HOME
Support this site

YEAR LIST, 2024


For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click 2023, 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.
Robin Fox, in Italy, keeps a similarly updated diary HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2024 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
CHECKLIST FOR THE YEAR 2024
  1. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 1st January - Valais, Switzerland
  2. Small tortoiseshell (Agalis urticae) - 29th January - Vaud, Switzerland
  3. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 3rd February - Valais, Switzerland
  4. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 4th February - Valais, Switzerland
  5. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 17th February - North Italy
  6. Peacock (Aglais io) - 17th February - North Italy
  7. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 17th February - North Italy
  8. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 17th February - North Italy
  9. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 24th February - Valais, Switzerland
  10. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 9th March - Valais, Switzerland
  11. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 16th March - North Italy
  12. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 16th March - North Italy
  13. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 16th March - North Italy
  14. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 16th March - North Italy
  15. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 25th March - Valais, Switzerland
  16. Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 25th March - Valais, Switzerland
  17. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) - 25th March - Valais, Switzerland
  18. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 5th April - Valais, Switzerland
  19. Camberwell beauty (Nympahlis antiopa) - 5th April - Valais, Switzerland
  20. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 5th April - Valais, Switzerland
  21. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 6th April - Valais, Switzerland
  22. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 11th April - Vaud, Switzerland
  23. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  24. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  25. Large white (Pieris brassicae) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  26. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  27. Berger's clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  28. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  29. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  30. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  31. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 13th April - Valais, Switzerland
  32. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  33. Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  34. Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  35. Green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  36. Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  37. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  38. Glanville fritilllary (Melitaea cinxia) - 4th May - Valais, Switzerland
  39. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 9th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  40. De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 11th May - Valais, Switzerland
  41. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 11th May - Valais, Switzerland
  42. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 11th May - Valais, Switzerland
  43. Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 12th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  44. Nickerl's fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) - 18th May - Valais, Switzerland
  45. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 18th May - Valais, Switzerland
  46. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 19th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  47. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 20th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  48. Violet copper (Lycaena helle) - 25th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  49. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 25th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  50. Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 26th May - Valais, Switzerland
  51. Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 26th May - Valais, Switzerland
  52. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 26th May - Valais, Switzerland
  53. Swiss zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 26th May - Valais, Switzerland
  54. Cryptic wood white (Leptidea juvernica) - 28th May - Vaud, Switzerland
  55. Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 7th June - Valais, Switzerland
  56. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 7th June - Valais, Switzerland
  57. Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 7th June - Valais, Switzerland
  58. Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 7th June - Valais, Switzerland
  59. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 7th June - Valais, Switzerland
  60. Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 8th June - Valais, Switzerland
  61. White admiral (Limenitis camilla) - 10th June - Genève, Switzerland
  62. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 10th June - Genève, Switzerland
  63. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 10th June - Genève, Switzerland
  64. Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 12th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  65. Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 12th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  66. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 12th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  67. Sloe hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae) - 12th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  68. Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 12th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  69. Southern white admiral (Limenitis reducta) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  70. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  71. Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  72. Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  73. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  74. Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  75. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione berisalii) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  76. Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  77. Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  78. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 13th June - Valais, Switzerland
  79. Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas merope) - 16th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  80. Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 16th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  81. Geranium argus (Aricia eumedon) - 17th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  82. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 18th June - Valais, Switzerland
  83. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 18th June - Valais, Switzerland
  84. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 18th June - Valais, Switzerland
  85. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 19th June - Valais, Switzerland
  86. Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 19th June - Valais, Switzerland
  87. Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 19th June 2024 - Valais, Switzerland
  88. Southern heath fritillary (Melitaea nevadensis) - 25th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  89. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 25th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  90. Tufted marbled skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) - 26th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  91. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 26th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  92. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 27th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  93. Cranberry fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris) - 28th June - Vaud, Switzerland
  94. Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 4th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  95. Alpine heath (Coenonympha gardetta) - 5th July - Valais, Switzerland
  96. Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 5th July - Valais, Switzerland
  97. Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 8th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  98. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 8th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  99. Titania's fritillary (Boloria titania) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  100. Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  101. Mallow skipper (Carcharodus alceae) - 9th July - Bern, Switzerland
  102. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 10th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  103. Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 11th July - Valais, Switzerland
  104. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 11th July - Valais, Switzerland
  105. Small Apollo (Parnassius corybas) - 11th July - Valais, Switzerland
  106. Asian fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia) - 11th July - Valais, Switzerland
  107. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 11th July - Valais, Switzerland
  108. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 13th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  109. Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 13th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  110. Dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) - 14th July - Bern, Switzerland
  111. Scarce large blue (Phengaris telejus) - 14th July - Bern, Switzerland
  112. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 14th July - Bern, Switzerland
  113. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 18th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  114. Darwin's heath (Coenonympha darwiniana) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  115. Rätzer's ringlet (Erebia christi) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  116. Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  117. Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  118. Dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  119. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  120. Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  121. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 19th July - Valais, Switzerland
  122. Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 20th July - Vaud, Switzerland
  123. Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 23rd July - Vaud, Switzerland

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

January
Happy New Year ! The year began cold but bright and despite early forecasts for a cloudy day it soon seemed it might have some butterfly promise. Minnie and I caught the 11h04 down to the valley and hurried to our winter site, where after about 20 minutes we saw our first butterfly of the year - a red admiral. It was in almost exactly the same place as our last butterfly of 2023 - also a red admiral, but a different individual. That was the only butterfly of the day, and it had actually turned rather chilly by 14h00, but it was enough to set the year off to a great start. Thank you, red admiral ! Back in Leysin, it was all sun and snow - until the cloud rolled in. Here is the night sky on the first day of the year, with Gemini above the church and Orion over the Chamossaire.
2nd: A cloudy day, with rain in the evening. Here is Minnie on her afternoon walk, with the dry ski-jump in the background.
3rd: Cloudy and cold all day, though with the odd bright spell in the morning. Evening walkies - no snow on the ground. Cloudy skies over Leysin later in the night.
4th: A grey day. Here is a crossbill at the top of a spruce on our afternoon walk. And here is a Leysin street in the evening.
5th: Cloudy and lightly snowing in the morning, though quite warm. I decided to catch the train down the hill and head for the Papiliorama, to get some exotic butterflies! I have been so many times now it is rare for me to see something new, but Hypolimnas monteironis (underside) was a first for me. This Idea leuconoe posed nicely next to its picture. Here is Heliconius atthis (and here) and here is Heliconius charitonius. There are always lots of Heliconids flying around here. Recently, there have also been lots of Euploea - in particular, Euploea core, which I presume must breed freely in the butterfly house. It was raining when we arrived and raining when we left. Here is a great white heron making the most of it - photographed at very great distance across the fields.
6th: Another grey day - very cloudy in the morning, then lightly snowing most of the day. Here is Minnie at the Leysin American School, where I give private lessons, and here she is on her way home. Unsettled evening weather.
7th: Cold and snowy. Here is Minnie showing she's still got it!
8th: Heavy cloud (= fog) over the town all day. Here is an evening shot, showing the lights from the sports centre reaching up into the sky, and here is Minnie by the church.
9th: Morning light (and here). Heavy fog in the afternoon. Here is Minnie beneath an icy treescape, and here some barbed wire, thick with hoar-frost seeded by the frozen cloud.
10th: Cloud filling the valley. Here is the view as evening was falling.
11th: Cloud filling the valley in the morning rose to cover much of the lower town and the wooded walks (and here). This picture shows how cold it was ... Here are the lights of Leysin through a night-time blanket of cloud, and here a foggy street view with Minnie.
12th: Again, the sea of cloud filling the valley rose up to Leysin - but it came higher today, covering all the lower town. Above the cloud it was a beautiful, warm day. Here we are, walking back home - into the cloud.
13th: A beautiful, sunny day, with only haze over the valley, leading to a clear, starry night. I had an online meeting most of the afternoon, so we didn't go down to the valley. We did check out the south-facing slopes around Leysin, where the snow had melted, in the hope of a red admiral or two, but none were forthcoming.
14th: We headed to the valley today, in the hope of a butterfly in the hot vineyards near Martigny, but in the event, hazy cloud kept temperatures too low. Here is Minnie on wooded slopes where we saw a black woodpecker (and here, calling) tantalisingly close - but on the wrong side of the tree, and obscured by canopy. By early afternoon, as predicted, clouds had built up. Even in the middle of the day, icicles were hanging from ground plants in the shade.
15th: Back to rolling cloud (and here). At the top of the spruce trees, crossbills were conspicuous (and here). Separately from them, groups of siskins were feeding on the cones, sending clouds of pollen into the air (and here). Here is the crescent moon in the evening.
16th: Mixed cloud all day: high cloud, low cloud, evening cloud.
17th: Heavy cloud, from morning to evening. Here is a bullfinch high in a tree.
18th: Cloud and rain, leading to heavy snow by the evening.
19th: A snowy day, with some brighter patches, leading to a clear evening.
20th: Sun was forecast, so I went to the usual spots in the Rhône Valley. It turned out to be much too cold for butterflies, but I met a woman who told me the secret history of Valais as we walked together, so I learnt much anyway! Here's the moon over the mountains, and here Leysin in the evening.
21st: Red sky in the morning and in the evening - I don't know what the shepherds have to say about that!
22nd: A cloudy day (and here).
23rd: I had to buy Minnie a new lead, so we took a walk along the Rhône before going into Aniland, her favourite shop! Here is a buzzard in the messy, industrial part of the walk, and here is the Grand Chamossaire in the evening.
24th: A cloudy day.
25th: Sunny today, so we took a local walk to south-facing meadows where we thought small tortoiseshells or red admirals might be flying. None were. Here is a crossbill. Clouds were building up (and here) and by the full moon rose into a hazy sky. Nevertheless, when it was high I was able to get decent pictures of it through the haze. This is the first full moon of 2024.
26th: Morning and evening.
27th: A beautiful day, but I was suffering from a heavy cold and had a lot of work to do, so I resisted the temptation to go to the winter Queen of Spain spots in the valley. Instead, I walked Minnie from Pont de Drapel, through the vineyards to Vers Pousaz and then back to Aigle station. During the walk we saw no fewer than 5 red admirals, all very flighty. In the vineyards, this was the only one I got a proof shot of, and at Aigle station I snapped a quickie of this individual on cherry blossom. By the time I had opened the flash for a better picture, it was off.
28th: My cold was worse, but I had to be in Montreux in the morning so got up early. Here is a sky shot, showing Virgo in the top right, Serpens (and Ophiucus) to the left, and Scorpius at the bottomw. By the evening, we were back to the winter constellations, showing brightly through a hazy sky. Here are goosanders on the lake, with the Dents du Midi in the background.
29th: A mild day, with hazy sun. I took Minnie for a local walk, in the hope of some butterflies, and spotted my first small tortoiseshell of the year in Leysin cemetery (at about 1224m). It quickly flew off after that one, distant photo.
30th: A promising start to the day, but it quickly became overcast. It began clearing up as the sun set and was hazy-clear by night.
31st: Con-trails in the morning sky. It was a bright and often warm day locally, but no butterflies flew.

