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Glacier Express.

Glacier Express.
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter Stoeckl (peter_stoeckl) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1738 W: 291 N: 4005] (11530)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-07-19
Categories: Insects
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-H5
Exposure: f/4, 1/800 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 4, Naturpark Oetztal [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-07-28 13:16
Viewed: 6192
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 54
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note

Oeneis glacialis (Moll, 1783)
Alpine Grayling
Chamoisé des glaciers

Family; Nymphalidae
Subfamily: Satyrinae

Wingspan: 50 – 56 mm.

Presenting here a rather strange looking butterfly that is not often seen, and rather rarely reported - apparently the first time here at TN. It is an endemic of high elevations of the European Alps of Southeastern France, Switzerland, Northern Italy, Bavaria, and Austria, living in Alpine mountain tundra a few hundred meters above the treeline:

the Alpine Grayling (Oeneis glacialis).

Grayling – well, it does not look gray at all, so I prefer to use its German name "Gletscherfalter" (glacier butterfly), that refers to its extremely exposed habitat. Considering its quick flight and waryness - usually it would be gone with the wind the moment you raise the camera - I would suggest to call that butterfly "Glacier Express".

Considerably larger than those dark coloured small ringlets and blues that are the predominant butterflies up there, it draws the attention by its size and also its pale, translucently ochre colour.

Its habitat is stony alpine grassland between 2000m and 3000m above sea level. In some places where the treeline was brought down by deforestation in order to get pastures, the species may be seen as low as 1500m, but that seems to be a rare exception. The species seems to live in small scattered colonies, and is considered to be rare.

Clearly a relic of ice age, the species is closely related to a few similar butterflies of the arctic tundras of Northern Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska and Canada (Oeneis bore, Oeneis norna).

Flight time is June to August. Caterpillars are feeding on grass (Festuca ovina).

Taken at an elevation of 2650m near Vent, Oetztal valley, Tyrol. To see the location at the glaciers please click

> here.

You may also have a look at the butterfly - another individual, captured in Carinthia, Austria -

> seen from close distance.


L.G. Higgins, N.D. Riley: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe. London 1970. Deutsche Ausgabe: L.G. Higgins, N.D. Riley, W. Forster (bearb.): Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas, Hamburg und Berlin 1978²

Tom Tolman, Richard Lewington: Die Tagfalter Europas und Nordwestafrikas. Stuttgart 1998.

C. Jonko: European Butterflies and Moths.


SONY DSC-H5, 3072 x 2304 pixel, sRGB, 72mm macro (= 456mm at 35mm SLR), F/4, 1/800sec., ISO-125; bias -03, handheld, no flash; 19.07.2008, 14:57.


Photoshop Elements, slightly cropped, downsized to web presentation, selectively slightly resharpened, brightness, contrast and saturation adjusted.

Thank you for looking.
Have a very good day.

nglen, siggi, MMM, GaryT, eqshannon, maurydv, ramthakur, Alex99, Juyona, anel, nirmalroberts, pilonm, sandpiper2, sranjan, phlr, sweet_universe, JoseMiguel, rdfoto, liziafa, cicindela, loot, jconceicao has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To meyerd: ... zurück auf TNpeter_stoeckl 1 12-10 14:26
To JoseMiguel: ... wide range of different speciespeter_stoeckl 1 09-21 15:47
To cicindela: ... mountain endemic speciespeter_stoeckl 1 09-21 15:38
To loot: ... rare and significant contributionpeter_stoeckl 1 09-21 15:30
To Argus: - another view, with greetings from Kärtnen.peter_stoeckl 3 07-31 10:34
To maurydv: ... sottili lastre di alabastropeter_stoeckl 1 07-30 11:46
To sranjan: ... antifreeze proteinspeter_stoeckl 1 07-30 09:14
To pilonm: ... used a flash here?peter_stoeckl 1 07-30 06:11
To sandpiper2: ... changing the common namepeter_stoeckl 1 07-30 05:31
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-07-28 13:21]

Hi Peter. An unusual butterfly as you say and not one i have seen so thanks for posting. Your picture shows good detail in the markings with natural colours. interesting notes to go with the picture. TFS.

