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, 22 October 2017
Mount Pantokrator, Corfu - Butterflies
On 29 June I drove up to the top of Mount Pantokrator. At 906 metres, it is the highest point in Corfu. When I arrived I was surprised to find that I was the only person there, but I was quite pleased, as there was very little room to turn the car around!
The top of the mountain is a mass of masts and satellite dishes and there were great views across Corfu and over to Albania. I had read that Southern Swallowtails, Papilio alexanor, have often been seen there, but unfortunately I didn't see any that day. I was pretty windy up there, so not idea for butterflies.
However, on the way up there I had spotted a track leading off the road with bushes on either side. I stopped the car and thought I should take a look. Despite the wind, or maybe because of it, there were hundreds of butterflies in this more sheltered area.
As I walked through the grass on this overgrown track, butterflies flew up ahead of me. I was delighted to see a Balkan Marbled White, Melanargia larissa, and then another.
These were the most common butterflies along the track.
There were also quite a few Brown Argus, Aricia agestis, in the grass...
... along with some Common Blues, Polyommatus icarus.
In an Evergreen Oak I saw some little hairstreaks. I was able to identify them later as Ilex Hairstreaks, Satyrium ilicis. I also found out that the Ilex Hairstreak shares it name with the scientific name for the Evergreen Oak, Quercus ilex.
A little further along the track was a more open grassy area where I found a small colony of Small Skippers, Thymelicus sylvestris.
Walking back along the track, I saw a Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia.
On the other side of the road I noticed another track leading up-hill, so I thought it would be worth exploring. Almost immediately an orange butterfly flew up and dropped down below the track. I scrambled down and tried to circle where I thought it had landed and I was over the moon to see that it was a Southern Comma, Polygonia egea. This was the only one I saw on my holiday.
There were fewer butterflies on the dry part of this track, but I did see a Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas.
Further along the track it became more overgrown and lush. There continued to be a lot of Balkan Marbled Whites and a few Wall Browns, Lasiommata megera.
There were occasional Clouded Yellows, Colias crocea ...
... Large Whites, Pieris brassicae ...
... and Swallowtails, Papilio machaon.
There were also Small Whites, Pieris rapae, Cleopatras, Gonepteryx cleopatra, and Brimstones, Gonepteryx rhamni, but they were all too quick for me to take a photo of them.
In the most shaded end of the track, just before it became totally impenetrable I found some Purple Hairstreaks, Quercusia quercus, enjoying the shade.
A little further down the road, on my return journey, I spotted a gate just next to where the road crossed a bridge. I thought that I may see some different butterflies in this shaded spot, so stopped the car for a quick look. These gates turned out to be the gateway to butterfly heaven! Just beyond the trees the track opened out into a lovely meadow, with a terraced vineyard to one side. It was all a little overgrown and covered with wild flowers.
I could see butterflies flying around everywhere I looked. The most numerous was the Balkan Marbled White.
There were Cleopatras feeding on lovely pink wild flowers.
Brimstones and Large Whites were doing the same, all in large numbers.
Occasionally a Great Banded Grayling, Brintesia circe, would fly up from rocky or more open areas of soil.
I was thrilled to see a Southern White Admiral, Limenitis reducta, flying along the trees at the edge of the meadow, but I was unable to catch up with it. However, it did lead me to a Wood White, Leptidea sinapis.
Interspersed among the butterflies above, were Clouded Yellows, Common Blues, Silver-washed Fritillaries, Wall Browns, Small Skippers and Brown Argus. I spent ages just watching the butterflies, amazed by how many there were there!
As I watched, I kept seeing the occasional Southern White Admiral. They were always heading to one particular point, so I went and stood there to see if it came back. I spotted a Purple Hairstreak in the trees and as I was trying to photograph it a Southern White Admiral landed on a branch next to it.
What a delight. This was the butterfly that I really wanted to see on this holiday.