Padfield

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Wurzel
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Re: Padfield

Postby Wurzel » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:40 pm

Fantastic images Guy I got lost looking through them :D I must say thought that your Water Pipit ID is much easier than over here where Rock and Water Pipits can be very similar.

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:45 pm

Absolutely stunning scenery as ever, Guy.

Do you think you'll be able to track any of your Emperor larvae to pupation this year?

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Tue Jun 20, 2017 5:52 pm

At the moment, David, assuming my four longest survivors are all still alive, only Wendy is likely still to be a pupa. And no, I haven't been able to locate her. This is surprising, as she's in a rather small tree, but the possibility exists she snuck into the neighbouring tree, whose branches touch hers (yes, gone back to calling her 'her', as those were not the marks CC was talking about!). The others, with the possible exception of Mr Garrison, will be on the wing by now. I really must get down to the woods in the next couple of days.

Instead of that, I zoomed off to the valley after school today. Minnie had another surprise:

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Then there were two ...

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They were actually quite friendly but I didn't want to risk Minnie getting trodden on.

This coupling I first took to be dorylas + semiargus ...

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... but on closer inspection it turned out to be a geriatric male dorylas with a fresh young female:

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Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:49 pm

I've kept local for the last few days, partly because it's end-of-term celebrations at school so I haven't had time to go far, and partly because a couple of days ago I spotted two cardinals on my local patch in Huémoz. I've spent a lot of time waiting at the same spot trying (in vain) to see one again and get a photo. The sighting is significant because it tends to confirm the theory that the butterfly is single-brooded, flying up into the mountains in the heat of the summer before returning to the valley to breed. The species always disappears from its valley haunts in June and I have now seen 4 individuals in 3 different years in the mountains near me in June. The idea it might actually breed up here, producing a summer generation that returns to the valley in August is compromised (for me) by the fact there remains essentially just one place it can be found in any numbers in the valley. How could a generation born in the mountains always return to exactly the same spot? I think the same butterflies retrace their steps. This does, however, involve believing individual cardinals can live 3 or 4 months ...

Today, after checking the clover field where I saw them, I carried on to where I saw violet copper a week or two ago, hoping to find the bistort. I couldn't, on public land at least, suggesting the late individual I had seen had wandered a way from its birthplace. But I was in luck with another species.

As others have observed on Paul's thread, 'Kip on the move', woodland browns are generally difficult insects to photograph. They have supersonic earsight and can fly between the whirr of an autofocus and the click of a shutter. But it seems they have a weakness! Today I came across what I thought was a courting couple in the shade on a tree. I filmed them discretely, and as I did, realised that this was not courting but drunken fighting over a sap run! The French name for woodland brown is la bacchante, which means 'drunken reveller'. Perhaps this is why ...

Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anrHKPy7anI

You can see the male doing the pushing is quite aggressive about it!

Some stills, allowing me to use flash:

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(that was from some distance, before I realised these two were not bothered by my presence)

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Eventually they came to terms with one another and drank peacefully together:

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By coincidence, in the adjoining meadow, I also had the rare opportunity to get decent upperside shots of the species. Here is one:

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Here is a female lesser marbled fritillary from the same place:

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Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:02 pm

I haven't had much time for butterflying recently, with all the end-of-term stuff - and now the term has finished it is raining!! But I did nip up the local mountain in the cloud the other day, and just to keep the flow on these pages, here are a very few piccies:

This shot actually shows the back of my leg, where the first lesser mountain ringlet (Erebia melampus) of the year chose to land:

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So that makes two Erebia on the wing up the mountain (as well as Arran browns lower down, of course, which have been flying for a while now) ...

Here is a better shot of the same melampus when I had shaken it off my leg:

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My camera is not brilliant in poor weather - I used flash for that.

