French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:51 pm

Species seen - Pieridae

93. Orange Tip
94. Black Veined White
95. Berger's Clouded Yellow
96. Clouded Yellow
97. Mountain Clouded Yellow
98. Cleopatra
99. Brimstone
100. Wood White
101. Large White
102. Mountain Green Veined White
103. Green Veined White
104. Small White
105. Peak White
106. Bath White
107. Southern Small White


The problem with Pierids is....they hardly ever stop! Peak White was again a real frustration, and getting an image of a grounded one is fast becoming my principal butterflying aim!!

Bath Whites are almost as bad, particularly the males. This female stopped for a while though:

9.BathWhite(1).jpg


Cleopatras were about in decent numbers, particularly during the first week. Here are four Pierids for the price of one, with a male Cleopatra being harassed by a Small White, whilst a female Berger's and a Black Veined White carry on refuelling:

9.Cleopatraincompany(1).jpg


Here's another female Berger's Clouded Yellow showing her uppersides (out of shot there was a male trying to court her):

9.Bergersfemale(1).jpg


Unusually, this male's wings were held slightly open at rest:

9.Bergersmale(1).jpg


Higher up, Mountain Clouded Yellows were about in good numbers:

9.MountainCloudedY(1).jpg


Wood Whites are so numerous that they rarely attract my attention. This couple had me mesmerised for a few minutes though as I watched them interact:

9.WoodWhite(1).jpg


There were plenty of candidates for Southern Small White, but with none ever landing it was hard to be sure. During the second week, however, this one was seen in a shadier area taking nectar:

9.SthnSmWhite(1).jpg

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:10 pm

Species seen - Erebia

As you'd expect on a mountain holiday, there was a good range of erebia encountered:

108. False Mnestra Ringlet
109. Almond Eyed Ringlet
110. Common Brassy Ringlet
111. Mountain Ringlet
112. Lesser Mountain Ringlet
113. Large Ringlet
114. Arran Brown
115. Piedmont Ringlet
116. Sooty Ringlet


Historically, Almond Eyed Ringlets have almost had a monopoly at this time of year, but this time I reckon Common Brassy Ringlets took the title, with into four figures seen:

10.CommonBrassyups(1).jpg


10.CommonBrassyuns(1).jpg


Almond Eyed Ringlets were still about in their hundreds, but were generally looking distincly worn by the end of the trip:

10.AlmondEyed(1).jpg


The odd Piedmont Ringlet showed up amongst the myriad of commoner erebia:

10.Piedmont(1).jpg


Mountain Ringlets were fairly common above 2000m:

10.MountainRinglet(1).jpg


Arran Browns and Large Ringlets were seen in much greater numbers than usual, particularly the latter, which were extraordinarily numerous during the latter half of week 2. They also have a strong propensity to land on you. Keep your hands still and try to take a photo could leave you looking like this:

10.LargeRinglet(1).jpg


Other members of this group were much scarcer. For instance, False Mnestra Ringlets only numbered about a dozen:

10.FalseMnestra(1).jpg


Only about 5 Sooty Ringlets were seen, but given that conditions were largely cool (15c) and overcast at the 2,800m location where we find them, this was an achievement:

10.Sootyups(1).jpg


10.Sootyuns(1).jpg

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Padfield
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby Padfield » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:33 pm

Fantastic Erebia. I've still never seen aethiopella - it doesn't fly in Switzerland. In your previous post, I was confident on seeing the Cleopatra flight picture that it was a male southern small white chasing it (from the shape of the apical mark). You may well have seen more of this species than you registered.

Your meolans looks like female aethiops to me - particularly in view of the strongly chequered fringe.

Guy
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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:45 pm

That's an interesting observation, Guy.

I DID get a single underside shot, but it is out of focus and was taken with the wrong light settings.

Here it is anyway:

10.Piedmontuns.jpg

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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby Padfield » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:05 pm

Thanks for the extra picture, David. It's difficult to judge from it, because it's difficult to see what are artefacts and what are actually markings. But it does seem to have a chequered fringe - which to my mind rules out meolans. The red area also seems to be constricted - characteristic of aethiops. Is this the same insect as the upperside I queried?

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:13 pm

Yes, Guy. Taken a very short time apart.

