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|EXCURSION NOTES 2019 (including many photos) - Scroll down|
|For a complete list of species and identified by me this year, click on:||Year List 2019|
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Excursion Notes 2019
26th: A fairly cold period, but with the sun shining this morning on a sheltered part of my local hill, I spotted my first butterfly of the year - a rather tattered-looking Red Admiral (Vanessa Atlanta). I didn't have my camera, so no photo.
16th: A real spring-like day with warm sunshine and today I had my new camera with me. An hour-long local walk brought sightings of about 10 butterflies in all - 4 or 5 Red Admirals, most of them looking quite worn (photo, photo), 4 or 5 Small Tortoiseshells (photo) and one unidentified white, which flew along in the distance - presumably a Green-veined White, usually the earliest on the wing in my area. Here are two views across the valley from the hillside farm track I was on. (photo, photo).
22nd: The very mild weather in February continues and in a sheltered vineyard just 150m from home there were 3 butterflies: a white, which disappeared before I had a chance to take a photo, this Peacock (photo) and this Comma (photo).
March10th: Another really spring-like day and a nice lunchtime walk on my local hill at about 600m asl. There were lots of butterflies flying: the most common of which were Commas (photo, photo, photo) and Large tortoiseshells (photo of two together here), but I also saw Brimstones, Nettle Tree Butterflies, Green-veined Whites (photo) and one (or two) Green Hairstreaks. There were also lots of these Orange Underwing moths (photo)..
15th: We're having a mid-March heat-wave at the moment with most daily temperatures well-above the average for the time of year. I took advantage of the warm sunny weather to go for walk in a side valley about 10 minutes drive from my house, in the hope of seeing some Camberwell Beauties near the stream there. This is the lane I walked down (photo) and here's a photo looking back towards Beseno Castle with the main valley behind it. No Camberwell Beauties but lots of Nettle Tree butterflies (photo, photo) and one showing the buds of the tree they were feeding on (photo). This blossom on this nearby cherry tree also attracted some Brimstones (photo, photo)and a Scarce Swallowtail (photo) - the second one of the day, as I had seen another one earlier as I left home flying across my garden. Another butterfly first for the year was this Queen of Spain Fritillary (photo) - a butterfly which I only usually see at a slightly higher altitude and, I believe, a couple of Southern Small Whites, of which I only have poor photos. I also rescued this caterpillar which I found suffering from the heat in the middle of the lane (photo).
16th: A similar day today to yesterday but with hazy sunshine, and a walk in another side valley - this time about 20 km further south, towards Verona. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to charge up my camera battery so no photos were possible, which was a great pity because there were a lot of photo opportunities. Here is a list of my sightings: Red Admiral, Commas (lots), Small Tortoishells (several), Brimstones (lots), Large Tortoiseshells, Nettle Tree Butterflies, Peacocks, Green-veined Whites, a Scarce Swallowtail, an extremely small Swallowtail (pity about my camera for this one!), a Green Hairstreak, a Queen of Spain Fritillary and a Holly Blue - a total of 13 species.
A few days in Zagreb gave me the opportunity to go butterfly hunting in and around the city and, being reasonably lucky with the sunny weather for most of them, I was rewarded with some fairly good photo opportunities. Along the River Sava just a kilometre or so from the bridges connecting Novi Zagreb to the city centre (photo), I came across this lovely Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena) (photo)(photo) (only the second one I have ever seen - the first being 8 years ago near Arezzo in Italy). There were also several Weaver's Fritillaries (Clossiana dia) around (photo), as well as many Map butterflies Araschnia levana) (photo)(photo) (the first I have of the orange spring brood form). Other species seen included Peacocks (Aglais io)(photo), Dingy Skippers (Erynnis tages) (photo), Mallow Skippers (Carcharodus alceae) (photo), Grizzled Skippers ((Pyrgus malvae) (photo). Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni), Orange Tips (Anthocharis cardamines), Swallowtails (Papilio machaon), Commas (polygonia c-album), Queen of Spain Fritillaries (Issoria lathonia), Wall Browns (Lassiommata megera), Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria), Small Heaths (Coenonympha pamphilus), Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), Holly Blues (Celastrina argiolus ) and this single Short-tailed Blue (Cupido argiades) (photo). Due to the many small lakes nearby (photo), there were also numerous dragonflies flitting everywhere (photo of one).
Another day, not near the river this time but in a popular park, a Common Glider (Neptis sappho) glided gracefully past me and settled for a moment for a photo attempt before taking off and disappearing (poor photo for the records).
