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EXCURSION NOTES 2023  (including many photos) - Scroll down

 
For a complete list of species seen and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2023
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos) click on year:2022
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For previous Year Lists click on year:    
2022
2021
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 Excursion Notes 2023
January
1st:  A very mild start to the year in Trentino, north Italy, with night-time and day-time temperatures above the average.
7th: And ..... consequently ..... an earlier start than last year with regard to butterfly sightings; today I went out in the sunshine around lunchtime for my first real walk on the hill above the village where I live. At a particularly sunny spot (photo)(photo), a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) flew past me and disappeared over a nearby building. I went to look and I found it sunning itself on the side of a stone water container (photo) (photo). Looking around for some early flowers, rotting fruit or damp earth and not seeing any, I asked myself where its food supply was. A look on the other side of the building, explained why the butterfly was at this particular location - a tree full of juicy persimmons, some of them already ripe and split open (photo). Here is another shot of the butterfly resting on the vineyard terrace walls (photo), just a metre or two from the tree.
8th: Moderate snowfalls on the mountains down to around 1,500m.
10th: A couple of days later, as you can see on this photo, the mild daytime weather has melted a lot of the snow on the mountain at the back of my village and the snowline is now not much below the highest peak (2,054m). However, down at 320m asl, in the warm sunshine, I saw my second Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) of the year in this spot (photo) No photo because the butterfly zoomed past me and flew off into the distance. Instead, here is a picture of a tree along the road (photo), interesting because of the Pine Processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) caterpillar nests on it,. This particular tree, although small, had three of the white silken tents on its branches, inside of which the caterpillars continue to eat and develop until early spring. Here are photos of them (photo)(photo)(photo) Many of the pine trees in the area have these nests on them.
Mid-month: Cold weather and snowfalls on the hills and mountains in the area, but not as much as in other parts of Italy. However, the snow soon disappeared with the return of warmer daytime weather, leaving only the higher mountains with their snow-capped peaks (photo).
28th: Today I disturbed another Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), which was sunning itself in this sheltered part of the local vineyards (photo).
February
4th: A very warm day with temperatures up to a ridiculous 19C brought quite a few butterflies out. Here are two shots of a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) (photo, photo), one of two that I saw in the space of 10 minutes,  I didn't get the opportunity to take a photo of the Peacock butterfly (Nymphalis io) that sailed past me before disappearing or of the 3 Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) that I disturbed on various parts of my walk, but here is a photo of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum) that conveniently settled on a stone wall near me (photo).
13th: The current period of dry, warm and sunny, daytime weather continues and, along with it, the number of butterflies on the wing increases. Apart from the usual Red Admirals, today was the turn of Small Tortoiseshells. I spotted 4 or 5 in different places on a short walk on my local hill, all of which were sunning themselves in the vicinity of stone walls, presumably because of the warmer, sheltered position. Here is one (photo) with the location (photo), and here is another (photo) with its location (photo).Yes ..... there are a lot of dry stone walls forming the terracing for the vineyards in my area! I almost forgot ... a white butterfly was flying in the distance - not sure whether it was a Green-veined White (Pieris napi) or Small White (Pieris rapae) so I haven't recorded it in the Year List.
14th: A longer walk today with a friend. Count for our 3-hour walk: 3 Red Admirals, 5 Large Tortoiseshells and 8 Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae)..... and this caterpillar (photo). (ID anyone...?) Here is a picture of the view about an hour into our walk (photo) - still no rain or snow, which explains the dry earth and vegetation and virtually snow-free mountain tops - and here is one taken later looking in the other direction (photo).
19th: I do consider myself extremely lucky to be able to go out for short walks near my house and have magnificent butterflies gliding and flitting around me - especially in late winter, like today. This afternnon, when the sun more-or-less came out after a very misty/hazy morning, I disturbed 2 magnificent Large Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis polychloros) a few hundred metres from my home. Here is one:(photo). Nearby a few minutes later, I saw my first Clouded Yellow of the year - a female - the helice form. (photo). It was lucky that the one of the hindwings was slightly torn, revealing the white spots on the upperside. Otherwise because of its pale whitish-yellow colour, I would have had difficulty separating it from  Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis).There were also 2 or 3 Small Tortoiseshells flying around a little way up the hill.
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