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EXCURSION NOTES 2017  (including many photos) - Scroll down

For a complete list of species and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2017
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos), please click on year:2016201520142013
For previous Year Lists, please click on year:2016201520142013
 Excursion Notes 2017
4th: We are spending a few days in Terracina in Lazio, about 100km south of Rome, The weather here is generally much milder than in the north where we live. Not unsurprisingly, on a sunny afternoon along the wilder end of the beach just on the edge of the town, I spotted my first butterfly of 2017 - a Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus). Sorry no photo of butterfly or the location.
5th -28th of January:  The cold weather then arrived, with temperatures in the north of Italy rarely rising above 0C even during the day - far too cold for any butterflies!  Any thought of butterfly-hunting at the very end of the month, when slightly milder weather returned, was put paid to when, unfortunately, I fractured my ankle playing football!
1st - 14th: No chance of walking along any hillside paths due to fractured ankle! I didn't see anything on the wing in the main valley near my house until the 14th when I disturbed a Red Admiral (Vanessa atlanta) basking on a wall. (Sorry no photo.) It was a beautiful warm, sunny day. Here are a couple of views from the road about 200m away from my house (photo)(photo).
25th: After a cold start to the morning, a warm, sunny day in search of butterflies, which, I was sure, were up and flying. It took a while to spot any, but when they started appearing, I wasn't disappointed. Here is a Comma (Polygonia c-album)(photo) and here a tree with my first Large Tortoiseshell  (Nymphalis polychloros) of the year (photo). I'm still supporting myself on crutches, so few good photo opportunities, I'm afraid. Other species around consisted of a few Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi) an Eastern Bath White (Pontia edusa) and a Peacock (Aglais io)
8th: At last I have been able to walk up my local hill (photo, photo)without supporting myself on crutches, my main aim being to get some photos of Nettle-tree butterflies, which should be out of hibernation now. It was a lovely warm early afternoon and over two hours I saw plenty of butterflies about, the most common being Large Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis polychloros), of which I must have seen well over a dozen. (photo, photo, photo). Other firsts for the year included a Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), 2 or 3 Wall Browns (Lasiommata megera) and a single Nettle-tree butterfly (Libythea celtis), which as often happens with this species, remained high up on a branch (photo). There were also 6 or 7 Red Admirals (Nymphalis atalanta), a few Commas (Polygonia c-album) and, what I believe is, the same Peacock (Aglais io) as I spotted 12 days before (photo).
12th: Another beautiful warm day with temperatures well over the average for this time of year. Walking by the lake of San Colombano just near Rovereto  - a very beautiful spot in all seasons (photo) - I was pleased to see my first Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) of the year (photo). A few  minutes later, some Nettle Tree Butterflies (Libythea celtis) gave me the opportunity to get some photos without using camera zoom (unlike the one 4 days ago). Here are 2 of them (photo, photo). Other butterflies on the wing were male and female Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni), Commas (Polygonia c-album), Peacocks (Aglais io), Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta), several Large Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis polychloros) (photo) and one single Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), the first I've seen this year. Here is a view of the valley looking back towards Rovereto and the main valley (photo).
17th:  The weather continues to be dry, sunny and very warm and butterflies are out in good numbers. A quick 5-minute walk near my house brought sightings of Peacocks, Red Admirals, Brimstones, Small and Green-veined Whites, Large Tortoiseshells and this lovely Holly Blue (photo). I think the owner of the piece of land where I took the photo is getting a bit fed-up with me walking through his vines and vegetable plot, though! 
19th: A hazy day in the valley with a fair amount of cloud cover. After an unsuccessful visit to a site by a stream, where 4 years ago more-or-less at this time of the year, there were Camberwell Beauties , we decided to go up our local mountain. This was the part (at about 950m asl) we walked on (photo) and this was a view over the valley (photo). Although there weren't many butterflies around, there were the first Southern Grizzled Skippers (Pyrgus malvoides) of the year buzzing around near the path (photo, photo) and one solitary Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi).
