20th-27th. Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche. Tuscany in June is beautiful. The loudest bird in the dawn chorus around Lucie's house is the golden oriole, and there was a group of at least 5 in the woodlands there. They are very shy and difficult to photograph however. The first photograph below is from Lucie's front door, the others from close to the house.
The camera trap recorded a pair of porcupines, badger, 5 wild boar piglets and the first documentation of a grey wolf! The photograph was taken in the spot where we found a kill in October 2015.
Insects included two new owlfly species: this I believe is Deleproctophylla australis.
and this Libelliodes longicornis.
For a break from work, I love photographing the butterflies in Lucie's lavender garden. As well as the 'perfect' specimens, the imperfect ones are interesting too. Some butterflies with tails and eyespots have 'false heads' that distract predators from the real head. Two of the 3 scarce swallowtails I saw lacked tails, presumably lost to predators.
Other new butterflies for me included Bath white, large chequered skipper,mallow skipper, pearly heath and sloe hairstreak.
Other lepidopterans included large skipper, large wall brown, small copper, marbled white and great-banded grayling.
Day-flying moths included crepuscular burnet, nine-spot and hummingbird hawkmoth.
A Roesel's bushcricket was in the back apartment. Violet carpenter bees are abundant now.
The area around Monterchi is very dry, and summer set in very early with temperatures in the mid-30s for much of June. The vegetation looks quite different from this time last year, which was wetter. Cornflowers are abundant.
We did a fantastic road trip into Perugia (Umbria) then Le Marche, staying at a great vegan spa in Belforte del Chienti, then a nice remote air b&b near Serra San Quirico. Near the latter we visited the amazing caves at Frasassi. There were crag martins and Alpine swifts in the spectacular gorge there. We returned via Umbria, visiting the beautiful town of Gubbio. At Belforte del Chienti I photographed Italian wall lizards, with their unspotted underparts. A hoopoe was here too, and purring turtle doves (also at Lucie's).
The western green lizards are quick and difficult to photograph. This one was wounded, then eaten by a cat near Serra San Quirico.
Cicadas are very loud now. Cicada orni below.
18th. I went to Shapwick Heath to see my first white admiral butterflies. They were tricky, but patience paid off and I had some good views. I also heard 2 quail on Butleigh Moor and saw a marsh harrier between Wedmore and Cheddar.
5th-9th. The annual field course at Orielton, Pembrokeshire. Lots of rain this year, though we did manage to get to Skomer. Photos of whitethroat, swallow, spotted flycatcher (nesting at the field centre), short-eared owl, hummingbird hawk moth, and of course, puffins. I also saw 2 common dolphins off Stackpole Head and a common porpoise from close to the Skomer crossing point.
3rd. Ham Wall RSPB reserve. The first-summer female red-footed falcon could be seen distantly from the railway bridge, together with 2 hobbies. At least 3 cattle egrets present. Recently fledged Cetti's warblers were making 'pinging' calls while waiting to be fed. The male little bittern sang a lot, and showed well at times.