For almost one month I'm in the Vosges and since the day of arrival I see emperors every day. The first day, I was working on my laptop and had a teams meeting, two Purple Emperors landed on the windowsill. Every evening I see at least two Lesser Purple Emperors in the crown of the big tree next to the pond/house enjoining the sun and chasing after each other. A few weeks ago a fox had pooped on the path near my house and the emperors came down:
So I asked a friend, who lives nearby, to bring me some fresh dog poop. Dog poop attracts a lot of butterflies for about two days. Every two/three days I asked for more dog poop. As it was very warm I kept the poop wet and a lot of butterflies came to drink. As the Lesser Purple Emperors are very big butterflies too, I often had to look twice which emperor was landed on the poop.
The Lesser Purple Emperor is more common in 'my' valley than the Purple Emperor but I succeeded to took some photo's of their hindwing/eye spots:
All the butterflies which came down were male butterflies; recognizable by the blue sheen on the wings and they all had signs of 'scratches' from their habitat defending behavior high in the trees.
After four dry years/summers I'm glad that both Emperor species are still in 'my' valley! During my next visit I will plant one or two common aspens, not only for the Mars Changeants but to attract the very rare Poplar Admiral....although I do not know if this species occur in the Vosges....you never know!
First, a few minutes after arrival we noticed that again we had visitors on our property who thought it necessary to destroy and steal things.
The second very disappointing thing is that all the flower meadows in/around the village are gone including 'my' wild butterfly meadow. Of course it is not my meadow but for years I visited this meadow (see this blog banner) mid June and photographed a lot of Marbled Whites, Black-veined Whites, Heath Fritillaries, Swallowtails and a lot more butterfly and dragonfly species....see my chapter Butterflies in the Vosges.
In August 2022 I noticed grazing 'chevaux' in the meadow and feared that also this piece of land had changed the owner....I guess it did like most of the other flower meadows in/around the village. They are no longer flower meadows but in use for some 'cheveaux' and mowed during the butterfly season.
Bye bye wild flower meadow :-(.
I'm in the Vosges again for a few days and as there is always a chance to photograph a butterfly like the Chamberwell Beauty I took my camera, tripod and beanbag with me. Yesterday afternoon, after a day of work, we wanted to make a walk through the forest when I noticed a butterfly nearby:
After some photos with my smartphone I went back inside for my camera and beanbag. Although this butterfly is at least 10 months old I was surprised that he had no damages. A few minutes later the sun was shining again and 'le citron' was gone.
It's very cloudy here in France and the nights are still cold but as soon as the sun comes out for more than 2 minutes, butterflies (brimstones, red admiral, orangetips) are starting flying around.
It all started in March with some damage on our fence and a kind of wood dumping on our property. It was not funny when you see this after a six hours drive.
Fortunately we had good weather and after two days of hard work, the fence was fixed and the dumped wood was collected. The 'funny' thing was that after we cleaned our property, twice somebody from the village asked us if we would like to keep the wood....like they had plans to clean it up.
In May we painted some beams and front door and in September and October we were busy to renovate the toilet room. During our earlier stays we noticed old water damage and mold on the floor boards under and next to the toilet.
After the boards had dried, they were treated with epoxy paint and with a new floor layer and plastered walls the toilet room looks very nice!
For 2023 we have plans to remove the barn in the front garden and to built a kind of fire wood storage. In 2022 it was very hot during the summer....too hot for working and painting so fingers crossed that 2023 will be more pleasant.
After a lot of smaller jobs which have been done the past two years, it was time to do a big one.....the kitchen. As it was beautiful sunny autumn weather in the Vosges I started with the shutters; they needed a new layer of stain.
After the shutters were ready we chopped some trees for more light and space for annother butterfly garden. And then......we started with the renovation of the kitchen:
After 8 days of hard work the kitchen is almost ready (the furniture will be changed soon and I like to have a new 'cuisiniere'.
Time flies when you are having fun so eight days in Vosges went by too fast! The first days it was very hot, too hot for working. Unfortunately there was not much butterfly activity around my house nor in the wild meadow. The last two days of my stay fortunately the situation changed a little bit and I found the first emerged Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Essex Skippers in the wild meadow.
Near my house there was no sign of Emperors, White Admirals, False Heath and Marbled Fritillaries. In five weeks I will return to the Vosges again so fingers crossed that I will see some of these species than!
After nine month of absence I was very happy to arrive in the Vosges again on the 15th of June. As it is very hot in the Vosges too, I expected a lot of butterflies. When I entered the wild meadow yesterday morning I assumed that something was wrong with my eyes.....the meadow was empty.....almost empty as after a while we found a few butterflies (three species). A big difference compared to last year. The grass is extremely high this year and the flowers are deeply hidden between the grass; for butterflies impossible to reach and to roost on. Only on lower and/or small open parts we found some butterflies. Fortunately one Heath Fritillary had choosen a white daisy for roosting.
On the 16th and 18th of August I found the 17th species in the wild meadow near my house...a Mazarine Blue. The first butterfly was a female and I hope that she laid a lot of eggs in the meadow. Because the temperatures were high I had some hope to find other roosting species in the meadow like Clouded Yellows and Fritillaries.....none of them I found. The meadow was pretty empty; during my stay I had to deal with 9 Small Heaths, 2 Mazarine Blues and 1 Common Blue. Around the house there was more butterfly activity as a lot of Silver-washed Fritillaries liked my butterfly bushes.
On the 15th of June France opened its borders and on the 17th I drove to the Vosges for a week. After almost five month of absence the front garden and path were transformed into a wilderness and again I had no internet/wifi. In the evening I visted the wild meadow near my house which was full of butterflies.
The next morning I returned to the meadow and the butterflies were coverd with dew and I found some nice sitting Meadow Browns and Ringlets. During the week the amount of butterflies declined in that meadow while around my house the amount was rising.
During my stay the weather was much better than predicted and every day it became warmer and warmer and more and more butterflies emerged. While I was sitting on the terrace I noticed some little fast flying butterflies....when I came closer I was very happy to noticed a new species around my house....the Ilex Hairstreak!
Fortunately the title has nothing to do with smoking, although Gerard and I got almost smoked by the heat in the Vosges during our last week. It was on the last day that a big orange butterfly flew into the house to cool down a little bit.
A perfect opportunity for us to photograph this beauty with the funny French name.
After three weeks and two days it was time to say goodbye to the Vosges, the quietness, the good life of doing nothing except enjoying!
Cheers!!! (Wanda, me, Gerard and Frank)
Since August 2017 I'm the owner of Maison Bonheur, an old farmhouse in the Vosges. Because of its location in the forest/nature the possibilities for nature/peace/relaxing lovers are limitless.