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EXCURSION NOTES 2024  (including many photos) - Scroll down

 
For a complete list of species seen and identified by me this year, click on:Year List 2024
For previous Excursion Notes (with photos) click on year:2023
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For previous Year Lists click on year:    
2023
2022
2021
20202019201820172016201520142013
 
 Excursion Notes 2024
January
1st - 4th:  Again a very mild start to the year in Trentino, north Italy, with night-time and day-time temperatures well above the average. On my short afternoon walk up my local hill, however, no sightings of any butterflies.
5th: The weather is changing. Some snow has arrived, although it turned to rain later in the day. Much colder, though.
8th: The only remaining snow around my village seems to be just on the tops of the mountains. However, night-time temperatures are now down below freezing and it's quite cold during the day. No sign of any butterflies.
25th: A couple of nights with little or no frost  and one or two days of warmer temperatures tempted me to abandon my cold-weather inside activities and get out for a walk in the sun (despite having a really bad back, due to lifting a wardrobe!) Sure enough, the sunshine has brought out the first butterflies of the season - three Red Admirals in different, but nearby locations. Here is the first (photo) with the location (photo) and here is the second (photo) and its location (photo, photo) Notice the dry terrain and the very little snow left on the mountain-tops!
Here is a view  looking across the valley (photo) from where I saw the third Red Admiral. I have no photo of the butterfly as it soared off as I approached. I am  also adding a photo of the Persimon tree (here)(bottom right, just next to the house) near to where I spotted the first butterfly of 2023 (see excursion notes 2023) - much earlier last year, but quite close to the three locations photographed this year.
February
5th: A beautiful sunny day, so I went for a walk with my wife to Monte Creino, just a 35-minute drive from where I live (photo of view) Altough there were still a few patches of snow in the shady areas left over from nearly a month ago, I was amazed at the ridiculously high temperature of 22° C - too hot to even wear a jacket walking!! Unsurprisingly there were a handful of butterflies about; a couple of Small Tortoiseshells, a Red Admiral (photo) in this very sheltered area between the trees (photo) and Large Tortoiseshell gliding around between these war trenches (photo) and the the cliff edge (photo) (unfortuneìately no photographs of the Small or Large Tortoiseshells were possible).
15th: Event!!! Last weekend it rained for two days - light gentle rain admittedly, but at least the parched earth got some much-needed moisture (and there was a bit of snow on the mountain tops. Today, four days later and following three days of warm sunny weather, I went for a short walk on the hill near my home and spotted 12 butterflies - 2 Red Admirals, 2 Commas (one here), a Small White (photo), a Green-veined White, I believe, 2 Small Toroiseshells (one here) and 4 Large Tortoiseshells (photo, photo). Apologies about the quality of the photos.
19th-29th: A 10-day trip with my wife to Morocco - the first time for me outside of Europe! Fes and Marrakech were our main stopping points but we also went on a 3-day excursion into the desert not far from the Algerian border. Most of the butterflies I saw were just north-west of Fes at Volubilis (photo, photo), an important Roman archeological site, where I spent more time trying to photograph butterflies than showing interest in the Roman ruins. There were lots of species that I had only read about and never seen before. Here is a Green-striped White (photo), a Western Dappled White (photo), a Spanish Festoon (photo), a Moroccan Hairstreak (photo) and a Provence Hairstreak (photo). I also came across a False Baton Blue, which you may just be able to make out in the centre of this photo. In Fes itself in a park not far from the centre I was pleased to find, and later identify, several African Grass Blues (photo, photo). Although there was so much to see in Fes, I couldn't let the few days pass without climbing the local mountain, Jleb Zalagh (901m asl), about 13km away - the only problem being how to get there and back quickly (photo from the roof-top terrace of our guest house). The best solution was given by our guest-house host, who offered me a lift on the back of his motorbike, which, with some trepidation, I accepted. No problems (apart from the chaotic traffic and the bumps in the roads!) I then spent an extremely pleasant three hours on the mountain in the warm sunshine, enjoying the view (photo, photo, photo) taking a few photographs of butterflies and eventually managing to return by getting a lift with a very kind local resident. The butterflies I saw included Mallow Skippers (photo), Swallowtails (photo), Long-tailed Blues (photo), several Greenish Black-tips, which were extremely difficult to get close to for a photograph, a Moroccan Orange-Tip (photo) and this Hoopoe bird (photo). Marrakech and its much drier surroundings didn't offer as many opportunites for butterfly-hunting and our last-minute decision to go on a 3-trip to the desert took us to higher altitudes in the Atlas mountains, where there didn't seem to be much flying, and to cold, windy conditions in the desert itself. 90 minutes riding a dromedary in an icy gale (together wih a mini sandstorm) at 2°C without a coat was not the most enjoyable experience for me (photo). Luckily, on the way back at one of the stopping places, there were a few butterflies flying around some freshly-watered plants. Here is a Greenish Black-tip (photo), a Bath White (photo), and a Crimson Speckled moth (Utetheisa pulchella) (photo). Despite some of my negative comments - a great trip!
