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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 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, or have kept, online year-lists. Tim Cowles, living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland, has his HERE. Another friend, Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a regularly updated sightings diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2022 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
  1. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 1st January - Valais, Switzerland
  2. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 1st January - Valais, Switzerland
  3. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 5th February - Valais - Switzerland
  4. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 5th February - Valais - Switzerland
  5. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 16th February - Valais - Switzerland
  6. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 18th Febraruy - Valais - Switzerland
  7. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 4th March - Valais - Switzerland
  8. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 4th March - Valais - Switzerland
  9. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 5th March - North Italy
  10. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 5th March - North Italy
  11. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 5th March - North Italy
  12. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 5th March - North Italy
  13. Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 18th March - Valais, Switzerland
  14. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 18th March - Valais, Switzerland
  15. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 18th March - Valais, Switzerland
  16. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 18th March - Valais, Switzerland
  17. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 18th March - Valais, Switzerland
  18. Peacock (Aglais io) - 18th March - Valais, Switzerland
  19. Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  20. Desert orange tip (Colotis evagore) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  21. Geranium bronze (Cacyreus marshalli) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  22. Black-eyed blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  23. Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  24. Spanish marbled white (Melanaria ines) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  25. Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 31st March - Málaga, Spain
  26. Western dappled white (Euchloe crameri) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  27. Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  28. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphillus) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  29. Provence orange tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  30. Cleopatra (Gonepterix cleopatra) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  31. Lang's short-tailed blue (Leptotes pirithous) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  32. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  33. Iberian scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  34. Two-tailed pasha (Charaes jasius) - 1st April - Málaga, Spain
  35. African grass blue (Zizeeria knysna) - 2nd April - Benalmádena, Spain
  36. False baton blue (Scolitantides abencerragus) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  37. Lorquin's blue (Cupido lorquinii) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  38. Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  39. Southern brown argus (Aricia cramera) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  40. Austaut's blue (Polyommatus celina) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  41. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides)- 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  42. False mallow skipper (Carcharodus tripolinus) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  43. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 3rd April - Antequera, Spain
  44. Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 5th April - Málaga, Spain
  45. Portuguese dappled white (Euchloe tagis) - 6th April - Gibraltar
  46. Monarch (Danaus plexippus) - 6th April - Gibraltar
  47. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  48. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  49. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  50. Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  51. Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  52. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  53. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 9th April - Valais, Switzerland
  54. Green-underside blue (Glaucopysche alexis) - 17th April - Valais, Switzerland
  55. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 17th April - Valais, Switzerland
  56. Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 17th April - Valais, Switzerland
  57. Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 17th April - Valais, Switzerland
  58. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 28th April - Vaud, Switzerland
  59. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  60. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 6th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  61. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 6th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  62. Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 21st May - Vaud, Switzerland
  63. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 22nd May - Vaud, Switzerland
  64. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 26th May 2023 - Vaud, Switzerland
  65. Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 26th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  66. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 26th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  67. Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  68. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  69. Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  70. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  71. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  72. Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  73. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  74. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione) - 27th May - Valais, Switzerland
  75. Mountain dappled white (Euchole simplonia) - 28th May - Valais, Switzerland
  76. Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 28th May - Valais, Switzerland
  77. Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 30th May - Genève, Switzerland
  78. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 30th May - Genève, Switzerland
  79. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 30th May - Genève, Switzerland
  80. Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 30th May - Genève, Switzerland
  81. Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 30th May - Genève, Switzerland
  82. Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 1st June - Vaud, Switzerland
  83. De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 2nd June - Valais, Switzerland
  84. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 2nd June - Valais, Switzerland
  85. Southern heath fritillary (Melitaea nevadensis) - 2nd June - Valais, Switzerland
  86. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 2nd June - Valais, Switzerland
  87. Marbled white (Melanargia  galathea) - 2nd June - Valais, Switzerland
  88. Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 2nd June - Valais, Switzerland
  89. Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 4th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  90. Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 4th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  91. Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 5th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  92. White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 6th June - Geneva, Switzerland
  93. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 6th June - Geneva, Switzerland
  94. Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 9th June - Valais, Switzerland
  95. Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphron) - 9th June - Valais, Switzerland
  96. Nickerl's fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) - 9th June - Valais, Switzerland
  97. Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 9th June - Valais, Switzerland
  98. Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 11th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  99. Marsh fritillary (Euyphydryas merope/aurinia) - 11th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  100. Geranium argus (Aricia eumedon) - 11th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  101. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 14th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  102. Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 16th June - Grenoble, France
  103. Lesser purple emperor (Apatura ilia) - 16th June - Grenoble, France
  104. Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 17th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  105. Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 17th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  106. Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 20th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  107. Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 20th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  108. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 21st June - Vaud, Switzerland
  109. Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 24th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  110. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 26th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  111. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 26th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  112. Olive skipper (Pyrgus serratulae) - 27th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  113. Grisons fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  114. Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  115. Alpine argus (Plebejus orbitulus) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  116. Mnestra ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  117. Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  118. Peak white (Pontia callidice) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  119. Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  120. Dusky grizzled skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  121. Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 29th June, Valais, Switzerland
  122. Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis inio) - 3rd July - Vaud, Switzerland
  123. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 4th July - Grenoble, France
  124. Cranberry fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris) - 6th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  125. Titania's fritillary (Boloria titania) - 6th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  126. Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 6th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  127. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 6th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  128. High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) - 6th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  129. Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 7th July - North Italy
  130. Large chequered skipper (Heteropterus morpheus) - 7th July - North Italy
  131. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 7th July - North Italy
  132. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 7th July - North Italy
  133. Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 7th July - North Italy
  134. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 8th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  135. Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 8th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  136. Glandon blue (Plebejus glandon) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  137. Damon blue (Polyommatus damon) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  138. Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  139. Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  140. Almond-eyed ringlet (Erebia alberganus) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  141. Cranberry blue (Plebejus optilete) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  142. Asian fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  143. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  144. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  145. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  146. Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  147. Scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  148. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 10th July - Valais, Switzerland
  149. Mountain alcon blue (Phengaris alcon rebeli) - 14th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  150. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 14th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  151. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 14th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  152. Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 14th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  153. Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 15th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  154. Piedmont ringlet (Erebia meolans) - 15th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  155. Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 16th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  156. Manto ringlet (Erebia manto) - 17th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  157. Common brassy ringlet (Erebia arvernensis) - 17th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  158. Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 17th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  159. Darwin's heath (Coenonympha [gardetta] darwiniana) - 18th July - Valais, Switzerland
  160. Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 18th July - Valais, Switzerland
  161. Dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) - 20th July - Bern, Switzerland
  162. Scarce large blue (Phengaris telejus) - 20th July - Bern, Switzerland
  163. Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 23rd July - Valais, Switzerland
  164. Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 23rd July - Valais, Switzerland
  165. Small Apollo (Parnassius corybas) - 23rd July - Valais, Switzerland
  166. Cynthia's fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia) - 23rd July - Valais, Switzerland
  167. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 27th July - Valais, Switzerland
  168. Dryad (Minois dryas) - 2nd August - Vaud, Switzerland
  169. Woodland ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 8th August - Vaud, Switzerland
  170. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 10th August - Valais, Switzerland
  171. Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 13th August - Valais, Switzerland
  172. Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - 16th August - Valais, Switzerland
  173. Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 16th August - Valais, Switzerland
  174. Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 16th August - Valais, Switzerland
  175. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 18th August - Valais, Switzerland
  176. Purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus) - 2nd September - Valais, Switzerland
  177. Tree grayling (Hipparchia statilinus) - 10th September - Valais, Switzerland

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

1st: HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2023 has begun well. With forecasts of up to 13°C in the Rhône Valley, and all-day sunshine, Minnie and I headed down to our favourite winter butterfly spots first thing in the morning. At about 11h00 a first butterfly flew - this rather tatty but very welcome red admiral. Shortly afterwards, another appeared, but didn't settle, and then as we stopped for a beer at a sunny hotspot, a clouded yellow drifted down the bank, stopping briefly. During the morning we saw a total of four red admirals and four clouded yellows. This is a different clouded yellow. Here and here are some fruit on the strawberry trees, and here is the brilliant January sunlight shining through a kind of outdoor stained glass window! We hoped to return early, so I could pop into the kennels at Bex - they had lent me a lead yesterday and I wanted to return it. But not far away, tragedy was striking. The trains stopped running because of a presumed suicide on the tracks the Sion side of Martigny. Minnie curled up and waited on her carry sack while I pondered whether to cycle from Martigny to Bex instead of catching the train. Fortunately, I didn't, as about forty minutes later a train was laid on from Martigny to Aigle. I caught this, then cycled back to Bex to return the lead. Both of us very tired by now, we finally returned to Leysin.
2nd: Striking morning skies gave way to cloud and ultimately rain. In the afternoon Minnie and I walked from Leysin to Aigle, via Veyges and Drapel. Here is Minnie coming into Fontanney near the end of our walk.
3rd: Cloudy and wet all day. Here is Leysin, clothed in cloud, in the evening. And here is the moon, with Mars, in a break in the cloud. Later, the moon had moved and Mars was even closer - then cloud came over again.
4th: Another mostly cloudy day. Here is a shot from our walk over the fields north-east of Leysin in the afternoon, and here the view from my balcony later.
5th: Cloudy and wet in the morning, giving way to broken cloud in the afternoon (and here).
6th: Mostly sunny and warm today. In the afternoon, I found a patch of blackthorn just outside Leysin with brown hairstreak eggs (and here). Some had hatched, implying they were last year's eggs, but most were intact and presumably this year's. At one place, much of the blackthorn had been hacked at and some was completely cut down. I checked some of the detached branches and found brown hairstreak eggs on them. I took some home to put in the fridge and will return for more. This is the cut branch I removed them from (by breaking off smaller twigs).
7th: Again sunny, so I headed off to the Rhône Valley. Butterflies were few: just four red admirals (and here). But I bumped into a friend who had seen a clouded yellow and a single, seemingly freshly emerged Queen of Spain. He showed me the spot but by that time it was getting cold and the sun was hidden behind thin cloud so nothing flew. Lizards were common throughout the day. Here are some olives ripening by the track.
8th: It snowed today, but with warm, wet ground, nothing settled. In the afternoon I collected some more brown hairstreak eggs from broken, cut branches, and brought them home to put in the fridge. Here and here are some eggs on healthy branches.
9th: I woke to snow on the ground this morning and it continued to snow for most of the day, with the snow now settling.
10th: After yesterday's snow, a beautiful day. Here is Minnie in Villars (where I work) in the afternoon, and here is the Grand Chamossaire viewed from this side.
11th: Morning sky today.
12th: Morning sky today. By the afternoon it was completely overcast. Here is Minnie making her way over crusty snow.
13th: Heavily overcast, with snow and some rain during the day. In the afternoon I had a chance to pop into Les Grangettes, at Villeneuve, where this pair of great crested grebes were engaging in a beautiful nuptial dance. Here are some sleeping goosander, and here a heraldic cormorant. The streams were thick with thousands of fish - rich pickings for the herons and other water birds. This goosander was swimming very low and flat - and fast - and spent most of his time apparently scooping the water for fish. I got back home as the last light struck the Grand Chamossaire.
14th: Morning sky. We spent much of the day in Gstaad, revisitng old haunts and taking a walk along the Yehudi Menuhin Philosophenweg to Saanen, returning on the other side of the river Saane.
15th: Minnie waiting for the vicar to turn up at church.
16th: Morning sky. It snowed most of the day. Here is Minnie on her afternoon walk.
17th: It snowed all day. Here and here are pictures from my balcony in the early evening.
18th: A pink glow over the snow in the morning didn't last. By late morning it was snowing, and was still snowing when we went for our evening walk.
19th: A beautiful, clear but very cold day. The snow was deep on our afternoon walk and though Minnie did her very best (and enjoyed it), it took a lot out of her. This is the view ahead along what used to be a track. I picked her up and carried her for some of the way!
20th: Cold and sunny. Here is an evening shot.
21st: Very cold but sunny. I tried the local ski de fond piste in the morning, then took Minnie to Montreux in the afternoon for a walk by the lake (and here). There were lots of great crested grebes (and here) but no black-necked, and a few goosanders. Before we returned, it had already started snowing gently and continued for the evening.
22nd: Very cold and overcast, with some snow.
23rd: The moon, Venus and Saturn just after sunset (Saturn just visible, to the right and down from Venus). Leysin later in the evening, on our dogwalk.
24th: Les Dents du Midi just after sunset. The moon and Venus. Orion rising above the church in the evening.
25th: Cold and mostly cloudy (and here).
26th: A very cold and colourless day. But Leysin always looks colourful at night.
27th: Although it hasn't snowed heavily for about ten days, it's been so cold the snow still hasn't fallen off the tree trunks. Here is Leysin in the evening, from my balcony.
28th: Still bitterly cold. We went to Villeneuve in the afternoon. Here is the famous tree in the lake. I saw two kingfishers in Les Grangettes, this one stopping (a long way off) for a photo. Here is a very smart goosander and here a snatched photo of a grey wagtail before a walker scared it off. There were amazing shoals of fish in some of the channels (and here). Here is Minnie on one of the frozen tracks.
29th: The sun rising behind trees on the mountaintop. It was a beautiful day, so Minnie and I headed to the vineyards, just in case a butterfly should fly. Even from the train, though, we could see there was no hope of anything flying. The valley floor was still thick with snow near Martigny. This is a picture from later in the day looking back down towards Martigny. Our top winter hotspot was mostly clear of snow but it was still bitterly cold and unsurprisingly nothing flew. Here is Orion above the mountains in the evening, viewed from my balcony.
30th: Morning and evening today. The white light on the mountains is the snow machine grooming the pistes.
31st: A brilliant day. It clouded over by the time I got back from teaching in Villars but magically, the Grand Chamossaire was caught in a noose of light (and here).

1st: Another brilliant day. In the afternoon we took a walk past the out-of-town brown hairstreak site, pausing to check on the eggs. Here is Minnie trotting home at the end of the trip. Sadly, it clouded over by the evening, so the comet wasn't visible (and it wasn't worth getting up early for it either, as cloud was forecast then too).
2nd: In the afternoon we caught the train down to the vineyards at Drapel and Fontanney. It was actually warm there and were it not for the wind we would have seen butterflies. I am sure butterflies were flying somewhere ... This is the view across the valley and here is a shot of the Château d'Aigle. Here is the view at sunset from my balcony. In the evening, walking back from teaching, I pointed my phone camera at where the comet should have been and took some photos. The moon is much to bright for anything clear to be seen, but on analysing the pictures afterwards with the star maps I found the comet was there - just!
3rd: Chesières at lunchtime. Sunset from Leysin in the evening.
4th: View from Leysin in the early afternoon. The lake at Montreux later on (and here, and here). Le Château de Chillon, with les Dents de Midi in the background. And back home in Leysin. It was warm in Montreux but I saw no butterflies, for from the train in the vineyards.
5th: Cloud brewing in the valley in early morning. It carried on rolling in and up until it obscured all the distant mountains. Despite this, the forecast was for sun on the south-facing slopes near Martigny, so Minnie and I headed off for the vineyards to look for small tortoiseshells and Queen of Spain fritillaries. A chill wind was blowing in the vineyards and in the morning, heavy cloud was constantly threatening to cover the sky (and here) - but it never did. Within minutes of arriving at my first hotspot, I had seen a small tortoiseshell and during the walk I saw a total of 10 (here, here and here are more small tortoiseshells). At first, it seemed as if it was too cold for Queens of Spain, but just before I left the first hotspot I saw the familiar flash of silver and watched a Queen disappear into the vineyards. They don't like the wind and this one clearly preferred to settle in the lee of stepped vines. Walking on, I saw another, without being able to get a photo, and then a third, which stopped briefly on the track for a picture. As we walked back, I saw a fourth Queen of Spain. Two red admirals put in an appearance as well, bringing the species total for 5th Feb to 3. As I left the site, in a now bitterly cold wind, this final small tortoiseshell paused on the sedum-covered rocks. We then returned to Leysin, where it was fully overcast and even lightly snowing.
6th: Mixed cloud and sun - but always cold. Here and here are Minnie on our afternoon walk. Leysin in the evening, with les Dents du Midi behind.
7th: Early morning, as I left for school. Bright sun all day today, though again cold.
8th: View walking back from school in the early evening. A different shot from the same place. Leo rising over Leysin in the evening.
9th: A beautiful day, though still very cold. Here is Minnie keeping up on the icy tracks. This walk took us past our out-of-town brown hairstreak stop, where I photographed several eggs (and here, and here, and here).
10th: Early evening (and here).
11th: Another trip to the valley, where it was bitterly cold but sunny. We saw at least half a dozen Queens of Spain (and here, and here) and a similar number of small tortoiseshells. Here are a pair of firebugs - lots of these about at the moment. The valley floor is now mostly free of snow (and here).
12th: Again, cold but sunny. For our afternoon walk, we took the train part-way down the hill, to walk near the vineyards above Aigle. Here is the view across the valley. As we reached Fontanney, a small tortoiseshell dashed out of the vineyards, settled briefly on a wall ahead of us, then flew off. Another small tortoiseshell appeared lower down. When we reached the valley floor, we walked north a little through the vineyards, seeing another two small tortoiseshells, before going back to the station and catching the train home.
