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For previous years' lists and commentaries, often incomplete, click: 2012, 2011, 20102009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001. I seem to have lost the file for 2000.
Two of my friends also keep online year-lists. Tim Cowles, living in the Monts du Lyonnais, publishes his list HERE and Matthew Rowlings, who lives not far from me in Vevey, Switzerland, has his HERE.
SCROLL DOWN for the 2013 CHECKLIST or use the menu below to jump to the COMMENTARY for each month.
  1. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - 8th January - Vaud
  2. Queen of Spain fritillary (Issoria lathonia) - 18th February - Valais
  3. Large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) - 10th March - Valais
  4. Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) - 10th March - Valais
  5. Peacock (Aglais io) - 10th March - Valais
  6. Eastern Bath white (Pontia edusa) - 10th March - Valais
  7. Comma (Polygonia c-album) - 10th March - Valais
  8. Small white (Pieris rapae) - 10th March - Valais
  9. Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) 16th March - North Italy
  10. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) - 24th March - Málaga
  11. Clouded yellow (Colias crocea) - 24th March - Málaga
  12. Southern brown argus (Aricia cramera) - 24th March - Málaga
  13. Provence hairstreak (Tomares ballus) - 24th March - Málaga
  14. Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - 24th March - Málaga
  15. Wall (Lasiommata megera) - 24th March - Málaga
  16. Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) - 24th March - Málaga
  17. Western dappled white (Euchloe crameri) - 24th March - Málaga
  18. Green-striped white (Euchloe belemia) - 24th March - Málaga
  19. Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) - 24th March - Málaga
  20. Long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) - 24th March - Málaga
  21. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - 24th March - Málaga
  22. African grass blue (Zizeeria knysna) - 24th March - Málaga
  23. Berger's pale clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) - 25th March - Málaga
  24. Black-eyed blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) - 25th March - Málaga
  25. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus) - 27th March - Málaga
  26. Bath white (Pontia daplidice) - 27th March - Málaga
  27. Spanish marbled white (Melanargia ines) - 27th March - Málaga
  28. Large white (Peris brassicae) - 28th March - Gibraltar
  29. Provence orange tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) - 28th March - Gibraltar
  30. Speckled wood (Parage aegeria) - 28th March - Gibraltar
  31. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) - 7th April - Valais
  32. Green-veined white (Pieris napi) - 7th April - Valais
  33. Southern grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvoides) - 7th April - Valais
  34. Scarce swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) - 7th April - Valais
  35. Wood white (Leptidea sinapis) - 13th April - Valais
  36. Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) - 13th April - Valais
  37. Violet fritillary (Boloria dia) - 13th April - Valais
  38. Green hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - 14th April - North Italy
  39. Nettle tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) - 14th April - North Italy
  40. Sooty copper (Lycaena tityrus) - 14th April - North Italy
  41. Chequered blue (Scolitantides orion) - 14th April - North Italy
  42. Camberwell beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) - 4th May - North Italy
  43. Short-tailed blue (Cupido argiades) - 4th May - North Italy
  44. Provençal short-tailed blue (Cupido alcetas) - 4th May - North Italy
  45. Chapman's blue (Polyommatus thersites) - 5th May - Valais
  46. Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus) - 5th May - Valais
  47. Baton blue (Scolitantides baton) - 5th May - Valais
  48. Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) - 5th May - Valais
  49. De Prunner's ringlet (Erebia triaria) - 5th May - Valais
  50. Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages) - 5th May - Valais
  51. Southern small white (Pieris mannii) - 5th May - Valais
  52. Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) - 5th May - Valais
  53. Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) - 5th May - Valais
  54. Little blue (Cupido minimus) - 5th May - Valais
  55. Mountain dappled white (Euchloe simplonia) - 11th May - Valais
  56. Grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) - 14th May - Vaud
  57. Pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) - 24th May - Vaud
  58. Chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) - 27th May - Vaud
  59. Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) - 1st June - North Italy
  60. Woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa) - 1st June - North Italy
  61. Large wall (Lasiommata maera) - 1st June - North Italy
  62. Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) - 1st June - North Italy
  63. Idas blue (Plebejus idas) - 1st June - North Italy
  64. Reverdin's blue (Plebejus argyrognomon) - 2nd June - Geneva
  65. Oberthür's grizzled skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) - 2nd June - Geneva
  66. Brown argus (Aricia agestis) - 2nd June - Geneva
  67. Red-underwing skipper (Spialia sertorius) - 2nd June - Geneva
  68. Knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) - 2nd June - Geneva
  69. Heath fritillary (Melitaea athalia) - 2nd June - Geneva
  70. Iolas blue (Iolana iolas) - 5th June - Valais
  71. Turquoise blue (Polyommatus dorylas) - 5th June - Valais
  72. Spotted fritillary (Melitaea didyma) - 5th June - Valais
  73. Violet copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - 6th June - Vaud
  74. Nickerl's fritillary (Melitaea aurelia) - 8th June - Valais
  75. Amanda's blue (Polyommatus amandus) - 8th June - Valais
  76. Black-veined white (Aporia crataegi) - 8th June - Valais
  77. Apollo (Parnassius apollo) - 8th June - Valais
  78. Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami) - 8th June - Valais
  79. Provençal fritillary (Melitaea deione berisalii) - 8th June - Valais
  80. Northern brown argus (Aricia artaxerxes) - 8th June - Valais
  81. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina) - 12th June - Vaud
  82. Meadow fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) - 13th June - Vaud
  83. Northern wall (Lasiommata petropolitana) - 16th June - Vaud
  84. Marbled white (Melanargia galathea) - 18th June - Geneva
  85. Black hairstreak (Satyrium pruni) - 18th June - Geneva
  86. Pearly heath (Coenonympha arcania) - 18th June - Geneva
  87. Large copper (Lycaena dispar) - 18th June - Geneva
  88. Ilex hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) - 18th June - Geneva
  89. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - 29th June - Vaud
  90. Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - 29th June - Vaud
  91. Woodland brown (Lopinga achine) - 1st July - Vaud
  92. Mountain green-veined white (Pieris bryoniae) - 4th July - Valais
  93. Alpine heath (Coenomnympha gardetta) - 4th July - Valais
  94. Mazarine blue (Cyaniris semiargus) - 4th July - Valais
  95. Alpine grizzled skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) - 4th July - Valais
  96. False heath fritillary (Melitaea diamina) - 4th July - Valais
  97. Asian fritillary (Euphydryas intermedia) - 4th July - Valais
  98. Peak white (Pontia callidice) - 4th July - Valais
  99. Large blue (Phengaris arion) - 4th July - Valais
  100. Alpine grayling (Oeneis glacialis) - 4th July - Valais
  101. Great sooty satyr (Satyrus ferula) - 4th July - Valais
  102. Blind ringlet (Erebia pharte) - 4th July - Valais
  103. Moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno) - 5th July - Valais
  104. Purple-edged copper (Lycaena hippothoe) - 5th July - Bern
  105. Dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) - 5th July - Bern
  106. Scarce large blue (Phengaris telejus) - 5th July - Bern
  107. Bright-eyed ringlet (Erebia oeme) - 5th July - Bern
  108. Osiris blue (Cupido osiris) - 5th July - Bern
  109. Marbled fritillary (Brenthis daphne) - 5th July - Vaud
  110. Swiss Zephyr blue (Plebejus trappi) - 6th July - Valais
  111. Rock grayling (Hipparchia hermione) - 6th July - Valais
  112. Small skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) - 6th July - Valais
  113. Escher's blue (Polyommatus escheri) - 6th July - Valais
  114. Dewy ringlet (Erebia pandrose) - 6th July - Valais
  115. Dusky grizzled skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae) - 6th July - Valais
  116. Thor's fritillary (Boloria thore) - 8th July - Bern
  117. Large ringlet (Erebia euryale) - 8th July - Bern
  118. Titania's fritillary (Boloria titania) - 8th July - Bern
  119. Arran brown (Erebia ligea) - 9th July - Vaud
  120. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 10th July - Valais
  121. Darwin's heath (Coenonympha gardetta darwiniana) - 10th July - Valais
  122. Rätzer's ringlet (Erebia christi) - 10th July - Valais
  123. Lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) - 10th July - Valais
  124. Great banded grayling (Brintesia circe) - 12th July - Vaud
  125. Alpine argus (Alblina orbitulus) - 13th July - Vaud
  126. Marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) - 13th July - Vaud
  127. Lesser marbled fritillary (Brenthis ino) - 14th July - Vaud
  128. Purple emperor (Apatura iris) - 14th July - Vaud
  129. White admiral (Liminitis camilla) - 14th July - Vaud
  130. Purple-shot copper (Lycaena alciphorn) - 15th July - Vaud
  131. Hungarian glider (Neptis rivularis) - 15th July - North Italy
  132. Lesser purple-emperor (Apatura ilia) - 15th July - North Italy
  133. Dark green fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - 15th July - North Italy
  134. Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) - 15th July - North Italy
  135. Marbled ringlet (Erebia montana) - 16th July - Valais
  136. Small mountain ringlet (Erebia epiphron) - 16th July - Valais
  137. Mnestra's ringlet (Erebia mnestra) - 16th July - Valais
  138. Swiss brassy ringlet (Erebia tyndarus) - 16th July - Valais
  139. Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops) - 20th July - Valais
  140. Niobe fritillary (Argynnis niobe) - 16th July - Valais
  141. Chalkhill blue (Polyommatus coridon) - 16th July - Valais
  142. Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) - 16th July - Valais
  143. Grisons' fritillary (Melitaea varia) - 20th July - Valais
  144. Mountain clouded yellow (Colias phicomone) - 20th July - Valais
  145. Carline skipper (Pyrgus carlinae) - 20th July - Valais
  146. Eros blue (Polyommatus eros) - 20th July - Valais
  147. Warren's skipper (Pyrgus warrenensis) - 20th July - Valais
  148. Shepherd's fritillary (Boloria pales) - 20th July - Valais
  149. Silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma) - 20th July - Valais
  150. Glandon blue (Plebejus glandon) - 20th July - Valais
  151. Grayling (Hipparchia semele) - 20th July - Valais
  152. Southern white admiral (Liminitis reducta) - 20th July - Valais
  153. Lulworth skipper (Thymelicus acteon) - 20th July - Valais
  154. Marbled skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) - 20th July - Valais
  155. Chestnut heath (Coenonympha glycerion) - 22nd July - Vaud
  156. Mountain fritillary (Boloria napaea) - 25th July - Bern
  157. Cynthia's fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia) - 25th July - Bern
  158. Silky ringlet (Erebia gorge) - 25th July - Bern
  159. Water ringlet (Erebia pronoe) - 25th July - Bern
  160. De Lesse's brassy ringlet (Erebia nivalis) - 25th July - Bern
  161. Eriphyle ringlet (Erebia eriphyle) - 27th July - Vaud
  162. Manto ringlet (Erebia manto) - 27th July - Vaud
  163. Cranberry fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris) - 27th July - Vaud
  164. Cranberry blue (Plebejus optilete) - 27th July - Vaud
  165. White-letter hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) - 27th July - Vaud
  166. Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) - 31st July - Geneva
  167. Dryad (Minois dryas) - 31st July - Geneva
  168. Map (Araschnia levana) - 31st July - Geneva
  169. Cryptic wood white* (Leptidea juvernica) - 31st July - Geneva
  170. Pale clouded yellow** (Colias hyale) - 31st July - Geneva
  171. Sudetan ringlet (Erebia sudetica) - 2nd August - Bern
  172. Yellow-banded ringlet (Erebia flavofasciata) - 3rd August - Ticino
  173. Damon blue (Polyommatus damon) - 5th August - Vaud
  174. Common brassy ringlet (Erebia cassioides) - 5th August - Vaud
  175. Large grizzled skipper (Pyrgus alveus) - 5th August - Vaud
  176. Cardinal (Argynnis pandora) - 10th August - Valais
  177. Purple hairstreak (Favonius quercus) - 11th August - Valais
  178. Meleager's blue (Meleageria daphnis) - 13th August - Valais
  179. Hermit (Chazara briseis) - 15th August - Jura
  180. Tree grayling (Hipparchia statilinus) - 20th August - Valais
  181. Brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) - 28th September - Valais
* This is a little tentative/tenuous. In the past, based on successful blind tests, I believed I could satisfactorily distinguish between sinapis and reali. This latter was believed to occur in Switzerland, representing about a quarter of wood whites here. It now seems juvernica, not reali, flies in Switzerland.
