Early August I found two yellow butterfly eggs of the Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) on Fennel. On a calm evening I photographed one egg with the MP-E 65 mm at 4x zooming (F11 and a shutter time of 1.3 seconds). A few days later I saw two tiny little caterpillars.
Four weeks has passed now and only one caterpillar survived outside on the fennel. I planned to visit some carrot fields to ‘rescue’ some caterpillars but a lot of things happened in my life. I met very nice people, found a new business partner, followed an intensive training and received shocking news.....again I found out that there are selfish, hurting on purpose, people!
Sometimes, I’m really surprised by what people are capable of.
Nature, like this caterpillar, is innocent and I think that makes why I feel the intensive connection with nature and animals.
Unfortunately the carrot fields have been gathered including the next generation Swallowtails so I hope that this one and only caterpillar will transform into a chrysalis in a few days and that he will survive the winter period.
Canon 7D; tripod; remote release; 180mm, 1/125s at F9 and ISO160
Like some other kind of butterflies, the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) hibernates as butterfly and every springtime he is one of the first butterflies which awakes when temperature is rising. With their yellow/greenish wings this species is invisible when they are resting between fresh/green leaves.
It’s a common butterfly but not very easy to photograph as I often found the Brimstone resting on messy places low on the ground, especially in springtime. And, I must admit that since my accident with the motor cycle I became a bit lazy photographing butterflies low on the ground as my knees hurts quickly.
So, this beautiful male Brimstone was resting on a flower a few days ago. It was a warm and cloudy day and like me he was lazy. In the first place I had no interest photographing him as I was busy with other things. But after a while I couldn’t resist and took my camera and tripod; he was very cooperative and I had enough time to make photo’s from different positions. Due to the backlight his wings became a bit transparent and his tender body visible.
Eglise de Saint Melany
On the last Sunday I visited the small market in Saint Melany (a small village on the other side of the valley) and on the market I met an inhabitant of Le Charnier which I had spoken before. He was selling his products on the market which I liked (and still do) very much. We had a nice conversation in English about everything like nature, photography, work, study, cars and foreign (German) friends when suddenly he asked me ‘have you seen the eagle’? And my answer was ‘no, I have not seen him, but almost every evening and night he walks around the accommodation and makes a lot of noise’.
His strange way of looking made me hesitate and suddenly I understand that I had the wrong animal in mind......funny that two different animals have the same pronunciation (in German it is a hedgehog).
Meanwhile I added the page Ardeche with some highlights of butterflies and other creatures. As I mentioned before not much butterflies were resting near the accommodation as it was a wooded area without much flowers or open places. Every evening I walked through the mountain path to search for resting butterflies. Wild boars were also using this path at night and one evening I was very happy that I’ve found one fresh Heath Fritillary but when I arrived the next morning the butterfly was gone. These two pictures are taken early in the morning; due to the warmth and dryness the butterflies were dewless.
This was my last story from the Ardeche, fortunately I will return to France in about eight months and in-between I have an other trip to look forward at.
In the Ardeche I found a lot of old rusty cars but some of them were still on the road. In the valley near the accommodation I photographed between flowers an old Hanomag and nearby four other wrecks were ‘rusting’. Two weeks later I looked into the valley and noticed that one wreck was gone.....strange, as for me the wreck looks as it could never drive again.....not in France as I learned....as long as it has four wheels it can be used!
In the Ardeche I met Edith. Edith is living near Balazuc in the middle of nowhere and she showed me two old car wrecks. One was an old Simca and the other.....what was it? The wreck was almost invisible and totally embraced by Brambles. Normally I use my tripod but in this case it was impossible; too much Brambles.
Very slowly, step by step, I came closer. Fortunately I started photographing the back of the wreck. When I was standing in front of the wreck, I was looking through my camera when I heard a strange noise.....one second later I felt pain and immediately I knew what I had heard......WASPS. They had a nest in the ground where I was standing. Without thinking I ran through the Brambles until I was far enough away. When I stopped I looked at the colour of my legs (I was wearing short trousers)......running through Brambles makes that wasps bites do not hurt and my plan to return after sunset vanished immediately!
France is a country full of treasures. On the day of arrival I passed a barn and saw it’s door only for a fraction of a second but my intuition told me that it was hiding something. A few days later I returned to this place but as I couldn’t open the door or look through it, I held my camera up and made some autofocus-flash-photos.