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2008-07-28 14:14]

Hi Peter ¸
Another excellent macro.Good POV and lovely light.Sharp image with excellent detail.
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • GaryT Gold Star Critiquer [C: 102 W: 7 N: 236] (160)
  • [2008-07-28 15:46]

This is all very interesting, and a good photo, too! Gary

The almost granular looking granite or whatever it is one, matches well with the butterfly. This gives one pause to look a bit longer in order to determine the outlines of what we humans refer to as edges. Spot on that eye Peter. You must have taken quite a liking at this one...

Hello Peter. Beautifully composed butterfly shot here. I like the lighting creating some translucency on the wings. Well framed in a very good perch. Thanks for sharing and best regards. Jusni

Ciao Peter,
catturi per noi delle autentiche rarità e ce le mostri in tutta la loro bellezza con immagini meravigliose; le ali di questa bellissima farfalla richiamano alla mente certe sottili lastre di alabastro che lasciano passare la luce mostrando le loro venature;
ottima definizione dei dettagli, magnifici i colori. Grazie anche delle note molto interessanti. Complimenti.

Glacier Butterfly sounds good to me, Peter.
The background of rocks is understandable at that atlitude, so this capture is quite remarkable with the light falling directly on the face of the subject and the details and colours on the wings also very nice.
Yes, this butterfly is nor seen frequently on TN, so thanks for sharing its image.

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-07-28 22:42]

Hi dear Peter.
Very unusual, interesting and impressive butterfly picture. First of all these are POV< diagonal composition and magnification. In spite of non ordinary substrate you managed to use it for your composition perfectly. Exposure and level of details are selected very well. Sharpness and details of the unknown for me butterfly are ultimate as always. Lighting is amazing and show us nice butterfly wings patter. My best wishes and TFS.

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-07-28 23:56]

Hola amigo,
beautiful capture,
pleasant composition
good macro, with excellent pov. and focus...
greetings Peter.

  • Great 
  • red45 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2636 W: 74 N: 9091] (31094)
  • [2008-07-29 0:51]

Hi Peter!

Maybe not very showy butterfly, but for sure very interesting. Rare catch. I like POV and details on insect's wings. Very well visible veins make nice looking patterns. Note as always is very interesting.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-07-29 1:07]

Nice shot Peter,
Good colours, nice sharp detail and good DOF.
Well composed and nicely exposed.
Regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-07-29 1:26]

Lieber Peter,
Dein Galcier Express hat mich neugierig gemacht und ich habe nachgeschaut, wie eigentlich die Oberseite aussieht. Es scheint aber, dass man ihn in der Natur meistens mit gefaltenen Flügeln antrifft. Ich hatte diesen Falter auch bei meinen unidentifizierten Schmetterlingen, die ich leider alle verloren habe.
Durch seine Grösse kann man ihn nicht übersehen, da er ja eher diskret gefärbt ist. Du hast dieses Exemplar interessanterweise von Vorne gezeigt, sicher nicht einfach bei diesem scheuen Falter.
Herzlichen Dank diesen Schmetterling als Neuling zu den TN-Archiven zuzufügen.
Einen ruhigen und schönen Tag wünsche ich Dir noch

  • Great 
  • crs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 922] (3551)
  • [2008-07-29 3:21]

Hi Peter,

This is an impressive photo oance becouse it is with an unusual butterfly and then becouse it has an excelent quality.Butterfly has very interesting colors rendered well in the natural light. Very interesting combination between insect's colors and stone color.

Thank you for sharing,

Hi Peter,
Very interesting butterfly specie of the Alpine region.
Nice picture. Thanks for sharing.
- Nirmal

Hello Peter,

Thank you very much for showing us that nice endemic butterfly from your great mountains. Excellent POV in order to see the head. The body is a little bit dark (have you used a flash here?) but the wings are very well rendered. I like the diagonal composition bringing dynamism here.

Good job and TFS!


