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.
Not that I'm switched from butterflies into dragon/damselflies but at the moment there are not much butterflies to be found. Yesterday I found three Small Heath after a long search for the Common Blue and/or Small Copper but this morning I did not find a single butterfly. I have the feeling that we already have the 'June gap'. Fortunately I found some Azure damselflies in the grass as it was a magic sunrise today with a layer of low fog above the grass-land.
Yesterday evening I visted 'my' old area around the Kleine Beerze with the hope to find some butterflies like the Common Blue or Small Heath. At day it was almost 26 degrees so I had good hope that they had emerged. Sadly I did not find a single butterfly. Fortunately I found an other 'victim' for my camera....a female Broad-bodied Chaser, a common dragonfly in this area. Photographing this dragonfly was hell as I forgot how bad mosquitoes are without protection.
Yesterday evening I found again a butterfly on dandelion in my garden so my alarm clock went off early this morning. Because there was a strong wind I built a kind of wind-protection-wall with crates....unfortunately the wind came from the same direction as the sun was rising that I capitulated after a lot of unsharp photo's. Some later I saw the first reflections of the sun in the window of the chicken shed and after a look into my viewfinder I started photographing again. Fortunately I have some sharp images and while I was editing these files I was listening to a masterpiece of music from Mike Oldfield which brought me back to 1984.
I will not complain about my neighbours but they have a different relationship with nature than I and in their opinion a garden must be clean and empty. Years ago they were talking a little bit too loud to friends about my 'gribus zooi' mess garden'.
This morning I was thinking about this comment and that due to my messy garden I could stay at home for photographing butterflies....because they love my messy garden with dandelions!
Last week I visited the meadows (Maasheggen) near the Meuse three times; these meadows are characteristic as they are small and surrounded by blackthorn and hawthorn shrubs. The shrubs are full of (nesting) birds and in front of/near the shrubs I found some roosting Orange-tips. One of these mornings was a special one as the sky was extremely coloured red for a long time .
For more than an hour I photographed the above female Orange-tip with the rising sun and on my way back to the car I checked the other female Orange-tip and saw the beautiful orange reflections in the background. Fortunately just in time!
For months I was longing for them and finally they have emerged....the first Orange-tips. One week ago I found some meadows near the Meuse with a lot of cuckoo-flowers to which I returned this morning. Entering this area in the dark was a great experience with barking deers and screaming owls....I was glad that I was in good company!
Actually I wanted to catch the Orange-tip together with the rising sun but due to heavy vegetation around the meadow, the first orange light together with some fog arrived in my composition about 15 minutes after sunrise and disappeared again within a minute.
Unfortunately not much orange light for me this morning but I will not complain as I enjoyed being outside again and searching for butterflies!
Since weeks I was longing to visit the Vosges again but unfortunately the Belgian and France borders are closed due to the situation around Corona and it seems that it's going to take a while.....so no Camberwell Beauty and Large Tortoishell for me this spring. Fingers crossed that the borders will be open again in a few weeks.
Meanwhile I'm enjoying myself with the caterpillars of the Glanville Fritillary.Although we have sunny weather since more than a week, it is too cold and windy for butterflies. The little caterpillars love resting in the sun and they are not very active......until......I create some shadow.....they immediately start to 'run' over/around/into the nest and it's a challenge to get a decent composition.
By the end of April I hope to catch this and other butterfly species in France!
Three weeks ago I noticed that in the forest nearby (which I visit regularly with my 'new' dog) a lot of trees near the path were cut down....some of them were oaks so I had to come back to search for Purple Hairstreak eggs.
Last Saturday I visited this area with a friend who found the first egg. Some days later I returned to collect more branches for breeding this butterfly species and to search for more eggs.
I also discoverd a lot of empty eggs (which I found out at home after looking at them with the MP-E 65mm lens at 5x zooming). Fingers crossed that the little caterpillars found their way into the oak bud and that they survived!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.