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Re: William

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:17 pm
by bugboy
I have to say your in flight shots are simply spellbinding...

Re: William

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:12 pm
by William
Cheers, Bugboy - dead chuffed with how they turned out!

BWs,

William

Re: William

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:41 pm
by millerd
An amazing selection of shots, the Cloudies especially. Brilliant. There are times I wish I lived in Somerset again... :)

Dave

Re: William

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 8:04 pm
by William
Thanks Dave - it ain't half bad down here!

Switzerland - Lycaenids


In July this year, I went to Switzerland for three weeks hiking across the Alps with a friend. Carrying all our own equipment, tents, stoves etc, up and over the mountain passes (1000m ascents every day) was hard work in the heat, but made more than worth it by the butterflies we saw. By camping, we were able to immerse ourselves in suitable habitats, and once the packs were off, spend plenty of time on photography and study of the at times overwhelming variety of species. I haven't compiled a trip report, since we never stayed in one place for more than our over-night camping, but thought I'd share a few photos from a trip that will live long in the memory.

(Many thanks to Guy for all the help with tricky IDs!)

Glandon Blues were one of the definite highlights for me, a butterfly I've searched for in vain many times, it was encountered in small numbers at high altitudes - Cynthia's Frit now takes its place as 'most wanted'!

Glandon Blue - Day 11 - Nr Elm 4.JPG
Glandon Blue


Glandon Blue - Day 9 2.JPG
Glandon Blue


Glandon Blue - Day 11 - Nr Elm 10.JPG
Glandon Blue


Glandon Blue - Day 11 - Nr Elm 17.JPG
Glandon Blue


Glandon Blue - Day 11 - Nr Elm 7.JPG
Glandon Blue


Alpine Blues, with the similar groovy underside motif were also around in small numbers.

Alpine Blue - Day 11 - Foopass 3.JPG
Alpine Blue


Cranberry Blues were another new one for me - and very smart they were too, seen at a few spots, generally slightly damper ones over about 1600m.

Cranberry Blue - Day 11 - Nr Weistannen.JPG
Cranberry Blue


Geranium Argus were also fairly thinly spread, as ever, mooching around large patches of the foodplant.

Geranium Argus - Day 5 - Nr Murren.JPG
Geranium Argus


Mazarine was one of the commonest blues (Silver-Studded was strangely absent in a lot of places), 3 photos here of the same one, the pink background in the first is the Jungfrau, which we camped under one night, lit by the last sun of the day.

Mazarine Blue - Day 5 - Nr Grindlewald.JPG
Mazarine Blue


Mazarine Blue - Day 5 - Nr Grindlewald 4.JPG
Mazarine Blue


Mazarine Blue - Day 5 - Nr Grindlewald 3.JPG
Mazarine Blue


This cracking Silvery Argus was a real surprise, it stayed strangely loyal to the same patch of grass or several days when we visited Zermatt at the end of the trip, and could be found roosting there each morning, hiding amongst the (not very) Scarce Coppers.

Silvery Argus - Nr Zermatt 5.JPG
Silvery Argus


Purple-Edged Coppers were just edged out by Sooty as the commonest Copper, but were pretty common in most boggy meadows.

Purple - Edged Copper - Day 10 - Nr Elm 4.JPG
Purple-Edged Copper


Purple - Edged Copper - Day 5 - Nr Murren.JPG
Purple-Edged Copper


The aforementioned Sooties were ubiquitous, but by no means unappreciated.

Sooty Copper - Day 4.JPG
Sooty Copper


Sooty Copper - Day 5 - Nr Murren.JPG
Sooty Copper


Equally common, were Small Blues, with their foodplant abounding in the rocky soils at high altitudes.

Small Blue - Day 10 - Nr Elm 3.JPG
Small Blue


And finally, why you too should visit the Alps:

Blues - Nr Zermatt 4.JPG
Blues


Other Lycaenids that didn't make the final cut here were: Silver-Studded Blue, Idas Blue, Large Blue, Turquoise Blue, Common Blue, Eros Blue, Chapman's Blue, Escher's Blue, Northern Brown Argus, Brown Argus, and Chalkhill Blue.

