Thursday, 5 May 2016

Orchids and Butterflies



On Tuesday it was warm enough to do my first butterfly survey of the year. I had a lovely afternoon out on the sunny limestones slopes of the Claise Valley around Chaumussay. Here is a sample of what I saw.

A lovely Fly Orchid (Fr. Ophrys mouche).

Because of the extensive frost damage to the Early Spider Orchids and Lady Orchid in our orchard I expected to see a lot of frost damage out in the countryside. But not so. I found a few Early Spiders looking like mine in a small field near the river and the young Ash saplings on les Grands Champs had their leaf tips frizzled. And that was all. No frost damaged Lady Orchids and lots of Monkey Orchids at their peak, despite them being one of the few species of wild orchids in the Touraine which are considered to be frost tender. I saw eight species of orchid in flower.

A bank of Monkey Orchids (Fr. Orchis singe).

A female Speckled Wood (Fr. Tircis).

The two most abundant butterflies on the day were the Orange Tip (no surprise at this time of year) and the Violet Fritillary. I was especially pleased to see the little Violet Frits as they haven't done well the last few years and they are one of my favourites.

A Violet Fritillary (Fr. Petite violette) nectaring on a Monkey Orchid. There is something stuck to the butterfly's right antennae. It doesn't look like an orchid pollenia, but I can't work out what it is.

People sometimes confuse Burnt Orchids (Fr. Orchis brûlé) with Lady Orchids (Fr. Orchis pourpre), 
and they do look similar if you don't have any scale to compare them. 
This photo gives you a good idea of just how teeny weeny Burnt Orchids are.

A not very good picture of a Common Clubtail (Fr. Gomphe à pattes noires), 
my first dragonfly for the year.

Also a first for the year, my first snake, a Western Whip Snake (Fr. Couleuvre verte et jaune).


2 comments:

  1. Nice post.... We've had a lot of frost damage, being at the bottom of the valley....it is the way the cookie crumbles!
    Pauline says that we've lost most of the pears, if not all!
    I saw my first Damselfly of the year yesterday....a male Beautiful Demoiselle...body glittering in the sun.

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    1. We've lost our nectarines and maybe the sweet cherries. It seems to me that the damage was concentrated on stuff a metre or less from the ground. Anything higher has been hardly touched.

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