Padfield

This forum contains a topic per member, each representing a personal diary.
User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:40 pm

I thought I'd create a diary here for my occasional notes from Switzerland, with a focus on British species and general interest stuff. My main online diary, unabridged and containing a daily record of all my sightings for the last few years, is still at http://www.guypadfield.com/butterflyyear.html.

Today, the fourth consecutive day of sunshine here in CH, saw the first small tortoiseshells sunning, sparring, cruising around and generally having a great time in the Rhône Valley. I only arrived in the afternoon but found four individuals and suspect there was more activity earlier.

Image

On the steep, banked, aggregate wall in the picture above one of them occasionally stopped just long enough for me to get my first butterfly photo of 2011, albeit a record shot:

Image

Definitely NOT Blue Monday here!

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

Susie
Posts: 3601
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:34 pm

Re: Padfield

Postby Susie » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:08 pm

i'm so glad you've started a diary on here. I'll follow it with interest.

Susie :)

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:12 pm

Thanks Susie! :D And Happy Birthday!

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

User avatar
Lee Hurrell
Stock Contributor
Stock Contributor
Posts: 2183
Joined: Mon May 25, 2009 7:33 pm
Location: Hampshire

Re: Padfield

Postby Lee Hurrell » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:55 am

Susie wrote:i'm so glad you've started a diary on here. I'll follow it with interest.

Susie :)


Likewise, Guy. Your reports and photos are always fascinating and you're already seeing butterflies when most of us have a few weeks to go yet!

Cheers

Lee
To butterfly meadows, chalk downlands and leafy glades; to summers eternal.

User avatar
Paul Wetton
Posts: 777
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:07 am
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Paul Wetton » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:58 am

I'll be watching with keen interest Guy as I'm still planning to visit the Swiss Alps, Val d'Herens region for three weeks this summer.
Cheers Paul
_____________________________________________________________________________
http://www.wildlife-films.com http://www.ibirdz.co.uk

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:37 pm

I hadn't forgotten, Paul! I hope I'll meet you then.

Lee - I hope the weather changes and I don't see anything more for a few weeks too! The only thing that could usefully be on the wing now, on the right days, is Queen of Spain, as it can go dormant in any stage and its foodplant is out. I took this photo a couple of weekends ago:

Image

Everything else is best advised to stay asleep!

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

User avatar
Paul Wetton
Posts: 777
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:07 am
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Paul Wetton » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:41 pm

Yes I hope we'll meet up for a couple of trips out if you have time. It's something I've been quite looking forward to.

We'll be there between 26th June to 15th July.

I'll PM our mobile details to you at some point and then we can get in touch when we arrive and arrange something.

If you would like to PM any details to me that would be appreciated.
Cheers Paul
_____________________________________________________________________________
http://www.wildlife-films.com http://www.ibirdz.co.uk

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:54 pm

Small tortoiseshells still the only thing on the wing here - I saw at least four and probably five today. This one is recognisably the same individual as in my first post, twelve days ago:

Image

This suggests that once raised prematurely from hibernation small tortoiseshells don't seek a better place to hibernate through until spring but remain ready to fly on appropriate days.

He would press his wings right flat on the ground, as if getting contact warmth from the sun-heated stones:

Image

A few Bulbocodium are in flower:

Image

This winter has been cold but very dry and often sunny. Today the temperature didn't rise above about 4°C and it felt quite cold in the wind.

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

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:14 pm

Seven small tortoiseshells today - four together, and interacting, and another three at different sites in the vineyards.

Image

Despite the continued absence of QoS, which I really did expect to see today, this looks set to be an early spring here. The lack of snow cover means the plants have been able to photosynthesise and the vineyard edges are coming alive. I think the lizards have put in a brood already. They've been active every time I've been to the valley and today I saw several young ones up and about on the walls. Here is one:

Image

Quite different proportions from this old individual I snapped on 15th Jan:

Image

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

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:45 pm

Headed off with Matt down the Rhône Valley this morning, armed with my Bible for winter stages - Tagfalter suchen im Winter - hoping to find ilex hairstreak eggs. Since the species lays on oaks, we also looked for purple hairstreak eggs.

Purple hairstreaks were, as ever, easy to find:

Image

We even found four on a neatly severed branch that a trimmer must have cut off. Matt took them back to try and hatch at home (we didn't want to divide them up, thinking that the branch would thrive better in the early larval stages if we kept it entire).

Ilex proved more elusive, partly because most of the young oak bushes the species favours were growing on inaccessible slopes, and partly because we were initially looking only on very smooth, very young trunks. Ilex hairstreak lays 20-40cm up from the ground on the main trunk of a bushy young oak. Eventually, just before leaving, we found two, both parasitised (or simply eaten from the outside), on rather thicker stems than we had initially been examining. They were both, however, near the base of the bush and on the main trunk. As with all hairstreak eggs, we expect more success in the future, now our eyes are in.

