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EXCURSION NOTES 2022  (including many photos) - Scroll down

 
For a complete list of species seen and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2022
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos) click on year:2021
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For previous Year Lists click on year:2021
20202019201820172016201520142013
 
 Excursion Notes 2022
January
So, the first butterfly that I saw this year in January was a ................. wait for it ........ Sorry, I didn't see any! A little surprising, considering that nearly every day this month has been bright and sunny with daytime temperatures sometimes getting up to 10C and the fact that I have managed to get out for lunchtime walks every day since the 20th of the month. The reason has almost definitely been the consistently low night-time temperatures, ranging from -6C to -2C, but never getting above freezing, conditions which clearly are not condusive to cold-blooded butterflies leaving their winter shelters. The month has also been incredibly dry, as was December (one day of snow on the 5th), with only a little rain/snow occuring on the 8th of this month. Here are a couple of photos of the local scenery - the first two (photo) (photo), taken on 10th January at 1,200m asl looking over and down at the valley and the third one showing the little snow still present on the shady parts of the track (photo) at 1,250m asl. Here is a photo taken one day later down in the valley about 200m from where I live (photo). Notice the dry earth and vegetation, lack of snow on the mountains and clear blue sky!
The only interesting thing related to butterflies this month were these Large White caterpillars (photo), feeding on a red cabbage in a local farmer's vegetable garden..
February
3rd: Here we go! A couple of warmer nights (0C and 2C) and continued mild, dry, sunny days  (max temp today 14C!) brought out a couple of butterflies on my local hill - a Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) and a Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta). (Unfortunately, both butterflies zoomed past me and didn't give me any chance to get a photo. Given the mild conditions, I would have expected to see more out by now, but I'm wondering if the lack of rain/moisture has anything to do with re-emergence from hibernation. (?) Still, I suppose it is still early in the year. (Sorry - a boring post with no photos!)
17th - 18th: The first Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) of the year (photo) seen by the side of the vineyard just a couple of hundred metres from my house, followed, one day later, by a Green-veined White (Pieris napi) in the same place. This location, where the elderly local farmer has 4 or 5 rows of grapevines, plus a small raised area where there are currently some red cabbages, a freshly-sown seed-bed and some wilder vegetation, is particularly well-sheltered by a south-facing rock face and consequently attractive to early butterflies. This explains my frequent visits there in February and March. Here is a photo of a Small White caterpillar (Pieris rapae) on one of the red cabbages (photo).
20th-27th: In the last 7 days or so, the weather has continued to be dry, sunny and fairly warm during the day and I have seen 4 or 5 Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni), 6 or 7 Small Tortoseshells (Aglais urticae), a few whites of some kind and 1 or 2 Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta). The location for most of these was the beautiful Lago d'Idro on the border between Trentino and Lombardy (photo, photo). Here is also a photo of Lake Garda, which we stopped at on the way home (photo).
28th: Today a two-hour walk on my local hill brought definite sightings of 4 new butterflies for the year, the first a Small White (Pieris rapae) (photo), then a Nettle-Tree butterfly (Libythea celtis) (photo), as usual high up on the tree branches,  then an extremely small Queen of Spain Fritillary  (Issoria lathonia) (photo) and finally a couple of Large Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis polychloros). Here are two photos of the most "sociable" of the two (photo, photo). Also of interest was this Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), which actually stopped and settled not far from me (!!) (a poor photo, but worth including because of the wings being open) and this beetle (photo).
March
3rd: Today, while my wife was shopping in our closest IKEA store (in Brescia in Lombardy), I took the opportunity to go for a walk in some nearby woods. It was still quite early and therefore fairly coolish, but the sunshine coaxed out a female Holly Blue (Celestrina argiolus)(photo), my first of the year, and a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) (photo). The former had been attracted to this patch of flowers alonside a driveway (photo) and the latter to a meadow which had had manure spread all over it just a few minutes before. The smell was very strong and evident over a wide area! This is a view of the area (photo).
12th-26th: Finally after 6 years, I have managed to spend a couple of weeks in England. A nice expereience to breathe the mild, damp air and see so many green fields and garden flowers in bloom after the cold/hot dry weather that we have had here in Italy since the beginning of December. Butterflies ....... I only saw one Peackock butterfly in Gloucestershire even though I spent a lot of time outside, but numerous commas (photo) and Peacocks in a country park in north London (photo of part of Trent Park).
27th: Back in Italy a 3-hour local walk on a beautiful sunny afternoon produced sightings of no less than nine new species for the year. First up just a 100m from our house were a couple of Wood Whites (photo), followed almost immediately by a Chequered Blue (photo), a Mallow Skipper (photo) and a Small Copper (photo). Walking up the hill, a Wall Brown appeared, then a Scarce Swallowtail, then a Dingy Skipper which kept darting along the track I was on without stopping. I had to be patient for several minutes before I eventually recognised it as a Dingy Skipper and got a photo. Notice again the dryness of the terrain after almost 3 months of no precipitation (photo of the track). Higher up there weren't many butterflies around, except for this lovely Comma (photo), which posed nicely for me.