March
1st -13th: While we have been away, it has rained a lot! (Thank goodness!) There is also a fair amount of snow of the mountain tops and the weather is decidedly cool. Here are a few shots of local butterflies: Eastern Bath White (photo), a Green Hairstreak (photo), a Mallow Skipper (photo), a Green-veined White (photo), a long-range shot of a Nettle-tree butterfly, which just wouldn't come down from the tree (photo) and a Brimstone (photo). Here are a couple of the locations not far from home (photo), (photo).
16th - 21st: We have been spending a few days in Lazio - an 8-hour drive south from where we live and during my excursions I managed to see and photograph a number of species that were not flying up in Trentino. My first trip on the 19th was to a woodland area very near the coast (photo) and during a very enjoyable walk, I saw the following: a Large White (photo), a Speckled Wood (photo), a Small Copper (photo), a Holly Blue (photo)(photo), many Cleopatras (photo)(photo) as well as other species already seen this year. My second excursion on the 20th was up in the hills a little further south (photo) and before the weather turned cold, cloudy and windy, I came across a slow-flying, small, white butterfly with black tips to its wings. At first I though it was a Wood White, but its wings were the wrong shape. Only on closer inspection did I realise it was a male Mountain Small White (photo). Here, I believe, is a female (photo). And ...on the way back from the hills, here is a photo of a Queen of Spain Fritillary (photo) and a rather worn Clouded Yellow (photo).
30th: Still in Lazio! One of the aims of my earlier excursions into the lower Lazio hills and woods (19th and 20th) was to find the Eastern Dappled White (Euchloe ausonia), but, as is often the case when I am looking for a specific species, I wasn't successful. Ten days later, in an area where I wasn't expecting to find the species, I did .... but I didn't recognise it! That day I was finishing another walk in the hills, generally admiring the countryside (photo)(photo) and especially the many Orange Tips which were flying on that day. A female Orange Tip attracted my attention and I took a photo of it (photo). At the same time two other butterflies came fluttering along and settled on the flowers. I just gave a quick glance, assuming from the similar colours on the underside that they were other Orange Tips, took a couple of photos of one of them (photo) and made my way home. Without examining the photos I recorded the sighting on I-naturalist that evening, but was slightly ashamed the next day when my ID of the butterfly was corrected to Euchloe ausonia - the butterfly I had spent several hours trying to track down. The next day - the 31st -, I didn't have time to go out again until late afternoon, but did find another example (photo)(photo) along
a quiet country road with vineyards and olive trees alongside (photo).A pity that it was quite late and the sun was going down and the butterfly would not open its wings for a photo of its upperside. I believe the plant it was resting on and previously feeding on is Biscutella laevigata (please correct me if I am wrong).
April
2nd-4th: Back in Trentino, north Italy, the spring/summer seems to have arrived very early and with the abnormally high temperatures, numerous species of butterflies are now on the wing. Here is a Short-tailed Blue (photo), a Brown Argus (photo), a Small Copper (photo), an Orange Tip (photo) and a Comma (photo). Better photos of other species later in the month.
11th: Well... forget the previous comment about the weather! Rain and snow on the mountains for the last couple of nights thwarted my attempts to drive over the mountains into the neighbouring region: Veneto, where I wanted to photograph the Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena), recorded there a few days ago. The four mountain passes that I tried to cross were closed respectively because of
serious landslides, rocks on the road or uncleared snow (2). Not wanting to drive another 180+ km via the motorway (instead of the planned 62km), I settled for butterfly-hunting in a fairly local, but new-to-me, location. Here are two views of the place (photo)(photo); the second one with the flowers on the left was the spot which most of the following species visited during my two highly-productive hours or so there: I have reasonable photos of Swallowtail (photo), Scarce Swallowtail (photo), Dingy Skipper (photo), Orange Tip (photo), Peacock (photo), Comma (photo), Brimstone (photo), a Green-veined White (photo), a pair of Holly Blues (photo) taking salts from the ground, and a Tau  Emperor moth (photo) among several other species present. One of the new species for the year was a fresh Pearl-Bordered Fritillary, which made a quick appearance, but didn't stop long enough for me to take a photo.
14th: A quick trip to a location already visited earlier in 2024 (photo) and 4 new species for the year: a Small Blue (photo), a Chequered Blue (photo), a Southern Grizzled Skipper (photo) and a Provençal Short-tailed Blue (photo). Other butterflies on the wing included this very worn Mallow Skipper (photo) and this Southern Swallowtail (photo).
