Arrived in North Wales…

My sincerest apologies for being off the radar for the past month or so, moving house is bad enough, but moving countries has its challenges. There’s been more admin signing out of Switzerland (e.g. changing addresses and cancelling health, accident, house and car insurance) than signing in to Wales (though getting car insurance has also been a bit difficult, due to our Swiss driving licences). And crossing the border, especially out of France, with a van load of our belongings, turned into a bit of a nightmare. (We had to empty almost all the van, which took a day to load, to prove that we had no migrant stowaways). But we’re here now and all is well…

As you will see from the above header photo, we have a lovely view and plenty of wildlife has been to welcome us to our new home. There are 3 buddleia bushes in the garden, so several butterflies have visited over the past 3 weeks, as has at least one dragonfly and a very friendly pheasant. The previous occupant had obviously fed him as he comes running when you open the kitchen window. We’ve called him Phil. (He looks a bit bedraggled below as it was pouring with rain the other morning).

I still have at least 2 Swiss walks to post sometime, but I thought you might like to know that Jude and I are still alive and well… 😊

Yet More Bugs and Butterflies from the Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

With just under 3 weeks to go before we leave these ‘shores’, I’m fast running out of time to catch up on my posts. I have two long walks and a short holiday to catch up on and, with all the packing and organising, you may well be reading about them when we’re settled in North Wales! (I’ll have plenty of time then, as it’ll no doubt be raining!)

Anyhow, I’ve again been out taking some photos in my local ‘hotspot’ (also known as a car park and a trench to catch any rockfalls) and here are the best of the bunch. My apologies for not naming them but time is short…

All these pictures were taken on either the 8th or 9th August.

Butterfly Photography

As I was looking through my Val de Réchy Walk photographs, I noticed a sequence of images which I thought some of you might find interesting. I know there are a number of people out there who like the butterfly pictures and I think the sequence below sort of shows how I go about capturing them. By pure chance, the sun was in exactly the right position to show my gradual movements towards the butterfly.

Essentially my technique (if that’s what you might call it) is to take a photo from afar, to help identify it, in case it flies off immediately, as they often do! But then to move closer and closer (quite slowly, so as not to spook it) while taking pictures all the time. As you can see from the shadow, it’s just a point and shoot camera, which is held out at arms length (often thrust forward to within 3 or 4 inches of the subject and sometimes while trying my best to balance on my other hand!) At this point I really don’t know whether the camera is focusing correctly or not. Indeed, the final cropped image was taken from the photo numbered …6339. The rest of the unused images are usually deleted.

Also, I checked the timings of the first and last picture and, to my surprise, they were only 16 seconds apart. (And my mate Pete complains I take too long taking photos, or was that take too many photos!? 🤔)

The sequence is best viewed in Gallery mode, by clicking on the first image and then paging (right arrow) to go forward.

Val de Réchy Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 2 of 2)

Following on from my post yesterday, which started in the small village of Trogne… The route took us up through the woods and across the alpage to the Pas de Lovegno (@2,695m or 8,842ft) before descending towards Lac le Louché. From there the path meanders down the left side of the Val de Réchy, passing the wonderfully named Gouille de la Grand-Rionde (which is just a small pond, but it provides any would-be photographer with the opportunity to capture one of those classic mountain reflection shots – see pic 3). Eventually a left turn takes you up and over the Col de Cou (honestly, you couldn’t make up better names if you tried!) and then another left brings you back along and down the east side of the Val d’Hérens.

It was part way along this path that I encountered the most butterflies that I’ve ever seen in one place – all puddling away and completely oblivious to my presence. (See pics 16 & 17). The vast majority of them were Small Blues (which actually are more brown – and you can see just how small they are by pic 15) but there were quite a few others in there to make things a little more interesting.

Val de Réchy Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland (Part 1 of 2)

With everything going on with regard to selling the chalet and organising our move back to the UK, I’m a bit behind with my blogging. However, I’m determined to bring you as many of my favourite walks as possible before we leave and this is a walk I did last week (on 29th July).

I had hoped to find a Cynthia’s Fritillary (Hypodryas cynthia), which are often seen in the Val de Réchy, but it wasn’t to be. But then I did see a lot of butterflies and, in Part 2, I’ll bring you an image of so many I bet you won’t be able to count them. (I did count 18 and a moth in pic. no. 22 below, but that’s just an appetiser for what’s to come tomorrow…)

Butterflies and more…

The weather here in the Val d’Hérens has been a bit mixed of late. One day the sun is shining and then the next two or three it’s been rain and cloud. I took these photos just up our road a week or so ago, hoping to add to them, but I’ve not really had the chance. (I have been out for a long walk, but that will be in my next post(s)… 😊)

Moving back to the UK… 😮

In what will be perhaps a shock decision to some, maybe even many, of you, Jude and I have decided to move back to the UK. We have spent 15 happy years here in Switzerland, the past 10 of them in our chalet in Evolène, in the Val d’Hérens.

We have been thinking about moving back ‘at some point’ but the arrival of little Raymond (my new grandson) has accelerated our thinking, to be back nearer to our families. While we were back in June, staying in N. Wales, we were lucky enough to hear about a cottage that was coming up for rent. We had a look around and it seemed perfect for our needs and we were fortunate enough to get it. (I rather cheekily included a picture of the property in my post here – the cottage is just off to the left of pic no. 10 and is shown in pic 15).

So once back home we put our chalet up for sale and within a week of it being advertised we’d had an offer and the deposit has already been lodged with the notaire (solicitor) who draws up the sale documents. It’s all been a bit of a whilrwind as you can imagine and hence why I’ve not been posting much recently. (Though I have some pics waiting in the wings to post so do not worry, this is not the end… Indeed, my blog will continue, but with somewhat smaller mountains in N. Wales!)

I’ve posted pics of the chalet or the views before, but here are a few of the outside taken recently together with some old ones during the winter. We will certainly miss it. 😥

Thyon Ridge Walk, Valais, Switzerland

I mentioned in my last post that my walks and subsequent posts tend to concentrate on some combination of views, flowers and/or butterflies. Well, almost incredibly, given the warm weather we’ve been having, this walk has no butterflies at all! I did capture a very poor picture of a Tortoiseshell, but I didn’t think that worth posting and the Swallowtail at the top of Mont Carré flew off before I could catch my breath and switch on my camera. Others either flew off up or down the slope to the side, making it difficult to follow them.

As you will see in the gallery below, there was a bit of cloud around for a while, but this more or less cleared as I reached the turnaround point at Greppon Blanc.

Aiguilles Rouges Cabane from Arolla, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

The weather across Europe has taken a turn for the better this past week and on Sunday I decided to take advantage of the blue skies. I was rather hoping to find the Small Apollo butterfly, which I’ve seen on this route before, but I was to be disappointed.

That said, whenever I set off on my walks I wonder whether there will be more butterflies, flowers or scenic views – or some combination of all 3. This was certainly a good mixture., which I hope you enjoy. 😊

Mont d’Orge Bisse and Butterfly Walk, Valais, Switzerland

Last Friday, Jude had a hair appointment and some shopping to do down in Sion, so I took the opportunity to do a short walk along the bisse which runs along the side of Mont d’Orge. It was a warm and somewhat cloudy day, but I still hoped to find a few butterflies. And indeed I did – including a new one for me. 👍👍😊

I thought the Great Sooty Satyr was new untiI I spotted a note in my book saying I’d seen one last year on the path up to La Sage. It was the Eastern Bath White in picture 18. In flight the whites can look quite similar, but this one looked a little different – once landed. Thankfully I got just the one shot of it before it flew off. Result!