Padfield

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essexbuzzard
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:30 pm

Over here, there is much talk about rain, with snow on higher ground, in your part of the world at the moment- how are you doing? ( Happy New Year BTW).

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David M
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:27 am

Well done with the QoS, Guy. As you say, it's strange how they remain active so far north when they do not appear till February further south. Perhaps you have a special microclimate?

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Padfield
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:36 pm

Hi Buzzard. Further east from me there have been huge snow falls, with tourists getting snowed in and tragically one Brit still missing (I believe). In my own region it has been much drier recently, with a little rain even, but the pre-CHristmas snowfalls were so good the skiing is still guaranteed. The temperatures have suddenly dropped massively and more snow is forecast, so it should stay good. And Happy New Year to you, too!

Hi David. It is a very special microclimate indeed near Martigny, with a number of Mediterranean species resident (cardinal, iolas blue, hoopoe, crag martin, cicadas, prickly pear &c. &c.). It was once a thriving Roman town but eventually the chill winter winds got up their togas and they left.

The Romans wouldn't have liked it today. When I arrived it was probably about -5°C (rising to a maximum of about 1°C in the afternoon):

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There was also quite a breeze in my usual hotspots and I didn't expect to see anything. Despite that, I did see one Queen of Spain - the same individual I photographed last week. This week it flew down nearer to the road, just above where Minnie was looking for lizards and grasshoppers:

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I told her to stay put, and although she carried on looking for her quarry, she didn't move and the Queen sunned itself long enough for me to move in and get a closer shot:

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Right at the end of my walk, passing through a woody stretch where I wasn't really even looking out for butterflies, I put up a large tortoiseshell. I suspect the poor thing might have been roused from hibernation by storm Eleanor - it really shouldn't have been on the wing in January. It flew past me, up a sunny hill and over some trees where I couldn't follow:

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I hope it is able to go back into some state of torpor for a few weeks. Mid-to-end-February is the usual date for the first large tortoiseshells here.

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Andrew555
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Re: Padfield

Postby Andrew555 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:14 am

Wow, beautiful QoS Guy. :D
Great shot with Minnie as well, good girl! :D

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Goldie M
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Re: Padfield

Postby Goldie M » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:37 am

You've certainly got Minnie well trained Guy :D My late Dog would have gone in to take a closer look :D Lovely Butterfly I've yet to see and I've certainly enjoyed your scenery shots up to now.Goldie :D

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Padfield
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:07 pm

Thank you for your comments, Andrew and Goldie.

The weather has been pretty grim recently, alternating between snow, rain and wind - or various combinations of the three. On Friday I took my first 2018 visit to the Papiliorama to make up for the dearth of butterflies in the wild. As always, there was a great variety of species flying and plenty of interest - on the way home I jotted down a minimal list of what I had seen, allowing for the fact I didn't check every Parides and Heliconius, and came up with 47 species. This number included just one I hadn't consciously seen before, Hamadryas fornax:

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This species is surprisingly easy to distinguish from other, similar Hamadryas species by the strong orange tone to the underside, clearly visible as the butterfly cruises around on strong flaps and glides. Altogether, I have seen 5 Hamadryas species in the Papiliorama: laodamia, februa, amphinome, feronia and fornax. Here are those others, photographed on previous occasions:

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(laodamia)

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(feronia)

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(amphinome)

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(februa)

Morpho peleides breeds freely within the Papiliorama and there are always dozens, if not hundreds of caterpillars to be found:

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These early-instar larvae are most peculiar creatures, with massive heads:

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I must look for peleides pupae one day.

Various Danaids breed freely too. Here is the empty chrysalis of one:

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Other than that, nothing I haven't posted here many times before, so I'll spare the usual photogallery!

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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David M
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:58 pm

I understand why you needed to get a 'fix', Guy. This time of year is possibly the very worst, with spring round the corner but butterflies remaining conspicuously absent.

There are many benefits to popping into a butterfly house, and I suppose if we lived in a tropical area we wouldn't need such a reminder. I hope to hold out till the adult overwinterers return, but if we DO get a cold snap in February, like you, I reserve the right to enter an artificial environment to assuage the pent up frustration that has built up progressively these last few weeks!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:57 pm

Hi David. I have to say, I just find it interesting to see tropical butterflies in the flesh - to learn their flight patterns and, within limits, their behaviour. I have a yearly permit for both the Papiliorama and the trains (even with the incredibly strong franc, a year's abonnement for unlimited travel on all Swiss buses and trains costs less than a dedicated 5-day-a-week commuter's ticket from, say, Norwich to London).

That said, there's not much happening on the wild butterfly front at the moment. I took this shot on my local walk a few days ago.

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Despite Eleanor having trashed the forest and brought down whole trees, the spindly honeysuckles have survived, bearing their precious white admiral caterpillars. Here's a hibernaculum photographed today:

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It is half open, either because the storms opened it or more likely because the caterpillar never sewed it up properly in the first place:

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Sleeping peacefully now - but a long and dangerous path ahead of him before (if) he flies ...

