Our wet summer has meant a pretty disappointing season for butterflies, with very low numbers of all species being seen (apart from Ringlets who for some reason seem to have done quite well). Over in Switzerland however the alpine meadows were in full bloom and positively alive with thousands upon thousands of these delicate creatures. Every bank, field and even the footpaths themselves held a myriad of species, far exceeding anything that I have seen previously. Regular readers will known that I am still very much a novice in this field so my mind has been slightly blown trying to identify everything I photographed. Fortunately some individuals have presented no such difficulties such as this slightly tatty Swallowtail.

Swallowtail, Switzerland

This is a butterfly I have wanted to see for a long time and we were very fortunate to find a pair feeding along the panorama walk from Schynige Platte. Unfortunately it was the more worn of the two which chose to pose for my camera but even so, what a stunner. A couple of passing walkers seemed quite bemused to find my dad and I hopping around the rocky slope, seemingly more concerned with their walking poles than looking at one of natures gems. I mention them only to say that I have a new pet hate concerning people with said poles who seem to spend more time waving them around and generally getting in the way than using them for their intended purpose. Anyway, where was I?

On a smaller scale, though no less impressive, were the Swiss Brassy Ringlets. These stunning butterflies are iridescent when the sun catches their open wings, something which I’ve only just managed to capture in the following shot.

Swiss Brassy Ringlet, Switzerland

This wasn’t the only spotted species we saw with both Wooded Ringlet and Alpine Heath also seen regularly. Both species were a nightmare to photograph as they never seemed to land for any length of time. Fortunately I hit lucky on a couple of occasions even if the composition isn’t quite what I would have wished for.

Woodland Ringlet, Switzerland
Apline Heath, Switzerland

It was very nice to see a couple of familiar species from back home on the wing as well, with Small Tortoiseshells being the most numerous. I couldn’t tell if it was the scale of the surrounding scenery but I am sure these appeared to be slightly smaller than individuals in the UK. Could this be an adaptation to life at higher altitudes or am I simply imagining things? Either way they were very approachable and we were also fortunate to find quite a few of their caterpillars feeding on occasional clumps of Nettles.

Small Tortoiseshell, Switzerland
Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillar, Switzerland

Fritillaries are another group of butterflies that I like to see but seldom get the opportunity to do so. As a result these following two are easily the most dubious of my identifications. The upper wing patterning looks about right to my eye but as always please feel free to throw in any comments if I have been led astray.

Dark Green Fritillary, Switzerland
Dark Green Fritillary
Mountain Fritillary, Switzerland
Mountain Fritillary

Along similar lines there are several species that I have simply not been able to even hazard a guess at. Mostly this is down to the sheer number of possible candidates out there, so instead I shall just enjoy them for their beauty alone.

Unidentified, Switzerland
Unidentified, Switzerland
Unidentified, Switzerland

I honestly think we could have spent an entire fortnight just looking at butterflies and still would have been turning up something new by the time we headed for home.


holdingmoments · August 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

You certainly captured some stunning images there Adam. Beautiful butterflies.

On the odd occasion the sun has shone here, it's been great to see them on the wing.

Five Acre Geographic · August 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Very nice set of lepidoptera images, Adam. Many of my most memorable days in the field have been when I've watched them and enjoyed them merely for what they are and do and remain unconcerned about their "name" and what taxonomic drawer they're assigned to.

theconstantwalker · August 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Wonderful images Adam it's not been a great year for them in Cheshire.
Thanks for sharing them.

Gillian Olson · August 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Beautiful close ups of butterflies, so great to see the details. Thank you.

Adam Tilt · August 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Keith – thanks. Such a shame we've had so little sun this year.

Five Acre Geographic – wise words indeed. I think that sometimes we get a bit too caught up on the what rather than just enjoying the experience.

Andrew – nor here. Here's hoping for better next year.

Gillian – thank you.

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