13th: Much warmer today. In and around Leysin, small tortoiseshells were flying over any sunny bank. I stopped counting after I'd seen about 20 on my afternoon walk (from about 1260m to about 1400m). The snow has melted on south-facing tracks and slopes but is still present in the shade and where it has been pressed firm. Coltsfoot is already pushing through. Here is Minnie at a seat where we waited about half an hour to see if anything other than small tortoiseshells would fly by - nothing did - and here she is later on in the walk. This is a view of the Dents du Midi as the sun slipped behind the mountains, casting shadows in the haze.
14th: Another warm, sunny day in the mountains, though the valley was bathed in haze (here is the view from the top of Leysin) Again, small tortoiseshells flew over all sunny slopes, though nothing else did. I didn't teach until 18h00, when the sky was still light - though the setting sun was casting reddish glints on the mountains.
15th: Another warm day in Leysin, with small tortoiseshells flying over sunny slopes. Here is the Grand Chamossaire, photographed on our afternoon walk.
16th: My birthday. I couldn't get out in the morning but headed east along the Rhône Valley in the afternoon, in search of large tortoiseshells. I wasn't disappointed. When I reached my target spot - a sunny track with sallows, by a stream - I found to my delight a beautiful large tortoiseshell sunning itself on the ground, near the water. I saw another large tortoiseshell about 4km away, as we walked back to the train. Small tortoiseshells were very common throughout the afternoon - generally closing their wings soon after landing because of the warmth. A few Queen of Spain fritillaries were on the wing. In the morning, alpine choughs were enjoying grazing on the newly exposed (after the snow) surfaces around Leysin (and here).
17th: Cloudy most of the day. Exceptionally, I didn't take any pictures at all today!
18th: I had a feeling brimstones would be out in the valley today, and I was right. They were all males, and all roding without apparently stopping, so by way of proof all I have is a few point-and-shoot flight shots. I saw four individuals in total. This the kind of habitat where I saw three of them. As well as these welcome newcomers, I saw four large tortoiseshells (and here), half a dozen or more Queen of Spain fritillaries and loads of small tortoiseshells (and here, and here). Many of the tortoiseshells had apparent bites taken out of their hindwings - quite possibly as a result of attacks from the numerous lizards lying in wait around every corner!
19th: A day of mixed weather, but the odd small tortoiseshell was still on the wing around Leysin when the sun was shining.
20th: Return of warm sunshine. Plenty of small tortoiseshells were flying over sunny slopes and tracks around Leysin. Here are the Dents du Midi at sunset, and here Leysin after dark with Leo over the Grand Chamossaire.
21st: Les dents du Midi in late afternoon. I was in Villars most of the day, where plenty of small tortoiseshells were flying in the sun.
22nd: Still warm and sunny.
23rd: Beautiful cloud formations in the evening.
24th: From the train down to Villars in the late morning, I saw a brimstone flying at about 1000m. Heavy cloud had set in by the evening.
25th: It rained lightly during the night and was cool and cloudy this morning. Nevertheless, I still saw a couple of small tortoiseshells during the odd clear patch in the day.  Here are the Dents du Midi in the afternoon, bathed in cloud.
26th: The cold has returned. Light snow fell today, with strong winds later, and the temperature never rose above 0°C. I took the day off and visited the Papiliorama. Although it was more crowded than I have ever known it, I got plenty of good photos, including one species, Heliconius atthis, that I hadn't seen before. Unfortunately, I didn't get an upperside of this butterfly. Also new to me was Morpho achilles. Other species I photographed included males and females of Catonephele numilia (underside of male, underside of female), Cethosia biblis, Euploea core (and here, for a male upperside, showing the sex brand), Heliconius hecale, Heliconius hewitsoni, Papilio thoas, Consul fabius, Danaus plexippus, Hamadryas laodamia, Archeoprepona amphimachus, Hebomoia glacippe (that is a female in classic rejection posture) and  Papilio nireus. There were many more species flying around that I didn't photograph (or didn't process the photos) as I already had so many pictures of them. One Heliconius charithonius was fluttering around a passion vine as if she wanted to lay eggs, so I watched her closely - and she did. Here she is laying, and here is the freshly laid egg. On examining the vine, I found she or another had in fact laid lots of eggs over many tendrils (and here, and here). This is a caterpillar of Papilio thoas and this a brown caterpillar of Caligo eurylochus (with two more green form caterpillars snuggled up to it!) and this is the green form of the same species. Finally, here is Lyle's flying fox taking 40 winks in the canopy.
27th: Bright and sunny but bitterly cold (though the snow on the trees there came from snow machines!). Here is a view in the afternoon.
28th: Bitterly cold again. This is the view over the valley at about 17h45.

1st: The month began very cold. Here is Minnie waiting for the train in the morning - on my backpack, as the ground was so cold.
2nd: Bright sunshine today, but still very cold. Beautiful, hazy clouds hung over the valley (and here, and here). On our afternoon walk I looked for brown hairstreak eggs again (and here, and here). Lesser periwinkles are showing through around the woodland edges.
3rd: Morning view of Les Dents du Midi. Bubbling cloud in the valley later in the day.
4th: Sunshine was forecast for the Rhône Valley, so I thought the first commas and peacocks might now beon the wing. When I got there, it turned out to be very cold, but this didn’t stop small tortoiseshells, Queen of Spain fritillaries and clouded yellows flying from the very beginning of our walk. During the day, small tortoiseshells were by far the commonest species and I must have seen many dozens of individuals. Here is a male wooing (unsuccessfully) the female under the rock. Queens were the next most common. I saw in total probably four clouded yellows, as well as two large tortoiseshells (neither of which stopped for a picture). Surprisingly, no peacocks, commas or even brimstones took to the wing, but even more surprisingly, I did see two male walls (here is the other one) - much earlier than I normally see them. Finally, right at the end of the walk, and despite a rather chilly wind, I saw at least one female small white (I’m not sure if this is the same individual - I saw it about 200m away). That brings my Swiss list for the year up to 8 species. I have never before seen this number in the country by 4th March. The Potentilla foodplant for grizzled skippers is coming up thickly so this species shouldn't be too far behind. To top a good day, this red kite did a close fly-by (and here).
5th: Sun forecast for Domodossola, so we caught the 07h04 train down the mountain and headed off to Italy for the day, in the hope of nettle tree butterflies and maybe even some early Lycaenids. We arrived at Domodossola at 09h54, but it took about an hour to get to the nettle tree site because the bottom gears on my bike failed and I had to walk all the steep uphill bits! Nevertheless, we were in good time, as very little was flying by 11h00. At first, indeed, it seemed we would only see small tortoiseshells and even these were thin on the ground. But as the day hotted up plenty of other species appeared. Most importantly, the nettle tree butterflies came out to play. At this site, the nettle trees themselves are downhill (a very steep hill) on the sunny side of the track, so it’s difficult to get a shot of the upperside of a basking butterfly. Nevertheless, I did get some nice views of this one and caught a bit of the upperside of this one. Here is a rather poor underside picture, shot at great risk to personal safety! During the day I saw perhaps a dozen individuals. I also saw probably half a dozen large tortoiseshells - maybe more - but these were all swooping and gliding along the track and around the trees and I never saw one stop. Parts of the walk here are very crumbly and steep, and Minnie did well to keep on the track! By about 13h00, brimstones were frequent, though before this I saw none. I saw two commas - new for the year - and a single male orange tip, which paused briefly at mud before continuing on his way. At my Lycaenid patch (where early green hairstreaks, chequered blues and small coppers fly) there were no blues or coppers but I did see my first wall of the day there. I saw a further two or three walls later in the walk. At about 14h00 we cycled back down towards Domodossola, taking a detour to the wasteland/park by the river. Everything was very dry and the river itself was almost a trickle in a desert but we did find three small coppers (here is another individual) and a single red admiral, bringing the species total for the day to 10 and for the year so far to 12.
6th: In deep shade, there is still some snow in Leysin.
7th: Another day when I didn't take a single picture (except this very distant, fuzzy shot of a red kite over Leysin: there were half a dozen flying together and I wanted to be sure they weren't the first black kites coming in). I saw half a dozen small tortoiseshells on my afternoon walk.
8th: Snow fell last night but quickly melted today. Small tortoiseshells flew in Leysin..
9th: Despite the recent snow and low temperatures, small tortoiseshells are still flying (and here). A fox in early evening. The moon rising behind trees and cloud (and here, and here).
10th: Evening view over Leysin.
11th: More snow fell last night, but I think alternating with rain. We woke to white, but it was slushy to walk in.
12th: Rather grey and dreary first thing in the morning and although it cleared up a bit it didn't look like a butterfly Sunday. I decided to go to the eastern end of the Rhône Valley and look for dippers at a site where they are easy to photograph. By the time we got there, however, it was properly sunny (and here) and despite a cold wind butterflies were on the wing. Commonest were small tortoiseshells and brimstones (the latter never stopping any length of time for a decent photo) but there were also Queens of Spain and this single large tortoiseshell. The dippers didn't disappoint either. Here is one by the edge of the stream and here one out in the middle. This is the same individual as the last, blinking and showing the white feathers on the eyelid.
13th: Worked most of the day but had time for a short walk near Leysin in the afternoon. It was sunny and I wondered if any new species would be on the wing up here. Small tortoiseshells were still common but were now joined by lots of male brimstones - all constantly in flight. This single large tortoiseshell is my first for the year at this altitude (about 1300m). At one point a tiny pine ladybird, Exochomus quadripustulatus, landed on my hand (and here). Here is a view into the distance, showing the snow retreating up the mountains. We had a violent thunderstorm in the evening.Here is Leysin by night, lit by a wall of sheet lightning (off to the right).
14th: A grim and grey day after the storms (and here).
15th:  A beautiful morning, remaining beautiful all day. Small tortoiseshells flew.
16th:  A beautiful day, but cold. Only small tortoiseshells flew in Leysin (and here). Here is a lizard in Leysin (at about 1300m).
17th: Clusters of firebugs on a tree in Leysin (and here).
18th: Warm and sunny in the Rhône Valley, with cloud rolling in by mid-afternoon. I arrived at about 10h40 and immediately saw small tortoiseshells, large tortoiseshells, Queens of Spain, clouded yellows, brimstones, small whites, orange tips and a single Eastern Bath white. Large tortoiseshells were mostly rather worn and everything was restless and active because of the heat. Surprisingly, however, the brimstones stopped quite frequently. Here and here are two more, this time on flowers. Reaching my main site, I quickly put up a skipper but it flew straight over a hedge and I didn't see it again. It was probably a grizzled skipper. Large tortoiseshells were common, so I often saw two or three together, and Queens of Spain (and here) were very common. On one hillside, scattered with their foodplant, there were always half a dozen or so in view, drifting, occasionally settling, probably laying eggs. Here is a speckled wood. Clouded yellows were common here and I saw a single swallowtail, though it didn't settle. Moving on, I found commas, brimstones, Queens, small and large tortoiseshells, orange tips and whites flying around sallow near a small stream. Here is my first green-veined white of the year. There were no Camberwell beauties on the wing yet, nor holly blues, surprisingly. As I walked back again, my first green hairstreak of the year motored past me without stopping. The bushes are still bare and there were no obvious places for green hairstreaks to set up territories. Shortly after this, I spotted an Eastern Bath white briefly at rest. Continuing the walk back towards the station, I next spotted a couple of walls and not long after that a peacock, my first of this species for the year. Here is a lizard, looking well fed  - perhaps on the many butterflies that have been flying this year (a lot of butterflies have chunks out of their wings ...). The full list for the day: Swallowtail, small white, green-veined white, Eastern Bath white, orange tip, clouded yellow, brimstone, green hairstreak, small tortoiseshell, peacock, large tortoiseshell, comma, Queen of Spain, wall, speckled wood. 15 species - not bad for 18th March! Finally, if you have a 3D viewer, here is a side-by-side 3D shot of Minnie by the Rhône. If you haven't got a 3D viewer, it's just two photos of her!
19th: A grey day with some rain.
20th: Minnie studiously ignoring a curious kitten.
21st: The many small tortoiseshells still flying around Leysin were joined today by a peacock.
22nd: A warm, sunny day in the mountains. Here is the first Queen of Spain I've seen at altitude this year (in Leysin, at about 1300m).
23rd: Much cooler today, and overcast (and here).
24th: Overcast again, with plenty of rain for most of the day.
25th: Rain and snow sweeping along the valley. Here is Leysin by night.
26th: High winds and snow during the day, clearing to blue skies by late afternoon.
27th: Back to winter in Leysin! Here is Minnie on her afternoon walk around the block.
28th: Red-crested pochards on the lake. Here is a male and here a happy couple. Here is one with a goosander - both preening on a rocky spit.
29th: Precipitation sweeping along the valley.
(Initially, pictures will be the few I had time to process while in Málaga. I might add more later)
Flew to Málaga on an early flight, though arriving later than scheduled. I checked in to my hostal at 14h00, then headed out to see if the desert orange tips were flying. On the way, I noted that there were no butterflies in Málaga! I didn’t see a single butterfly on the flowers in town, where there are usually Lang’s short-tailed blues in profusion, and on the way to the desert orange tip site I saw only a couple of large whites. At the site, the old caper plants were all dead but there was new growth. At first, I saw no butterflies there, but just as I concluded the orange tips weren’t flying I put one up. It landed shortly but my eye was distracted by a small white and I lost it. Seeing no more in half an hour, I decided to head out along the river. There, tragically, they have completely dug up and resurfaced the track where I see African grass blues and monarchs. All the old plants have gone and new ones have been put in. It wasn’t possible to walk along the track itself, because they are still working there, but I could see there are no butterflies. Most sadly, perhaps, I saw no monarchs. The grass blues actually breed in the river bed, and were probably still there, but monarchs are very conspicuous and I saw none. Continuing beyond the town into rough land in the foothills, I finally found a few butterflies: a single geranium bronze, a single black-eyed blue, painted ladies, several Spanish festoons, a single Spanish marbled white and lots of Bath whites, as well as small whites. I expect to see much more in the hills tomorrow…

1st: Out before 08h00 and up into the local hills. Because there is nothing to see along the river any more, I got there early and almost nothing was flying. I saw a few Spanish festoons and black-eyed blues on the way up, as well as western dappled whites, but really very little. There was nothing at my usual hilltopping sites either, so I kept going and little by little things began to fly. At my furthest hilltopping site, Spanish marbled whites (and here, and here), walls, green-striped whites (and here), swallowtails and large whites all came out to play. As I walked back again, more and more came onto the wing. There were Provence orange tips drifting along dried river beds meeting Cleopatras going the other way. There were lots of black-eyed blues now, and eventually a single Lang’s short-tailed blue. Here is a small heath, subspecies lyllus - even now, in first brood, looking clearly like lyllus. Returning by my first hilltopping sites there were now Iberian scarce swallowtails (and here) and swallowtails, as well as Spanish marbled whites, western dappled whites, green-striped whites and walls. At one point, I saw a red admiral intent on feeding on something in a holm oak. Finally, just before I came down the hill, a single male two-tailed pasha appeared. I thought he would fly off as quickly as he had come, but he didn’t. He posed on the ground for me, then on my backpack (and here), then on a rock. I left him there, surveying his world, when I came down the hill.
2nd: Benalmádena. Began by going down a track where skippers and blues fly in summer. Little flying yet, as it was still early, but I did see a couple of Lang’s short-tailed blues, as well as Spanish festoon, speckled wood, Cleopatra, Provence orange tip, large and small whites and copper demoiselles (and here, a male). Heading on to another skipper site, I found my first African grass blue of the holiday but nothing else as the site itself was still in shade. In the hills, small coppers, speckled woods, Spanish festoons, black-eyed blues, painted ladies, red admirals and my first green hairstreak of the trip were all flying. Here is the beer stop, where the green hairstreak was, and here a view to the sea from the same place. I was able to photograph this female Provence orange tip. Returning to the first track, I photographed another geranium bronze before heading home.
3rd: Went to Antequera for false baton blues and Lorquin’s blues. Both were flying, the former in very good numbers. I watched female false baton blues (and here, an underside) make as if to lay on this plant, though I didn’t find any eggs. I believe it is Cleonia lusitanica. They are really tiny blues and so restless they are very difficult to photograph! Here is another male and here a female. Lots of western dappled whites and green striped whites (and here) around, as well as a few Provence orange tips and Cleopatras. Spanish festoons were common. I also saw my first Provence hairstreaks of the year (and here), at the same site as the false batons. Other blues flying were southern brown argus, black-eyed blue, Austaut’s blue (Polyommatus celina) and Adonis blue. I found my first skippers of the year - a single each of false mallow skipper and southern grizzled skipper. Plenty of clouded yellows and a few painted ladies cruising through. Locally, there were walls.
4th: Hazy cloud and very few butterflies. I walked up and east of Málaga looking for places where sooty orange tip might fly. I did indeed find plenty of suitable-looking sites - flower hillside with plenty of crucifers - but even so it will be a matter of luck if the butterfly actually flies on them. Because of the haze, I saw no butterflies at all until a western dappled white at 11h00, then no more until 12h00, when a painted lady put up. During the afternoon I saw a few more painted ladies, a single Spanish festoon, another western dappled white, a green-striped white, a small copper, several walls and half a dozen black-eyed blues. A soldier bug landed on my solar charger and I spotted a booted eagle in the distance.
