24 January 2011
© Peter Eeles and Chris Manley
Citation: Eeles, P. and Manley, C. (2011). A Lepidoptera Report from Spain [Online]. Available from http://www.dispar.org/reference.php?id=79 [Accessed September 22, 2017].


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A Lepidoptera Report from Spain

Peter Eeles and Chris Manley

with photos by Chris Manley, Tim Norriss, Pat Turner, Pete Eeles, Rob Turner and video by Lynn Fomison.

This report provides a summary of the butterflies and moths observed on a trip made to north-east Spain from 19th to 26th June 2010. The members of the party were Chris Manley, Lynn Fomison, Peter Davey, Peter Eeles, Robin and Pat Turner, and Tim Norriss.

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Pat, Robin, Peter D, Lynn, Tim, Pete E
Overlooking Reserva del Congost de Mont Rebei

Photo © Chris Manley

The authors would like to thank a few individuals that have provided significant help in identifying some of the species mentioned in this report. They are Guy Padfield, Roger Gibbons and Bernard Watts. And many thanks to those members of UK Butterflies that also provided their input.

The Location

We were based at Casa Guilla in Santa Engracia, just north of the town of Tremp in Catalonia, north-east Spain, nestled in the foothills south of the Pyrenees.

Each site we visited is identified with a letter (A through V) in this report, the details of which are:

Saturday 19th June

An early-morning start saw us arrive at Barcelona airport at 9:55am, allowing us to take in a couple of stops on our way to Santa Engracia where we were to be based. Our first stop was at Saint Llaurenc where we managed to find a dirt track leading into a small gorge.

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Saint Llaurenc
Photo © Peter Eeles

The area was surprisingly rich in butterflies, seeing 16 butterfly species in total. Familiar species included Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) including one of the form helice, Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Small White (Pieris rapae), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) of the nominate subspecies which is very brown, Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). A surprise was finding a single Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon). We also saw several species not found in the British Isles, including a strong colony of False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi). Relatively-familiar species to anyone who has visited the continent included Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae), Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae) and Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius). Less widespread species seen included a single Mediterranean Skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus), a single Osiris Blue (Cupido osiris) and several Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba), a species we were to encounter frequently on this trip. A Pale Shoulder moth was seen nectaring on mallow flowers, the larval foodplant.

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False Ilex Hairstreak
Photo © Tim Norriss
Mallow Skipper
Photo © Peter Eeles
Marbled Skipper
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Scarce Swallowtail
Photo © Pat Turner
Mediterranean Skipper
Photo © Peter Eeles
Spanish Gatekeeper
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Speckled Wood
Photo © Peter Eeles
Pale Shoulder
Photo © Chris Manley

A little further on, we stopped again off the main road in an area that seemed to have been quarried to some small extent and that was rich in nectar sources. On exiting the cars we could already see several fritillaries flying about.

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Stop on way to Santa Engracia
Photo © Peter Eeles
Stop on way to Santa Engracia
Photo © Chris Manley

Familiar species, but new to the trip, included Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus coridon), Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia), Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) and Wood White (Leptidea sinapis). It was, again, strange and delightful to see several species considered "local" in the British Isles flying together at the side of a main road! False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba) were once again in good numbers. New species for the trip included Blue-spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini), Dusky Heath (Coenonympha dorus), Escher's Blue (Polyommatus escheri), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus), Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe), Red-underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius), Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta) and Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma). All in all, not bad for a "pit stop" at the side of the road!

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Blue-spot Hairstreak
Photo © Pat Turner
Dusky Heath
Photo © Robin Turner
Escher's Blue
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Iberian Marbled White
Photo © Peter Eeles
Knapweed Fritillary
Photo © Peter Eeles
Spotted Fritillary
Photo © Robin Turner

Moths, too, were well represented. Goldwings were seen (there is only one British record from 1937) as well as Four-spotted and Straw Belle, both scarce in Britain. Eublemma pulchralis is similar to the Marbled Eublemma species seen as migrants at home.

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Goldwing
Photo © Chris Manley
Four-spotted
Photo © Chris Manley
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Straw Belle
Photo © Tim Norriss
Eublemma pulchralis
Photo © Chris Manley

As we approached Santa Engracia we decided to make one last stop, not really expecting to see anything particularly special other than a view over the nearby town of Tremp. The last remnants of water in a roadside ditch was teaming with tadpoles - we hoped they'd be able to make it through to adulthood before the sun got the better of their home. A single Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) was a new species for the trip. We also found a single Chapman's Blue (Polyommatus thersites) and, best of all, one of the Spanish specialties - a single female Spanish Fritillary (Euphydryas desfontainii) that looked as if it had seen better days. Several more Goldwing moths were flying, so obviously common around here.

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View overlooking Tremp
Photo © Peter Eeles
Roadside above Tremp
Photo © Chris Manley
Spanish Fritillary
Photo © Peter Eeles

Turning the corner we could see our final stop - Casa Guilla - perched on a rocky outcrop in the distance. Having settled into our rooms we all went out onto the balcony to take in the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, when a single Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) flew by, adding another species to our list and giving us a total of 38 butterfly species for the day - not bad given that we were simply making our way to Casa Guilla from the airport! We were then treated to a veritable feast by our hosts, something that we definitely looked forward to at the end of each day in the field.

