Everything comes to an end and I already miss the coffee and view on the Col d'Allos. Two weeks Mercantour/Haute Alpes went by too fast but fortunately I have photos which gives me a big smile. Next to the Scarce Copper also the Apollo was a butterfly I was longing for to see and photograph again. The first encounter was in the National Park but I was not really satisfied with the result as the sun was shining by the time I arrived and they were resting at a steep slope. The second meeting was more a surprise as we expected to find fritillaries and yellows but instead we found a lot of apollo's. And the good thing about this Apollo spot is that nearby is a 'auberge' with good coffee/breakfast.
At arrival I was happy with the first Damon Blue not knowing that after two weeks it would be one of the most common butterflies. The males are coloured shiny metallic blue and I had to catch them with open wings.....not that easy as they move or fly away immediately as soon as I create some shadow over them. In the seccond week we found a lot of them in the grass and on one spot we found three resting couples.
I also searched for the Niobe Fritillary on the Col d'Allos but in the first week I could not find them. I was very happy when I found the first one and it just seemed that my eyes had to get used to them as from that moment on I found the second and third one and the days after we found much more.
Two weeks Mercantour/Haute Alpes c'est fini.....time to make new plans voor 2020!
After eleven days Mercantour my favorite spot is definitely the Col d'Allos which we visited already five times. Every morning was completely different and a kind of surprise what we will find. After a stormy and rainy day last weekend most of the yellow flowers (Arnica montana) are gone but they are still popular as this morning I found some species sleeping on/under them.
Since the trip to Hungary in 2014 I had good hope to find the Scarce Copper one day again and last week it happened on the Col d'Allos. I was very happy with the first butterfly but catching him with open wings was impossible as he flew away as soon as I created some shadow. A few days ago I found a little area near the Col which they prefer to sleep/hide during the night. After two mornings/attemps I'm happy with the result:
After every tour on the Col d'Allos we finished the morning with a delicous 'petit dejeuner' at the Refuge. It's a privilege to enjoy the spectaculair view with a good cup of coffee and a memory card full of beautiful butterflies!
This morning I drunk a good cup of coffee on the place I was longing for.....the Col d'Allos. Together with Frank and Gerard I'm in back in the Mercantour for two weeks and after three days I can not complain.....the amount of butterflies in this region is excellent!
The only thing I can complain about is the fact that a beautiful part of the Allos mountain where a lot of blue species were flying is gone.....bulldozers are pushing large quantaties of sand for a new ski piste.
One week ago I visited the Eifel area again with friends to find out that all meadows were mown the days before. Finding resting fritillaries like the Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary or Queen of Spain Fritillary was a mission impossible and the reason that I photographed species like the Marbled White and Black-veined White which I already found in the Vosges.
My hunger for fritillaries was that big that we decided to visit the small moor area again to search for the Cranberry Fritillary. Within a few minutes I found the first one near the path and some later the second one, also near the path on heather.
Same procedure as every Eifel-day.....we ended this trip with a delicious Kaffee & Kuchen!
The second month of my sabbatical went by very quickly and I'm halfway through. After a trip to the Eifel (see my former blog) I'm in the Vosges now for almost three weeks and I'm enjoying fresh butterflies every day.
It all started with some Black-veined Whites and Heath Fritillaries followed by the False Heath Fritillary, Marbled White, White Admiral and Marbled Fritillary. While I'm sitting inside (it's too hot outside) and writing this blog, the first Lesser Purple Emperor and Silver-washed Frittilary came by.
Five days left in the Vosges and I hope that I will 'catch' the Emperors again!
Visiting a certain area in the Eifel was on my wish list during my sabbatical and last Thursday, I visited this area together with Gerard and Frank. Immediately we noticed the difference in vegetation, caused by the drought, comparing to last year. Fortunately we immediately saw some fluttering butterflies, including two Bog Fritillaries. The next morning we returned and found one of them in the area he was flying around the day before....looking for butterflies in the late afternoon is very often time-saving.
The second morning we visited an 'old' area with the mission the Duke of Burgundy which we noticed the day before.....this time the visit in the afternoon before was not time-saving as we could not find any of them. Because this species is not resting on a plant or in grass we waited until the sun was shining and all other butterfly species were flying around.....but unfortunately no sign of life of the Dukes.