Re: William

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 9:28 pm
by MikeOxon
Lovely atmospheric pics, William and I do agree about the last one. It's a scene that never seems to happen in Britain

Mike

Re: William

Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 10:07 pm
by David M
Some glorious images there, William. Looks like you had a superb time over there.

I can fill your boots with Cynthia's Fritillary if you wish! We saw many, many dozens in the French Alps in early July.

Re: William

Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:05 pm
by Wurzel
Stunning images William :D :mrgreen: Now how can I persuade Mrs Wurzel that hiking in the Alps would make an ideal family holiday? :? :wink:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

Re: William

Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:44 pm
by Paul Harfield
Hi William
Just catching up with your recent stuff. Fantastic images as always :D. I love the inflight Scarce Swallowtail, Clouded Yellow and the Whites. The Glandon Blue on a Lichen covered stone and the Geranium Argus are lovely :D.
A Holly Blue pupa is a rare sight on these pages :mrgreen:

Re: William

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:10 pm
by William
Thanks chaps, a really great part of the world (more photos to come) - David, I'd love to, but I've already got some stuff in the pipeline for 2017!

Relatively Recent Doings

The season ended well for me, with the local Small Coppers seemingly bouncing back a bit, with plenty of eggs laid in the garden and at other sites. I've noticed that they often seek out rather sickly looking sorrels with red-coloured leaves, does anyone know why this is, unhealthy plants less able to produce toxins? On a trip out in the direction of Birdgwater Bay in a rather speculative search for Clouded Yellow ova (no luck!), I managed to find plenty of adult Small Coppers, as well as a third brood Brown Argus all enjoying the late September sun. I've often noticed the shortage of Sorrels here, and wondered how the site manages to support such good numbers, and after a bit of searching, got my answer - 5 eggs and a well-developed larva on Curled Dock. At the time this was the first time I'd seen/heard of them using this plant, though it's mentioned in Adrian Riley's British and Irish Butterflies.

IMG_6413.JPG
Small Copper Ova (on a rather sickly plant?)


IMG_6304.JPG
First Instar Small Copper Larva


IMG_6430.JPG
Small Copper Ova


IMG_6407.JPG
Small Copper Ova, Larva and Feeding Damage


IMG_6440.JPG
Small Copper Ova


IMG_7400.JPG
Small Copper Ovum on Curled Dock


IMG_7345.JPG
Small Copper Ovum on Curled Dock


IMG_7379.JPG
Small Copper Larva on Curled Dock


The adults were looking really fine too!

IMG_7555.JPG
Small Coppers


More recently, Brown Hairstreak eggs have been the order of the day, I've now found 60 in 19 grid squares, though there are plenty more places to search. I also squeezed in a bonus Purple the other day, though I'm yet to start searching properly for these. It's been interesting to see quite a few of the Brown Hairstreak eggs laid in odd places, with 5 or 6 on the trunk of Blackthorn bushes.

IMG_7849.JPG
Brown Hairstreak Ovum on Blackthorn Trunk


A couple have also been at the base of young suckers, about 5-10cm off the ground.

IMG_7801.JPG
Brown Hairstreak ovum at Sucker Base


The vast majority have been in typical positions however, at forks, and where spikes meet the stem.

IMG_8029.JPG
Brown Hairstreak Ova


IMG_8091.JPG
Brown Hairstreak Ova


I've also found quite a few Blue-Bordered Carpet Ova while searching - a trap for the unwary!

IMG_8107.JPG
Blue-Bordered Carpet Ova


And finally the Purple Hairstreak.

