Monday, August 5, 2019

1600m up!

Discovered a colony of Purple Emperors in a partially wooded ravine 1575m up on a steep, heavily wooded north-facing slope in the Catalan Pyrenees today. Two of the three seen were feeding on sap oozing from Woolly Thistle heads which have been damaged by weevils and beetles.  

Here's an old male (centre) -

And here's the site, centre, from a distance. The rides in this pine wood were lined with highly suitable-looking sallows but we didn't see any Emperors there, maybe the butterfly simply hasn't found these isolated rides yet.

In the afternoon we watched Lesser Purple Emperor males behaving appallingly - every bit as badly as Purple Emperor males - clashing and chasing, from perching points on birch and sallow along a shady leeward edge (it was quite windy) in 30 Celsius - 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Ilia Nailed

Today I finally nailed the Lesser Purple Emperor. Three males were imbibing minerals where a stream crossed a rough track. 

Here's a couple of males from there -

Not be be outdone, Herself put in an appearance (two females, one pristine, one worn) - 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Doings in the Pyrenees...

The Purple Emperor population has crashed in the Catalan Pyrenees. We are struggling to see any, whereas this time last year I counted fifty in a day and photographed three feeding together on sap flowing from a weevil-damaged Woolly Thistle bud. And the butterfly is definitely at peak season now.

Not sure why, yet, but suspect that adults got knocked out just after I left last early August by torrential thunderstorms, and scarcely laid any eggs; and / or tiny L1 larvae got washed off leaf surfaces by other thunderstorms. We are checking the local weather data. Certainly, there were a number of deluges here last August.  

Maybe the butterfly has different population dynamics up here?

Today, I found a colony 1650m up north of Setcases, in a valley bottom. Here's the habitat -

Thursday, August 1, 2019

It's a wrap at Fermyn

2019 was not a bad year at Fermyn, but perhaps His Majesty was not as prolific as the last few years. Extensive ride widening may have had an impact on the usual hotspots, but I'm sure the unsettled weather in the weeks leading up to emergence played it's part. A late year, with first sightings occurring well into the first week of July (a whole two weeks later than 2018). Once out, they did not come in a rush either with pristine individuals present after what would normally be their 'sell by date'. So quality, not quantity this year.....but those abs! 👌