Image
(Ilex hairstreak eggs are larger than purple and this one, at least, was relatively conspicuous on the trunk)

Image
(a closer view of the same egg)

Image
(the second egg)

While I had my head buried in a young oak, Matt saw a couple of small tortoiseshells.

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

User avatar
Pete Eeles
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 6163
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:10 pm
Location: Thatcham, Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:11 pm

Great reports, Guy!

padfield wrote:We even found four on a neatly severed branch that a trimmer must have cut off. Matt took them back to try and hatch at home (we didn't want to divide them up, thinking that the branch would thrive better in the early larval stages if we kept it entire).


At this time of year, I find that cut twigs don't do well (i.e. any oak buds won't open) and adopted a different strategy a few years ago to compensate. Which is to remove the egg (i.e. the sliver of bark on which it's laid), put it in an airtight box, and place it somewhere cool (outhouse, fridge). Then, once the oak buds burst on local trees, bring the box into a more-natural environment (the eggs, as you know, are typically laid in full sun, so some warmth is expected). Just keep an eye on them and, since the larva is fully-formed in the egg, they will emerge quite quickly (within days). Just transfer them (using a fine paintbrush) from the box to the fresh (open) buds when they'll disappear for a week - before re-emerging in a later instar. I just put a cut twig in a jam-jar containing water, place the jar on a white A4 sheet of paper and just wait for frass to appear (and then try and "spot the larva") before transferring it to a fresh bud - unless it's about to undergo a skin change. Works every time for me and I must have raised over 50 in the last 5 years!

Cheers,

- Pete

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:37 am

Thanks Pete - I'll pass your wisdom on to Matt.

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

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:49 pm

The first butterflies flew in the mountains today (actually, I had reports of them yesterday, but I was in the valley). I took a short afternoon walk near my house and saw about 15 small tortoiseshells; basically, every bank had one or two basking or sparring in the warm sun. Here is what I promise will be my last small tortoiseshell photo until I find one doing something interesting:

Image

This was photographed here:

Image

As you can see, there is no snow. This has been a disastrous winter for snow, even though December was very cold and January was pretty normal, temperature-wise. Just no precipitation.

As I sat on my balcony drinking beer and reading a book on Australian butterflies, small tortoiseshells were still cruising around and occasionally sparring over the balcony at 4.30pm. EDIT: Make that 4.52pm - another has just bombed my computer.

Image

This is the life...

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

User avatar
Paul Wetton
Posts: 777
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:07 am
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Paul Wetton » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:09 pm

Great Beer photo Guy.

What species is it?
Cheers Paul
_____________________________________________________________________________
http://www.wildlife-films.com http://www.ibirdz.co.uk

User avatar
Rogerdodge
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:06 pm
Location: North Devon

Re: Padfield

Postby Rogerdodge » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:24 pm

Ah Guy - what memories that view brings back.
Sitting up until daft o'clock putting the world to rights and consuming superb whisky.
Then off the next a.m. in search of excellent butterflies.
Life doesn't get much better................
Cheers

Roger

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:56 pm

The beer was the cheapest thing they had in the Migros when I left school at lunchtime - horrible Swiss fizzy lager. I brew my own ale, but not in winter because my house is too cold for fermentation to happen. The beer just freezes instead. :(

Good times, yes, Roger! That night is now written indelibly in my brain. I can even remember each person's confessions before they passed out.

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

User avatar
Paul
Posts: 811
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: Padfield

Postby Paul » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:15 pm

In that case you have the advantage, as I don't remember your confessions :lol: :lol: :roll:

PS.. please don't remind me what they were! :wink:

Fascinating to hear about other Hairstreak ovae... that depth of info is difficult to find in English... or I haven't been looking in the right places.

User avatar
Padfield
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 6765
Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:19 pm
Location: Switzerland
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Padfield » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:15 pm

Promise broken already - here is another small tortoiseshell shot, and it wasn't doing anything interesting. I was just pleased with the backlighting and the colours:

Image

No more, I promise. The weather is set to stay fine at least until the weekend, when I hope to find something different to photograph.

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

User avatar
Pete Eeles
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Administrator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 6163
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:10 pm
Location: Thatcham, Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Padfield

Postby Pete Eeles » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:24 pm

padfield wrote:No more, I promise


I'm not complaining! Isn't it funny how, during the winter months, even the commoner butterflies seem extra-ordinarily beautiful. Sometimes we don't always appreciate what's in front of our noses!

Cheers,

- Pete

User avatar
David M
Posts: 7799
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:17 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Padfield

Postby David M » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:34 pm

How are these Tortoiseshells active at this time of year? Surely it's colder in the higher regions of Switzerland than it is in lowland UK.


Return to “Personal Diaries”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests