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Monday, 3 April 2017

Butterflies seen during our Pyrenees holiday - Part 2

Continuing on with the butterflies that I saw whilst on holiday last September. These ones were all seen by the Mediterranean sea, both in France and in Spain.

Not a lifer but I don't see these Mallow Skippers (Carcharodus alceae) very often, and I only saw one other skipper whilst away, a Small Skipper up in the mountains; interestingly enough it was pudding close to the Adonis Blues.

10. I'm now not sure that the following two butterflies are the same species or not! It pays to double check before you post those original IDs that you noted. I think the butterfly on the right is a Rock Grayling (Neohipparchia statilinus), but am unsure of the one on the left which was taken in the same location. It doesn't help when the butterflies are very flitty and you don't have very good photos, or they are a tad worn. There were quite a few of these drab brown butterflies flying around the rocky headland next to our camp site at L'Escala. Despite such barren conditions I also saw Wall Brown, Small White and Painted Lady here.

11. Now this one definitely is a lifer and there were lots of them flying around this plant which is something exotic in the pea family. They are Lang's Short-tailed Blues (Leptotes pirithous) and they feed upon plants in the Fabaceae family, amongst others, so that helps with ID. They would not stand still and the shrub was huge, so taking photos was a bit hit and miss; better just to stand back and watch them and enjoy. So long as I can get a few photos for ID purposes then I'm happy. Do you see those two tiny electric blue spots by the little 'tail' though? Aren't they amazing!

I should mention that this and the following species seen on flowers were seen at the beautiful Botanical Garden of Cap Roig at Palafrugell, Costa Brava. If I ever get my A into G I will share photos that I took at this place as it was heavenly.

I'm going to throw a few moths into this post as this next one is just stunning. We also saw a couple mating on a path right beside our camp site, but I prefer this photo of one on a dahlia. It's Zygaena carniolica and it doesn't have a common name in English because presumably it isn't found in the British Isles.

I also saw quite a few of these little moths which were flitting about feeding on Lantana and Heliotrope (?not sure). Not a chance to ID it, unless anyone can help?

Back to the butterflies I include this blurry image as it's the first time I've caught a Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) in flight and seen the topside of the wings! They always but always have their wings closed when they are perching on something.

I have taken some much closer photos of this butterfly in previous years but even here you can see its stunning green eyes!

Again, not a lifer as I've seen one in my garden, but seeing the regal Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia) in Spain is just icing on the cake.

12. I have saved the best till last. This butterfly was seen beside a beach at the far end of the Ebro Delta. Now I knew when I saw it that it was related to the famous Monarch butterfly because of that spotty body, but what it was I had absolutely no idea! I searched my European butterfly book but could only find a picture of the Monarch, as it can be found in Madeira, the Canary Isles and the Azores, where their foodplant, Milkweed, grows. However under the Monarch was a paragraph about the African Monarch .... and a google search showed that it was indeed the butterfly we saw! The African Monarch (or Plain Tiger) (Danaus chrysippus) is an African and Asian species which migrates across the sea to southern Spain. Lucky we saw them where we were as the Ebro Delta, despite being at the far southern tip of Catalonia, is still fairly north-ish. What a fabulous butterfly and not one I was ever expecting to see as I didn't know it existed!

So that makes 12 lifers seen, which is pretty darn good I'd say. We are heading down that way again in May so I hope to see some different species, as there should be plenty of wild flowers in bloom. Can't wait!