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|EXCURSION NOTES 2021 (including many photos) - Scroll down|
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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)
February5th: 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.
March1st: 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).
April1st : 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.
May2nd: 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).
Note: I have had problems with my computer and have not kept these excursion notes up-to-date recently. I apologise. I will add photos to the notes as soon as possible.
16th: Today was a day of Cleopatras and Two-tailed Pashas. Where? Not in Trentino! We are in Lazio on the coast and I decided to climb to the top of Monte Circeo (541m asl) - something which I last did 10 years ago. Already on parking my car near the beach of Torre Paola, there were a handful of Cleopatras (photo) flying among the dunes but as I made my way slowly up the difficult rocky footpath, they became more and more numerous and I must have seen over 100 adults during my ascent, both males and females, as well as scores of Wall Browns and several Ilex Hairstreaks (photo). (Here is a photo of the view on the way up). But the real pleasure came in finding Two-tailed Pashas flying in exactly the same spot as 10 years previously (photo)- not particulary fresh specimens, as you can see from the photo, but with the same pattern of behaviour as I remembered, frequently coming back to the same branch or leaf (photo) and settling readily on an extended hand without any problems. Further up, the 4 or 5 other adults that I saw were engaged in territorial battles, swooping around the bushes with their wings noisily beating against each other. On the summit (photo looking south-east), there were Swallowtails and Scarce Swallowtails and this single Lulworth Skipper (photo). After the steep descent I took a well-earned swim in the sea.
17th: Still in Lazio and a walk in the hills near Sonnino revealed some Italian Marbled Whites (photo, photo), this Large Wall Brown (photo) and this Small Skipper (photo)
25th: Back in Trentino in the north of Italy. Time to do a quick excursion to a road where I have found Poplar Admirals in this period in previous years. Just before reaching the spot, one flew up from the road surface. I immediately stopped the car, got my camera and watched for several minutes as the butterfly flitted backwards and forwards across the tarmac, resting for just a couple of seconds before taking off again. Unfortunately, several times when it did stop a car or lorry came past and disturbed it. The only shots I got were when it perched on a tree about 4m up from where I was (photo). Also spotted was this Chequered Skipper (photo), this Ringlet (photo) and this Woodland Brown (photo)
25th-27th: Three days in the mountains, not near home this time but in Friuli. In the meadows near the campsite at about 900 m asl there were these small Fritillaries which I am having difficulty in identifying.(photo upperside, photo underside) Are they Assmann's Fritillaries or False Heath Fritillaries, both of which have been recorded in the area, or simply Heath Fritillaries? I am betting that they are M. britomartis because of their rapid wing movement in flight and their straight-line flight path, something which I haven't ever seen with M. diamina or M. athalia. There was also this lovely Arran Brown (with no white eyes in the spots)(photo, photo), this Mazarine Blue (photo) and this White Admiral (photo) - which I was pleased to get a decent photo of. The 2nd day - our hopes of getting to a high altitude easily were dashed when we discovered that the chair lift up the mountain was only open at weekends (and today was Monday!). A 900 metre-climb in temperatures of 30+ degrees was quite tough-going (photo of view on way up) but I was rewarded at about 1800m asl with seeing some Marsh fritillaries (photo), some Alpine Heaths, a single Asian Fritillary (photo), some Apollos (photo), a couple of Alpine Graylings (photo) and lots of Clouded Apollos (photo). I would have liked to have gone the extra 300m up to the mountain top, but it was getting late and had started to cloud over and I had a long way to walk down to the village and then to the camp-site.
JulyI have spent a good part of July in Croatia (but with limited time for looking for butterflies.) However, it's always nice to see species flying commonly that I don't often see in my part of Italy, notably Map Butterflies (photo), Large Chequered Skippers (photo), Large Coppers (photo) and Common Gliders. (photo) (See 2021 Year List for other species not seen earlier this year). As usual, the beauty of the rural Croatian countryside never ceases to amaze me with its hills, lakes, rivers, and spectacular waterfalls. Here are some photos: (photo near Samobor, photo in Maximir park, photo on the Meznica river, photo in Rastoke, photo of the Slunjcica river near Rastoke: On the banks of the last river mentioned, there were hundreds of Blues, obviously feeding on something tasty. Here is one of the groups of them (photo), basically, I believe, consisting of 2 species: Short-tailed Blues and Silver-studded Blues. (Please let me know if you can identify others...) However, the highlight, butterfly-wise, was at the end of the month when I spent a hot day in the meadows bordering a wood near Zagreb (photo) and I came across this female Brown Haistreak (photo). I got a couple of good shots of it as it crawled through the low vegetation, but just as it was about to open its wings fully (photo), a Knapweed Fritillary came along and disturbed it and they both flew off in different directions. Despite spending another 90 minutes scouring the surrounding meadows and bushes (and also returning to the same spot later in the afternoon), I didn't find another Brown Hairstreak. In fact, my efforts to find the species resulted in me missing an opportunity for getting good photos of another species that I have rarely found - the Meleager's Blue. Although I took some photos of the underside (photo), I didn't look carefully at what I was taking and consequently didn't recognise the species there and then (it was obvious when I looked at the photos later on my computer.) I could possibly have got some upperside shots had I been more awake and less focused on T. betulae. However, I enjoyed my few hours of hunting. Here is a photo of one of the several Knapweeds around and one of a Southern White Admiral (photo).