This car is not a wreck, it’s a beautiful old Citroen 2CV, one of the first ever made and I like the colour as it reminds of a movie with Louis de Funes and some Sisters.....
More images are added: Portfolio -> Rust in Peace
Ardeche part V will be added soon.
As I’m used to approach butterflies carefully, I often meet other creatures like snakes. A few days after arrival in the Ardeche I met a grown ‘Couleuvre de Montpellier’ (Malpolon monspessulanus) which had a length of about 2 metres. The snake was too busy hunting lizards that he did not hear (feel) me coming. I was fascinated by the beauty of his skin and I wanted to make some photo’s but at the moment I put down my tripod quietly, the snake jumped away in such a high speed that he made me shiver.
My second meeting with a snake was down in the valley. I wanted to photograph the old bridge but the path downhill to the bridge was made by and suitable for mountain goats! The thought of climbing up again through this path (it was bloody hot) brought up the ‘tremendous’ idea to walk through the creek to the other, more easygoing path. That was a big mistake as the rocks became bigger and instead of walking I was climbing and jumping. Suddenly I saw a little snake in the water. Comparing to the ‘couleuvere’ this was a baby snake of only 50 centimetres. On a rock beneath me the snake came out of the water for a rest. So, I decided to climb to the other side. I jumped on a little (slippery) stone and very easily I was on the other side and photographed this snake (natrix maura).
Canon 7D; tripod; remote release; 350mm, 1/160s at F9 and ISO100
On my way back I stepped on the same stone but my feet immediately slipped into the water and for a second I made some strange moves to avoid falling down in the water.
Fortunately I re-found my balance and with one wet foot/leg I continued my journey through the canyon. At one point the creek was 5 metres below and I had to jump to the other side.....the other side was a steep rock.....although I thought that I had almost reached the end I doubted whether to jump or not. First I threw my tripod to the other side (unfortunately my connection system from Novoflex did not survive this action) and than I jumped. This procedure I had to repeat a few more times before I could see the other path in the distance.....hours has passed in-between and my water bottles were almost empty. Back ‘home’ I was totally exhausted but happy to experienced it.....to jump and walk like a mountain goat!
Ardeche part IV will added soon!
Walking up to the hilltop I found a second and third Purple-shot copper, both females. These ladies were feeding on wild thyme. Photographing them was sometimes a bit risky as the thyme was growing on the edge of the path and the slopes were very steep.....one wrong move and my camera with tripod could have been gone.
This is the result of lying down like a bag of potatoes:
Wild thyme was also the favorite of an other little butterfly, the False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi). The first time I was very eager photographing this Hairstreak. Later I found out that this was the most common butterfly in the Ardeche.
Meanwhile I processed all butterfly images and added a lot of new images and butterfly species to this website; please look here for the main updates.
Part III will follow soon!
Recently I returned from France with overwhelming memories, a full hard disk, a damaged camera, a broken tripod connection system, painful knees and legs full of scratches and bites......but, due to all I had a wonderful period in the Ardeche (Le Charnier). I had one cloudy day and the rest of my stay only blue sky with sun which is good for swimming in the pool and river but bad for me as a photographer. The moments early in the morning were too short and near the accommodation I couldn’t find much resting butterflies. So, I had to come in action at day. Not always easy when it’s bloody hot!
Around le Charnier I found at least 43 butterfly species and photographed 28! 9 species which I photographed are new (which means that I did not photograph them digital) and their chapters will be added soon to this
The first new species which I like to present is a Brimstone, not the common Brimstone but the Cleopatra (Gonepteryx Cleopatra). This butterfly lives higher in the hills on steep rocky slopes and is very active and hard to photograph. One day two male butterflies were very hungry and they ‘devoured’ the flowering lavender.
Canon 7D; tripod; remote release; 180mm, 1/320s at F8 and ISO125
The second species which was quite common around Le Charnier was the Marbled Fritillary (Brenthis daphne) which was not surprising as Bramble is growing everywhere. Unfortunately, I saw this species more
flying and even more flying away from a female photographer until the cloudy (and a bit colder) day came.....suddenly they were lazy, one specimen extreme lazy and I could photograph them decently.
Canon 7D; tripod; remote release; 180mm, 1/20s at F9 and ISO100
Part II will follow soon!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.