5th: Same walk as yesterday. No sooty orange tips but quite a few butterflies, including my first long-tailed blues of the year (and here) - about half a dozen near the top, hilltopping. Lots of black-eyed blues and Spanish festoons, a single (possible) Adonis blue, locally quite a few Spanish marbled whites and some small heaths. Green-striped whites and western dappled whites were common, and I saw a female of the latter laying eggs. Here is one of them. Other species were Provence orange tip, large and small whites, wall, painted lady, red admiral and small copper. I watched red-rumped swallows skimming for insects beside an old ruin where capers grew (but no desert orange tips) and was visited by this hoopoe (and here) as I drank my beer there. Here is a gecko (and here) and here a stripy wall lizard (to be identified).
6th: Got up early and headed to Gibraltar for the day. After spending a little time in town, revisiting places from my youth, I then climbed the Mediterranean steps. It was very sunny but also very windy and most things were keeping low. Nevertheless, I watched this female Cleopatra making as if to lay, before we were disturbed by a walker descending the track. Here is the same Cleopatra on the ground. Spanish festoon were about in good numbers, as were Provence orange tip and speckled wood. At the top, I photographed this Provence orange tip, then almost immediately saw two Euchloe, that I took to be Portuguese dappled whites. There were a lot of people and I soon lost them. Later, though, I spotted a single one settle and got a quick shot before more people disturbed that. My first life tick of 2023! Back in town, after failing to find monarchs in the botanic gardens, I saw a single in the Trafalgar cemetery. It flew past me before landing in an orange tree and staying there. That was it - I had to get back to La Linea for the bus home to Málaga.
7th: Began in Benalmádena, where little was flying in the morning. I did see swallowtails, Spanish festoons and Provence orange tips, but no more African grass blues. Then I took the cable car into the chalk hills above Benalmádena, to see if I could find Portuguese dappled whites up there. It is possible I did, but none of them stopped flying! I found some very suitable slopes with spotty (not stripy) Euchloe flying up and down them (rather sparsely - they certainly weren’t common) but was only able to get one flight photo - not good enough for ID. On my way back down the hill, through the scrub, I found and photographed western dappled white - but there the terrain was very different. Species of the day was green hairstreak, which was flying commonly near the top and by the dozen near the bottom. I was putting up threes and fours at a time. Other species for the day included Cleopatra, wall, lots more Provence orange tips, lots more Spanish festoons and some small whites. This is an ocellated lizard (and here) and this is an Iberian wall lizard.
8th: Caught the 06h25 plane to Geneva, arriving home in time to go down to the valley again and pick Minnie up.
9th: Worked in morning then went along the Rhône Valley in the afternoon to see if southern grizzled skippers and rosy grizzled skippers were flying yet. Not really, is the answer. I saw just one southern grizzled skipper (though this is not an early site) and no rosies. There were a few dingy skippers, though. The first wood whites and Glanville fritillaries were on the wing (just a few of each) and I saw at least four Camberwell beauties (and here) on one of their regular patches. A few Berger’s clouded yellows were drifting over the hills and I saw at least three large walls - my first of both these species for the year. I also saw three large tortoiseshells, lots of commas and a few speckled woods. I was surprised not to see any green-underside blues or violet fritillaries, but I actually had little time and didn’t visit their hotspots. About three large tortoiseshells put up in familiar places and as I turned home a single scarce swallowtail became my 52nd species for the year. Here is a distant golden eagle, which was being mobbed by a buzzard, and here is a hoopoe, set against the snowy mountains! Why go to Spain when you can see hoopoes in your back yard? I saw one small lycaenid which I took at the time to be a northern brown argus but which is clearly either a common blue or a Chapman's blue. It was at a northern brown argus spot, but the photo shows it is clearly not that.
10th: Return of cloud and cold. Despite this, a few brave small tortoiseshells were on the wing during our afternoon walk near Leysin and I even saw a single large tortoiseshell fly past.
11th: Heavy cloud and quite a lot of rain today.
12th: Another day of rain and cloud. Here is an evening view in Leysin.
13: Snow overnight - and snow continued to fall intermittently throughout the day. The temperature never reached above 2°C and no butterflies flew, but at least two hummingbird hawkmoths were on the wing during our afternoon walk. Several kestrels were hovering over the fields and sitting on telegraph poles.
14th: Another cold and snowy day.
15th: Snow and cloud all day.
16th: Another cold and cloudy day. Here is a red kite quartering over Leysin (and here).
17th: I had to work in the afternoon but found time in the morning for a quick trip to the Rhône Valley. There, surprisingly little was flying - and most surprisingly, no there were no chequered blues or grizzled skippers. What I did see, in order: Orange tips were common - mostly males but some females; female brimstones were also common, outnumbering males; next, there were a few small tortoiseshells - maybe half a dozen in total; a single green-underside blue was my first of that species for the year - it stopped just long enough for this shot; Berger’s clouded yellows were about but not yet numerous; clouded yellows were the commonest species of the day - here is an egg laid on Vicia tenuifolia (and here); a single common blue was my only individual of that species; walls were almost as common as clouded yellows; although I saw no grizzlies, I did see three mallow skippers (and here) during the walk; a single red admiral flew by at one point; a single wood white in flight was my only sighting of that species; two large tortoiseshells - the second showing a great interest in may (hawthorn) flowers, though without landing on them; during the walk I saw two fresh Glanville fritillaries; my last new species for the year was southern small white - this single male. When I arrived at the site it was early and I wasn’t so surprised to see little. But by the time I left it was warm and I am amazed there were no chequered blues. My earliest for the site is 14th March and the normal big emergence is mid-April. Here and here are a couple of photos from our evening walk.
18th: A cold but sunny day. Here and here are the morning sky. I worked in Villars all day: here is Minnie on her lunchtime walk in Chesières.
19th: Empty streets on our evening walk around Leysin (and here).
20th: The Grand Chamossaire floating through cloud. Dense cloud covered the valley but it was sometimes clear up in the mountains.
21st: Clear in the morning, degrading later.
22nd: A cloudy day with some rain and snow.
23rd: It was partially clear in the morning, so Minnie and I headed up into the hills above Leysin to see how some of the butterfly areas are progressing. Here is Minnie following in my footsteps across a patch of meadow where Glanville, heath and marsh fritillaries were flying on 20th May last year. Crocuses were just coming through where grizzled skippers and Dukes of Burgundy were flying on the same day. Minnie seemed full of beans, so we headed on up into the snow. Here is a nutcracker (and here) and here a ring ouzel singing from his perch on an island of trees in the snow. When we reached the little village of Berneuse, bad weather was looming so we headed back down by another route. As we descended we lost the blue skies altogether, but to my surprise a small tortoiseshell was flying half way back down. This is the context. I didn't approach any closer so as not to disturb it. Lower down, while it was still 100% cloud, we saw another small tortoiseshell.
24th: My camera got wet today (submerged by accident) and by the time I noticed, it was no longer functioning. I am drying it thoroughly but I think it won't work again and so have ordered a new one.
25th: The camera turns on but malfunctions, so I think it good I ordered a new one. Fortunately, no butterflies today! In fact, it was snowy when I got up and continued snowing much of the day. This is the view outside the window while I was teaching (in Chesières).
26th: I found a slightly crumply harlequin ladybird on the platform at Aigle station today. I only had my iPhone so took a quick shot for ID purposes (it is a form of spectabilis, with intact red spots, I hadn't seen before) then moved it to safety. My butterfly camera still doesn't function properly.
27th: A cool but quite sunny day in the mountains. It almost looks springlike (and here)! My camera is fully dried out but won't work, even after resetting, so I went out with an old camera. The only species flying in the morning were orange tip and brimstone, though on our afternoon walk around the Suchet (one of the wooded, Leysin hills) I also saw a comma.
28th: It was bright in the morning - enough for me to see my first holly blue fluttering around ivy in Aigle, on my way to Villars. But then back to miserable weather in the afternoon - cloud in the early evening becoming heavy rain by night.
29th: Pouring with rain in the morning. There was no point in going anywhere so I decided to attach my brown hairstreak eggs to the blackthorn on my balcony, which is now coming into leaf (though it has had few flowers). I have six eggs in total, which have been sitting in the fridge since last year. Here and here are two of them in their new situation.
30th: A wet day. Here is our evening walk in the rain.

1st: Still very grim weather!
2nd: By the evening the clouds cleared and it looked set for fine weather to come.
3rd: A beautiful morning, leading to a beautiful day. I was teaching all day so couldn't take advantage of it but the beans on the balcony grew several centimetres and I think some of my brown hairstreak eggs look nearer to hatching ... They are in the shade on my balcony and photos are difficult, but this one seems to show a black head inside.
4th: Another beautiful day, and I didn't have to teach until the afternoon. So I got down to the valley early to see what the Iolas blue site looked like. I fear it won't be an Iolas blue site for many more years, as it is increasingly overgrown with bushes and there are few suitable bladder sennas left. But there are some, and I saw the species there last year on a trip to Switzerland. They are not in flower yet, though, so I suspect it will be a late year for the butterfly. In fact, I saw very little altogether - almost nothing was flying. There were a few common blues, a single probable Adonis blue, a single holly blue, a number of dingy skippers (and here), a few small, green-veined and wood whites, a brimstone or two, a few Berger's clouded yellows and a few walls. But it should be brimming with butterflies in early May, especially on such a lovely day. We then moved back to a site closer to Martigny, in the hope of seeing chequered blues. In the end, we did see some - three in total - but they were conspicuously absent from most of their normal places. I hope they are just very late, not declining drastically. Here and here are a couple of snatched photos of a female (from some distance and with my new camera, which I haven't fully mastered yet!). There were also quite a few Glanville fritillaries at this site and a very few grizzled skippers (malvoides), but altogether very little indeed. A few common blues were flying and I saw a single green-underside blue too. There were Queens of Spain at both sites and I had a tantalising glimpse into the sun of what looked like a cardinal, but I can't rule out some other large butterfly like large tortoiseshell. I have no doubt I'll see cardinals before long! Here is the moon rising tonight. Tomorrow is full moon, and a penumbral lunar eclipse, but it's not likely the weather will be so good ...
5th: Although it looked at times today as though it might clear for the penumbral eclipse to be visible as the moon rose above the mountains, it never happened. Here is the ridge where the moon was to rise, earlier in the evening.
6th: I had the morning free, so revisited my old haunts near Villars. I was hoping to find purple emperor caterpillars, which are easiest to find at this time of year. Sadly, I couldn't locate any. Many of the sallows where I used to find them were overshadowed by other trees or even dead, and I suspect eggs are now laid in different sites from where I used to find them. There are still lots of sallows around and I have no doubt the butterflies are still there. That said, butterflies were very scarce today altogether, despite excellent weather. I had expected to see plenty of skippers, including grizzled skipper (in the valley, southern grizzled skipper, malvoides, flies, but in the Vaud mountains it is malvae) but in the event saw none. I was pleased to see a few pearl-bordered fritillaries (and here) and violet fritillaries (and here), but both these were much scarcer than I expected and I only saw one fritillary over a meadow (at a distance - probably meadow fritillary). I did see a single Camberwell beauty in the woods - probably a female as there was no territorial behaviour. Other species included orange tip, wood white, wall, comma and large white. This is a very late year. As we left the woods I spotted this male lizard biting a female lizard (and here). The two were absolutely stationary - no reaction from the female - but when Minnie walked past they scuttled off together. I believe it is the male's idea of seduction - holding onto the female until she gives in - but I could be mistaken.
7th: We awoke to heavy rain but there were periods of sun during the day. In the morning, while I was taking out the recycling, a scarce swallowtail appeared on the drive near my house. I didn't have my camera with me but took a quick proof shot with my iPhone. I was surprised to see this species so high, so early. Our afternoon walk was mostly in cloud, with rain at the end, but I did see this wall on the Suchet.
8th: Some brightness in the morning, leading to heavy rain by the afternoon.
9th: Mostly cloud today, leading to rain in the afternoon, but a few butterflies managed to fly whenever a little hazy sun got through. On our late-morning walk I saw several orange tips and found this egg on the first garlic mustard I checked. Small whites and one or two wood whites were flying over the meadows and I came across this single dingy skipper flying bravely despite the fact there was no sun at the time. This meadow brown caterpillar (and here) was crossing the path incredibly slowly, so I moved it to the other side. A couple of green hairstreaks were flying close to the ground. This one at least was a female, laying eggs on bird's foot trefoil. Finally, here is a perky bullfinch, who was with a female apparently collecting stuff for their nest. The bought blackthorn on my balcony is in full leaf but the brown hairstreak eggs (and here) are not hatching yet. The wild blackthorns are only just in flower and the eggs there are also unhatched. Here is the view over the valley in the evening.
10th: Cloudy and wet all day. Here's the little funicular from Aigle heading up to Feydey.
11th: Another wet day. Here's Minnie in the pub in the evening, doing her rounds. There were others in the pub, but they were all at the bar or playing pool in the other room!
12th: Yet another wet day. It did seem to clear up in the early afternoon, so Minnie and I set off to check out the meadows, but it soon turned to rain again and we headed home. Before turning back, we checked the wild brown hairstreak eggs. This one was hatched, but there were no leaves on its twig and I suspect it was one of last year's eggs. None of the other eggs were hatched and the blackthorn was in bloom but not leaf. Checking where the green hairstreak had been laying the other day, I found this unidentified moth caterpillar (and here).
13th: Cloud and rain ... As I was passing through Aigle station in late morning, it did clear and even felt warm - and a small white flew by the verge. But by the time I reached Leysin again in the early afternoon it was pouring.
14th:: Rain and cloud.
15th: Rain and cloud again ... As I nipped to the Co-Op between lessons, the cows arrived in town ...
16th: Another cloudy and wet day, even though a few clearings in the cloud occasionally let the sun through.
17th: I had free time today, and for the first day in a long time no rain was forecast. I intended to go up to my violet copper sites at 1700m-1800m but half way through the journey learnt that the trains up the mountain were not running today because of works. So instead I looked for purple emperor and white admiral caterpillars near Villars. Although there is masses and masses of sallow still, I couldn't find a single purple emperor caterpillar. I can only think that with the slow but inevitable shift in conditions in the woods, the females are laying on different trees from before. I might have to look for eggs in July - the easiest stage to find. Nor, at first, did I find any white admiral caterpillars. But I might have been looking for the wrong thing, as I was expecting 4th instar caterpillars - green and reasonably big. Instead, I found a single 3rd instar caterpillar - tiny (about 5mm) and brown. Despite the very overcast weather it didn't rain and I saw a single painted lady, as well as a single male orange tip, both desperately trying to make the most of a bad job. Here is a black-and-red shieldbug, Cercopis vulnerata, and here a very distant buzzard hovering into the wind, as they sometimes do here.
18th: It was partly bright today (and here), though mostly cloudy. On a walk round le Suchet and in the woods below, I saw no butterflies at all until suddenly the sun came out and a male brimstone flew. I then saw a further two different individuals (here and here). A single small tortoiseshell put in an appearance nearer to home but that was it. Quite extraordinary for late May!
19th: Heavy cloud again ...
20th: There was some sun in the morning, when I visited Chesières for work, but it clouded over again by the afternoon. Recently I have been watching some of the local elms come into leaf and decided to visit a nearby one after dark tonight to look for white-letter hairstreak caterpillars. I hadn't seen any leaf damage in the daytime but the tree looked perfect and I felt sure they must be there. At first, I found none, though most of the branches are very high and it was only dusk, not really night. Then I spotted the characteristic UV glow on a lower twig. It was a third instar white-letter hairstreak caterpillar moving between flowers - it hadn't yet eaten any of the leaves around. This is a contextual shot, while this photo shows the little person from closer up. It can be seen he still has a small amount of pink.
21st: The forecast was for partial sun, especially in the morning, so Minnie and I headed up the hill to see how things were progressing. I did exactly the same walk on 22nd May last year when I flew out to Leysin for some presentations. My report for that day is here for comparison. At about 10h30 I arrived at the site where I saw Duke of Burgundy, various fritillaries and grizzled and alpine grizzled skipper last year. Very little indeed was flying: a single grizzled skipper (my first malvae, rather than malvoides, of the year) and a single green hairstreak, which I put up as I left. On the way to the site I saw a single small heath and a single small tortoiseshell. At this stage it was still mostly cloudy, so we headed on up, intending to come back the same way if the weather improved. Here, here and here are some piccies from higher up the mountain. At altitude, there were a few small tortoiseshells and as the day heated up a little, quite a few green hairstreaks. I photographed that one at about 1770m. Nothing else was flying. Returning to the lower site (c. 1600m) I found conditions had improved and now lots of green hairstreaks (and here) were flying there. This was the commonest butterfly of the day - they were actually so numerous that twice I heard the sound of their wings clapping as clusters of 3 and 4 flew past my ears. I also saw a few small tortoiseshells, a single orange tip, a single Queen of Spain and a single Berger's clouded yellow. I waited about half an hour there but nothing else flew. Returning down the mountain I found a patch of meadow where at least half a dozen (probably more) violet fritillaries were flying and saw a couple more small heaths and a single swalllowtail. Finally, as I re-entered Leysin, I spotted first a single common blue, then a single large white. For a warmish day in late May, this was all a very poor showing, especially considering what was flying here this time last year! I hope spring proper can now begin!
22nd: Finally, a beautifully sunny day! I had business in Aigle first thing in the morning, then took Minnie for a short walk before teaching in the afternoon. Little was flying by the roadside on our walk but I did see this first sooty copper of the year. After teaching I took Minnie for another short walk then headed up for the Leysin American School graduation. It was a beautiful day for this, though admittedly, by the time I left it had started raining again!