On our way back to the hotel we decided to stop for a 'quick look' in an other area and after a few footsteps there he was.....the Duke of Burgundy. We created some shadow on the place where he was warming up and fortunately he did not fly away and all three of us had time enough to photograph this beautiful butterfly:
With this image in the pocket we were completely statisfied......especially Gerard!
After a late breakfast we visited the Bog Fritillary area again which was crowded. Fortunately one of the visitors was an 'old' butterfly friend which I had not seen/spoken for years and it was very nice to meet him again!
The last morning we visited this area again with the hope to find a resting Violet Copper but instead we found four resting Bog Fritillaries. In four weeks we will visit the Eifel again as some species were not emerged yet.
Yesterday I returned (driving through a snow storm near Langres/France) from a two week vacation in the Provence. Again I found a nature walhalla at the end of the world (actually a long hill). The accommodation felt like paradise with a unique view and the 3ha property was covered with thyme, rosemary and lavender......ideal for butterflies!
Unfortunately, again the temperatures were disappointing low in the Provence and with them the amount of (emerged) butterflies. An other frustrating issue was the strong (almost stormy) wind during my stay.
But, I will not complain as I enjoyed this paradise, the silence and the butterflies I found. On the first day I found a freshly emerged Scarce Swallowtail and on my last day during my last tour in the afternoon I found a big surprise.....a Spanish Festoon which was very cooperative!
After a warm farewell of my collegues a few hours ago, my sabbatical has started. On my way home I enjoyed the sunny weather, flying butterflies and the fresh green of the trees. Although it's beautiful here, tomorrow it's time for my first trip to France and to meet some relatives of the Orange-tips!
Last Saturday I found a lot of Orange-tips on Cuckoo flower near a creek. Although I'm satisfied with the results, it was a challenge to 'handle' my camera as I'm not used to the small wheels (shutter speed and aperture value). At home I found out that I had a lot of dark sensor spots in my images.....after years of Canons automatic sensor cleaning programme I forgot how bad these spots are.
Just a small detail but with 42mp I must control the amount of images to handle the workflow on my laptop.
First I would like to thank my friend Gerard for his guest blogs during the last month!! In one week my sabbatical will start and one of my intentions is to write regularly again.
Last weekend I visited two Cuckoo flowers area's and noticed green grassland instead of cuckoo flowers. Yesterday I visited the areas again and I could count the number of flowers on one hand. Fortunately a lot of Orange-tips were flying around and on every flower I found some eggs. In the evening I returned to an area nearby and I couldn't believe my eyes when I entered the area as on one Cuckoo flower 4 male Orange-tips were resting.
The amount of Cuckoo flowers is dramatically low. Today I visited a meadow of an 'old' area (where I photographed Orange-tips until 2017) and couldn't see any Cuckoo flowers at all....I guess it's the result of the extreme drought of last year.
A week ago I was going thru my photo-archive. I wasn’t searching for anything special but simply browsing through it looking back at what I’ve been doing the last couple of years. As I wrote last week it brought back many good memories, but it also showed very clearly that some subjects I photographed for just a limited amount of time, and for some reason was never interested in to retrace. Some places I photographed very extensively for a limited period…but never felt the urge to go back to them.
I guess that’s nothing special - I think that applies to just about everybody.
But for some reason there are a couple of subjects that makes just about every nature photographer’s heart beat fast..pumps up the adrenaline…and that certainly is the case with the Orange-tip butterfly for me. I think it’s one of the ultimate signs that Spring has finally arrived and each and every year I’m looking forward to seeing/photographing them.
This morning I was driving around Polder de Dordtse Biesbosch together with my brother Frank, and we were both searching for the first Cuckoo-flower. I guess we both knew that it was still a bit too early in the season, but with the warmer weather coming up it certainly won’t take long anymore.
And once the Cuckoo-flowers appear…the Orange-tips will follow soon after.
The picture above was taken almost 11 years ago. On the 3rd of May 2008 to be exact. The peak of the Orange-tip season used to be around that period in the past(end of April/beginning of May). With the climate changing that period is quickly moving a couple of weeks forward. Will 2019 be the first year I spot Orange-tips in March already ?
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Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.