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April 2017. One Day Wonder. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Camberwell Beauty




All about a day! April started off with a real punch - a spectacular day of high temperatures and superb butterfly action (Camberwell Beauties, Large Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, etc). Then it came to a grinding halt with temperatures dipping for the rest of the month and even a few days of snow!






2 April. Early Bonanza.






Sunshine, 22 C! Months of dreary temperatures a distant memory (for a day at least), a most impressive selection of early season butterflies were out basking in the warmth, plus the first frogs and toads.







Choosing the extreme south of Lithuania, I harboured ambition to find two of the more dramatic species on the wing in early spring … Camberwell Beauty and Large Tortoiseshell. Site one, right on the border with Belarus, set the scene for the day – still fairly early in the morning, but already Brimstones on sun-dappled banks and bunches of Small Tortoiseshells gathering around sparse flowers, plus the first Peacocks of the year and a Comma. As the warmth of the day built, a flash of cream and dark – patrolling a sandy track, one splendid Camberwell Beauty. Five species already, pretty good for early April.





And then, as I meandered through open pinewood for an hour or so, it just got better – as well as numerous Brimstones, I notched up no less than 14 more Camberwell Beauties, one of my highest ever day totals. A few kilometres further, most gathering at pussy willow catkins, the next site added more Small Tortoiseshells, Brimstones and Peacocks, plus another couple of Commas .




Most unexpected, however, was a Red Admiral - not a species that overwinters in Lithuania, early spring examples are exceedingly rare, more usually a butterfly that can be found from June onwards.


Red Admiral


Now early afternoon, I still had not found a Large Tortoiseshell though. Remedied this en route back to Vilnius – stopping in a small meadow tucked up against forest, yellow flowers were proving a magnet to Small Tortoiseshells and Brimstones, a couple of dozen of each present. Wandered round for about an hour, soaking up the afternoon sun, then a large orange butterfly arrived, flying and gliding with fair power.


 Large Tortoiseshell



Settling on the trunk of a silver birch, there the butterfly was, my desired Large Tortoiseshell! Didn't find anything else, so eventually headed off, quite pleased with the day.






So, approximate counts for butterflies this day: 230 Brimstones, one Red Admiral, 15 Camberwell Beauties, one Large Tortoiseshell, 95 Small Tortoiseshells, 22 Peacocks and three Commas ...a grand total of about 370 butterflies!

Just for comparison, 2 April 2016 was a cool 11 C, I managed a grand total of eight butterflies, all Small Tortoiseshells.



  • 5. Red Admiral.
  • 6. Camberwell Beauty
  • 7. Large Tortoiseshell
  • 8. Peacock



5-29 April. Snow, frosts, rain and wind!

Gee, what happened to spring?! A near full month of disgusting weather - day after day of fairly abysmal conditions, dominated by cold northerlies and rare sunshine. Even had a carpet of snow on the 15-17th of the month, several centimetres in Vilnius and Labanoras!!!


Labanoras in April


After such a promising start with butterflies at the beginning of the month, high hopes of additional species faded as the days went by, not a hunt of anything.


Small Tortoiseshell



In reality, it was an almost complete wash-out on, the only butterflies seen being three Small Tortoiseshells and a Peacock braving a sunny day and 5 C on the 20th and an equally hardy Small Tortoiseshell basking in sun between snow squalls on the 23rd!







 However ...


Provence Hairstreak



Fortunately, my sanity was preserved via a mini escape mid-month to the sunny climes of Catalonia where I had a splendid time, finding an impressive 45 species of butterflies, including the much-desired Spanish Festoon, Provence Hairstreak and Nettle-tree Butterfly.

CLICK HERE for a full trip report.






  CLICK HERE to return to the full account of the year






Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 May 2017 )
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