The photo gallery from the Isles-de-la-Madeleine is going to take some time to assemble with almost a 1000 photos to process and consider (and cull down to manageable levels) but while my readers are eagerly waiting in suspense I thought I would share an observation of just one species as a “taster” of the good things to come.

As we walked around birding and botanising, we were intrigued by the often seen Swallowtail butterflies.

We assumed, as did others, that they were the same male Black Swallowtails we see in Montreal, albeit with a slightly more orange marking on the black wings. A local race we presumed. However, on examining the photographs and doing some reading it turns out that in actuality they were Short-tailed Swallowtails (Papilio brevicauda) which are very similar to the Blacks but with, guess what, short “tails” on the wings.

To our eyes they seemed a bit deeper in colour than the Blacks we see here and apparently the population on Cape Breton – not that far south across the sea – is known for its orange markings so that all fits. They mostly occur in coastal regions where lovage, see the first photograph, grows near the seashore. Their North American range is entirely restricted to the eastern part of the Gulf of St-Lawrence and Newfoundland. Rather charmingly, (quote) “males will seek females by awaiting them on hilltops”.

Quote: This species is much rarer and more localized than Black Swallowtail. It flies on coastal marshes, dunes and headlands where the host plant, Scotch Lovage, grows. It is usually seen within 100 meters of the ocean and often flies out over the water when disturbed. The Short-tailed Swallowtail has a very restricted distribution – its global range is restricted to areas surrounding the Gulf of St. Lawrence.