la roque gageac

Dordogne Wildlife Diary

  • a large fritillary...

    Yesterday I was doing my regular walk in the nearby valley when I nearly stepped on this large fritillary. The weather had clouded over and butterfly activity had declined. This particular butterfly didn't seem to want to move. In fact I think it had only recently emerged. When I first saw it, resting with its wings open, I thought it might be a High Brown with the slightly concave outer edges to the forewing. It was imperative for me to see the hind-wing underside pattern but the butterfly was down in the vegetation and seemed determined to keep its wings open.

    Getting a view under it was impossible so I tried a few photos of the upperwings anyway and as I got closer the butterfly occasionally flicked its wings up...and then down, but not slowly enough for me to identify it. So I tried to capture an image when it was holding it's wings fully up but with the dull weather the focus was not working too well. So I switched to flash. Again I took loads of hopeful photos and this one was the best.

    Well, firstly it enabled me to identify the butterfly back at home on the computer screen: a Dark Green Fritillary. A High Brown (the only other candidate here) in particular has a line of white-centred, brown spots in the faune hindwing band, where this one has none. What it also shows very nicely (apart from the out-of-focus grass stem) is the beautiful silver spots and the brilliant shiny green colouration which gives the butterfly it's name (not quite "dark-green" to me...but still !). This latter colouration was something that I hadn't appreciated until I took this photo rather accidently. Sometimes pure science really is more interesting than applied science! The Victorians were very good at silvering the spots on pictures of fritillaries in their butterfly books, but modern publishing doesn't seem to be up to it. But I don't remember seeing the shiny green in any Victorian plates of a Dark Green Fritillary!


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Welcome to my Dordogne Wildlife Diary

In it you will find regular wildlife sightings in the d├ępartement of Dordogne, notably of birds and butterflies in southern Dordogne where I live. In adddition there will be occasional references to neighbouring d├ępartements such as Lot et Garonne, Gironde, the Lot and places further afield. Check out the Faune-Aquitaine website for the latest wildlife sightings in Dordogne and Aquitaine.

Where possible I will add photographs to illustrate the entry. Many thanks to Margaret Mills (family photo) and Denis Cauchoix (birdwatcher photo).

I hope that you enjoy my diary and look forward to your comments.

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