February
1st: Early morning, with the moon in a still dark sky. A little later, red skies did indeed predict a gloomy day, though it cleared up by the evening.
2nd: Heavily overcast morning, leading to a deep orange sunset (and here).
3rd: A glorious, sunny day, with temperatures rising as high as 11°C or 12°C in the valley. We went to our usual spots, in the hope of some winter butterflies, and were not disappointed. Here is Minnie in the little wine village of Branson, before climbing up to our first butterfly stop. In fact, we saw our first small tortoiseshell before we got there, high up a sunny bank. At the site, there were perhaps half a dozen, all vying for the best spots in the sun. This one was rather distinctive, with greately diminished yellow on the wings. Here, here and here are others. There were no Queens of Spain here, so we continued on to another hotspot for that species - but found none. This is unusual - normally the Queens come out before the tortoiseshells. I did see more small tortoiseshells on the way and on the way back, and continued to see them for the rest of the walk. Here is one, photographed at a distance on Bulbocodium flowers (these are now out in good numbers - here is a little patch of them), and here the last one of the day, just before we headed home (at about 14h15). I estimate we saw about 20 altogether. The one surprise of the day - apart from not seeing Queens of Spain - was a single, male brimstone in a woody part of the walk. He didn't stop, but I snatched this quick flight shot (and here).
4th: Another day of wall-to-wall sun. In the valley, even more small tortoiseshells were flying - not just in the vineyards but all across the valley as far as Martigny station. Here, here and here are more individuals. Amazingly, there were no Queens. Conditions were perfect, but none of my hotspots produced so much as a glimpse of twisting silver in the air. My next chance to look will be Wednesday morning, so if it is still sunny, I'll be there! I saw just one red admiral today but two male brimstones, some distance from where I saw the brimstone yesterday. It is possible they were two sightings of the same one, as I saw them about 20 minutes apart, at the top and bottom of a high, stepped terrace - but my impression is they were different individuals. Shortly before I left, a comma flew past within touching distance, but I lost sight of it as it flew behind a tree on a precipitous slope. So four species on 4th Feb - and not the usual spread for the time of year (Queen of Spain, small tortoiseshell, clouded yellow). Here is a lizard getting bored with his diet of small tortoiseshells, and here a couple of firebugs mating.
5th: A small tortoiseshell flew past me at Leysin Villages station at about 10h15 this morning, as the day was heating up. By the time I took Minnie for her afternoon walk, small tortoiseshells were all over the place and could be seen sparring in twos and threes over meadows and by the roadside. At the cemetery, they came more to ground and could be found nectaring on most of the winter heather there (here is the context of that photo). This one, on another patch of heather, was soon courted by an incomer and they flew off together, I hope to make baby small tortoiseshells. There were no other species on the wing. Here is a black woodpecker I snapped very quickly at a distance, before it flew off. There was almost always the sound of a black woodpecker calling or drumming in the background. And here is a kestrel, watching for prey from the top of a spruce.
6th: Locally, still lots of small tortoiseshells around, despite a slight cooling and haziness. Again, there were lots on the heather in the cemetery (and here, and here). This amorous couple spent a long time with each other, but as usual for this species, I didn't see them mating. Here is the evening sky, with Leo rising over the Chamossaire and Coma Berenices to the left.
7th: It might have been a butterfly day in the valley but I had too much to do at home to go looking. Around Leysin it was sunny but colder (and here) and very little was on the wing - I saw just one or two small tortoiseshells, in flight. Here is Minnie on her afternoon walk. By the evening the weather had degraded considerably.
8th: Very cloudy but dry today. Here are some deer in the afternoon, against the backdrop of the Dents du Midi, and here is an evening view above Leysin Village station, with ominous clouds in the distance.
9th: I had intended to go looking for brown hairstreak eggs on birch today, where I saw females apparently laying in the autumn. But rain was forecast (and Minnie hates the rain) so I took a necessary trip to Lausanne instead. While there, we walked down to the lake, where pochard and other wildfowl were gathered in numbers. Here is a male goosander and here his very smart wife, with a brand new hairdo (and here). There were lots of great crested grebes on the lake too.
10th: Amostly cloudy day, but dry and warm. I set off in the morning to visit the birch brown hairstreak site and look for eggs, but engineering works meant that the journey would have been prohibitively long there and back, so instead I caught the next bus up the hill to my old stamping grounds near Huémoz. There, I looked in vain for hibernating purple emperor and white admiral caterpillars. The rides are influenced by forestry activities and I think all the old trees I used to look in for purple emperors are unsuitable now. I think a visit by night in April is necessary, to look by UV and find where the caterpillars are now. Many of the trackside honeysuckles, where I used to see white admiral caterpillars, had been cut down too. Here is Minnie having a drink at one of our stops, and here is a tick I found on her shortly afterwards! 
11th: We woke up this morning to snow (and here), but it was warm and most of it melted by the end of the day. Here is a view along the valley in the afternoon, and here a red kite passing overhead. It snowed again in the evening. Here is the church steeple with heavy snow falling all around.
12th: A cloudy day. Here is Orion through the clouds in the evening.
13th: A beautiful but slightly chilly day (and here). Surprisingly, we saw just one small tortoiseshell on our long, afternoon walk. Here is Minnie, searching in vain. And here is Leo, rising over the Grand Chamossaire.
14th: The day began bright and grew warmer during the morning. In the early afternoon we went to the cemetery to look for small tortoiseshells - or anything else that might be flying. There were more small tortoiseshells than ever, it seemed, with up to seven visible together flying around some patches of heather. There are a couple visible in this picture. This one was settled on the stones on Wynter-Blyth's grave (author of Butterflies of the Indian Region). Then high clouds started moving in swiftly, till they covered the sky, and the temperature dropped tangibly. I saw no more tortoiseshells on the walk home. Here are choughs circling on a thermal above a building in the village.
15th: The last day of the first 60 years of my life ... It was quite warm and sunny in the morning, though always with clouds threatening, so Minnie and I took a lunchtime walk down through the vineyards and wine villages to Aigle. Surprisingly, no small tortoiseshells were flying here - nor any red admirals, which had been common just a few weeks ago. The only butterfly we saw was a single comma, which flew past at close range in a wooded section of the walk, then disappeared down the hill. This was the early evening view as I walked back from school.
16th: The first day of the second 60 years of my life ... I had to work, but found time to celebrate my birthday in the cemetery at lunchtime, where again lots of small tortoiseshells were flying. Here, here, here and here are some more shots. The day had a distinctly springlike feel to it, even though there were high clouds and the ambient temperature was never more than about 10°C.
17th: The forecast was for wall-to-wall sunshine in Italy today, so Minnie and I caught the early train to Domodossola, arriving at 08h13. I didn’t take the bike, as this can cause problems in the ski season, so we then had a 90 minutes walk up into the hills (and here), where we hoped to see at the very least a few large tortoiseshells. I’ve only once before gone in February, and I didn’t take into account how late the sun reaches the wooded slopes. It wasn’t until 11h10 that we saw any butterflies at all, the first being a large tortoiseshelll, put up by Minnie. That one eluded the camera, but a second was more amenable, repeatedly stopping on the track ahead of us (and here). Shortly before midday, we decided to go down and look for Queens of Spain near Domodossola itself, but were stopped by a brimstone - the first of probably four seen during the day. This was followed by a peacock, and before I could get a decent photo of that, a white flew by. I assumed it was a small white, but the single photo I got of it shows it to be green-veined. By now the day was warming up, but I couldn’t make Minnie go back to the woods (she was already quite tired) so we headed slowly downwards. As we passed through villages, we saw many small tortoiseshells and red admirals (and here) on the flowers, as well as a few brimstones flying around. This distant shot is of the only comma we saw, flying around the long-dead fruits on some fruit tree - perhaps persimmon. Once down the hill, we headed to the open land near the river, where we often see large tortoiseshells and where early Queens fly. There were no large tortoiseshells - just a handful of small tortoiseshells and a single white in flight - but the usual Queen spot produced at least three and probably more of this species. Here and here are two different individuals. After that, we walked back to the station, dropping in for a swift beer on the way, and caught the 14h43 back to Switzerland (we had an appointment later in the afternoon). A total of 8 species on 17th February: Large tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock, comma, brimstone, green-veined white and Queen of Spain.
18th: A day of hazy cloud and sun. I worked in the morning and was playing the piano for church in Villars in the evening.
19th: A very cloudy day (and here, and here).
20th: We awoke to snow but it didn't last. Here is Minnie at a Grand Chamossaire viewpoint in the afternoon, and here a giant cloud later in the day. This is Leo rising above the Chamossaire in early evening, and another view later, with Coma Berenices. On our afternoon walk I photographed this heron, high up in a spruce tree.
21st: A very grey day.
22nd: Cloudy all day, with lots of rain, leading to heavy snow in the evening.
23rd: A sunny day, clouding over in the evening.
24th: Cold but sunny in the morning. I had yet again intended to go hunting brown hairstreak egg-hunting on birch, but again the trains were replaced by buses along the Rhône Valley and the journey would have been too cumbersome. So instead, I went to the usual winter vineyards to see if anything was flying there. As we walked through the village of Branson, I noticed little groups of crag martin flying around the houses. This is a summer visitor to the Alps, but an early arrivers. On the terraced slopes of the vineyards, small tortoiseshells (and here) were out in abundance: I saw many dozen over the course of the day. This one, photographed at a great distance, was taking more than a passing interest in a female red admiral ... Queens (and here) were flying too, in smaller numbers - I saw probably 10 in the course of the walk. It was a strange day, as the temperature never climbed above 6°C and there was a really chilly breeze - I was glad of my ski jacket - but butterflies were out in numbers. There were intervals of warm sun but clouds were always threatening and for periods it was quite overcast. Shortly before coming home, I sat at a picnic table, shivering in the cold, with small tortoiseshells and Queens drifiting up and down the slope below me as if it were a hot, sunny day! I saw in total about five small whites (and here) - new for the year - and singles of brimstone and large tortoiseshell. Here is the second full moon of the year!
25th: A bitterly cold but bright morning. I had to work much of the day, but visited the cemetery at lunchtime to see if anything would brave the chilly wind and 4°C temperature. Amazingly, quite a few small tortoiseshells (and here, and here) were on the wing, despite the fact my fingers were almost too cold to press the shutter! Here is a view of the Dent Favre and Grand Muveran in the early afternoon, before cloud and even snow moved in.
26th: The morning looked OK but it developed into a very grey day (and here)! Here are rolls of cloud breaking over the Dents du Midi.
27th: Another grey day (and here), leading to a grey night.
28th: More grey (and here)!
29th: A bright but cold morning, leading to a bright, sunny day (and here). In the cemetery, small tortoiseshells abounded on the heather (and here). I also saw a single, male brimstone and a single large tortoiseshell nearby.

