Visiting a certain area in the Eifel was on my wish list during my sabbatical and last Thursday, I visited this area together with Gerard and Frank. Immediately we noticed the difference in vegetation, caused by the drought, comparing to last year. Fortunately we immediately saw some fluttering butterflies, including two Bog Fritillaries. The next morning we returned and found one of them in the area he was flying around the day before....looking for butterflies in the late afternoon is very often time-saving.
The second morning we visited an 'old' area with the mission the Duke of Burgundy which we noticed the day before.....this time the visit in the afternoon before was not time-saving as we could not find any of them. Because this species is not resting on a plant or in grass we waited until the sun was shining and all other butterfly species were flying around.....but unfortunately no sign of life of the Dukes.
On our way back to the hotel we decided to stop for a 'quick look' in an other area and after a few footsteps there he was.....the Duke of Burgundy. We created some shadow on the place where he was warming up and fortunately he did not fly away and all three of us had time enough to photograph this beautiful butterfly:
With this image in the pocket we were completely statisfied......especially Gerard!
After a late breakfast we visited the Bog Fritillary area again which was crowded. Fortunately one of the visitors was an 'old' butterfly friend which I had not seen/spoken for years and it was very nice to meet him again!
The last morning we visited this area again with the hope to find a resting Violet Copper but instead we found four resting Bog Fritillaries. In four weeks we will visit the Eifel again as some species were not emerged yet.
I must admit....I can use to this!!! The first month of my four months sabbatical is 'gone' and it's time to look back to my trips in the Provence and the Vosges. In both regions the amount of butterflies were low and near my house in the Vosges I did not find one resting butterfly so I had enough time for other things like gardening.
In the Provence I fortunately found some blue species but the most common blue species of this region were not emerged yet (like Adonis Blue, Provence Chalk-hill Blue, Common Blue). When I walked around one afternoon I found a Black-eyed Blue and while I looked at it a second one came and within a moment they were mating.
Unfortunately it was a stormy afternoon when they were mating and when I checked the photos later I found out that I only had one sharp photo.
The strong wind was a killjoy during my stay. I tried to catch the butterflies with open wings in the morning but it was a challenge for them to open the wings as they got blown away. Most of them left their sleeping place soon to sit on the ground.
Yesterday I returned (driving through a snow storm near Langres/France) from a two week vacation in the Provence. Again I found a nature walhalla at the end of the world (actually a long hill). The accommodation felt like paradise with a unique view and the 3ha property was covered with thyme, rosemary and lavender......ideal for butterflies!
Unfortunately, again the temperatures were disappointing low in the Provence and with them the amount of (emerged) butterflies. An other frustrating issue was the strong (almost stormy) wind during my stay.
But, I will not complain as I enjoyed this paradise, the silence and the butterflies I found. On the first day I found a freshly emerged Scarce Swallowtail and on my last day during my last tour in the afternoon I found a big surprise.....a Spanish Festoon which was very cooperative!
After a warm farewell of my collegues a few hours ago, my sabbatical has started. On my way home I enjoyed the sunny weather, flying butterflies and the fresh green of the trees. Although it's beautiful here, tomorrow it's time for my first trip to France and to meet some relatives of the Orange-tips!
Last Saturday I found a lot of Orange-tips on Cuckoo flower near a creek. Although I'm satisfied with the results, it was a challenge to 'handle' my camera as I'm not used to the small wheels (shutter speed and aperture value). At home I found out that I had a lot of dark sensor spots in my images.....after years of Canons automatic sensor cleaning programme I forgot how bad these spots are.
Just a small detail but with 42mp I must control the amount of images to handle the workflow on my laptop.
First I would like to thank my friend Gerard for his guest blogs during the last month!! In one week my sabbatical will start and one of my intentions is to write regularly again.
Last weekend I visited two Cuckoo flowers area's and noticed green grassland instead of cuckoo flowers. Yesterday I visited the areas again and I could count the number of flowers on one hand. Fortunately a lot of Orange-tips were flying around and on every flower I found some eggs. In the evening I returned to an area nearby and I couldn't believe my eyes when I entered the area as on one Cuckoo flower 4 male Orange-tips were resting.
The amount of Cuckoo flowers is dramatically low. Today I visited a meadow of an 'old' area (where I photographed Orange-tips until 2017) and couldn't see any Cuckoo flowers at all....I guess it's the result of the extreme drought of last year.
