Since Saturday I'm back in the Netherlands after two quiet weeks in France...on our way back home we crossed a busy village in the Netherlands where we had to wait long for some traffic lights and an open drawbridge. In a small meadow I saw a lot of butterflies, mostly white species but also some blue species and Small Coppers.
On Sunday morning the alarm clock went off earlier and just before sunrise we entered a small heath area to search for small coppers. The flowering season was definitely over as the heather was brown.
We found about 15 roosting Small Coppers and except two coppers they all had a horizontal roosting position. By the time the sun was shining strong they changed their position and the ones with less dew drops opened their wings. Unfortunately the wind became too strong for decent open wings photos.
Next year I plan to visit this area earlier. In the meantime summer returned and I hope to find more roosting butterflies soon.
Today it's the 12th day that Greece is burning around Alexandroupolis....the area which we visited in Spring 2022 to find and photograph the False Apollo. It was one of the last European spots of this beautiful butterfly species.
Places which we visited are gone, national forest are gone, a lot of dead animals which were helpless in the flames....it's unbelievable how big this tragedy is. The animals who survived the flames will starve as there is nothing to eat anymore.
This photo below is taken by satellite two days ago....
The two spots of the False Apollo are completely hit by the fire....the only hope I have is that this species hibernates as a chrysalis and that the larval food plant can survive fires and come up again next spring. So let's hope that there are enough chrysalises survived the fire.
A lot of people are busy fighting the fire and to help all the animals that have been rescued; if anybody is looking for a dog please consider adoption from Greece/Alexandroupolis!
The effect of this tragedy will hit us all as this area (including Dadia National Forest) was a green and very important lifeline of our planet. With this lost of, on the 28th of August it was almost 81000 hectares, global warming will go quicker and quicker!
Not the happiest blog but it bothers me that the majority of people live as there is a second planet earth!
In February the Jordan brothers and I made plans to visit the Eifel this year during the first weekend of August. As the trip came closer the weather forecast became worse....it was going to be a wet weekend. We arrived Friday afternoon in sunshine and after we checked-in we visited one of our good old spots and noticed fluttering butterflies; what a relief after a bad butterfly season!
On Saturday morning the alarm clock went off early and it was a good feeling to be out again and photographing roosting butterflies:
The weather was not bad at all and after we had made enough photos we returned to the hotel for breakfast. With a full stomach we returned to the same spot and with us the sun returned too....again we noticed fluttering butterflies but I only had eyes for one species: the Brown Hairstreak which came down from the bushes.
After catching the Brown Hairstreak we visited our traditional 'Kaffee & Kuchen' spot. On Sunday morning we slept longer because rain was predicted...during breakfast the sun came out and we quickly checked out and drove to the spot where we found a roosting Brimstone and some Sooty Coppers the evening before.
After we photographed these two the heavy rain started and with a satisfied feeling we drove back to the Netherlands.
For more photos of this weekend please visit the page EIFEL.
One of the reasons I wanted to visit the Röhn area was to catch* the Clouded Apollo before becoming extinct in this area. I only knew two higher locations but as the temperatures were low before our trip the chance to find them was low. I learned that there was a secret kept location on a lower part but I really didn't know where. The first days after arrival I visited the higher locations but there was no sings of a Clouded Apollo or any other butterflies.
Long story short....after one week I found a good clue on the internet and finally I found the place with at least 10 flying Clouded Apollos! And as icing on the cake one Clouded Apollo was sitting on a flower near the path.
I was very happy and started to photograph this butterfly but after a few minutes I noticed that something was wrong. Although the butterfly was drinking nectar he could not fly. I walked around and when I came back he was still sitting on that flower....not a good sign but fortunately there were some other Clouded Apollo's flying around.
The next day I returned and this butterfly was still sitting next the path and on the path I found a dead fresh Clouded Apollo....not a good sign! I placed the butterfly on an other flower and he immediately started drinking. I guess that the area has too few nectar plants that some butterflies are starving.
Although I found this rare species I was not in happy mood and I guess that they will disappear if nothing happens.
For years the Röhn region in central Germany was on my wishing list for butterflies; normally I visit the Eifel at this time of the year. Last year the amount of butterflies was disappointing low in the Eifel that I booked a hotel in the Röhn area for one week in May/June this year....I wanted more butterflies!
The first morning we visited a nature reserve nearby but we couldn't find roosting butterflies, as it was the first day I had good hope that the situation would change.
During the week we visited a lot of nature areas in every corner of the Röhn but no meadows with fluttering butterflies. Sometimes one or two butterflies were flying around and that's it. One day we came back from an area and next to a small road a lot of common sainfoin was growing/flowering and finally I saw a lot of fluttering butterflies. The next morning we visited this small area next to the road again and found the first roosting butterfly: a green-underside blue!
