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

All about a day! Very much a repeat of 2016, April started off with a spectacular day of high temperatures and superb butterfly action (Camberwell Beauties, Large Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, etc), then came to a grinding halt for most of the remainder of the month as temperatures dipped and even snow returned.



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.

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.






Day list:

- Brimstone – 230
- Red Admiral – 1
- Camberwell Beauty – 15
- Large Tortoiseshell – 1
- Small Tortoiseshell – 95
- Peacock – 22
- Comma – 3

Just for comparison, 2 April 2016 was a cool 11 C, I managed a grand total of eight butterflies, all Small Tortoiseshells. 2 April 2017 was a full eleven degrees warmer, I notched up an estimated 370 butterflies of seven species!



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



5-23 April. Snow, frosts, rain and wind!


Well, after such a promising start, the remainder of April was certainly a let down! Day after day of fairly abysmal weather, 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!!!


Small Tortoiseshell



Needless to say, an almost complete wash-out on the butterfly front, the only records 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!

Last Updated ( Monday, 24 April 2017 )
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