23rd: The day began sunny and on a longish morning walk around Leysin I found a few butterflies: fresh small tortoiseshells (the offspring of the hibernators), orange tips, small heaths and sooty coppers. Things are still very subdued, though. In the afternoon it clouded over and began raining before 15h30.
24th: Cloudy all day (and here).
25th: A much better day weatherwise (and here), with the promise of still better to come!
26th: A beautiful day forecast, so I headed up to the violet copper sites that I had missed recently because the train wasn't running. It turned out the train wasn't running again today, but we decided to walk it instead (and here), expecting to see lots of butterflies on the way up (from 1250m to 1800m). Amazingly, although it was sunny and hot, we saw almost nothing on the way up: two or three small tortoiseshells, a couple of whites and a Queen of Spain. Heading across and down to our main, wetland, violet copper sites, we continued to see very little. Green hairstreaks (and here) were the only common butterfly apart from small tortoiseshells. I was amazed to see what looked at first glance like a largish Erebia, but which turned out to be a northern wall. I saw probably three of these in total. There were also a couple of clouded yellows. At what is usually my best copper site, a single dingy skipper and three violet coppers were all there was (apart from green hairstreaks and small tortoiseshells). This was quite remarkable: in late May there should be butterflies everywhere up here! Climbing back up through what are normally good violet copper sites we saw no more, until we reached a much more accessible site at about 1800m where there were a few more. This awful shot shows the highest I saw, at just over 1800mUp here I also saw my first little blue of the year and possibly a clouded Apollo, though this was at a distance and I can't rule out either large white or black-veined white. Here is a marmot, shot from a very long distance! This is the view without zoom, showing where the marmot is.
27th: Began at what has alway been my top Iolas blue site. though it is greatly degraded from when I discovered it in 2004. Soon after arriving, a single male bounced through without stopping, but that was the only one I saw. There is hardly any bladder senna there now. In fact, there were very few butterflies at all here, even at a neighbouring, flowery site where there are normally loads of cardinals. I saw a single female cardinal rather briefly as she flew through. Also red-underwing skipper, Adonis blue, common blue, holly blue, green-underside blue and Provençal short-tailed blue. Quite a few walls and the odd Berger’s, as well as a single female spotted fritillary. I left before 13h00 to get to the other end of the Rhône Valley and look for de Prunner’s ringlet and Provençal fritillary. I found none of the former, but eventually four or five of the latter - all fresh males. Here is one, in a rare moment when it settled. Again, there was very little flying, but as the afternoon wore on I picked more things up. Lots of Camberwell beauties - if not the commonest then certainly the most conspicuous butterfly. And at least 4 southern white admirals (and here, a different individual), vigorously defending their territories. At one point I watched a southern white admiral and a Camberwell beauty in heated battle. Here and here are cropped frames from an iPhone video I took of them as they zoomed around. The admiral always won but the beauty kept coming back and they would set off again. Strangely, it was always the admiral who left his post to deal with the beauty, but it was always the beauty chasing the admiral when I looked at the film. Other species at this site included wood white, common blue, green hairstreak, southern grizzled skipper, Apollo (two or three seen in flight only), scarce swallowtail, clouded yellow, Berger’s clouded yellow, black-veined white and speckled wood. A single brimstone flew past while I was photographing southern white admirals.
28th: We set off this morning for dappled whites in Valais. This is a low, early site, so we weren't looking for other mountain species. The foodplant (Erucastrum nasturtiifolium) grows commonly by the road here and the butterflies are usually quite accessible at the roadside, but today there was so much mountain traffic, including hundreds of motorbikes, it was difficult to manage Minnie and approach the few males roding the area. I got a first, proof shot on some foodplant comfortably off the road, where a male stopped briefly, but later (after a trip to some nearby meadows) headed up a bouldered gulley where I didn't have to worry about Minnie getting run over. It was tough going for her and there was no shade at all, so I positioned my bags to cast a shadow and stood over her at a suitable vantage point where I could survey the Erucastrum. This is the general scene here, with lots of fresh landslip and newly exposed earth. The foodplant grows sparsely all over the surfaces, seemingly out of the rock, and today one or two mountain dappled whites were constantly drifting up and down the gulley, checking the plants for females. They very rarely stopped, and never stopped on the plant I had positioned myself by! But thanks to the superzoom, I was able to get very distant shots of recognisable butterflies. Here and here are two of them, and here the view up the slope to where they were nectaring, some 30m away. Also drifting up and down the gulley were wood whites - easily distinguised in flight by their slower wingbeats and gentler flight. Our meadow stop between the simplonia episodes was gentler, though it was a long walk uphill for Minnie. Here she is resting in the shade while I look for butterflies. There were no Dukes, unfortunately, nor Osiris blue, which normally flies there. As ever this year, there were in fact very few butterflies and I think it is just too early. I did see a couple of Mazarine blues and there were plenty of Glanville fritillaries around, as well as small heaths. Other butterflies seen during the day were: southern white admiral (a single, at the lower end of the simplonia road), wall (common), red admiral, small tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain, a single larger fritillary seen once in flight - probably niobe - small white, large white, orange tip, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, Adonis blue, common blue and green hairstreak.
29th: A mostly sunny day but with some rain. I worked much of the day and didn't get out butterflying.
30th: Visited three sites near Geneva, with main targets black hairstreak, large copper and Reverdin’s blue. At the first site, black hairstreaks were out in good numbers (and here), but only males so far as I could see. They were sparring and searching for females and occasionally stopping on blackthorn leaves (or occasionally leaves of other trees, like hazel) to sun or take honeydew. At this site, the privet wasn’t out yet so there wasn’t any nectaring. Amazingly for this site, no marbled whites or meadow browns were on the wing yet. The only other butterflies I saw were brimstones, small heaths, Adonis and common blues, and some speckled woods in the shady spots. Normally here there are heath, glanville and knapweed fritillaries, but there were none. Nevertheless, I was very happy with the black hairstreaks and soon moved on to the next site - normally the most reliable for large coppers. Despite spending plenty of time at the normal male playground, and a little at the female laying site (I couldn’t spend long there because of the horses in the field, which kept following Minnie!), I found no large coppers. I did find a single small copper, a few meadow browns and lots of Glanville and knapweed fritillaries. I think there were also heath fritillaries, but none stopped for confirmation. At this site there were a few common blues and this female blue, which I think is probably green-underside but really don’t know. Other species here included Berger’s clouded yellow, speckled wood and black-veined white. Moving on to my third site, still no large copper. I was rewarded with a single Reverdin’s blue and two Oberthür’s grizzled skippers, my first for the year. There were also a few rather tatty brown arguses - another first for the year. Lots of dragonflies were on the wing, including brown hawkers, black-tailed skimmers (and here), four-spotted chasers, golden ringed (never stopped - bidentatus also flies here), emperors, western clubtails (Gomphus pulchellus), and for the damsels, beautiful demoiselle, azure damselfly and white-legged damselfly.
31st: On an afternoon walk in Leysin I found this 4th instar white-letter hairstreak caterpillar. Returning after dark, I relocated that one and found a second, on a different tree. Little else was flying. Here is a green hairstreak and here a mazarine blue.

1st: I had various administrative things to do early in the day and didn't get a chance to give Minnie a proper butterfly walk until the afternoon. We decided to go up the local mountain, for Dukes of Burgundy, marsh fritillaries and alpine grizzled skippers, but almost exactly when we reached the site the sun went in and never returned. There were a fair few little blues still on the wing, despite the cloud, and a single grizzled skipper. A couple of Berger's clouded yellows and a single orange tip flew through, and I saw violet fritillaries and small heaths on the way up, when there was still some sun. This northern brown argus was the first of that species for the year, and a few common blues and Adonis blues were struggling to fly as well. But on the whole it was grey and butterfly-free. This little blue, diving for deep cover, sums it up ...
2nd: A friend drove up from Grenoble this morning in the hope of seeing Iolas blues. I knew they were on the wing, as I saw one on 27th May, but the site is now so overgrown I couldn't be sure we would have success. He picked me up from Martigny at 08h09 and we reached the site before 08h30. For a long while it seemed we would be disappointed. Very little was flying at all: the odd cardinal and spotted fritillary, a few Adonis blues, turquoise blues, green-underside blues, holly blues and red-underwing skippers. Then shortly after 10h00 the first male Iolas blue bounced in. Most of the good bladder senna is now rather inaccessible but I got this record shot through the foliage, confirming it was indeed an Iolas blue. Over the next hour we saw either several more or the same one coming round again several times, and although there were no good photo opportunities it was very good to see the butterfly. This is the only other shot I took, on the wrong site of a bladder senna bush. Mission accomplished, we then moved farther up the Rhône Valley to look for Provençal fritillary and Swiss Zephyr blue. The latter wasn't flying, but the former was out in good numbers. Here is a mating pair, and here my friend photographing them. This shot shows the context. New for the year at this site were (southern) heath fritillary (Melitaea nevadensis), marbled white, de Prunner's ringlet and large skipper. Southern white admirals were out in good numbers, and although I didn't photograph any, my friend took a lot of shots of one that landed on my shoulder, which I will post when he sends them to me! EDIT: Here it is! We saw two Camberwell beauties, both in rather poor repair - unsurprising at the beginning of June. Other species at this site included safflower skipper, southern grizzled skipper, red admiral, glanville fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, (probable) southern small white, black-veined white, scarce swallowtail, Apollo, small copper, common blue, Adonis blue, green-underside blue, holly blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, wall and speckled wood. We then moved on to a final site before my friend headed back to Grenoble. Here, I had hoped to see rosy grizzled skippers, which I haven't yet seen this year. There were none, though safflower skippers were flying. There were a fair few southern white admirals gliding around and generally more butterflies, though still pitifully few compared with normal years. Mazarine blues were flying - something we hadn't seen elsewhere today. Here is a white-legged damselfly, and here a female common blue damselfly munching a fly (and here, in close-up). Clouds were building up as we drove back to Martigny and it began raining before I got back home, building up to thunder storms in the evening.
3rd: A beautiful morning. When we set out on our afternoon walk it was fine weather too, but clouds were brewing. Here is Minnie waiting at La Roulaz station for the train back up the hill (and here): by the time we reached Leysin again the storm had begun.
4th: Again, a day of two halves. In the morning, we headed to my old hunting-grounds near Gryon, hoping for woodland ringlet, Duke of Burgundy, meadow fritillary and Osiris blue. The meadows were lush and beautiful, with abundant flowers (including Paradisea liliastrum), yet hardly any butterflies were on the wing. Adonis blues were perhaps the commonest, with meadow fritillary (and here) a close second, as well as the odd small heath, red-underwing skipper, grizzled skipper and green-veined whites appearing off and on as singles. Initially, I found no Dukes at all, though I went to what used to be my top spot. Then, returning, I stumbled across a single male in long grass and flowers. Shortly after, I spotted what I thought was a second, but I think is probably the first one again, which had disappeared from where I first saw it. There were no woodland ringlets. I took a short walk in the woods, in case I should encounter a poplar admiral (which I have twice seen here) but instead saw only speckled woods. Finally, I headed back up to Barboleuse to check the Osiris blue sites. There, the sainfoin was not quite yet in flower, and no butterflies were flying. In the past, at the end of May, the patch has been host to silver-studded blues and Osiris blues, but the sainfoin has been in full flower. I will return! We headed home after this, arriving in Leysing just as the storms broke (again)!
5th: I had to be in Lausanne in the morning, so continued to a site near Yverdon-les-Bains, arriving there in the early afternoon. This is a site where black, ilex and sloe hairstreak all fly, though I only really expected to see black today. In fact, I think the first hairstreak I saw was probably purple, but it was silhouetted against the sky in flight. It flew out of blackthorn and around oak, briefly landing on the oak. It looked too big for black hairstreak. Shortly afterwards, a real black hairstreak - a female - flew out of the same blackthorn and landed on the same oak! This was the first of probably three females I saw. Here and here are two more. New for the year was pearly heath, which was common all over the site. This one took a taste to my sweat. Other species on the wing were Adonis blue, small tortoiseshell, small heath, meadow brown and marbled white.
6th: Up early, and on the 07h00 to Geneva, from where I cycled to one of my favourite poplar admiral sites, arriving at about 10h00. For the first hour, I saw almost no butterflies: to be exact, I saw a single white admiral and a single wood white. But from 11h00, as the day warmed up, a little more came onto the wing. White admirals were the commonest butterfly, though they were only in ones and twos at a time, not the twenties and thirties I am used to at this site. These two seem to be feeding on a dead frog. More commonly, they were taking minerals at horse dung, damp ground, moss or concrete (and here). This one (and here) seemed to be finding nutrients in bark. Here is one of the few who seemed to be thinking territorially! Speckled woods and woodland browns were reasonably common, and as the day really heated up, black-veined whites, meadow browns, small heaths, small tortoiseshells, common blues and brimstones all came out to play. I saw a single black hairstreak along a Prunus ride with lots of aspen (I was looking for poplar admiral) and a single red admiral. This site is exceptional for both purple emperor and lesser purple emperor. Neither was on the wing today. I didn’t see any poplar admiral either. Weather permitting, I’ll come back in a week and see how things have changed.
7th: Visited a local site for cranberry fritillaries, not to see them, because they obviously won't be on the wing, but to see what the site was like now. I was very happy to find it was in perfect nick, abounding in myrtle and seemingly undisturbed. Even though the weather was most often cloudy (and rained before I left), I quickly spotted this female violet copper (and here) and in the region as a whole saw several Dukes of Burgundy. This is most probably a mountain green-veined white (and here) but until I see a female I can't say for certain. I also saw a probably moorland clouded yellow in the distance (I know they fly there), but not so well as to rule out Berger's clouded yellow. Other species flying when the weather permitted were dingy skipper, little blue, common blue, small tortoiseshell, painted lady, red admiral, small heath, meadow brown, small white, wood white and grizzled skipper. Out of interest, I used AI to remove the grass from that last grizzled skipper shot. It took under a minute and the result - not perfect but good - is this.
8th: Stayed in Leysin today. It was sunny but beginning to cloud over when we took our afternoon walk and little was on the wing: speckled wood, common blue, small heath, comma and I think possibly my first silver-studded blues of the year, but both were in a hay field where I couldn't venture. Here is a lizard, caught in a sunny moment. In the evening I went to look for brown hairstreak caterpillars. I found three - all very small. This one, I think, is second instar, ready to change to third. This one - again, I think - is freshly moulted third instar, with its second instar skin at its feet. This one I'm not sure about. It seemed bigger than the others, so probably third instar. None were more than 5 mm long. Finally, this caterpillar glowed in the UV and had the right slug-shaped form, but is clearly something different - I don't know what. As well as these caterpillars, there were lots of geometrid caterpillars on the blackthorn, all glowing in the UV.
9th: Visited a site in Valais for Nickerl's fritillary. When I arrived, at about 09h40, very little was flying, but little by little it picked up and although numbers of everything were low, I found a good number of species in the end. The Nickerl's fritillaries were very thin on the ground. Meadows where they are normally numerous had none, and at my best spot just two males were trekking endlessly up and down, never stopping. Along a nearby track I found a couple more, and then finally, just before I headed home and as the clouds were coming over, one decided to stop briefly on the track itself. It was very restless, but when I let my shadow fall on it it flicked its wings open and I was able to get a few shots. Here and here are two of them. Also new for the year were purple-shot copper, grayling (at least three seen) and large blue (and here). Other species flying were peacock (lots of rather ragged individuals - they always fly late here), Camberwell beauty (at least two individuals), comma, knapweed fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, marbled fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, probably silver-washed fritillary, though this was very distant and I didn't cound it as certain, small tortoiseshell, wall, large wall, speckled wood, small heath, common blue, Adonis blue, safflower skipper, dingy skipper, large skipper, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, Apollo, black-veined white, small white, orange tip, brimstone, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow and wood white. Here is a wall lizard and here a great spotted woodpecker. As has happened every day for some while, sunshine in the morning gave way to clouds in the afternoon and rain in the early evening.
10th: It rained most of today, with cloud between downpours.
11th: We took the télécabine up the mountain in late morning, arriving at the top to heavy cloud. In fact, it did clear up a little as we walked down, but we didn't see any butterflies until we were at about 1750m, when the first small tortoiseshell and a little blue appeared. Lower down still - at about 1600m - it was more often clear, though still mostly cloudy, and at a favourite spot we found a lot of butterflies. New for the year were alpine grizzled skipper (and here) and marsh fritillary (and here). I'm unclear about the status of these marsh fritillaries. I think they should be Euphydryas merope, and the first picture I posted looks strongly like this. But the other looks more like aurinia. Both these individuals were flying at the same site. There were also pearl-bordered fritillaries, Glanville fritillaries (and here), grizzled skippers, dingy skippers, green hairstreaks, common blues, Adonis blues, mazarine blues, little blues (and here - they were all over my backpack), northern brown argus, orange tips, Berger's clouded yellows, black-veined whites, swallowtails, small heaths and northern walls flying at the same site. The weather continued mixed as we walked home (by a long route, not straight down) but we found our first geranium arguses of the year (and here, and here), and red-underwing skippers, as well as wood whites, pearl-bordered fritillaries, Adonis blues, common blues and little blues (that last one in Leysin itself, not far from my house).
12th: A bright, sunny morning, turning to cloud by late morning and rain later, with some storms.
