June 2017

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.

golden oriole

golden oriole

golden oriole

golden oriole

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.

grey wolf

Insects included two new owlfly species: this I believe is Deleproctophylla australis.

Deleproctophylla australis

and this Libelliodes longicornis.

Libelloides longicornis

Libelloides 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.

scarce swallowtail

scarce swallowtail

scarce swallowtail

scarce swallowtail

scarce swallowtail

Other new butterflies for me included Bath white, large chequered skipper,mallow skipper, pearly heath and sloe hairstreak.

Bath white

large chequered skipper

mallow skipper

pearly heath

sloe hairstreak

Other lepidopterans included large skipper, large wall brown, small copper, marbled white and great-banded grayling.

large skipper

large wall brown

small copper

marbled white

great-banded grayling

Day-flying moths included crepuscular burnet, nine-spot and hummingbird hawkmoth.

crepuscular burnet

nine-spot

hummingbird hawk moth

humminbird hawk moth

A Roesel's bushcricket was in the back apartment. Violet carpenter bees are abundant now.

Roesel's bushcricket

violet carpenter bee

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.

Monterchi

sunflowers

cornflower

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).

Italian wall lizard

Italian wall lizard

turtle dove

The western green lizards are quick and difficult to photograph. This one was wounded, then eaten by a cat near Serra San Quirico.

western green lizard

from near Serra san Quirico

near Serra San Duirica

Frasassi

bat poster

Frasassi

Cicadas are very loud now. Cicada orni below.

cicada

cicada

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.

white admiral

white admiral

white admiral

white admiral

white admiral

white admiral

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.

whitethroat

spotted flycatcher

swallow

short-eared owl

hummingbird hawk moth

hummingbird hawk moth

puffin

puffin

puffin

puffin

puffin

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.

little bittern

little bittern

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