** This record represents my first confirmed sighting of hyale this year. There were many probable sightings earlier that I was not able to confirm.

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

8th: The year has begun very mild, with plenty of sun in the last four or five days. In the Rhône Valley there are flies on the wing and lizards scuttling around sunny walls but no butterflies yet. There are banks of speedwells, storksbills, various Compositae and lots of heartsease in flower, so if anything did fly it would easily find nectar and, in the case of Queens of Spain, ample foodplant. But all is being wisely well behaved. In Huémoz, at 1000m, a single small tortoiseshell was flying when I got back from the valley at 15h30 - my first butterfly of the year. It was considerably warmer up here, above the haze, even at that hour.

16th: It has been an exceptionally snowy winter and was stilll snowing last night. But today, my birthday, it was sunny and I took a walk in the valley. Although it was still cold and snow lay right down to the valley floor, four small tortoiseshells crossed my path. This one posed a little for me. It was a lovely walk for birds, too, with this hen harrier (and here) passing close enough for the camera and plenty of passerines around, including flocks of Alpine accentors. Here is a distant shot of three together. The Bulbocodium are coming out and spring is not far off ... This pied shieldbug was sitting in the snow so I picked him up and moved him to a better place.
18th: It was very cold in the valley this morning, with a chill easterly wind. Nevertheless, a single Queen of Spain fritillary was defending a sunny bank against a small tortoiseshell. I saw four small tortoiseshells in total.

2nd: I woke up to thick cloud this morning but lured by a good forecast headed off to the Rhône Valley. There, freezing mist dominated until about 11h00, when enough sun got through to allow a small tortoiseshell to fly at 11h15. Soon after that a Queen of Spain flew and by 12h15 I had seen a total of 15 Queens of Spain and 4 small tortoiseshells. Here are some of the Queens, all different individuals: here, here, here and here. This is one of the small tortoiseshells. I was sad to find a single Queen of Spain dead on the path. Because it was still cold and rather windy at my first site I headed further along the valley to see what conditions were like there. It was sunnier but if anything colder, with a stronger wind, and I saw just 6 small tortoiseshells at this site. No Queens flew here and there were no large tortoiseshells or other hibernators to be found either. It is still wintry, but spring is clearly just around the corner.
3rd: A work day, unfortunately, as it was brilliantly sunny all day. In the afternoon I walked into Villars for a meeting and saw a single small tortoiseshell on the way, in Huémoz.
4th: A single small tortoiseshell was on the wing in Villars at lunchtime.
9th: Cloudy all day, but quite warm. At a wetland site in the valley I saw a small tortoiseshell appear to fly out of a bank. It flew around a few times without settling, then went back to the bank, where it disappeared into a grassy 'cave' and climbed deep inside. It seemed to have emerged just to check what the day was like, before going straight back to bed (as it really wasn't a very nice day).
10th: Sun and cloud in Valais, with a rather low ambient temperature but locally some very warm spots. I saw 8 species of butterfly, at two sites along the valley. At the first, at the western end, Queen of Spain fritillaries and small tortoiseshells were abundant, between them certainly reaching treble figures. I didn't manage any good photos, unfortunately, partly because I had left the camera settings as for yesterday's gloom and didn't realise until it was too late. At the same site I saw three large tortoiseshells. Moving eastwards along the valley to a new site, I found brimstones very common. At least a dozen males and one female were parading along the woody edges of my path, never once settling so far as I could see. A single peacock was my first of this species for the year and I saw two or three commas, which were my first of this species. I saw two Eastern Bath whites, neither of which settled even a moment, and a single small white, which drifted away up a hill into the woods! Here is a large tortoiseshell in characteristic head-down pose, defending his territory (against two others that shared his ride). This is him again, on a different tree. All afternoon, small tortoiseshells and large tortoiseshells were in evidence, with probably half a dozen of the latter species crossing my path (in addition to the three in the morning).
16th: With bad weather forecast to move in from the West I went east into North Italy, hoping perhaps to see a nettle tree butterfly at the site I found last year. It was very sunny when I arrived, and locally warm, despite a cold wind, but almost nothing was moving. A handful of small tortoiseshells were on or near sallows coming into flower but there were no other nectar sources and no other species. New grass had not yet grown and the feel was wintry, not springlike. On the way back to the station I checked out some scrubland I found earlier this winter and found that, too, was largely barren. I saw a few small tortoiseshells, then a single Queen of Spain, a single large tortoiseshell and finally a single small copper, my only year tick of the day. I then headed back  into Switzerland, stopping at the site where 8 species were flying last weekend. The wind was getting up and the clouds were coming over but I did see a few small tortoiseshells and a couple of large tortoiseshells. Here is a distant shot of a large tortoiseshell taking an interest in a small. It didn't last long - the large tortoiseshell got bored and walked off. Banks are covered in Potentilla but no grizzled skippers were buzzing over them - nor any other species than the two tortoiseshells.
24th - 28th - Málaga
24th: Mixed weather, with occasional sunny patches, mostly cloud, always wind and sometimes rain. I managed to find 16 species in the local hills but it was hard work and many were just single individuals. My usual hilltopping sites had nothing because of the high winds and the only butterflies that did hilltop, away from the main ridges, were painted ladies. The species I saw were: swallowtail (a single individual), Spanish festoon (very few, and all on one small patch of hillside), small white (a very few), western dappled white (several Euchloe seen but mostly in flight and not identified; one confirmed crameri right at the end, as I came down the mountain), green-striped white (as above - just one confirmed), clouded yellow (one of the few common butterflies, being the first to reappear when the sun came out), Provence hairstreak (a few plucky individuals, angling themselves into the sun when it was briefly shining, trying to warm up!), small copper (two seen in total), long-tailed blue (a single individual, at the end, as I came down the mountain), African grass blue (and here - a single individual, in central Málaga), southern brown argus (a single individual, near my Provence hairstreak site), painted lady (like clouded yellows, relatively common, still hilltopping after the sun went in), red admiral (one, right at the end), peacock (also just the one, flying off the ridge, just before I came down), small heath (two or three flying near a little stream) and wall (a single pair sparring for sunspots near a wall). All in all, not a good butterfly day because of the oppressive weather. I was surprised to find no black-eyed blues or green hairstreaks.
25th: Wind and cloud again but no rain. More butterflies flew in the sunny patches. There were even some hilltoppers on the peaks, despite the wind, including walls, painted ladies and red admirals. Spanish festoons were commoner than yesterday (and here) and I finally found black-eyed blues (two - a male and a female). No green hairstreaks, though, and no Provence orange tips. There were more whites, especially small whites, and lots of clouded yellows. Small coppers and small heaths were numerous. New for the trip was Berger's pale clouded yellow, of which I saw a single female. I had a chance to explore the local region a little, finding some more nice meadows and hillisides, and it was generally milder today. But the cloud closed in for good in the afternoon and there were no African grass blues braving it in Málaga as I walked home.
26th: Visited a site south of Estepona hoping for Chapman's green hairstreak. But the weather was awful and I saw not a single butterfly.
27th: The weather was supposed to be awful today, with rain forecast, so I was going to visit museums. But when I looked out the sky was blue so I headed back up into the hills. I was right to do so! I found my first lifer of 2013 hilltopping with the green-striped whites and Bath whites at my first hilltopping site! It was a Spanish marbled white. This first one had a large part of one hindwing missing - doubtless from a close encounter with a lizard or bird - but was zooming around quite happily. At the next hilltopping site there was at least one and possibly two more (here). They were very easy to spot among the other whites as they all chased each other around in strings. Also hilltopping were long-tailed blues, probably Lang's short-tailed blues, but none stopped to be identified, painted ladies, red admirals, swallowtails and walls. The weather was mild and the wind much less than on recent days so it seemed a lot of butterflies were making up for lost time. Spanish festoons were common, black-eyed blues quite frequent, though not common, Provence hairstreaks were nectaring, a southern brown argus was defending a territory... Away from the hilltopping sites, whites were drifiting around. Green-striped and Bath paused briefly for photographs. Small whites were commoner and there were probably some western dappled whites. No Cleopatras and again, no Provence orange tips. Small heaths were locally quite common. All morning it felt like a real spring day, warm and hopeful, with fluffy, fairweather clouds, frogs and birds singing, swifts swooping, insects getting busy. By three in the afternoon it was back to rain again but a lot of spirits in the countryside had been lifted - not just mine! As I walked back to the hostel in what was now gloom I checked on my African grass blue site. Three showed themselves - two females, who did so only to dive deep into vegetation immediately afterwards, and one male, who posed briefly. In short, a very good day, with the added excitement of a lifer to boot!
