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.



Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sierra Nevada Butterflies - July 2016 (3)

I retraced my steps towards the car park, but took a shortcut below the observatory as I wanted to head towards a stream in the valley below. I noticed that a small cloud had developed above the valley and it appeared to be stuck there. As I entered into its shade I saw a lovely female Escher's Blue, Agrodiaetus escheri, waiting for the sun to come out again. I decided to wait with it to see if I could get a photo of the upper side of its wings.

Thankfully, when the sun came back out it opened up its wings. I have taken many pictures of female Lycaenidae, which I find almost impossible to identify from the upper wing shots. I hope that this picture may help me to identify other female Esher's Blues.

As I walked down the feint path in the mountain side I came across several Spanish Brassy Ringlets, Erebia hispania. They were quite obliging as they sat against the rocks warming up once the cloud had passed.

It is difficult to say which blue butterfly was the most common on the way down to the stream. There were probably equal numbers of Escher's Blues, Common Blues, Polyommatus celina, and Nevada Blues, Plebicula golgus. With almost every step another would fly into view.
Common Blue
Nevada Blue

The cloud also slowed the Apollos, Parnassius apollo nevadensis,  down a bit. I remember on my previous visit watching them for ages drifting up and down the mountain side without stopping. On my descent they were all on the ground, only flying when they were disturbed.

On the short grass by a spring I saw this lovely Safflower Skipper, Pyrgus carthami nevadensis.

This beautiful female Knapweed Fritillary, Melitaea phoebe, briefly stopped next to the path. This is the first time I have seen this butterfly.

When I reached the grassy area next to the stream I saw a few larger fritillaries. They all turned out to be Dark Green Fritillaries, Argynnis aglaja. A butterfly that I haven't seen in the Sierra Nevada before.

There were also about 20 or so smaller fritillaries. These were Meadow Fritillaries, Melitaea parthenoides, another butterfly that I haven't seen before. It is strange that they were so common this year, but two years ago I didn't see any in exactly the same location.

I spent some time down at the stream, enjoying the beautiful clear water cascading through the rocks and the many insects that live alongside it.

I was thrilled to see this cow pat, which was attracting various male blue butterflies. In this picture there are Common, Escher and Nevada Blues.

Every so often I would see a Purple-shot Copper, Lycaena alciphron gordius. I love the purple edging to their wings.

Other butterflies seen there, but not photographed were Clouded Yellows, Colias crocea, Cardinal Fritillaries, Argynnis pandora seitzi, Small Tortoiseshells, Aglais urticae, Bath Whites, Pontia daplidice and Wall Browns, Lasiommata megera.
On my way back up the mountain I saw this lovely Heath Fritillary, Melitaea athalia celadussa.

It was fantastic seeing so many butterflies and such a variety, but I had to drag myself away as I still had a couple of other places I wanted to check out.