March
1st: The cloud was so thick today you could barely see your hands in front of your face most of the day. It partly cleared towards the evening, and by night the stars were shining over the village.
2nd: The trains were running and the weather was fine so I headed to the birch brown hairstreak spot in Valais to see if I could find any eggs. It wasn't easy looking, as most of the suitable branches (in fact, most of the trees) were inaccessible. All the searches I was able to do proved negative, but I won't give up! The hairstreaks were diving deep into the birch stands and I was only able to check branches on the edges. As the sun was out some of the time, and small tortoiseshells, brimstones and a single red admiral were flying, I went to the river to see if any Camberwell beauties would appear. The sun promptly went in, but I was rewarded with good (if very distant) views of dippers courting (and here, and here). I took a short video, here. The female (I believe) is the one standing haughtily, her head in the air, while the male dips and struts around her. Near the bus stop, a small patch of standing water was alive with frogs and frogspawn. I hope it doesn't freeze over if winter returns.
3rd: A brightish start but an ov6mercast day and night.
4th: Overcast most of the day, clearing up by late afternoon - but then the clouds rolled back in!
5th: In the morning, we were right in the cloud and could barely see 10m in front of our faces (and here). Then in the evening, the snow returned (and here).
6th: Snowy but cloudy most of the day (and here and here). There were some wonderful evening views (and here).
7th: Still snowy, and very cold in the morning, but it was sunny and at lunchtime we set off to see if there were any butterflies flying in the cemetery. Despite the snow (and here), there were lots of small tortoiseshells on the wing. Indeed, they were readily settling on the snow (and here) as often as on the heather flowers (and here) or stones. Nor were they restricted to the cemetery. As we walked back, by a different route, we saw them flying over the snowy meadows and regularly stopping on the snow by the roadside. This one is on flowers by the station. The temperature was about 4°C but the radiant heat was more than enough for them.
8th: Sometimes bright, though hazy. A couple of small tortoiseshells were on the wing during our lunchtime walk.
9th: Mostly cloudy, with the sun occasionally breaking through in the morning. It was mild, though, so Minnie and I took a walk along the Rhône near Leuk. What I hadn't noticed in the forecast was that there was a very strong wind, which meant very little flew. Before the clouds took over completely, at about midday, I saw a single large tortoiseshell (put up from the track ahead of me), a single small tortoiseshell, a single male brimstone and a single wood white - this last only in flight, and also probably put up from the vegetation ahead of me.
10th: Cloudy and wet (sometimes snow).
11th: A brightish start but a cloudy day (and here - the evening).
12th: Cloudy (and here) and often snowing.
13th: Blue sky and heavy clouds. On our local walk we saw a few small tortoiseshells and a single red admiral.
14th: It was warm and sunny today, so we took our afternoon walk at Les Grangettes, at Villeneuve. Here is the lake, with its single tree, and here Minnie trotting along the path by the channel. Mostly, there were few butterflies around, but along one woodland path with lots of flowering cherry (and round the corner into the meadow) there were many commas (and here), brimstones (males and females), peacocks and red admirals and a single large tortoiseshell. I also saw a single white - probably small white - in flight. Lots of red-crested pochards (and here) were swimming on the lake.
15th: A cloudy day (and here).
16th: The forecast for Domodossola was warm sunshine, so despite pouring rain in Leysin, we set off on the 05h32, arriving in Domodossola at 08h12. It was then a 6km walk to our site (via the village of Masera), so we arrive there just as the day was beginning to warm up. The first butterfly to appear was a red admiral, followed quickly by a large tortoiseshell. As it got hotter, more flew, and before long I spotted my first nettle tree butterfly of the day - in flight only. This is a brilliant site for seeing nettle tree butterflies but a lousy one for photographing them, as they usually pose far away, upsun of the viewer. The next individual did just that, but later on I was able to get better pictures, including this one and this one. Nettle tree butterfly was the main target of the day, but I had expected green hairstreaks and chequered blues to be flying too. Very surprisingly, neither was on the wing, though there were a few small coppers (and here, and here). Other species flying on the nettle tree slopes were wall (just a few), brimstone, including females, small white, green-veined white, comma, a single peacock, a single holly blue and many more large tortoiseshells. There were no small tortoiseshells up here, and I only saw one during the whole day, much lower down, on the way home. I had to carry Minnie at a few points because of all the chestnut husks on the ground and it was while she was in my arms that we rumbled a troop of wild boar with babies. Minnie had been very agitated before this but I had thought it was probably just a fox. Fortunately, the wild boar all beat a hasty retreat and Minnie was safe in my arms! Sadly, that also meant I didn’t get any photos of them except this sorry shot of one, after I put her down, as it fled the scene. We saw very few butterflies as we returned to the valley. I expected to find grizzled skippers already on the wing by the river, but there were none. We did come across a Queen of Spain threesome in the rough ground by the river, as well as a few more walls and a red admiral. Here is a large wall lizard from the beginning of our walk (and here). I thought at first it was an Italian wall lizard but on looking in the books it seems to be a north Italian, green form of common wall lizard. Here, here and here are some more scenic photos from the day, and here is Minnie wondering (like me) where this big, isolated lump of snow came from!
17th: A cloudy day.
18th: More cloud (and here), breaking a little in the evening.
19th: Bright all day. Here is Minnie lounging in the sun by the balcony. On our afternoon walk we spotted three roe deer in the meadow (and here). A few small tortoiseshells were drifting around over the grass and I spotted a brimstone too. Evening view: the bright star on the right is Sirius.
20th: Another bright day (and here), though also a work day. There were one or two small tortoiseshells around on our afternoon walk round the Suchet, as well as this red admiral.
21st: Broken cloud all day (and here). Despite the weather, this small tortoiseshell was on the wing. Here you can see the lights of the piste-groomers below the Grand Chamossaire.
22nd: After a cloudy start it became a warm sunny day. Sadly, we couldn't take advantage of it. Here is an evening shot, with Spica just rising.
23rd: Very cold, raining in the morning and sometimes snowing lightly later. Minnie wanted to go up the mountain, so we set off up the snowless road until we reached the ski slopes. In the end, we didn't go right up to Berneuse, as one of the pistes we had to traverse was so icy there was a risk of Minnie losing her footing and ending up 100m lower down - and I didn't have crampons with me. Here, here, here and here are some shots on the way back down, and here some beautifully lit cloud towards sunset.
24th: Woke up to snow. Although it was a cold day, and snowed lightly off and on until evening, what landed mostly melted - the ground must have been warm.
25th: Bright but very cold in the morning (-3°C on our early walk). I was teaching most of the morning, but was able to get away by midday and take a trip along the valley. At Aigle station, I found myself needing to know the collective noun for lizards (and here)! I had to keep Minnie away from them, or she would have one for breakfast. Further along the valley, there was a strong wind blowing and this kept the butterflies at bay a little. Nevertheless, orange tips were common, including females as well as roding males, and eastern Bath whites were out in good numbers. A few peacocks were flying, as well as small tortoiseshells, commas and brimstones, and large tortoiseshells were quite common, though mostly now looking rather worn. Also new for the year was speckled wood. Again, I was surprised not to see any green hairstreaks, nor any skippers, though as the afternoon progressed clouds came over and by the time I reached their best sites it was rather cold. The absence of holly blues was also surprising - it is evidently not a particularly early year.
26th: Cloudy most of the day (and here, and here). A working day.
27th: A very foggy, cloudy morning, turning to snow. Here is a view of snowy forests rising out of the cloud, and here a night view before the moon rose.
28th: It snowed heavily early on (and here). Here is a snowman near the station.
29th: Good Friday. I took Minnie for a very windy walk along the promenade at Montreux, before going to the Good Friday service at Territet.
30th: A cloudy day, with rain in the evening.
31st: Mostly cloudy today, though it was bright for periods of the morning. In the afternoon we took a walk near Les Mosses (and here, and here). The ponds and boggy ground were alive with frogs and frogspawn (and here, and here).

