Marseilles South of France 2017

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CFB
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby CFB » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:40 am

Nice Provence Orange-tip photos, Chris. I have been seeing them regularly since March 30, but zero photos :( . I am still waiting for Spanish Festoons to appear. But I did see a Geranium Bronze in the garden yesterday.
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby NickMorgan » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:07 pm

I am really enjoying reading your posts. Great to see the Festoons and Provence Orange Tips.
I can just imagine walking along that track in the warmth. Quite a contrast to the weather here in Scotland today!

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:09 pm

Hi Matsukaze,
I have noticed that when male Orange Tips and Provence Orange Tips patrol together along paths down here, the OTs are not at all interested in Buckler's Mustard, unlike the POTs. You could put your plants out for the OTs, I would be interested in hearing the results. Down here, OTs are mostly interested in host plants such as Arabis sp.
Here, female OT on Arabis sp.:
cardamines26 female La Taurelle 10Apr17.JPG


Hi Essex,
My photo of Western Dappled White laying on Buckler's Mustard on April 9 is not random. In fact I have dug out a photo from exactly the same place (to within a couple of yards) from 2015, on April 18, of crameri laying on the same host plant. I don't know whether the caterpillars are canibalistic, I must do some research and keep my eyes open.
Here, female crameri from 2015, again ovipositing on Buckler's Mustard:
crameri14_13 female St Marcel 18Apr15 (2).JPG

Hi Colin,
I'm sure your Festoons will appear soon. Normally you see them in the South east of France before they get to the Bouches du Rhone.
I have yet to see a Geranium Bronze, but they will no doubt turn up with all the geraniums on my neighbour's balcony. To boost your moral, see below:

Hi Nick,
As regards the weather down here, temperatures are above the norm for the season, and with 23C°+ I got sunburn last week end. To warm you up, up north, here are some recent piccies from the South of France:
Spanish Festoon rising (like the phoenix) from the burnt out scrub:
rumina11  11Apr17 (4a).JPG

This is the scrub recovering from last year's fires:
context rumina11  11Apr17 (1).JPG

Southern Festoon:
polyxena8  07Apr17 (3).JPG

and its caterpillars (4 mm long) on Aristoloche rotonda:
polyxena - caterpillar2 12Apr17 (1a).JPG

here also (5 mm long) on Aristoloche rotonda:
polyxena - caterpillar1 12Apr17 (1a).JPG

Orphys (help please):
Orphrys1 La Taurelle 10Apr17 (2).JPG

In the scrub, on broom (Genista cinerea?), Conehead Mantis (in reality no more than 2 inches tall):
Empusa pennata - Diablotin - Conehead mantis La Taurelle 10Apr17 (1).JPG

Black-veined White cats on Blackthorn:
crataegi caterpillar sur Prunellier La Taurelle 10Apr17.JPG

Black-veined White cats on Wild Pear:
crataegi caterpillar sur Faux poirier - Wild pear La Taurelle 10Apr17.JPG

More to come.
podalirius15  07Apr17 (9).JPG

Cheers, Chris
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby David M » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:00 am

Things look to be recovering well on that patch of yours, Chris. Nice early stage images, particularly the Black Veined Whites. No wonder Kentish orchard owners considered them a pest when they used to inhabit the south of England!

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby CFB » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:34 pm

Chris,

That Southern Festoon is terrific, as are its caterpillars.

I think that the orchids are Early Spider Orchids (Ophrys sphegodes). There's quite a colony of them in the garden.
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Colin

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:02 pm

Hi David,
I have only recently been shown how, when and where to look for Black-veined White caterpillars, and I'm now seeing them everywhere !! :shock:

Thanks for confirmation of the Orchid, Colin. This does seem to be a common orchid in the region. In French: Orphrys araignée, then.
Today I saw my first Geranium Bronze of the year in my garden, hopefully infesting my Noisy neighbour's geraniums :twisted: .