31st: Two more new butterflies for the year just close to my house - a Small Heath and this Eastern Bath White (photo).On returning home, I found this Herald moth (photo) sitting on the wall.
April
1st-2nd: Finally 2 days of much-needed rain (and snow on the mountains) bringiung much cooler weather!
5th: Three days later the sun was out again and I went for a walk at the bottom of a local valley. Here is a view with a beautiful cherry tree in blossom (photo) and here is the panorama looking back towards th e main valley (photo). These two Brimstones were courting just nearby (photo) and this Green Hairstreak (photo) was on a bush not far away. Lots of Orange Tips were also on the wing.
7th: 200 metres from our house in the (by now, famous) vineyard was good for butterflky photos today. Here is a Chequered Blue (photo), a Provencal Short-tailed Blue (photo), an Adonis Blue (photo) and a Scarce Swallowtail (photo). I'll include two photos here, taken in the same vineyard but 7 days later - a female Adonis Blue (not a Common Blue I believe) with lots of blue colouring (photo) and a Queen of Spain Fritillary (photo).
8th: Whenever I write in these excursion notes about going to a particular place especially to find a certain species, I am invariably unsuccessful, so I didn't write anything on the 5th or, initially, on the 8th when I paid visits to valleys with streams to look for Camberwell Beauties. On this second visit (photo), after a not-very-successful 2-hour search, just before going back to my car I walked down to the stream at a different point and disturbed a dark butterfly which, when it circled above me, was unmistakably a Camberwell Beauty! Great! Butterfly recorded! However, it flew off and, despite walking up and down the stream, I didn't see it again, so no photo opportunities. Seven days later (the 15th) I returned to the stream - a footpath along the other side this time - and struck lucky! It is always a great pleasure to have a close encounter with such a magnificent butterfly. Here we are: photo, photo, photo.
18th-25th: I am visiting family in Zagreb for a few days. Unfortunately the weather has turned cold and windy with some rain almost every day, so the butterfly species that I expected to see here have been difficult to find. In fact, for the first 5 days despite frequent looking in favourable places, I only spotted one butterfly - a Small White! On the 23rd with slightly improved weather I was pleased to come across a couple of Weaver's Fritillaries (photo upperside, photo underside), a Short-tailed Blue (photo) and this Oak Eggar caterpillar (photo) but disappointed that nothing else seemed to be flying. Finally some warm sunny weather on my final day and a 3-hour walk along the river (view) brought out a couple of Southern Festoons (photo upperside, photo underside), numerous Map butterflies (orange spring form) (photo upperside, photo underside) a Scarce Swallowtail, a Large White, several Small Whites (photo) and Wood Whites (photo here from the day before), Brimstones, Small Heaths, Wall Browns and Peacocks (photo), some more Short tailed Blues, a Small Copper, some Dingy Skippers and Grizzled Skippers and some Speckled Woods. Here is a photo of the nearby "Fishermen's Lakes", where some of the species listed above were seen.
May
10th: A day on my local hill with Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Glanville Frillaries, Checquered, Small, Adonis and Green-underside Blues, Orange Tips and a single Nettle Tree Butterfly.
14th : First days of a period spent in the southern part of Lazio. Here is a view of the hill which I climbed several times (photo) and my fisrt photos this year of a Black-veined White (photo) and a Red-underwing Skipper (photo). Sorry about the poor quality image.
27th: Italian Marbled Whites are now out and about (photo)!
June
4th: A trip inland to the foothills of the Appenines brought sightings of Southern White Admirals, Lulworth Skippers (photo)(I saw 20 plus), Large Chequered Skippers (photo), Ilex Hairstreaks, an Eastern Bath White and a Violet Fritillary (photo). Here is the lane with the bushes where most of the butterflies were (photo). One particular bar/restaurant in the middle of the countryside where we stopped for a drink had a fine water spray on the roof near the door to cool the air. This had moistened the ground just outside the door and was a major attraction for local species. Here is a Large Tortoiseshell  which spent over an hour there (photo). There was also a Nettle-tree butterfly, a Comma, a Large Wall Brown and what I believe is a Silver-studded Blue (photo).
5th: Here is another shot of an Italian Marbled White (photo) There are now lots of them on the wing along with Black-veined Whites and Cleopatras (photo).
12th-14th: Travelling back from southern Lazio, we stopped in the very centre of Italy, where the hills and mountains are still wild and unspoilt. 2 nights in Borbona, in the Province of Rieti, gave me the opportunity to spend an hour or so in the local meadows, which were full of butterflies. Unfortunately, it was hot and most species were very active so photographing them was not easy. Hist is a list of those identified: Large White and what I believe is a Mountain Small White (photo), Clouded Yellow, Black-veined White, Ilex Hairstreak (photo), Green Hairstreak, Red Admitral, Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Southern White Admiral, Spotted Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary, Silver-washed Fritillary, Marbled Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary Common Blue, Adonis Blue, Silver-studded Blue, Amanda's Blue, Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Large Wall Brown, Large Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Mallow Skipper, Grizzled Skipper. Slighlty higher up from the village (photo of the area) was this Large Blue (photo) and this pair of Berger's Clouded Yellow (photo).
