlets of the year, my first alpine grayling of the year, lots of alpine heaths, mountain green-veined whites, a large blue, several mazarine blues and little blues, northern walls and chequered skippers. Strangely, I saw no alpine grizzled skippers, usually common there. Cycling back down to the valley I stopped off at random and had a look along a roadside track. There, I saw my first Escher's blue of the year and a beautiful, very dark, female (mountain) alcon blue (and here, and here).
4th: Today was dedicated to Thor's fritillary. I visited a site I first found in 2013, but was earlier this year - and in a late year. I was delighted to find that locally they were very common - indeed, the commonest butterfly. Males were mostly concentrated in a very small area of rather shady, damp woodland. Females were dispersed more widely. Both nectared readily in the shade and in the sun. Here, here, here, here and here are some pictures. Most of the time Minnie did her own thing but she managed to photobomb this shot! I spent most of my time watching these butterflies but saw much besides, including pearl-bordered fritillary, niobe fritillary (and here), false heath fritillary, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood, bright-eyed ringlet, little blue, geranium argus (and here) northern brown argus, small white, mountain green-veined white, orange tip, brimstone, swallowtail, dingy skipper, small skipper and chequered skipper.
5th: Mostly a lazy day at home. It was mostly overcast, occasionally sunny. No purple emperors were flying in the local woods but a single white admiral showed up and there are now plenty of woodland browns on the wing. This was my first local marbled fritillary of the year. Later in the day, walking back from town, I took a detour to find my first lesser marbled fritillaries of the year. I saw four males, all zooming around in search of females, but when the sun went in this one stopped conveniently.
6th: I climbed to about 2500m today to photograph Cynthia's fritillaries hilltopping. It was very sunny but quite cool, with a strong breeze, and no fritillaries appeared until about 11h40. Then, up to four males at a time could be seen sunning themselves and sparring. For periods there would be none, then suddenly several, so it looked as if they moved about together. All were very fresh - brilliant white, black and red. Here and here are some more males. This female was much lower down the slopes. A few fresh dewy ringlets were flying and one or two dusky grizzled skippers. Occasionally, a peak white cruised through, never stopping. Apart from these, the only butterflies at that altitude were little blues (common), small tortoiseshells and painted ladies - this last being very common. Lower down the slopes, a little more was on the wing but still not in anything like the numbers I usually see here. There were several fresh, male alpine arguses (and here), a few shepherd's fritillaries, one or two Swiss brassy ringlets and large ringlets, two mazarine blues and a handful of idas blues. A chill wind was blowing, which got stronger throughout the afternoon. I saw no Eros blues nor any Apollos - I had been hoping for small Apollo, which flies there. Clouded yellows of any species were absent. Again, the conclusion has to be that this is a late year and all these things will soon be flying. Cycling back down to the valley, I stopped briefly at a grassy area at about 2000m but saw very little there. So I continued all the way to the bottom, hoping to catch an ilex hairstreak at one of its sites in the valley. There were none there earlier in the year when I checked and none there again today, though by the time I arrived the site was partly in shade. I had to keep Minnie attached to me all the time while I was at the cynthia site because there are marmots everywhere up there! Here, here and here are three different marmots. There were also a few rather ancient ibex watching the humans come and go. Here is one I am sure I have seen on many occasions over the years - he is no spring kid. Here is another.
7th: Stayed at home today. In the morning the first great banded graylings of the year were flying locally and later I saw the first Arran brown in the woods, as well as my first local white admirals.
8th: A trip to the Bernese Oberland for dusky and scarce large blues. I saw my first dusky large blue almost on arrival at about 09h30, glued to a greater burnet head, but it turned out to be one of only a very few seen during the day. Then, it was still cloudy. Slowly the clouds cleared and there were longer and longer periods of sunshine. During these, dozens of scarce large blues began flying and posing. Most were inaccessible, being out in the marsh and/or separated from me by fencing, but with the zoom lens I was able to get a few shots. Here, here, here, here, here, here and here are some more. I also saw my first purple-shot coppers of the year, though again didn't get close to any. I spent most of the three hours I was there with the scarce large blues but other things were on the wing too, including common blue, little blue, mazarine blue, large white, mountain green-veined white, wood white, brimstone, dingy skipper and chequered skipper.