Good weather is forecast for the next couple of days so I'm hoping for some more Queens and maybe a small tortoiseshell or two on Sunday.

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

essexbuzzard
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Fri Jan 26, 2018 11:13 pm

Good luck this weekend, Guy. If you go down to the valley, you could get sightings we can only dream of!

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David M
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:04 am

I'm looking forward to those Swiss clouds clearing so we can see what's on offer in late January in your 'patch', Guy.

I'm sure you'll be in double figures before most of us have registered a Brimstone! :)

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:21 pm

Thanks Buzzard and David.

Amazingly, despite it being actually warm on the Sunday of that weekend (after my last post), nothing flew in the valley. Admittedly, there was a rather cool breeze, but not more than on other days when I've seen butterflies on the wing. I think several consecutive days of good conditions are needed to persuade them out!

Up here in the mountains, small tortoiseshells have been on the wing since the end of January. Today I saw four on my lunchtime walk, of which three were on this sunny/snowy bank:

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The ambient temperature was 3°C.

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Wurzel
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Re: Padfield

Postby Wurzel » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:37 pm

That Small Tort is a great sight Guy, it means that UK ones can't be far behind :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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David M
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:42 pm

Lovely fresh, clear images again, Guy. How do you get such vivid blue skies in your pictures? Mine always turn out quite pale even when the real life hues are as clearcut as yours.

Nice to see Torties on the wing in la Suisse. Give it a month and they'll be commonplace chez nous aussi!.

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Padfield

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:27 pm

Wurzel wrote:That Small Tort is a great sight Guy, it means that UK ones can't be far behind :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel


That's exactly what I thought, Wurzel! This has been a long long winter!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Padfield
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:15 pm

Hi David. Thanks for the comment on the blue skies! I often take scenic views with my iPhone, which has an outstanding HDR mode. It takes two pictures at different light settings and combines them. Small sensors have rather poor dynamic range, resulting in bleached bright areas or gloomy dark areas, but by combining two pictures the iPhone compensates for this. I don't publish views of critical locations taken with the iPhone because of the GPS tagging. When I use my normal camera, which also has a small sensor, I use a stop or two darker than the auto-settings to get depth of sky colour and adjust the resulting picture on the computer. I do like deep, vivid blues in a picture!

Hi Wurzel and Pete. I hope your torties aren't too far behind! When I was a kid, in Suffolk in the 70s, the first small tortoiseshells typically flew at the end of March (27th being the date I associated with them). The seasons seem to start earlier these days.

No blue skies in Huémoz today - just heavy cloud. This buzzard was hunting from posts and branches right close to the ground, presumably because he couldn't see anything from the air:

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I've seen quite a few gloomy buzzards recently. This one was taken on an afternoon walk a couple of weeks ago. I thought at the time he just looked seriously fed up, with that resigned, distant glaze in his eyes!

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We really haven't had many clear, bright days this winter.

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

essexbuzzard
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:48 pm

Your last buzzard image looks like a juvenile, yet to master it’s hunting techniques. I wonder what they find to eat there? Perhaps it is fed up with having to make do with earthworms!

I often think the same with our recently colonised Buzzards here in East Anglia. When I was a kid, this was as far removed from Buzzard habitat as it was possible to get-certainly very different from Cornwall. These huge arable fields seem devoid of food, yet somehow they exist, and continue to increase in density.

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Padfield
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:42 pm

Thanks Buzzard - I'm not good at aging raptors!

At this time of year, almost everything seems to eat voles - the buzzards eat them, the stoats eat them, the local dogs and cats eat them ... It amazes me there are any voles left in the country! When the snow is thick, they gain some protection from living beneath it at ground level, but when it melts their runs are exposed again.

Another cold day but sunny in the valley. The temperature reached 6°C in the afternoon but the breeze prevented any real hotspot build-up. I didn't get to my usual site until after 14h00, by which time the winter Queen spots were alive with small tortoiseshells (well, I saw 5 ...). I didn't see any Queens. Quite probably, the small tortoiseshells had displaced them - this does happen - but the fact the entire human population of Martigny seemed to be taking a postprandial constitutional through the vineyards didn't help either!!

Here are a couple of torties ...

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... and here a rather fine alpine accentor:

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Oh - and some blue sky for David! :D

Image

Guy
Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

essexbuzzard
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:38 pm

Wow, that really is a rather fine alpine accentor, I had no idea they would be so low down in the valley. And a couple of torts for us butterfly starved Brits!

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Goldie M
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Re: Padfield

Postby Goldie M » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:07 am

Fantastic shots Guy, the Torts seem to have smaller spots on the wings than I remember . I took some shots of Tort's last year and the two black spots seemed much larger, I suppose they can vary though. Goldie :D

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David M
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sat Feb 10, 2018 8:21 pm

Thanks for giving me the 'blues', Guy, although this time your image of that glorious Alpine Accentor wins the award. :)


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