Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Butterflies & Dragonflies Promotional tour in Estonia

Representatives of Butterfly Conservation and British Dragonfly Society visited Estonia!

At the beginning of August, Estonian Nature Tours (ENT) was joined by representatives from Butterfly Conservation, BC “European Interests Group” and British Dragonfly Society for an invitational visit to Estonia. The main aim of the tour was to introduce to the world, with the help of motivated specialists and future partners, butterfly and dragonfly watching opportunities that our unique wildlife has to offer in the middle of Summer, but also to promote the Estonian Nature Conservation and the principles of sustainable tourism offered by Estonian Nature Tours. Participants of the tour were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the well-maintained hiking trails, semi-natural meadows, excellent roads, Estonian cooking and the comfortable accomodation. Descriptions of this positive tour experience will be appearing in articles, reports and nature films in various websites, newsletters and magazines during the coming months. Estonia as an attractive butterfly and dragonfly destination will be showcased to over a 30 000 nature enthusiast around Europe. ENT will start selling the new tours in European markets by late autumn 2011. This Promotional tour was donated by Estonian Nature Tours with co-operation to NGO Lääne-Eesti Tourism. Many thanks to Erki Õunap, Wilf Powell, Peeter Vissak, Urmas Tartes, Tarvo Valker, Agu Leivits, Rita Miller, Mike Williams, Roger Wasley and Dave Smallshire!

Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus / Peeter Vissak

Butterfly Conservation was formed in 1968 and have more than 16,000 members in the UK and 31 volunteer Branches throughout the British Isles.

The European Interests Group of Butterfly Conservation was established on 2006 and aims to promote the enjoyment, conservation and study of butterflies, moths and their habitats in Europe.

The British Dragonfly Society (BDS) was founded in 1983 and the current membership of about 1,500 is spread the length and breadth of the country, as well as into Europe and beyond.

Yellow–winged Darter, Sympetrum flaveolum / Peeter Vissak

Despite its small size and northern position Estonia is a wonderful place to see butterflies and dragonflies. Because of its history, large parts of the country have remained completely wild, while farming methods in many areas are unintensive resulting in a mosaic of excellent habitats such as numerous flowery meadows, natural forests and massive bog areas. As a result we have many insect species which are rare elsewhere in Europe, such as Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne), Moorland Clouded Yellow (Colias palaeno), Large Copper (Lucaena dispar), Siberian Winter Damsel (Sympecma paedisca) and Lilypad Whiteface (Leucorrhinia caudalis).

Common Hawker male, Aeshna juncaea / Peeter Vissak

There is a large overlap of southern and northern species here. Many species with a more northern distribution reach the southern part of their range including butterflies such as Baltic Grayling (Oeneis jutta), Lapland Ringlet (Erebia embla) and Northern Chequered Skipper (Carterocephal silvicolus) plus dragonflies like Bog Hawker (Aeshna subarctica) and Arctic Bluet (Coenagrion johanssoni). Weaver’s Fritillary (Clossiana dia), Woodland Brown (Lopinga achine) and many other species reach their furthest north, particulalry where limstone reaches the surtface. For other species this is the centre of their distribution in Europe including several of the delightful ’Whiteface’ dragonflies such as Ruby, Yellow-spotted and Dark Whitefaces (Leucorrhinia rubicunda, L. pectoralis and L. albifrons) as well as the coastal Baltic Hawker (Aeshna serrata) and butterflies such as Cranberry Blue (Plebejus optilete) Bog Fritillary (Proclossiana eunomia) and Cranberry Fritillary (Boloria aquilonaris).

See a video about the promotional tour...
Estonia Dragonflies and Butterflies checklist 2011

High Brown Fritillary, Argynnis adippe / Peeter Vissak

Yellow-winged Darter, Sympetrum / Urmas Tartes

Green Snaketail, Ophiogomphus cecilia / Urmas Tartes

Wasp Spider, Agriope bruennichi / Peeter Vissak

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