10th: A trip to a site in Valais for lesser purple emperors. I arrived early but it was a hot morning and things were already flying. These included my first graylings of the year, lots of great sooty satyrs, marbled whites, white admirals and more and more blues as the morning hotted up. At about 10h30 the first lesser purple emperor appeared (and here). Unfortunately, it being Sunday, lots of cars were driving up and down the track and he never really got a chance to settle. I watched him a while then moved on. By midday it was extremely hot and butterflies were gathering in large numbers at minerals. Again, they had to fly up every few minutes for cars and a few were sadly killed under tyres, but they landed in ever increasing numbers. Here is a group annotated with the names of the blues (the other butterflies being a spotted fritillary and wood whites). They include my first Meleager's blues of the year (with two common blues in that picture) and my first Amanda's blues. Here are a mazarine blue with a baton blue, a mazarine blue on its own and a couple of red-underwing skippers. A few dusky meadow browns were flying. I didn't consciously identify any Lulworth skippers, though I am sure these were they - they always are. Twice I saw a purple hairstreak disappear into the trees. Shortly before I left I saw another male emperor, looking distinctly bigger, flying into an area of dense sallow. I wouldn't normally have counted it as a confirmed purple emperor, though I was fairly sure it was one - but as it happened, the first thing I saw when I got home later in the day (at about 15h30) was a male purple emperor zooming out of my garden. So I do have a confirmed record for the year - lesser purple does not fly in Huémoz. The complete list of butterflies for the day is: Swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, Apollo, small white, large white, green-veined white, brimstone, orange tip, wood white, cryptic wood white, Berger's clouded yellow, Bath white, little blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, baton blue, mazarine blue, common blue, chalkhill blue, Meleager's blue, purple hairstreak, purple-shot copper, heath fritillary, false heath fritillary, spotted fritillary, Niobe fritillary, dark green fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, white admiral, southen white admiral, lesser purple emperor, purple emperor, red admiral, comma, painted lady, meadow brown, dusky meadow brown, speckled wood, small heath, great sooty satyr, grayling, marbled white, ringlet, wall, large wall, southern grizzled skipper, safflower skipper, olive skipper, dingy skipper, large skipper, small skipper, red-underwing skipper.
11th: Mostly an overcast and rainy day but during a surprise sunny break between showers in the forest I saw plenty of white admirals and a single, male purple emperor. Was it Rāhula, Gautama ... ? I will never know.
16th: After several days of rain it was sunny today. Minnie and I set off for the Jura Vaudois to see chestnut heaths - a butterfly that does not fly near where I live. These were flying in good numbers. Here, here, here, here and here are some more individuals, illustrating the variation found in the population. There were also plenty of small heaths. At the same site I saw my first cranberry fritillary of the year. There was no obvious Vaccinium but there was doubtless plenty deeper into the marsh, beyond where the public is allowed. This is a good site for moorland clouded yellow, which has the same foodplant, and I saw several of these today. Other species flying were meadow browns, ringlets (by the hundred), peacocks, small tortoiseshells, painted ladies, speckled woods, marbled whites,  large ringlets, lesser marbled fritillaries, heath fritillaries, silver-washed fritillaries (not at the marsh sites but in woods I cross on the way to the site), pearl-bordered fritillary (also in the woods), a couple of common blues, various whites (this is a green-veined white) and a few golden skippers. In other words, very little.
17th: I saw my first white-letter hairstreaks of the year in my local woods (and here, and here, and here). I found this fat dormouse sitting in my kitchen in the afternoon. In fact, Minnie found it earlier, but luckily it escaped her clutches. I thought she was getting excited about a mouse. I closed the door, opened the window and hoped the dormouse would find its way out.
