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EXCURSION NOTES 2020  (including many photos) - Scroll down

 
For a complete list of species seen and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2020
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos), please click on year:2019201820172016201520142013
For previous Year Lists, please click on year:2019201820172016201520142013
 
 Excursion Notes 2020
January
Fairly cold weather for most of the month with some warmer days towards the end of the month. However, no butterflies seen on my few opportunities to go walking.
February
7th: Here we are. The first butterflies of the year spotted today, just 200 metres from where I live, on a sheltered, sunny piece of ground next to a small vineyard (photo of the spot). However, I didn't expect  to see a Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) - a spring butterfly, certainly, but I have never seen one so early! Here is a photo. A few seconds later two Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi) appeared nearby and were soon joined by a third. (Photo of one of them). I set off up the hill hoping to find a lot more, eventually coming across a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)(photo) and a little bit further on a second one. Here is a photo of the track that I was on. Despite walking for another two hours, that was it - there was nothing else to be found and even though I returned to the vineyard mid-afternoon where I had started the walk,  the butterflies seen earlier had disappeared.
8th: In the mood for finding butteflies, I walked along the road to the same spot as yesterday to see fs anything new was around. Today, there were two Small Coppers. Here are two photos, but I think it is the same butterfly as yesterday (photo, photo). I had another slight surprise when a few minutes later an Eastern Bath White (Pontia Edusa) appeared - not usually in my list of very early species for any year. The only photo opportunity was when it stopped to rest on a steep grassy bank. Here is a poor photo to record it.
28th: A short afternoon trip to a local castle (photo) and a nice sunny (but windy) afternoon. Having found the castle still closed, we discovered a sheltered path just at the back going up through the woods and up the mountain. A few metres was enough to find several butterflies flying around: my first Red Admiral of the year (usually it's the first I come across), then a Comma, followed by several Orange Tips. (Here is one poor photo, the over-exposure giving the impression that one wing-tip is yellow and the other orange). There were also a few whites, mostly Green-veined but some Small Whites too, and -  just as we were leaving -  a Green Hairstreak. Sorry about the lack of photos, but the butterflies would not stay still long enough for me to get close enough. Here is a view of the back of the castle (photo) and here a shot from the castle down into the main valley (photo).
March
1st - 14th: With the Corona-virus "stay at home" restrictions  now imposed on all of us here in Italy, it is only possible to do short walks in and around my village. However, following the very mild weather in February and the first half of March (so far), I have so far seen no fewer than  17 species of butterfly on the wing within a few hundred metres from my house. As well as Holly Blues (photo), Commas (photo), Green-veined Whites (photo), Peacocks (photo), Orange Tips, Brimstones and Large Tortoiseshells are now out and about. Here is one (photo) and here is another (photo) sunning itself on the trunk of a tree. Most recently I have crossed paths with  a single Scarce Swallowtail and this Mallow Skipper (photo) darting about and occasionally settling at the base of this stone terrace-wall (photo).
15th - 31st: My butterfly sightings and butterfly lists, including these excursion notes, are obviously being affected by the Corona-virus restrictions - especially here in Italy where we are basically being forced to stay at home. Since the middle of the month, my only "excursions" have been to throw our house rubbish away in the various collecting bins, which are located about 150m along the road from our house. All the photos posted here recently have been taken in a small section of vineyard, just behind the dustbins, which I have surreptitiously sneeked into to breathe some fresh air and keep up my hobby in some way. Sightings during the five minutes I spent there on the 28th were basically a Holly Blue (photo), a Wood White (photo), this new-for-the-year Provencal  Short-tailed Blue (photo)(and a poor photo of the underside to prove it was alcetas), a resident Peacock, two or three Small Coppers, numerous Small Whites and Green-veined Whites and numerous Orange Tips.
April
1st - 14th: While the weather is absolutely fantastic with warm sunny days (daily temperatures between 19C and 26C), quarantine continues and I am still limited to my walk to the recycling bins 150m up the road - wearing my face-mask, of course, in case I meet anyone. Recent first-of-the-year sightings near the bins have included several Chequered Blues (photo)(photo)(photo) and Geranium Bronzes (photo), this single Short-tailed Blue (photo), this Common Blue (photo) and the occasional Adonis Blue and Dingy Skipper. Here is a shot of the underside of a Holly Blue (photo) and a group of Wood Whites (photo) all on some damp earth, which the local farmer had presumably watered that morning for the seedlings that were present. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the vineyard's resident Peacock butterfly (with snow-capped mountain in the background) and of this Scarce Swallowtail attracted by the cherry blossom (photo).
15th - 30th:  The second half of April has conitinued in much the same way  as the first with the exception of one very welcome  full-day of rain  - the first for over two months. Lots of butterflies on the wing - mainly those already mentioned in my notes - with the addition  of numerous Silver-studded Blues (Photo of a mating couple).
May
3rd: With the partial easing of the Italian  "lockdown"  - we are now allowed to take physical exercise  in the local area without being limited to 200m from home - I went on a 3-hour walk up and down the hill behind our village. Here is a view looking down into the valley (photo) . I must say it was a much needed and welcome release from quarantine, but I realised how unfit I have become! However, I was rewarded by some photo opportunities of new butterflies for the year. Here is a Green Underside Blue (photo) (one was much lower down the mountain than I had seen before) and a Small Blue (photo). As expected, there were a few Granville Fritillaries around (photo) and several Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries too (here is a photo of a mating couple) Probably the most common butterfly I saw today was  the Adonis Blue (photo).
9th: A sunny, but windy, Saturday and I decided to cycle to a side valley on the other side of the main valley, leave my bike and then continue walking, basically following the course of a small stream. At a certain point, in the middle of thick vegetation there is a sunny opening with a narrow Roman bridge which crosses the stream - today a wonderful spot for butterflies. The bridge seemed to be guarded by a couple of Duke of Burgundies (photo, photo), a number of Green Hairstreaks, a Dingy Skipper (photo), a Wood White, a Red Admiral and a number of Blues of various types. Unfortunately, photos were difficult because the bridge was narrow with no side protection, the butterflies invariably perched on the outer side of the vegetation and I didn't want to risk falling off. This is a photo of the medieval Beseno castle towering above the spot. Here is the same stream a little further on (photo), where there was this Brimstone (photo), which could still fly quite well despite having half its right forewing and hindwing broken off, several male and female Orange Tips (photo of a male) and this single Berger's Clouded Yellow (photo)(I believe it is alfacariensis). My fitness was again called into question as I struggled to cycle home against the strong wind blowing up the valley!
17th: Today we drove up a nearby mountain for a picnic, finding six new species for the year. The main reason for the location was to look for Geranium Arguses, (which I hadn't seen for a couple of years) and, although it is earlier in the year than usual, I thought they might be already on the wing and a few were (photo, photo).  As expected, there were many Woodland  Ringlets (poor photo here), this single Spotted Fritillary (photo) and numerous Heath Fritillaries, too, one of which insisted on settling on my trouser-leg where it was very awkward to get a photo (photo)! Here is a better shot showing the underside (photo).  To my surprise there was also this Black-veined White (photo) and this slightly deformed Sooty Copper (photo) along with several rather worn-looking Green Hairstreaks (photo).


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