In every way 2020 was a special year. In February I visted Lapland but very soon after this trip everything changed in Europe due to the pandemic. In June the European borders opened again and I was able to visit my house in the Vosges a few times and to search for butterflies in the Italian Alps.
One month after Wanda's death in autumn 2019, Kyra, a black German Sheppard came into my life. I adopted her from a Dutch shelter and the only things they (and I) knew was that she was confiscated, frightened and that she lived three years (her age) in a dog cage/kennel. Maybe not the easiest dog to take and after more than a year she is still very shy. That's the reason why I adopted recently a second sheppard, an old lady from Bulgaria: Roxy. Although she is about twelve years old she is full of life and very very very sweet. So if anybody is looking for a (new) dog.....please adopt! A lot of non-profit organisations (like everydaystray in Bulgaria) have beautiful and sweet dogs and puppys.
Roxy, I and Kyra wish you all Merry Christmas and the very best for 2021!
Merry Christmas - Prettige kerstdagen - Frohe Weihnachten - Joyeux Noël!!
Autumn has arrived and the rain forced me today to stop my garden activities and to make it myself comfortable inside. It is time to look back to some remarkable moments this year. One of these moments was a discovery early May in my butterfly/chrysalis cage: two butterflies of the Western Dappled White emerged after three years of beeing a chrysalis!!!!
Unintentionally I collected them as egg/young caterpillar in 2017 when I was in France. Back home I noticed that I had more caterpillars than intended and when they were all transformed into chrysalises I noticed that I had different species. After one year the majority emerged but a few stayed brown and I thought that they were dead. What a surprise after three years and what a clever tactic of nature!
Last Sunday I was 'en route' with Frank & Gerard again and we visited the same area as one year ago to search for the Queen of Spain Fritillary. We knew that the chance finding one of them was low. The first hour we did not find any living creature at all. But then we entered a meadow and found the first of 15 Small Coppers.
It's remarkable because the evening before I found two coppers roosting nearby my home and during my stay in the Vosges earlier, I photographed this species a few times. It looks like the third generation has better conditions than the first and second one!
Unfortunately all of them were roosting on places where it was impossible to catch them with the first or last warm light in the background. So I waited to catch them with open wings:
Although I found them in four different areas they had one thing in common....they were all roosting on brown/dead flower buds for optimal camouflage!
Yesterday morning, on my way to France, I paid a visit to the southern spot of the Long-tailed Blue. The day before yesterday 6 specimens were seen so I thought finding them would be a piece of cake. Their habitat was a small roadside full with flowering perennial peavine (lathyrus latifolius). Unfortunately there was a lot of traffic and finding them roosting a mission impossible! The moment I wanted to give up I found one. I was very happy but photographing this species was not easy as he flew away soon as I installed my plamp (due to the traffic there was a lot of wind).
He landed somewere on the higher part of the roadside and in the beginning I had no intention to search for him until a bit further I noticed a small path up (it was obvious that I was not the first photographer on this spot). Fortunately I found him back and very carefully I installed my plamp again and took some photos of this beauftiful species!
Later that day I learned that a lot of people visited this spot too which found also some eggs and caterpillars....it would be great to have a new butterfly species in the Netherlands!
This morning I photographed the most beautiful fritillary we have in The Netherlands. As there was no wind I tried my MP-E 65 mm for the big pearly spot. With 4 x magnification the distance between the lens and subject was very small and the depth of field extremely low (always with this lens). After a few images the wind started blowing so I switched my camera again as I liked to photograph this species with open wings. I waited and waited but by the time the sun arrived the fritillary flew away. Do you know which butterfly species the 'owner' of this pearly spot is?
Since my trips to the Mercantour I was longing for a photo of the Grisons Fritillary on which the difference, the pearly row, between this species and the Heat Fritillary is clearly visible! In Aosta - Gran Paradiso I found them!
Except butterflies I miss the great view of our accommodation, the delicious ripe gorgonzola and the good italian wine......and last but not least the company of my two friends Frank & Gerard. I hope to return to this lovely place in 2021.
It's hard to believe that I left this butterfly paradise almost three weeks ago....I miss this mountain area with its butterfly spots badly! Like I wrote before, one spot was my favorite as it was the 'main supplier' for my Aosta - Gran Paradiso gallery.
We visited this spot four times with a small interval and every visit it seems that the selection of butterflies was changed. And I'm convinced that this place has much more to offer.....so I will return for sure to this area!
From the terrace of our accommodation we had a great view to the Mont Blanc. Although I knew this beforehand I was too much focussed on butterflies that I forgot my 35-350mm lens at home. So when the Mont Blanc showed up after a few days I had the choice using my 100mm or 180 mm macro lens.
Photographing butterflies in the Aosta-Gran Paradiso area was a long cherised wish. During our stay we counted more than 80 different butterfly species. One spot was our favorite one which we visited four times and during every visit we found some 'for Dutch butterfly photographers' rare and beautiful species like the Geranium Argus and this Silvery Argus:
Yesterday I returned from a fantastic two weeks stay with Gerard & Frank in the Aosta-Gran Paradiso area in Italy. We had a great accommodation with Monte Bianco view on almost 1500 m in a small hamlet which was surrounded by meadows full of butterflies!
Every evening Gerard and I were searching for butterflies near the accommocation and almost every evening we found at least one roosting Apollo (next to a lot of other species). During our stay we visited a lot of places/valleys/meadows every morning and mostly it was 'hard' work finding butterflies; I expected larger numbers. But, I will not complain as we found beautiful (fresh) species surrounded by impressive nature!
The discovery of a Pearl-bordered Fritally on geranium was one of my highlights as this species is very hard to find roosting.
Last weekend I visited the Eifel together with the Jordan brothers. The accommodation was booked in January so we decided to face the elements of a rainy and stormy weekend! On our way to the accommodation we visited an old location but we couldn't find much butterflies there. On a second location Gerard and Frank stayed wisely in the car; I went out searching butterflies but it was getting darker and darker.....partly drenched I returned to the car. We drove to a third location which we discoverd last year and after the rain stopped we tried again to find butterflies. Last year we visited this 'new' area one week earlier and we did not find much butterflies.
This year was different! On the big meadow I found a fresh Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and I was happy with the first butterfly at all. Some later Gerard found in a very small bog meadow surrounded by the forest a lot of Bog Fritillaries and some Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries....as the sky was getting darker again we decided after some photos to leave for dinner and to return the next morning.
On Saturday morning we had some moments with less wind but it was still a challenge to get sharp photos and within one hour the heavy wind returned. After breakfast we visited some other meadows and area's and at the moment I started photographing this Large Skipper the sun arrived and he flew away.
Sunday morning we visited a large area and very soon Gerard found a fresh Purple-edged Copper and when I photographed this butterfly a soft sun arrived and for some minutes the light was fantastic. Unfortunately it started raining again and the biting midges became very active but I will not complain as we found some beautiful fresh butterflies in this area!
The only thing that I missed was our favorite 'Kaffee & Kuchen' place which was closed due to the corona rules.
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.