28th: The choice today was between trying again for Chapman's green hairstreak or visiting Gibraltar. The weather looked very similar to the last day I tried for Chapman's and saw no butterflies at all - or perhaps it was worse today. So I abandoned that butterfly for another trip and took the bus to Gibraltar. As I passed customs and crossed the airport the Rock was shrouded in cloud but this cleared quickly leaving some hope for a bright day. I first went round to the eastern side, where a few whites were drifting around near Catelan Bay - but it was still too early and everything was still wet from rain. So I went back to the town and headed south to the Mediterranean steps. For most of my walk here, the sun shone. I saw a single Spanish festoon - the terrain is too lush at this time of year, which is perhaps why they fly here in February - a quite a few large whites and half a dozen, or perhaps more, Provence orange tips (and here, and here). Again, no Cleopatras, which was surprising. These are also common in February, so perhaps they are now past their peak. By the time I reached the top of the Rock it was cold, windy and cloudy, with just a few sunny breaks for the rest of the day. I visited the Alameda gardens without seeing any butterflies apart from a single speckled wood, which brought my species total for March to 30 species. That was the last butterfly I saw on the Rock.

2nd: Back in Suffolk it has been cold. It was snowing the day I arrived (31st March) and occasionally since. Today it was bright in the morning, with a cold wind, and at two local sites individual small tortoiseshells were braving it.
5th: Arrived Switzerland on 4th, to cold and cloud. Today, a little warmth breached the cloud and I saw about 4 small tortoiseshells as I cycled down to the woods to look for purple emperor caterpillars (which I didn't find).
7th: A very cold and foggy morning but I cycled down to the valley anyway. The fog cleared and allowed the sun through at about 12h00, when immediately butterflies started flying. In fact, small tortoiseshells had been braving it from shortly before, but it was when the fog lifted that everything else came out. In a little over an hour I saw small tortoiseshell (common), Queen of Spain (common - here is a couple with a meddlesome third! - and this one was tiny - the size of a common blue), peacock (a few), comma (two), large tortoiseshell (probably three different individuals), small white (one), green-veined white (common), eastern Bath white (several), brimstone (several, both males and females), orange tip (just one male, roding), swallowtail (two), scarce swallowtail (two) and grizzled skipper (two or three, in one corner of the site). There were no Lycaenids or Satyrids on the wing. I had to leave early, to be home by 15h30, and because of the recent clock change things were really beginning to get going as I left.
13th: A working morning, but I managed to get to the valley in the afternoon. The final banks of high cloud were passing before the week of sun and heat which begins tomorrow! Today it was hazy, sometimes cloudy, sometimes sunny, but always warm and plenty of species were on the wing even though it was relatively late in the day. New for the year were a single holly blue and a single wood white, neither of which stopped, and about three violet fritillaries (and here). Other species flying were small white, green-veined white, Bath white, orange tip, brimstone, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, peacock, comma, small tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain, speckled wood (and here) and grizzled skipper. Apart from holly blue, no blues were on the wing - a situation which will doubtless change from tomorrow, when the hot weather moves in. I didn't see any large tortoiseshells, but given the muggy and overcast weather, and the fact it was the afternoon, this is not so surprising. They too are easiest in the mornings, when they defend their territories.
14th: Up early and off to North Italy to look for nettle tree butterflies. I only had the morning as I needed to be back home in the afternoon. Compared with last year, this season is significantly behind at the nettle tree site. The leaves of the trees are still tightly furled and the ground vegetation is mostly last season's dead grass and other plants, with little new growth pushing through yet. Arriving at the site at 10h00 I saw a single large tortoiseshell, a single small tortoiseshell and a single holly blue. For a while it looked as if that was all I would see, then suddenly green hairstreaks burst out, tumbling and spiralling above the bushes. Soon after that I found at least four nettle tree butterflies (at one point I could see four at once) sunning themselves on inaccessible nettle trees. I couldn't get sunny-side of them, or at all close, but I got a few record shots from some considerable distance (and here). They showed no interest in doing anything except absorb warmth. At a nearby site I saw at least another two nettle tree butterflies and saw two as I walked back to the station. Other species flying were small copper (several), small and green-veined whites (quite common), brimstone (common), orange tip (lots), wood white (a few), chequered blue (one lovely male, seen three times as he searched for a territory, or perhaps three different lovely males!), sooty copper (a single individual), red admiral and comma. Holly blues were frequent during the morning, often near ivy.
21st: A trip to the Canton of Geneva turned up no butterflies as the sky never cleared. But I did witness an amazing gathering of black kites (and here) - here is a video of them.
24th: I finished school at 2.30pm so dropped down to a local blues and violet fritillary site. There were no blues at all, barring a single male that flew through (probably a green-underside blue, but it didn't stop) nor any violet fritillaries. It was a lovely day and orange tips were roding the perimeters, small and green-veined whites were common, there was a single small heath, a single large tortoiseshell, several small tortoiseshells and this comma all enjoying spring conditions.

4th: Sun forecast for Italy, poor weather for Switzerland, so I headed early into Italy. Arriving at my first site at about 09h30, I found only chequered blues were flying (and here). In fact, until 11h30 that was the only species I saw apart from a single small white and a single possible nettle tree butterfly. The weather was mostly warm and sunny, with cloudy spells and a little wind. No green hairstreaks or coppers flew, despite their being out in numbers just three weeks ago. I cycled uphill to a second site, hoping for Camberwell beauty, amongst other things. There, orange tips, wood whites, green-veined whites and a couple of painted ladies were flying, and I saw a female brimstone as I cycled - but nothing else! I must have looked rather sad, as suddenly a Camberwell beauty came to cheer me up, buzzing at my white hat and then cruising off. At a third site, where I only got about 5 minutes, a rather worn short-tailed blue was flying (and here). You can't really see the orange under the hindwing but there is some, and the pattern of spots and the length of the tail all confirm it is not Provençal. Back in Switzerland there was just time to visit a Camberwell beauty site in the Rhône Valley. Although it was cloudy when I arrived, the visit was productive in the end, with this Camberwell beauty (and here, and here), as well as my first Provençal short-tailed blue of the year, wood whites (here is a wood white egg), orange tips, a speckled wood, a grizzled skipper and a probably southern small white. Two painted ladies were sparring as I left the Camberwell beauty. Overall, a weak showing for early May but an enjoyable day.
5th: Visited two different parts of the Valley, the first at valley floor level, the second higher up the mountains. The weather was perfect in the morning, when I was joined by Matt Rowlings, and despite horses grazing the usual rosy grizzled skipper meadow, these butterflies were in evidence elsewhere. Here are an upperside and an underside. The only other skipper flying here was dingy, which was now out in small numbers. For the whites, small white, green-veined white and large white were joined for the first time this year by southern small white - at least two individuals. Bath whites, wood whites and orange tips were also present, with brimstones and Berger's pale clouded yellows (but not clouded yellows) too. Both swallowtails were on the wing. The first Glanville fritillaries were flying and a few Queens of Spain were around. Blues are now coming out in force, with common, Adonis, Chapman's, green-underside, baton, holly and Provençal short-tailed all putting in appearances. A few green hairstreaks were defending territories. Small tortoiseshells are still flying, as well as peacocks and commas. We saw several de Prunner's ringlets off the track, though none stopped to say hello. Small heath and speckled wood were flying here too. In the afternoon the weather turned more cloudy. I was in search of Oberthür's grizzled skippers but it seemed it was too early for these - instead, I saw a lot of grizzled skippers (and here). Dukes of Burgundy were flying in two parts of the site (and here) and during a cloudy spell this green-underside blue gave lovely views of its upperside. Green hairstreaks were common (and here). Here is a dingy skipper. This is my first little blue of the year (and here), also seen during cloud, in meadows a little higher up the mountain. Violet fritillaries were locally common. Other interesting sights during the day were hundreds of cockchafers mating in the oaks (and here, and here) and this beetle, clinging to the top of a stem. I saw exactly the same species doing the same thing yesterday, at a different site.
11th: A mostly cloudy day, with rain in the early morning and afternoon. On the strength of a very little forecast sun I headed up to a mountain dappled white site, arriving shortly after 10h00. For a couple of hours I saw almost nothing - just a green-underside blue roosting in the grass, a Chapman's blue that tried briefly to fly and a female green-veined white. I did find this mountain dappled white egg but it looked as if I wold draw a blank on the butterflies themselves. Then, as I was about to leave, the sun came through for a short period and immediately small whites, wood whites, orange tips, scarce swallowtails (and here, and here) and a painted lady took to the wing. At 13h30 I saw a first mountain dappled white, zipping between foodplants, and over the next hour, despite mostly cloud, saw two more. Here is the first of these and here and here the second - identifiable as a different individual by the hairline tear along the left forewing. Before I left, while it was still cloudy, I found a holly blue, Adonis blue, little blue and Provençal short-tailed blue all within a few metres of each other in a small patch of grass. Then it began raining and I headed home.
14th: Sunshine and some warmth today - the only good day forecast for this week. After work I cycled to the local woods to look for purple emperor caterpillars, brown hairstreak caterpillars and pearl-bordered fritillaries. I saw none of these, though several violet fritillaries were on the wing, even at nearly 18h00. A fresh male Provençal short-tailed blue was my first of the year for these woods and a single grizzled skipper was my first of this species for the year. I am counting grizzled skipper (malvae) and southern grizzled skipper (malvoides) as different species and although they are indistinguishable, their Swiss distributions are well mapped and discrete. A comma was defending a sunny spot in the woods and orange tips and wood whites were drifting along the edges. While I was photographing this wood white a couple of other butterflies took an interest in her. Here is an amorous male wood white trying his luck and here a male orange tip. She ignored both.
24th: A sunny, but working, day - the only good day forecast for a bit. After school I found my first chequered skippers of the year - two individuals at two sites near my house.
27th: Poor weather but in a sunny break I found a single pearl-bordered fritillary in my local woods and located this brown hairstreak caterpillar also locally.

