Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)
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2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
The highlight of an otherwise disappointing trip (from a butterfly perspective) to the Pyrénées in 2004 was that palaemon was seen in five different locations. It is not uncommon in eastern and central France, I find, but they tend to be rather sedentary and hard to spot. Like several otherwise-widespread species, they do not occur in the far south-east of France, unusual in that this region is exceptionally rich in species, and they are rare and highly localised in the northern part of the PACA region.
In 2005, I chanced upon a thriving colony in Ain, where maybe as many as fifteen individuals could be counted. Their "buzzy" flight makes them harder to track than most skippers. The extent of the orange colouration varies quite significantly (compare 35143 and 35146 above, from the same location on the same day).
Since then, I have found them fairly regularly at most locations in eastern France, and in one location in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence where there have only been two previous records in that département. I revisited this site in 2014 and there were several individuals seen flying there, indicating that it was (and hopefully still is) quite a healthy colony.
It is usually a species of medium altitudes (around 1000m) but 41960 was seen at 1830m, whereas the books say the maximum altitude is 1800m. Although this is broadly within that range, it indicates that that the altitude ranges should not be taken too literally.
|a slightly worn male seen in the cold and boggy region of the Morvan in central France.
|a rather orange male, especially on the forewing. The extent of the orange suggests that this specimen could be considered as an aberration.
|a very typical, fresh male.
|a high altitude male, with slightly darker markings (or less orange), perhaps an altitude effect.
|a male, from the same location as 49076. It is a very appealing species and fully deserving of its iconic status.
|on the way south to the Pyrénées, a stop in central France at a location where I vaguely recalled seeing palaemon in the late 1990s, and by chance found the same spot and was very pleased to see that palaemon still survived there. I originally thought 49076 was a male, but the absence of a hairtuft at the end of the abdomen has persuaded me otherwise. This seems to be shown in T&L but not as clearly as seen in these images.
|an underside view, the photograph having been rotated through 180 degrees for convenience. This is probably the underside of 35146.
a nice view of the underside.