23rd: It rained! The first time for months!
25th: I took advantage of a beautifully warm, sunny morning to drive to a valley 22 km south of where I live, with the hope of finding some early Camberwell Beauties on the wing. However, the predominant colours of today were light blue, yellow, orange and white - no dark crimsons. In fact, there were dozens of Holly Blues, Brimstones, Orange Tips, and Wood Whites (photo), Green-veined Whites and Small Whites on the wing, along with a few Commas, Speckled Woods (photo), Green Hairstreaks, a single Peacock, a single Small Tortoiseshell and a single Nettle-Tree Butterfly. Here is a photo of a Brimstone, looking back towards the village of Avio and here is a photo looking along the valley in the other direction.
1st: We were in Croatia for the weekend. As expected, there were lots of Cleopatras (Gonepteryx cleopatra) around, but it was hot and very windy and the butterflies were very active, so very few photo opportunities. Here is one, anyway (photo). Here are some shots of part of the coast (photo)(photo) where many of them were flying together with their cousin, the Brimstone.
On the way back home, but still in Croatia, I was pleased to find lots of Nettle-tree butterflies (photo) in one location and this solitary Duke of Burgundy (photo) in a river valley further north. 
8th and 13th: Two excursions in the space of  5 days to a wooded valley with a lovely stream (photo, photo), once alone in the earnest search for Camberwell Beauties, the second for a picnic with our daughter and grandchildren. There were no Camberwell Beauties anywhere to be seen on either occasion, but plenty of Orange Tips (photo of mating couple), Brimstones and Green Haistreaks, and on the second trip lots of Swallowtails and Scarce Swallowtails (photo), some Chequered Blues (Scolitantides orion) and Baton Blues (Pseudophilotes baton) (photo, photo). I was very pleased to see the Baton Blues, because I hadn't seen them in the local area for over 6 years. One of them was particularly sociable and didn't want to leave my two-and-a-half year-old granddaughter's hand even when she tried to shake it away.
22nd: A 40-minute drive and some short walks in several areas along the Valdastico in Veneto. A sunny, but windy day and several sightings of new species for the year (see year list for details). Unfortunately a problem with my camera meant that there are no decent photos to show here.
29th: After an hour's drive on the motorway at the beginning of a longer trip, I decided to risk the rainstorms and threatening clouds around and made a short diversion to the Colli Berici near Vicenza. My optimism was rewarded with sightings in a grassy field of a couple of Weaver's Fritillaries(Boloria dia) (photo) and a single Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe) (photo, photo). They are not good photos, I'm afraid, but I've since got my camera settings sorted out.
5th: A sunny, but quite windy, afternoon and the opportunity to spend an hour or so on my local hill (photo) to see what was out and about. Sightings for the day included Small Blues, Adonis Blues (photo), a single Green-Underside Blue (photo), Common Blues, Grizzled Skippers, Dingy Skippers, Berger's Clouded Yellows, Orange Tips, Brimstones, Scarce Swallowtails, Red Admirals, Speckled Woods,  Small Heaths and lots of Glanville Fritillaries (photo).
13th: Felt slightly frustrated today in that the weather was perfect and I wanted either to travel a few kilometres into Veneto over a mountain pass to look for some Southern Festoons, which should be out by now, or drive up to altitude to look for De Prunner's Ringlets, which also might be out by now. Unfortunately, my car has some major problems, so I had to decide to go somewhere more local by bike or on foot. I decided on the latter and went up my local hill/mountain for 2-3 hours to see if there were any more species flying than a week ago. The first new entry for the year so far was a female Chapman's Blue (photo) followed by a single Spotted Fritillary (photo). Two other species also appeared a bit further on - a Large White and and group of 3 or 4 Painted Ladies (photo of one of them). Not vast numbers of butterflies on the wing but most local species present that you would expect to find in the second week of May. Here is a photo of a Pearl-Bordered Fritillary (photo). The other planned trips will have to wait until next weekend, hoping my car will be repaired by then and that the weather will be good.