18th: I travelled to the Aosta Valley today for Polyommatus humedasae, arriving when it was already very hot. Butterflies were either flying restlessly or hiding in the shade, making photography difficult. As always at this site, humedasae was common - almost certainly the commonest Lycaenid. Here, here, here and here are more pictures of it, that last one in the company of Escher's blue and Meleager's blue. This is a mating pair of humedasae. Other blues flying were chalkhill, baton, damon and Adonis (not at the site but on the walk back from it). Something that looked very like a furry blue - large and pale, with the correct tone to the underside - was zooming around and never stopping. I can't rule out the possibility it was a Meleager's blue, but the other individuals of this species were stopping readily. I had hoped for good views of blue-spot hairstreak but only saw two, neither of which posed at all. This is the best photo I was able to get! Lots of Satyrids were flying, including marbled white, rock grayling, woodland grayling, great sooty satyr, dusky meadow brown, pearly heath and small heath. Fritillaries were represented by marbled, heath, knapweed, spotted, silver-washed and probably Niobe - none of the larger fritillaries stopped flying apart from that one grounded silver-washed fritillary. I saw scarce swallowtail but not swallowtail and several Apollos. Small and green-veined whites were common and I am certain this is a pale clouded yellow, despite the rather rounded apex. Everything else about it was spot on, including its obsession with red clover to the exclusion of every other nectar plant. Large and small skippers were common and I saw just the one Pyrgus - this safflower skipper. I had an hour to spend in Aosta itself before getting the bus onwards, during which I found this geranium bronze skulking around Pelargoniums in the town centre.
19th: Here and here are some more photos of a white letter hairstreak in my local woods.
20th: I headed up to a spot a friend recommends for silvery argus. Just like the last time I visited, I saw none, though I did see thousands of other blues, including my first glandon and cranberry blues of the year. Here is a group of little blues surrounding a mazarine blue and here a couple of silver-studded blues joining in the fun. Here is a geranium argus - this one photographed a little lower down the mountain, though there were plenty at the top too. Other species flying were swallowtail, small white, mountain green-veined white, wood white, orange tip, black-veined white, common blue, Osiris blue, northern brown argus, holly blue, sooty copper, shepherd's fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, heath fritillary, small tortoiseshell, peacock, alpine heath, large ringlet, Scotch argus, blind ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, Swiss brassy ringlet, southern grizzled skipper, small skipper and dingy skipper. Here is Minnie - Queen of all she surveys!
21st: Today I went high again, this time to a pass at the western end of the Rhône Valley, to show a friend from the South of France some true alpine species. On the way up we stopped for five minutes at a possible purple emperor site and were in luck. This male purple emperor appeared as soon as we arrived. Then we continued our route. When we began our mountain walk it was sunny but the sunny intervals became fewer and fewer and by the top it was completely overcast. Despite this, a lot of species were on the wing. New for me for the year were Mnestra's ringlet, Grisons fritillary, peak white (and here) and mountain clouded yellow (I held back from pictures so my friend could get shots of species he had never seen before). Shepherd's fritillaries were very common. Here is a mating pair (and here) and here a resting male. We saw no mountain fritillaries - or no females, at least. Males in flight are not possible to identify with confidence. At the top, at about 2550m, despite the cool and overcast conditions, a few dewy ringlets were flying and I found this slightly curly Cynthia's fritillary near the path. In a brief moment of sunshine, another one flew. Again, I held back so my friend could photograph it but got this shot from an angle and a distance. I also put up a couple of females. This is a female marsh fritillary, form debilis. Blues flying were little blue, mazarine blue, common blue and idas blue (and here). Alpine heaths were common and other Erebia included euryale, tyndarus and either epiphron or melampus. I initially said melampus but had doubts when I saw my friend's picture on his viewfinder. When I see the picture on screen I will be able to confirm which it was. Other species seen during the day included swallowtail, Apollo (from the car as we arrived), orange tip (much lower down), pearl-bordered fritillary, alpine grayling, dingy skipper and Essex skipper. Rain arrived in the afternoon.
22nd: Between torrential downpours I found this first purple emperor egg (and here) of the season. The pattern suggests it is 4-5 days old.
24th: The purple emperor egg was obviously more than 4-5 days old (I should have said it was at least that ...). Today the fully formed caterpillar was clearly visible inside (and here). This female dark green fritillary was flying in the woods.
25th: The purple emperor egg has not yet hatched. Not far away, this adult purple emperor looked down from the top of a maple.