April
1st: Mostly cloudy (and here), with occasional glimpses of blue sky. Here is a close-up of the communications tower on the Grand Chamossaire, viewed from Leysin.
2nd: After light snow first thing in the morning, a cold, bright and blustery day (and here). Although temperatures in Leysin didn't get above 7°C all day, I spotted my first altitude small white near the station in the early afternoon, and my first altitude Queen of Spain higher up. Other than that, a couple of small tortoiseshells were sparring over the meadows and this comma was flitting restlessly in the woods. The heather in the cemetery was still in full flower but there were no small tortoiseshells there - that party is over, it seems. High over the woods above me - up the mountain - a golden eagle came briefly into sight (and here). The elm is in flower now, so white-letter hairstreak caterpillars should be out. There are very few branches at eye level - most are above my head.
3rd: Another cloudy day (and here, in the evening).
4th: Early morning. A crescent moon was rising as I took Minnie for her first walk. I worked all morning, then headed to Villeneuve in the afternoon. The weather hadn't looked good, or I would have gone to more specifically butterfly spots, but when we got there the sun came out and it warmed up considerably (and here). Brimstones were common, as were small and green-veined whites, and a few male orange tips were drifting around, never stopping. Other butterflies on the wing were red admirals (two), peacocks (two), a single comma and a single blue. Provençal short-tailed blues fly at this site and I suspect it was this, but a horse was passing just as it appeared and I had to keep an eye on Minnie, not the butterfly. Alternatively, it could have been a small holly blue. Black kites are now back for the summer. Here is one perched - very distant, over the marshes. Cormorants are resident at Villeneuve: this one is in full breeding plumage. This heron is grappling with what I thought was an Aesculapian snake, though I'm not so sure now, looking at the pictures (and here). I think it might be a grass snake. Here is Minnie trotting back along the front at Villeneuve.
5th: For the first time in weeks, the forecast was for wall-to-wall sunshine, so Minnie and I went to Valais - specifically, the Val d’Hérens - to look for Camberwell Beauties (amongst other things). We arrived at the start of our walk quite late - about 11h00 - but there was little on the wing even by then, so nothing was lost. As we continued to the main site, we saw whites (small, green-veined and wood), orange tips (that female had a crinkly wing but she could fly and was enjoying herself) and brimstones, as well as the odd peacock, small tortoiseshell, red admiral and comma. I had hoped for some skippers to be flying, but in the end we saw just one - a southern grizzled skipper - which darted off as soon as I had taken a single, proof shot. Surprisingly, I saw three small heaths during the day, all of which flew at the moment of my taking that perfect picture! There were no swallowtails, no Apollos, no fritillaries, and just a handful of holly blues. Nevertheless, as expected, the Camberwell beauties were there! Minnie and I set up camp on rocks in the middle of the river (and here), knowing that they defend territories up and down the stream, and before long we had success. One male seemed to be based on a rock island (reload if the GIF doesn't charge properly)  from where he darted out after any large butterflies who passed. Here he is sparring with another Camberwell beauty. Sometimes he came closer to us - so close that Minnie was aware of him! Clouds came over while we were there, so we took the opportunity set off up the hill back to the bus - Minnie can’t do long, hot days any more … But after half an hour or so they cleared, and we returned home in hot sunshine. It is forecast to continue tomorrow.
6th: I headed further east along the Rhône Valley today, hoping for more Camberwell beauties, but also de Prunner’s ringlet, which should be flying by now. The former were easy and a joy to watch. It’s difficult to count them, as each commands a large territory and the same one can be seen quite some distances apart. Nevertheless, there were an absolute minimum of half a dozen, and probably considerably more. Early on, they rested with their wings open, but as the day hotted up they closed them. At this first site, the only new species for the year was scarce swallowtail, of which I saw just one, cruising past without stopping. There were no de Prunner’s ringlets. In fact, it is still seeming like a very normal year in terms of timings - certainly not advanced. A single southern grizzled skipper was on the wing, no chequered blues, just two or three holly blues and no green-underside blues. I saw a single large tortoiseshell, high in an ash tree. There were lots of whites - probably including southern small, but I didn’t confirm any of these. Here is an eastern Bath white. Wood whites, orange tips and brimstones were common and there were a few peacocks, red admirals and commas. No small heaths here. Here is a lovely, orange speckled wood when I arrived, and here is the same one just before I left, when it was much hotter. Similarly, the Queens (perhaps the single commonest species flying) were showing lots of top in the morning but closing much more quickly later (and here). Leaving this site at about 13h30, I headed for the other end of the Rhône Valley, near Martigny, to try again for chequered blues. Again, none. Indeed, very little was flying at all, despite the fact it was now over 20°C. I saw a couple of southern grizzled skippers soon after arriving, but none after that. This lovely, absolutely fresh scarce swallowtail was flitting around Prunus bushes but landed just the once, so I could take that photo! Apart from this, there were a few whites, orange tips and brimstones, plenty of walls, a few Queens of Spain, a single holly blue - and that was about it. I was hoping the first Berger’s clouded yellows might be on the wing, but there were none over the meadows. Nevertheless, it was a lovely walk and the scarce swallowtail alone was worth the stop.
7th: A very full day, ending with beer in Leysin. The valley was shrouded in Sahara dust all day.
8th: Another day when Sahara dust hung over the valley like a fine haze (and here, in the evening).
9th: Snow cleared the Sahara haze! (and here, and here).
10th: Snow (and here). In lower Leysin, below the snowline, oxlips were blooming in the woods.
11th: A beautiful day (and here, and here). I saw two violet fritillaries on that walk. Both were in flight and going somewhere, but this one stopped very briefly. Other species flying around Leysin were whites (small, green-veined and wood), small tortoiseshells, a comma, brimstones and this red admiral.
12th: Another beautiful day (and here) though a work day. Here is a small tortoiseshell in the grass near the station.
13th: A hot, sunny day. I visited two sites in the Rhône Valley, both towards the eastern end. The first was where I saw so many Camberwell beauties last week and it was striking that for the first hour I saw none today. In fact, it was so striking I wondered if someone had been along capturing them (they are very easy to catch, as they readily fly around humans). Then finally I saw one, then another, and in total saw probably four, maybe more - still a small number. This one is very worn. Normally, they are still flying here in June, but I fear this particular one won’t be. There were lots of brimstones, small whites, green-veined whites, orange tips, wood whites and eastern Bath whites flying. Probably, there were some southern small whites too, but I didn’t formally identify any. As well as the many Queen of Spain fritillaries, there were a couple of what I took to be Glanville fritillaries, but they didn’t stop to be identified for certain. Small heaths are now quite common here and speckled woods too. Still no de Prunner’s ringlet, though. The only skipper I saw was a single southern grizzled skipper. For the blues, a handful of holly blues were on the wing and occasionally taking minerals on the ground - no green-underside, baton or chequered yet. This painted lady was my first for the year (and here). I saw a single clouded yellow, in flight only. Other species seen were comma, large tortoiseshell (mostly looking rather worn), small tortoiseshell and scarce swallowtail (quite a few around). At about 13h00 I headed to the second site. Here, finally, I found my first green hairstreaks of the year (and here), as well as more clouded yellows, lots of Berger’s clouded yellows, the first common blues (and here) and the first rosy grizzled skippers. These last were not common, but I confirmed at least one (it flew off without a picture). There were also a very few southern grizzled skippers. This one has a bit of an anvil shape, but is southern grizzled, not rosy. This is my first confirmed large white of the year. There were large tortoiseshells and a single Camberwell beauty at this second site too, as well as lots of Queens of Spain, all the whites and brimstones, a few holly blues, some commas and small tortoiseshells, lots of small heaths and a few walls. My first dingy skipper of the year was flying near the little river there. Here is a lizard, hoping for some tasty butterflies in a flower wall.
14th: I began the day by going down to a site near Aigle where both short-tailed and Provençal short-tailed blues fly. It was a beautiful day, but there were no blues at all on the wing there yet. In fact, the only butterflies I saw were a few walls and a few whites. After a while, we went back to Leysin and in the afternoon decided to head off up the mountain to see what was flying at altitude. In those relatively low meadows (1400m-1500m) there were quite a few violet fritillaries flying around, never stopping. Probably, they were fresh males looking for females. There were also small tortoiseshells, as there turned out to be at all altitudes. This is one of our favourite sites, at about 1650m, where a little later in the year there will be glanville and heath fritillaries, Dukes of Burgundy, grizzled and alpine grizzled skippers and much more. Today there were a few Berger's clouded yellows, lots of small tortoiseshells and a few orange tips. We continued higher, encountering more and more snow (and here) until we reached the little village of Berneuse. This is a meltwater field of crocuses on the way. Small tortoiseshells were flying everywhere. This female was checking out new nettle growth at about 1715m, while this one was one of many flying and sparring over the snow at the top, and occasionally landing. As we reached about 1900m, a swallowtail came winging down the mountain. I grabbed a quick phone picture for proof as it passed. It must have been hilltopping up there and was now going home for the night. Here is Minnie by one of the lakes up there and here a red kite over the slopes in the background. The sun was brilliant on the snow and I wondered if I should have sunglasses for Minnie to protect her eyes up here. Finally, we headed down a ski slope (all roads lead to Leysin) and home. Here is a ring ouzel singing his heart out. It is a more scratchy song than a blackbird's.
15th: Mixed cloud and bright all day, with some heavy rain. Here is a view of the Grand Chamossaire shrouded in dark cloud while the meadow in the foreground is in warm sun, with this wood white nectaring in it.
16th: It snowed early, before a largely dry but overcast day.
17th: Heavy snow fell overnight. Here and here are Minnie on her morning walk, and here she is in the afternoon. This is the bouquetin outside Leysin American School, and this is our evening walkies. Winter has returned.
18th: Thick snow, and cold (and here). Here is an animated gif of Minnie in the snow.
19th: Another day of cold and snow.
20th: Winter is still here. Very cold and snowy (and here). This shot looks over the valley, showing no snow down there. Up here, the spring flowers are struggling.
21st: Still snowing heavily. Here is the train arriving at Leysin Village station.
22nd: More of same - no let up in this late winter. Here are shots from the morning, afternoon and evening.
23rd: Still very cold, with occasional snowfall. Here is an adult golden eagle on our afternoon walk. There were two adults flying together, being mobbed by ravens. These choughs seemed to be holding a rooftop meeting to decide what to do about all the snow. Here is the view over the village as I walked back in the evening. It was may parents' wedding anniversary, so I lit two candles for them.
24th: Very cold and snowy. Here are icicles on trees and eves and here Minnie in the evening, in fresh snow.
25th: A brighter day (and here). In the afternoon I walked Minnie above some violet fritillary meadows and then down to the cemetery. The difference in altitude was about 200m, but it was striking that at the lower altitude the south-facing meadows were largely clear of snow and dandelions were showing through abundantly. In the cemetery, Viola tricolor - foodplant of the Queens of Spain - was in full flower, as was the heather, but I saw no butterflies. A few bees were nectaring avidly. I checked some of the elms to see if the elm flowers had survived the snow with their load of white-letter hairstreak caterpillars (I hope). They had. The tits were working over them, though, and I suspect they found a few cats!
26th: More snow has melted locally. In the morning, I had business in the valley and caught the train back up from Aigle dépôt, by the vineyards. Despite reasonable warmth, there were no butterflies on the flowers there. I did see a couple of orange trips from the train on the way up. In the afternoon I went a little higher, to about 1450m. There, the snow is still thick even on south-facing slopes (and here).
27th: It felt much more springlike today, with a gentle Föhn blowing and clear skies in the morning. It was the day of the Leysin stage of the Tour de Romandie. Here is the finish at lunchtime, before the big crowds began to build up. I decided to watch the riders from a little lower down the hill, away from la foule. Here is the winner (I presume he went on to win) a kilometre or so away from Leysin. He has cycled nearly 150km at this point and this is his third big climb of the day. Here, here, here and here are some more shots of the race. It was actually quite chilly and breezy by this time but I doubt the racers felt cold.
28th: Mild and cloudy. The snow has all but disappeared at lower altitudes in Leysin. Here is an evening shot, with cloud rolling through the village.
29th: Another mild and cloudy morning, with periods of warm sunshine during the day. A few butterflies have reappeared, though it is unnaturally quiet on the insect front all round, for the end of April. Near where that last photo was taken, a few wood whites were venturing over the meadows, and when I reached the cemetery I quickly found a green hairstreak. The first one, a female, got away but not far away a male was holding fort against all comers and he let me take a few shots. He regularly launched into the air after challengers but always returned to the same spot. Other species flying were red admiral, large tortoiseshell, small tortoiseshell, comma and brimstone. I hope others are waiting in the wings - I should have seen many more species today.
30th: A promising morning, descending into a cloudy day.