1st: Persistent and sometimes heavy rain was forecast for the whole of Switzerland today, with warnings of floods and landslides. But as the winds were blowing from the north a Föhn effect was predicted for south of the Alps and I headed into Italy. There, winds were strong - often too strong for things to fly - but it was warm and the sun shone most of the day. I visited three sites. At the first, when I arrived, chequered blues were the commonest butterfly, with large skipper (my first of the year) a distant second. Flying with them were sooty coppers, small coppers, holly blues, a wall, a speckled wood, a red admiral, a brimstone and a woodland ringlet, my first of that species for the year. I kept moving to my second site while the morning was still warming up but found very little flying. It was generally too windy and the season also seemed rather late, with vegetation that should soon host the summer species still low on the ground or absent. I saw another red admiral, two wood whites, a small white, several brimstones and numbers of small heath there. Back at the first site a Queen of Spain had established authority over a patch of bramble and grass. He was zooming out after anything that moved - large skipper, sooty copper, chequered blue - and while I was watching launched himself at a female Queen of Spain, who instantly succumbed to his charms (and here, and here). A large wall was my first of that species for the year. Next, I visited an area of grassland, hoping perhaps to see the tail end of the short-tailed blues, which were flying there earlier in the year. I didn't see any but the wind meant I could have missed them. I did, though, find an extensive colony of silver-studded blues - all subspecies aegidon with very broad, dark borders. Most were males but I saw a single female. Flying with them were common blues and, locally, idas blues. Here is a pair of small heaths from the same site. Like the Queens, these coupled before my eyes, and like them they took just seconds about it - no courtship or preamble!
The best weather today was forecast for the west so I went to the Canton of Geneva to look for Reverdin's blues and see if any black hairstreaks were on the wing. At my first site I saw four pristine male Reverdin's blues. This one was very friendly and allowed some close photos (and here and here). At the same site was my first Oberthür's grizzled skipper of the year and a few brown arguses. This is a meadow site where there are usually meadow browns and marbled whites by the end of May, but there were none. Other blues there were little blue, common blue and Adonis blue. This is a western clubtailed dragonfly. Moving on to a black hairstreak site I found that too was well behind its usual state. There were no pearly heaths and the dominant butterfly seemed to be Glanville fritillary, which was zooming about everywhere. Here is a couple mating. There were also (fewer) knapweed fritillaries and heath fritillaries. A pale clouded yellow that seemed not to be Berger's passed through but didn't stop. Brown arguses were locally common, as were small whites, green-veined whites, large whites and wood whites. Orange tips were still flying and I saw a brimstone.A red-underwing skipper was my first of the year. A peacock was still on the wing!
5th: After the school sports day I took the train along the valley to look for iolas blues. At least two fresh males were flying at my usual site, though neither stopped at all. I saw one of them many times as he roded his circuit, checking out every bladder senna for females presumably. Other blues were common, Adonis, green-underside, Provençal short-tailed, little, turquoise and Chapman's. It was hot, rather windy, and nothing stopped. A single Camberwell beauty drifted through at one point.
6th: I finished school early and decided to look for the local violet coppers. Circumstances were against me: I forgot to pack my camera, the trains weren't running and unforeseen storms came through the region. Nevertheless, I walked up to the sites and decided to use my iPhone as a camera if I saw anything. The higher sites were very behind: snow was still around, the aconite-leaved buttercups were not in flower for the most part and the bistort was all very small and new. Not surprisingly, no violet coppers were flying. A couple of green hairstreaks, some small tortoiseshells and a painted lady were the only butterflies up there (over 1700m). But walking down I spotted some lower habitat which was further advanced, and just before a very violent storm broke I managed to find a single, huge, brilliantly purple, male violet copper. That photo was taken with the iPhone. Here, here and here are a couple more. As I walked home the rain got heavier and soon became a hail storm.
7th: A walk after school to the local woods. These have come alive compared with just a few weeks ago, though there is still little on the wing. I saw several pearl-bordered fritillaries, including a female laying and this posing male. Little blues and Provençal short-tailed blues were flying in the woods. On the way home I found Chapman's blues puddling (and here and here). Wood whites and other whites were on the wing and there are still small tortoiseshells about.
8th: Up early and off to the valley to look for Nickerl's fritillaries and Provençal fritillaries. The former were very numerous at favoured sites - here and here are two different individuals. Black-veined whites are now quite common and the first Apollos were on the wing. Glanville fritillaries and heath fritillaries were flying and a few spotted fritillaries. Dukes were still on the wing here, as were peacocks, commas and brimstones! Orange tips were also common. Safflower skippers (and here), looking huge and fresh, were zooming around but I didn't see any olive skippers or Oberthür's grizzled skippers (though I didn't venture into their favourite meadow). Other species seen were green hairstreak, dingy skippers, red-underwing skippers, common blues, Adonis blues, Chapman's blues, a single, fresh, male Amanda's blue, turquoise blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, little blue and green-underside blue. Here is a Berger's pale clouded yellow. Small heath, speckled wood and wall were all flying. Next stop was a different site, for Provençal fritillaries. These were not strongly in evidence but I saw a handful of males, including this very amenable chap (and here, and here). Again, green hairstreaks were common and surprisingly, three Camberwell beauties were defending territories along a single track. This one was watching from high posts while this one preferred the ground. Several de Prunner's ringlets were flying about, some looking in reasonably good condition. There were no Zephyr blues, ilex hairstreaks or marbled skippers, species usually found at this site and this date. Here is my first northern brown argus of the year (artaxerxes). Scarce swallowtails drifted around, often stopping for minerals, and there were Queens of Spain, common blues, Adonis blues, little blues, Provençal short-tailed blues and green-underside blues. Here is a lovely moth, Setina ramosa - an alpine species of footman. Storms moved in by about 14h30, when I left for home.
12th: A rather late trip to some local meadows to look for blues. The first meadow browns were on the wing and there were common, Adonis and little blues, but no others. A couple of swallowtails came through and small heaths were quite common but although it was a lovely evening there was little to be seen.
13th: Another after-school trip to some meadows in the opposite direction from yesterday, mainly to look for meadow fritillaries. Several (but not many) were flying but in the heat they stopped very rarely. This was the best photo I got of a male and this very poor shot confirms a female. A few blues were flying and many sooty coppers and small heaths. I paused to wait for a chequered skipper to settle as it buzzed back and forth and as I did so I spotted a rather pale Duke of Burgundy. Soon after I spotted another, much fresher, on the other side of the track. A single woodland ringlet flew through.
15th: Got up early and off to the Jura. The weather turned out to be less good than forecast,  turning mostly cloudy after about 11h30, but it was an interesting day. Several violet coppers (and here) were flying in sites I had identified a few weeks ago as likely. Other spring butterflies were green hairstreaks, brimstones, orange tips, peacocks and commas. Most interestingly for me, Duke of Burgundies were locally very numerous, with five being visible at once at one woodland site and probably six together at a meadow site. Here, here and here are some more pictures, that last being a female. I had hoped for a chestnut heath and possibly a large heath but in the event I saw just a single small heath. I saw a single pearl-bordered fritillary.
16th: Stayed local, going up my local mountain, where there is still a lot of snow and vegetative development is very late (and here). Species seen were: small toroiseshell (quite common, even above 2200m), little blue (again, flying in some numbers above 2200m), dingy skipper (mostly lower down, though several seen at about 1800m), green hairstreak (common at all altitudes), Queen of Spain (a single individual seen at 2300m), northern wall (several, between 1800m and 2200m), small white (just one) and violet copper (plenty of males seen at one of their higher sites).
18th: A rare free day in the working week. I visited the Canton of Geneva, primarily in the hope of seeing black hairstreaks but also with several other species in mind. At my first site, marbled whites were flying - my first of the year. There were lots of meadow browns, as well as heath fritillaries and black-veined whites. Black hairstreaks were out in some numbers, twisting and turning at the tops of trees, or tumbling together over the bushes. None came down accessibly for a photograph. I moved on to a second site where there were fewer black hairstreaks (or, fewer visible - here is a distant shot of one) but there were some - all males. There were also several ilex hairstreaks (another very distant shot - my first of the year) and, most excitingly, this female large copper (and here). I saw a second large copper - a male - just before I left the site. Other species flying here were heath fritillary, knapweed fritillary, pearly heath (numerous), small heath, common blue, Adonis blue, Reverdin's blue, black-veined white, marbled white, meadow brown, clouded yellow, Berger's pale clouded yellow and large and small whites.
19th-29th: Mostly rather cold and also mostly rather busy, with the end of the school year. Very few butterflies in the mountains and not many in the valley.
30th: Some rare sun today. After walking in the mountains with my parents I cycled to the local woods, where ringlets and Essex skipper were new species for the year. There were no woodland browns but lots of large walls. More exciting than any of these, though, was the discovery of a purple emperor chrysalis (and here), which I named Trajan. I have since been told 'he' is a 'she', and so have changed the name to Plotina, Trajan's wife.

1st: A warm and sunny day, for the first time in ages! My parents and I did a mountain walk at mid-high altitude, where there are normally thousands of butterflies at this time of year. Today, despite the weather, there were very few. Little blues were the commonest, the only other blue seen being a common blue. Dingy and grizzled skippers were flying, plenty of orange tips, a few male green-veined whites (which could have been mountain green-veined - a species which flies there). No marsh fritillaries yet, but several pearl-bordered and a couple of Queens of Spain. A couple of swallowtails drifted through. After the walk I went back to the woods and took this better photograph of Plotina. What a beauty. As I left for the bus in the evening a woodland brown appeared and settled briefly in a tree in my garden.
4th: I set off early in the morning to look for Asian fritillaries, at a site where I see them every year. There were plenty of new species (for me) flying for the season, including mountain green-veined white, alpine heath, large blue, peak white, alpine grayling, alpine grizzled skipper (and here), false heath fritillary, mazarine blue, blind ringlet and geranium argus (and here). As expected, the Asian fritillaries began to roll in at about lunchtime. First, in the late morning, this female (and here, and here) settled on some thyme and remained there for about two hours, guzzling nectar, until a nordic walker put her up. In the early afternoon males started appearing (and here, and here). There were still green hairstreaks flying, as well as orange tips, mountain dappled whites and even a very old peacock, reminding us how late the year is. A single Amanda's blue flew and there were lots of little blues but no sign yet of alpine argus or cranberry blue. Other species seen were Apollo, wood white, Berger's pale clouded yellow, sooty copper, common blue, Adonis blue, pearl-bordered fritillary, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, Glanville fritillary, northern wall (and here), grizzled skipper, chequered skipper and dingy skipper. Here is a video of a large group of little blues (and mazarine blues, grizzled skippers and dingy skippers) interacting with some aggressive ants. As I cycled home down the hill I saw my first great sooty satyrs of the year, as well as marbled whites and small heaths. Here, here and here are some curious marmots, who took a great interest in my butterfly-watching!
