Although the year has just started, I'm longing for butterflies already!
2019 will be a special year for me as during the butterfly season I'm off for four months. My sabbatical will start and end with a trip to the southern part of France and in a few days, together with some friends I will plan some trips for the months in between. A visit to the area in which we photographed this Black-veined White will be on my wish list for 2019.
Third time's a charm! Although we had cloudy, windy and cold weather during our stay, on both mornings the sun broke through the clouds on the right moment and created a magical atmosphere. Saturday morning it was the honour of the Lesser Marbled Fritillary and on Sunday of the Dark Green Fritillary:
Next to some 'old' spots, we also visited the two 'new'spots which we discovered last year. On the new spots the amount of butterflies was much lower than last year while on the old spots we found more butterflies (and species). In the area of the Cranberry Fritillary the number of the larval foodplant declined and the area looked different.
Fortunately we found one Cranberry Fritillary but photographing him was a real challenge because of the heavy wind. Caused by desperation we (Gerard did it perfect) played a certain figure from 'Van Kooten & de Bie' (you need to be Dutch to understand this) and next to a lot of fun we had some sharp photos!
Our Eifel trip ended with a delicious Kaffee & Kuchen!
Part II was a kind of unforeseen visit to a new area with the mission to find the Bog Fritillary. The mission was successful but it was almost a matter of life and death as during the drive to the area the streets were drenched with water and when we arrived at the area, thunder and lightning 'decided' to hang around above the area. Everytime when I stepped out of the car to give it a try, lighting came down to me followed by thunder within some seconds. Finally I capitulated and we returned to the hotel without seeing any butterfly.
The next morning the weather conditions were fantastic and after a short search I found two resting Black-veined Whites each on an orchid. The honour of finding the fritillaries goes to Gerard!
As our mission was successful, on our way back we ended our trip with the German tradition 'Kaffee und Kuchen' and started making plans for the next trip.
My alarm clock went off very early totday to pay a visit to the Violet Coppers and Bog Fritillaries, 2014 was the last time I visited this area. Although we have summer temperatures, the area was very cool and wet. The vegetation was lower than in 2014 and there were very little flowering Common Bistort plants; instead I noticed some Cuckoo flowers. I searched and searched but after two hours I only found a resting Sooty Copper and not any Violet Copper or Bog Fritillary. When the sun arrived, the Violet Coppers arrived.....I guess they were resting in the bushes near the trees as none of them had dewdrops on their wings.
With the Violet Coppers the hard light arrived and it was a crime to photograph them. With my hand I created some shadow over them but they don't like it and after one or two photo's they were gone. The majority were male butterflies which have a bluish/violet sheen on all wings.
The Bog Fritillary must wait....in three weeks I will be back in the Eifel with some friends and if we catch this species we will have some extra sized 'Kaffee & Kuchen'.
Unfortunately the trip to the Eifel went by too fast. The beer and food was excellent just like the company. The 'only' disappointing item were the low amount of butterflies at the old spots. Since almost 25 years I'm visiting these spots and the contrast between then and now is large. Some species are completely disappeared.
But, we also discovered two new area's and in one we found some hundreds of butterflies.....the majority was the Silver-studded Blue but it was a relief to find a place with a lot of fluttering.
Mission Bog Fritillary was not succesful, instead we found some Cranberry Fritillaries, a lot of Lesser Marbled Fritillaries and one resting Dark Green Fritillary.....together with the fun we had it was a pretty good Eifel trip!
Every year I visit my 'old' spots in the Eifel; due to the heavy weather last week I was curious if and how this area survived the heavy rain. The area looked very well and within minutes after arrival I found this Black-veined White on a group of White Daisies; the first sunlight gave the meadow a fantastic atmosphere! Later I searched in the shadow parts but like last year I could not find any other butterfly. As the sun was rising quickly I decided to visit an other spot and fortunately I found some other resting butterflies in the shadow....unfortunately just a few but enough to enjoy them.
As I was curious if I had missed the butterflies, I returned to the first spot and observed the meadow for some time....in the distance one brown copper was flying.