14th-16th: We drove on through the earthquake-hit area of Amatrice (2016) to reach a campsite at the foot on Monte Vettore (part of the Monti Sibillini in Le Marche). There at about 1,400m asl, I was very pleased to come across a new species for me - the Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron)! (photo, photo, photo of underside). Here is the location (photo). I am always pleased to get up a high hill or mountain, not only because of the great views but also because there seems to be a far greater variety of species flying at altitude. As well as the Purple-shot Copper, there were also several  Purple-edged Coppers (Lycaena hippothoe)(photo) on the wing and slightly lower down (1,300m) Twin-spot Fritillaries (Brenthis hecate) (photo)(the first I have seen outside of Trentino) and  False Heath Fritillaries (Melitaea diamina)(photo, photo) (please confirm my ID on this one because the Tolman Butterfly guide says that the species is absent from peninsular Italy).
19th: Back here in Trentino, I was pleased on my return to still see a couple of male Iolas Blues (Iolanda iolas (one poor photo here) near the Bladder Senna bushes not far from my house. The bush was looking very sorry for itself mainly due to the lack of water and also bccause of the lack of flowers (only 1 or 2 flowers left on theb whole bush). Nearby, the local meadows had already been mown (photo), leaving (luckily) only a few wilder areas where the local butterflies gathered. Here are some of the many Silver-washed Fritillaries that were there (Argynnis paphia) (photo), here is a closer photo of one of them (photo) and here is a Blue-spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini)on a bush nearby (photo). Other butterflies around included White Admirals (Limenitis camilla), High Brown Fritillaries (Argynnis adippe) and Large Whites (Pieris brassicae)
22nd - 30th: Other trips to various locations in my local area brought new sightings for the year of Woodland Browns (Lopinga achine)(photo), Woodland Ringlets (Erebia medusa), a very late and ratherv worn Duke of Burgundy Fritillary (Hamearis lucina) (photo), Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus) (photo), a single old and worn Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne)(photo) and Great Sooty Satyrs (Satyrus ferula)(photo). However, although I went twice to the place where I have seen Poplar Admirals (Limenitis populi) at this time of the year 3 or 4 times, none were to be seen this year. Maybe, they were flying earlier than usual and I missed them.
July
1st-2nd: At last - an opportunity to go up to a higher altitude for a day and a half in a valley that we had never explored before!  Despite cool, cloudy and rainy weather for the first half day, the sun came out late afternoon and shone the following morning, giving me the chance to photograph a few species that were on the wing (photo)[I  probably need to apologise at this stage for the scarsity of recent photographs and the poor quality of some of them. My excuse - I have an injured knee and bending, kneeling  and crawling, which I tend to do a lot of when trying to capture butterflies on camera, has been  nearly impossible!] Having said  that, I enjoyed finding some Scarce Coppers (Lycaena virgureae) (photo), and Sooty Coppers (Lycaena tityrus), some Alpine Blues (Plebejus orbitulus) (photo) and Cranberry Blues (Plebejus optilete), lots of Small Pearl-bordered Friltillaries (Clossiana selene)(photo, photo), some Thor's Fritillaries (Clossiana thore) (photo), some Swiss Brassy Ringlets (Erebia tyndarus), a Lesser Mountain Ringlet (Erebia melampus), an Arran Brown (Erebia ligea) (photo), some Chequered  Skippers (Carterocephalus palaemon)(photo) and Dusky Grizzled Skippers (Pyrgus cacaliae) ((photo), and a single Moorland Clouded Yellow (Colias palaeno).
5th-6th: A lightning visit to Croatia to collect our grandchildren for an extended holiday with us. On the way, I came across a Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe)(photo), what I believe is a Nickerl's Fritillary, (Mellicta aurelia) (photo), a Southern Comma (Polygonia egea), a Cardinal (Argynnis pandora)(photo)  a Hermit (Chazara briseis)(photo) and this lovely Zygaena carniolica (photo) - the first time I have seen this species. Here is a view of the Zrmanja river (photo), one of the places we stopped at.
16th: Monte Baldo and one of my target species for the day was the Ottoman Brassy Ringlet, the Monte Baldo form - Erebia ottomana benecensis. Success (photo). View with my grandson (photo)
18th-21st: A marvellous 3 days with our grandchildren up in my favourite mountain valley - the Val di Rabbi, where temperatures were much more bearable than down in the plain. Despite my painful knee, I still managed to walk up from the campsite (at 1,300m) to over 2,100m asl on one day and 2 days later up to 1,760m. I didn't see the quantity of butterflies this year that I usually see, but nonetheless I found a lot I hoped I would see. Here is a small selection of photos.
25th: In Tuscany. Disaster! I've broken my camera! A freshly-bought, badly-positioned bottle of wine in my rucksack activated my camera, which tried to open, but being blocked by the weight of the bottle, completely ruined the mechanism. Irrepairable, I fear! I will try my luck with my mobile phone for the next few weeks. At the campsite, on some damp grass  - 3 new species for the year  Purple Hairstreaks, Long-tailed Blues and Lang's Short-tailed Blues.

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