The most common butterfly in these ten days in Croatia has most definitely been the Map butterfly, seen in numerous different locations and sometimes in relatively high numbers. For example, there were 12 or more on or around this bush (photo) at one moment in the late afternoon about 60 km north of Zagreb. Here is a photo of one on the bush and another (photo) taken a few metres away. A Duke of Burgundy Fritillary was also attracted to the white flowers (photo). In another location, I came across my second Southern Festoon (photo) and my second Common Glider, unfortunately with no photo opportunity.
May1st: Back in Trentino and a warm, sunny May Day holiday brought out lots of butterflies and several new species for the year, all seen in one of my favourite spots not far from Rovereto (photo). Here is an Eastern Short-tailed Blue (photo), a Chequered Blue (photo) and a Glanville Fritillary (photo). There were also Small Coppers, Sooty Coppers, a single Spotted Fritillary and a small Blue on the wing (but no photos were possible of these, unfortunately). This lovely Wood White stopped flitting about for a few moments to pose for a photo, but this Berger's Clouded Yellow rarely stopped on any flower for more than 2 seconds - never quite enough time to get into position for a photo. This was the best I got (photo). I must also find time to identify this small moth (photo).
11th: Another trip to Zagreb for the weekend and another opportunity for a short walk along the River Sava. No Map butterflies this time but plenty of Heath Fritillaries (photo) and one mating couple of Knapweed Fritillaries, showing both the upperside (photo) and the underside (photo)(Sorry that I couldn't attempt to remove the intruding blade of grass in the centre of the picture with risking disturbing the butterflies).
16th: A short walk, (necessarily so because of very bad back-ache!) in my local area on a cool and fairly cloudy day (photo of location). There were very few butterflies around - probably not surprising after the cold weather and snow we have had recently - but disappointing for mid-May anyway! In 90 minutes I only saw about 15-18 butterflies in total: 1 Green-underside Blue (photo, photo), 1 Green Hairstreak, 1 Orange Tip, 1 Small Blue (photo), 2 Common Blues, 2 Dingy Skippers, 3 or 4 Small Heaths and a few Whites and Queen of Spain Fritillaries,
23rd. Moietto. Green Underside Blues, Glanville Fritillary
June1st: The target today was the crest of this mountain (photo) hoping on the way up to see if the recent cold wet weather (and snow) had delayed the emergence of the De Prunner's Ringlets which seem to thrive between 1,300m and 1,600m here. No problems - there were plenty around (photo), but, as usual, not easy to photograph, especially as they kept settling on the pink flowers growing on the unstable rocky screes. Here are some photos of the path and view (photo, photo). Other butterflies on the mountain included some Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries (photo), some Green Hairstreaks (photo), some Woodland Ringlets (photo), the first Pearl-bordered Fritillaries of the year (photo, photo), and this rather worn Northern Wall Brown (photo). The weather was mostly sunny, but still not particularly warm for the time of year.
9th: Local trip to a meadow on the hill near our village. As usual at this time of year there a number of Twin-spot Fritillaries flying (photo, photo) as well as Silver-studded Blues (photo), Pearly Heaths and this one Safflower Skipper (photo).
14th: Drove out of Trentino, down the Valdastico - site of a proposed and much-discussed motorway extension - and had the time to stop to look for False Heath Fritillaries in a meadow where I first saw them a few years ago. Although the grass and flowers had been freshly mown and I didn't immediately spot anything, walking across the dry grass brought up two or three for a photo opportunity (here is a photo showing the underside and a photo with the upperside)
19th - 21st: My wife and I are in Umbria for a few days and so I have the chance to see what the centre of Italy offers in the middle of June both on the lower plains and on the mountains. The first day, although there were hundreds of Painted Ladies everywhere (photo), the few other butterflies around consisted mostly of Small Skippers (photo) many of them in this field (photo). I was not disappointed, however, by the number of species on the mountain top, which included Southern White Admirals (photo), Wall Browns, Pearly Heaths (photo), Adonis Blues (photo), Silver-studded Blues, Great Banded Graylings (photo), Marbled Whites, Spotted Fritillaries, Red Underwing Skippers (photo) and Ilex Hairstreaks (photo). (Here is a photo of the terrain at about 1,300m asl.) Lower down I also came across a Tufted Marbled Skipper, a new species for me personally, but only had a couple of seconds to get a photo of the underside (photo) before it zoomed off. (Here is a photo of the path I was on). The following day brought sightings of Large Chequered Skippers (photo) and this Lesser Purple Emperor (photo).