19th: It's always a pleasure when I come to Croatia to see butterflies that I don't usually get to see in the north of Italy and on arrival I took advantage  immediately of the good weather  and went for a walk along the River Sava in Zagreb (photo). No problem that I didn't get to see the Southern Festoon in Veneto a week ago becasue I quickly came across 3 or 4 of them in the riverside meadows (photo). As in previous years, I also found a few Weaver's Fritillaries (photo), several very fresh-looking Knapweed Fritillaries (photo) and a difficult-to-photograph Map butterfly, resting/feeding in an awkward position on this blossom (photo). Of the other 15 or so species that I saw, first for the year apart, from the four previously mentioned, was this Large Skipper (photo). Also of interest was this nest of Small Eggar Moth caterpillars (photo)(photo) and this moth (photo).
29th-30th: Croatia has a variety of habitats from the temperate north and east with its forests and wetlands to the hotter, drier area of Dalmatia to the south of the Velebit mountain range
, which acts as the divide between the two areas. I managed a two-day trip to the southern part of Velebit and just beyond, and what a difference I found in the quantity and variety of butterflies on the wing! My first objective was to find and photograph the Dalmatian Ringlet (Proterebia afra) on the mounatin (photo). In five minutes I had seen one. Getting good photographs, however, was a different matter! At first it was cool and a little windy and when the very few butterflies that I saw settled between their long flights, they kept their wings firmly closed (photo). Here is one with its wings open but in a very unnatural position (photo). I did apologise profusely to the butterfly for my intrusive photo-shot and I let it fly off unharmed a few seconds later. Flying nearby were numerous Marsh Fritillaries (photo) (photo). Descending the mountain  where the rise in temperature was very noticeable, I spent several hours alongside the beautiful Krupa and Zyrmanja rivers (photo, photo, photo, photo), where I came across scores of skippers - mostly Southern Grizzled Skippers and Oberthur's Grizzled Skippers but with the occasional Mallow Skipper and, what I believe is, a Tufted Marbled Skipper  (photo). On the other side of the waterfalls in river photo 2 (photo), there was a grassy track and several flowery meadows, and a fleeting morning visit by this single Yellow-banded Skipper (photo) was a wonderful surprise for me (my first sighting of this species). Scarce Swallowtails were plentiful, often puddling together with Swallowtails (P.machaon) (photo) and the many Skippers. Also new for the year was an Eastern Baton Blue, a Glanville Friutillary and this Southern White Admiral (photo). Although I arrived back in Zagreb tired and still sweaty from my long walks in the 30°C temperatures,  it had been a thoroughly successful and satisfying couple of days.
May
9th: A trip away from my home area brought one new species that I have been waiting to find for a long time: a Yellow-banded  Skipper (pyrgus sidae)(photo). The location was Montalto Pavese in Lombardy, where there is a butterfly walk dedicated to this and other species. On the windy, exposed hill-crest (photo), despite walking up and down for four hours (photo), I only found one example, which I had to catch in the net to confirm identification (photo) and which was not as fresh-looking as the one I found 10 days ago in Croatia, but I had a great time searching and photographing other species. Here is a Western Dappled White (Echloe crameri) (photo) - a butterfly which I managed to see in Morocco earlier this year - or is it an Eastern Dappled White (Echloe ausonia), which is apparently identical and can also be found in the area. Here is another photo. Other new species for the year were this  Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)(photo) and this Large Wall Brown (Lasiommata maera)(photo). A couple of Scarce Swallowtails and a single Swallowtail were hill-topping, as they often do (photo, photo).
11th: Back to my local hill and the grassy, flowery meadows there (photo). Here are a few photos of butterflies and moths seen flying over the last few days: Southern Grizzlded Skipper (photo), Orange Tip (photo), Berger's Clouded Yellow (photo), Green-underside Blue (photo), female Wall Brown (photo), Wood White (photo), Sooty Copper (photo), Glanville Fritillary (photo), Adonis Blue (photo), a male and female Lime Hawkmoth mating (photo) and later settled on a tree (photo) and these Pygmy moths mating (Thyris fenestrella) (photo).
12th: Today was a great day out butterfly-hunting with Silvio, who I thank for taking me to a location near Verona where I saw Osiris Blues (Cupido osiris) for the first time. It is a butterfly which I thought was much smaller than it actually is and very different on the underside from its cousin, the Small Blue (Cupido minimus). Here is a male (photo, photo)) and here is a female (photo) and here is the meadow where several of them were flying (photo). We also found what we both think are Knickerl's Fritillaries (Melitaea aurelia) (photo) and one example today of a Chapman's Blue (polyommatus thersites)(photo). In all we must have seen over 15 species of butterfly, including these Spotted Fritillaries (Melitaea didyma): (photo) of male and (photo) of female, this Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe)(photo), this Oberthur's Skipper (Pyrgus amoricanus)(photo), this Black-veined moth (Siona lineata)(photo), this White Plume moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla) (photo), this Burnet Moth (photo) and these Emperor moth caterpillars (photo).
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