IMG_8124.JPG
Purple Hairstreak Ovum

Re: William

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:55 pm
by Jamie Burston
Incredible series of macro photos!! :mrgreen: I tried to find Small Copper eggs and larva locally, pleased to see you had much better luck! I'm surprised at some of the Brown Hairstreak egg locations, you can't go wrong with Purple Hairstreak :lol:

Re: William

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:45 pm
by bugboy
Great shots, You've an almost identical end of the season as me! As to the older looking leaves used, is it possible these are old eggs laid when the leaf was fresher and have failed to hatch? In my recent observations at Bookham Commons I've watched females go mad laying on tiny plants, peppering the small leaves with eggs. Over time I've observed several young larvae feed on the leaves and watched said leaves deteriorate, but there are also still several unhatched eggs on them (at least on my last visit a few weeks ago). Just speculation obviously :)

Re: William

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:31 pm
by David M
Great sequence, William, especially that Small Copper ovum, which shows how intricately designed some of these ova can be.

Re: William

Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:35 pm
by William
Thanks Jamie - I have been too, I've been searching some more atypical Blackthorn (more out of desperation than anything), and was quite surprised by what I found!

That's a possibility I've considered Buggy, but I've seen a couple of egg-laying females seeking out these redder plants (rather than the plants turning red after laying), the photo below is a good example of what I mean, the plant had 6 eggs on, and no larvae - rather more than any others in the vicinity (admittedly it's a nice fresh one in a nice warm scrape, but I've seen red plants in long grass similarly favoured, I'm sure you get the point :) )

IMG_6804.JPG
Small Copper Ova


Cheers David - certainly think Small Coppers have the best of the lot!

Re: William

Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:07 pm
by bugboy
I guess it's a case of 'mum knows best'. I had a quick flick through Thomas & Lewington and the suggestion in there is the nitrogen content (and therefore the nutritional value) of the leaves used, the females favouring leaves with a higher nitrogen content.

Re: William

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:53 pm
by William
Alpine Amble - Fritillaries

I’ve been meaning to post some more photos from Switzerland for a while, but one thing and another has worked to stop me getting round to it. Unlike the lycaenids, the fritillaries didn’t yield any new species for me, but it was nice to re-acquaint myself with old friends in a different context.

My favourite Fritillaries have always been Marshies, and so after the initial heart in mouth moment when I thought I’d found Cynthia’s, I was delighted to catch up with the diminutive locals, termed glaciegenta in this groovy new paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 7/abstract , basically suggesting that in different regions of Europe Marsh Fritillaries partition into a low and high altitude form, and splitting a few of these into new species. For example, in Spain, Euphydryas aurinia beckeri (or Euphydryas beckeri if you prefer) flies at low altitudes, while E. aurinia pyrenes-debilis takes the high ground. Pyrenes-debilis is illustrated as the same thing as glaciegenta in Tolman and Lewington, but apparently they’re quite different on the gene and genital front, having just arrived at the same dwarfism and dark colours by convergent evolution (since they face similar altitude-related problems in the Alps and Pyrenees). Anyway, the gritty little glaciegentas were toughing it out by one of our campsites at 2000m towards the end of the walk, apparently they feed on gentians and fly much later in the year than ours, between June and August depending, like many things in the Alps, on the altitude.

Marsh Fritillary - Day 10 - Nr Elm 11.JPG
Glaciegenta Marsh Fritillary


Marsh Fritillary - Day 10 - Nr Elm.JPG
Glaciegenta Marsh Fritillary


A variety of other high Alpine species were flying alongside these at our campsite, including Shepherd’s Fritillaries and Mountain Fritillaries, leading to a not unwelcome ID headache, since the two are ones I’ve wanted to get a better look at for quite some time. This ambition extended particularly to female Mountain Fritillaries, which have a unique ice-queen blue suffusion, fortunately one obliged.

Shepherd's Fritillary - Day 11 - Nr Weistannen 2.JPG
Shepherd's Frit


Shepherd's Fritillary - Day 11 - Nr Weistannen 4.JPG
Shepherd's Frit


Mountain Fritillary - Day 9 6.JPG
Mountain Fritillary


Mountain Fritillary - Day 9 4.JPG
Mountain Fritillary


These flew alongside their close, and equally similar-looking relatives, Small Pearl-Bordered and Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries, providing a strange lepidopteran anachronism as I found many mud-puddling companionably alongside Silver-Spotted Skippers and Chalkhill Blues – the ultimate species of heady late summer days on the chalk back here, with the orange emperors of the spring woodlands and meadows – weird!