22nd - 30th: This is the first time I have been able to visit part of Lazio so early in the summer and I hope to be in time this year to get some photos of Italian Marbled Whites - a completely new species for me and apparently quite common near the village where my wife was born. ... As soon as I arrived I went for a quick walk and, sure enough, flying with "ordinary" Marbled Whites were Italian Marbled Whites - very easy to distinguish, I realised, because of their less heavy black markings and their flitting and gliding style of flying (rather than the fluttering style of the ordinary Marbled Whites. Here are some photos of this very pretty butterfly (photo, photo). Trying to get good photos was not easy, because, even early morning, it was very hot and they became active very quickly, added to the fact that everywhere there were hundreds (or thousands) of Painted Ladies (photo), whose flight tended to disturb any butterfly who happened to be posing for the camera. Other species seen, apart from the two types of Marbled Whites, were Small Skippers (photo of a male, photo of a female)(I am fairly sure they are silvestris, not lineola, the second of which is more common in my local area), Spotted Fritillaries, Great Banded Graylings (photo), Graylings, several rather old-looking Knapweed Fritillaries, lots of Southern Gatekeepers (photo, photo) and lots of Ilex Hairsteaks (photo). This is the mountain I was on (photo), looking back towards the lovely village of Sonnino (in the lower centre of the photo, nestled between the two hills).
JULY1st - 9th: Still in Lazio. On the half dozen walks I did in the local area, as well as the species mentioned in the previous entry, I came across a Baton Blue (photo), one or two Brown Arguses, several Long-tailed Blues (photo), Swallowtails, Scarce Swallowtails, Clouded Yellows and Cleopatras as well as many more 'usual' species. The only thing I was disappointed about was that on my one walk on a mountain overlooking the coast (photo of view) - it was an extremely hot day - I didn't see any Two-Tailed Pashas, even though I have photographed them in the area before. I thought I caught a glimpse of one zoom overhead while squeezing through some bushes, but I didn't see it clearly enough to be sure and so .... no tick on my list was possible.
13th: I am back in Trentino and could not miss my annual walk in the Val di Rabbi - my favourite butterfly-hunting ground. So, as the weather forecast was quite good for the day, I got up at 5.15, drove for 90 minutes or so and was walking up the mountain by 7.30. Eleven hours and over 1300m of ascents and descents later I got back to my car, having seen over 30 species, 21 of which were new for this year - not all that I have found in the valley in roughly the same period, but a good number of them. Here is a list of the species found on the lower part of the walk (1,300m -1,700m asl) in the order that I spotted them: Heath Fritillary, Alpine Heath, Almond-eyed Ringlet (photo), Lesser Mountain Fritillary (photo), Scarce Copper (photo), Dark Green Fritillary, Titania's Fritillary (photo, photo), Silver Spotted Skipper (photo), Arran Brown (photo), Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (photo) and Purple-edged Copper (photo). I was slightly disappointed that an area of meadow land, where there are normally thousands of flowers and consequently hundreds of butterflies, was occupied by a huge flock of sheep, goats and donkeys that had flattened the grass and eaten all the flowers (photo). I shouldn't have felt annoyed because it's the grazing on the pastureland that keeps the bushes down and maintains the grassy areas. Anyway, back to the butterflies: after the long meadow, the path started rising steeply up an escarpment. It was here that I spotted an Apollo of some kind, later confirming it, and others (mainly from the presence of striped antennae) as a Small Apollo (photo). It was difficult to get photos because of the narrow path (photo) and the steep grassy/flowery sides, which were very slippery (photo). I must also say that, although it was a mainly sunny day, with a few clouds around, there was a very cold biting wind in the many unsheltered spots, which made photographing even more tricky. Continuing along the path I found the following: Large Wall Brown, Moorland Clouded Yellow (photo), Shepherd's Fritillary (photo), Cranberry Blue (photo, photo), Alpine Graying (photo), Dusky Grizzled Skipper (photo), but the highlight of the day was finding some Peak Whites flying around (very swiftly in the wind) on the top part of the walk (photo, photo).(I am particularly pleased to be able to add some new photos to the Peak White species page, as the last time I had seen this butterfly was 5 years ago and I was only able to get 2 photos at the time.) Here are some photos of the terrain on this high plateau (2,350m) (photo, photo). I would like to add that my hands were so cold after getting these photos, that I had to go into the mountain refuge at 2,440m to get the blood in my fingers circulating again. Also at this height I found this Silky Ringlet (photo) sheltering in between the rocks and these two butterflies, both of which, I believe, are Large Blues (Phengaris arion) (butterfly 1 photo),(butterfly 2 photo, photo) ...or is one (or both) a Scarce Large Blue (Phengaris telejus)? Can anyone help?