26th: In the morning I established that the purple emperor egg had not yet hatched. This was just as well, as a spider was lying in wait in the tip of the leaf, just where the caterpillar would go. I gently removed the spider to a nearby tree and cleared the web. Elsewhere in the woods I saw a female obviously engaged in laying eggs. At one point she settled a metre above my head and I got this very poor shot. I got a better shot of this egg she had laid. In the afternoon I nipped down to my nearest tails site, where long-tailed blue (and here) and short-tailed blue (with a common blue in that picture) were both flying, despite cloudy weather. Long-tailed blues were numerous - at least a dozen were zooming around, sparring, spiralling into the sky, and very occasionally settling a moment or two!
27th: The purple emperor egg has hatched. Here, here and here are photos of the tiny caterpillar, whom I have named Cartman (after the South Park character). He has ended up in the tip of a neighbouring leaf, not the one he was born on - perhaps because he sensed the (ex) presence of the spider. Yesterday's freshly laid egg has gained its maroon band and I found another egg nearby. Here and here are shots of a white admiral egg. Woodland browns are still common in the woods.
28th: Up into the mountains near Zermatt, to look for Warren's skipper. This, as usual, proved quite difficult, as several other potentially similar skippers fly in the same region. Here and here are carline skippers. These were often very small at this site, and some very weakly marked, so they were easy to mistake for Warren's skipper in flight. There were also a number of red-underwing skippers ready to draw the eye. The site is on a very steep, difficult slope and it is not easy to run after everything to check it. Nevertheless, this is a confirmed Warren's skpper. This is the underside of that individual. Here is another, and here a female. This one has the feel of a dusky grizzled skipper but the underside rules this out and I can only think it is another female Warren's skipper. In theory, at over 2200m, it is too high for large grizzled skipper and I saw no confirmed individuals of that species there. Here is the underside of a confirmed Warren's skipper - I didn't get a picture of the upperside of that individual but I saw it well and it was a very small butterfly. This underside and upperside belong to the same individual. It looks too well marked for Warren's skipper. Pyrgus can be a bit of a mystery! Other species flying at altitude were small skipper, Essex skipper, silver-spotted skipper, Apollo, swallowtail, mountain green-veined white, black-veined white, mountain clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, sooty copper, purple-shot copper (and here), scarce copper (that individual photographed lower down), little blue, northern brown argus, Escher's blue, silver-studded blue, large blue, small tortoiseshell, Grisons fritillary, knapweed fritillary, Niobe fritillary (very common), marsh fritillary (debilis), large ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, almond-eyed ringlet, grayling (a little below the warrenensis slopes), Swiss brassy ringlet, wall. At slightly lower altitudes Eros blue was flying too.
29th: Cartman is stll doing fine and has evidently begun eating. Here and here are the other two purple emperor eggs. The maroon bands have broadened slightly. Here is a white admiral egg. Several white-letter hairstreaks were visible around this elm tree. Here is one of them looking down on me. This hairstreak is seemingly sheltering from the heat beneath a leaf. It is clearly a female. Another (and here) was noising around deeper in the shade, among the twigs. I assumed she was ovipositing but she laid no eggs while I watched and in some pictures I could clearly see her proboscis, as if she was taking minerals from the twig. In the late afternoon I visited my July/August cardinal site in the valley. I didn't really expect to see any, as I didn't arrive much before 17h00, but in the end I saw two females. This beautiful individual (and here, and here) was photographed at about 17h30. This one, which I found first, has clearly been attacked by a bird. Other species flying there were Queen of Spain, silver-washed fritillary (common), high brown fritillary, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, various golden skippers, white admiral, great sooty satyr and others. Nearby, blues were taking minerals at chalk, though they were already in the shade when I arrived. Here is a mazarine blue.

August
1st: Day 7 for the two purple emperor eggs I am following (here and
here). Cartman is eating and growing (and here). There are still plenty of white admirals in the woods and woodland browns are common.
2nd: The same two eggs have developed visible structure within (here and here).
3rd: The same two eggs now have caterpillars clearly visible inside them (here and here).
4th:  I visited my hermit site in the Jura, where I found very little on the wing. There were some hermits (and here, and here, and here) but only males and all quite fresh, so perhaps the season is only just beginning. There were lots more great banded graylings and several other Satyrids, including my first gatekeepers of the year. Surprisingly, I found no maps, normally a common butterfly there - but the bramble was over and, more significantly, all the nettle seemed to have been cleared. A few blues were on the wing, including common blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and turquoise blue. I saw at least one pale clouded yellow. Here is a silver-washed fritillary. A family of red-backed shrikes (here is a juvenile) was much in evidence and moulting red kites were usually visible in the distance.