Here is a clouded Apollo from the same cloudy trip. They have lived fast and will probably die young:

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Here is a golden eagle against the grey skies. I kept an eye on it just in case it mistook Minnie for a cute little puppy:

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I came down the mountain via an extensive network of meadowsweet fields, where lesser marbled fritillaries were abundant:

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If it's sunny I'll get further afield tomorrow ...

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:52 pm

I bet Minnie was perplexed like never before over the sight of those camels, Guy. Nice melampus images. Hope the weather picks up for you very soon.

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:21 pm

Yes - she hasn't quite worked out yet what camels are for.

We went high today. I didn't take the bike because the forecast was iffy and as it turned out I was right. It was bitterly cold at 2500m and before we left snow and hail had arrived. There was a strong, glacial (literally) wind blowing the whole time we were up there, keeping things low to the ground even during the sunny spells. These were lengthy, however, and I saw most of what I had hoped to see.

First and foremost, that meant cynthia. Although I couldn't take any shots against the mountains, because they were all too close to the ground, the Cynthia's frits were offering plenty of photo opportunities. Here is one with a little blue:

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(a lot of butterflies were sheltering among the thistles)

And some more:

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They were not the only butterfly on the wing - I just find it really difficult not to photograph them when I see them. Other fritillaries flying were marsh, Grisons and shepherd's:

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(marsh)

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(Grisons)

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(Shepherd's)

For the blues, apart from the little blues only alpine argus and Idas blue braved the cold:

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(alpine argus)

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(Idas)

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(Minnie with an Idas blue - I had to use flash because the blue was in the shade)

This is a silky ringlet ...

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... and this small mountain ringlet (as opposed to lesser mountain ringlet, which I saw the other day):

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And a terrible shot of a peak white:

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As ever at altitude in the Alps, marmots were rarely far away:

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This zoom shot gives an idea of the wind that was blowing:

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The weather turned quite nasty ...

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... so we caught the bus back down.

Guy
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Pete Eeles
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Re: Padfield

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:41 pm

Ah! Cynthia's Frit ... one of my fondest memories is seeing them for the first time thanks to you ... with you, Gary and Lisa right next to me :) I must come and see you sometime :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Padfield

Postby Wurzel » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:45 pm

That Cynthia's is a lovely looking butterfly Guy :D :mrgreen: When Marshies fly they often look red-ish as the colours seem to blur in motion so when Cynthias fly do they take on a pinkish or grayish hue, just musing?

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Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:27 pm

Never mind the image quality, Guy. Merely seeing a grounded Peak White would be good enough for me!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Jul 03, 2017 7:10 pm

I remember it well, Pete! In fact, these pictures were taken at the same place. Although cynthia flies on most, if not all, of the high mountains in the Alps, I know no better site than this for watching the males hilltop.

You're right, Wurzel, this is a very special fritillary. It is distinctive on the wing but not necessarily what you would expect - until you know the butterfly, of course. It has a fast, low flight and the colours do indeed merge, but they produce a colour that has no name and is unknown to anyone who hasn't stood on a mountain top watching a vibrant bunch of cynthia enjoy their long-awaited and all-too-brief summer in the sun (they have a two-year life-cycle).

And yes, David, peak whites are rather hard to catch grounded!!

I went up to check on my local rebeli today. At first it was 100% cloud cover and nothing at all flew. Then little by little warmth and sunny spells teased the butterflies out. Eventually, the rebeli flew. It seems their season is mostly past, as there were lots of eggs around and rather few butterflies. The males I saw were largely very worn and flew incessantly. Most of the females were flying incessantly too but this one took some time out to lay a few eggs:

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Large blues were flying too. In the Alps these are often very dark and can be confused on the wing with rebeli. On the whole, though, they were in better nick. I only saw one of these stop long enough for a quick shot:

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Other blues flying included little, Osiris, silver-studded, Damon, turquoise and Chapman's. It is late in the season for Osiris ...