5th: I joined a couple of friends from England for a trip to the Bernese Oberland. On the way we called in at a site for cranberry fritillary but saw almost nothing there at all. We put this down to the time of day but the situation was the same when we called back in during the afternoon. Certainly, no cranberry fritillaries. There was a lovely female moorland clouded yellow down among the cranberries. The next site, in the Oberland, was better, but also very retarded in its development. We expected to see dozens of dusky and scarce large blues but in the event saw little more than half a dozen of each. Greater burnet was diminutive and rather sparse and the butterflies were often drifting around checking out what few flowerheads they could find but more often than not settling on other flowers to nectar. Here and here are duskies; here is a scarce large blue. This is a pair of large blues. In fact, the very first butterfly we saw at this site was a female violet copper, out of range in a cordoned off area. She was followed by a male, of which here is a very poor, distant shot. Very few fritillaries were flying - a handful of false heath frits and a violet frit. Bright-eyed ringlet was the only Erebia species but several other blues were flying, including lots of little, several Osiris, mazarine, common and silver-studded - here is a group of mazarine blue, Osiris blue, little blue and dingy skipper. Other species seen were purple-edged copper (quite a few), sooty copper (one), Berger's pale clouded yellow, wood white, green-veined white, chequered skipper, grizzled skipper, orange tip, green hairstreak, large wall, grizzled skipper, dingy skipper and swallowtail. After revisiting the cranberry fritillary site on the way home, and finding nothing, we called into my local woods, where a couple of woodland browns were flying, lots of ringlets, a few marbled fritillaries (new for the year) and large skippers.
6th: I met another friend from England, who was staying in Italy with his son, and we went to look for yellow-banded ringlets at a site where I know they fly. On the way, we called in for Swiss Zephyr blues, which were flying in good numbers around their foodplant. Here is a mating pair. At the same site were rock graylings, including this road-stunned one which we placed on a flower in the hope it would revive, but I think it didn't. Adonis blue, heath fritillary, small skipper and Escher's blue were also flying at this site. The long climb to the yellow-banded ringlet site was great fun but turned up very few butterflies indeed. Mountain green-veined whites were flying along the way and a few alpine grizzled skippers, some very fresh, put in an appearance. Holly blues were almost common. At the site itself the snow for the most part had not melted and where it had the vegetation was still yellow. Exploring a little more widely, I found a fair number of dewy ringlets and a few dusky grizzled skippers (and here). Peak whites were common, zooming around all over the place. Other than the dewy ringlets there were no Erebia. This Cynthia's fritillary caterpillar was perhaps the most notable find of the day.
8th: A successful trip to find Thor's fritillary. I knew the area in which it flew and had researched the most likely spots on Google Earth. By 10h30, after exploring several interesting glades, I had found a colony. In total I saw about a dozen of the species, 9 of them at the 'colony' and the other three at two discrete sites further along the track. Some of the pictures I took of this species are on my new species page for the butterfly. They include a female apparently preparing for oviposition by going through the motions on other plants than her hostplant, Viola biflora. That was very exciting - a life tick. Other species seen were false heath fritillary (common), pearl-bordered fritillary (common), Titania's fritillary (just one male seen), large ringlet (just one), bright-eyed ringlet (quite common, including some very dark lugens males), geranium argus, large blue, common blue, little blue, alpine heath, large wall, scarce swallowtail and various whites, including mountain green-veined.
9th: A day at home. A trip to the local woods turned up very little - a few woodland browns, the first Arran browns of the year, large skippers, marbled fritillaries, ringlets and wood whites. There were no white admirals, purple emperors or white-letter hairstreaks. Plotina, my purple emperor chrysalis, is still green. Cycling home again, I saw what I at first took to be a white letter hairstreak stunned by the side of the road. It turned out, incredibly, to be a female black hairstreak, the first record for the region since a 1908 record labelled 'Ollon'. I picked her up and photographed her, then carried her to the nearest (and only, so far as I know) blackthorn, where she was delighted to crawl onto the twigs. I have posted a video of her here. The apices of her wings are very damaged while the rest of her is in good condition. I think either she has been carried in the radiator of a car for a short distance or, more likely, she was the victim of a strimmer or scythe. Either way, I think she is local, as she was still very much alive after whatever she had been through.

10th: Today's target was Rätzer's ringlet (Erebia christi) - my annual bid for the species. I had been told it was already flying and knew where to go, but had never tried this particular site before so there was an element of exploration. A train journey, a bus journey, a long, uphill cycle ride and a long climb into very difficult, rocky terrain produced the goods. I found at least one Rätzer's ringlet, confirmed by netting and examining close up - a fresh male. There was no shade and I had nowhere cool to put the observation box, so I released the butterfly and he didn't settle. So, no natural photographs. A probable second christi disappeared over a sheer cliff edge where I couldn't follow it. A third candidate turned out to be a lesser mountain ringlet (my first of the year). I will return! Other ringlets flying were almond-eyed, large ringlet and marbled ringlet. Very dark large blues were flying and purple-edged copper, subspecies eurydame, was common, as well as sooty copper. Pearl-bordered fritillaries were common, as were heath fritillaries. I saw a single Niobe fritillary. Large wall and Darwin's heath represented the Satyrids. Other species on the wing were Apollo, black-veined white, dingy skipper and what was probably an olive skipper but it got away! The terrain was extremely steep and in places dangerous so I was keen to leave before the rain began. My timing was perfect! It started exactly as I reached my bike and turned into quite a downpour as I cycled back down the hill. If I had been caught in that on the slopes it would have been extremely difficult to get down again safely. In the evening I went to check on Plotina, my purple emperor chrysalis, only to discover with horror that her little copse had been cut down. I was able to locate her, as her branch had miraculously escaped, but she would now be fully exposed to the glare of the morning sun. I put an emergency message on UK Butterflies asking for advice on how to look after her as it was clear I would have to take her home.
11th: I got up at the crack of dawn and recovered Plotina, still attached to her leaf and to quite a lot of her branch. I put the branch in water and placed her where she would be able to keep in tune with the passage of day and night but never be in direct sunlight.
12th: I returned to the Rätzer's ringlet site of 10th, hoping to see more of the species and get better pictures. A problem for me is that the journey by public transport and bike is very long and with delays on the bus I didn't arrive much before midday, when the weather was already very hot. I saw a total of probably 3 in about an hour and a half, and netted this female for pictures in the hand (and here). In fact, she quite liked the plastic box and refused to crawl onto the flowers I offered - until she was ready to fly, when she flew too far off down the slope for me to follow and get natural pictures! So instead, I took some shots of flowers and grass and tried to photoshop her onto them when I got home (actually, I used Microsoft Paint, and it took a long time!). Here, here and here are three of the (rather unsatisfactory) results. I took very few other pictures. Here is a knapweed fritillary enjoying my sweat and here is an almond-eyed ringlet. From the bus on the way home, as we came up towards Huémoz, I spotted a great banded grayling, my first of the year.
13th: I stayed close to home, going up the local mountain to see what conditions were like now. The answer is that very little is flying yet.  I saw a single alpine argus and a handful of dewy ringlets, as well as a single bright-eyed ringlet and a lone black-veined white. The only common butterflies were small tortoiseshell and little blue, and where normally I would see shepherd's fritillaries cruising around by the end of June, there were just a few (very few) pearl-bordered frits. No cranberry blues (and I know exactly where they breed), no clouded Apollos, no mountain clouded yellows (!!!). Almost no skippers were flying - just a few dingies and grizzled skippers - and there were no marsh fritillaries. The scene was similar to that in early June in a normal year on this mountain. I then came a little lower and checked out my violet copper sites. There, I was amazed to find very fresh male coppers still on the wing, as well as much older, more worn individuals. The clouds came over before I could find any females in their egg-laying sites. At these lower altitudes marsh fritillaries were flying, mostly looking quite fresh. I also found this caterpillar, which most resembles small pearl-bordered fritillary but may be (and most probably is) the pre-pupation stage of Titania's fritillary.
14th: When I checked 'Plotina' last night, 'she' seemed to have begun changing colour, though was not yet fully coloured up. So today I went nowhere, preferring to keep an eye on her. All morning the chrysalis darkened and by midday the pattern of white spots on the wings could be seen through the wing-covers. Little by little, more clarification came into the darkening, with some paler areas showing around the body and head, always perfectly symmetrically. Still thinking emergence would be tomorrow, I took an hour off in the afternoon to look for lesser marbled fritillaries in a very local site - and found them, as I had expected. But just in case, I left a video camera pointing at Plotina. When I returned, the chrysalis was empty and a perfect male purple emperor was hanging next to it! So he is once again to be known as Trajan!! Trajan's story, with pictures and commentary from others as well as myself, can be found HERE and HERE. The direct link to my video on YouTube is HERE. I was thrilled to be able to release Trajan back in the woods where he should have been born. When I did this, I saw my first white admiral of the year.
15th: Trajan's emergence and release yesterday left me free to go where I wanted today - I had expected to be filming him this morning. So I set off early for Italy, to look for Hungarian gliders and large chequered skippers in particular. My first stop was a cruel disappointment - the place I found large chequered skippers last year had been completely dug up and all the bushes removed. The second stop was even worse. That was my nettle-tree butterfly site - and is now just dirt and rubble. In fact, the nettle tree butterflies will probably survive, as their trees grow mostly in the steep slopes of the ravine, but the progeny of all the green hairstreaks I photographed this spring will have been destroyed. Every bush and shrub was cut down or uprooted. So it was with slightly heavier heart that I continued up the hill to my glider site. There, apart from the fact I didn't get even a sniff of large chequered skipper, things looked much rosier. The part of this site where I used to see gliders was largely trashed a couple of years ago but I searched for the foodplant along the river and had seen at least 10 different individuals by the time I left the site - here is one (and here). Most of these appeared to be males, wafting around, looking for females. They would check out every goatsbeard plant, but not clinically, like an egg-bound female - rather, cursorily, just to flush out any potential mates. I didn't see a single glider land on any goatsbeard. In fact, I only saw one glider land at all, and that was deep in the shade, where he had a delicious piece of unpleasantness to guzzle. A male lesser purple emperor, form clytie, was enjoying the river bank the whole time I was there, sometimes going right up to the water's edge, and a male purple emperor was nearby too. In the meadows, my first purple-shot coppers of the year were defending territories. On the way back I called in at another site, nearer to the train station, where common grassland butterflies were flying but where the heat was already causing grass to look dry and brittle. My full species list for the day was: Large skipper, small skipper, swallowtail, large white, small white, green-veined white, wood white, small copper, purple-shot copper, sooty copper, common blue, holly blue, painted lady, red admiral, large tortoiseshell (a single individual), Camberwell beauty (a surprise flypast!), comma, heath fritillary, violet fritillary, knapweed fritillary, dark green fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, purple emperor, lesser purple emperor, Hungarian glider, meadow brown, marbled white, small heath, pearly heath, ringlet.