On a sunny hillside we discovered a small area with a lot of flowers including common sainfoin again and three mornings I tried there to catch some blue species with open wings which was not easy due to the heavy wind. On Saturday, the day of our departure, a Chapman's Blue was very cooperative and did not fly away immediately. Although we counted 33 butterfly species during our stay, I only found 7 species/12 butterflies roosting, the absence of butterflies is frightening!
Last Tuesday it was the last day with summer temperatures and again I noticed a fresh Provence Hairstreak around the accommodation. Near the house a lot of small marguerites are flowering and the Provence Hairstreak likes them a lot but when I approached her (it was a female) with my white umbrella she disappeared immediately. So I placed the umbrella above a part of the highest flowers and waited...and waited....and then she came. She granted me two photo's...as you can see her left frontleg is in the 'flying away position' and she is moving her hind wing...ready to take off again.
A second butterfly species which I loved to photograph is the Spanish Festoon (Zerinthia rumina); every day I saw one or two flying but finding them roosting was an other thing. Yesterday we were driving through the hills into a nature reserve; in a beautiful valley we took a break and immediately I saw a Spanish Festoon flying around. Soon I saw more and counted four butterflies; after seeing them flying around for almost one hour there was a good chance that they were local flyers in that part of the valley. Although the weather forecast was not that good this morning we drove to the same spot to search for the Spanish Festoon and within a few minutes we found all four of them within a few meters roosting at/in bramble bushes:
Unfortunately our holiday is over and tomorrow we will driving back home...fortunately with beautiful memories and photos!
In the higher parts of the hills we discovered, actually my friend did, a spot/area with a lot of Provence Hairstreaks and the good thing about this spot/area is that it is accessible. Having access to meadows in this area of Spain it's almost impossible as everything is in private hands and behind high fences. During the first week we drove around to search for butterfly meadows but we did not find them, almost every square meter of land is in use for cattle and fenced. Only small parts near roads and paths are available to search for butterflies even in the higher part of the hills.
The area where we found a lot of Provence Hairstreaks is fenced as cattle is grazing but fortunately still accessible. As this species is roosting in bushes the only way to photograph them is at day when the sun is shining. The females of the Provence Hairstreak loves it to sit low at the ground and it is very difficult to make a photo without disturbing material in the back or foreground (and there is a lot when cattle has been grazing). Fortunately the males are often sitting higher to look after a nice female.
Next to the Western Dappled White the Provence Hairstreak is the most common butterfly at the moment in this region; especially on the higher parts of the hills. With 5 days left some more Provence Hairstreaks will probably be photographed!
Last Saturday I arrived in Spain; we rent a beautiful house in the hills outside Madrid. After many many years seeing photos on the internet of the Provence Hairstreak (and never found it in the Provence) I had the wish to see and photograph this species. I knew that this species was seen years earlier a few hundred meters from our accommodation so there was a chance to see this little butterfly.
As our accommodation is situated a little higher on the hill and as near the house his larval foodplant is growing we placed the garden couch nearby and waited with our binoculars. After two hours sitting and watching I was fooled by two Small Coppers but suddenly I saw some glittering green on the wing....very quickly I get up and searched and searched but the little butterfly was gone.
Today, we were just waiting again on the couch when a Provence Hairstreak visited the low vegetation. With an umbrella I created some shadow and for some minutes she was sitting like she was roosting....when I moved the umbrella and the sun touches this little beauty she was gone immediately!
Unfortunately I did not see a second one and this afternoon we made a walk through the area and I noticed a lot of larval food plants but no sign of other Provence Hairstreaks.
My first blog since months and my last blog for this year. Since Aosta I haven't touch my camera anymore as I was very busy creating a kind of life work for my children. 2022 was an eventful year with personal changes and beautiful butterfly trips to Greece, France and Italy.
Retreat to nature for a while with good company, meadows full of butterflies and a good glass of wine with delicious cheese gives me so much energy!
So for 2023 I treat myself with an early butterfly trip to the mountains/nature of Spain. During June/July I will stay at my house in the Vosges as I am curious which kind of butterflies species have survived the drought and a fellow villager who lets his horses graze in the one and only butterfly meadow.
But for now I wish you all Merry Christmas and the very best for 2023!
Merry Christmas - Prettige kerstdagen - Frohe Weihnachten - Joyeux Noël!!
It's almost four weeks ago that I have left Italy. The last week I stayed in a more alpine area than the other valleys but due to the drought and hot temperatures a lot of alpine species were not flying or already gone. On the yellow flowering arnica montana I found one roosting butterfly the first morning....the other six days the flower buds were empty....no roosting fritillaries unfortunately.
There were plenty of butterflies, the majority were erebia's and skippers. Erebia's are very nervous 'bastards' especially when there are not covered with dew.
There were a lot of different erebia species flying at day but finding them roosting was an other thing, especially the species which I liked to 'catch' like the ones with a metallic sheen.
As I did not catch the erbia species with open wings I need to go back to Aosta a fourth 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.