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EXCURSION NOTES 2021  (including many photos) - Scroll down

For a complete list of species seen and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2021
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos), please click on year:20202019201820172016201520142013
For previous Year Lists, please click on year:20202019201820172016201520142013
 Excursion Notes 2021
1st-31st: Following the record snowfalls at the end of December, the whole of January has been very cold with snow laying on the ground even on the valley floor for virtually the whole month. Consequently to my knowledge, no self-respecting butterfly has been on the wing braving the freezing temperatures in my local area. Here are a few photographs showing the conditions: (photo of the valley where I live)(photo of one of my favourite hillside hunting grounds) (photo of frosted plants)
5th: A couple of nights with above-zero temperatures and 2 or 3 slightly warmer days with a bit of sunshine is all it takes, though, to bring the early species out. Although I have no photo of the butterfly, I was walking on this path (photo) not far from my house when a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) glided by, settled in some dry grass, but took off again before I could get near it. If I could have laid a bet on the first butterfly of the year being a Red Admiral, I would have won this year. It was about 8 degrees C with hazy sunshine after a slightly sunnier morning.
8th: Here is a photo of my second Red Admiral of the year in the vineyard 200m along the road from my house on a generally warmer, sunnier day, as you will see from this view looking towards the snow-capped mountains north-east of my village (photo). However, looking in the opposite direction, there is a change on the way and the clouds look decidedly more menacing! (photo)
11th-16th: An extremely cold few days with temperatures in my area right down to -8 degrees C at night and not getting above freezing during the day! No butterflies about.
17th: Sunny and warmer during the day again and I spotted 3 Red Admirals during a 20-minute walk at lunchtime. Here is a photo of one of them.
20th: My first two Large Tortoiseshells Aglais io) of the year, the first (photo) in the vineyard near my home (that I always seem to be talking about in February and March) and the second not far away (photo).
24th: Another warm afternoon and this time a rather small Comma (Polygonia c-album) butterfly settled in the grass just in front of me to soak up some sun (photo).
25th: The weather continues to be bright, sunny and warm and butterflies are starting to show themselves. Today, a Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) was flying around in my neighbour's garden and when I went to investigate, I found this Nettle-tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) (photo) feeding on the flowers among the grass. (The Brimstone had flown way without giving me any chance to get a photo.) In the afternoon we drove up the mountain behind the village and went for a short walk at about 1,000m asl. The track we chose starts off well-exposed to the sun (photo), passes through some trees, then goes through a wide grassy meadow with lovely views over the valley before cutting round the rocky edge of the mountain. This last section is usually good for butterflies because the warm rocks offer a sheltered settling and meeting place for many species. Here is one of the rocky outcrops with a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) towards the right which you might just be able to make out (photo).This was one of three along the same track, all of which were very active and camera-shy. (Photo here, using zoom). Here is another view (photo) looking out over the valley.
1st: A few "Vineyard Butterflies":  a Comma (Polygonia c-album) (photo) with the village church in the background, a Green-veined White (Pieris napi) (photo) in the leaf vegetation on the ground and a Peacock (Agalis io)(photo) and Large Tortoiseshell (Aglais io) (photo) sunning themselves on top of the warm concrete supports for the vine wires.
10th: The number of butterflies on the wing continue to increase day-by-day with the most common in my local area being Small Tortoiseshells, Large Tortoiseshells and Green-veined Whites. New for today was a single Scarce Swallowtail.
12th -13th: A short local walk revealed this Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)(photo) and a couple of Orange Tips (Anthocharis cardamines), which, unfortunately did not stop for any photo opportunities and the following day, this single Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae)(photo).
14th: We had the first very light rainfall for nearly 2 months this morning with a very cold wind following it. However, by the afternoon the sky was clear and it was quite warm again (photo of hill and vineyards near my village) so I decided to go out for a breath of fresh air. Of interest was this Nettle Tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) (photo) on this path (photo) and  this Mallow Skipper (carcharodus alceae) (photo) on the sheltered ground in front of a wall.
18th - 31st: Our region is now in full lockdown due to Covid so any walks I do have to be in the immediate vicinity around my house. Luckily the grass and flowers along the sides of the nearby vineyards continue to be good hunting grounds for spring butterflies (photo). Here is a mating pair of Small Whites (photo), a Queen of Spain Fritillary (photo), an Eastern Bath White (photo), a Swallowtail (photo), a Speckled Wood (photo), a Wood White (photo), a Short-tailed Blue - female here (photo)(photo) male here - (photo), a Brown Argus (photo)(photo), a Small Copper(photo), a Mallow Skipper (photo) and a mating pair of Green-veined Whites (photo).