May
1st:  Cloudy and mild in the morning, with some sun later. I think the only butterfly I saw was a female orange tip, in flight.
2nd: Cool and cloudy (and here).
3rd: Cold and very cloudy (and here). Here is a linnet in Leysin.
4th: A mixed forecast, with some sun and lots of cloud predicted for most places. I decided to head up the Val d’Hérens, with Oberthür’s grizzled skipper particularly in mind, but other species as well. I had got up very late and didn’t arrive at the walk to the site until after midday, when it seemed as if high cloud was already gathering. But I was very lucky. Although I could see cloud over the Rhône Valley, the Val d’Hérens itself remained clear until mid-afternoon. The first new species for the year was safflower skipper - a single male seen on the walk to the site. I assumed I would see plenty more, but despite the good weather little was on the wing and that turned out to be the only one. Also seen on this part of the journey were small, green-veined and wood whites (that picture might well show a wood white on the left and a cryptic wood white on the right), as well as orange tips and brimstones. The very first butterfly I saw was this wall - one of just a handful seen during the day. At the Oberthür’s site, I quickly found a few males (here is a different individual). They were difficult to photograph because they were competing with this dingy skipper and were constantly flying off. The next new species was baton blue - of which I saw maybe half a dozen during the day. This one was right at the end, as I headed home. A few green-underside blues were on the wing too (and here), as I had hoped and expected. Holly blues were also flying, as well as common blues and Chapman’s blues, and I saw my first Provençal short-tailed blues in a field where I was looking for Dukes. The final new species for the year was Glanville fritillary, although I probably saw it a couple of week ago, without confirmation. A few males were setting up territories in selected spots. As always at this site, Camberwell beauties were conspicuous. When I sat by the river for my second beer stop I watched at least three different males competing for the best rocks (and here), and at another river spot (a different stream) another male was holding forth. Other species ween were Eastern Bath white, Queen of Spain, comma, speckled wood, small heath, large white, southern grizzled skipper, swallowtail and scarce swallowtail. The first ascalaphids are on the wing.
5th: Cloudy (and here). In the morning I heard two wrynecks near the village but had lessons to go to so couldn't attempt to track them down.
6th: Another cloudy and often wet day ...
7th: It rained all day, to the extent that Minnie didn't get a decent walk at all (she refuses to walk in the rain). Here is the village in the evening.
8th: Still cloudy (and here) but a little drier today.
9th: Finally, a properly sunny day. In the afternoon Minnie and I took a walk through local meadows and woods. Despite the weather, little was on the wing, but a few wood whites, small whites, green-veined whites, orange tips, brimstones, red admirals, small tortoiseshells and commas were about. The commonest butterfly was green hairstreak, of which I saw perhaps 5. New for the year was pearl-bordered fritillary. In total, I saw three of these, all reluctant to stop but occasionally nectaring. Not new for the year, but new for altitude, was this fresh dingy skipper. I saw a probably little blue in flight, but it didn't hang around to be confirmed.
10th: Another sunny day. I was working most of it, rushing home to take Minnie out at intervals. On our lunchtime walk, almost nothing was flying, despite the warmth. This small heath was in a meadow near the station. Apart from that, I saw the odd orange tip and white. This photo was taken on our evening walk. As we returned, I spotted what looked like a glowing ballon above the trees to the north-west. Quite a bizarre sight. It was in fact the new moon setting, but the old moon in the new moon's arms was so bright you could see the maria as if it were a full moon. I took a couple of quick shots with the iPhone as it disappeared. In this one (the second of the two) it almost looks like a full moon. In this one, zoomed in beyond what the phone was capable of rendering well, the thin crescent of the new moon can be seen. I have never seen the old moon shine so bright. I saw several bats - probably pipistrelles - on this walk, so must take the bat-meter out tomorrow to identify them.
11th: Another bright, sunny day (after brilliant displays of the aurora last night, which I missed completely, being asleep!). These shots of Minnie - here and here - show how hot it was by the afternoon! In the morning, I headed off to two sites in eastern Valais, hoping to see (amongst other things), some de Prunner’s ringlets. Normally, this is common by April. In the event, I saw just two all day, both in flight (presumably males). They were at my first site, further to the east, where little was flying altogether. The commonest blue there by far was Provençal short-tailed (and here). Other than this, I saw just a couple of common blues and a holly blue. Amazingly, I saw just one southern grizzled skipper and a handful of dingy skippers here. A couple of Camberwell beauties were on the wing, and other Nymphalids included red admiral, comma and a single peacock. For the whites, there were green-veined, small, orange tip, wood white and eastern Bath white, but all in small numbers. Brimstones were the only yellow here. The only fritillaries flying were a couple of Queens of Spain. Both swallowtails were on the wing. For the Satyrids, the commonest was small heath, followed by speckled wood and a very few walls. Moving west a little, the next site was much more productive. As soon as I arrived, I saw my first Adonis blue of the year and here this was by far the commonest Lycaenid. Here is a male from later in the walk. Provençal short-tailed blues were flying here too, as well as common blues, Chapman’s blues and holly blues. My next year tick was spotted fritillary - out in very good numbers. Rosy grizzled skippers (and here, and here) were also flying in good numbers and there were a few safflower skippers. Here is a safflower skipper at dung with a couple of wood whites. A few Glanville fritillaries and Queen of Spain fritillaries were flying, and at least one violet fritillary. As well as Berger’s clouded yellow, which is now common here, I saw a single clouded yellow - and again, both species of swallowtail. Here are a male and a female beautiful demoiselle, and here teneral male and female azure damselflies. This adder was resting in warm shade at my first site but scarpered for the vegetation as soon as it saw me. The first nightingales are singing. In the evening, there was a chance of more aurorae, so I sat beneath the Swiss flag away from the lights, with only Minnie and the Eurovision song contest for company, and waited. No aurorae, but lovely, eerie views of the stars through haze - here is Scorpio above the Dents de Morcles - and a win for Switzerland. Not my scene, but quite fun to watch the scoring, at least (and I voted for Israel).
12th: Bright and cloudy at first, tending to cloudy, then to pouring rain. We headed off up the mountain (and here) to see how things were developing. I was happy to see that at least some of the violet fritillaries had survived, so the spring generation of this species is not completely wiped out! I also saw my first grizzled skipper (malvae, as opposed to malvoides) at about 1650m. Here is another shot of the same individual. Little else was flying there - a handful of green hairstreaks, a single dingy skipper, a couple of whites and a Berger's clouded yellow. This rather washed-out green hairstreak was at 1750m. As the day progressed it got increasingly cloudy, and I didn't expect to see much. There were small tortoiseshells active at all altitudes, even above the snow line, but no further species. Here is a ring ouzel at the top of his tree. This slope had a small group of chamois casually grazing on it. The arrow points to the patch of snow where this male is photographed. Here and here are a couple more pictures. This is Minnie preparing for the descent, and looking at the clouds building! And this is the view a little later from my balcony.
13th: During the day yesterday, my neck had been getting more and more stiff and painful. Today, I couldn't move it and was in great pain all day. It was reasonably bright today but I couldn't take advantage of it, with pain and work!
14th: A difficult day, after no sleep last night because of my neck. Ironically, when I took Minnie out in the morning, I heard at least two wrynecks calling from nearby trees. I didn't have my camera, to avoid weighing my own neck down, so went back to get it, by which time they had stopped. The day began bright but descended into cloud and rain.
15th: Another cloudy, wet day. The neck is mending, in part thanks to wearing a brace.
16th: Yet another wet day, with sometimes torrential rain. On a brief afternoon walk (Minnie didn't want to go far) I photographed this wryneck with a grub (and here, and here, and here). I thought at first it was a young one, as it was so scruffy and fluffy. I'm not so sure on looking at the pictures, and considering how well it flew. Perhaps it was an adult who had been searching in the wet grass for food for its brood. It didn't eat the grub while I watched. It had been out in the open in the grass when I first saw it, but my camera was in its bag because of the rain.
17th: The day started bright but cold, becoming increasingly cloudy (and here) and eventually rainy in the afternoon. Our local walk produced few butterflies but I was glad to see a couple of violet fritillaries. That last one looks sufficiently worn to wonder if it was one of the 'pre-snow' individuals! Other species flying were small heath, orange tip, brimstone, Berger's clouded yellow and red admiral, all in very low numbers. Here is a pure white early purple orchid and here a rainbow in the early evening. After dark, I took Minnie to the nearest white-letter hairstreak elm to look for caterpillars. It started raining heavily, but I did get a couple of shots of this caterpillar, high in the tree (so shooting into the rain!), still feeding on the elm flowers.
18th: A warm but mostly cloudy day. I had a little time to go butterflying, despite teaching in the afternoon, so chose to visit the Val d’Hérens again, in the hope of Nickerl’s fritillary. When I arrived at the site there was 100% cloud cover and only a few whites and small heaths were on the wing. But as soon as the sun came out, half a dozen male Nickerl’s fritillaries started flying over the field. They only stopped when the sun went in again, so photography was not great, but I did get a few shots - here and here are two more. I was also hoping for Duke of Burgundy but their best spot here was fenced off for sheep and I couldn’t go in. Other species flying on and off included brimstone, Berger’s clouded yellow, small white, green-veined white, orange tip, wood white, common blue, Adonis blue, a single Osiris blue (and here) - my first of the year - green-underside blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, peacock, Glanville fritillary (and here), spotted fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, wall, small heath and dingy skipper. I saw a single Pyrgus skipper in flight, which might have been olive skipper, but it didn’t stop. No Apollos yet, though as no swallowtails were flying either and the weather was so dull, they might just not have chosen to fly.
19th: Very mixed weather, with lots of cloud, a very little rain and some sun. We headed up the local mountain in the morning as far as about 1650m, then returned by a route we hadn't walked before, just to explore. In the meadows just above Leysin, this sooty copper was my first of the year. There were a few violet fritillaries flying too, I'm happy to say. At my 1650m site, very little was on the wing. The first time I visited this site was 22nd May two years ago, when I was checking out Leysin to see if I could live here. Then, Glanville and marsh fritillaries were flying alongside Dukes of Burgundy and alpine grizzled skippers, and it was generally alive with butterflies. This year things are distinctly behind. I did see a couple of grizzled skippers and a few dingies, as well as green hairstreaks and Berger's clouded yellows, but the season clearly has yet to start properly here. It was graduation day at school in the afternoon, so I couldn't spend too long out - I had to watch a different kind of butterfly emerging into the world!
20th: A bright, sunny/cloudy day. On a local walk in the afternoon, the first little blues were flying but remarkably little else. In total, the species seen were: green-veined white, brimstone, orange tip, wood white, little blue, speckled wood, small heath, small tortoiseshell, red admiral. The local tortoiseshells are now the progeny of the hibernated brood.
21st: Cloud and rain, again (and here). On our afternoon walk, we had some more distant views of a wryneck (and here, and here).
22nd: Still more cloud and rain, with just a hint of a rainbow in the afternoon!
23rd: With cloud and rain once again on the menu, I decided to make use of a free day by visiting the Papiliorama. Inside the butterfly house, at least, it was warm, if not sunny. As on all my recent visits, common crows (Euploea core) were the commonest butterfly, sitting around in the trees in groups exactly as I had seen them in India. There were both males, with prominent sex brands, and females. Many butterflies were laying. This is a female Hypolimnas bolina, though she took her time and I didn't see the resultant egg. This is a dark blue tiger (Tirumala septentrionalis) laying on a leaf, and this her egg, and this is a plain tiger (Danaus chrysippus), and this her egg. My new species for the visit were  Salamis parhassus, a forest butterfly from Africa, and Heliconius numata (here with a form of Heliconius melpomene) This is Morpho achilles (and here, with a Caligo species in the background). Another species doing a lot of laying was Papilio lowi. That is a female. Here she is again, taking some refreshments between laying sessions and here is a male - maybe the happy father? This little cluster of male Heliconius hecale surrounding a female were all full of the joys of spring. Other species around the butterfly house included Myscelia cyaniris, Cethosia cyane, Idea lueconoe, Doleschallia bisaltide, Junonia atlites, Heliconius atthis, Heliconius doris and many more that I have photographed so many times I just enjoyed them today. Minnie was quite happy to sleep in the free kennels while it rained outside!
24th: It rained most of the morning and early afternoon, then suddenly, while I was walking Minnie between about 16h00 and 17h00, the sun came out. It was too late to bring out the butterflies, but I did see this brave couple of small heaths by the track. The break didn't last - soon it was all cloud and gloom again and we wandered home as the rain began!
25th: Mixed sun and cloud was forecast for today - with the emphasis on cloud. I decided to go to my old hunting grounds for violet coppers and see what the state of play was. As we approached the site, heavy cloud was looming and it was quite chilly. We saw just a small tortoiseshell and a green hairstreak on the way. When we arrived, the sun tried to come out, though it only ever succeeded for a minute or two at a time. We sat and waited in vain for a glimpse of a violet copper (or I sat - Minnie was a little more proactive). Normally, there would be dozens of butterflies of many species flying. Today, for about 40 minutes, we saw just a single small tortoiseshell. Then eventually the sun came out for more than 2 minutes and a wood white flew, closely followed by a little blue. With the sun in again, I moved to a different part of the site and finally spotted a male violet copper, warming up under the clouds (and here, with Minnie). For a moment, the sun came out again and I got a sharper picture, but almost immediately he flew off. He sparred with another male a moment or two, and then I lost them. We wandered back through more suitable habitat where I have seen violet coppers before, but none flew. I think they are only just on the wing. Here is a green hairstreak on forget-me-not. By now, cloud was 90% and little apart from green hairstreaks was flying. But this single northern wall brown (and here) did take briefly to the air and pause on a rock before continuing down the hill. We climbed up to a favourite lake, but there were no more butterflies to be seen. As we walked back down the hill afterwards we saw a single painted lady.
26th: Last year, for some reason, I didn’t see Swiss zephyr blue, Plebejus trappi. So today, with some sun forecast for the morning, I headed to a site rich in milk vetch where they breed. In the past, I have always found them here in good numbers. When I arrived, the sun was shining, and before I had even climbed to their patch, I immediately saw a mountain dappled white nectaring on lilac, together with a few red admirals and a swallowtail. It flew before I could get a picture but I felt if I saw one, I would see more. The zephyr blue site itself turned out to be cordoned off - presumably to stop people trampling it. This is good for the butterflies, even if it made it more difficult for me. I could see, however, that the species was not yet flying in any numbers. I could survey it from an edge and saw just one, male blue and no females. I presume I am simply too early this year. I wandered the nearby lane to see what else was about and found several other blues - though butterflies in general were not numerous. They included common blue (and here, a female), Adonis blue and green-underside blue (a glimpse of the underside here). This little blue was actually at the trappi site. This female green hairstreak was looking for places to lay and very rarely stopping more than a second or two. Here she is flying off - not because I disturbed her but because she was forever on the move. New for the year was red-underwing skipper (and here), of which I saw a couple. Also new for the year was a single great sooty satyr, seen at a distance crossing a meadow. There was lots of Erucastrum nasturtiifolium growing by the road but I saw no more simplonia during my wanderings here - just lots of small whites, green-veined whites, orange tips (and here) and wood whites. There were quite a few Berger’s clouded yellows drifting around but no clouded yellows. After nearly two hours on site, it was time to head back for the bus, and just as I did so a male zephyr blue appeared in front of me, flitting around the rocks by the road and taking minerals. I got just one shot of his underside, confirming the species, though I was in no doubt from my first sight of it. Here is another shot of the upperside. It is common for males to wander from the breeding site to take minerals, especially before the females emerge, so there were probably more in the area. Very pleased with that, we walked down to the bus, past the lilac bush, and another - or quite possibly the same - mountain dappled white flew past. It looked as if it would stop but didn’t, so I pulled my phone out and took a flight shot (heavily cropped there!) - just good enough to confirm the ID!
27th: A working day, but not a butterfly day anyway!
28th: Brightish, much of the day, but little flew on our local walk. There were a couple of speckled woods in the woods, a small heath, a few whites, this single painted lady, and I am reasonably confident this crumply person is a cryptic wood white (and here). At any rate, it will count as my year tick, as I have seen enough wood whites this year now to be statistically sure at least one of them was juvernica!
29th: Already yesterday I was going down with a nasty cough. Today I was coughing continuously and clearly ill. It wasn't a butterfly day, so nothing was missed.
30th: It rained all day and I was sick all day. Although I had to take Minnie out for her business, I didn't take any photos.
31st: As yesterday!

