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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
For previous Year Lists click on year:2021
 Excursion Notes 2022
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..
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).
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.
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 opportumities. 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.

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