5th: The same two purple emperor eggs still haven't hatched (here and here).
6th: One of the purple emperor eggs had hatched this morning. Here is Kenny, eating his eggshell. The other caterpillar was still safely tucked up inside his shell. Cartman, who hatched over a week ago, is now nowhere to be found. I think he has perished. Later in the morning I visited my cardinal site in the valley to photograph males. Here and here are pictures of the same, very photogenic individual. This is a different individual nearby. Not all were so fresh. This one had been attacked by a bird, I think. I saw at least 8 different individuals in total, all males. Here is a Queen of Spain fritillary. Knapweed, heath and high brown fritillaries were also flying at that site, as well as a purple emperor and several white admirals. In the afternoon I moved further along the valley, where I confirmed my first dryads of the year and watched rosy grizzled skippers buzzing around and occasionally posing. These are spotted fritillaries.
7th: The other purple emperor egg has now hatched. Here and here are Stan's Mum and Kenny. Stan's Mum has remained on the same leaf she was born on. As we walked home we found this female purple emperor striking sallows and occasionally resting up in the sun. This is the context.
8th: The two first instar purple emperor larvae are still fine. Some distance away, in the same ride, I found this leaf with two purple emperor eggs on it. This is one of them and this the other - it was not easy to get photographs of them. This is a first instar white admiral caterpillar. I again saw a female purple emperor, obviously looking for places to oviposit, in the woods today. Other species conspicuously on the wing are holly blue, meadow brown, Arran brown, Scotch argus, speckled wood, silver-washed fritillary and high brown fritillary. There are one or two red admirals around whenever I go into the woods and white admirals, presumably females, are to be found creeping around in the shade.
9th: It poured with rain today. Kenny and Stan's Mum were just about keeping their heads above water ...
10th:
Having missed both large copper and black hairstreak when I visited Geneva earlier in the year, I went back today to try for the second brood of the coppers. After two hours searching at two different sites I had almost given up hope when I spotted a corner of a field full of their favourite yellow flowers. Without any real hope, assuming I was too early for this brood too, I checked it out and was almost immediately rewarded with a fresh, male large copper (amd here, and I think this is the upperside of the same male). Altogether I saw probably four males there - all fresh - and no females. Clouds covered the sun soon after I saw the first individual but the butterflies stayed flying and I got some pictures despite the dull weather. Here and here are the upperside and underside of the same male. He is carrying a passenger ... At the same site, though not at the same place as the coppers, short-tailed blues were flying. Other species seen included Glanville fritillary, violet fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, knapweed fritillary, various skippers and whites, a very few blues and lots of Sartyrids, including gatekeepers - a species that doesn't fly anywhere near where I live.
12th: I was going to head up for Erebia nivalis today, to try and photograph females, but when my alarm went at 05h50 this morning the forecast had changed to mostly cloudy for that region. Last year I discovered that the precise area where nivalis flies is particularly prone to clouding over, even when the sky is clear everywhere else. So I took an extra hour's snooze and got up late. My changed plan for the day was to go to the Simplon area, as I haven't seen Darwin's heath yet this year. This butterfly, now a subspecies, flies in its pure form only south of the Simplon but there are very good approximations to be found all over the region. It wasn't until we reached Brig, and I bought a few provisions, that I realised I had left my camera at home!! This is not the first time this has happened and it doubtless won't be the last, but it changed things. I resolved to see what I could catch on my iPhone. All the pictures in this report were taken on the iPhone. At first, it seemed I wouldn't see much, because nothing much seemed to be flying. But as I climbed, more came out to play and it became a worthwhile trip. I saw no swallowtails or Apollos all day, and very few whites, but mountain clouded yellows were common (and here) and I saw a single clouded yellow too at altitude. For the blues, the commonest by far was Idas (and here) There were a few mazarine and one or two Eros thrown in but no cranberry or glandon, which was surprising. I saw at least one northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) among the idas blues. Plenty of shepherd's fritillaries were on the wing, mostly looking rather worn, and a few mountain fritillaries, looking brighter. I saw no flemales of this species. I think mountain fritillary must fly slightly later than shepherd's as I know it flies here in good numbers. Other fritillaries seen were Grisons (a handful, looking rather past it), Niobe (at one spot two males were sparring conspicuously) and Cynthia's. Several Erebia species were flying, and in good numbers. Commonest was Swiss brassy ringlet (and here), closely followed by large ringlet. Also flying were mnestra, pronoe, epiphron (and here) and melampus. As expected, there was a wide range of variation in alpine heath/Darwin's heath, including some very close to pure darwiniana. I saw my first large grizzled skippers of the year and plenty of silver-spotted skippers.
