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!!!
In one of the Aosta valleys lives a very rare little brown butterfly of the blue family (Lycaenidae): the Piedmont Anomalous Blue (polyommatus humedasae).
This little butterfly is endemic to Italy/Aosta. Like in 2020 and 2021 I payed a visit to the hotspot of this species. First, I was shocked how dry and and brown this spot was; I found some butterflies but not the species and amounts of the two former years. Secondly I noticed that a lot of Piedmont Anomalous Blues were numbered and searching for this species felt like a kind of bingo game!
During our first visit at day we found number 10, 70, 87 and two not numbered species on the main path. On our second visit we found number 6, 33, 38, 51 and 99 and again some not numbered species; all around/at the main path. Interesting was that number 38 was roosting far away from the other butterflies.
We had plans to return a third time this morning to get a full bingo card with hundred numbers but it was too warm during the last two nights that they will fly away immediately.
But, the most remarkable thing is that I found this rare species on an other spot!
Out of the blue there was sitting a beautiful Piedmont Anomalous Blue in front of me, what a nice bingo price:
I also saw a second one so I guess that there is a very small population on this spot.
In the meantime we have left the Mont Blanc view accommodation and moved in into an other beautiful place/valley at 1750 meters with 29 degrees in the shadow!
Again I'm in the Aosta - Gran Paradiso region at the moment as this region is perfect for a butterfly and nature lover like me. Comparing to other years it is very dry and instead of pink bog and sainfoin the meadows and borders are brown. Near rivers and creeks fortunately it's not too bad.
Unlike other years I have booked four different accommodations in three different valleys. Our first accommodation was a small farm at the end of the valley from which we could walk to different butterfly spots.
On the last day of our stay at the first accommodation/valley I could photograph the very rare Cranberry Blue in a kind of moor area. After five days Aosta - Gran Paradiso I counted more than 60 different butterfly species in one valley!
Yesterday I arrived at the second accommodation, a well-known place as I have been here twice before with Gerard & Frank. With a delicious cup of coffee and a fantastic Mont Blanc view I'm writing this first Aosta blog....watching the butterflies crossing the terrace.
Since days we have one storm after the other in The Netherlands. Eunice was a very heavy storm and in the evening I heard a tree falling down near the house. It was an old oak which had lost the majority of its top. After storm Eunice was gone I was out to see the damage and....to search for eggs of the Purple Hairstreak. Within one hour search I found 10 eggs on branches that lay on the ground.
Unfortunately today it's too wet and stormy again outside to search for more butterfly eggs so I started to make plans and reservations for some butterfly trips this year. Again I will visit the Aosta - Gran Paradiso region this summer.....I can't wait to go back to this lovely mountain area and search alpine butterfly species.
It's almost time to say goodbye to 2021. Due to the pandemic my childeren missed for the second year in row a lot of school lessons and for my daughter it was in juli very exciting if she would pass her exam. Fortunately she graduated from high-school!
Again the pandemic caused for a lot travel restrictions but luckily I was able to visit my house in the Vosges during the butterfly season and together with Frank & Gerard I made a trip to the Aosta valley region. 2021 was also a year of personal changes and farewells.
Now I'm ready for 2022! I'm looking forward to new butterfly trips and positive energy! If possible, I would like to travel a few weeks during the summer trough the Aosta valley and other mountain area's. So fingers crossed that my 'boss' will be cooperative!
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and positive 2022!
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 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!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.