Friday 29 January 2016

A Couple of Greek Graylings.

There are several species of Grayling in Greece and the Greek Islands.Two species that I have come across on the Island of Lefkada are the Balkan and the Woodland Grayling.The former is rather common in the South Balkan Peninsula,European Turkey,and many of the Greek Islands.It likes dry and rocky grassland,scrub and small woodland.
The Woodland Grayling on the other hand has an extensive range from the shores of Western France to the Black Sea.However it is not common in most of its range and is evaluated as 'Near Threatened'.This species prefers warm light woodland, scrubby clearings and woodland rides usually at low altitudes.

Balkan Grayling

Woodland Grayling

Woodland Grayling

Saturday 16 January 2016

First Trip to Greece.

My first ever visit to Greece was thirty years ago this year in 1986.My stay was spent on the Sithonia  peninsula of the Halkidiki region on mainland Greece.The terrain here is rugged and at that time relatively pristine.Two enormous hotels and a golf course dominated this shoreline but just a short walk gave way to a completely rural landscape.I well remember that Nightingales seemed to be everywhere and as it was May they were very vocal.In the meadows the butterflies were numerous with Queen of Spain and Spotted  Fritillaries as well as several species of 'Whites'.Among them were the Eastern Bath White,Eastern Dappled White,and my personal favourite, the Black-veined White.
Superficially the Dappled and the Bath White look the same but there are features which can separate the two.The green mottling on the underside of the Dappled can be said to resemble shadows formed by dappled sunlight through tree leaves and usually has a yellowish appearance to it.There are neat white "keyholes" around the outer-margin of the hindwing, and also of the outer-margin of the forewing but especially towards the wing tip. The underwing  green  of the Eastern Bath White is not so dappled and more of an olive green and less often yellowish.
This can be seen in the following photo of a mating pair of Dappled Whites from '86 and two examples of the Bath White,one from the same date and another seen on Lefkada in 2013.


Wednesday 13 January 2016

The Queens' Pearls.

The Queen of Spain Fritillary is widespread in continental Europe and most abundant in the southern range.It is a rare migrant in the UK although occasionally a colony is discovered in the counties that border  France and the Low Countries across the English Channel.The most recent seems to be in Sussex where the butterfly was suspected of breeding in 2009.
This fritillary is particularly distinctive with its elegantly curved forewings,which is a unique feature among european fritillaries.So too is the underside which displays a collection of large silver spots or 'pearls' that can glitter and shine when struck by the sun's rays.Hopefully these features can be appreciated from my two photographs taken in 1986.This individual was seen in the Halkidiki region of Greece and although regarded as being common it is the only time that  I have seen this species.