August4th - 10th. My missed opportunities of photographing Meleager's Blue in Croatia have now been forgotten. The reason...? I have seen and photographed the butterfly in Italy. It took several attempts and 3 fairly long walks in the hot sun to get what I wanted but... mission accomplished! I spotted 3 males at the end of a 2km-long track on the side of the hill at the back of the village of Sonnino in Lazio (photo of location) and took a few photos (photo of male underside). However, the butterflies would not open their wings for an upperside shot probably due to the fact that the sun had already been on the path at that point for about 30 minutes . I therefore decided to get up even earlier the next day to see if I could catch the butterflies warming up in first rays of the sun. Success! (photo of male upperside)... but, still not completely satisfied I wanted to see a female. Of course, there were none around! My 3rd attempt was a few days later in the full sun at about 10.30 when it was extremely hot.... and .. yes ... there was one female with its wings more or less open, allowing me to get this photo. Just a few minutes earlier I had had a (fairly) close encounter with a single Cardinal (photo) ... a butterfly which I had never seen in the area before. Double satisfaction!
26th: The extremely hot weather which has lasted for over half of August has now given way to cooler, stormier weather. Finally, I now have the opportunity to do what would have been difficult to do earlier in the month because of the intense heat - head towards the Appenines and climb a mountain (Monte Monna). After a 90-minute drive I arrived at 7am at my starting point of 850m asl in cool, windy conditions (maybe I could have got up later!). I didn't see any butterflies until I had climbed to just over 1000m when there were a few blues (Chalkhill, Common and Adonis) sunning themselves on thistles in a clearing and some Large Wall Browns. After a long hard climb through thick woods, the terrain opened up about 200m from the summit (photo). The first find there was a Ringlet (an Erebia), which I later confirmed as being an Autumn Ringlet (photo), one of the very few Erebia species that are present in central Italy. The only other butterflies flying on this part of the mountain were Chalkhill Blues (photo of a mating pair), of which there were many. As I approached the summit (photo 1,950m asl) the mist was rising from the plains below and it was getting colder and darker. (This is my last photo of the mountains before I was enveloped in clouds.) I ate my sandwich and decided not to wait for any possible improvement in the weather but start my descent. Down again at about 1,100m I started looking closely at any pale underside blue butterflies, hoping to find some Furry Blues in amongst the many Chalkhill Blues. What I did spot was a blue with a pale underside which took to flight when I disturbed it, revealing a darker, Common Blue-like upperside. Luckily it settled and I recognised it from the heart-shaped underside markings as a Turquoise Blue - a totally new species for me. Here is a photo. Unfortunately, being quite cold and damp, I could not persuade it to open its wings to get any upperside photos and it soon flew off.
Returning to my car, I drove a short distance to a stream I had passed earlier to see if there was anything interesting there. Good decision! I came across a butterfly which I personally had only ever seen in Croatia - a Southern Comma (photo, photo). A few minutes later the rain and thunderstorm started! I returned home tired but content.
September4th: Back on the hill in my local area, Trentino (photo), I was pleased to see lots of species still on the wing. The most common was the Scotch Argus, photographed here in this meadow. Here is a photo of another one. Also still fairly fresh-looking was this Dryad butterfly (photo). Sorry not to have got any photos of the other species: it was a warm day and all the butterflies were very active. Instead, here is a photo of a Swallowtail that visited our garden the next day.
12th-14th: Finally a chance to spend two-and-a-half days in the high mountains (around Madonna di Campiglio) and to look for high-altitude species which, given the continuing warm weather, may still be flying.