1st : A good first day of the month with 3 first sightings of the year - a couple of Small Heaths, a Berger's Clouded Yellow, which seemed to have no intention of stopping anywhere and two or three Chequered Blues (photo, photo). The weather is helping a lot with local temperatures reaching 26 or 27 degrees in the early afternoon, far above what they normally are for this period of the year. We have also had no significant rain since the beginning of January, which you can probably deduce from the dry, dusty earth in some of the photos.
2nd: Despite having a very bad back, I ventured out for some exercise on my bike today to get to a lateral valley where I hoped to see some Camberwell Beauties. It was a beautiful, hot sunny day with lots and lots of butterflies around, including four more first sightings for the year: a Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Green Hairstreaks (photo), Dingy Skippers (photo) and a female Sooty Copper (photo). Other species included Grizzled Skippers, Chequered Blues, Orange Tips (photo of a female), Brimstones, Small Tortoiseshells, Commas, Small, Green-veined and Wood Whites, Nettle-tree butterfly, Speckled Woods, Swallowtails and Scarce Swallowtails (photo). Although there were no Camberwell Beauties, there was this Narrow-bordered (?) Bee hawkmoth (photo) and several Tau Emperor moths flying haphazardly through the trees and bushes. The only photo I have, unfortunately, is one of this dead one (photo), which I found by the side of the road. Here are some views of the area where I was: the mountainside path (photo),  the stream (photo, photo further upstream) and a very pretty section where the water was being channelled off first to an old working watermill and after to a small generating station (photo).
5th - 15th: The weather turned very cold in this period with snowfalls just 200m above the village in the valley where I live and night-time temperaures going down well below zero for a few days. Very little chance to get out for walks during the few brighter afternoons.
23rd:  A lovely, warm day today and, having a free Friday  afternoon, I headed out to one of my favourite hunting grounds not far from my workplace (photo). Lots of butterflies out, starting with this Blue. (photo) Is it a Reverdins Blue or an Idas Blue? (I have excluded a Silver-studded Blue purely on the grounds that the dark margins of the upperside look very narrow) As you will see from the Species Page, I have dedicated one page to the two species because of the difficulties of accurate identification. If any one can help in this, I would be very grateful. Next up was this Provencal Short-tailed Blue (photo), followed by this beautiful Tiger moth (photo) (I believe it's a Patton's Tiger moth - Hyphoraia testudinaria) and this Small Blue (photo) When I got back home, I found that the chrysalis that I had reared from a caterpillar, found on a broccoli plant, had hatched - an Angle Shades (photo). I had high hopes of  something less familiar, but no!
24th: A trip slightly further afield mainly in search of Violet Fritillaries (which I didn't find). Instead, in a grassy meadow (photo) I found this Knapweed Fritillary (photo), one of 2 or 3 flying continuously backwards and forwards, making it (them) very difficult to follow, let alone photograph! I am pretty sure about the ID of the first photo, but less sure about this one (photo), having no opportunity to get a photo of the underside.
27th: A short walk near home, giving me the chance to get some shots of my first Adonis Blue of the year (photo) and this common Blue (photo), which was flying nearby. I believe this is my first photo of the year (not the first sighting, though) of a male Wall Brown (photo).
30th: A generally overcast and showery day, but in the hour or so of intermittent sunshine I drove up to 600m to get a photo of this single Green-underside Blue (photo) which was on the wing. I just got back to the car before it started pouring.
2nd: Despite being out of lockdown and the weather being beautiful, I have had very little time this week to go walking. However, on Sunday afternoon, I managed to get out for 30 minutes and walked up a hillside path not far from my house (photo of view from the path). After coming across this Painted Lady on the stony track (poor photo), my attention was attracted by this Spotted Fritillary with its wings in a very unusual position (photo). I immediately suspected that something was wrong and investigated, only to discover this amazingly camouflaged crab spider (photo) which had been gripping the butterfly tightly. The spider had obviously had a very successful day because there was not just one lifeless Spotted Fritillary there but another one lying just underneath the flower.
