The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Mavrokolympos Dam - Butterflies

A couple of days into our holiday to Cyprus I walked up the road towards Mavrokolympos Dam. I had been told that this road was a great place to see butterflies, but I had also been told that July was not a good time of year for butterflies in Cyprus.

I walked for about two kilometres, but there were no butterflies along the side of the road, or along some small tracks leading to the dried up river. So, I decided to drive up to the reservoir and walked along its west side to the small river that feeds into it.

I was surprised that there were still very few butterflies, but in a small gully I found 11 Common Blues, Polyommatus icarus, all but one were males.

In the same area I saw a single Small White, Pieris rapae.

During the course of my walk I also saw a Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera, a Cyprus Meadow Brown, Maniola cypricola, a Mallow SkipperCarcharodus alceae and another Pigmy Skipper, Gegenes pumilio.

I was surprised to see water running down the river into the reservoir. There were several species of fish swimming in the water including some that looked just like goldfish!

I searched the grass around the river for some time, thinking that it would be a good place for Dark Grass Blues, Zizeeria karsandra, which at that time I hadn't yet seen. Unfortunately, there were none there, but a Swallowtail, Papilio machaon, spent a long time feeding on the flowers of a shrub there.

There were also many different varieties of dragonflies and damselflies there, which I spent some time watching. By this time I realised that I had spent longer than planned here and I was due to buy some bread on my way back for lunch. I rushed back to the car and started driving down the road, only to discover that it had been closed to traffic! Three large boulders had been pushed across the road. I drove back up to the dam where there were two men surveying the dam wall. We all drove back to have a look at the road block and after many very animated phone calls the men told me that the road authority wanted money to open the road again!

One benefit of waiting there was that a Hermit, Chazara briseis larnacana, landed at the side of the road

The underside was a lovely pattern of beige and brown and the upper side was mostly dark grey with white markings. The butterfly tended to land and immediately close its wings, then a few seconds later flash its wings open very briefly. I was lucky to snap this fuzzy picture of it with its wings open.  

We spent some time looking at the boulders and at a fence next to the road to see if we could make a way past. Eventually the men suggested that we should try to drive along a dirt track. They said their truck could make it, but it could be a problem for my hire car! Eventually, after much wheel-spinning, bumping and sliding we made it through to a tarmac road. All along I was thinking of the contract that I had signed with the car hire company stating that I wasn't to take the car off-road! Luckily no damage was done and they were none-the-wiser!


  1. I love all of them. The image of the Swallowtail has so much detail! You even caught a flower falling! Good detail!

    1. Thanks Maria. Not the most exciting butterflies I have seen, but a fun morning! I was delighted with the Swallowtail pictures. It was very active, but because of the good light the picture came out well. I have used that picture as my desktop background at work. As usual, I think more luck than skill!!

  2. I second what Maria said, Nick. Beautiful captures. That Hermit is so beautifully camouflaged that it's a wonder you spotted him!
    It's always such a bonus to be able to photograph butterflies when on holiday. For some reason, I wasn't able to click a single one though I travelled to 5 countries in the last 5 months! I wasn't looking in the right places, I guess :P
    Thanks for the visit to my blog, Nick. Unfortunately I clicked the wrong button and couldn't publish your comment . Yes, it's way too long since I blogged!!! But I did manage to copy-paste it from the Comments section so all is not lost.

    1. Thanks Sunita, I was so pleased to see a Hermit. It was a butterfly that I have always wanted to see. I love the different tones of white and brown.
      I was very lucky that I had been given some suggestions for good places to see butterflies in Cyprus. If not, I wouldn't have seen half of what I did. I am very grateful to Eddie John for his help. Here, I know of remote places where particular species occur. I guess that is the same across the globe. As you say, you just needed someone local to tell you the best places to see butterflies.

  3. Lovely pics, Nick!
    That Swallowtail pic is fabulous!
    A prize winner!!!!
    I sincerely hope the European kestrel numbers are really picking up, they are more endangered in the UK it seems than elsewhere. But all in all, I believe nature is truly ill-treated all over :(
    Keep well, enjoy your weekend!

    1. Thanks Noushka, I was very pleased with the Swallowtail picture. As you know Swallowtails keep flapping their wings when they are feeding, so I imagined all of my pictures would be blurred! The bright light allowed a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the motion.
      Yes, it is up to all of us to try to do what we can to help nature. Plant what we can, protect what we can and encourage others to be interested.

  4. Nick, I have to agree that your swallowtail shot is stunning, with the flowers framing the butterfly and the colours... just fantastic.

    The Chazara briseis is beautiful too! The upperside pattern looks like what one may expect to see on a swallowtail species..

    1. Thanks Jonny,
      I can't claim any great skill with that one, just the right place at the right time. Thankfully the bright light froze the picture well, as the Swallowtail wasn't still for a moment. Yes, the upper side of the Chazara briseis was quite a surprise to me, so I was keen to try to catch a picture of it. I hadn't spotted the similarity to a swallowtail, but now you mention it I can see the similarity to a Bluebottle!!