16th:  Having seen Erebia christi recently at a known site I decided to continue my search for new sites today. This is probably a decades-long project, as the species is so local and rare and most of the places it frequents are so difficult to negotiate. I revisited a site I tried last year, without success, and also explored a bit more widely, climbing up to new pastures. The problem now is that Erebia are everywhere! At today's site, medusa, alberganus, euryale, montana, epiphron, tyndarus, melampus, aethiops and mnestra were all drifting up and down the slopes, at various altitudes. And when I say 'slopes', I mean grass and shale averaging steeper than 45 degrees. Here is the view from where I left my bag.  I climbed that slope for many hundreds of metres, up to the limit of the appropriate terrain. I must have seen dozens of potential christi - small, banded Erebia - but all those I captured to examine in the hand were melampus or epiphron, with one mnestra and a couple of diminutive alberganus. Most candidates I simply couldn't reach, so difficult was it to traverse the slopes and catch them. Above all, the concentration required to avoid slipping several hundred metres down the slope made it difficult to keep an eye on a bouncing Satyrid! So, a slightly inconclusive negative result. I have a plan to explore a different part of the same valley next year.  It was a very enjoyable day, though. I found a few firsts for the year, including clouded Apollo, Mnestra's ringlet and, much lower down, chalkhill blue. When I went up my local mountain the other day, clouded Apollos were nowhere to be seen. Today, half a dozen or more were drifting around at the foot of the christi slopes. Only one stopped, and only for a second or two, before wafting on up the track. Other butterflies up the mountain were false heath fritillary, pearl-bordered fritillary, Titania's fritillary, heath fritillary (abundant), Niobe fritillary, dark green fritillary, common blue, turquoise blue, large blue, geranium argus, purple-edged copper, small white, black-veined white, large wall, Darwin's heath, small skipper, large skipper and dingy skipper. I cycled back over the Simplon and stopped off to look for cranberry blues, without success. This is a common butterfly there and I know where it  flies, so I have to conclude it is not really out yet. The cycle ride from Simplon to Brig is all downhill and great fun. I broke it just once, to check out a Swiss Zephyr blue site. By now, the main site was in the shade, but this male (taken with flash, as he was completely in the shadows) was behaving as though he was in the sun! The foodplant  grows widely in the area and I found many more Zephyr blues on other parts of the site - it was certainly the commonest blue there. Here is a female. Rock graylings, Adonis blues, chalkhill blues, common blues, Escher's blues and silver-studded blues were all flying at the same site. But there were no dusky meadow browns - a regular July feature of the site.
20th: In 2010 I found a colony of Warren's skipper, but all I had to show for it were a couple of individuals photographed in the plastic observation box (and released immediately, of course). Last year I went back, rather late in the season, and had just one confirmed sighting - a rather tatty individual that was miraculously dropped, torpid, at my feet by a gust of wind after the sun had gone in! I warmed him up and got some semi-natural photos in a sheltered spot. Today, finally, I found the heart of the colony and saw at least half a dozen - perhaps more - buzzing up and down a thyme-covered stretch of hillside. I didn't find the spot until about 11h30, by which time they were already quite warm and active, but what made it particularly difficult (again!) was the absurd slope (the same for hundreds of metres up and down!). When I found the first warrenensis, I took off my backpack in preparation for a photo ... and then couldn't put it down. Wherever I put it, in whatever position, it just set off down the slope. So I missed that one. Then another came by and I caught a simple proof shot with my backpack on, almost falling down the slope myself. Finally, I found a place the backpack would stay and waited for the next to come. Over the course of an hour there was a constant stream of warrenensis, though many were obviously the same ones going up and down the slope. In general it was almost impossible to position myself for a good photo without falling down the slope (actually, very annoying!) but I did get a few record shots - better, at least, than those of previous years because they are completely natural. This is probably the best of them. Here is another. Next year I'll go straight to this spot while the day is cooler and with a little luck finally get decent pictures! There were also carline skippers on the slopes and a few alpine grizzled skippers, looking rather worn. I left the site at 12h45 because the skippers were all far too active by then, rain was forecast (and I had a 25 km cycle ride ahead of me) and I wanted to call in on the way home for southern white admirals, which I hadn't seen yet this year. Two southern white admirals were in mortal combat at this second site. Here is one and here is the other. In total, I saw 60 species today, without going out of my way to look for or identify several common species that would have been easy to find. The list was: Large skipper, small skipper, Lulworth skipper (a glimpse of the underside), silver-spotted skipper, carline skipper, alpine grizzled skipper, Warren's skipper, red-underwing skipper, dingy skipper, marbled skipper, scarce swallowtail, Apollo, small white, southern small white, mountain green-veined white, green-veined white, wood white, Bath white, black-veined white, mountain clouded yellow, purple-edged copper, purple-shot copper, large blue, little blue, holly blue, common blue, Eros blue, Chapman's blue, Escher's blue (here is a female), silver-studded blue, idas blue, mazarine blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, turquoise blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, alpine argus, northern brown argus, glandon blue, shepherd's fritillary, heath fritillary, Grisons' fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, dark green fritillary, knapweed fritillary, marbled fritillary, small tortoiseshell, comma, painted lady, southern white admiral, large wall, marbled white, grayling, great sooty satyr, alpine heath, almond-eyed ringlet, lesser mountain ringlet, small mountain ringlet, Swiss brassy ringlet, dusky meadow brown.
22nd: Today's target was chestnut heath, a butterfly I had seen in France but not in Switzerland before today. On the way to the site (I had researched and planned where to go, using Google Earth), I found a road-stunned Niobe fritillary with a dislocated wing. The poor thing was walking around in tight circles in the middle of the road and when I picked it up it just continued gyrating in my palm and I couldn't do anything about its wing (the left forewing was completely beneath the left hindwing, from the joint). So I popped it in the observation box and put that in my backpack, in the dark, to calm him down. Five minutes later I stopped in the shade of a tree and took him out. Holding his body gently between thumb and forefinger I used a blade of grass to pull his forewing forward and slip it over the hindwing with a levering movement. As soon as I did that he stopped panicking. I could hold him in my hand without him walking around in circles and left him on a flower. His head looks a little off to the side and I think he might have suffered more damage than just the wing, but at least he looked more comfortable when I left him. I found my first chestnut heath and then, as so often happens, spent some time securing a first, poor, picture, only to discover the species was abundant just a little further on. Here, here, here, here and here are a few of the pictures, showing some of the variation in this butterfly. Meadowsweet was abundant and in Switzerland, so lesser marbled fritillaries were common too, but I searched in vain for a small pearl-bordered fritillary, something I very rarely see. I did get good close-ups of a moorland clouded yellow, though, and this more distant shot with a cheeky hoverfly getting in on the act. The weather turned early and I headed home to escape the storm. But on the way I found this apparently aberrant male orange tip, lacking in black pigmentation. I only saw him stop once before he disappeared over the meadow (and then presumably roosted when the clouds came over) so that is the only, poor, picture I have. The full species list for today is: Small skipper, Essex skipper, large skipper, silver-spotted skipper, small white, green-veined white, black-veined white, orange tip, brimstone, moorland clouded yellow, wood white, purple-edged copper, Common blue, Adonis blue, holly blue, mazarine blue, peacock, small tortoiseshell, painted lady, dark green fritillary, Niobe fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, lesser marbled fritillary, red admiral, marbled white, meadow brown, ringlet, Arran brown, small heath, chestnut heath, large wall.
25th: Another day spent climbing high into the mountains, this time in search of Erebia nivalis, De Lesse's brassy ringlet. As its name suggests, this flies near the snowline - from 2100m to 2600m - and though it is (allegedly) commoner in Austria it is very scarce and local in Switzerland. This trip was completely on spec - I knew there was a 2007 record for nivalis for the 5 km square I chose to visit but I didn't know any other details of the sighting. And it involved a high energy output for a gamble - I caught the train to a little under 1200m, cycled to 1600m and then climbed on foot to over 2800m, in mixed weather, varying from overcast to bright and sunny. It turned out to be a good Erebia day. At lower altitudes euryale and ligea dominated, followed by oeme as I began to climb. A little after that, pharte appeared, though oeme remained common. Then, as I climbed still higher, gorge (silky ringlet) suddenly became prevalent, with pandrose and locally pronoe. I think there were also epiphron there, but it was the gorge that interested me, because I don't often get good chances to watch it. Here is a picture which I think sums up this high-altitude butterfly. Here and here are two very different individuals and here is an underside. Above about 2600m there was only snow or glacial moraine, so I turned round a little higher than 2800m and came back down, stopping at the places I had thought likely for nivalis. I found it at the second one, during a brief sunny interlude! Here, here, here, here and here are pictures of the one individual I caught and photographed. I saw about four or five individuals altogether. This is the rather austere habitat of the species. Other species seen on the walk included: mountain clouded yellow, Berger's pale clouded yellow, mountain green-veined white, Eros blue, glandon blue, alpine argus (and here), pearl-bordered fritillary, false heath fritillary, marsh fritillary, Cynthia's fritillary, mountain fritillary, ringlet, large wall and alpine heath.
27th: I began today at a local site for Eriphyle ringlet, Erebia eriphyle. It was flying there in the company of pharte, melampus, manto, oeme and euryale, but I was able to confirm and photograph some eriphyle. Here, here and here are some pictures. At the same site, white-faced darters fly. Here is a picture of a couple in cop. Leaving the site in late morning I cycled on to a cranberry bog to look for cranberry fritillaries. When I last visited, in the first week of the month, nothing was flying, but today the place was alive with the fritillaries. It was the heat of the day by now and very few settled, but here and here are a couple of pictures. The females often came to the ground but then moved incessantly, searching and searching for good places to lay. They seemed not particularly interested in laying on the foodplant but concentrated their attentions on other leaves. Iwondered if they were merely oviposturing - going through the motions - but was able to watch one lay this egg on what I think is a species of Potentilla. This behaviour is apparently well known. At the same site, my first cranberry blues of the year were flying, though this is much lower than the other places I have looked and the butterflies were already very worn. Here is another individual. As I cycled home I picked up a gravid white-letter hairstreak from the road. She hadn't been hit but was simply enjoying the tarmac so I moved her to a safer place.