The first afternoon at about 2000m asl in fairly warm sunshine there were Marbled Ringlets flying by the side of the track where I parked my car (photo). Encouraged by this, I ventured on foot up the valley, hoping to find more butterflies of interest higher up (photo of track). Unfortunately, as I climbed, the clouds got thicker and it got colder and I ended up being disappointed by seeing nothing else. Here is a view from the higher part of the valley (photo). As I was descending (and gradually warming up) I came across this Oak Eggar caterpillar (photo) and just before I got back to my car, the sun came out. This was good timing because at that moment I was walking along a path through some longer grass near a stream (photo) and the location was obviously a sheltering place for several butterfly species. Here is a photo of a Water Ringlet (photo) and what I believe is a Lesser Mountain Ringlet (photo upperside, photo underside)[On re-examination, it is more likely to be an Almond Eyed Ringlet. Thanks to Jason Sargerson for suggesting this to me.] Returning to a lower altitude there was this solitary Dark Green Fritillary nectaring in a meadow (photo).
My wife and I decided to start the second day again at high altituide, this time at the top of the ski slopes on the other side of the main valley, which was more exposed to the sun. Immediately on arrival at 2,400m asl, I went towards the only flowery part of the mountain (photo) and was rewarded by seeing a number of Common Brassy Ringlets flying in the warm sunshine! Great...? No .... it proved very difficult to get any good photos as the butterflies never stopped in one place for more than a few seconds - a common problem for butterfly hunters,! With patience, however, most things are possible. Here is one with its wings open (photo). And here is another with its wings closed (photo), taken just over the ridge about 50m away from the first (photo of view). I should say that the temperature was 20+ degrees C, much hotter than I would have expected at this altitude at this time of the year. After spending 2 or 3 hours there, we descended to a lower altitude (2,100m) as on the previous day and started exploring. Here is a view of the scenery (photo) and one of a sentry marmot (photo). Butterfly-wise, I came across several Dark Green Fritillaries (photo), lots of Common Brassy Ringlets, some Water Ringlets and in one particular area several Scarce Coppers (photo).
The third day we spend 2-3 hours in the beautiful Vallesinella. The scenery was absolutely wonderful (photo, photo), but I found little else of interest in terms of butterflies. ......Wait! Sorry. I had forgotten!!! Driving through the woods into the valley, I spotted a Camberwell Beauty gliding by the side of the car. I immediately stopped, grabbed my camera and approached the spot where I thought the butterfly had landed. It was there, but as I tried to get into a position to take a photo, a van drove past and disturbed it! Despite waiting for a while, it didn't come back.
October4th: A good start to the month, weather-wise, but nothing special in terms of butterflies on the few occasions I had to go looking. Here is one of my favourite local places (photo) and here is a photo of a beetle.
10th: A walk in another area in the main valley (photo) brought only one sighting .... a Red Admiral (photo).
14th: - For most of the rest of the month, I was in Lazio again . (Photo of the path where I went walking). A little disappointing with regard to the number of different species still flying. The most interesting was probably the several fresh-looking Cleopatras on the wing as well as 1 or 2 Southern White Admirals, but, unfortunately, none of them gave me any photo opportunity. The only butterflies I got a photo of were this old-looking Lang's Short-tailed Blue (photo) and this very worn Woodland Grayling (photo) (or is it a Grayling???)
November1st - 11th: It's cold and wet with some snow on the tops of the mountains!
21st: After the bad weather at the start of the month, the last few days have been generally warm and sunny, although it's been nippy early morning (Today: min temp: 5 degrees C, max: 15 degrees C). A surprising number of species were flying at about 1.30 today: Red Admirals, Small Whites, Clouded Yellows, a Wall Brown, this Small Copper (photo) and several Geranium Bronzes. Here are a couple of autumnal photos of the vineyards where I saw the butterflies today and which were the backdrop for many photos of butterflies taken in early spring this year (photo, photo).
27th - 28th: Cold weather and snow - but it didn't quite reach our village on the valley bottom. Here are a couple of photos 5-6 hours after it had stopped snowing and the clouds had started to clear (photo, photo).
29th: Here are some photos taken the day after the snowfalls with the usual vinyard shots but showing a good covereing of white on the nearby mountains (photo, photo, photo)
December1st - 5th: The weather has remained very cold with temperatures getting down to -3° C during the night amd remaining only just above freezing for most of the days. However, today the sun was warm and with the 9°C temperatures I went out for a walk at about 1pm to see if any butterflies had survived the cold spell. Success! 2 Clouded Yellows (photo, photo) and a Small Copper (photo), in exactly the same spot as the one I photographed on 21st November, so probably the same butterfly.
8th - 9th: We have about 15cm of snow on the ground in the valley.
17th: With night-time temperatures consistently below zero and snow still on the ground in the shade at low altitudes, are the butterflies I saw today going to be the last of the season? I wonder...? Three, or was it four, Red Admirals flying together on a small hill, not in my local area, but by the side of the Lago d'Iseo, not far from Brescia. Here is the position (photo, photo) and here is one the Red Admirals (photo), nicely warming itself near a red mark on a rock.