13th: I found this grizzled skipper, form taras on our morning walk today. A few other butterflies were about - common blues, red admirals, sooty coppers - but cloud was looming and soon arrived. Here is Minnie, proudly showing off a green hairstreak she found.
14th: A beautiful day. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take advantage of it, but did get a walk near Huémoz in the afternoon. Little was flying in the woods, though it was good to see the first woodland browns in this region on the wing. And I got my 100th species for the year too - ringlet.
15th: Minnie had a vet's appointment in the morning so we didn't go anywhere today. I took a short walk without her in late afternoon (she had had all her vaccinations today and was a little drowsy). By this time it was a little cloudy, but here is a very long-distance shot of a sooty copper in local meadows. I only took the picture to confirm the identity.
16th: Up and out by 04h00 this morning, so Minnie could have a little walk before we got a taxi at 04h30 down to Aigle. Caught the 05h02 to Genève, then the express to Grenoble (here is an animated view from the window, approaching Aix-les-Bains), arriving at Grenoble at 09h02. There, we were picked up by a friend and driven to nearby marshes where false ringlet, Coenonympha oedippus flies. My friend looked after Minnie while I walked the boardwalks around the marsh. I saw no false ringlets, despite patience and several revisits during the day. I bumped into the warden of the site at one point, who said the butterfly had not yet been seen this year, and that things were probably 3 weeks behind a normal year. This means we will have to have another early morning, in July!! During my first walks around the marsh, very little was flying apart from a few meadow browns, speckled woods, green-veined whites and small heaths. Other things slowly emerged: large skippers, small whites, holly blues and small coppers - but the marshes themselves were generally quiet. My friend then took me around nearby fields and tracks, mostly in search of large coppers, which he has seen flying here for some weeks now. We were lucky to see a single female large copper - it is evidently the very end of the flight season. She was skulking around deep in the vegetation, doubtless looking for foodplants to lay on. That was a success. Another year tick was lesser purple emperor. My friend had seen a couple while I was in the marsh, and two more put in an appearance while we walked around the area together. All were form clytie. The first of the two I saw appeared in the trees, glinting bright orange, soI took it at first  for a large fritillary! The second did briefly put down on a car mechanic's solvents but didn't hang around for a photo. Other species seen on these walks were heath fritillary (just one, snatched, ID photo), Queen of Spain fritillary, brimstone, red admiral, meadow brown, small heath, common blue, holly blue, small copper, large skipper and a single female Oberthür's grizzled skipper. It was very restless and that was the best photo I got. Dragonflies and damselflies were abundant, with beautiful damoiselles, azure damselflies, white-legged damselflies, scarce chasers, migrant hawkers and emperor dragonflies amongst others. Here is a pair of scarce chasers in cop, the male's abdomen curled around the female's head (though it is the female who is clasping the male here). Finally, here is a rather poor shot of an eyed hawk moth. It was deep in shadow and rather inaccessible. It was a good day - but one we will have to repeat in July, as we missed our main target! Minnie and I caught the 14h58 from Grenoble, arriving back in Leysin before 19h00.
17th: We stayed local today, catching the télécabine up to Berneuse in the morning to do a mountain walk while it was still cool. From there we walked down and up to La Riondaz, at 1981m, then back down to Leysin by a long and winding route. Minnie suffers in the heat (she is 11
½ years old) but is still fine with long, cool walks, I am happy to say. This is the view from La Riondaz, looking towards Lac Léman, and this a panoramic shot from the same place, showing the Rhône Valley from the Massif du Muveran to the lake. Near the télécabine, little was flying apart from small tortoiseshells (everwhere), little blues and a single alpine grizzled skipper. On the walk to Riondaz, a few marsh fritillaries put in an appearance, as well as the odd green haristreak, and when we reached it we found swallowtails hilltopping. There were also a few northern walls along the way. Descending to a favourite site at about 1650m we passed lots of little blues and pearl-bordered fritillaries as well as increasing numbers of green hairstreaks. There were a number of large walls too in this section. This one has a rather dusky underside but from what I saw of the upperside as it flicked its wings I believe it is large wall, not northern wall. The first year-tick of the day came in the form of this very fresh alpine heath. I had wondered whether this species even flew on my local mountains, as I hadn't seen it yet, but evidently it is just late. At the 1650m site, butterflies were buzzing everywhere, including lots of Adonis, common, mazarine and little blues, green hairstreaks, pearl-bordered, marsh and glanville fritillaries, grizzled skippers and - another year tick - a beautifully fresh tufted marbled skipper. Berger's clouded yellows and various whites were drifting through - though no confirmed mountain green-veined whites yet. After a very slow start, the mountain is coming to life!
18th: A cloudy day.
19th: Bright in the morning, leading to cloud later.
20th: Again, nice weather, becoming very hot. I stayed local, taking a walk into woods near Leysin. There, I saw my first Arran brown of the year - but in flight only - as well as my first silver-washed fritillary - again only in flight. It was too hot for Minnie so we didn’t go terribly far. Other things flying were marbled whites, meadow browns, large walls, green hairstreaks, Adonis blues, various whites (but I still haven’t confirmed mountain green-veined white) and orange tips (and here).
21st: I had bank business in Villars in the morning, so after this headed up to Bretaye to look for clouded Apollos, amongst other things. Sadly, as I arrived, the clouds moved over and it was overcast the whole time we were there. No clouded Apollos. I did see blind ringlets from the train on the way up, near Bretaye, but they didn’t fly while I was there. Little blues were flying, as were a couple of Adonis blues, the odd small heath and a few damselflies. This is a common blue damselfly - an immature male, I think.
22nd: There is a Turner exhibition in Martigny, finishing on Sunday, so today I took advantage of the bad weather and a kind friend (who looked after Minnie) to go and visit it. It was a truly sublime experience (and here, and here, and here) confirming to me that Turner is the greatest artist of all time. I’m sure he would have appreciated the stormy, mountainous setting, though probably not the Swiss beer.
23rd: Mixed weather, but by the time I was able to take a walk in the afternoon, clouds were gathering and storms approaching. It was a local walk, during which I saw a few heath fritillaries, pearl-bordered fritillaries, ringlets, meadow browns and marbled whites, but little else because of the weather.
24th: Up to Bretaye in the morning, arriving 11h08, hoping for clouded Apollo. It was a beautiful, sunny day, but the only Apollos I saw were normal Apollos. I had a long walk, taking in all the hotspots of clouded Apollo, but saw none at all. The normally fly throughout June and into July, so I don’t know what has happened this year. I photographed a bright-eyed ringlet, just to confirm the ones I saw from the train on 21st, and also photographed my first dewy ringlet of the year - a spanking fresh specimen, in some expanses of myrtle where I always see them. Other species flying at altitude were green hairstreak (right up to the top, at over 2000m), pearl-bordered fritillary, marsh fritillary, small heath (maybe some alpine heath, but none that stopped were this), small and large whites, Adonis blue, little blue, large blue and grizzled skipper. A single painted lady appeared at the beginning of the walk, and as ever there were lots and lots of small tortoiseshells around. I had to come down relatively early to prepare for my sister to arrive in Switzerland tomorrow.
25th: Not a butterfly day. I was up early and off to the Swiss border at Vallorbe to meet my sister, who has driven the last of my belongings out here.
26th: After we had unloaded the van - which took all morning - my sister and her son rested from their journey while Minnie and I took the télécabine up above Leysin. New species for the year, when we reached our favourite spot at about 1650m, were false heath fritillary (only seen in flight) and purple-edged copper. I got my first local bright-eyed ringlet too, and more alpine heaths were on the wing.
27th: We went up to Bretaye to scatter my father's ashes where we scattered my mother's four years ago. While we did so, a marmot watched on from a distance. I wasn't primarily looking for butterflies, but I did spot this first olive skipper of the year. Right at the top, by the Grand Chamossaire, swallowtails were hilltopping - as they always are. Here is Minnie with one. The weather was very mixed, but bright-eyed ringlets were on the wing (and here) most of the time, as well as Apollos, Adonis blues, little blues, green hairstreaks and most of the usual Bretaye bunch!
28th: Just a gentle walk in the afternoon with my sister, not particularly looking for butterflies.
29th: Saw my sister and her son off this morning, then took trains and buses to a high site towards the eastern end of Valais, where Cynthia’s fritillary flies. When I arrived (or, where I got off the bus) it was sunny but very windy. By the time I reached the cynthia site it was mostly overcast and rather cool - maximum 12°C - but a number of butterflies flew in the few moments of weak sun and I am fairly confident I would have seen cynthia if they had been on the wing. Mountain fritillaries (and here - a different individual) were braving the chill, flying even when the sun was in, as were dusky grizzled skippers, dewy ringlets, little blues and even a couple of brave idas blues. The occasional peak white zoomed through without stopping and there were small numbers of alpine heath. I am not sure yet of the identity of this Erebia (and here), seen at about 2400m, but another, at 2300m, is clearly mnestra. I suspect I saw sooty ringlet but none stopped. I also suspect I saw small Apollo, but again, none stopped - and I wasn’t carrying my net. At lower altitudes - about 2250m - lots of blues were flying, even after the weather turned. These included more little blues and idas blues, as well as common blues, Adonis blues, Eros blues, mazarine blues and alpine arguses (and here). I think this is a shepherd’s fritillary but didn't get a look at the underside. A small number of Grisons fritillaries (and here) were conspicuous at lower altitudes, as well as a smaller number of false heath fritillaries. Other species flying were small white, clouded yellow, Berger’s clouded yellow, mountain clouded yellow and small tortoiseshell. Marmots were everywhere (here is a different individual), so Minnie was on the lead a lot of the time! This is a cheeky wheatear looking over a rock at us and this is a water pipit. This moth is Setina ramosa (and here, in my hand), an alpine species in the footman family. When I got back as far as Visp the storm struck. The train home seemed to outpace it but by the evening there was a great storm over Leysin.
30th: Day spent sorting through belongs brought out from England. I think it was cloudy but I can't remember ...

1st: Another day spent sorting through belongs brought out from England!
2nd: Cloudy all day.
3rd: Cool but sunny today. In the afternoon I walked Minnie to a local field where I have expected to find lesser marbled fritillary but have had no success up till now. Finally, today, I spotted a single individual in the middle of the field and took a proof photo. I'll be back, to see how strong the population is.
4th: We had a long day on the trains today, setting off for Grenoble first thing in the morning and getting back home at 22h30. Between the journeys, thanks to a friend, we had about 2 and a half hours at the marsh where false ringlets fly. They should have been on the wing today, but sadly it is not allowed to leave the boardwalk running through the marsh, and this does not pass by the parts where the butterfly is most common. It is also a notoriously sedentary species. Despite scanning the marsh intently for the whole time, I saw not a single false ringlet - nor indeed very many butterflies at all. The day list amounted to: meadow brown, ringlet, speckled wood, small skipper, holly blue and the odd white. It was good to see scarce chasers again, but I didn't take any photos because I didn't want to take my eyes off the marsh!
5th: A cloudy day, spent mostly at home.
6th: It was a beautiful morning, with cloud and possibly storms forecast for the afternoon, so I stayed relatively local and visited a cranberry fritillary site not far away. We arrived shortly after 10h30, when the butterflies were still sunning, and immediately found literally dozens of cranberry fritillaries. At one point, on our return through the site at about 13h00, I counted 15 of them in one field of vision. They were rarely close enough to each other to make good group photos but there are two in this picture and three in this. Males and females alike were nectaring on marsh cinquefoil - indeed, that was the only thing they were nectaring on. I saw both sexes on the foodplant too (here is a male, and here a male showing the underside, on the foodplant), and occasionally just resting on cotton grass (here is the same female from the side) or other stems when the sun was in. This is a typical female underside. This female underside shows particularly strong white banding. I have posted a short video of a female nectaring here. I didn't spend the whole time in the cranberry bog but went for a hillside walk too. Other species new for the year were large ringlet, silver-studded blue and high brown fritillary (no photos, sadly!). There were lots of bright-eyed ringlets around and a few Arran browns in the wooded regions, as well as plenty of meadow browns, ringlets, small heaths and large walls. Other blues flying were mazarine, little and northern brown argus (and here). False heath fritillaries were common (and here), as well (more locally) as lesser marbled fritillaries. I saw the odd pearl-bordered and Queen of Spain fritillary too. Here is a typical habitat of lesser marbled - extensive, damp fields of meadowsweet.
7th: Got up at 05h45 and checked the weather forecast for various places. It looked good for Domodossola, so I decided to take what might be my last chance this year to find Hungarian gliders. I got the 07h00 train from Leysin, arriving at Domodossola at about 10h00. Normally, I would go earlier, but that would have meant deciding earlier! From Domodossola to my  usual site is about 11km, of which 6km are 9% uphill. Carrying 10kg of dog, water, beer and camera up that hill on a bike was heavy going in the heat of the morning. As we neared the site, I spotted two Hungarian gliders flying near the road but didn’t stop, just because we we so near. Then, just as we arrived, I spotted a female large chequered skipper bouncing over the grass. She stayed low in the vegetation - she was obviously gravid - and good shots were impossible but I got this snatched record shot. I was to see another three of this species altogether, including one later, at a site lower down. Here and here are some shots of the second one I saw. Moving towards the river, where the Hungarian gliders breed, I soon spotted one gliding up and down over vegetation near the foodplant, goatsbeard. It never stopped - not at all, even for a second - so I pointed my camera at it and took some shots in flight. This picture must serve as my record of it! It didn’t matter. It was just lovely to see this elegant creature flying so effortlessly. We watched it for about 10 minutes. Also flying there were silver-washed fritillaries (this valesina female stopped briefly in the shade, so I had to use flash to photograph it) and hundreds of marbled whites. Carrying on our walk, we found this male purple emperor taking minerals on a little bridge (and here, and here), and saw at least one dark-green fritillary fly close by. There were other large fritillaries around but none stopped. In fact, in the heat of the day, almost nothing stopped. We headed down through the woods to the river itself, where normally we see Hungarian gliders. At our favourite spot we did indeed see one - in incessant flight - but everything was overgrown and I think we were too late for the main flurry. Other species there were heath fritillary, spotted fritillary, small skipper, silver-washed fritillary, mazarine blue, clouded yellow and various whites. Leaving the river and returning to the main path, we saw great sooty satyrs, purple shot coppers, green-veined and small whites and brimstones. I was pretty sure I saw a small pearl-bordered fritillary, but it never stopped long enough to confirm. Eventually, we headed back down the hill towards Domodossola, stopping three times on the way. The first stop was at a place where I have seen Hungarian gliders in the past. The foodplant was abundant but none were flying. I did see a large, floppy Satyrid in the woods there, but the only time it stopped - in a tree - it was impossible to get a view of it. This is the one shot I got … I can only think it is a woodland brown. The next stop was a site near the bottom that used to be fantastic for a whole range of butterflies but was then completely dug up to build a water station. Since then it has grown over again and the butterflies have returned. I saw a single large chequered skipper there, as well as this chequered blue, a few purple-shot coppers, small coppers, idas or silver-studded blues, lots of middle and large fritillaries, including Queen of Spain and silver-washed but also many intermediate species. Not a single one stopped! They were flying incessantly around Buddleia, chasing each other regardless of species. At the smaller end of the scale, I could identify spotted fritillary and heath fritillary. A single map butterfly flew overhead. Other species flying there were small skipper, green-veined white, brimstone, swallowtail (there were also swallowtails at the higher site), meadow browns, ringlets and great sooty satyrs. It was very hot, so Minnie sheltered in the vegetation. Finally, as the weather began to break, back to Domodossola, to give Minnie a drink at the river before heading home.
8th: Heavy rain overnight and in the morning gave way to hot sun in the afternoon. Minnie and I visited local woods to see if the white-letter hairstreaks were flying yet. They were. This seems to be their master elm, where about a dozen hairstreaks were dancing and settling, all within the area in the red circle. I was shooting up into the light but got a few proof shots to confirm - if confirmation were needed - that they were indeed white-letter hairstreaks. While I was craning my neck, I noticed there were at least two great banded graylings up there with them, (and here), though these were settling on the bare branches, not the leaves. Down on the path below, meadow browns, ringlets, heath fritillaries, large walls, Arran browns, brimstones (there are two in that picture) and Provençal short-tailed blues were taking advantage of the warm sun. A couple of silver-washed fritillaries flew through. I was on the bike, so headed to another site before taking Minnie back home. By now it was late afternoon and part of the site was in shade. Nevertheless, a few mazarine blues and small skippers were taking moisture and I presume this is a northern brown argus. It never showed its upperside, but I think there are no brown arguses here.