31st: Spent the day pottering around the canton of Geneva, just to see what state things had reached. The first and most striking thing was that gatekeepers were abundant, everywhere. There are no gatekeepers in my part of Switzerland so it is always a pleasure to see them. The next most striking thing was that dryads were also everywhere. This lovely, huge, lolloping Satyrid is a late flyer - almost a harbinger of the end of the season. The year was cold and wet until the end of June, with many species appearing a month or more late, but July has seen an almost uninterrupted heatwave, accelerating things amazingly and more or less setting the year back to normal. Pearly heaths were already completely over and I only saw one hairstreak, this female white-letter hairstreak. There were only two real surprises today. The first was to find four maps at one site and one at another, all looking very much past their prime. I've still never found a spring map in Switzerland (I've only ever seen one, in France) but now I think I know where to come next year for that. The second surprise was that there were no short-tailed blues. I searched several places I know they fly and many more on spec without seeing a single one. Provençal short-tailed was well in evidence. I can't believe short-tailed is either over or has not yet started the second brood, so I fear it might have been a victim of the cold spring during its first brood. It was whilte searching clover fields on the way back to Geneva that I found my first definite pale clouded yellow of the year. I have seen others, that haven't stopped, I am sure, but this one came sufficiently close and briefly paused on some clover so I could be confident of the identity. The full species list for the day was: Small skipper, large skipper, dingy skipper, swallowtail, scarce swallowtail, large white, small white, green-veined white, Berger's pale clouded yellow, pale clouded yellow, clouded yellow, wood white, cryptic wood white, small copper, sooty copper, white-letter hairstreak, silver-studded blue, Reverdin's blue, holly blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, brown argus, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, mazarine blue, white admiral, map, red admiral, comma, high-brown fritillary, marbled fritillary, marbled white, meadow brown, gatekeeper, dryad, speckled wood.

2nd: I got up early and travelled to Grindelwald, to see if I could find the famlous Sudetan ringlets. On the way, the train broke down but a kind lady gaave me a lift and I arrived in the hills in time to find my first Sudetan ringlet before the day got too hot. I was quite lucky with the timing, because many meadow had already been mown for hay and others were in the process. But the place I had decided to start looking was still unmown and there were  quite a lot of the ringlets. Here, here, here, here and here are some pictures. I was pleased how easy it was to tell this species apart from lesser mountain ringlet - if you are familiar with the latter it really does look different. Here is one of many lovely manto ringlets that were also flying there. Other butterflies flying included Erebia aethiops, euryale, oeme, pharte and epiphron, Titania's fritillary, high-brown fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, false heath fritillary, purple-edged copper, sooty copper, small heath, alpine heath, large skipper, small skipper, Essex skipper, large wall, meadow brown, black-veined white, Berger's pale clouded yellow, swallowtail, common blue, Adonis blue, and chalkhill blue. I needed to get back rather quickly so didn't hang around enjoying everything.
3rd: Another very early start, this time to drive with Matt Rowlings to a yellow-banded ringlet site I was shown a few years ago. Here is a scenic shot showing the species in context. Yellow-banded ringlet is a very local species - to the extent that at this site it only flew on one particular streatch of hillside, between two gullies. But in this region it was reasonably numerous. Here, here, here and here are some more pictures. It was lovely to find so many yellow-banded ringlets, though they were a very difficult butterfly to approach and photograph. But butterfly of the day was Cynthia's fritillary, which was flying in plague proportions. Matt and I agreed we must have seen them in three figures - and that 100 would be a serious underestimate. They were everywhere, with males sparring in threes and fours while females sat around nectaring or powdering their noses, flirting pairs, mating pairs - just Cynthia's fritillaries everywhere. They were certainly the most numerous species seen today and neither of us has ever seen anything like it. Here, here, here, here and here are some males and here is a female. Here is a mating pair. Other species flying were Mnestra's ringlet, small mountain ringlet, silky ringlet, dewy ringlet, Swiss brassy ringlet, blind ringlet, large ringlet, Eros blue, little blue, glandon blue, peak white, moorland clouded yellow, mountain clouded yellow, mountain green-veined white, small heath, alpine heath, mountain fritillary, shepherd's fritillary, marsh fritillary, and dusky grizzled skipper (and here). Not a lot of species, but a really lovely mix. Here is Matt photographing some flirting Cythia's fritillaries.
5th: I stayed local today, to catch up on some species closer to home. First call was to a (mountain) alcon blue site. Normally these fly from the end of June but a month ago there was still absolutely no sign of them - nor much of their foodplant, Gentiana cruciata. Today they were over, so their flight season must have lasted less than a month - probably nearer three weeks. There were plenty of eggs to be found (and here), but not a single adult, though three wandering large blues had me wondering for a bit. I had hoped for tufted marbled skipper at the same site, as I usually see it there, but it is late in the year and I saw none. Carline skippers were in evidence, though. Damon blues were flying, both males and females, looking very fresh, as well as plenty of silver-studded blues, some little blues and a few mazarine. The commonest Erebia by far was Scotch argus but there were Arran browns in the more woody parts of my walk (and here). Having established the mountain alcons were not flying, I moved to a different local site, at greater altitude, to look for other species I had missed this year so far. One of these was common brassy ringlet, of which I found several - more as the afternoon hotted up (and here). Another was large grizzled skipper. Plenty of other Erebia were flying, including manto (that was a female - here is a male), melampus, euryale, oeme and aethiops. I also saw pronoe but couldn't get a photo - the only one that settled nicely for me was put up by some nordic walkers ... Titania's fritillary was common, as it always is here at this time of year. As the day warmed, more butterflies came to mud. Here is a little group of chalkhill blues with a northern brown argus and here is a geranium argus. I moved on to my violet copper site, in the rather vain hope there might be one or two still on the wing, but there weren't. July was so consistently hot that they have flown and died, and the habitat has grown dramatically from the spring vegetation they love into high summer, deep grass, thistles and other tall plants.
10th: The missions for the day were Meleager's blue and brown hairstreak, neither of which I found. At my first site, for Meleager's blue, the vineyards had been extended and the whole area looked more intensively exploited than in previous years. It is also a little late in the year, so I couldn't draw too many conclusions, but altogether it was not a positive experience. Leaving that site I checked a nearby quarry, where various fritillaries, including many silver-washed, were flying and nectaring on buddleia, along with southern small whites, green-veined whites, large whites and small whites. Apollos were numerous, including this entanglement of three that I tried (successfully in the end) to disentangle, as they were essentially killing each other in the heat of the sun. Here is a video of them (after I had moved them to the shade). I then moved on to my first proposed brown hairstreak site. As I approached it there were many silver-washed fritillaries nectaring, sparring and flirting, and it struck me that one, seen only in flight, looked like a cardinal. I soon lost it and continued on my way - cardinals are extremely rare migrants in Switzerland. However, as I was stalking a large grizzled skipper not far away, a second, rather tatty, cardinal flew in and settled. It was some distance away, but these photos (here and here) leave no doubt as to the species. This was my second ever cardinal in Switzerland, the first being in 2005 (and that was the first Swiss record since 1947). I thought the first one I had seen, in flight, had been less worn, so I went back to where I had seen it and waited. Sure enough, a cardinal soon appeared and was clearly in much better nick. To cut a long story short, I stayed and photographed at least a further, different male, and saw probably 6 different males in total - very difficult to judge. The species is far more mobile than silver-washed fritillary and very difficult to approach. Here and here are a couple more pictures. Also on the buddleia were several valesina females of silver-washed fritillary, along with dozens of males and normal females, and marbled fritillaries, heath fritillaries, Queen of Spain fritillaries, lots of scarce swallowtails, swallowtails, walls, great sooty satyrs, large and small skippers, whites and yellows. Holly blues were very common and locally there were a lot of idas blues. A few dryads were flying.
11th: I revisited my cardinal site, seeing 6-8 individuals, of which two that I photographed were clearly different individuals from ones I photographed yesterday and at least one was the same as one of yesterday's. It is difficult to put into words the thrill of meeting these magificent butterflies like this. I've never actually seen a cardinal anywhere outside Switzerland! Here, here and here are some (poor) photos. Again, valesina female silver-washed fritillaries were numerous. I saw my first purple hairstreaks of the year. Here, here and here are some shots of large grizzled skipper.
13th: I returned to my cardinal site, this time photographing at least four different males, though I haven't checked to see how many of these I had previously recorded. All my photographs are bad, because the butterflies are so difficult to approach, but it is the record that counts! Here, here, here, here and here are some pictures. Other species seen on this trip, in addition to those recorded in recent days, were Meleager's blue and eros blue (and here). I saw several large grizzled skippers and a single marbled ringlet. Holly blues (as in previous days) were very common and on lime sludge there were dozens of green-veined and southern small whites, accompanied by chalkhill blues, damon blues (and here, with chalkhill and idas), skippers and idas blues. I saw two male purple emperors - quite a treat on 13th August - though neither was in very good condition.
14th: An evening trip to the cardinal site, to see if they would be more amenable, turned up no cardinals. But I did take the opportunity to photograph some of the very many valesina females (and here, and here), which were all enjoying good attention from the males! Here is a Bath white.
15th: As a break from cardinals, I took a trip to look for hermits. Here, here, here and here are some pictures. Males and females were on the wing but with a predominance of males. I explored a little more widely in the area and found a lot of maps (and here - a broody female, though she didn't actually lay while I watched - and here are four maps in one photo) and several pale clouded yellows (here is a female). There were lots of marbled fritillaries, dozens of brimstones (and here, for a female), turquoise blues, chalkhill blues, Adonis blues, common blues, Scotch argus and great banded grayling, among other species.
16th: Having drawn a blank on the evening of 14th with the cardinals, I dropped in rather briefly this morning to see if they had really moved on or just weren't active in the evening. They haven't moved on. In about 45 minutes I saw two males. Here and here are two photos of the same male. Very satisfied with seeing these again, I came home, but via a long-tailed blue site - it has surprised me that I haven't yet seen any of this species in Switzerland. I still saw none, but did find a lot of short-tailed blues (well, at least three females and two males). Many Adonis and common blues were flying at the same site. Here is a mating pair of dryads.
20th: Checked on my cardinals first - and was pleased to see probably four different males between about 10h00 and 11h00, though it was difficult to count as I saw each several times. I found it interesting that one of the males - a rather tatty individual - was identifiably the same individual as the very first one I photographed, on 10th August. He was still active, though spent more time nectaring than the others. Clearly this species is hardy and long-lived as an adult. Other species seen were as in previous visits to this site, though I saw a single white admiral rather than the purple emperors I have been seeing. I moved on to another site afterwards, to watch southern white admirals and see the second brood of rosy grizzled skipper. Southern white admirals were out in force, with one or two on every stand or hemp agrimony and others defending territories or being romantic. Here, here, here, here and here are some more pictures of them. A few rosy grizzled skippers were buzzing around, even though they are easiest to find earlier in the morning. There were plenty of Berger's pale clouded yellows but I think this one is a pale clouded yellow - I'm not 100% on that as I stopped watching it to follow a skipper. Here is my first tree grayling of the year - in the weeks to come they will become very common. Small and southern small whites were common, with green-veined whites, wood whites, large whites and a few Bath whites also in evidence. Lots of clouded yellows and a few brimstones. For the browns, small heaths and speckled woods were common but dryads were abundant, quite covering the nectar plants! A few great sooty satyrs are still around, but not many. Common blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, northern brown argus, turquoise blue and Provençal short-tailed blues were all flying. There were Queen of Spain fritillaries, fresh violet fritillaries and quite a lot of spotted fritillaries around. Here is a marbled skipper - other skippers flying were large and small.
