Transylvania! An area most people associate with dark coniferous forests, castles and vampires but in our case, it is more about traditional land use, warm flower covered slopes and some very special butterflies! The mighty Carpathian Mountains border Transylvania and it offers amazingly diverse habitat for visitors and nature lovers. It is one of those ‘wild’ places in Europe where large carnivores still roam the forests!
We will also learn about the long and turbulent history of this fascinating area while visiting various parts in search of its special early flying butterflies. Indeed, we will be searching for one of Europe’s rarest butterflies: the Danube Clouded Yellow Colias myrmidone which has disappeared from so many countries in the last decade. There are still some populations found in Transylvania and we will make sure to maximize our chances to locate this rapidly declining European rarity.
Other targets will include the ‘Transylvanian Blue’ which is an endemic race of the patchily distributed Bavius Blue Pseudophilotes bavius and often suggested to be a valid species in its own right. It is associated with Nodding Sage and a very early flyer. Violet Copper Lycaena helle is another fast-disappearing species and although it can still be seen at various locations in Europe we will make special effort to visit one of its strongholds in Transylvania.
We could see a nice selection of other butterflies while searching for our main targets - the likes of Clouded Apollo Parnassius mnemosyne, Chapman's Blue Polyommatus thersites, Eastern Baton Blue Pseudophilotes vicrama, Osiris Blue Cupido osiris, Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia, Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna, Fenton's Wood White Leptidea morsei, Provençal Short-tailed Blue Cupido alcetas, and Southern Festoon Zerynthia polyxena. If weather conditions are favorable 55-65 species are possible.
There will be plenty of other wildlife and flowers (including orchids) around and, from dedicated hides, we will also have a good opportunity to observe wild Carpathian Brown Bears Ursus arctos. There will be chance for a selection of special birds too like Corncrake, White-backed Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, River Warbler and Eurasian Scops Owl to name but a few.