Dingy Skipper is flying in some places:
tages7_83 La Taurelle 10Apr17 (2).JPG


My year list is currently standing at 36, with nothing untoward or out-of-season: :D . Mother nature seems to be in full control.
The weather has been favourable so far; I would say that it is a "good" and "promising" year (fingers crossed). This year there was no end-of-winter cold snap and there is no mid-Spring retrograde weather forecast. La vie est belle for the moment.
Chris
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:45 pm

Hi Folks,
On my patch in the South of France we are reaching the very end of the Provence Hairstreak flight period. The last faded individual remaining:
ballus22  15Apr17 (1).JPG

Its host plant for this site - Dorycnium hirsutum:
Bonjanie hirsute  15Apr17 (1).JPG

Elsewhere, Blue lily grass is in flower:
Blue lily grass St Marcel 15Apr17.JPG

Here, an Orange Tip egg on Arabis sp.:
cardamines - ovum sur Arabis sp. St Marcel 15Apr17 (1).JPG

I surprised a dragonfly munching on something. Help with dragonfly ID would be welcome:
Libelule1 St Marcel 15Apr17 (5).JPG

Libelule1 St Marcel 15Apr17 (1).JPG

Also, many whispy-antenna bugs were hanging around Buckler's Mustard. Any idea on ID ?:
whispy antennae bug St Marcel 15Apr17.JPG

If my time-line is correct, I should not be far off seeing Marsh Frit - you will be the first to know !!
Cheers,
Chris
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby essexbuzzard » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:07 pm

Hi Chris, you dragonfly looks like a Club Tailed dragonfly. In GB, it is a very localised species, found along the Thames, but it may be more common in the south of France!

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby bugboy » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:03 pm

And the 'bug' is a micro moth, one of the Longhorn moths Adelidae, probably a Nemophora sp.
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby David M » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:21 pm

It's amazing how a butterfly's adult life cycle for the year can be over by mid-April.

That's one of the reasons why Provence Hairstreak is so unique. Is there any other European species that has such an unusual flight period?

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:21 pm

Hi Essex,
I've had a local second opinion which also indicates Yellow Club-tailed Dragonfly (Gomphus simillimus), in French = Gomphe semblable.

Hi Bugboy,
Nemophora sp. checks out in Google, I have found an image and I will have to go further to find the species.

Hi David,
The Provence Hairstreak with its early and short flight period, is rivaled perhaps only by the two Festoons and E. epistygne. The Provencal Orange Tip waits for no man either.

Yesterday, Sunday April 16th, saw the arrival of some fresh Spring species.
Températures in the South rose to 25°C.
My first Marsh Fritillary of the year (3 seen):
aurinia8_83 Haut Sambuc 16Apr17.JPG

Here is its context at 390 metres ASL. I had to wait until 10.00 am for the sun to be sufficiently warm and for the butterflies to put in an appearance.
context Haut Sambuc 16Apr17 (43).JPG

My first Little Blue of the year - very faint unh markings:
minimus10 Vallon 16Apr17 (10).JPG

minimus10 Vallon 16Apr17 (4).JPG

A view across to the Sainte Baume mountain in the Var:
Tour de  16Apr17 (3).JPG

A Black-eyed Blue attracted by fresh goat's dung:
melanops12 Vallon 16Apr17 (2).JPG

And my first Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year
euphrosyne7 Mazaugues parc photovoltaïque 16Apr17 (3).JPG

euphrosyne7 Mazaugues parc photovoltaïque 16Apr17 (2).JPG

We should be losing a few degrees next week, back down to seasonal norms.
Chris
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby bugboy » Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:35 pm

Chris Jackson wrote:Hi Essex,
I've had a local second opinion which also indicates Yellow Club-tailed Dragonfly (Gomphus simillimus), in French = Gomphe semblable. Chris


I was going to offer this as a possibility myself but upon checking my European Dragonfly book simillimus doesn't appear until early May in France but the timing is spot on for vulgatissimus, off course they don't read our books so that's by no means a definitive ID.
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Roger Gibbons » Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:58 pm

It seems to be a rather strange season, based on my one week in Var. The Provence Hairstreaks are stil reasonably fresh, but today I saw Large Skipper (!), Osiris Blue, Adonis Blue. A total of 37 species so far, including good numbers of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Glanvilles, Weaver's and a few Queen of Spain. The Southern Festoons vary from really quite worn to freshly-emerged, and are perhaps the commonest species around. It will be interesting to see what the next couple of weeks will bring.