22nd: Visited my local mountain with friends. Many of the usual species were active, including good numbers of common brasy ringlet, but the highlight was probably seeing a few cranberry blues in their usual site, having seen none there all year so far. This is very late for them - but it has been an exceptionally late year on this mountain in particular. Here is a moorland clouded yellow, another 'cranberry' feeder. I think this is a female shepherd's fritillary, not a cranberry fritillary (despite her choice of resting spot!), but I didn't get a look at the underside so I am not sure ...
23rd: A trip to Geneva to see if I could find brown hairstreaks proved unsuccessful - but even better than brown hairstreaks was this large copper - the third I have seen this year. Here, here and here are some more pictures. Other species seen were:  Large white, small white, green-veined white, clouded yellow, Berger's pale clouded yellow, pale clouded yellow, swallowtail, common blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, Reverdin's blue, little blue, short-tailed blue, Provençal short-tailed blue, brown argus, painted lady, white admiral, heath fritillary, Glanville fritillary, Queen of Spain fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, high brown fritillary, violet fritillary, marbled white, meadow brown, dryad, small heath, speckled wood, large skipper, dingy skipper.
29th: Poor weather recently has allowed me to get a little work done, though a major computer crash had the opposite effect... Today I nipped out very briefly in the morning to see if my cardinals were still flying. They are! Here is a male cardinal. I saw at least one different individual.
31st: Vincent and Michel Baudraz have both visited my cardinal site recently in the afternoon and found females flying - I have always visited in the morning and seen only males. So this afternoon I popped down and was not disappointed. I photographed at least 4 different females and saw several males as well. Here, here, here and here are some pictures of females. This is a female (on the right) rejecting the advances of a male silver-washed fritillary.

1st: Spotted a female purple emperor flying away from the sallow in my garden in the afternoon.
5th: Back in Suffolk, UK (after some days in London) a cycle ride to the coast produced several male clouded yellows (and here), as well as common blues, small coppers, small and green-veined whites and, away from the coast, red admirals.
6th: I went back to the clouded yellow site and photographed some more. Here is one, set against the backdrop of a Martello tower. This is another shot of the same individual.
12th: After some more time in London, another trip to the Suffolk coast. There are still clouded yellows flying, though with a strong westerly wind today they were the other side of the sea wall. On the way to the coast I saw a grayling cross the road and stopped at the next suitable patch of heather, where I soon found this second grayling. Other species flying on the coast were small white, green-veined white, common blue, small copper, small tortoiseshell, small heath and peacock. Here is a migrant hawker.
18th: Back in Switzerland since 15th, the weather has been cold. Here was the view this morning. In the afternoon, though, it cleared up and I headed off to a local site to look for long-tailed blues. At first I found only Adonis and common blues, but then I spotted the tell-tale sight of two males zooming up into the heavens and soon photographed one of them (and here). The weather didn't hold and before I had got home heavy rain was falling.
20th: I spent all morning inside but went down to my cardinal site in the early afternoon, where I saw a single female (and here) in a brief half-hour visit. The Buddleia is mostly over so they will not be around for very much longer. After that, I headed off to another site to look for rosy grizzled skippers. Here and here are two individuals. This is the same site where dozens of southern white admirals were flying in August and where this species flew into October last year - but there were none. Nevertheless, butterflies abounded. Here is some hemp agrimony with tree grayling, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue and either a Chapman's blue or a common blue. Both of these last two were flying - here is a Chapman's and here is a common, both females. This is a damon blue nestling in next to an Adonis blue; here is an Adonis blue and here a chalkhill. Other species flying were turquoise blue, northern brown argus, brown argus, clouded yellow, Berger's pale clouded yellow, Eastern Bath white, wall, speckled wood, small copper and meadow brown. A few hibernators were stocking up before the big sleep, including brimstone, comma, small tortoieshell and peacock. Tree graylings are common but not as abundant as in recent years at this time.
21st: A trip to a site I've not visited before, in the hope of brown hairstreaks. It seems I was too late - here is evidence of their passing, though...  It was an interesting site, to which I shall return next year. Species seen included red admiral, clouded yellow (including this lovely helice), common blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, brown argus and Queen of Spain.
25th: In the morning I looked for - and failed to find - brown hairstreaks at my usual site. I did see this lovely Apollo, though, as well as swallowtails, large, small, green-veined and southern small whites, clouded yellows and Berger's pale clouded yellows, tree graylings, graylings, walls, speckled woods, Queens, purple hairstreaks, common blues, Adonis blues, chalkhill blues and, excitingly, a single male cardinal, some way from the main site (it was only a very brief flight view so I only think it was male - but definitely a cardinal). I moved on to the main cardinal site, where over a couple of hours in the afternoon I photographed four different females, dividing their time between the very few Buddleias that were still in flower. Here is one of them, showing how the green patina varies with the angle. This picture shows how small a high brown fritillary looks when set next to a cardinal!
28th: Hazy sun in the morning, with heavy weather arriving in the afternoon. In the short time I had in the valley I saw a single female cardinal and a single male. The latter was very old but still incredibly active. In flight he looked like a shining silver shadow. He only put down once, right by a road with a car coming down it, about 50 ft away from me. There was no time even to adjust the settings on the camera so I simply pointed it in roughly the right direction and clicked, before the car zoomed past and put him up for good. Here is the heavily cropped photo I took, at least proving male cardinals are still on the wing! Purple hairstreaks were common, often wandering around on the ground. This one was showing his age. My first and quite probably only brown hairstreak of 2013 was a nice surprise. I spotted her walking along the ground and followed. Before long, she turned and sunned herself. On the very few Buddleia flowers still around were Queen of Spain and high brown fritillaries, as well as walls, large walls, whites, clouded yellows and Berger's clouded yellows. Red admirals were constantly cruising around and there were a few commas. Tree graylings were common. One butterfly puzzled me - I think it must be a male water ringlet, form vergy. Here and here are shots of the upperside and here is the only glimpse I got of the underside. Both seem completely unmarked, though there are hints of the twin spots in the forewing.

4th: There is virutually no buddleia left at all at the cardinal site and despite some sun this afternoon no cardinals were flying there. There were a very few silver-washed fritillariesand some Queens of Spain. Berger's pale clouded yellows were flying and clouded yellows were common, there and elsewhere in the vineyards. Here is a fat mantis, full of babies, at another site, where I looked in vain for brown hairstreaks.
12th: For a short time in the afternoon the clouds cleared enough to make a trip to the valley worthwhile. The weather has been cold and snowy recently. Butterflies still flying include Adonis blue (here is an older one), chalkhill blue, Chapman's blue, common blue, northern brown argus (and here), clouded yellow, Berger's pale clouded yellow, tree grayling and wall. I saw a couple of male brimstones but apart from that all the hibernators seemed to be tucked up in bed. Here is a migrant hawker dragonfly.
15th: Found seven brown hairstreak eggs (and here, and here) on my local blackthorn.
18th: Really warm and sunny for the first time in ages. In the valley, lots of butterflies were flying. Queens of Spain were common but this dark green fritillary was also on the wing. A few graylings (and here) joined the many tree graylings, which gathered in the afternoon on the remains of the vendange. Other butterflies were wall and speckled wood, small and green-veined white, clouded yellow and Berger's pale clouded yellow, common blue, Chapman's blue, Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, northern brown argus and small copper - a total of 16 species.
19th: The warm weather continued. I visited a local blues meadow in case any long-tailed blues were still flying, but it had been grazed and there were no blues at all. Red admirals were numerous, defending territories on the ground and in trees, as were clouded yellows. There were a few walls. Best, though, was this female brown hairstreak (and here, and here), who was drifting around looking for blackthorn. In a nearby quarry (where she probably came from) I found brown hairstreak eggs scattered on the few blackthorn bushes there. These eggs look as if they might be parasitised.
23rd-31st: Suffolk - where no butterflies except red admirals!

7th: First butterfly trip of the month. It has been cold recently and snowed yesterday but was warm today. I arrived at a site in the Rhône Valley around midday and found 13 species flying in total. These were clouded yellow (by far the commonest species - here is one with a Berger's), Berger's pale clouded yellow (quite common), brimstone (just one male, apparently roding, never stopping), green-veined white (just one male), small copper (reasonably common), Adonis blue (the commonest blue, and here), chalkhill blue (quite a few, but all looking very worn), common blue (quite common), northern brown argus (on the left in this picure, with a female common blue - I saw two males in total), Queen of Spain fritillary (quite numerous), red admiral (just that one, feeding on the remains of the vendange, which was now alive with fruit flies), wall (two individuals) and tree grayling (very few still alive). This roe deer watched me from afar for some of the time. It was a really lovely day after so many weeks of cold and rain!
16th: Down to just 7 species still flying in the Rhône Valley today. Queens of Spain were still quite common (here is a female), as were clouded yellows (here and here are two different helice females). Berger's pale clouded yellows were less numerous but still easy to find. In addition to these species I saw three Adonis blues (one male and two females), a single small copper, a single painted lady and a single small tortoiseshell.

1st: I think the butterfly seaso 2013 might be over! Here and here are two shots from the hottest parts of the Rhône Valley today. Nothing was flying.
3rd: Still very cold in the valley (and here) but a male clouded yellow and a female wall were braving it in the vineyards!
16th: We have had several days of sun recently, with very cold nights but daytime temperatures rising as high as 7° C. Today, in the early afternoon, I saw three red admirals and a single, male Queen of Spain fritillary in the valley. Because everything had already warmed up, nothing was sitting around sunning itself and photographs were not to be had. But I did get a distant, proof shot of the Queen of Spain, my latest ever sighting of this species. This is now the third consecutive year I have found Queen of Spain in December.
17th: At about 11h00 I found two different Queen of Spain fritillaries flying in the Rhône Valley. There was a chilly breeze where they were and neither hung around for long, but I got some record shots. Here and here are photos of the first individual and here a photo of the second. This is only 4 days off the winter solstice! At least two red admirals were also flying there.