01 December 2011
© Peter Eeles
Citation: Eeles, P. (2011). A Review of: Searching for Butterflies in South West Switzerland (DVD) [Online]. Available from http://www.dispar.org/reference.php?id=67 [Accessed January 23, 2018].
by Paul Wetton
From the author: The first in a series of films searching for wildlife around the world. This film takes you from the floor of the Rhone Valley to the snow line high up in the Swiss Alps over a three week period in the months of June and July in 2011. A total of 128 species of butterfly were captured on this film in the magnificent alpine scenery.
This mammoth 2.5 hour production (spread over 2 DVDs) is Paul Wetton's follow on from his successful A Butterfly Year DVD produced last year. As expected, the production is flawless, Paul being one of the most accomplished video photographers I know.
As someone who takes an interest in European butterfly fauna, I was keen to see the footage that Paul had captured. In addition, I happened to be in Switzerland while Paul was on his travels, and we met up a couple of times. And I have to say, the footage really did bring back many happy memories, including the spectacular scenery found in this part of the world. The Swiss Tourist Board will be very pleased with this piece of work!
In this DVD, Paul walks the viewer through a day-by-day account of the sites visited and the species seen at each site. Although some sites are called out, it's clear that anyone wanting to follow in Paul's footsteps would do well from simply stopping off at any alpine meadow where butterflies are typically found in profusion, as Paul demonstrates on several occasions.
Anyone who has watched butterflies on the continent will be more than aware of the difficulties in separating certain species (the Grizzled skippers and Erebia being particularly problematic). Paul does an admirable job in pointing out certain diagnostic features that help distinguish one species from another. It was also nice to see British rarities making an appearance, including Chequered Skipper and Large Blue. And while the focus of the DVD set is butterflies, Paul makes good mention of certain moth species encountered, as well as the general fauna and flora found at the sites he visited.
While a day-by-day account is a logical storytelling approach, I did find it resulted in a fair amount of repetition of species seen and makes the footage much longer as a result. I do wonder if a butterfly family-by-family approach, or habitat-by-habitat approach would have provided more focus. I would also have liked more in-depth commentary than the simple observations of species and behaviours seen, and ID tips. Although I'm possibly not a typical viewer! Also, some ID tips could have been made clearer. For example, a reference to "The spot in space 4 of the hindwing" will be incomprehensible for many viewers when there is no annotation on the footage to help them.
Having said that, the DVD contains several "wow" moments, my favourites being shots of an aberrant Mazarine Blue with elongated spots on the underside, a newly-emerged Mountain Clouded Yellow pumping up its wings, a Large Blue "courtship" that results in a mating pair, and roosting Idas blues (in significant numbers).
All in all, there is much to like about this DVD set, which will certainly make an ideal Christmas present for anyone interested in European butterflies.
Click here to visit Paul's website where you can order the DVD.