21st: At last - an opportunity to drive up a mountain on a sunny day and look for De Prunner's Ringlets (Erebia triaria)! I got up at 6.00 drove for 30 mins and then walked for just over an hour to reach an altitude of between 1,300m and 1,400m a.s.l. My timing this year was right and my efforts were rewarded by seeing dozens of this early Erebia on the wing. Here are two photos (photo, photo) and one of the mountain path I was on (photo). Although I got to the site quite early, before the air had really warmed up, the butterflies never stayed in one place very long and, as this particular species seems extremely sensitive to any kind of movement nearby, it again proved difficult to get ideal shots. The other dominant species today were Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries. I had to be back down from the mountain by 11am and only spotted the following species on my descent: Orange Tips, Wood Whites, Dingy Skippers and Common Blues .
27th Drove into the Veneto region to look for Southern Festoons, which have been seen there in previous years in this period. Here is a photo of one of the nice places I discovered on my excursion. Butterfly-wise, though, very disappointing, as I didn't see any, didn't spot anything else of interest, and the road I wanted to do on the way back was closed because of a motor rally. Returning the same way I had gone, however, I stopped at a mountain pass at 1,200m asl, walked up another 100m and was rewarded with the sight of a meadow full of  Clouded Apollos (Parnassius mnemosyne) (photo, photo, photo). At first, as I was walking up, I came across only one or two, but then, on reaching a flatter, less windy area, I realised that there were several sheltering in the grass every few paces (As many as 15 visible in a radius of 2 metres from where I was standing). When the strong sun broke through the clouds, the sight was amazing - I calculated between more than 100 butterflies on the wing all at once! I've never seen so many of one species all in one place! Here is the location (photo). I stupidly did not take a video of the event. I also came across this Mountain Green-Veined White (photo - I think I am correct - and this Oak Eggar (?) caterpillar (photo). Full list of species for the day: Clouded Apollos, Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, a Mountain Green-veined White,  Black-veined Whites, Brimstones, Orange Tips, Common Blues, Small Blues, Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Speckled Woods, Small Heaths, Grizzled Skippers, Dingy Skippers, Large Skipper.
1st: 2 days away with my wife, walking in the mountains (not very far from home) with a not-very-promising weather forecast - cloudy with probable thunderstorms. We were, in fact, quite lucky in that there was quite a lot of sunshine before it started clouding over and we didn't actually get any rain on our mountain! Here is the terrain at about 1,900m asl (photo). The most common butterflies were Woodland Ringlets (photo), followed by Northern Wall Browns (photo) and Alpine Heaths.
9th: A quick walk to my local grassy meadows to look for Twin-spot Fritillaries. I was not disappointed - not just one or two, as in previous years but half a dozen. Here is one of them (photo). other new species for the year included: Meadow Browns (photo), Marbled Whites (photo), Essex Skippers (photo) and Woodland Browns (photo)
10th: Another opportunity to get up some high mountains - this time for a walk with some friends - and what a place to go: the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, probably the most famous mountain in the Dolomites! Here are some views taken during the walk at around 2,300m asl (photo, photo, photo, photo).  I didn't get much chance to stop and search for butterflies, but a couple of species I did manage to identify and photograph were Alpine Graylings (Oeneis glacialis) (photo) and Dewy Ringlets (Erebia pandrose) (photo). There were also one of the high altitude Grizzled Skippers around but they were so active in the warm sunshine that I couldn't get close enough to photograph. Other species flying at this altitude were Small Tortoiseshells and Painted Ladies.
