Last weekend was perfect, beautiful sunny weather, a lot of butterflies and good company. On Friday evening I visited a small heath area together with a good friend to search for butterflies. We only found one species, the Small Copper, but fortunately we found enough of them. One was sitting perfect in the heather near the path and with my beanbag I was able to catch him with some sunlight just in time before the light disappered behind a thick wall of trees.....sometimes I'm longing for a chainsaw!
On Saturday morning we returned to the same area, the area was shrouded in fog so we had enough time to photograph the Small Coppers. By the time the sun arrived the light was too hard so we went home for a good cup of coffee.
On Sunday we met Frank & Gerard in Belgium again to search for the Queen of Spain Fritillary....more about it in my next blog!
After a busy period, yesterday it was time to go out and search for butterflies again together with Frank & Gerard which I had not seen since Aosta. Some sunshine was forecasted and we decided to visit an area in Belgium to search for the Queen of Spain Fritillary. Instead of sunshine it was dark grey and very windy. But, we can't complain as we found some beautiful fresh Queen of Spain Fritillaries:
At the time we had some coffee & cookie on a nearby bench, the butterflies became active and flew around. After our break I tried to catch them with open wings. The heather was popular but I forgot how 'hard working' it was to catch them (with tripod) when they are active and to have a photo without disturbing grass stems in it.
Our trip ended on a terrace with good coffee and a delicious 'Belgian vlaai'. Good company + nice butterfly species + delicious coffee and pie = the best package deal I can get!
It's unbelievable how quickly two weeks can pass by. Last Saturday Frank, Gerard and I left the Aosta - Gran Paradiso region with reluctance but with full memory cards. Aosta has the perfect mix of beautiful butterfly species and impressive mountain/valley landscapes and meadows full of alpine flowers.
Despite the spots we visited were situated in the National Parc, the wild flower meadows were used by farmers with large groups of cattle and within a day all flowers (with caterpillars on it) were consumed by the hungry cows. On Sainfoin I found a lot of caterpillars of different blue species (mostly protected by ants); unfortunately they were all eaten by cows as after a day the complete meadow was empty/destroyed.
Although I'm not a species 'hunter' I hoped to find some species during our trips like the Silvery Argus, the rare Piedmont anomalous Blue, the Meleager's Blue, the Alpine Argus or the Lofty Bath White.....except the Apine Argus we found them all!
Unfortunately tomorrow will be my last day in Aosta. Two weeks went by so fast....although I must admit that I miss my beloved ones.
Until now we counted 71 different butterfly species and the number will rise as we must determine a few skippers yet. Some skippers are very hard to determine when they are wet and covered with dew/raindrops.
It's hard to believe but the Titania Fritillary and the Dark Green Fritillary are the most common butterflies which we found in Aosta. The amount of butterflies is not very high in the National Parc (I guess due to the colder weather) and it was hard work finding roosting butterflies in the morning. The first meadows were already mown and/or empty by hungry cattle. A few times I tried to catch some butteflies with open wings....not easy in the mountains with a lot of clouds and/or hard sunlight. But these two red gentlemen were cooperative for a few moments:
Last year I was overwhelmed by the Aosta - Gran Paradiso region that I wanted to return in 2021. Just in time travelling was possible again and last Saturday Frank, Gerard and I returned to 'our accommodation' with Mont Blanc view. The weather is colder and more windier comparing to last year which results in lower amounts of butterflies. But, I will not complain as after five days we counted 50 different butterfly species!
The second morning we visited our favorite spot from last year and found only four species....two of them in larger numbers....the Geranium Argus and Alpine Heath.
Yesterday morning we found 6 Titania's Fritillary roosting in a little bog meadow and we also found this species as caterpillar and chrysalis.
Every evening after dinner Gerard and I go out and search for butterlies around the accommocation/small hamlet and until now every evening we found an apollo:
This spot is perfect as except butterflies it has two benches 'for us' to watch and enjoy the butterflies!
Since more than 20 years I try to catch the moment when the butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. Its a time consuming-proces and most of the attemps fail.
This year I waited hours and hours in front of chrysalises of the Orange-tip. I had more than 30 chrysalises but I could only 'catch' two females. I found an egg of the Admiral and raised the caterpillar/chrysalis but the butterfly was born before I noticed any colour changes at all. My perfect hanging chrysalis of the Brimstone between Buckthorn emerged yesterday in the minute I was busy writing an email while I was waiting.....and last but not least.....the caterpillar of the Small White decided to use a bottle to hang on.....not the place I had in mind! But at least I catched the moment.....
Although we finally have summer temperatures since almost one week, the amount of butterflies is extremely low. It's 'hard working' in the evening to find ONE roosting butterfly. Almost every evening I'm searching for butterflies but to find ONE is difficult and it's more difficult to find one who is sitting in that part of the area where the sun is going down. Fortunately a few days ago I found ONE on the right spot....a Brown Argus.
In a few days my holiday will start, first with a trip to the Vosges/France followed by a trip to Aosta - Gran Paradiso/Italy again. Three weeks with good company and I hope a lot of beautiful butterflies!
Together with a good friend I visited a lot of areas in The Netherlands and Belgium during the last weeks. The amount of butterflies was disappointing low. Since two days we finally have nice weather so yesterday evening I gave it a try again in my favorite 'Kleine Beerze' area but I did not find any butterfly or dragonfly at all. I drove to a second spot where I normally can find very easy roosting butterflies next to a path.....after a long search at last I found ONE butterfly, a Small Heath, just a few minutes before sunset.
Since a few weeks I'm a regular vistor of the 'Vivara Natuurtuin' near Vierlingsbeek/The Netherlands. Ten years ago this garden rised on 2,4 ha in the middle of an intensive agriculture area and it's a paradise for all kind of animals including butterflies. A few days ago I visited this garden during the day and noticed some freshly emergd Small Coppers, a Small Heath and a Brown Argus. Before sunset I returned and found them well camouflaged roosting. The next morning the Small Coppers and Small Heath were disappeared without a trace. As the plants on which they had roosted were completely intact, I guess they were eaten during the night by bats.....fortunately this Brown Argus survived the night:
Since my last blog we have cold and windy weather in the Netherlands. Therefore the amount of butterflies is disappointing low....during the day I notice some white and admirals species but early in the morning I only find roosting Orange-tips.
Yesterday morning I visited big meadows full of Cuckoo-flowers near Nijmegen but the trees in the distance unfortunately blocked the rising sun.
That is why I returned to the Maasheggen this morning again. Although the meadows of the Maasheggen are surrounded by bushes and trees too, I was lucky on this national 'orange' holiday & birthday of a friend, to catch the sun just in time!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.