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, 21 September 2015

Troodos Mountains - Butterflies

On 28th July I decided to head for the Troodos Mountains in search of some different species of butterflies. I had been told that many species make their way up into the cooler mountains from the coast in the summer. There are also various other species that are only found in the mountains.
I drove along the coast and then up the F616 towards Troodos, stopping a few times whenever I saw a spot that looked good for butterflies.
My first stop was to take a picture of the view, but I noticed a small patch of Polygonum equise, so thought I should check if any butterflies were feeding on it. There was a very old and tattered Common Blue and then I noticed a really small butterfly. I was delighted to see that it was a Grass Jewel, Chilades trochylus. It was so small that I could only follow its shadow as it flew from flower to flower.
 
All along the road I saw Swallowtails and Small White as I drove along. Further up in the hills I stopped a couple of times to look for some of the Grayling species that occur on Cyprus. However, all I saw were Long-tailed Blues.
Eventually, I arrived at Pano Paltres and just as I was leaving the village I saw a small parking area with walking trail. This was a rough tail following a small river up to Caledonian Falls.
As I started to walk up the track I saw several butterflies. The first I thought was another Long-tailed Blue, but it turned out to be a Purple Hairstreak, Favonius quercus. This was a surprise as I have been lead to believe that the Purple Hairstreak is rare in Cyprus and this was in an area of fruit trees with no sign of any oak trees - their normal food plant.

It allowed me to take one picture, but then flew off. There were a number of Long-tailed Blues at this lower end of the track along with Holly Blues. An Oriental Meadow Brown, Hyponephele lupina, briefly landed at the side of the trail and I was able to take a quick picture before someone walked past and disturbed it.

A little further up the track three Large Whites were feeding on a plant. I was about to take a picture of one of them when three kids ran up with fishing nets swiping at the butterflies!! Unfortunately, this walk proved to be very popular and it was difficult to see any butterflies for any length of time before they were disturbed by someone walking past.
However, this area had a good number of different butterfly species. I was surprised to see a few Speckled Woods, Pararge aegeria, here.

Amongst the Speckled Woods I was teased by a number of dark butterflies that would not let me approach them. I would only notice them when they flew up from the rocks on the trail. They would always land too far away for me to identify them, but I did manage to take a couple of pictures on full zoom which allowed me to identify two of them as Cyprus Graylings, Hipparchia cypriensis. One is a male and one is a female.


One other butterfly I was able to identify was the Lattice Brown, Kirinia roxelana. This is a very striking butterfly with large brown ocelli on its wings. I disturbed it as I was walking up the trail, it flew off and landed next to a rock and then crawled into the vegetation. Unfortunately it flew off when I tried to get a better view of it.
All along the trail there were Holly Blues, Celastrina argiolus, resting on leaves, feeding on flowers and drinking from the damp soil at the edge of the river.

The walk to the falls was well worth the climb with the fine spray nicely cooling the air.

On my return journey, as I was driving through Paltres I noticed a large thistle with some Large Whites, Pieris brassicae, feeding on it. I stopped the car and walked back thinking that I could get a photograph to make up for those chased away by the kids earlier.

While I was watching them a Clouded Yellow, Colias croceus, and a White-banded Grayling, Pseudochazara anthelea, briefly landed on the thistles, each allowing me just enough time to take a fuzzy photograph!

On my way home I stopped off a few more times. In a small field just outside Kedares there was a small irrigation channel surrounded by wild flowers. Among them I saw several Common Blues, Polyommatus icarus.

The field also contained many Large Whites, Holly Blues, Clouded Yellows, including the white form helice, a Speckled Wood and a Cleopatra. A little further down the road next to a layby I saw another Grass Jewel and a Mallow Skipper.
All together a very successful day searching for butterflies.

4 comments:

  1. Hello Nick!:) What fantastic sightings. It's such a good feeling to see so many butterflies on one outing, and you got some super shots.I have never seen the tiny Grass Jewel, ..sweet capture, and the holly blue is a most beautiful shot. A White banded Grayling is also one I have never been fortunate enough to see, although there are plenty of other Graylings around here. Something that has always amazed me is that so many species of butterflies are attracted to thistles, and risk snagging their wings to get to the necter. I have in fact seen this happen to a few.

    At the moment we have some Asian wasps in our chimney, needless to say they are not welcome, and we have to find a way to remove them. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sonjia,
      Yes, it turned out to be a great day, although not the usual relaxed occasion I am used to. To be honest, I am not particularly pleased with any of those pictures as they were all rather rushed because there were so many people around!
      I know an easy way to get rid of your wasps nest, but having had a chimney fire earlier in the year I can't recommend it!!

      Delete
  2. Nick. I think the shots are very good; I learn so much from your blog; I like the ones with the Thistle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Maria, that thistle was a real butterfly magnet!

      Delete