13th: In between school commitments, I managed to get away for a quick walk up a local mountain where, two years ago, I had seen Poplar Admirals. I walked along the forestry track up to 1,500m asl without seeing anything. Lots of Amanda's Blues (photo) in the meadows on the top and a little further away on a windy ridge a Swallowtail and my first Apollo of the year sparring with each other. There was also a great number of Heath Fritillaries and Marbled Fritillaries on the wing, but the latter of the two never stopped for a photo opportunity despite following several individuals for several minutes. However, here is a photo of a recently hatched Pearly Heath. Time being short, I got back to my car and started driving slowing down the road, always on the lookout for a possible Poplar Admiral on the tarmac. Just as I was giving up, a large dark-coloured butterfly flew up in front of the car. I stopped and ran along the road, hoping it would settle somewhere. It did, and to my surprise (in that, in my experience, it is early in the season), it was a Purple Emperor (only one photo, unfortumately!) 
18th - 20th: Several trips out in the last few days, so here are some photos: a Ringlet (photo) and a couple mating (photo) - scores of them flying at this particular site; a fleshly-emerged Marbled White (photo); one of hundreds of Woodland Ringlets (photo) seen on almost every mountain during the last two weeks; a Woodland Brown taking moisture from the ground (photo); a young snake (Zamenis longissimus??) trying to climb the steep side of a path (photo); a Swallowtail defending its territory at the top of a hill (photo); one of many Queen of Spain Fritillaries (photo) seen at 1,500m asl and above, and an Erebia ottomana, or an Erebia cassioides (photo, photo) .... which (????), photographed at 1,600m asl on part of Monte Baldo. According to records it's about a month early for E. ottomana and the poor photo of the underside resembles E.cassioides more in my opinion. Any help would be most welcome!
26th: Yesss! Just as I was about to give up hope of seeing this species for the second year running, two Poplar Admirals (Limenitis populi) encountered in one day - one fresh-looking (photo, photo, photo) and the other very worn - both on a mountain track at about 1,500 - 1,600 m asl. It was the species I was actually looking for in a place where I had spotted one a few years ago. The fresher adult seemed to have been attracted to this particular spot by a newly-cemented part of the road, as can be seen in the first photo. As usual, it was difficult to get any good shots, because the butterfly was constantly on the move. Other new species for the year included Arran Browns (Erebia ligea) (photo) between 1,600 m and 1,800m and some Shepherd's Fritillaries (Boloria pales)(photo) at around 2000m asl. Here is  a shot of a mating couple of Alpine Heaths (Coenonympha gardetta)(photo), of which I must have seen hundreds, and here are a couple of views from the higher part of the walk (photo)(photo).
1st: Having had a late breakfast and seeing the beautifully clear sky, I made a last minute decision to do an excursion to Monte Baldo ... ignoring the forecast of clouds and thunderstorms. After a 90-minute drive and a 75-minute walk up 600m at 11.40am I found myself  in the mist and clouds, thinking I had made a stupid decision! It was cold, too! However, warmed up by the early morning sunshine and the occasional rays of sun breaking through the clouds, there were quite a few butterflies on the wing - predominantly the ones I had gone to photograph. Here are some Silky Ringlets (Erebia gorge) (photo, photo, photo) and here are some Sooty Ringlets (Erebia Pluto)(photo, photo, photo) the last one being surprisingly worn for the period. Here is a view looking out over the valley (photo), and here is a photo of the path I was on (photo). Unfortunately, my hands got so cold and numb taking the photos that I could no longer feel the camera in them, so I decided to walk on another 45mins to have a hot coffee in the Rifugio. Here is a photo of , I believe, a Shepherd's Fritillary (Boloria pales) (photo, photo), taken near the rifugio.
