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Butterflies in the Italian Alps, August 2020. (1 Viewer)

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
9 August. Madonna di Campiglio.

Shifted a little further south this day to the slopes above Madonna di Campiglio, the dramatic dolomite peaks at their most magnificent here. As for searching for butterflies, decided on a relatively gentle hike of about six hours from Patascoss at 1640 metres to Rifugio Laghi at 2060 metres. Now familiar species to kick the day off - Lesser Mountain Ringlets, abundant Dark Green Fritillaries, quite a few Silver-spotted Skippers, etc. Sweltering hot on the ascent, temperatures above 30 C even at mid-altitudes, but plenty of good butterflies all the way up, including relatively fresh Darwin's Heaths, my first Commas of the trip and many Silver-washed Fritillaries and Niobe Fritillaries. Very friendly cows too!

From Rifugio Laghi, I took a narrow path to Lago Ritort - not ideal for photographing along this path due to the steep slope, but big numbers of butterflies, especially browns and ringlets – Scotch Argus, Silky Ringlet, Common Brassy Ringlet, Marbled Ringlet and Large Wall Brown all noted along the path. Most pleasant. From Lago Ritort, it was then a long meander down to lower altitudes, largely through forest, not too good for butterflies, though I did add more Marbled Ringlets and my only Arran Browns of the trip here. Lots of nice stuff lower down, mostly usual lower altitude species, but also including a Large Tortoiseshell, also my only one of the trip.

With desires to try and find some lowland species, I then departed the mountains and drove towards Trento, stopping at a couple of localities on route that looked good. And splendid they turned out! First stop was a wooded gorge aside a stream at an altitude of just 460 metres, a broad path zigzagging down to the water. White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries floating past, a couple of Brimstones, several Wood Whites. But even better were the butterflies I found on open ground aside the stream - not only a Purple Hairstreak and several Holly Blues on a buddleia, but just adjacent also three Provinçal Short-tailed Blues (a new species for me) and, even better, a small colony of Chequered Blues, a very nice butterfly and another new species for me. Common Blue and a Chalkhill Blue completed the set.

More rewards some kilometres further, this time in arid roadside grassland near Lago di Cavedine, altitude 240 metres. Excellent selection here, including several new for the trip – a cracking Geranium Bronze (one of my favourite butterflies), four Bath Whites, a Tree Grayling and a Woodland Grayling. Also plenty of Small Whites, Small Heaths, etc.

And that was just about it for the day, I continued another few kilometres and stayed in a hotel near Arco, a splendid 43 species of butterfly this day, the highest day total of the trip.
 
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Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Chequered Blue, Geranium Bronze, Provinçal Short-tailed Blue, Purple Hairstreak
 

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Adey Baker

Member
Excellent stuff there, Jos. I've found Chequered Blues in a couple of spots near to Riva del Garda a few years ago and above Torri del Benaco, near to Garda, last year
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Excellent stuff there, Jos. I've found Chequered Blues in a couple of spots near to Riva del Garda a few years ago and above Torri del Benaco, near to Garda, last year

I was totally impressed by Trentino, pretty sure I'll be making some trips next year earlier in the season 👍
 

Adey Baker

Member
I was totally impressed by Trentino, pretty sure I'll be making some trips next year earlier in the season 👍

I'd like to try a bit earlier as well to see what's about. We are only on 'general purpose' holidays, not geared to wildlife at all, yet we always manage to find plenty of stuff that we just don't get back here!

Covid has grounded us this year (and the company we usually travel with went bust) but we'll sort something out, but in the meantime it's been great to share your experiences and photos vicariously!
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
10 August. Monte Baldo.

Return to Baldo, the plan today being to climb to the highest altitudes to look for a couple of localised species that occur up there. Before that, started at a scrap of waste land in the Adige Valley, altitude 145 metres. This random stop due to a couple of buddleia spotted roadside turned out to be a fortuitous pause - on the buddleia just Red Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary, but alongside I found yet more of the little exquisites ...four Geranium Bronzes, three Provinçal Short-tailed Blues and two Mallow Skippers. The latter were new for the trip, as were several Spotted Fritillaries alongside. Not a bad start to the day!

Then it was up the Valle dei Molini, plenty of Scotch Argus again, plus a Tree Grayling, a Short-tailed Blue and increased numbers of Dryads. Chalkhill Blues as I reached the top of the valley, then I took a chair lift up to the high ridge of Monte Baldo, a relatively easy walk from there to a peak at 2146 metres. Very few butterflies as I walked, occasional Chalkhill Blues and Small Tortoiseshell, that was about it, but at the peak somewhat better - a number of butterflies active on a steep bank of scree. Yes, this was what I had come up here for! And soon I found the butterfly I was looking for ...one Sooty Ringlet, unfortunately very mobile and far better at traversing the steep scree than me! Didn't get a photo of that one, but did better with its cohorts on the scree - photographed one of the several Silky Ringlets present and a couple of the Mountain Fritillaries. One Great Banded Grayling did a rapid fly-by too.

With my targets seen, and the next peaks along the Baldo ridge looking very far, I decided it was enough for high altitude. Temporarily lost Little One, searched high and low, eventually wandered back to the chair lift and found the guilty party there, they happy as pie! Thereafter, down the chair lift and back to the mid-altitudes. Added a Bluespot Hairstreak to the day tally, plus Silver-studded Blue.

And with that, now late afternoon, the trip was nearly over. Made a few random stops in nearby lowlands, seeing Spotted Fritillary and Short-tailed Blue, then hit the autostrada for the few hours back to Milan. Overnight in a hotel, early morning flight next day.
 
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Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Lower altitudes
 

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Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Silky Ringlets at 2146 metres
 

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Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Good stuff Jos, with all that walking at altitude it seems as though your recovery is progressing well.

Good stuff indeed. Any interesting birds?

Thanks both 👍

As for birds, not a lot. I find birding and butterflying a bit mutually exclusive - on butterfly trips, I tend to be staring at the ground a metre or two in front most of the time. Vultures and eagles could be doing loop the loop above me for all I know, I still would not notice :)
 

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