Saturday, September 13, 2014

Twilight of the Empire

In a disused quarry in the Swiss Rhône Valley, a lone emperor was defying the precocious autumn this morning, watching the world go by from a sallow tree:

I think this is a male. I spotted it in flight and initially took it for a female - no visible hint of gleaming blue during the brief time it twisted and glided in front of me - but from its general appearance and the way it then sat high in the sallow for the next hour, I changed my mind to male. Some shots taken when it opened its wings showed a very, very slight note of purple:

According to MétéoSuisse - and matching my own observations - this autumn is falling a couple of weeks earlier than average, measured by phenological indicators like hazel catkins. His Imperial Majesty truly is a law unto Himself!

Will this be the last record from the Empire this year?



dennis said...

that is amazing late!
at what height was this?
by the way...may I have your e mail address please?
mine is

Guy said...

Yes - very late! That was at about 700m in an area with a hot, Mediterranean climate. In the mountains where I live the emperors are long gone. Even the white admirals have been absent for some while, - I last saw one on September 5th in my local woods (the same day I saw my last white-letter hairstreak). My e-mail is I'd be interested to know how your trip to Basel went! Guy