As mentioned previously, we have just got back from Andalucia (Southern Spain) having spent about 12 days out there. Overall it was a disappointment for both Butterflies and other wildlife, though this may have been due to expectations and comparison with other places visited, including Britain. For instance, in the time we were out there we saw no Fritillaries at all: in the many areas of dried out scrubland, regardless of the nature of sun-parched areas, we did not see graylings or similar species that one would normally expect. We saw no ‘standard’ common species such as Red Admirals, Peacocks, Painted Ladies, Small or Large Tortoiseshells etc. Compare this with a walk in France or Britain, and it would compare quite unfavourably (at least, on a day with nice weather). It wasn’t all bad: yes, there was constant sunshine (Erm, frankly, it was too hot for walking in the open ground past 10am and stayed hot until around midnight) and I did see a number of ‘target’ species that I was hoping for (more on that later...). We also hoped to see many birds of prey and despite a couple of excellent bird sightings, the numbers of smaller birds and raptors was much less than hoped....
I’ll try and put the best photos up in groups in collections of each 3 days (or so), as I’m still processing half of them.
Day One: Tuesday 27th July – on arrival in Alpandeire (near Ronda, Malaga Province) late afternoon, I managed to spot some resident Geranium Bronze butterflies in our host’s garden. After dinner we had a walk around the village and saw several blues and one huge grasshopper (Locust?) that was about the size of my forefinger (!). I noticed that the village was surrounded by Fennel plants, all stripped of leaves, but wasn’t sure if this was done by caterpillars previously or maybe other insects. There was the constant sound of Cicadas, and they were to prove to be the most constant insect during our whole trip - heard in almost every location. And god, are they ugly close-up!
Day Two: Wednesday 28th July – An early start and we went to Jimera de Libar, and walked the foot of the town to try and find the Rio Guadiano river that runs all the way up to Ronda. At the river we watched Swallows feeding their fledgling young, and with more lush vegetation there were more butterflies in the shape of skippers, blues and browns. The Skipper that caught my attention most was possibly the Red-underwing skipper. We also had a brief view of a European Swallowtail, and as we walked back to our car at the village of Jimera de Libar we saw several Scarce Swallowtails. However, these were mostly feeding at ragwort flowers that were behind some barbed wire so there was no chance of a good photo!
Day Three: Thursday 29th July – on advice from our host, we started early again and walked around our home village of Alpandeire using an old Moorish track which dropped down to a local stream and then round to the next village. Unfortunately the stream had dried up but there were plenty of Oleander bushes growing around the stream’s trail. There proved to be few specimens here apart from a few Wall butterflies, but as we worked our way up again to the village there were more flowers with Small Coppers, Brown Argus, Mallow Skippers, Scarce Swallowtails, Southern Gatekeepers and possible Carline Skippers. I managed a few half-decent shots of the Scarce Swallowtails as they were moving very fast due to the very hot weather. By the time we got back to the village we were well and truly knackered by the weather too...
More tomorrow, hopefully.