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High Spring. May 2018. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jos   

Downy Emerald

 

 

Amazing weather producing many species early this year - in the part of the month, good diversity of butterflies and ever increasing numbers of dragonflies. Baltic Grayling, Clouded Apollo and Violet Copper among the butterflies flying, Downy Emeralds, Hairy Dragonfly and Norfolk Hawker among the dozen species of dragonfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 May. Dragons and Damsels.

With the turn of the month, so the dragons and damsels take the stage. I did see a small number if Siberian Winter Damselflies in early April, but otherwise these were the first flights if the year - and dramatic they were, Siberian Winter Damselflies decorating grass stalks adjacent to a pool in Labanoras, perhaps 40 Northern White-faced Darters in the same area. A few hundred away, in a clearing in flood forest, yet another emergence of the dragons - rather splendid Downy Emeralds also taking to the wing in considerable numbers. And just to round things off, one Four-spotted Chaser too.

 

Downy Emerald

Northern White-faced Darter

Four-spotted Chaser

 

So spring is truly here, butterflies and dragonflies now both active. In the butterfly category, also saw another Swallowtail this day, the eleventh in just a few days.

 

5-6 May. Good Stuff.

Amazing weather of spring 2018 continues, bringing no less than 21 species of butterfly this weekend, plus a mass emergence of several species of dragons and damsels. With sun and blue skies both days, I hit Labanoras one day, the south of the country the next.

And splendid the days were - a massive spike in dragonfly numbers at Labanoras, with many hundreds of both Downy Emeralds and Northern White-faced Darters, then a butterfly fiesta in the Druskininkai area. Amongst the many butterflies present, several new for the year - a splendid Short-tailed Blue, several Small Heaths, a bunch of Large Whites and, unusual for so early in the season in Lithuania, almost 30 Red Admirals. Also eight Swallowtails, a couple of Camberwell Beauties and two Grizzled Skippers.

Impressive flights of dragons and damsels in the Druskininkai area too - as at Labanoras, many Downy Emeralds, but here too numerous Common Clubtails, a number of Four-spotted Chasers and several Irish Damselflies.

Stopped en route back to Vilnius with additional success - not just four Queen of Spain Fritillaries and my first Small Copper and Small White of the year, but also several Hairy Dragonflies, another new species for the year and perhaps a couple of weeks earlier than is more typical.

 

LITHUANIAN BUTTERFLY LIST 2018

  • 20. Small White.
  • 21. Large White.
  • 22. Red Admiral.
  • 23. Short-tailed Blue.
  • 24. Small Copper.
  • 25. Small Heath.

 

 

12 May 2018. Second Wave.

Two to three weeks early, phase two of the butterfly year already underway - traditional early species such as Orange Tip and Green Hairstreak on the wain, but an ever increasing variety on the wing and the emergence of quite a number of species more typical of later in the month - amongst the highlights this day, at least 35 Pale Clouded Yellows and 18 Sooty Coppers, plus the first Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Weaver's Fritillary and at least 20 Queen of Spain Fritillaries.

Under a blazing sun and temperature of 27 C, also managed my first Common Blue of the season and a whole host of other good butterflies, including six Swallowtails, one tatty Camberwell Beauty and, all good for so early in the season, my second Small Copper of the week, over 40 Small Heaths and three Grizzled Skippers.

Though I spent much of the day in meadows, my main targets for the day were actually a couple of species more restricted in their range - Baltic Grayling and Dingy Skipper.

Much sloshing up to my knees to visit a bog where I had found several dozen of the first in late May in 2017 - a beautiful spot of stunted pines, floating mats of vegetation and heads of cotton grass. Thought I was perhaps too early in the season, but I was in luck - after a half hour of searching, one pristine Baltic Grayling resting on the side of a pine trunk as is their habit. And then another. Not a common butterfly in Lithuania, it is always an honour to see these - and as very fresh individuals, I presume they had only just emerged. 

And then to an area zigzagged by hot dry gravel tracks, habitat of Dingy Skippers. Couldn't have been easier, within just a few minutes of arriving, I had at least 16 buzzing about a single small patch of habitat - easily the best number I have ever seen together in Lithuania! Also here, two Short-tailed Blues.

So truly a successful day - no less than 26 species seen during the day, six of which new for the year.

 

LITHUANIAN BUTTERFLY LIST 2018

  • 26. Pale Clouded Yellow.
  • 27. Common Blue.
  • 28. Weaver's Fritillary.
  • 29. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary.
  • 30. Baltic Grayling.
  • 31. Dingy Skipper.

 

13 May. Flight of the Apollo.

Another day of temperatures topping 27 C, another day of butterflies and dragonflies in abundance. Seemed to be a notable emergence of assorted dragonflies and damselflies in the Labanoras area, the existing species continuing in good numbers, but also a flush of new species: several damselflies including Red-eyed Damselflies, plus Broad-bodied Chasers and a Scarce Chaser among the dragonflies.

Building on their good numbers this season, also four Swallowtails at Labanoras this day, plus other species including Short-tailed Blue, Small Copper and Red Admiral.

Changing location, also noted my first Wall Brown of the year in Lithuania and, rather more exotic, a superb flight of Clouded Apollos - rare and localised in this country, I found no less than 18 fluttering around a warm sunny bank at one site, then two more individuals at another locality several kilometres away. In line with the generally early season, these are exceptionally early, a good two weeks before they usually fly.

 

LITHUANIAN BUTTERFLY LIST 2018

  • 32. Clouded Apollo.
  • 33. Wall Brown.

 

 

14 May. Time of the Specials.

Exquisite but rare, Violet Copper in Lithuania is restricted to just a couple of isolated wetland localities. Flying fairly in the season, usually from the end of May, this goal this day was to see if I could locate any early individuals.

Thrush Nightingales and Common Rosefinches singing as a backdrop, Speckled Wood and Wood Whites at the margin of the bog, many Northern Damselflies and Large Red Damselflies too. Out on the bog however, all seemed fairly quiet - no initial sign of Violet Copper, nor any Marsh Fritillaries yet on the wing. Success was to follow however - after about half hour or so, finding a couple of Grizzled Skippers in the process, I then flushed a small butterfly. And as it landed, a fine male Violet Copper it transpired to be, splendid. Soon lost this individual, but some time later also found a female.

March of the early season continues, these Violet Coppers a good couple of weeks earlier than might be expected.

 

LITHUANIAN BUTTERFLY LIST 2018

  • 34. Violet Copper.

 

16 May. No Olives.

Tried for another localised species this day - Olive Skipper. I have never managed to find this species in Lithuania ...and did not this day either!

Despite searching a few sites in a river valley where they have occurred in the last decade or so, not a sign did I find. Did see however a few very welcome Clouded Apollos and my first Little Blue of the year.

Perhaps more notable, quite a good showing of Odonata - along with plentiful Club-tailed Dragonflies and Northern White-faced Darters, also several Broad-bodied Chasers, plus my first Norfolk Hawkers, Banded Demoiselles and Azure Damselflies of the year, about six of the first, fifteen of the second and at least 20 of the latter.

 

LITHUANIAN BUTTERFLY LIST 2018

  • 35. Little Blue.

 

 

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 May 2018 )
 
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