8th: Having to drive to Padova in the morning gave me the opportunity to do some butterfly hunting in the early afternoon around the Colli Euganei and the Colli Berici (photo). I was looking particularly for Weaver's Fritillaries, but even stopping to look in 4 or 5 likely areas, including one meadow where they were present 3 years ago, I found none. It's likely that the first generation has been and gone already. What I did see were scores of Knapweed Fritillaries (here is a photo of two of them), some fresh-looking Spotted Fritillaries (photo of a female here), my first Large Skipper of the year (photo) and two or three Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries (photo) (photo) - also new for the year. On my way back passing through some woods on the mountains, I stopped again for a few minutes to stretch my legs and heard a rustling sound on the ground nearby. I looked towards where the sound was coming from and saw this lovely mouse (photo). All in all, a very nice day out and a welcome change from my enforced local excursions.
10th - 25th: Most of this month, at least up to now, has generally been wet, windy and cold. Even when the sun has come out in the morning the day has finished with showers and cold winds. Consequently, I haven't attempted to go up to altitude to search for the species that usually come out at this time of year yet because I am sure it will be too early, the (fresh) snow having only just melted in many places. The month has, therefore, been relatively uneventful with regard to butterfly hunting.
15th: Here is my first Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) (photo) of the year, taken late afternoon on my local hill after a rainstorm. Here is a Green-underside Blue (Glaucopsyche alexis) (photo) with a torn wing showing both underside and upperside colouring and here is a male Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma) (photo), again showing parts of upperside and underside.
18th:  A few of photos of the same butterfly showing the underside (photo)(photo) and the upperside (photo) taken not far from my house. I.D.? Is it an Idas Blue (Plebejus idas) or Reverdins Blue (Plebejus argyrognomon). I think I can exclude a Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus), because of the narrow dark margins on the upperside, but please correct me if I a  wrong.
22nd:  A  lunch-time walk in the same place as one week ago with a larger number of species spotted this time. Here are 3 photos of Silver-studded Blues (Plebejus argus) (photo, photo, and one of a mating couple: photo), this time all with clear wide upperside dark margins, a Berger's Clouded yellow (Colias alfacariensis) (photo) and a freshly-hatched Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia) (photo).
23rd: A visit to a castle in the early morning (photo), followed by a short (breezy but mainly sunny) walk up the valley at the back of the castle. Lots of Orange Tips (Anthocharis cardomines) and Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni) on the wing today (photo of female Brimstone), a few Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries (Clossiana euphrosyne) and also one or two Red-underwing Skippers (Spialia sertorius) (photo), new for the year. On the way back to the car we came across this snake (photo) (Colubro lacertino??) which was in the process of swallowing a mouse. Unfortunately, our presence disturbed the snake and, in an effort to hide itself, it regurgitated the dead mouse before slipping away through a stone wall. We felt sorry for both the snake, having lost its lunch, and the mouse (which was already dead).
29th:  Today I walked up to 1,680 m on the mountain at the back of our village to see if there were any De Prunner's Ringlets on the wing. There were, but unforutunately none stopped near enough the path to be able to get any photographs. These are two views of the route up just before the clouds rolled in and it got cold (photo)(photo). Butterfly sightings were only Duke of Burgundy, Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, Common Blue, Large/Northern Wall Brown, Orange Tip, Brimstone and De Prunner's Ringlet. Sorry about the lack of photos,
1st:  Another fairly strenuous walk today (a 700 m climb) up to the summit of Monte Finonchio, stopping for a while in the lower meadows (photo) to look in the usual sites for Geranium Arguses (photo), Heath Fritillaries (photo) and Woodland Ringlets (photo). I might as well have saved myself the extra effort of getting to the top, because everything is very late this year and there was virtually nothing flying at all  in the higher meadows at 1,600m. 
2nd:  Much nearer home, I was pleased to find a female Iolas Blue on the same bush where I discovered 4 or 5 butterflies last year. Here are 2 photos showing the underside (photo) and upperside (photo). I will investigate again in a few days' time. In the meantime, here is a Sooty Copper (photo), photographed in this meadow (photo).
6th: At last, butterflies are out in numbers with 7 new species for the year:  Pearly Heaths (photo), Marbled Fritillaries (photo), High Brown Fritillaries (photo), one Silver-washed Fritillary,  Meadow Browns, Twin-spot Fritillaries (photo, photo) and some Black-veined Whites (photo). Here is a photo of one of the other species flying today - a Safflower Skipper (Pyrgus carthami)(photo)

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