Monday, July 23, 2012

Estonia butterfly tour 6-13 June, 2012

By Mike Williams – Vice-chair, Butterfly Conservation “European Interests Group"

The first butterfly tour in Estonia organised by Estonian Nature Tours for UK butterfly enthusiasts took place in early June this year and proved a great success. The tour was led by Mike Williams, a long standing member of Butterfly Conservation UK, and Erki Õunap, a butterfly specialist based at the University of Tartu. The combination of northern species with those more often found in the more eastern part of Europe means that Estonia has a lot to offer the butterfly enthusiast and participants on this tour were certainly not disappointed with what they found. Visits to a number of bog and forest habitats in south-eastern Estonia together with a couple of days on Saaremaa Island produced a wealth of fabulous butterflies and other wildlife. Stand out species included many sightings of Northern Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus silvicola), Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) and Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia) together with Baltic Grayling (Oeneis jutta) and Scarce Heath (Coenonympha hero).

Northern Chequered Skipper, Carterocephalus silvicola / Wilfred Powell

Clouded Apollo, Parnassius mnemosyne / Mike Williams

Bog Fritillary, Boloria eunomia / Mike Williams

The generally sunny conditions enjoyed throughout the trip meant some excellent opportunities for the keen photographers in the group and many quality images were taken of butterflies and other wildlife seen. The fact that it has been a late Spring in Estonia meant that many of the butterflies were freshly emerged and an added bonus was to find species that would normally have disappeared by this time of the year like Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiope) still on the wing.

Amanda's Blue, Polyommatus amandus / Wilfred Powell

Good quality food and accommodation was provided by Mooste Guesthouse and Pilguse Manor, as well as the privately run establishments where a welcome lunch was provided on some days. Altogether 52 species of butterflies were recorded during the 7 day tour which was an impressive total for early June and this, combined with Estonia’s fantastic scenery and friendly hospitality, meant that participants returned home with fond memories of their visit.

Accommodation at Pilguse Manor / Julia Powell

 Butterfly rich meadow at Vana-Vastseliina / Julia Powell

Photographing Woodland Brown on Saaremaa / Julia Powell

Client comments:

„This is just to add my personal thanks for a tremendous week in your beautiful homeland. Erki was very generous with his time and efforts to show us as many species as possible. We saw a lot of wonderful stuff – most of it in prime condition. I enjoyed it hugely and would love to come back before long – maybe when the big Nymphalids are flying! With very best wishes to you both.“ David Dennis – National Chair, Butterfly Conservation / UK, June 2012

Read also Ode to ESTONIA...

„Personally, it was a great pleasure to visit Estonia again and to meet Peeter and Marika again. I very much enjoyed the trip, as did my wife Julia, and I saw 7 butterfly species that I had never seen before. Everyone else on the trip also gave me very positive feedback and said they had an excellent holiday." Wilfred Powell – Butterfly Conservation (member), Wildlife Trust (member), Bedfordshire Natural History Society (member of Counsil) / UK, June-July 2012

Species list (27 June to 4 July, in all 56 species):

1. Northern Chequered Skipper / Carterocephalus silvicolus
2. Chequered Skipper / Carterocephalus palaemon
3. Large Chequered / Skipper Heteropterus morpheus
4. Dingy Skipper / Erynnis tages
5. Large Skipper / Ochlodes sylvanus
6. Essex Skipper / Thymelicus lineolus
7. Small Skipper / Thymelicus sylvestris
8. Grizzled Skipper / Pyrgus malvae
9. Olive Skipper / Pyrgus serratulae
10. Clouded Apollo / Parnassius mnemosyne
11. Swallowtail / Papilio machaon
12. Brimstone / Gonepteryx rhamni
13. Black-veined / White Aporia crataegi
14. Green-veined / White Pieris napi
15. Wood White / Leptidea sinapis
16. Black Hairstreak / Satyrium pruni
17. Large Copper / Lycaena dispar
18. Purple-edged Copper / Lycaena hippothoe
19. Purple-shot Copper / Lycaena alciphron
20. Sooty Copper / Lycaena tityrus
21. Geranium Argus / Eumedonia eumedon
22. Small Blue / Cupido minimus
23. Large Blue / Maculinea arion
24. Mazarine Blue / Cyaniris semiargus
25. Common Blue / Polyommatus icarus
26. Amanda's Blue /  Polyommatus amandus
27. Cranberry Blue / Plebejus optilete
28. Silver-studded Blue / Plebejus argus
29. Poplar Admiral / Limenitis populi
30. White Admiral / Limenitis camilla
31. Painted Lady / Vanessa cardui
32. Red Admiral / Vanessa atalanta
33. Peacock / Inachis io
34. Small Tortoiseshell / Aglais urticae
35. Dark Green Fritillary / Argynnis aglaja
36. High Brown Fritillary / Argynnis adippe
37. Queen of Spain Fritillary / Issoria lathonia
38. Lesser Marbled Fritillary / Brenthis ino
39. Pearl-bordered Fritillary / Boloria euphrosyne
40. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary / Boloria selene
41. Glanville Fritillary / Melitaea cinxia
42. Knapweed Fritillary / Melitaea phoebe
43. False Heath Fritillary / Melitaea diamina
44. Nickerl's Fritillary / Mellicta aurelia
45. Heath Fritillary / Mellicta athalia
46. Scarce Fritillary / Euphydryas maturna
47. Woodland Brown / Lopinga achine
48. Ringlet / Aphantopus hyperantus
49. Speckled Wood / Pararge aegeria
50. Large Wall Brown / Lasiommata maera
51. Meadow Brown / Maniola jurtina
52. Scarce Heath / Coenonympha hero
53. Pearly Heath / Coenonympha arcania
54. Chestnut Heath / Coenonympha glycerion
55. Large Heath / Coenonympha tullia
56. Small Heath / Coenonympha pamphilus

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