Hi Peter

What a great post, I would not have expected finding a butterfly at that altitude and glacial environment. Great note and I approve of you changing the common name to Glacier Express, great stuff.

Excellent diagonal composition on a cold surface
Exellent sharpness and exposure
Exellent POV and DOF
Excellent note and PP advice.


Dear Peter,
Very beautiful macro image of Gletscherfalter on snow background. I am perplexed as to how they do not get frost bite ! What are these antifreeze proteins ? Interesting notes on grayling. TFS this unique glacier express.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-07-31 6:40]
  • [+]

Hello Peter,
Great to see this species photographed digitally. I took a slide shot of O glacialis just before I went digital in the Kärnten MTS about 6 yrs ago. I doubt if i will see it again, so I thank you for this close and well managed portrait.
Best wishes, Ivan

Congratulations, my dear friend.
As usual, You realized a wonderful pic. Good POV and Composition.
Perfect details, colors and brighness.

Hi Peter,
Is amazing the wide range of different species you find and present in such a successful way to us.
I like the close approach and all the fine details got on the body of the insect.
It seems like if it were alighted over ice or snow.
Thanks so much for share it.
My best regards,

PD: Enjoy your break, I'll be waiting to catch you again after it.

Bonjour Peter
Une suberbe capture, excellent netteté, couleurs et cadrage, bravo
Amicalement Robi

Hi Peter,
Very very good shot. Excellent framing and colours. Well done!
TSF Malgosia

Hello Peter!
The quelity of this picture is not so perfect as many of your earlier presentations but after reading note I have to congratulate you! :> The object is really interesting and totaly new as a species for me :>
It is nice to see something new and unusual so many thanks for showing us this mountain endemic butterfly!
Greetings from rather much lower elevations! ;)

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2008-08-27 22:16]
  • [3] [+]

Hi Peter

Being a TrekNature first you must be very proud of your "Glacier Express" being a "RARE and SIGNIFICANT contribution to TN". I am living at sea level where the air is thick and heavy, but I frequently have to gasp (wheeze) for air running after butterflies. So, seeing this (quick winged and wary) beauty, coming from there where the mountains are high (captured at 2,650m elevation, above the tree line of the Alpine mountain tundra) and where the air is thin, just fills me with awe (wonder & admiration) to realise what extremes you encountered and had to overcome in order to capture a subject such as this. Great work and beyond doubt a noteworthy effort.

It is true that I have seen other contributions from you that might be somewhat superior in technical quality, but the conditions and circumstances under which this image was captured blast a hole into any effort of trying to go "nit picking". Anyway, the only slight nit might be exposure, but apart from the climb and the cold you had to deal with the white snow must have played havoc with your camera's sensors trying to isolate the subject and still retain a high quality contrast between the butterfly and the snow. Far be it from me, sitting here in sunny Zululand, to try to adjudge the result of this fine effort. The details are as sharp as can be and through the DOF you have excellently managed to isolate the BG and rendered it well OOF thereby enhancing this wonderful "Glacier Express". The composition is superb placing all focus on the insect and the colours are rich even showing the faint hint of algae growing on the rock surface.

Very well done MF and TFS.

  • Great 
  • izler Gold Star Critiquer [C: 1387 W: 3 N: 9] (44)
  • [2008-12-04 9:17]

merhaba peter
good close-up capture of this interesting and beautiful butterfly
i like composition, colours, sharpness and details

Hello Peter,

Excellent close up of this beautiful butterfly.
Nice colours with good details.
Light,focus and sharpness are fantastic.
Good composition.

Lieber Peter,

ich habe mir ihn mehrmals angesehen, Deinen Gletscherfalter, aber bisher keinen Kommentar dazu abgegeben. Ichbin beeindruckt von der Gegenlichtaufnahme, von der Existenz der Art, von Deinen Erklärungen dazu samt mehrern Standortfotos. Eine grossartige Einführung zu einem Fater, von dessen Existenz ich gar nichts ahnte.

Herzlich grüsst (hoffentlich kommst Du zurück auf TN)

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