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:09 am

Species seen - Nymphalidae (General Satyrids)

117. Ringlet
118. Great Banded Grayling
119. Pearly Heath
120. Darwin's Heath
121. Dusky Heath
122. Chestnut Heath
123. Small Heath
124. Woodland Grayling
125. Dusky Meadow Brown
126. Large Wall
127. Wall
128. Meadow Brown
129. Marbled White
130. Speckled Wood
131. Great Sooty Satyr


Great Sooty Satyrs were around in plague numbers, with well into four figures seen. This meant there were plenty of opportunities for upperside shots, with occasional cloudy conditions proving useful. Here's a male:

11.GtSootymaleups(1).jpg


....and a female:

11.GtSootyfemups(1).jpg


....and female undersides:

11.GtSootyfemuns(1).jpg


Great Banded Graylings were quite common at the first location in both weeks. Unusually, here's one basking with wings open:

11.GtBandedGrayling(1).jpg


Woodland Graylings were numerous too, and provided lots of entertainment with their regular interaction with we humans:

11.WdldGraylinguns(1).jpg


This one is showing a hint of upperside:

11.WdldGraylingups(1).jpg


I had my eye out for Dusky Meadow Browns this year, and managed to find a few:

11.DuskyMB(1).jpg


Marbled Whites were incredibly abundant, and I saw three leucomelas forms, with the undersides of the hindwings almost pure white:

11.MarbledWhiteab(1).jpg


Large Wall Browns could normally be found in small numbers in rocky places:

11.LargeWallfemale(1).jpg


Pearly Heaths were perhaps the commonest species at the first location. This one was nectaring with wings slightly open:

11.PearlyHeath1(1).jpg


This one, we think, had been bitten by a spider. It was alive but unable to fly and kept its wings open constantly:

11.Pearlyups(1).jpg


Above 1500m, Chestnut Heaths were very common:

11.ChestnutHeath(1).jpg


Even Dusky Heaths, which are usually hard to locate, were around in the high dozens. This is one of my favourite butterflies with beautiful, sandy colours and that striking silvery marginal line:

11.DuskyHeath(1).jpg

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:07 pm

In summary, this has been by far the best trip I've made for sheer butterfly numbers. I may never see such numbers again even if the range of species keeps pace.

I only arrived back in the UK a calendar month ago, but after the weather conditions over the last fortnight, it feels like an age.

I'll finish by posting a few general images, the first being of a Scarce Copper amongst Large Ringlets, the latter being so numerous that I didn't bother with them individually:

12.ScarceCopper.LargeRinglet(1).jpg


I always like it when two completely unrelated species end up in random close proximity. Here are two images of a Silvery Argus and a Carline Skipper sharing a perch:

12.Carline.SilveryArg2(1).jpg


12.Carline.SilveryArg1(1).jpg


Here's a nice lycaenid smorgasbord:

12.Smorgasbord(1).jpg


This one was probably the most awe-inspiring scene - a fresh cow pat deposited on a damp area attracted dozens of mainly Silver Studded and Idas Blues. Trust me, there are more out of shot:

12.SSB.Idas(1).jpg


...and finally, who can come to the Alps and not get a close encounter with a marmot?:

12.Marmot(1).jpg

John Vergo
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby John Vergo » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:35 pm

Thanks David for sharing your pictures it has been a great pleasure :)

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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby essexbuzzard » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:27 pm

Yes Dave, great report and some fantastic images to go with it. Congratulations! :D

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:01 pm

It has been my pleasure, guys. Thanks for your comments and input. European butterfly enthusiasts are as rare as Brown Hairstreaks so it's good that every so often we can find something of mutual interest! :)

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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby millerd » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:55 pm

Thank you, David - most enjoyable seeing all those different species from the trip. Inspirational, even! (The cow pat blues are phenomenal - that shot put me in mind of one of those "Where's Wally" cartoons: I managed to find a skipper and a fritillary, but haven't tracked down Wally yet... :) )

Dave

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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby Matsukaze » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:35 pm

Hugely enjoyed these pictures. One day...

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Charles Nicol
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby Charles Nicol » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:14 am

Lovely pictures & explanations David ! i shall do my best to find some papillons next week :D

afaik there are not that many marmots in the Aude :oops:

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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby Catteraxe » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:06 pm

As an addendum (not wishing to steal David's thunder), it wasn't just great for butterflies. Also seen were Chamois, Gryphon Vultures, Red Squirrel, a Golden Eagle, moths and other insects, and a magnificent Snowfinch at the summit of the Col de Lombarde.

_MGL2363.jpg


Kevin.

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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:23 pm

Many thanks for posting the image of that Snowfinch, Kevin. I had several views of it but wasn't able to get an image as I had spent much of my time latching onto that Sooty Ringlet!!

You can clearly see the moth along with the unfortunate Glandon Blue in its beak!

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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby Chris Jackson » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:53 am

In all a great account of your adventures David with some great photos.
Just reading through this thread makes me want to sign up for one of your trips, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
I wouldn't be surprised if you are already over-booked for next year !!
Chris
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David M
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Re: French Alps, 27th June - 15th July 2017

Postby David M » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:18 am

Chris Jackson wrote:In all a great account of your adventures David with some great photos.
Just reading through this thread makes me want to sign up for one of your trips, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
I wouldn't be surprised if you are already over-booked for next year !!
Chris


The reason there are two trips is because the first one is always oversubscribed, Chris!! Mind you, it looks like next year will see the second week include the Queyras, which is something I'm very much looking forward to.


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