June

1st: Another cloudy and often wet day. I was still too sick to do anything.
2nd: Cloud all day (and here). I'm still out of action.
3rd: More cloud. I'm still out of action.
4th: Cloud. I'm still out of action ...
5th: Although I'm still sick, it was nice weather today and I was able to catch the train higher up and walk Minnie back down the long way, through the meadows and woods (and here). Very little was flying. The only common butterfly was little blue - of which I saw maybe a dozen (rather than the hundreds I should have seen). The other species were: common blue (a couple), Adonis blue (a couple), dingy skipper (a couple), small white (maybe three), orange tip (one), wood white (one), brimstone (one), small tortoiseshell (one), small heath (maybe half a dozen). This season is in a critical condition at this altitude. The evening clouds were beautiful (and here).
6th: The day started off well enough but by the afternoon was heading for rain and storms. I took Minnie a couple of stops up the mountain on the train and walked her down again. I still can't do anything serious myself.
7th: I set off very late, but felt strong enough this morning to go looking for butterflies. I decided to head for my Iolas blue site. For the last few years, this has become more and more overgrown and although I saw a few butterflies there last year, I had feared they might be my last. On arriving today I saw things had been improved, and 5 or 6 good bladder sennas were clear and thriving. Although I didn't arrive before almost 14h00, when it was hot, I quickly spotted a male Iolas blue land on one of them and for the next next hour was never without at least one and up to three in my view at once. They were very restless because of the heat but equally, very conspicuous. It was a great pleasure to be with these magnificent blues again. Here, here, here and here are some more shots. That last male was very crumply but he could fly well and sparred with other males. The weather was mostly overcast, so photography in general was difficult, but it was sufficiently warm for butterflies in general to fly. Also at the site were a few cardinals, my first mazarine blues of the year, my first turquoise blues of the year, a few holly blues, a few whites, a wall or two and a single grizzled skipper. As I left I spotted a further male taking minerals near the road (or rather, I put him up, unfortunately), and finally a female flew up into the bushes just as I set off for home. On the way back I added common blue, Adonis blue and red-underwing skipper to the day list, and just becore I caught the bus, this chequered blue was my first of the year. Especially considering the weather today (it even rained on part of my walk), I was very happy indeed with my first trip out since being ill!
8th: A mostly overcast day with some rain and some sun. I met a friend from England who has been on a pilgrimage from Rome and walked part of today's journey with him - namely, from Sembrancher down along the gorges of the Dranse to Martigny. Here he is setting out from Sembrancher and here following Minnie up a small climb further along the route. Initially, the weather precluded any chance of butterflies, though I saw a single probably cryptic wood white  (I examined it up close but didn't have my camera out because of the weather at the time). Then as it warmed up, I saw a small white, green-veined white, a single Camberwell beauty in swooping flight along the gorge, a holly blue and this single black-veined white, my first of the year. After that, no more butterflies, though it was a lovely walk!
9th: A cloudy morning, followed by a bright day until the early afternoon. I was walking Minnie locally when suddenly the storms came in and continued heavily into the night. Here and here are shots of lightning over the Grand Chamossaire.
10th: The forecast was for bright weather near Geneva, so I decided to go to my poplar admiral site today. In 2015, I saw 12 male poplar admirals there on 6th June, and had seen the odd individual prior to that, though admittedly I have seen none since 2015. I left Leysin in the pouring rain and it was still raining as we waited for the train at Aigle. By the time we reached Geneva it was dry, and remained so for the 15km cycle ride out to the site. When we got there, it was briefly sunny and white admirals and woodland browns (and here) were on the wing - but absolutely nothing else. Clouds came over and we did one complete circuit of the site in overcast conditions, seeing nothing new at all apart from a couple of meadow browns. Then the sun came out properly - at about 13h00 - and we did another circuit. It was extraordinary how little was flying. White admirals were very common and woodland browns quite common, but apart from that we saw a single small white, a single green-veined white, a few wood whites, a number of fresh brimstones, a few meadow browns, a few speckled woods, a single black-veined white, a single small heath and a single red admiral. There were no Lycaenids of any description and no skippers. Nor were there any emperors - normally very prominent here. It was really bizarre to walk around such a fantastic butterfly site on a hot, June day and see almost nothing.
11th: Rain all day, leading to a cloudy evening.
12th: Set off this morning for a favourite Satyrium site near Yverdons-les-Bains. My main hope was black hairstreak, but all the other Satyrium species fly there as the season progresses. When I arrived, at about 11h30, it was sunny but windy, and very little was flying. I soon saw a few marbled whites - but very few during the whole day - and a couple of Adonis blues. There were good numbers of pearly heaths and a few small heaths too, as well as a few meadow browns and a couple of small tortoiseshells, but no hairstreaks dancing over the sloe. In about two hours on site, I didn’t see a single hairstreak in flight. An hour in, though, while I was trying to photograph a pearly heath, I did suddenly notice a white-letter hairstreak crawling over a privet head nearby. It was very poorly placed for photos, but I got the proof, at least. It is early for white-letter hairstreak and I wondered if somehow I had missed the black hairstreaks this year. For most of the next hour I continued searching the blackthorn and privet and continue to see nothing, until I spotted a sloe hairstreak also creeping around a privet head. This was even worse placed than the white-letter, and I was only able to get this one, vaguely recognisable proof shot before my sweatshirt tripped a bramble and it flew off. I continued searching and finally, again by complete chance, found this single black hairstreak also climbing around a privent head. In total, three individual hairstreaks and three species! It is very hard work this year! There were no skippers and very few whites on the wing. In fact, I think the only species of white I saw was black-veined, of which there were a very few in the meadows and on the blackthorn. We finished the day with a woodland walk, during which we saw no butterflies at all - not even a speckled wood or green-veined white - despite sunny weather and plenty of flowers along the track.
13th: Having found three Satyrium species yesterday, I decided to head off today for a fourth - ilex hairstreak. This is relatively common at a site along the Rhône Valley to the east. We arrived there shortly after 11h00 and were immediately surrounded by southern white admirals, all freshly emerged and excited. This was probably the commonest species of the day at both this and my next site, taking minerals on the ground, nectaring at various flowers and defending territories. Also new for the year and also common were large skippers, though I only saw males. I quickly found a couple of ilex hairstreaks but they were actually not at all common today and I probably saw just half a dozen in total. Here is one taking minerals. None were at their usual spot and I suspect it is the very beginning of their flight period. Marbled fritillaries have suddenly appeared and were cruising around everywhere, along with a few knapweed fritillaries and perhaps half a dozen Provençal fritillaries (and here). These are usually easy to approach as they nectar on scabious, but today all the scabious verges had been cut and I could only photograph them when they came to the ground for minerals. Other species flying here included green-veined white, small white, southern small white, wood white, black-veined white, orange tip (still quite a lot around), brimstone, eastern Bath white, scarce swallowtail, Adonis blue, common blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, mazarine blue, northern brown argus, green-underside blue, comma (freshly emerged hutchinsoni), small tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain, wall, speckled wood, marbled white, small heath, dingy skipper and southern grizzled skipper. Right at the end, I put up a Camberwell beauty. It didn’t return, so might well have been a female. Surprisingly, there were no Apollos yet. I then moved to a site a little further west. Again, southern white admirals were everywhere. New for the year at this site was ringlet, of which a very few, very fresh specimens were on the wing, and a single silver-washed fritillary, seen in flight. Berger’s clouded yellows were flying over the meadows and I added Glanville fritillary to the day list. Marbled whites were very common at this site. As we walked along a dirt track, I noticed a lovely bladder senna bush growing a little up the bank. I waited, and sure enough, a male Iolas blue (and here) soon appeared and spent the next half hour nectaring avidly all over the bush. I left him and moved on, returning past the bush about an hour later. By then, he was gone, but in his place was a female Iolas blue, intent upon laying. I watched her discreetly for ten minutes or so, then left her, as shadow descended over the bush. Another day tick for this site was safflower skipper. Lots of damselflies were on the wing, including banded demoiselle, beautiful demoiselle, white-legged damselfly, azure damselfly and large red damselfly.
14th: Cloudy all day, with some rain.
15th: Another cloudy day, from morning to evening.
16th: A sunny day, so Minnie and I took the télécabine up the local mountain. At 2000m there were no butterflies except a few small tortoiseshells but as we came down they began: first dingy skippers and an overwintered comma, then a few pearl-bordered fritillaries and whites, including wood whites. Finally, at about 1650m we visited a favourite meadow and found plenty more on the wing (though still less than in a normal year). Glanville and marsh fritillaries (this marsh fritillary lacks hindwing spots) were flying in good numbers, with the odd Queen of Spain popping in. There are no heath fritillaries yet. For the skippers, there were lots of dingies and a few grizzled, including this lovely taras - a form I find every year at this site. I thought I saw an alpine grizzled skipper, but when it settled it turned out - I believe - to be carline. I can't absolutely rule out large grizzled skipper but it is very different from local large grizzlies I saw last year. There were plenty of little blues and Adonis blues and a few common blues too. Berger's clouded yellows were constantly drifting through, as were various whites and orange tips. I saw a single small heath and no alpine heaths. Continuing our walk down to Leysin, we watched this female little blue lay this egg deep in a young head of kidney vetch. Here is a wood white also from this part of the walk and here a rather bright dingy skipper. By now it was cooler and a little cloudy and not much was flying.
17th: Mostly sunny today, though there was always cloud in the sky and it clouded over especially while I was taking Minnie for her afternoon walk. Despite that, I found my first geranium argus of the year (and here) in that flowery track and saw a few pearl-bordered fritillaries drifting around - never stopping. Other butterflies there included wood white/cryptic wood white (I'm really not sure with these), red admiral, comma (I think a female of the hibernated brood), orange tip and dingy skipper.
18th: I headed up the Val d’Anniviers today, to see how the season was progressing there. Normally, I would expect to see Asian fritillary from about now, as well as lots of blues, skippers and browns. As I should probably have expected, very little was on the wing at all. As soon as I arrived, at the lower end of the walk, I did see an alpine grayling, which was promising - but that was the only one of that species I saw. It was still there when I returned a couple of hours later. The commonest butterfly by far was northern wall (and here, and here a male) closely followed by dingy skipper: everything else was flying in ones and twos. New for the year were chequered skipper (and here), of which I saw a very few, mountain green-veined white (and here, and here a male), and of course the alpine grayling. The only blue flying was little blue and the only fritillaries were a few pearl-bordered and a single Glanville. There were no Asian fritillaries, nor any false heath fritillaries - normally common here. I think I need to come back in a couple of weeks! Normally, alpine grizzled skippers also fly here in good numbers - one of the earliest of the high skippers. But the only Pyrgus I saw was southern grizzled. Orange tips were still on the wing and I saw a couple of green hairstreaks. Just before coming home, I found a common blue flying by the bus stop - the only blue of the day apart from the little blues. As I had time to wait in Sierre on the way out, Minnie and I took a little walk and found a couple of very fine bladder senna bushes. There were no Iolas blues flying on them but I decided to revisit at the end of the day. So at about 15h00 I was back there, when I discovered there were in fact lots of bladder senna bushes, planted on a perfect bank for Iolas blue. Sadly, there was a gale blowing by this time and nothing was flying at all. It was even virtually impossible to search the bushes for roosting butterflies, so much were they blowing about. I will return another sunny day soon and do a thorough Iolas blue search.
19th: I decided to go up the Val d’Hérens today. It turned out to be the wrong decision, not because of the weather or the season, but because today was the day they had decided to cut all the verges along the tracks I intended to walk - to within an inch of their lives. The consequence was that no butterflies stopped : there were no nectar flowers. The meadows above and below the cut were fine, but I never walk in meadodws, so as not to crush the plants. At some points I could stand and observe, and I saw some useful year ticks in flight. But all in all, it was a very poor day for butterflies. On top of the verge-cutting, there were diggers and ground works just where I normally see emperors and the river was in spate, preventing me crossing it to another of my favourite sites! I returned to the bus by a different, uncut route, but one outside the real butterfly zone. New for the year today were large wall, Amandas blue (seen in flight only, apart from one very brief stop and glimpse of the underside) and large blue, of which a number were flying over the meadow without stopping. Nickerl’s fritillary was still flying, along with knapweed, spotted (that is a female) and marbled. I probably saw heath fritillary, but because of the naked verges, none stopped to be formally identified. As well as meadow browns and ringlets there were a few great sooty satyrs; other Satyrids on the wing were small heath, speckled wood, wall and marbled white. The most interesting sightings of the day were two cardinals. The first was at the beginning of my walk, on the bank above the cut verge, and the second right at the end, high in a tree. At this time of year the cardinals leave their breeding sites in the valley and head into the mountains. The Martigny population flies up the valley to Sembrancher and also over the Massif du Muveran to the Villars region. These ones must have come up from Sion, implying that the butterflies have extended their range along the Rhône Valley. There were very few skippers flying today. Most were safflower, though there were a few dingies and on my return route a few chequered skippers. Other than the Amanda’s and large blues I saw just a few Adonis and common blues. When I got back down to Sion I nipped along to Sierre, to see if I could spot any Iolas blues but again a gale was blowing there! No butterflies at all were flying.
20th: Back to rain and cloud for the solstice.
21st: Cloud for most of the day, with a little blue sky and sun in the afternoon. Minnie and I tried to take advantage of it, but by the time we reached the local butterfly meadow we were heading for, the clouds had come over again. A few small heaths were roosting in the grass, as well as this sooty copper and this little blue.
22nd: A cloudy morning, with some rain later. Minnie and I spent most of the day in Geneva, at the airport, waiting for my sister's delayed plane to arrive!
23rd: Mostly cloudy but dry, so we were able to take a pleasant walk along the Riviera at Vevey.
24th: Unexpectedly, it was a brilliant, sunny day most of today, only clouding over in the evening. We took a boat trip on the lake from Vevey to Villeneuve (and here) and back via St. Gingolphe, with a very short walk at Villeneuve. There were no butterflies to speak of, but I was mostly playing host to my sister and her husbamd.
25th: A hot sunny day until about 14h00, when clouds came over, leading to rain and thunderstorms. We took a local walk, to Prafandaz, during which I saw a few geranium arguses, plenty of whites, including wood whites, my first heath fritillaries of the year (in flight only), a few Queens of Spain and various browns, and my first purple-edged copper of the year. I was playing the host and couldn't photograph but I did try for a shot of the purple-edged copper when it posed rather beautifully. Sadly, if flew off just as I pressed the shutter!
26th: A sunny morning, so Minnie and I left my sister and her husband to take things easy while we zoomed up the mountain (and here) to see what was flying. At 2000m, on small tortoiseshells and green hairstreaks were on the wing. As we came down, we soon encounted marsh fritillaries - some very dark (and here) and some brighter. All are clearly the form/species Leraut calls merope, though. Other species at altitude included little blues - some very big - orange tips and a single grizzled skipper. There are no Erebia about yet. Lower down, at about 1650m, I photographed my first tufted marbled skipper of the year. Adonis and common blues were flying here, as well as this very bright large blue (and here) - most unusual for the mountains. In flight, I had assumed it was mountain alcon blue, as it looked so blue. Here is a glimpse of the underside for confirmation. A few pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying and I saw a single false heath fritillary - again my first of the year. By now, clouds were coming in and I headed down. It began raining before I reached the bottom!
27th: The day we scattered the last of my father's ashes at Bretaye and on the Grand Chamossaire (that was the view looking towards Les Mosses, and here, the view looking across to Leysin). I didn't spend time looking for butterflies (it was rather mixed weather anyway) but did see my first bright-eyed ringlet of the year. There was little flying up there today.
28th: I wanted to show my sister some different mountains so we took a bus journey today to where the cranberry fritillaries fly. Again, I didn't go butterfly-watching but did note that the fritillaries are out in good numbers. We took a little walk, had a drink and came home again.
29th: The day my sister and her husband were supposed to fly home. I left them at Geneva Airport but while I was travelling home again their plane was cancelled. They will have to stay in Geneva until Monday! This was the view over Leysin as the bad weather rolled in in the evening.
30th: A cloudy day.

July
1st: Another cloudy day, with hints of sun.
2nd: The day began bright but became cloudy by the time we took our main walk.
3rd: Yet another cloudy day - and cool. Interesting skies in the evening (and here).
4th: A bright morning. I was going to go up the local mountain today but Minnie had her rabies vaccination this morning and the vet said she couldn't do a long walk. So instead, I cycled her to local woods in the afternoon and she had a gentle wander. We first visited my white-letter hairstreak tree. There were no hairstreaks flying, although it was lovely weather, so I presume they are not on the wing yet. Last year they were flying over the tree in good numbers and I am sure they will soon emerge. Lots of large walls were on the wing, as well as whites, speckled woods, a single heath fritillary and a single holly blue. Two red admirals were sparring in the canopy of the white-letter hairstreak tree. We moved on, seeing more blues (probably Adonis and common) as I cycled. I stopped to confirm an Essex skipper but my camera was in the bag and Minnie in the backpack so no photo. At our next set of rides, large walls were again very common and black-veined whites too. There were also lots of Queens of Spain. I had hoped to see white admiral here but there were none. The verges had been cut very recently, so nectar plants were quite scarce, but in places there were still some. This large blue posed nicely for me - and here, and here. I was very happy to come across a woodland brown - my first for Leysin since I arrived two years ago. It wasn't keen on posing and that was the only photo I got. This is one of several swallowtails we saw. As we returned to the bike and the clouds gathered, I found this false heath fritillary. This is a good set of rides and I will be back.
5th: I set off early today, hoping to spend a couple of hours at 2450m, in the mountains above Saas Grund and Saas Fee. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and forecast to remain so. There were to be obstacles, though! The first was that the torrential rains, landslips and flooding in that area meant that the bus stopped about 5km short of my intended bus stop, and 500m in altitude lower down. The roads were impassable higher up. I decided I would keep to the original plan, so began walking. When it became clear Minnie couldn’t keep up, I popped her in the backpack and upped the pace, letting her down occasionally to drink at streams and have a sniff. We arrived at the intended bus stop after an hour and a half, and there I let Minnie out so we could do our normal walk. The bus stop is at about 2200m, so she still had to do some work to climb to 2450m! During the walk up to that point (the bus stop), we had seen little - amazingly little considering what a lovely day it was. New for the year were alpine heath and large ringle. Other species flying were pearl-bordered fritillary, various whites (but not peak white or mountain dappled white), a couple of dingy skippers, a couple of orange skippers, lots of northern walls, a couple of alpine graylings - and that was about it. No blues, no Apollos, no almond-eyed ringlets (at least none stopped - I might have seen a couple at the beginning of the walk). Above 2200m there was even less. The normal, flowery banks beside the track were devastated by water and rocks and the track itself was destroyed in places. On 29th June last year, these were covered in blues, fritillaries and skippers. Today, nothing. I saw perhaps 3 grizzled skippers in total, a couple of small tortoiseshells and a couple of little blues higher up. At 2450m there was absolutely nothing - no butterflies at all. The gullies where last year dewy ringlets and dusky heaths flew were filled with snow. So I sat down with Minnie, had a beer, then headed back down again! We did see lots of marmots, as well as water pipits and wheatears, and back down at 2200m we watched a troop of linnets. We also saw this single large blue on our descent.Then began the trek down to the lower bus stop, through glacial, boulder territory (and here, with Minnie on the lead to stop her nipping into a marmot hole!). At one point I spotted a lot of Philloscopus warblers calling and jumping around in a tree. I think it was a family. My birdsong app said they were ‘amost certainly’ Bonelli’s warblers and I got a few photos of one of them (and here, and here) - I think a juvenile Bonelli’s warbler. I thought there might be more butterflies flying by now but there weren’t. Not new for the year, but my first photo of the species for the year, was this single de Prunner's ringlet, which I saw for a few seconds only, and not the upperside. This is a female mountain green-veined white and this is another large ringlet. In all, it was an extraordinary day. There must be millions of francs of work to be done on the roads and tracks and above 2200m this will surely do its own, additional damage to the butterflies. More rain, storms and flooding is expected this coming weekend in the region.
6th: A brightish morning descended into dense cloud and rain.
7th: Cloud and rain.
8th: Local walk in afternoon, through meadows and woods. As usual this year, amazingly little on the wing. Lots of meadow browns and marbled whites in the meadows and a single fritillary that might have been a second brood violet fritillary - I only saw it in flight. Small (first confirmed of the year) and large skippers were flying, and a few whites. This is a northern brown argus. In the woods, Queens of Spain and large walls predominated, with a few whites. I don’t think I saw any blues (apart from the argus) on the entire walk. I had thought this would be a good site for white admirals and - if they flew in Leysin at all - purple emperors, because of the abundance of suitable foodplant, but there were none. On the way home, walking on the road, I saw two Arran browns, my first of the year.
9th: On 9th July last year I visited my Thor’s fritillary site in good weather - and saw none. Today, I repeated the exercise (here is Minnie at the site) and also saw none. In previous years they have been common at this site at this time of year and I don’t know what is happening. As this is a late season, I don’t think it possible they are over. Just maybe they are not on the wing yet - I may have to come again in a week or so. As always this year, butterflies were generally think on the ground altogether. I saw a couple of Titania’s fritillaries on arrival, and one or two later on in the walk, but the only common fritillary was false heath (only common, whereas it is usually abundant). There were no larger fritillaries - no dark green, high brown, silver-washed or niobe - and just a few pearl-bordered around. I saw two Camberwell beauties - presumably freshly emerged, but I only saw them in flight. They didn’t display the territorial behaviour of spring males and looked relatively fresh (though the fringes were white). For the whites, mountain green-veined (here is a male) was the commonest, closely followed by wood white. There were still plenty of orange tips around and a fair number of summer brimstones. I checked for alpine grizzled skipper at a place I always see them, and duly saw one (just one). It is a little anomalous, lacking the ‘triple point’, but I am confident of the identity. Other skippers were dingy, my first mallow of the year, large and small. Very few blues were flying. I saw perhaps half a dozen little blues, a single large blue, a single common blue and a single mazarine blue. This is normally an excellent site for blues, with alpine argus a regular at one of the mineral spots. A few swallowtails were drifting backwards and forwards but no scarce swallowtails (no Prunus, so not surprising) and no Apollos. For the browns, large wall was the commonest, with Arran brown close behind. Another species of ringlet was flying in some of the meadows - smaller, and probably bright-eyed - but none stopped to be identified formally. This ringlet (and here), which I found near the end of the walk, I take to be bright-eyed, form caeca. It has no markings at all on the upperside. I tried to get a better shot of the underside but a couple of mountain bikers came past and that was that. No speckled woods! I did see a couple of alpine heaths in flight but no other heaths. The only other species seen were red admiral and a couple of small tortoiseshells. I arrived on site at 10h00 and left at 15h30, with probably an hour’s beer break at hostelry in the middle of the day. And in all that time, in some of the best butterfly country I know, I saw almost nothing …
10th: Mostly cloudy and sometimes rainy, with some long, warm, bright spells. Here is Minnie in the village on her evening walk.
11th: Visited a site high in the Val d’Hérens today (about 2000m). Normally, I set off from here and head up to 2500m for Cynthia's fritillary and others, but since this is such a late year I spent the day at about 2000m. One of my hopes was to see silvery argus, which a friend says he saw regularly last year - but there were none. Nor have I ever seen one here! At one point, this very oversized and very blue little blue had me hopeful, but when it landed it became apparent what it was. As always this year, there were actually rather few butterflies at all, though some species were out in reasonably good numbers. Alpine heath was probably the commonest altogether. Large ringlet, form adyte, was also common, and by far the commonest Erebia. I also saw one Swiss brassy ringlet (this is literally a proof shot before it disappeared) and one confirmed almond-eyed ringlet, though I suspect there were in fact more of these. Other Satyrids included meadow browns and northern walls. Often at this site there are loads of blues at minerals. Even when the day hotted up today there were rather few. New for the year were Idas blue and silver-studded blue. Idas blues were quite numerous, as were little blues and mazarine blues (here are a mazarine blue and little blue with a dingy skipper). Silver-studded were much less common and I saw just a single Amanda's blue. I also saw a single turquoise blue shortly before coming home and a single large blue earlier. I think the site is yet to come alive. Early on, a male small Apollo flew past me, and some ten minutes later another - or the same one - passed again. After that, no Apollos. A couple of swallowtails were the only other represtentatives of that family. Early on, too, I saw an Asian fritillary on the sand. I lined up a photo but it was buzzed by a dingy skipper and disappeared. I had a brief view of another later. I knew they flew at this site - or in the general region - but have never before seen one here. Other fritillaries included southern heath (just a few), false heath (the commonest fritillary) and pearl-bordered (just a few). Right at the end I thought I had a Grisons fritillary, from the small size and general appearance of the butterfly. This species is extremely common - abundant - on the higher walks here so it was no surprise to see one at 2000m. However, looking at the photo, I see it is a small, dark southern heath fritillary. For the Pieridae it was mostly mountain green-veined white, with a few orange tips and a single Berger’s clouded yellow. Right at the end I saw a single mountain clouded yellow but couldn’t get a photo. Skippers are normally common here. Today the most conspicuous was dingy, though I saw a couple of grizzlies and a single chequered skipper near the end. There were also a few large skippers, though no Thymelicus skippers. The day had clouded up by 14h30 and by the time I reached Leysin, at about 18h00, it was pouring with the heaviest and loudest rain I have ever experienced - like endless buckets of water being thrown over the world.
12th: A bright morning, leading to a grim day with torrential rain in the afternoon.
13th: A coolish day with plenty of cloud but sunny for most of the afternoon. We went up the local mountain at about 13h00 to see how the season was progressing up there. At 2000m, the only thing on the wing was a single geranium argus but by the time we got down to 1850m more was flying. Notably, bright-eyed ringlet (and here, and here for a flash underside) was now flying - the only Erebia today. At the same altitude, this brown argus was interesting. I can only see it as brown argus, not northern brown argus - and yet it was too high in theory. I couldn't get a glimpse of the underside because like most things at this stage of a cool day, it was holding its wings flat to get as much sun as possible. Here is a northern brown argus from lower down the mountain at the end of the day, for comparison. Mazarine blue, little blue and marsh fritillary were all flying here too and just a little lower was this large blue. We headed down, finding this large grizzled skipper (and here) at about 1700m. There was another, much smaller individual, which I took to be carline, but am actually less sure. That was the only photo I could get of it as it was behind a barbed wire fence. Black-veined whites, wood whites and pearl-bordered fritillaries were flying by the roadside around this altitude. By the time we reached one of my favourite spots, at 1650m, the day was distinctly cooler. Nevertheless, this alpine grizzled skipper put in an appearance, as did a few marsh fritillaries and a single, very worn Adonis blue. Other species seen today were false heath fritillary (now quite common), swallowtail, large wall and large skipper.
