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EXCURSION NOTES 2018  (including many photos) - Scroll down

For a complete list of species and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2018
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos), please click on year:20172016201520142013
For previous Year Lists, please click on year:20172016201520142013
 Excursion Notes 2018
6th: First butterfly of the year spotted, not in Trentino, where it's still very cold even during the day, but in a village in Lazio - a Red Admiral - seen sunning itself on a balcony. This is a view of the village from a path where I did hope to see other butterflies around (photo). Their natural instincts were obviously much better developed than mine, in that, just 36 hours later, temperatures dropped drastically and the whole village was covered in 10cm of snow!
Back in the north of Italy in Trentino the weather continued to be cold for the rest of the month and I saw nothing flying on the few days when the sun warmed the air a bit. Photo of a frozen lake at about 1,100m asl.
1st-15th: Although statistics say otherwise, it seems to be colder this year than last year and the first half of the month brought fresh snow to the mountains and to within 100m of the valley bottom, where we live. I went out looking for butterflies a couple of times on sunnier days, but still nothing flying locally.
16th: Finally.... I spotted a couple of Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae) sunning themselves at about 2pm today. Here is a photo of one of them.  
24th: Despite the weather forecast predicting snow and freezing temperatures, today was a lovely, warm, sunny day and really felt like spring (photo). A pleasant two-hour walk along the hill to the neighbouring village brought sightings of a total of 11 butterflies - 2 Brimstones, 5 small tortoiseshells and 4 Nettle Tree butterflies. (photo of the upperside - sorry about the careless intrusion of my shadow on the left wing) (photo of the underside of the same butterfly). This is the path along which the above-mentioned butterflies were spotted (photo).
25th: The weather forecast proved to be right! It got colder during the day and  temperatures dropped to well below freezing. 3 days later this was a view of our garden. (photo). This was followed by two weeks of  extremely cold weather with no chance seeing of any butterflies .
16th: The second warmer, sunny day of the month (the first was two days ago) and I went for a short walk on my local hill looking for Large Tortoiseshells. I was not disappointed, but did expect to see more butterflies on the wing. Total count was 3 Large Tortoiseshells, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 2 commas and 1 Brimstone. Sorry, no photos of the butterflies - they were too quick for me - only a view of the local mountains, showing the path I was on and the fairly fresh snow on the mountain tops on the other side of the valley (photo)(photo).
22nd: This shouldn't really be part of my excursion notes because I didn't go anywhere! 2 of the 4 Large White caterpillars that I rescued (?) in November from some cabbage plants in the garden have just emerged from their chrysalises as butterflies (photo, photo). A little premature, but...! Unfortunately they are both males. We'll see if a female hatches from the other two - hopefully soon.
25th: My excursions this year have all been quick walks on the hills at the back of the village where we live. Today was no exception. The warmer afternoon temperatures allowed me, finally, to get some photos of a few butterflies Here are three different Nettle-tree butterflies all feeding on these catkins (photo), two of them looking very tattered (photo, photo). I also saw three Large Tortoiseshells (photo), one Small Tortoiseshell, one Brimstone and one unidentified white.
2nd:   I am spending a few days down in Lazio, just south of Rome, where the weather has not been much better recently than in the north of Italy. They, in fact, had some snow here only a few days ago. Generally though, the climate is much milder and on my one short afternoon excursion I saw a few species that I imagined would be out and about. The first butterflies I saw were Wall Browns (photo) and Brimstones, immediately followed by a couple of Cleopatra's, which unfortunately never stopped for any photo opportunities. There was this caterpillar (photo) - a Ruby Tiger moth?? -  walking across the stony ground, a few Orange Tips, including one female, and one Green Hairstreak which I disturbed and which flitted off high into some thick bushes. However, by far the most common butterflies were Painted Ladies (photo)(photo). Here are two views of the terrain with terrace upon terrace of olive trees (photo)(photo) - the main agricultural activity in the area.
22nd: Finally some really warm weather with temperatures up to 28 degrees! And it's obviously brought out the butterflies. My walk today was to a stream (photo) in a lateral valley to where I live, in the hope of seeing some Camberwell Beauties.No luck on that front, but several first sightings of the year of some more common species, namely Wood Whites (photo) Grizzled Skippers (this one hiding among the plants photo), one Dingy Skipper (photo), one Speckled Wood and one Small Blue. There were also lots of Brimstones, Orange Tips and Green-veined Whites (photo) on the wing, as well as this Scarce Swallowtail, which had just emerged from its chrysalis. (photo of upperside and photo of underside). The valley is just at the back of a lovely castle which overlooks the main valley. Here is a photo from the side valley where I was  and here is a zoomed view (photo).
28th: A nice surprise as a fresh-looking Mallow Skipper appeared in our garden, waited for me to get my camera and posed for a photo!
30th: A break from work and a trip to the Colli Berici to look for some Weaver's Fritillaries and Knapweed Fritillaries. It was a lovely sunny day, but we didn't start very early and by the time I had dropped my wife in the centre of Vicenza and got to some open grassland on the hills, the wind had got up and it had started to cloud over. There were, in fact, plenty of Weaver's Fritillaries around, but it wasn't quite so easy getting some good photos of them. Here are a few reasonable shots (photo, photo, photo, photo)). No Knapweeds, though - it's probably a bit early. However, other first sightings for the year consisted of Small Coppers, Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries, Common Blue, Adonis Blue (photo), Silver-studded Blue, Small White and Swallowtail.
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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