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... but the start of the season for Damon:

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As I cycled back down afterwards I spotted a rather fine male tit frit:

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Nectaring on the same flowers was this more typical female:

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Other fritillaries flying higher up included Queen of Spain, silver-washed, dark green and false heath. Here is a pair of Queens:

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Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:26 pm

Great Cynthia's, Guy. I saw them last year, and it still makes me smile!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:15 pm

essexbuzzard wrote:Great Cynthia's, Guy. I saw them last year, and it still makes me smile!


An essential tick! :D Well done!

I went up high again today, mainly to enjoy blues. I wasn't disappointed - there were lots and lots of blues:

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Here are a few of them individually:

Mazarine blue:

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Little blue and glandon blue:

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Glandon blue:

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Cranberry blue:

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Geranium argus:

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I think this is an Osiris blue. There were several normal Osiris blues about, generally looking more worn than the little blues, but this aberration is not easy to place!

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Here are a few more upland species:

Small Apollo (male):

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Alpine grayling:

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Mnestra's ringlet:

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And again:

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Swiss brassy ringlet:

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Alpine heath:

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Mountain fritillary:

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Blind ringlet:

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Alpine grizzled skipper:

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Dusky grizzled skipper:

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I could go on - I took a lot of pictures ... :D

It was a long walk down to where I left my bike and it was an even longer cycle ride down to the train in the valley, so I didn't have much time to explore the now buzzing butterfly life along the track. I did take a few pictures, though, including this Titania's fritillary:

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There were lots of Niobe fritillaries along the track, several of which had tragically had encounters with four-wheel drives. This one was fine:

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Finally, a large ringlet and a couple of shots of geranium argus, all also at lower altitudes (about 1800-1900m):

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Oh - and here's Minnie:

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Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby bugboy » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:21 pm

I think I would've overdosed on butterflies had I been there today, and I'd probably still be there now!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:43 pm

bugboy wrote:I think I would've overdosed on butterflies had I been there today, and I'd probably still be there now!


You need a good sleeping bag and a Jack Russell to share it with if you spend the night on these mountains, Buggy! I've done it many times - it gets very cold!!

To bring you back down to earth, a fresh, female white letter hairstreak in my local woods this morning:

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This female white admiral paused briefly on the way to the honeysuckly tracks:

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Just like many a wood in southern England in early July ...

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Janet Turnbull » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:53 pm

I don't think I would have caught my train - I'd be overdosing too! And all those Blues..! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Janet

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:40 am

Janet Turnbull wrote:I don't think I would have caught my train - I'd be overdosing too! And all those Blues..! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


The Alps in July ... :D

For the record, I've decided that aberrant blue must be liitle, as I'm pretty sure it's a male and its upperside is brown. Here it is again, showing both sides:

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Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:51 pm

Today was upland but with a difference: the kind of gentle, wooded upland that Thor's fritillary favours:

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My mission for the day was to get a decent underside of the species. Because it haunts the shade and moves constantly these are not easy but I was pleased with these two shots:

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Here are some more piccies of Thor's frit:

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It wasn't as numerous as last year - perhaps for thore this is a later year, as I only saw males - but similarly distributed over a significant area.

Two ringlets dominated the Erebia scene: Arran brown and large ringlet. Here are both in the same picture:

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Confusingly, that Arran brown is blind (quite common) and many large ringlets in Switzerland have pupils.

Here is another Arran brown:

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And here a well marked large ringlet:

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This Eros blue is perched on the handle of my net (which I never took out of the bag):

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Here is a chequered skipper:

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The first chalkhill blues of the year were flying.

With views like this ...

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... it was a beautiful, relaxing day. I will most certainly keep this now annual tradition of a July trip to Thor country.

Guy
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Re: Padfield

Postby Goldie M » Thu Jul 06, 2017 6:04 pm

It looks fantastic there Guy, lot's of lovely Butterflies, Goldie :D

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Re: Padfield

Postby essexbuzzard » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:08 pm

You've done well with those Thors, Guy. When I saw them a few years ago, they were almost impossible to get images of, because they are so active, though it was a hot day in the Dolomites.


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