9th: Set off this morning to Kandersteg, to see Thor’s fritillary. I first found this site in 2013, on 8th July, and have since visited between 5th and 10th in different years. Every time I’ve been I’ve seen thore in good numbers - except for today. For the first time, I saw no confirmed individuals at all. It is possible I saw two males, both in flight at some distance, but none were flying in the usual places where they are easy to see and photograph. Other species in the area were much as normal, except that numbers of most things were down. Titania’s fritillaries (and here, and here) looked rather fresh, and there were lots of pearl-bordered fritillaries. Some of these were melanic to various extents, casting doubt on the identity of the distant, possible thore. Other fritillaries flying were silver-washed, dark green (and here, a different individual), false heath (here is a male wooing a female, and here) and lesser marbled. Arran browns were common and there were a fair few large ringlets around. Here are a large ringlet (on the left) and an Arran brown on my backpack. Other Satyrids were speckled wood and large wall. At several places, blues were taking minerals in the heat, though there were so many people around today it was difficult to photograph them. Several glandon blues (and here) were supping alongside Idas, Damon, chalkhill (that was the only photo I got, as a dog ran up and scared it off!) and mazarine. In this otherwise awful picture, an eros blue is caught in flight, showing the amazing colour when it catches the light. This is a large grizzled skipper (and here) - my first of the year. Both large and small skippers were common today. Orange tips were more numerous than usual - I always see some here but they were constant companions today. I also saw a single Camberwell beauty. I think it was the hibernating brood but I couldn’t get a picture because of all the people passing. I have never witnessed so many people - and especially, so many large people - at this site. Many were going up and down on electric bikes while a much smaller number were on ordinary pedal bikes; but even more were just walking, eating, drinking and barbecuing pretty much everywhere. Almost all were sort of barrel-shaped: Homo sapiens has changed shape a lot in my lifetime! Other species seen included brinstone, clouded yellow, small white, large white and what I think were green-veined, not mountain green-veined whites - I saw no females.
10th: Took the train then the bus up the Val D’Anniviers this morning to look for Asian fritillaries - as well as the many other species that fly in the same places. The bus was crammed full, mostly of elderly folk but also a big group of children from Lausanne. Fortunately, when we arrived everyone dispersed and went his own way and Minnie and I soon found ourselves alone. Normally I visit this site on about 18th-24th June so I wasn’t sure what I would find. Things were noticeably different: fewer (but still some) northern walls, and no alpine grizzled skippers, for example. But broadly speaking, I found the same range of species. I saw just four Asian fritillaries. This male was the first. Unfortunately, after snapping that quick underside I couldn’t take any more photos as a runner came stomping down the hill just then and scared him off. It was a shame because I saw his upperside and it was exquisite: almost completely black, with deep, red markings - a melanic version of Asian fritillary. After him, two more males flew through, chasing one another without stopping, and then a little later this rather worn female stopped for upperside photos. The commonest fritillary at the site was false heath, but there were also plenty of Titania’s, pearl-bordered (and here), heath and lesser marbled. This heath fritillary took a liking to Minnie (and here)! I had hoped to see my first chequered skippers of the year (and here) and wasn’t disappointed. The only surprise is that I hadn’t seen any before now. This couple were very interested in each other but I didn’t see how the encounter ended. They flew off together. Erebia species flying were almond-eyed ringlet (my first of the year), Arran brown, large ringlet and Mnestra’s ringlet. As the afternoon hotted up, damp patches of ground became blue magnets, attracting hundreds of little blues, mazarine blues (the lower one is a female mazarine, the upper one a male little blue), cranberry blues (and here, and here, with a little blue), silver-studded blues and the odd geranium argus. I also saw large blues but they didn’t stop. This is my first alpine grayling of the year. This is the same picture but with the bit of straw removed by AI. I saw but didn’t photograph a female mountain green-veined white, so can finally count that species on my year list! When we got back down to where I had left the bike (a hundred metres or so lower altitude than the Asian fritillary site) I looked for silvery argus, which I have (just once) seen here before. There were none, but I did see several Amanda’s blues, ranging from quite fresh to rather tatty. They were all very active - it was very hot by this time, even at altitude - and pictures were hard to get. There were several scarce coppers flying at the same place, as well as a couple of moorland clouded yellows - my first of the year - and a chalkhill blue. Other species seen during the day were dingy skipper, large skipper, alpine heath and black-veined white. I photographed this skipper thinking it was an Essex skipper but on seeing the photo wonder about male Lulworth. I've never seen Lulworth at this site and wish I had spent some more time looking at it!
11th: It was forecast to be very hot today, with potentially dangerous storms in Valais, so I didn't take Minnie anywhere. It was indeed very hot, so in the afternoon I cycled Minnie to the woods, where she could be in shade while I watched the white-letter hairstreaks. Again, none came down, but at least a dozen were dancing and sparring in the canopy and it was a pleasure to see them. Here and here are two different individuals. This one is near a leaf showing typical white-letter hairstreak feeding patterns - so maybe even the leaf he was brought up on ... Cycling home again, I stopped briefly at a tree where I found caterpillars in the spring. Sure enough, I quickly spotted this adult. Although it appears a sex-brand is visible, everything else about the butterfly, including the behaviour (disappearing deep into the foliage) suggested she was in fact a female. I think the sex brand is an illusion. Here is a small skipper and here a large. This pair of large skippers did not, in the end, hit it off.
12th: A cloudy day, leading to storms in the evening.
13th: Minnie had to be at the vet's at 08h00 to have two wobbly teeth removed under anaesthetic (and she had a détartrage and two warts taken out at the same time). That meant we didn't go anywhere today! When she came out she was still very woozy and though she could manage a short walk in the afternoon we kept it all very close to home.
14th: We got up late, so I could see how Minnie was. She was absolutely fine, it seemed, and raring to go, but because of the time factor we stayed relatively local. Our target for the day was mountain alcon blue, but I hoped we might see Osiris blue too, as the site is good for that. As it turned out, there were no Osiris but there were still a few mountain alcon on the wing. Here is a female showing her upperside, and here and here are shots of the same female laying in the shoots of cross gentian. This is a close-up of the same female. Here and here are shots of eggs laid previously. They are always laid right in the tip of the plant, but as the leaves grow out the eggs spread out. There were also a few males around but these very rarely stopped in the heat of the day. This shot just shows a glimpse of a male upperside - before he was up and off over the hillside. Other blues on the wing were eros blue, little blue, mazarine blue (many were much fresher than that one!), silver-studded blue, chalkhill blue, turquoise blue and damon blue. Here is a purple-edged copper and here a distant shot of a sooty copper - the only coppers I saw today. New for the year, apart from the mountain alcon blues, were Niobe fritillary (unusually, this individual has slightly concave wing margins, but it is definitely  niobe) and lesser mountain ringlet. I photographed this lovely mountain clouded yellow. It wasn't actually my first of the year but I can't remember when I saw my first, so am including it in the list as a year tick for today. Minnie was suffering a little from the heat and also had a little bare patch on her head where they shaved her (to cut out a wart) and I didn't want her skin to burn in the sun. So we cut short our walk and headed back to the nearest bar before catching the bus home.
15th: Storms were forecast for today but never really materialised, though it rained heavily in the early afternoon. After this it was sunny again, so I took Minnie up the local mountain to see what might be flying. We took the télécabine up at about 16h00 and then walked slowly back down again. There was little flying at the very top - just a few little blues, mazarine blues and maybe silver-studded blues. But not far below this I found a good patch for Erebia species. First I spotted a cople of bright-eyed ringlets but then saw some larger ones. It was windy and warm and they were very restless but I got record shots of both Piedmont ringlet (and here) and marbled ringlet. I was particularly pleased to find Piedmont ringlet on my local patch and will be back for better pictures. While I was there, I heard what sounded like a landfall in the distance. It turned out to have been caused by a young chamois, which I saw coming down the mountain. Here, here and here are some pictures. When it reached the point shown here it became aware of Minnie and me and stopped in its tracks. It didn't go any further for about ten minutes, so I decided to take Minnie on down the mountain and not cause it more stress. We came back a new route, through some woods. It was late by now and often cloudy but we saw plenty of meadow browns, a few large walls, a few small skippers and a number of false heath and heath fritillaries.
16th: A short afternoon walk before heading off to Villars (where I was playing the piano in church) produced a couple of surprises. The first was this carline skipper (and here, and here) in lower Leysin. More surprising, however, was this griffon vulture! I only got that one shot of it as I was in the town at the time and houses got in the way. I didn't know there were griffons in Switzerland. Earlier, I had seen a few other species of butterfly, including another couple of lesser marbled fritillaries at the meadowsweet site. I then saw another lesser marbled fritillary in the evening, flying around the Villars English Church, having just noted a new patch of meadowsweet there.
17th: In the afternoon, I took Minnie back up the mountain to the site where I had seen Piedmont and marbled ringlets a couple of days ago. Before we got there, we saw a few large ringlets (near the télécabine). At the site itself, I quickly noticed there were bright-eyed ringlets (that is a female) and then spotted a Piedmont ringlet, which first settled on a bird dropping and then on some thyme. I didn't confirm any more marbled ringlets but did see several common brassy ringlets - mostly flying and dropping far out of sight. Another chamois was hanging about in the vicinity, but he didn't seem too bothered by us. It was a different individual from two days ago (or, he's put on a lot of weight since then!). Having seen my first Swiss griffon vulture yesterday, I proceeded to see another today! It was very distant, flying high over the crags above Berneuse, but unmistakable. Climbing quickly down the mountain to escape the predicted storm (which never arrived), I saw my first Scotch argus of the year and then photographed this pair of large grizzled skippers (and here). The male is on the left in the first picture. Lower down, I saw that the second brood of violet fritillaries is well on the wing here. Great banded graylings are now numerous at lower altitudes too.
18th: I got up early and headed for an Erebia christi site today. From the bus up to the Simplon Pass, the forest fires above Bitsch were all too visible - and still more visible on the way down again later. The fires began on Monday and have spread over a wide area since then. Helicopters could be seen dropping water on the centres of the fire but it will be a long process to put them out completely - at least many days, if not several weeks. The forecast was for no rain, making matters worse. Ironically, my day not far away, just over the Simplon Pass, was cut short by hail, heavy rain and thunder - Minnie and I waited for the bus back to Brig in a torrential downpour with very close thunderclaps. But I think it didn’t rain above Bitsch. By the time we got near Brig and could observe the fires again it was warm and dry. Here is a helicopter carrying a full load of water, and here the moment of release. Dark, reddish smoke coloured the sky. At the site itself, Erebia species were out in number until the weather turned - principally alberganus and montana (and here), but also tyndarus, epiphron (my first of the year - I caught it in case it was christi), melampus, aethiops, and euryale. Early on I thought I saw a male christi but I was separated from my net at the time and just took this single, very distant shot before it disappeared. From the picture it seems it is more likely to be melampus, even though I really did think it was christi in flight. There were lots of Apollos flying up and down the slopes, as well as swallowtails and a few clouded yellows. Darwin’s heath (and here) was also very common - probably the single most numerous butterfly. For the fritillaries, there were many Titania’s, a few pearl-bordered and I think small pearl-bordered, though I didn’t get an opportunity to confirm. There were quite a few shepherd’s fritillaries too - no mountain so far as I could see. Heath and false heath were also flying. Great sooty satyrs drifted through often and I saw a single grayling. There were plenty of large walls. I didn’t chase all the blues as I wanted to keep my eyes peeled for christi, but the chalkhills caught my eye. I saw a few grizzled skippers (malvoides), as well as small and large skippers, but generally there weren’t many skippers around. We spent a lot of time waiting in cloud and experienced hail and rain too, even before the downpours. Back home, evening storms lit up the skies over the Chamossaire (and here) and overnight it poured with rain. I just home the fires at Bitsch got some watering ...
19th: I spent most of the day working inside on stuff and realise I haven't got a single photo from today!
20th: Headed to the Bernese Oberland today to see if scarce and dusky large blues would still be on the wing. On arrival, I soon spotted a single dusky large blue perched on a distant head of greater burnet; but for a while that proved the only one and I wondered if I had left it too late. Soon after, I saw two purple emperors (followed later in the day by another two), something I’ve never seen here before - also suggesting I was late. This is the second purple emperor. Eventually, though they weren’t numerous, both my target species turned out to be present, and some were even relatively fresh. Here is a mating pair of scarce large blues, and here another shot with the male showing a glimpse of his upperside. This female scarce large blue was in less good nick. Here is a shot showing her upperside. This female was evidently laying, and I watched while she pressed her abdomen into several different heads of greater burnet - here she is on another.. But I couldn’t find a single egg when I examined the flowers. Either she presses them deep inside or she wasn’t really laying, but just going through the motions. Here, here and here are some dusky large blues. On the whole, these were slightly less numerous than the scarce large blues, but perhaps in better nick on average. Little groups of blues (not including either of the large blue species) were gathering at minerals, including mazarine, little, eros, damon and chalkhill. This picture shows a mazarine blue, a chalkhill blue and an eros blue, while this one shows the upperside of a damon blue (with mazarine in front). Lesser marbled fritillaries were common - as they seem to be everywhere this year - and there were also lots of false heath fritillaries. Three Erebia species were flying: Scotch argus, large ringlet and Arran brown, as well as meadow browns and ringlets. The only skippers I saw were small and large and the only coppers sooty.
21st: A cloudy, wet day - so I could get on with things! Despite the weather, we took a walk in the afternoon (armed with a brolly) and found that a few butterflies were still on the wing. They included this silver-washed fritillary, as well as dozens of great banded graylings (and here). Sadly, I found this flattened high brown fritillary (and here) on a woodland track - probably killed inadvertently by a bike or a boot.
22nd: I got on with necessary stuff in the morning, then headed up the local mountain in the afternoon with Minnie. From the cable car, I spotted a griffon vulture flying over - but we were just approaching the stop and I couldn't get the camera out and photograph it. When we arrived, I saw more griffons, all flying away and over the open country. I snatched this one proof shot and then thought to count how many there were. I counted nine - and I suspect I didn't see them all. After the vultures had disappeared into the distance, I started looking for butterflies. There were quite a few common brassy ringlets around (and here, and here, and here). The variation within this species is amazing. We then headed on to a favourite spot, photographing this pair of common blue damselflies and this lesser mountain ringlet on the way. At the spot, my attention was suddenly taken by a couple of chamois chasing each other down a steep slope on the other side of the valley. For about 45 minutes Minnie and I just watched the chamois - six of them in total - running around sometimes on almost vertical cliff faces. Here, here, and here are some shots - and here the context of the last one. I took a little bit of rather poor video. We then walked home via more favourite spots. Here is a female sooty copper, of the upland form subalpinus, and here a manto ringlet. Interestingly, this male northern brown argus, with lots of orange on the wings, was high - at about 1900m - while this much more typical specimen, with little orange, was lower down. Here are the undersides of two northern brown arguses. This is a black-veined white and this an Apollo. Sadly, I couldn't get an underside view of this Pyrgus skipper. There are lots of large grizzled skippers around here, and this is probably one, but it was smaller and I wondered about olive skipper. Here is an Arran brown and here a red admiral - these are now quite common. Other species seen while we walked down included chalkhill blue (and here, and here), marbled white, Scotch argus, large wall, false heath fritillary and grizzled skipper. At one point there were many heath fritillaries (as well as false heath). That was a male - this is a female. There was at least one aberrant individual - I think more. Here is another shot of the same butterfly, and here he is with a small skipper. There were plenty of large skippers and small skippers but I still haven't been able to confirm an Essex skipper here.
23rd: I set off this morning for a site where I thought I friend had seen good numbers of silvery argus. By pure chance, I met the same friend on the train, so we carried on together. It turned out I had got the wrong site: I was thinking of a high spot, at about 2500m, where Cynthia's fritillary flies, while his site was much lower down, at under 2000m. We decided we could do both, and that we should go up to the high site first, while the day was still cool. On the way, we saw plenty of butterflies, including Essex skipper (the hint of orange under the far antenna is an illusion!), small skipper, large skipper, silver-spotted skipper, carline skipper [EDIT: Despite the 'c' mark, this individual has been confirmed as female dusky grizzled skipper by Vincent Baudraz - I was too hasty with my ID!] Grisons fritillary (very common - this is a caterpillar), Niobe fritillary, Titania's fritillary, mountain fritillary, shepherd's fritillary, Alpine heath, mazarine blue, little blue, idas blue, chalkhill blue, 
Amanda's blue (a single female), scarce copper, purple-edged copper (subspecies eurydame), eros blue, geranium argus, mountain clouded yellow, moorland clouded yellow, small Apollo (a male - my first of the year, but sadly no photos), Mnestra's ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, small mountain ringlet, large ringlet, Swiss brassy ringlet, large wall and more - but no silvery arguses here. I am not sure about this skipper. The underside seems to rule out dusky grizzled, which the upperside suggests. Here is another, nearby skipper I was unsure about. I checked a few gullies for Cynthia's fritillary - a life tick for my friend - but found none. Finally, we reached the little pond at the top - one I have in the past nicknamed 'le lac de la mort' because it mysteriously drowns so many butterflies. On arrival, I scanned the water's surface, and among the many butterflies floating there, quickly spotted a Cynthia's fritillary. In case it might still be alive, I waded into the lake and retrieved it - and it was indeed alive! When it closed its wet wings, it became apparent it couldn't reopen them, so I prised them apart with a blade of grass and placed it on an arnica flower to dry out. I thought at the time it had lost an antenna, but in fact the two antenna had just got stuck together with the surface tension of the water. I am sure he will have been able to separate them later. I left my friend with him to photograph while he (and I) dried out. Other species I was able to save from the water included shepherd's fritillary, Essex skipper and Grisons fritillary, as well as several moths. Around the edges of the pond, on the mud, were many species, including eros blue, alpine argus, mazarine blue, little blue, glandon blue (and here, at mud), idas blue and lots of Grisons fritillaries. One alpine argus took a particular shine to my friend, so he was able to enjoy a life tick feeding contentedly on his arm! While we were there, we saw a further two male Cynthia's fritillaries, at one stage chasing each other, but both were too mobile to photograph. It is just possible one of them was the one I originally saved ... Returning down the mountain we found more groups of butterflies had gathered here and there. We saw most of the same species as on the way up, though many more of most, as well as marsh fritillary and knapweed fritillary. Here is a gleaming upperside of a Swiss brassy ringlet, and here a pair of Grisons fritillaries. It was getting late - about 16h30 - by the time we reached the silvery argus site, and though we didn't see any, at least I know where to go now. A few butterflies were still around there, including silver-spotted skipper, carline skipper, turquoise blue, scarce copper and Niobe fritillary.