18th: Back in Zagreb. A slightly disappointing couple of days, as I am not in the area often in mid-July and my high expectations of seeing a few species that are not present in my local area in Italy were not fulfilled. However, along the river I found several Map butterflies, with the dark colouring of the 2nd brood this time (photo), this Short-tailed Blue, (photo) and this Great Sooty Satyr, which just wouldn't come out from the shady vegetation (photo). On the hill, just 2 or 3 kilometres from the main streets of the city, I was pleased to find these 2 White-letter Hairstreaks (photo), the first time I have seen any for several years. It is also a good area for Common Gliders, and there were several around, but expecting them to stop gliding and settle in an accessible position for a photo proved impossible - especially with grandchildren in tow! Instead, here is a dragonfly (photo)!
AUGUST22nd July - 12th August: This year my wife and I have spent a realtively long period on the island of Brac, off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, primarily to look after our grandchildren. The climate there is hot and dry in the summer and the vegetation consists mainly of pine trees, holm oaks, lots of low prickly bushes and coarse grasses. By far the most common butterflies on the wing in this period are Tree Graylings and Woodland Graylings (or are they Eastern Rock Graylings?) and, sure enough, when I ventured into the trees and shrub behind the beaches, dozens invariably flew up from their resting positions on the the tree trunks. Here is a photo of a Tree Grayling and here are two (photo, photo) of Woodland Graylings (or is one of them an eastern Rock Grayling? Admittedly, the lighting is different on the two photos, but they do look like different species. Can anyone help?) On my short excursions, it was lovely to see the Southern White Admirals gliding around and even coming to settle on my outstretched hand (photo). Here is another (photo). Generally, when I come to this island I see one or two Southern Commas sunning themselves or feeding in specific places and this year, true to form, here was one feeding on exactly the same plant as every year (photo). Here is a shot of the same butterfly from an unusual angle (photo). Probably the second most common butterfly on the wing during my stay was the Spotted Fritillary, not the bright reddish form seen in more temperate zones but the much smaller, lesser marked, and generally paler dalmatina form. (photo, photo). Other butterflies included a Cardinal (at the very beginning of my stay - surprisingly I didn't see any after the 23rd), Common Blues, Brown Arguses, Small Whites, Wood Whites, and an Eastern Bath White.
16-17th: Two days camping at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain in Abruzzo (photo) and my first sightings of Cardinal butterflies on Italian soil (rather than in Croatia).What a lot of patience needed to get some photographs, though! I first saw one glide overhead (flying down the mountain) as I was clambering up a grassy cutting among the trees. Predictably, it didn't stop! This happened 7 or 8 times. Eventually I found the area where the butterfly tended to settle and tried to get closer, but every time it took off before I was in a position to take a photo. After a couple of hours of doing this (in the hot sun) constantly waiting for the butterfly to return from its frequent territorial excursions, I only managed a handful of shots of the butterfly of which this was the closest and clearest (photo). Here are two other attempts, the second one showing the clearing for the power lines in the woods (photo, photo). (There were 2 or 3 other Cardinals around, which occasionally appeared and interacted with the one I was trying to get a photo of, but I didn't have the energy to follow them). On this first day, I didn't get to any high altitude, remaining mainly around 1,200m asl, but I was also pleased to find some Autumn Ringlets (photo), some Lulworth Skippers (photo), some Brown Arguses (photo), this Scarce Copper (photo), several Woodland Graylings and Large Wall Browns and lots of Tree Graylings and Chalkhill Blues (photo). The 2nd day, we went by cable-car up to 2,200m, where the scenery was really spectacular (photo, photo). The only problem was that it was Saturday and hundreds, or rather thousands, of people were there too, walking on all the available paths (it was forbidden to go off the paths to prevent unnecessary erosion), making it very difficult to take any serious photos of butterflies. However, there were Common Brassy Ringlets everywhere, by far the most common butterfly (photo). Also, flying were some rather worn-looking Apollos (photo), Shepherd's Fritillaries (photo, photo) and this Niobe Fritillary (photo).
September4th: Finally, an opportunity to go walking at high altitude in the Italian Alps, a two-hour drive from home. A beautiful day, lovely scenery (photo, photo, photo, photo) and sightings of the butterflies that I expected to see at this time of year. Here is a photo of one of the many Marbled Ringlets flying and one of a Water Ringlet (photo). There were a few rather worn Common Brassy Ringlets around (photo), a handful of Apollos flying up and down the mountainside (photo) and even a Small Apollo. However, could anyone help me identify this Erebia species, which was flying at around 2,300m (photo)? The lack of any spots inside the eyes suggests a Blind Ringlet (Erebia pharte), but I have no experience of the species and unfortunately I couldn't get any shots of the underside at all.