15th: Back in Suffolk for a few days and had a quick ride round the Rendlesham region this morning. In the woods, small coppers, common blues, meadow browns, gatekeepers and graylings (and here) were all common, with a few small and green-veined whites too. On Buddleia there were peacocks, small tortoiseshells and red admirals. At a nearby holly and oak wood I saw purple hairstreaks in the canopy and a holly blue.
17th: Here (and here) is a clouded yellow, form helice, seen on the Sandlings. This is my first Suffolk helice.
19th: Here is a small copper in the Suffolk Sandlings.

September
10th: Today I was able to take what might be my last true altitude trip this year. The weather wasn't great - pretty much 100% cloud cover most of the time, and rain as we started back down again - but I did manage to see a few butterflies. It felt as if the last embers of the year were glowing up here (the walk was between 2300m and 2500m) ... Scarce coppers were quite common, if a little tatty (and here). Eros blues (and here) were also about in reasonable numbers. Other species flying were small tortoiseshell, chalkhill blue and red admiral. Here is a very tatty Swiss brassy ringlet and here a painted lady. There were lots of marmots around. Here is Minnie watching that one. Here, here and here are some more.
11th: Here is one of my purple emperor caterpillars, Kenny, in my local woods.
13th: The house martins (and here) are in great agitation and clearly about to leave any day now.
18th: A chamois in my local woods.
24th: It was sunny today and I managed to get out. I haven't been to the cardinal site for well over a month so I headed there this morning. I was also hoping for brown hairstreaks, which I hadn't yet seen this year. I saw both but got photos of neither. The Buddleia was almost completely over and I initially thought there would be no cardinals, but two bushes remained in a chalky hollow and there I saw my first male cardinal, at about 11h30. He didn't stop, even a second. His would zoom in, pointlessly attack every living creature in sight - mostly other butterflies gently nectaring in the evening of their lives - zoom across to the other Buddleia, then zoom off again, to return in about 10 minutes. I did take a video of one of his approaches but haven't uploaded it yet, and to be honest, it's not very good. At one point I thought there were two males, but I could have been mistaken, so swiftly do they move. Later, as I left the area, I saw a female taking flight over the trees. As for brown hairstreaks, I saw a single female in flight and two males, one of which settled briefly - but I couldn't get my zoom onto him in the bright light before he flew again. It's a shame, as I need photos of male brown hairstreak uppersides. Other species flying were: a possible marbled skipper (if it was one, the only skipper I saw today), large white, small white, southern small white (and here), green-veined white, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, Damon blue, northern brown argus, red admiral, painted lady, comma, small tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain fritillary, high brown fritillary, wall, speckled wood, marbled ringlet, grayling and tree grayling.
25th: I only had time for a short walk in the valley today, but there's still enough on the wing to make every walk a butterfly walk. Here is a Bath white and here a chalkhill blue. Adonis blues were also flying, and here is a diminutive common blue, about the size of a baby fingernail. Walls are still common and both graylings are flying, though tree grayling is commoner than grayling. Here is a female spotted fritillary. Here and here are the upperside and underside of what I initially took to be a rosy grizzled skipper but which clearly isn't one. I actually don't know which species it is.

October
1st: A trip to my cardinal site in the afternoon, hoping for brown hairstreak and perhaps a cardinal. By the time I got there it had already started raining and on the site itself I saw just a few walls and nothing else. While cycling there, I saw some whites and a single blue, presumed common. As heavier rain set in I got back to the bike, to witness a fly-over by a single female cardinal. I also saw a red admiral shortly before this.

November

December