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby CFB » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:11 pm

Chris Jackson wrote:A Black-eyed Blue attracted by fresh ...

Chris,

Are you sure that your Black-eyed Blue isn't a Green-underside Blue?

Cheers,
Colin

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby David M » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:49 pm

CFB wrote:Are you sure that your Black-eyed Blue isn't a Green-underside Blue?


Yes, I'm questioning this one, Chris. Usually, one sees some faint underside marginal markings in Black Eyed Blue and these are absent here, although I accept that you are far more familiar with these two species than I am.

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:39 pm

Hi Bugboy (and Essex),
My local dragonfly person did admit that its slightly early for Gomphus simillimus. His justification for this species is (roughly translated from the French) "the median suture line on the side of the thorax stops in mid thorax and thus does not reach the top". Does this make sense to you ? Why can't yellow dragonflies be called The Yellow Dragonfly - it would make life simpler. :?

Hi Colin and David,
Yes, I am now wondering whether it is alexis rather than melanops. I am definitely not "far more familiar" than anyone else - far from it - I am still on the bumpy upward learning curve. Shame I have no view of the uppers. :oops:

Hi Roger,
It does seem that many species are at least 1 week in advance this year. I'm not surprised that you were already up to 37 species yesterday, I should think you've added a couple more today .... and its only just the start. :D
Large Skipper does seem excessive though !!

April 18th:
Today in the Marseilles area, afternoon températures dropped to a more seasonal 18°C, with a strong chill mistral wind.

I was roped into an organised search today for the Eastern Eggar Moth caterpillar, to be found in Blackthorn bushes.
The only caterpillars found were those of the Black-veined White and of the Brown-tail Moth (Euprochtis chrysorrhoea).
Brown-tail Moth caterpillars:
Euproctis chrysorrhoea1_83 Lou Gabian 18Apr17 (7).JPG

Euproctis chrysorrhoea1_83 Lou Gabian 18Apr17 (2).JPG


We also saw a fresh Scarce Swallowtail drying its wings:
podalirius16 La Tourne 18Apr17.JPG

Some Provençal scrub context in a chill mistral Wind with blue skies:
context Lou Gabian 18Apr17 (2).JPG

One of my favourite haunts in the west Var:
context Tour de Cauvin vue de Lou Gabian 18Apr17 (1).JPG

Asphodela is now flowering:
Asphodelus ramosus Lou Gabian 18Apr17 (1).JPG

Closer up:
Asphodelus ramosus Lou Gabian 18Apr17 (2).JPG

In today's conditions, you could quite easily get hypothermia at the same time as a sun tan - typical Provençal Spring weather. :shock:
Here, a Brown Argus keeping out of the Wind:
agestis15 La Coutronne 18Apr17.JPG

New arrivals today include M. phoebe[i] and M. cinxia [/i]- no photos yet. :(
Cheers, Chris
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby John Vergo » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:09 pm

Hi Chris
It is a pleasure to follow your diary, if I should put in an ID on that blue, I would say that it is a clear G. alexis (Green-underside Blue) rather than a G. melanops ( Black-Eyed Blue)
cheers
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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Padfield » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:19 pm

I'm with the green-underside brigade. For myself, I have absolutely no doubt - as close to 100% as a wise man should ever be. :D

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby David M » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:40 pm

Padfield wrote:I'm with the green-underside brigade. For myself, I have absolutely no doubt - as close to 100% as a wise man should ever be.


Coming from you, Guy, that means 1000% to the layman. :D

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Re: Marseilles South of France 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:38 am

Thank you John, Guy and David,
It would appear to be the appropriate season for me to do a bit of Spring cleaning in my Glaucopsyche albums. :D
Cheers, Chris
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