As I had not much time, this was a short visit. If possible, I will visit this spot again after my return from France to search for the Black Hairstreak. While I was driving home I remembered a visit to this spot, I think it was in 2007 or 2008 with Henri and Bob, when the meadow was full of butterflies and I needed to make a choice which one/species first....these were the golden years!
Recently, I visited my 'old' spots in the Eifel and while I was walking around I was wondering if there was something wrong with my eyes or if there were no butterflies. In a meadow where I found last year hundred of butterflies, I now did not find one single butterfly. It felt so unreal and uncommon!
My accompanist had more luck and found a Purple-edged Copper but as it was cloudy the wings of the butterfly were closed. As I photographed this species with closed wings two weeks earlier in Belgium, I had no need to hurry......until the sun started shining. Within a minute this rigid butterfly came alive and opened his wings. Yes, it was a male with one of my favourite colour combinations: orange, red and purple.
We visited an other meadow where we fortunately found some more butterflies and thanks to the Red-Backed Shrikes, I discovered a spot of the Black Hairstreak. Since a long time I knew that the spot was somewhere nearby, but I never found them until this year. While we were observing and photographing two Red-Backed Shrikes who were flying around but returning to the same tree and/or bushes, I noticed some wild-moving brown butterflies above some bushes. Unfortunately these small butterflies were too active and sitting too high in the bushes that photographing them was a mission impossible.
My plan to return soon to this spot vanished due to some other priorities. Meanwhile the flight of other butterfly species started and like each year it feels that I have not enough time.
Orange, red and purple,
this is why this species is called 'Purple-edged Copper'
Yesterday my day started delightful between orchids, birds and butterflies but ended dramatically. Together with a fellow photographer from the ‘Palinka’ club, I visited some ‘old’ favourite spots in the Eifel. About this trip I will write another time.
Together with two former colleagues, I had a dinner and while we were sitting outside on the terrace having an interesting conversation, we heard a loud noise, squealing brakes and witnessed how a small car made a full stop against a tree. The loud noise was the collision in full speed between the car and a young man on a scooter. Immediately some people from the terrace started with first aid and informed the emergency room. The first ambulance arrived soon but despite all the efforts of everybody, the young man, 18 years old, died.
The day ended with feelings of disbelief, sadness and grief that within one second a young life was taken away. Today I’m still silent; hoping that I will never never never receive a message like the parents of this young man did yesterday. My thoughts are with them!
Yesterday, together with Bas I visited the beautiful Eifel region again with the mission to find the Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus coridon) and some other rare butterflies. We found some hundreds of the Chalkhill Blue butterflies but unfortunately we had some bad luck with the weather. Shortly after arrival it became very dark in the distance and with some drizzling rain, some sunlight and a rainbow I made the last detail photos.
With the dark clouds a lot of heavy rain and wind came too. We decided to stay and to hide under the umbrella above the photo stuff. The heavy rain stopped after fifteen minutes, the stormy wind continued. The majority of the butterflies were resting below or in the grass; I found one male resting between a flower bud in the grass. With my beanbag and angle finder I was lying in the wet grass; due to the wind almost all the raindrops on/in the grass were gone.
Cause every time it rains,
You’re here in my head,
Like the sun coming out,
Ooh, I just know that something good is gonna happen.
© Kate Bush
Every year I try to pay a visit to the Eifel for at least one time; this year, within a week I travelled twice to the Eifel together with young talented photographer Bas Mandos. Our first visit started in the rain and ended in the sun and I was happy to see that the amount of butterflies was recovered (see my 2012 blog).
During our second visit, against expectations we found next to the Bog Fritillary also the Violet Copper resting on Common Bistort, their favourite food and larval plant. Both species I photographed in the nineties on slide and since then their amount decreased dramatically (on the places I knew).
Fortunately the Violet Copper was present in large amounts and the weather (cloudy with sunshine inbetween) was perfect. I 'catched' them resting and/or drinking and it was a joy to observe and photographing them in their beautiful habitat.
Like last year I also met some other facebook friends, an 'uncommon' butterfly photographer and some orchid fans which gave me information where I can search in 2015 for new species.
More photos are added in the butterfly gallery: Germany - Eifel -> 2014.
In a few days I will leave to an other butterfly and nature paradise, the Bükk National Park in Hungary. There I will meet some other photographers and I hope some very beautiful butterflies.
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.