Small Pearl - Bordered Fritillary - Day 10 - Nr Elm.JPG
SPBF


Other classic summer species flying alongside these early emergers were the Argynnis species, High Brown, Silver-Washed, Niobe and Dark Green Fritillaries. Dark Green was the commonest by some distance, blazing around the flowery meadows, and remaining as ever, largely unattainable.
High Brown was encountered only rarely in some of the small woodland clearings, while Niobe was slightly commoner in some of the rockier grasslands towards the end of the trip.

High Brown Fritillary - Day 12 - Nr Sargans.JPG
HBF


High Brown Fritillary - Day 9 - Langstafel.JPG
HBF


Niobe Fritillary - Nr Zermatt.JPG
Niobe Fritillary


I actually only managed one Silver-Washed Fritillary, nectaring companionably alongside a High Brown in a small meadow on the last day of the walk. Generally speaking, woodland butterflies were the poorest represented of the butterflies on the walk, with no Hairstreaks, White Admiral or Purple Emperor either, probably because we spent most of our time at high altitudes where all the deciduous trees had given way to conifers.
The commonest fritillary from the trip was undoubtedly Titania’s, tending to pop up hand in hand with the Purple-Edged Coppers in the bistort-rich meadows. In previous trips to the Alps, it’s always been joined by the Lesser Marbled Fritillaries (yet another Bistort feeder), yet these were strangely absent this time, and the second most abundant species was the False Heath Fritillary. Other Meliteas clocked up were Spotted, Grisons, Meadow, Heath and Knapweed Fritillaries.

Silver - Washed Fritillary - Day 12 - Nr Sargans.JPG
SWF


Titania's Fritillary - Day 10 - Nr Elm 2.JPG
Titania's Fritillary


Titania's Fritillary - Day 9 - Nr Elm 2.JPG
Titania's Fritillary


False Heath Fritillary - Day 9 - Langstafel 4.JPG
False Heath Frit


Knapweed Fritillary - Nr Zermatt 3.JPG
Knapweed Frit


Generally, I managed to pick my way through this group and the majority of the ID disasters were saved for Pyrgus (with a handful helpfully set aside for Erebia too, in the interests of fairness), such disasters (I’ve convinced myself), are a natural part of getting to grips with the awe-inspiring variety of butterflies in the Alps, and well worth the effort.

Titania's Fritillary - Day 5 - Nr Murren.JPG
Titania's Fritillary

Re: William

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:00 pm
by Wurzel
Stunning images William :D :mrgreen: I'd love to have some of those ID headaches :lol: :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

Re: William

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:22 pm
by Padfield
I agree - brilliant pictures.

Male shepherd's frit/mountain frit can indeed be a headache (in the Alps, where ssp. palustris of shepherd's frit flies). I only feel really happy identifying them when they are clamped to females. For what it's worth, I'd call mountain for the upperside you've labelled shepherd's, William, but seriously, I wouldn't change the label on that account! Your guess is as good as mine. :D I love the female mountain - what a beautiful hue. I've seen them from bright, vulgar blue to plain orange, but that one has really lovely gradations of colour.

Guy

Re: William

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:46 pm
by David M
Padfield wrote:I love the female mountain - what a beautiful hue.


Agreed. Absolutely a joy when you see one.

Re: William

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:01 pm
by Matsukaze
These flew alongside their close, and equally similar-looking relatives, Small Pearl-Bordered and Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries, providing a strange lepidopteran anachronism as I found many mud-puddling companionably alongside Silver-Spotted Skippers and Chalkhill Blues – the ultimate species of heady late summer days on the chalk back here, with the orange emperors of the spring woodlands and meadows – weird!


Now wondering if there is somewhere in the Alps where all the UK species can be seen in a single day...

Re: William

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:07 pm
by David M
Matsukaze wrote:Now wondering if there is somewhere in the Alps where all the UK species can be seen in a single day...


That's not quite achievable, but if you went at the optimum time of year and spent a day within a 40km radius of your starting point I reckon you could get close.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary would be a notable absentee, whilst I've never seen a Peacock in four years of trying!!