The other location of the False Apollo we visited four times and we stayed there almost the complete day as I wanted decent photos of this species. I learned that the hour before they dive into the bushes to hide for the night they are less active and that they were sitting longer on a flowers or on the path, but I needed to approach them very carefully.
Although I photographed in the morning the same male butterflies as in the afternoon, which gave me the impression that their area is not that big, I never saw them the day after. Every day I photographed other False Apollos....the same for the female butterflies. This lovely lady with a lot of red in her wings I did not see again.
An other female False Apollo was very slow around noon....first I thought that she was attacked by a spider. When the wind moved her wings I learned that she emerged earlier that day. I was watching her and hoped that she would have been noticed by a male....and suddenly it happened..... a male noticed her and within a few seconds they were mating:
My mission False Apollo would be 100% complete with photos of the eggs and caterpillars. I found three different kind of larval foodplants but unfortunately without any eggs or caterpillars.
Nevertheless, mission False Apollo accomplished!
After two days of seeing my first False Apollo ever, I returned early in the morning to this spot with the hope to find a sleeping one....at that time not knowing that this species have an other sleeping strategy. After a long search without finding any butterfly, the sun arrived. Shortly after the sun touches a field of grassland, a grey/dead bush near the path started moving....a female False Apollo had awakened and started climbing out to enjoy the first sunshine:
Two days after this photo was taken I found this species on an other location and observed them the hole day and learned how they disappear in the bushes of grass. On a large field I first saw a male and a minute later a female diving into the dry/dead bushes of grass and I could not find them back. Although a lot of other butterfly species were still flying around, the False Apollo was ready for the night good camouflaged low above the ground....I guess that this is the reason why they have the name Apollo.
Yesterday evening I visited the Maasheggen (an area with wet meadows near the river Maas) for the first time this year. Since weeks I was saying that I will skip photographing Orangetips this year......so I was searching for other white species.
The amount of Cuckooflowers per meadow was completely different comparing to last year. There are a lot of smaller with bushes surrounded meadows which are perfect for detailed macro work but not suitable to catch the sunrise.
Fortunately I found a larger meadow with roosting Orangetips and Green-veined Whites....on one Cuckoo flower two Green-veined Whites were roosting.
With two roosting butterflies and a red sun in my mind I returned to this area again this morning....unfortunately one of the butterflies left the flower and was roosting in the grass and the sun was shining too bright too soon.
But, I'm happy with this image and I wish all my Dutch friends a happy national 'orange' holiday and for Gerard: Happy Birthday!!!
On the fourth day of being in Greece I saw my first False Apollo (Archon apollinus), a male, and some seconds later I saw the second one flying around. It was warm and sunny and they were very active. Making a decent photo of them was impossible as they like to sit low on the ground. After a beautiful day with lot of imperfect images I decided to come back two days later early in the morning. The larval foodplants of the False Apollo are Birtwort (aristolochia) species which are also the foodplants of the Southern and Eastern Festoon.
Twice I found a roosting Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena); the Eastern Festoon (Zerynthia cerisy) was an other story as I only saw male butterflies around noon which were rushing past.....without tripod I followed one and finally I have one shot:
The Southern Festoon is a more lazy flyer, not that quick as the Eastern one, and much easier to photograph but like the False Apollo they like to sit on spots near/on the ground with a lot of disturbing elements around. After I had found the second roosting Southern Festoon I waited until he opened his wings.
Finding the exact locations of the False Apollos (archon apollinus) took me a few days as I needed warmth and sunshine to see them flying. We had cold days (8 degrees max) with a lot of wind (force 5)....impossible to find the False Apollo.
After being three days in Greece I finally found the first spot with at least 4 False Apollos flying around. Shortly after our arrival a mini-group (with a big butterfly net) arrived with the same goal....photographing the False Apollo. I took some 'shots' of a female of the False Apollo but not the kind of photos I'm longing for. Because this species is feeding from flowers low above the ground it's very difficult to make 'my kind of photo's' from this species without disturbing elements. As it was the first warm day a lot of other butterfly species were flying around too and I was happy to see two mating pairs of butterflies:
After two hours the mini-group left this spot and we were alone again....sitting under a big tree we observed the butterflies the rest of the day and noticed that the False Apollo like to dive into the bushes of grass in the afternoon to survive the night.
From the websites of two tour operators I learned that there would be a chance that one or both tour groups will return to this False Apollo spot the next day, so we choose a drive through the mountains to search for other spots....during this tour we found our first orchids:
Two days ago I noticed a Large Tortoiseshell high in a birch near a sunny forest path. Unfortunately he, or she, had no intention to come down. After a while I decided to continue walking and a few hundred meters later I noticed a second Large Tortoiseshell. Yesterday afternoon I was on the same place again and.....they had found each other! High in the birch they were sitting together enjoying the sun and from their behavior I learned that they were female and male.
The female stayed high in the birch and liked the advances the male was making but not enough for copulation. After a while the male flew away, patrolling the forest path and a few times he was sitting low enough for some pictures (taken with my smartphone). It's nice to have this species back in the Netherlands but it's also worrying that I do see this species more than his little brother, the Small Tortoiseshell.
But I will not complain, it's a good starter of the butterfly season!
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 autumn outside and fortunately there are still butterflies to find. With sunny weather on a nearby rapeseed field I still see Peacocks butterflies and some Admirals, White Species and Speckled Woods. Yesterday I visited an area in Belgium again and I was very happy to found some Queen of Spain Fritillaries.
With its large pearly spots the Queen of Spain Fritillary is one of the most beautiful butterflies for me. My wish was to capture a completely 'frozen' one.....unfortunately it was not cold enough. I hope that they will survive the next two (more rainy) weeks and that I can catch a frozen one early November. Yesterday I was happy with these two on flowering Sea Thrift.
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!
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.