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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Butterflying in the Alpes-Maritimes - Col de Cayolle

 

 
The day started well, sitting at the front of the hotel waiting for the group to gather we discovered a much sought after Geranium Bronze inhabiting one of the flower pots.



 
Then we were away, up to the Col de Cayolle where the primary target species was the Small Apollo. However it was a blue that caught the eye first, small numbers were puddling by the fast flowing stream, among them an Alpine Blue.



Alpine Blue?


Underwing confirms it.
 

Then several Small Apollos turned up and of course were the focus of attention.








Then it was a return to hunting out some blues.

Glandon Blue

Glandon Blue

Glandon Blue

 
Glandon Blue
 
In this alpine environment essential minerals are difficult to find hence the mud puddling. Of course another excellent source is animal poo. A large flock of sheep had recently been grazing the adjacent slopes and had left a myriad of their calling cards. Dead simple to seek out a suitable "Richard III" and stake it out, waiting for a host of visitors.




Detailed information from our leader

I think I recognised Mountain Ringlet, Common Brassy Ringlet, Glandon Blue, Mazarine Blue, Idas Blue, Damon Blue, Turquoise Blue and Escher's Blue

I moved to a less busy location, one with sole occupancy, much better for photography.

Idas Blue


Room for two?
 

 


 
 


Mazarine Blue

Plenty of Ringlets too.


Common Brassy Ringlet

False Mnestra Ringlet

Mountain Ringlet


The return trip to the minibus gave an ordinary Apollo, Mountain Green-veined White and a drop dead gorgeous Blue Spot Hairstreak











Lunch, as always, was taken amidst spectacular surroundings





Post lunch was a search for Mountain Fritillary. By now the temperatures were well up and any insect had gone into hyperdrive. Open wing shots were reasonably easy but these specimens were not up to giving any diagnostic closed wing shots - still I gave it a good go.

Mountain Fritillary

Mountain Fritillary


Mountain Fritillary
 

On the way down we stopped off at the lake at Estenc, buzzing with butterflies but by now I was running out of energy, the café more attractive than chasing hyperactive insects. However I did investigate the source of the river Var. In the rapidly drying mud at the top of the watercourse I found fritillaries puddling, In the first of the flowing water, just one resident, a large frog with its legs intact.


Niobe and Spotted Fritillary

The source of the mighty Var river.

La grenouille avec les membres inférieurs intacte
Nice place to live - in summer.



Back at the hotel I scanned the flowers for the valesina, alas all I recorded was an Ilex Hairstreak.







 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Butterflying in the Alpes-Maritimes - Tinée Valley

Day 4 - moving day, as we swapped Rimplas for Saint Martin d'Entraunes, of course butterflying on the way. First stop was the famous manure heap at Beuil.

Lots of skippers and blues but odd to see a pristine Swallowtail puddling in a pile of poo






Foulquier's Skipper??

Large Grizzled Skipper??

Safflower Skipper


A Cleopatra that, try as I might, I failed to capture with an open wing shot.




Damon Blues
On down the track were some decent thistles attracting a few Fritillaries.

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary

Marbled Fritillary

Marbled Fritillary


Rather close Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary


Then on to a roadside meadow for mud puddling blues and a plethora of fritillaries.


 

Apparently seven species


 



Easy - mostly Damon Blue

Another Chestnut Heath
 
Too close!



First Queen of Spain Fritillary












Next Niobe Fritillary








Finally we arrived at our new base and having checked in I dumped my bags, grabbed my camera and joined David to investigate a stand of thistles and umbellifers at the side of the hotel. We struck silver, first a Silver-spotted Skipper  then I was delighted to be able to capture a fairly obliging Silver-washed Fritillary, forma valesina, a perfect end to another great butterflying day.