Friday 13th December 2013

Another absentee from the 2013 list

Following my recent blog posts detailing two species of butterfly that I should have managed to find in my normal haunts in the Netherlands, Belgium, part of western Germany and northern France (the Large Tortoiseshell, Nymphalis polychloros, and the Mallow Skipper, Carcharodus alceae), the next absentee, chronologically speaking, was the Woodland Ringlet, Erebia medusa.

The Woodland Ringlet posing cooperatively – normally they are hard to photograph without grass blocking the view

Unlike most of its congeners in the genus Erebia, this is a spring rather than a high summer butterfly, and I normally see it either in the Hautes Fagnes, a high plateau in eastern Belgium, where it is usually to be found in my favourite Bistort-filled valley flying together with the Violet Copper, Lycaena helle, and the Bog Fritillary, Proclossiana eunomia, or in the nearby Eifel region just across the border in Germany, where I usually find it on chalk/limestone grassland flying with the Duke of Burgundy, Hamearis lucina. In neither locality is it numerous, and I would never expect to see more than two or three individuals at a time.

Woodland Ringlet habitat in the Hautes Fagnes

Woodland Ringlet habitat in the Eifel, where the temperature was just 3 degrees on 24th June

Although I visited both areas at the correct time of the year, on 23rd and 24th June, the extraordinarily cold weather meant that butterflies were mostly inactive, and whilst I did find a very few Violet Coppers and several Bog Fritillaries in sheltered clearings during the brief gleams of sunshine, I did not manage to find any Woodland Ringlets. I can only hope that next year a few warm, sunny days will coincide with weekends when I am able to make the long journey to these beautiful areas.

A Woodland Ringlet, this time with the usual grass in front of it

Had I seen Large Tortoiseshell, Mallow Skipper and Woodland Ringlet, my 2013 total would have been: 80 species.

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