24th: Wet and cloudy.
25th: Another wet and cloudy day. This is the evening (spot the little cluster of umbrellas).
26th: Cloudy but often dry, clearing up as the day drew on.
27th: Another trip up the Val d’Hérens to the site where my friend sees silvery argus. I arrived early, while there was still cloud and nothing was flying. The only butterfly I manage to find for the first half hour was this dormant female turquoise blue, still moist with dew. The sun did come out though, and little by little things started flying. First was carline skipper, followed by Swiss brassy ringlet - by far the commonest butterfly of the day. Then more turquoise blues, mazarine blues, little blues, lots of carline skippers (and here), Essex skippers (no confirmed small skippers today), lesser mountain ringlets and a few rather worn alpine heaths. I had intended to head home at 12h00, as I had a lesson booked in the afternoon, but the student e-mailed to cancel that, so I stayed longer and explored a little more widely at this site, going as far as this this glacial moraine (it was possible to go further, but a little dangerous for Minnie!). A single peak white (and here) made this little excursion into barren rocks worthwhile. These are the only photos I have of this species this year. Returning to the silvery argus site, I found many more species: Niobe fritillary, mnestra ringlet, small mountain ringlet (and here), blind ringlet, still more carline skippers (this female might have been dusky grizzled skipper from the upperside, but the underside says carline), moorland clouded yellow, lots of idas blues (all the Plebejus females I saw had no blue visible, like silver-studded blues; I did confirm a single silver-studded blue male, so think both species fly here), sooty copper, scarce copper (here is a female) and northern brown argus. There were a few small whites around and rather more mountain green-veined whites - all males - and I saw a single, female alpine argus. I am certain I saw a male silvery argus in a flowery area near where my friend sees them (it flew very close to me) but it didn’t stop and it wasn’t beyond all reasonable doubt! As if in compensation, though, I watched a male Amanda’s blue spending a lot of energy wooing a female (and here, and here, and here). In the time I watched - about 15 minutes - she didn’t accept him, but nor did he give up, and they were still together when I left them for the bus. She seemed either gravid or previously gravid - I don’t know if Amanda’s blues mate more than once.
28th: Mostly cloudy. On our local, afternoon walk, a few satyrids flew (lots of great banded graylings), as well as this beautifully fresh painted lady.
29th: Mostly cloudy, and at times very cloudy, with some rain.
30th: The day began rainy but quickly cleared up. Minnie and I headed for Montreux in the morning, to go to church at St John's Territet. By the afternoon it was quite sunny and at about 16h00 we headed up the local mountain for a brisk walk before teaching. Here is a view of Lac Léman (towards Montreux) from the top. As usual, the chamois (and here) were grazing on their patch (though now in the shade, because of the time of day), and even though it was late and rather cool, quite a few Erebia were on the wing. They included common brassy ringlet, manto ringlet (and here), lesser mountain ringlet, Piedmont ringlet, and this ringlet, of which I only saw the upperside. It was much larger than the other manto ringlets and really didn't look like one, but I think I have to call it that (a female). The forewing suggests almond-eyed but the hindwing doesn't. Little was flying as we walked down, as it was too cool, but we did see a few small skippers and mazarine blues. When I got back to Leysin, this male high brown fritillary flew past and briefly settled on some flowers before zooming on.
31st: Got up very early this morning to catch the earliest train and get to Grindelwald by 09h00. I wanted to see if I could climb high enough to find a colony de Lesse's brassy ringlet, which I know flies somewhere in that mountain range, and be back home for a lesson at 19h00! I had fun, but there just wasn't time to explore properly! In fact, I only found one patch where there were brassy ringlets, at about 2400m, and although it actually looked quite suitable for de Lesse's, I think the two individuals I photographed are in fact Swiss brassy. This is the first one. It's quite a good match for de Lesse's, but a couple of details niggled. I caught this next one, and it is more clearly Swiss brassy. A problem on the route I chose was that there was a continuous stream of people - many hundreds - moving slowly along the main track I had chosen, and only when I got off this could I look for butterflies. The scenery was stunning - this is the roof of Europe - and this is doubtless why it is so popular. Here is the view across to the north face of the Eiger. Here is Minnie trotting along beside the Bachsee, at the end where the people weren't! And here she is in the télécabine on the way down, looking out at the Wetterhorn. Other species flying were mountain clouded yellow, shepherd's fritillary (and here), blind ringlet, Eros blue, mazarine blue and various other alpine species, though not in the profusion of so many places, and impossible to photograph much of the way because of the masses of people!


1st: La Fête Nationale! It wasn't a brilliant day, but the rain held off and I heard fireworks late into the evening. This was the view across Leysin for Minnie's last walk, and this later in the evening, looking across the valley to Monthey.
2nd: I was teaching morning and afternoon/evening, so stayed local today. As I came back from Minnie's morning walk, I spotted this marbled ringlet a few metres from my house and snatched that one photo. It was surprising to see it in town, though the altitude is appropriate. In the afternoon we went to see if any brown hairstreaks were on the wing yet. We didn't find any, though it was rather windy and perhaps too late in the day for nectaring males. Great banded graylings were the commonest butterfly, closely followed by marbled whites, but silver washed fritillaries were competing for the title (here is a female). Along a stretch of track near meadows and woods, common blues (that individual had just a hint of a cell spot, but was nectaring exclusively on bird's foot trefoil and shows other characteristics of common blue), Chapman's blues and geranium arguses (with Chapman's blue in that picture) were nectaring on the bird's foot trefoil and sainfoin. I was very pleased and surprised to see two white admirals - surprised because I had failed to find any caterpillars and concluded they didn't fly in Leysin. The summer caterpillars are easier to find than the spring ones, so I will intensify my search! The white admirals were still active at the top of their elm, though there were only perhaps half a dozen there today. Other species flying included speckled wood, wall, Arran brown, Scotch argus and, in meadows in Leysin itself, several dryads. By the time I got there it was both windy and warm and they didn't settle anywhere near me, but I will go back for photos soon. Here is a female large white resting in the shade and indicating she is not interested in intimacy. Here is the persistent male who refused to take the hint (and here, and here).
3rd: A cloudy day, with some bright breaks. Here is an evening shot.
4th: A very wet day (that's my umbrella at the top of the picture - it was pouring). Cloud and rain persisted into the evening.
5th: A grey day, and in part a working day. I took a local afternoon walk, and while no butterflies were flying I did see this young male black redstart (and here) and nearby this female (and here), who I at first through was his watchful mother but wondered later if she might be a sibling. Here is another shot of the male - or perhaps a different one (I took it as I came back past the same spot).
6th: A cloudy, wet day (and here) leading to torrential rain overnight.
7th: It wasn't just torrential rain overnight but also snow, down to below 2000m. Here and here are two morning shots from Leysin. I took this shot of the Grand Muveran and Dent Favre in the afternoon. After teaching in the morning, I headed in the afternoon for Huémoz, to look for purple emperor and white admiral eggs/pupae. Again, I found no emperors, but I did quickly find two white admiral caterpillars (and then focused on the emperors). This picture shows the caterpillar on its faecal extension as well as the base of its egg on the leaf. Here is the other caterpillar. It was often sunny and even quite warm during the afternoon and silver-washed fritillaries were out in good numbers in the woods. Also flying were large and small skippers, meadow browns, speckled woods, marbled whites, walls and Scotch arguses. That was a female - there were males about too.
8th: On our cloudy, morning walk around Leysin, I heard a distantly familiar call from the top of a larch. It turned out to be a crossbill - familiar from Rendlesham Forest in my childhood! Later in the day, returning from our afternoon walk up the mountain, I came across another little band of crossbills feeding in the larch and spruce. I think this little troop has just arrived and is passing through. Up the mountain, despite the 100% cloud cover, I saw my first water ringlet of the year (form vergy). Erebia species (including lesser mountain ringlet, manto ringlet, large ringlet and Scotch argus) were for the most part the only things flying at altitude, apart from the odd small tortoiseshell, but lower down - and still despite the weather - I saw a dark green fritillary, several heath fritillaries, a few ageing small skippers, a large skipper, walls, large walls and marbled whites.
9th: Another day spent locally, as I had to work morning and evening. I went to look for brown hairstreaks in the afternoon, finding none at either of my two sites (where there were eggs over winter). It was strangely hot and Minnie was feeling it, so I visited the second site alone, when one of the many dryads in the meadow came close enough to photograph (and here).
10th: I had to work in the early evening, but had just enough time in the afternoon to nip to the Rhône Valley and look for rosy grizzled skippers. Sadly, my bike appeared to spring a puncture (it was actually a faulty pump!) so I left it at Aigle and had to walk the part I would have cycled. This meant we had even less time, but I did see a couple of rosy grizzlies - so I know they are still there (I didn't see any last autumn or in the spring brood this year)! Spotted fritillaries were common everywhere on the walk (and here, and here a female) and there were a few Queens of Spain around. This pair of wood whites was not properly engaged in proboscis touching : the male wanted it but the female just wanted to take minerals! Throughout the walk, southern white admirals looked down on us (and here), very occasionally posing nearer to the ground. This is a Provençal short-tailed blue, showing I hint of orange. I took the photo with flash as it was shady-side towards me and I wanted to confirm the identity. There were a few great sooty satyrs flying, but dryads are beginning to dominate now. I completely failed to get a photo of a southern small white laying eggs - and even failed to get an egg in focus - because was moving endlessly and the wind was blowing. But it seemed she was laying on ordinary yellow rocket. It was certainly some species of rocket - the smell was very powerful! Other species flying included clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, eastern Bath white, small white, green-veined white, brimstone, speckled wood, wall, small heath (lots), probably a grayling, red admiral, small copper, common blue, Adonis blue, probably Chapman's blue and dingy skipper. I had to keep on the move because Minnie can't go so fast any more and we needed at least to reach the chosen site!
11th: It was a warm day but I spent the morning sorting my bicycle out. By the time that was done, it was too late to go far, so we stayed local and looked for brown hairstreaks. Again, none, but I was pleased to see several white-letter hairstreaks still flying at the top of their tree. None posed for proper photos, but this angle on one suggests she is a female - so probably up there laying eggs. There were also a few commas in the tree, as usual. On the way, I spotted this rather world-weary Niobe fritillary and this female Chapman's blue. She was tiny and I took her at first for a northern brown argus, but the underside confirms she is Chapman's. It was very warm again and this silver-washed fritillary would only nectar in the shade, even though there were plenty of flower heads in the sun.
12th: A sunny morning but storms and clouds later - so our afternoon walk got aborted before we got half way!
13th: I had to be home to teach at 18h00, so decided on a trip to a site in the Rhône Valley, not climbing into the mountains. I hoped there might still be some rock graylings about - and there were. I saw the first while cycling to the site, and the second soon after arriving. This is it - looking rather worn but none the less active for that! Here is another from later in the day, showing better the characteristic orange around the eye spot. The most conspicuous species flying today were whites, with wood white, eastern Bath white, small white, southern small white (that individual has very scant scaling on the hindwing but I saw the upperside and there is also no fork in vein 7) and green-veined white all common. Clusters of small white, southern small white and green-veined white all together were frequent. The other conspicuous species was southern white admiral. There always seemed to be at least one in the vicinity, watching from a favoured vantage point. This one preferred the wire fence around the vineyards, while this one adopted a clematis-draped elder as his castle. For the blues, I had hoped to see Meleager's here, but it was not to be. I did see turquoise blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, holly blue, Adonis blue and chalkhill blue. There were a few small coppers and small heaths around too, as well as walls and speckled woods. I saw a couple of great sooty satyrs and both species of swallowtail at various points, though neither was common. Skippers were fewer and futher between. Here is a mallow skipper and here a southern grizzled. Here is Minnie waiting patiently by the bike for me to pop her in her carrybag and take her back to the station.
14th: A day of mixed weather. In the afternoon Minnie and I took the télécabine up the local mountain and walked down by a familiar route. Right at the top a few lesser mountain ringlets and common brassy ringlets were flying, as well as this water ringlet. It has a rather conspicuous acarian attached to its thorax but this is very common and apparently harmless. This rather worn shepherd's fritillary - which I first took for a very late pearl-bordered fritillary - was flying there too. By far the commonest ringlet, from almost the top of the mountain right down to Leysin village, was Scotch argus. Here and here are two individuals that took a shine to my backpack, and here a short (and very poor) video of a group of Scotch arguses. There are still plenty of manto ringlets around. This is a female lesser mountain ringlet skulking in the grass, probably looking to lay her eggs, and this is a common brassy ringlet, taking advantage of the almost empty dogs' water bowl at the Temeley refuge. Here is a mazarine blue female laying in a clover head and here one of the eggs she laid (and here). There are still plenty of heath fritillaries around, as well as a few false heath fritillaries. Apart from plenty of mazarine blues, I also saw common, little and Adonis blues, and dozens of chalkhill blues (and here) - now by far the commonest blue on the mountain. Here is a fluffy young black redstart among the rocks, and here a frog in the woods.
15th: A fine day, with some cloud, but I didn't go anywhere special as I was teaching most of the afternoon.
16th: Visited a site in the Val d'Hérens. It was a very hot day and many butterflies were seeking the shade, but much was on show too. Most interestingly, I saw at least a dozen - probably more - brown hairstreaks, all in the proximity of and showing an interest in the copious birch trees there. I didn't see any blackthorn, apart from a single, small bush. They mostly looked like male hairstreaks, though some might have been females, and they were very restless. Only this one actually stopped long enough for me to train the zoom on him and get a shot. It really did look as if the butterfly were associated with birch here. Another new species for the year was dusky meadow brown, of which I saw just one as we climbed back up to the main road from the river site. There were very many ordinary meadow browns. I was hoping for Meleager's blue, which I haven't seen yet this year, but found none. Instead, I did come across a single baton blue, which settled briefly but flew off before I got a photo. Unusually, all three admirals fly at this site. Today I saw just two: plenty of rather worn white admirals and a few much smarter southern white admirals, presumably a second brood. Here is a female silver-washed fritillary nectaring in the shade and studiously ignoring the male attempting to seduce her. Chalkhill blues were the commonest blue, with Adonis and mazarine also present. That little group was nectaring dangerously close to this watching lizard. I don't like to interfere, but I suspect it was my presence that saved them, as the lizard seemed wary of me. Dryads were quite numerous. For the whites and yellows, wood whites were common, as were small (possibly southern small) and green-veined. Here is an eastern Bath white. There are plenty of fresh brimstones around at the moment. I believe this is a large grizzled skipper, and this is most certainly a silver-spotted skipper. There were large skippers still on the wing too.
17th: A red-backed shrike in Leysin village.
18th: A day trip to the Simplon region with a friend from England. We began the hike at 2000m and climbed to about 4000m. On the way up, little was flying at the lower altitudes. There were a fair few Erebias about - lesser mountain ringlet, Swiss brassy ringlet, Scotch argus and marbled ringlet - but many other Erebias I normally associate with this site were apparently already over. The only blues were chalkhill and idas. There were a few Essex skippers and silver-spotted skippers, but no other skippers low down. Climbing higher, the alpine meadows became more productive. Water ringlets became increasingly numerous and carline skippers flew locally in good numbers. Here is a female. Swiss brassy ringlets were everywhere. We saw amazingly few fritillariesMost of those we did see were Queens of Spain, with a very few shepherd's fritillaries too but no mountain fritillaries.Occasionally, larger fritillaries flew through, which were probably all dark green, though there might have been Niobe too. A single Melitaea motored through, which I suspect was Grisons fritillary, though it never stopped. Other notable absentees were Colias species. We saw a very few mountain clouded yellows, a possible male moorland clouded yellow and a very few clouded and Berger’s clouded yellows. We were on the lookout for end-of-season cranberry blues but all the potential suspects turned out to be very old and dark idas blues. Here is a fresher idas blue. Towards the upper end of our hike friend spotted a rock thrush - and then another - high on the rocks on the mountainside. There were lots of wheatears and black redstarts around, and at least one winchat, and it took me a long time to find what he was looking at, but eventually I did. Here and here are shots of one of them (a juvenile male, I think), and here another. Also on the way up we saw at least two alpine graylings - one at the very top. Coming back down the mountain, more and more butterflies were gathering at minerals, though the species were still limited: mostly chalkhhill (there are carline skippers and an Essex skipper in that picture too) and idas blues, Swiss brassy ringlets, carline skippers, and in the higher parts, water ringlets (there is a Swiss brassy ringlet in the middle of that group). At the very bottom, surprisingly, I saw I took to be my first and only small mountain ringlet of the day, though I'm not now so sure as to what it was. There was also a grayling (semele) resting flying around the path, which I first took for an alpine grayling. In a grassy, flowery patch at about 2000m, our first scarce coppers of the day were flying around busily and very occasionally pausing for photos. There were also small heaths here. Strangely, we saw no alpine or Darwin's heaths all day. After a quick beer, we caught the bus to a little further down the mountain, to look for dusky meadow browns and Escher’s blues, amongst others. Here, great sooty satyr females - no males - were still flying, and looking rather fresh. Here is one of several female dusky meadow browns we saw, and here a female Escher’s blue, showing some silver scaling (on both sides of the hindwing). Other species here were swallowtail, common blue and chalkhill blue (both gathering in good numbers on lucern), as well as a single damon blue.