A week ago I was going thru my photo-archive. I wasn’t searching for anything special but simply browsing through it looking back at what I’ve been doing the last couple of years. As I wrote last week it brought back many good memories, but it also showed very clearly that some subjects I photographed for just a limited amount of time, and for some reason was never interested in to retrace. Some places I photographed very extensively for a limited period…but never felt the urge to go back to them.
I guess that’s nothing special - I think that applies to just about everybody.
But for some reason there are a couple of subjects that makes just about every nature photographer’s heart beat fast..pumps up the adrenaline…and that certainly is the case with the Orange-tip butterfly for me. I think it’s one of the ultimate signs that Spring has finally arrived and each and every year I’m looking forward to seeing/photographing them.
This morning I was driving around Polder de Dordtse Biesbosch together with my brother Frank, and we were both searching for the first Cuckoo-flower. I guess we both knew that it was still a bit too early in the season, but with the warmer weather coming up it certainly won’t take long anymore.
And once the Cuckoo-flowers appear…the Orange-tips will follow soon after.
The picture above was taken almost 11 years ago. On the 3rd of May 2008 to be exact. The peak of the Orange-tip season used to be around that period in the past(end of April/beginning of May). With the climate changing that period is quickly moving a couple of weeks forward. Will 2019 be the first year I spot Orange-tips in March already ?
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It’s been a strange year sofar.
January gave us the feeling we would finally get our “normal” share of winter weather.....but it did not really happen. February gave us the feeling like we were skipping February and March altogether giving us dry sunny weather with temperatures reaching 20 degrees C at the end of the month (who says’s climate isn’t changing…)
And now we’re in the 2nd week of March and it feels like we’ve jumped back to October, lot’s of rain and wind gusts up to 110 km/h. Yesterday I was out with some friends taking pictures of mushrooms.…and the wind almost swept us of our feet.
I can’t help myself for developing a deep longing for actual April/May weather..fresh mornings with plants(and insects of course) covered by a nice layer of morning dew. The sun rising..clearing a bit of fog, and taking my camera-equipment out in search of resting butterflies. Nothing lifts my mood more than that.
But for the moment….I’ll have to do with just the results of such days going thru my photo-archive enjoying the memories they bring back...and a good cup of coffee.
That’s not bad either but I’m counting down the days. Let’s hope April lives up to my expectations…....
Text and potos are copyright protected by Gerard Jordan
What is more important….a picture that puts a smile on somebody else's face... or a picture that puts a smile on the maker’s face ?
Whenever I’m out in nature I try to be open minded and let my senses guide me on what I point my camera at. Not to say that I don’t have subjects in mind of course, but you simply can not force nature. So I “follow my nose” and see where it takes me.
Over the years I have noticed that what’s important to me changed. When I just started to photograph I wanted to improve my skills, and unconsciously was out to take pictures that other people liked. So I tried my utmost to shoot landscapes with great compositions and/or light and portraits of insects with nicely blurred background etc.
But over the year’s I’m finding out that I still want to make nice pictures, but it is most important that I like them. So I’m more and more concentrating on subjects for which I’ve personally developed a passion, and I don’t simply just want to take good pictures but also learn more about these subject themselves. Therefore I can appreciate a “simple” straight picture as much as a photographically great shot. Just as long as there is a story or a memory inside the picture for me.
The 2 pictures in this blog put a big smile on my face.
The picture of the 4 long-eared owls resting together clearly shows their way of getting thru the winter as a group..also making it much easier to find a partner at the end of the winter. Their expression is very inviting....you would almost want to join them for a bit of sleeping and basking in the sun.
And the picture of the Comma Butterfly….definitely not a great picture but the first butterfly sighting of the year just makes me hungry for more.
What puts a smile on your face ??
Text and potos are copyright protected by Gerard Jordan
Since more than a week we have spring temperatures and on the 15th I noticed the first butterflies of this year (three Brimstones). Normally I visit them early March but with this sunny weather I was curious if the caterpillars of the Glanville Fritillary would be already active. Yes they are!
My old workhorse joined me as I did not read the manual of the Sony yet :-(.
As my new camera is still unused, I searched between the 2018 files and memories came back when I saw this image of the Pearl-bordered Fritillary which was taken on my birthday in the Mercantour last year.
On a small meadow in the Mercantour we (Mees, Gerard, Frank and I) found some common fritillaries and other butterflies. We searched very well but did not find any rare species. Surprisingly, one after the other big and rare fritillary came out of the grass and flew away after the sun touched the meadow. The only butterfly which was very cooperative after he was awake, was this Pearl-bordered Fritillary which was confused by the shadow we created.....for minutes he posed for us!
I can't wait to visit this meadow again and to search for the big fritillaries between the grass!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.