4th: An early start and a day-long excursion to my favourite butterfly-hunting ground - the Val di Rabbi. I was not disappointed with 18 first sightings for the year. I was particulary pleased to get some better photos of  Cranberry Blues (photo, photo), seen in the same spot last year, of Grison's Fritillaries (photo, photo), seen once 3 years ago, and delighted to get a few shots of  an, albeit worn, Asian Fritillary (photo, photo) - a completely new species for me. On the wing were Purpled-edged Coppers (photo), a few Scarce Coppers, Sooty Coppers, Mazarine Blues, Amanda's Blues, Small Blues, Large Blues (photo), Apollos (photo), Small Apollos (photo), Moorland Clouded Yellows (photo), Dark Green Fritillaries, Niobe Fritillaries, Thor's Fritillaries, Titania's Fritillaries, Lesser Moiuntain Fritillaries, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (photo of underside), a single Marsh Fritillary (photo), hundreds of Shepherd's Fritillaries (photo of underside), Arran Browns and Alpine (Darwin) Heaths (photo together), Almond-eyed Ringlets, some Swiss Brassy Ringlets (photo),  and Silver Spotted Skippers (photo). There was also this Erebia (photo, photo), which I am having difficulty in identifying: it could be a Silky Ringlet - triopes form with an extra spot or possibly a late De Prunners, (but the top spot is unusually large), or ....? Unfortunately, having walked  for over 7 hours, going up and down rocky paths, running across uneven ground to keep up with butterflies, successfully crossing peat bogs, just as I decided to call it a day and start down the mountain, I stepped off a rock onto a grassy but muddy path, slipped and twisted my ankle again! I then had a slow, painful, 3-hour descent to do to get back to my car. No fractures this time but my ankle is now strapped up again. Back to square one!
13th -23rd: Species encountered on the Isle of Brac in Croatia: hundreds of Tree Graylings (photo of forewing of butterfly found dead on road) and, what I am now almost certain of, Eastern Rock Graylings (photo) along with larger Woodland Graylings, Meadow Browns and the odd ordinary Grayling; lots of Cardinals both in gardens in town (photo) and in the dry scrubland around, lots of Southern White Admirals, too (photo) and the occasional Red Admiral; a few Lang's Short-tailed Blues (photo), Common Blues and Small Heaths; just one Southern Comma this year (photo) and one Mallow Skipper: in short - nothing that I haven't seen there before. On the return journey in northern Croatia, I was pleased to see this single Knapweed Fritillary (photo).
17th-22nd: After a cold and relatively wet first half of the month, the weather improved and I went for several short walks locally, mostly in the valley bottom near the River Adige (photo). Not a great number of butterflies around but the species seen, in varying numbers, were the following: Small Whites, Green-veined Whites, Eastern Bath Whites, Brimstones, Clouded Yellows, Berger's Clouded Yellows (photo), Red Admirals, Commas, Silver-washed Fritillaries, Spotted Fritillaries, Queen of Spain Fritillaries, Walls, Meadow Browns, Speckled Woods, Dryads, Small Heaths, Small Blues, Adonis Blues, Common Blues (photo)(photo of couple mating), Short-tailed Blues (photo), Lang's Short-tailed Blues (photo) (the first time I've seen these in my local area), Small Coppers, Sooty Coppers (photo), Large Skippers (photo).
[Sorry for delay in getting these few photos posted]
6th-7th: A lovely, warm, sunny start to the month. Making the most of the beautiful weather, I went for a couple of walks in my local area. This is a photo from one of them showing the village on the hill above my village. Still the usual autumn butterfly species on the wing: Small Coppers, Adonis and Common Blues, Red Admirals, Walls (photo), Small Whites, Clouded Yellows and Berger's Clouded Yellows. There were also lots of dragonflies around (photo).
Only 3 butterflies spotted at the very beginning of the month. Then it got very, very cold - too cold for any butterflies to be on the wing.
Snow and freezing temperatures for the whole month. Nothing around!
For similar excursion notes and month-by-month list of sightings of butterflies in Switzerland, please click on this link to Guy Padfield's fantastic website. http://www.guypadfield.com/butterflyyear.html

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