14th: A hot, sunny day was forecast, at least until mid-afternoon, so I set off to the Bernese Oberland for dusky and scarce large blues. Unfortunately, a great many other people had the same idea (though not the bit about the large blues!) and the site - which is also a popular leisure spot - was full of walkers, bikers and dogs. I quickly saw both species (here is a dusky large blue and here a scarce large blue) - as well as my first dark green fritillary of the year (just the one) and my first lesser marbled fritillaries (a few) - but it was difficult to watch, wait and photograph with so many people going past. So we decided to try a route we’ve never taken before, leading through woods and wetlands, in the hope of finding other sites. There was very little flying in the woods but when we reached the wetlands we found both large blues again. Dusky was by far the commonest, being present wherever there was greater burnet. Indeed, it was pretty much the commonest roadside butterfly! Here is a female, laying her eggs against a typical backdrop of the Bernese Oberland. While I was watching a female laying at a small patch of wetland, a male joined her and appeared to couple. I think he never really made it, and after some time he flew off and she continued laying. Here is a video of this encounter. Scarce large blue was distinctly less common and it was mostly males I saw, endlessly searching for females. This individual did pause briefly to check out some greater burnet. The scarce large blues were also more restricted to wet places, while the dusky large blues were at home in dry meadows. As forecast, clouds came over during the afternoon and we got the bus back to Gstaad from a different village. Other species flying at the original site included small heath, mazarine blue, silver-studded blue, little blue, swallowtail, meadow brown, Arran brown, small tortoiseshell and various whites. As I walked back, between the woods and the marshes, two Camberwell beauties flew past.
15th: I taught in the morning so couldn’t go very far today. For our afternoon walk, we took the train a little up the hill and then did a large circuit back home, taking in woods and meadows. Here is a view towards Tanay from the walk. In some of the flowery woodland rides there were plenty of Queen of Spain fritillaries, false heath fritillaries and southern heath fritillaries. I also saw a single silver-washed fritillary but he flew before I could get a shot. Other than that, large walls were common and there were a few meadow browns and ringlets. This helice clouded yellow was, I think, my first clouded yellow of the year here. Arran browns are becoming more numerous. Very few blues were on the wing - just a handful of mazarine and little blues.
16th: I was teaching again in the morning so once more stayed local today, visiting some of the meadowsweet meadows in the afternoon, where I found lesser marbled fritillaries last year. Today, although the weather was mostly good, there were none. In fact, there were hardly any butterflies at all - a familiar refrain this year. Meadow browns and marbled whites were conspcious and I saw a single mazarine blue, but little else. Here is a red kite.
17th: I got out relatively early this morning, heading for a wetland site in the Jura I have never visited before, just to have a look around. I believe chestnut heaths fly there in June but didn’t hold out high hopes for these today (and didn’t see any). In the marshy parts there were plenty of dragonflies and damselflies, including blue-tailed (and here), azure, white-legged and large red damselflies. There was lots of meadowsweet and a few lesser marbled fritillaries were cruising around - though not many. In the grassy and scrubby areas, meadow browns, ringlets and marbled whites were very common, with southern heath fritillaries and false heath fritillaries both common. I saw two fresh dark green fritillaries too - so this species is finally emerging! No high brown or Niobe. The only skippers were large, small and Essex. Small tortoiseshells were occasional and at least one red admiral flew by. Although butterfly numbers were low, as they are everywhere, it did seem a good place to go, perhaps earlier in the year.
18th: I was busy in the morning with meetings and other stuff so headed off in the afternoon to my nearest cranberry fritillary site. On 28th June, cranberry fritillaries had been numerous, though mostly males. Today they were even more numerous but now the females were out in equal numbers. It was warm and the males were flying without stopping but females were taking a few breaks. This one stopped on vegetation near the bog while this one is on the foodplant in one of the boggy patches. A very few moorland clouded yellows were flying but there were no cranberry blues - another species that shares the same foodplant and which I have found here in the past. There were small numbers of lesser marbled fritillaries in the larger region as well as a few southern heath fritillaries, false heath fritillaries and pearl-bordered fritillaries. I saw two dark green fritillaries. For the skippers, large and small were common - I didn't consciously identify any Essex but that doesn't mean there weren't any there. Very locally, I saw a couple of red underwing skippers. Blues seem to have suffered more than most other groups this year and there were very few on the wing today. Here is a northern brown argus and here a turquoise blue. Other than these, I saw a few common blues, a single large blue, a sinlge silver-studded blue and a very few little blues. This is the first purple-edged copper I have been able to photograph at rest this year!
19th: With good weather forecast, I headed early to the Simplon, for my annual hunt for Erebia christi. I packed all the essentials, including my net for confirming identity, but realised when I reached Aigle that I had forgotten to pack my little observation box. So I bought a clear tub of hummus and some bread, ate the hummus with the bread, cleaned the tub and continued my journey! So far, so good. But unlike my usual pot, the bulky hummus tub fell out of my pocket as I was climbing to the christi site, and I didn’t realise this until I was nearly there. So I went back down again, found the tub and climbed back up (with Minnie in the backpack). In the end, I arrived on site at about 11h20. Between then and midday I saw three christi in total, one of which I caught and photographed (badly). Here, here and here are some shots. Other Erebia on the wing were large ringlet (euryale - very common), almond-eyed ringlet (alberganus - also very common, but not so common as usual here), woodland ringlet (medusa - much commoner than usual - and here), de Prunner’s ringlet (triaria - quite a lot around, which is unusual for late July! - and here) and probably Arran brown (ligea) on the climb, though I didn’t formally identify any of these. Very surprisingly, there were no lesser mountain ringlets or mountain ringlets. Lots of swallowtails were on the wing and one Apollo flew through. For the whites, I saw just mountain green-veined and black-veined, and there were no yellows. Large and small/Essex skippers were flying, together with a very few dingies. Other browns included Darwin’s heath (very common), northern wall, large wall and alpine grayling, which was very common. On the climb I saw several Titania’s fritillaries and at the site there were southern heath, false heath and pearl-bordered fritillaries. Large blues were quite numerous - all looking much more like typical alpine large blues than those I have been seeing in Leysin - and there were a few sooty coppers and purple-edged coppers (ssp. eurydame). This was my first chalkhill blue of the year. I was quite surprised to see this southern white admiral, something I don't think I've seen at this site before. Other than that, no Lycaenids. It clouded over in the middle of the day and I was going to head back but then the sun came out again and I waited on site until 14h00. No more christi appeared. I headed back down and caught the bus to a site lower down in the hope of some more year ticks. It turned out to be windy and little was flying, but I found a fair few butterflies all the same. This male dusky meadow brown (and here) was one of the species I had hoped to find, as was this rock grayling, lurking, as so often, in the shadows. I also saw a single grayling (semele). I hadn’t expected to see fresh Swiss Zephyr blue (and here), but there were a few of these around, as well as my first Escher’s blues of the year and another chalkhill blue. Another Apollo flew through - only my second of the year.
20th: I visited Villars this morning, on social and other business, so walked Minnie back through our old haunts in the afternoon to see what was happening in the woods. Woodland browns are still flying - and still quite fresh. I saw just two white admirals, very surprisingly - this is (or used to be) a strong area for them. Both seemed to be females wandering in search of places to lay. This female marbled fritillary was similarly looking for young bramble to lay on - and she was the only marbled fritillary I saw. I also saw a single male silver-washed fritillary in flight. Other species flying were meadow brown, ringlet, swallowtail, a single great banded grayling (my first of the year) and marbled white. I saw no purple emperors, nor was able to find any eggs in the usual places.
21st: A cloudy day.
22nd: Cloud and rain most of the day (and here). In the late morning, despite the rain, I disturbed my first dryad of the year. It quickly dived down into the wet grass and I got just this record shot (I didn't want to disturb it again).
23rd: Unexpectedly, it was a sunny day today. I headed up my local mountain with Minnie at about midday, to see how the Erebia were doing. When we got to the top (of the télécabine), the first thing we noticed was a geranium argus flying around the wood cranesbill - exactly where we saw one last time we came up. The next thing was a golden eagle with rather mottled plumage (and here). Then in the distance, over la tour d'Aï, I spotted a large group of griffon vultures circling. There are 11 in that picture but there were more altogether. Here is a more zoomed-in shot of one of them, and here a group of three. In answer to my Erebia question - only bright-eyed ringlets (oeme) were flying at altitude and at the Erebia spot I found last year. By this time last year, lesser mountain ringlet (melampus - 14th July), manto ringlet (manto - 17th July), Piedmont ringlet (meolans - 15th July) and common brassy ringlet (arvernensis - 17th July) were all on the wing at this site. Today, just bright-eyed. A few large walls were around and plenty of alpine heaths. Other than that, I saw false heath fritillaries, a single mazarine blue, a single marsh fritillary, a small number of Titania's fritillaries and a few black-veined whites. As we walked down to lower altitudes, a few Scotch argus (my first for the year) were around and at my next stopping point I saw chalkhill blues, Adonis blues (that one had no cell spot), turquoise blues and a couple of little blues. A single carline skipper put in an appearance, as well as a single grizzled skipper and a red-underwing skipper. Glanville fritillary was still on the wing here. Lower still, I saw a single great banded grayling and a few wood whites, as well as other whites and a brimstone.
24th: I took Minnie to the woods in the afternoon to see if there were any white-letter hairstreaks at the top of their master tree. There were - about a dozen, at a guess. Most of the time they were just sitting in the canopy, out of sight, but every so often there was activity and several of them would fly up, twist about, and then land again. Then never came down below the canopy. Here, here and here are three individuals that settled in places visible from where I was standing, that I could get the zoom camera onto. There were also great banded graylings in the tree tops, sometimes putting up the hairstreaks. There are now Scotch arguses flying along the woodland rides.

August


September

October


November

December