19th: I've got bike problems, and there's a heatwave, so options are limited (Minnie can't do long walks in the heat of the valley, so we have to go high, and I didn't have time to go high today)
20th: As yesterday, heatwave and bike problems ... I played the piano for the Villars church in the evening so we made that our main excursion!
21st: A day of admin, teaching and heatwave!
22nd: Another hot, sunny morning. Even here at 1300m, temperatures are in the 30s in the heat of the day. Business, admin and teaching to attend to ...
23rd: Still hot. In the afternoon, before teaching, I took Minnie up the local mountain to see what was still flying. Everything is rather dry and there are fewer nectar flowers, but a few shepherd's fritillaries and Queens of Spain were still flying, as well as much reduced numbers of Erebia compared with a few weeks ago. Water ringlet, manto ringlet, Scotch argus and marbled ringlet were still all on the wing. I also saw what I think is my first damon blue for this site. Most extraordinary, however, was this melanic female high brown fritillary (the underside was necessary for the identification). She didn't hang around for better photos, but zoomed over a hillock, never to be seen again! Great banded graylings are still abundant lower down the mountain, though they were sticking to the shade today.
24th: Yet another very hot day. The mechanics were still finalising my bike but I risked taking Minnie for a short walk in the valley as I had to go down for admin reasons anyway. I soaked her at every drinking fountain and she survived the trip! It was to a site where normally I see short-tailed and long-tailed blues in August. The site had recently been scythed and there were none there today. Only a few common and Adonis blues were flying over the cut grass. The walk took us past fields of lucerne, where more blues were flying, but it was too hot (for Minnie) to hang around and I took her straight back to the train into the mountains again.
24th: A mostly cloudy day, but the cold has not really struck yet. I am largely back to work... On our evening walk we found this fox moth caterpillar (photographed with the iPhone) crossing the road. I moved it to a safer place as there were cars around.
25th: It's beginning to feel cooler now. This was the view in the morning towards les Dents de Midi.
26th: It got distinctly cooler during the night of 25th-26th. I got up at about 04h00 to close the window and saw that Orion was rising over the Grand Chamossaire - my first view of Orion since he set in the spring. There was some afternoon sun, leading to beautiful cloudy skies (and here) in the evening.
27th: Cold and cloudy - not more than 9°C in the afternoon.
28th: Still cold and cloudy, with plenty of rain at times.
29th: Fog, rain and cloud. This is our evening walk.
30th: Bright but chilly in the morning. The blue moon rose behind clouds in the evening. Here is Minnie watching it (actually, listening to a distant dog or wolf howling at the moon ...).
31st: The last day of August was mostly cloudy but a little warmer than recently (15°C in the afternoon) and for the first time in days, butterflies flew. I took Minnie to local woods at lunchtime, as I had to work in the afternoon. There, great banded graylings and a speckled wood were on the wing. Then, we went to a nearby meadow where I found brown hairstreak eggs in the winter. It was still cloudy, and we saw no hairstreaks, but we did find this fresh egg. Despite the weather a few Adonis blues were about (here is a female), as well as common blues, Chapman's blues and northern brown arguses. There was also a wall, a fair few great banded graylings and a single dryad. No whites or yellows, and no skippers - nor any fritillaries - but a lot more butterflies than I've seen recently! A big-eared roe deer (and here) was munching in the meadow before we got there but sloped quietly off as we approached.

1st: A year ago today I picked up the keys to my new flat in Leysin (then immediately flew back to the UK to pack all the rest of my belongings and move back to Switzerland). The weather picked up today. We took a lunchtime/early afternoon walk to one of the local brown hairstreak sites but again failed to find any adults. Many more butterflies were on the wing than yesterday, though of the same species. Here are a chalkhill blue, a Chapman's blue, a common blue and a northern brown argus. Later, I left Minnie at home and popped up to another brown hairstreak site. Again, I saw no adults, but I did find these two hatched eggs on some mature blackthorn, showing that not all the egg-bearing blackthorn had been destroyed when they cut it back in the spring.
2nd: I visited the cardinal site today - specifically, the summer site, where the males defend territories around Buddleia (as opposed to the spring sites, where both sexes just nectar together in innocent harmony). As I had hoped, there were lots of cardinals - certainly several dozen in total. At one point I saw six males in flight together. Here is one of the first I saw, before I reached the Buddleia. Here, here, here and here are some more males - I photographed a lot more, though they were so active it was actually quite difficult. This cardinal is being mobbed by a Niobe fritillary. Often, as here and here, they used the Buddleia as a perch, without nectaring. They would lift off and zoom after anything that came near. They also perched on trees by the roadside. Plenty of other fritillaries were around too, also enjoying the Buddleia. Silver-washed were conspicuous (and here, with the head of a mobbing cardinal in the picture), as were Niobe (and here). There were a few Queens of Spain (and here) and a number of spotted fritillaries as well. Also on the Buddleia were a few swallowtails and mallow skippers (and a single large skipper), as well as blues and whites, though these were largely on the ground at minerals. Here is a swallowtail on the ground, and here a group of chalkhill blues (with a northern brown argus in the foreground). Chalkhill blue was by far the commonest blue, though there were a few common and Adonis blues and I think I saw a female long-tailed near bladder senna. Here are a couple of green-veined whites taking minerals and here a male southern small white with them. This is a southern small white. There were still quite a few southern white admirals on the wing, sometimes landing on the Buddleia but using plenty of other plants as perches too. My surprise year-tick for the day was this purple hairstreak (I probably saw two or three other individuals as well) - it is extraordinary this is the first one I've seen all year! Other species flying were small white, clouded yellow, Berger's clouded yellow, speckled wood, wall, small tortoiseshell and red admiral.
3rd: A local walk this afternoon to one of my local brown hairstreak sites. No hairstreaks appeared but I was pleased to see the sainfoin covered in many species, including this male Damon blue (and here). With him were Adonis blues, chalkhill blues, common blues, Chapman's blues and northern brown arguses. Small heaths and great-banded graylings were common and a few Scotch argus were still on the wing here. Not far away, oregano was also attracting good numbers of butterflies, including sooty coppers and violet fritillaries as well as various blues. On the way back home I saw lots of butterflies flying around a distant Buddleia. I couldn't pin down the large fritillary that was there - probably high brown - but was able to add painted lady and peacock to the day list.
4th: Today was a work day, but between lessons in the afternoon I took a little walk up the hill above school. Here is a female sooty copper with a friend and here a female pied flycatcher (and here, and here). A lunchtime walk around Leysin produced little, but I did see this male sooty copper.
5th: A beautiful, warm day from morning to evening - but a work day too.
6th: Another beautiful day.
7th: Ever hopeful, I visited the local brown hairstreak site early this afternoon, before teaching. This time, I was lucky. I soon spotted a female fly up into some wild rose (and here), after which she began exploring the blackthorn for suitable places to lay eggs. I kept my distance and left her still there. Again, the site was alive with other Lycaenids, including northern brown argus, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue and chalkhill blue. And again, there were a few violet fritillaries on the wing. I didn't see any walls, but great-banded graylings were conspicuous.
8th: A red kite over Leysin (and here). Another work day! On our lunchtime walk we saw few butterflies but there are still clouded and Berger's clouded yellows around in town. The weather has been very hot for the last few days.
9th: Just to try something new, I caught the télécabine at Haute Nendaz today and took a walk near Tracouet. On arrival at the top of the télécabine, I quickly saw this terrain was not going to be productive for butterflies at this time of year. It was very dry and looked as if there would be few rich nectar sources. A small tortoiseshell greeted us (Minnie and me, that is) as we left the télécabine and we saw the first of many silver-spotted skippers almost immediately afterwards. This was the commonest butterfly of the day. Next to appear was a wall, followed by a grayling - a surprisingly common species here, at over 2000m. Here and here are further graylings from later in the walk. Few blues were around. The commonest was chalkhill, and very locally I saw a few common blues and northern brown arguses. I saw just one small copper. Both clouded yellow and Berger’s clouded yellow were on the wing, but no whites, and no moorland clouded yellows, despite large banks of Vaccinium. For the fritillaries, there were several very worn dark green fritillaries (this one is in slightly better nick) at our rest spot (Minnie sat in the shade while I drank beer and meditated on the mountains) and a few Queens of Spain along the tracks we walked. I saw an unidentified Erebia at the beginning of the walk and a female Erebia montana (marbled ringlet) towards the end - the earlier one might have been this. By coincidence, I had chosen Haut Nendaz's 'Pop in the City' day (whatever that means), and the paths were swarming with happy people in orange shirts. I'll try the site earlier in the year next year!
10th: I taught in the morning and evening, so in between visited an easily accessible site in the Rhône Valley. New for the year was tree grayling, which was out in very good numbers. Many were dining at dung, of horse or camel (these two are at camel dung). I saw a fair few graylings (semele) as well, though the tree graylings were much commoner. There were no skippers at all on the wing (I often see mallow, grizzled and rosy grizzled skippers here late in the year) nor any swallowtails but blues and yellows (clouded and Berger's clouded) were conspicous. There were Adonis (here and here are females), chalkhill, common and Chapman's blues, as well as northern brown arguses. I also saw a couple of small coppers. Other Satyrids were wall, speckled wood and small heath - all to be expected. This southern white admiral was stilll defending his territory. For the whites, southern small white, small white and eastern Bath white (crumply wings, but able to fly and obviously enjoying himself) were all common, and I saw a few large whites. Spotted fritillaries and Queen of Spain fritillaries were both numerous. It was a beautiful, hot day and red kites were flying in bands of half a dozen or more, circling overhead or floating on the cliff edges (and here). At one point several black kites were circling with herons. They seemed to be chasing each other off, but I couldn't reall tell who was chasing who.
11th: A beautiful morning. I didn't mention it then, but on 9th September, my train back up the hill was cancelled because a chalet right by the railway in Leysin was ablaze and the train couldn't pass. A replacement bus was laid on instead. Today I walked past the chalet and it is indeed a sad sight.
12th: A cloudy morning, leading to a still cloudier day. Autumn is here. Despite this, a few butterflies flew in sunny spells on our lunchtime walk, including this speckled wood and this holly blue.
13th: Another cloudy day.
14th: A bright day up the mountain, though hazy over the valley. We did the local brown hairstreak spot in the afternoon, seeing one female in flight. Other species on the wing were Adonis blue, Chapman's blue, common blue, northern brown argus, small white, wall, speckled wood and great-banded grayling.
15th: Another one of those rare days when I didn't even take a phone picture on my morning walk!
16th: A beautiful morning, leading to a cloudier day. I had a little time in the afternoon to take Minnie to Villeneuve, where for the first time I noticed the quarry workings (and here) on the cliff opposite the reserve. I wondered how on earth those vehicles and structures got up there! From a different angle, a little later, I saw there was a tunnel in the rock (and here). I have no idea where it leads or comes from.
17th: A mild day (but a work day).
18th: Cloud and torrential rain in the morning, leading to a generally grim and non-butterfly day.
19th: Cloudy morning but plenty of sun during the day (and here, and here). Here is a team of snow machines ready for the winter ... The blackthorn in Leysin itself has rapidly grown back where it was cut in the spring and I quickly found brown hairstreak eggs when I searched some of it (and here). This particular pair had had a narrow escape in the autumn cutting, though!
20th: A beautiful day. I had just enough time in the afternoon to catch the train down to Pont de Drapel, walk to Aigle (and here) and catch the train up. The grapes are hanging very full on the vine. A very few butterflies were on the wing - the odd Lycaenid (none stopped), a few Queens of Spain and a few whites.
21st: A cool, early autumn day.
22nd: A bright morning but with sometimes quite dense clouds moving through. This is the view of the Grand Chamossaire from our afternoon walk around the Suchet.
23rd: Snow fell to below 2000m last night. Here is the Grand Chamossaire viewed from my balcony this morning, and here a more highly zoomed shot of the top of the Roc d'Orsay télécabine. In the afternoon we took a quick trip to Montreux for a walk by the lake. Here is a multitasking cormorant, drying his wings while balancing on a highly mobile buoy!
24th: A beautiful, sunny day beckoned, and I didn’t have to work until the evening, so we set off this morning for the Rhône Valley. The particular target was rosy grizzled skipper, but more generally I just wanted to enjoy a walk and see how the season was evolving. We got off the train and began the walk at about 10h40, while the day was still heating up. Very quickly, we saw chalkhill blue, Adonis blue, common blue, clouded yellow, small white, green-veined white, wall and Queen of Spain. A little further along the walk the tree graylings started appearing (lots of them - easily the commonest butterfly today), with a few graylings among them and some small heaths. I didn’t consciously identify a Chapman’s blue, though it is probable I saw some today, as they are generally common. At the meadow site where rosy grizzleds fly, I quickly spotted this freshish individual (and here). It was the only one, though - perhaps the vanguard of the third brood. There were plenty of Berger’s clouded yellows at the same site and a few small coppers. Queens of Spain are still common. I took this shot of two of them moments before the male decided to jump the female. I took a few shots of the attempt but then backed off so as not to interrupt what was going on. I suspect he failed, as Queens usually mate very quickly. Here is a buzzard circling overhead and here one of the many red kites quartering near the cliffs. As the day got warmer still, more of all the same species flew. I was surprised not to see any eastern Bath whites, until I saw a single individual as I walked home, proving that their season is not quite over. I also noted that there were no spotted fritillaries, despite this being very common the last time I visited, on 10th September. Then eventually I found this female (and here) - evidently rather old and weary but enjoying her life all the same. A few red admirals were flying near the vineyards and along a woody track, and I came across this single speckled wood too, as we walked back for the train. By the time we left, it was really warm and lots of whites (this is a green-veined white), blues (this is a common blue), coppers and yellows were adorning the many sunspots and very few remaining nectar plants. A feature of my trips to this end of the Rhône Valley in recent years has been the Bactrian camels we have come across. At one point today, this large adult was blocking our path. He or she took no notice of us as we walked around his (or her) front end. Then, as we came back past the spot, there were three of them waiting for us. They watched languidly as we walked past, but didn't bother to turn around!
25th: Towards evening today. Looking in the other direction, the waxing moon is over the horizon.
26th:  A beautiful day (and here). Also a working day, so our afternoon walk was local. Clouded and Berger's clouded yellows are still on the wing, as are Adonis, common and chalkhill blues, and northern brown arguses. I saw one brown hairstreak in flight. Here is Minnie on her evening walkies around Leysin.
27th: Another beautiful day. I was surprised to find a female meadow brown, in quite good condition, on our afternoon walk around Leysin. Here is a comma in the woods on the same walk. And finally, Leysin church and Minnie on our evening walk.
28th: Cloud in the morning, leading to a bright, autumn day.
29th: A heat wave is descending on Switzerland. Here is a view of the Dents du Midi in the afternoon. We did our usual working day walk, but this time saw two female brown hairstreaks, in different places. The first appeared near the cemetery, where it spent a little time crawling around in a cherry tree (and here) before heading off over the meadows. I found the second one in a cherry tree too, where she seemed to be pushing around with her abdomen, but she quickly headed off to a blackthorn, where I left her. Other species flying were common blue, Adonis blue, lots of northern brown arguses, large, small and green-veined whites, red admirals (mostly in the woody parts of the walk) and clouded and Berger's clouded yellows.
30th: A cloudy morning, but sun and heat were forecast for the day, so I headed back to the site where I saw brown hairstreaks around birch on 16th August. By the time we arrived, at about 11h00, it was warm and sunny as promised. I saw a single brown hairstreak - flying past birch - near the beginning of the walk, and then rather later spotted a female apparently fly into a birch tree. I waited and saw nothing, so presumed she had flown on, but as the trees were very accessible I started looking for eggs. A few minutes later, the same (I presume) brown hairstreak flew out of the same tree, apparently from somewhere near where I was looking. I had put her up. She flew off, but I got a shot of her when she briefly posed nearby. Later on, by the river, surrounded by birch, I saw a third female, and on the way back up to the bus a fourth - also by birch. There is no doubt, the species has an affinity with birch at this site, whether or not the females are laying on the tree. Other species still on the wing were grayling (very numerous) tree grayling (common), wall (common), common blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, small white, small copper, green-veined white, eastern Bath white (and here), clouded yellow, Berger’s clouded yellow, red admiral, peacock, high brown fritillary (locally quite a few), Queen of Spain and probably dark green fritillary (one seen in flight, but I can’t say for certain it wasn’t a high brown. Here is Minnie on her evening walk, by Leysin church.


1st: Wall to wall sunshine all day today, so Minnie and I took a stroll up the local mountain as far as one of our favourite meadows. On the way we saw little - a red admiral or two, a couple of whites and a few Queens of Spain. But when we arrived, it became clear the Adonis blues were still going strong. Here is a couple thinking ahead, and here a female. Strangely, I didn't confirm any common blues. I thought this worn individual was one as it looked dull on the wing - it was also very small - but on seeing the photo I think it is Adonis. The other Lycaenid flying was northern brown argus. Here is an aberrant individual - an aberration I have seen twice recently around Leysin, so obviously a local thing. Here is a more normal female (and here). Berger's clouded yellows were flying through regularly and a single wall appeared at one point. But the butterfly season is closing down. Here is a strikingly black-and-white rattle grasshopper (Psophus stridulus).