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Friday, 8 July 2022

Ghost Orchid

Like many amateur naturalists I keep lists, of  late I have trimmed them down to just life lists but there are a couple more - I sit each winter creating a target list, mainly species that I would like to photograph during the coming summer. Additionally I keep a bucket list - reserved for those extra special items that in all probability I won't see. Such a subject was the Ghost Orchid, Epipogium aphyllum, it was certainly top of the list and had been there for some years. However, I managed to find a tour - The Vercors in Summer offering the chance to see it. 

So the 8th of July found me in dense woodland somewhere in the Vercors in France. It was a search that was being distracted by the presence of Epipactis species but when Paul, our leader for the tour, said "I've got a Ghost Orchid",  I was with him in microseconds, well as fast as my decrepit knees would allow. I have a dread that the idiot who treads on the rare subject is me, so I take extra care  and in this case it was well justified. There were at least six specimens within a square metre and I had only picked out one. Anyway once the heart rate slowed down I commenced to take a few shots of something I never expected to see.


"I've got a Ghost Orchid"






















At one point a beam of sunlight penetrated the gloom and I managed to capture a few shots in natural light rather than flash




Having recorded several specimens we relocated to another known site where we could roam free and find our own specimens. I have to say that I was delighted to find several but the icing on the cake was finding a trio of single flowered specimens.




Another plant that I recorded was Yellow Bird's-nest, Hypopitys monotropa or a Dutchman's Pipe. I have found it in beech woods in West Sussex but it is far from common.


Yellow Bird's-nest. Hypopitys monotropa





Yellow Bird's-nest. Hypopitys monotropa


Big thank you to Paul Harmes - the man with the knowledge

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Butterflies of the Italian Alps

Again, not so much a blog of the tour more a gallery of the week spent in the Italian Alps based at Bagni di Vinadio. I deliberately didn't take any field notes so rather than by location they are presented chronologically - hence the repeats.

The group assembled at Nice airport and we were soon underway to our base. I was anticipating our first stop at Col de La Lombarde, a venue that I had visited several times in the past and I had a date with Cynthia. Unfortunately Cynthia stood me up but Dave, our leader, promised us a return visit. There was precious little else on the Col, though someone did find a Cynthia and try as I might there was no sign of Grison's Fritillary.

Another roadside stop finally got me started, a nice Cleopatra, Gonopteryx cleopatra followed by what I consider to be an unusual sighting - Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus in cop.

Thursday

Cleopatra, Gonopteryx cleopatra



Oak Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus



Oak Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus


A Knapweed Fritillary, Melitaea phoebe and an Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola were added to the list.


Knapweed Fritillary, Melitaea phoebe 



Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola 

Friday

The following morning a pre-breakfast foray turned up just a single Bath White, Pontia daplidice in the hay fields adjacent to the hotel and a few fresh Marbled Whites, Melanargia galathea.



Bath White, Pontia daplidice



Marbled White, Melanargia galathea



We started the day's butterfly hunting with a Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania ......


Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania



Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania


.... followed by another unusual in cop pair of moths, this time the Nine Spotted Moth or Yellow-belted Burnet, Amata phegea.



Yellow-belted Burnet, Amata phegea



Yellow-belted Burnet, Amata phegea


The next venue was a quest for the Scarce Fritilllary, Hypodryas maturna and they were about in good numbers.




Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna




Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna




Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna




Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



Scarce Fritillary, Euphydryas maturna



White Admiral, Limenitis camilla




White Admiral, Limenitis camilla




White Admiral, Limenitis camilla





Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae




Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae



Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae




Black-veined White, Aporia crataegi


Apollo, Parnassius apollo




Saturday



Large Grizzled Skipper, Pyrgus alveus




Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania




Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania




Silver-studded Blue,




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe





Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe





Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe





Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe





Heath Fritillary, Melitaea athalia



Black-veined White, Aporia crataegi


Sunday



Weaver's Fritillary, Boloria dia



Weaver's Fritillary, Boloria dia



Weaver's Fritillary, Boloria dia



Weaver's Fritillary, Boloria dia



Turquoise Blue, Polyommatus dorylas




Southern Swallowtail, Papilio alexanor





Sloe Hairstreak, Satyrium acaciae




Scarce Copper, Lycaena virgaureae




Queen of Spain Fritillary, Issoria lathonia




Pearly Heath, Coenonympha arcania



Marbled Fritillary,  Brenthis daphne




Marbled Fritillary,  Brenthis daphne




Marbled Fritillary,  Brenthis daphne




Marbled Fritillary,  Brenthis daphne




Marbled Fritillary,  Brenthis daphne




Knapweed Fritillary, Melitaea phoebe 




Knapweed Fritillary, Melitaea phoebe 




Knapweed Fritillary, Melitaea phoebe 





Monday



Almond-eyed Ringlet, Erebia alberganus




Almond-eyed Ringlet, Erebia alberganus



Almond-eyed Ringlet, Erebia alberganus




Apollo, Parnassius apollo






Apollo, Parnassius apollo



Apollo, Parnassius apollo





Apollo, Parnassius apollo



Apollo, Parnassius apollo



Black-veined White, Aporia crataegi



Black-veined White, Aporia crataegi



Heath Fritillary, Melitaea athalia




Large Wall Brown, Lasiommata maera




Large Wall Brown, Lasiommata maera



Large Wall Brown, Lasiommata maera



Aberrant Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania




Aberrant Titania's Fritillary, Boloria titania



Now I know it's tatty but this is Northern Wall Brown, Lasiommata petropolitana and a life tick for me.

Northern Wall Brown, Lasiommata petropolitana




Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Boloria euphrosyne




Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Boloria euphrosyne




Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Boloria euphrosyne




Pearly Heath, Coenonympha arcania




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Purple-edged Copper, Lycaena hippothoe




Olive Skipper, Pyrgus serratulae



Olive Skipper, Pyrgus serratulae




Carline Skipper, Pyrgus carlinae




Carline Skipper, Pyrgus carlinae




Carline Skipper, Pyrgus carlinae


Silver-studded Blue, Plebejus argus




Grison's Fritillary, Melitaea varia




Grison's Fritillary, Melitaea varia


At the end of the day I opted to scan the large stands of thistles adjacent to the river. Success! - the only Niobe Fritillary, Fabriciana niobe of the tour.



Niobe Fritillary, Fabriciana niobe



Niobe Fritillary, Fabriciana niobe



Niobe Fritillary, Fabriciana niobe



Niobe Fritillary, Fabriciana niobe



Heath Fritillary, Melitaea athalia




Spotted Fritillary,  Melitaea didyma



Spotted Fritillary,  Melitaea didyma




Geranium Argus, Eumedonia eumedon


After a long wait Cynthia finally turned up, just in time, as the rain and wind were setting in for the final twenty four hours of the tour.

Cynthia's Fritillary, Euphydryas cynthia