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Santa Engracia
Photo © Peter Eeles
Santa Engracia from Road Below
Photo © Chris Manley

Butterfly Day Listing

In this report, first sightings are shaded green in each table.

A - Saint Llaurenc
B - Stop on way to Santa Engracia
C - Santa Engracia
D - Hotel

Sunday 20th June

Moth traps run overnight produced 42 species, reflecting the rather cool conditions. Those on the British list included Jersey, Blotched and Essex Emeralds, Portland Ribbon Wave, Passenger, Alchymist and Latreille's Latin.

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Latreille's Latin
Photo © Chris Manley
Passenger
Photo © Tim Norriss
Alchymist
Photo © Chris Manley

A quick wander around the immediate vicinity of the hotel threw up a surprise; a Large Wall Brown (Lasiommata maera) was sunning itself on the balcony and occasionally disturbing a Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) that was also warming up in the morning sun, along with our first Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) for the trip. At the front of Casa Guilla a couple of Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) were seen along with a good number of False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi).

Today we decided to head to Abella de la Conca to the east of Tremp, a village nestled on a hillside, bounded by apparently sheer rockfaces popular with climbers.

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Road to Abella de la Conca
Photo © Peter Eeles
Abella de la Conca
Photo © Peter Eeles
Griffon Vultures flying over Abella
Photo © Chris Manley

We found a promising area next to the side of the road just before the village which turned up some new species for the trip - Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) and Weaver's Fritillary (Boloria dia). There were also a couple of moths that are very scarce at home; Fiery Clearwing (a Red Data Book species) and Cynaeda dentalis. The yellow larval form of Spurge Hawk-moth was also found.

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Black-veined White
Photo © Peter Eeles
Provence Orange-tip
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Cynaeda dentalis
Photo © Chris Manley
Fiery Clearwing
Photo © Chris Manley
Spurge Hawk-moth larva (yellow form)
Photo © Chris Manley

Just past the village the road came to an end, so we parked up and spent a few hours exploring the area. A small number of farms were surrounded by flower-rich meadows, with a very steep rocky hillside leading down into a gorge and a river below. All in all, the area provided a number of different habitats that offered up several new species for the trip.

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Abella de la Conca
Photo © Peter Eeles

Good numbers of Bath White (Pontia daplidice) were flying, along with a number of Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis). A single Meadow Fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) was found among a strong colony of Provence Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus hispanus). We distinguished different species of Chalkhill Blue based primarily on the date and their condition (Chalkhill Blue were only just emerging, whereas Provence Chalkhill Blue were coming to the end of the flight season for the first brood). To top it off, a single Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) was also seen, probably the most exotic butterfly species found that day.

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Bath White
Photo © Peter Eeles
Meadow Fritillary
Photo © Robin Turner
Spanish Festoon
Photo © Pat Turner

A Humming-bird Hawk-moth that seemed to be nectaring for rather a long time on a scabious turned out to have its proboscis trapped by a crab spider, Thomisus onustus. The spider won, surprisingly, and dined very well that day.

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Humming-bird Hawk-moth taken by Crab Spider
Photo © Chris Manley

We decided to stop just outside Tremp on the way back to Casa Guilla, next to a railway line. We could see from the road that a piece of woodland had a very nice ride created through it, in order to ensure that the trees didn't encroach on telegraph and power lines.

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Outside Tremp
Photo © Peter Eeles

Good numbers of both Blue-spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini) and False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi) were found, along with a good number of Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba). A Wood White (Leptidea sinapis) was seen ovipositing and, in addition to the briefest of visits by a Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), we saw our first Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) of the trip.

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Swallowtail
Photo © Robin Turner

A Middle Lace Border led us a dance before settling inside a rather spiny shrub. A Lace Border seen later showed the distinguishing difference between the two, the lunules in the trailing corner of the hindwings being prominent in Lace Border but pale grey in Middle Lace Border.

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Middle Lace Border
Photo © Tim Norriss
Lace Border
Photo © Chris Manley

Stopping in a meadow near Santa Engracia on the way back to Casa Guilla, we found a good number of Clouded Yellow, including a mating pair, rounding the day off nicely.

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Clouded Yellow
Photo © Peter Eeles

Butterfly Day Listing

E - Hotel
F - Road to Abella de la Conca
G - Abella de la Conca
H - Outside Tremp
I - Meadow near hotel

Monday 21st June

The moth traps overnight had a total of just seven moths! This was almost certainly due to the fresh snow visible on the hill tops to the north and the wind from them making it extremely cold at dawn! Three of the moths were Oak Hawks (Marumba quercus).

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Oak Hawk-moths
Photo © Chris Manley
View east from moth trap site at Casa Guilla
Photo © Chris Manley

Today we decided to pay a visit to Tornafort, near Sort, north of Tremp. We stopped shortly after leaving the main road, stopping in a small layby. The change of scenery immediately paid dividends with our first sightings of Esper's Marbled White (Melanargia russiae), Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis), Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias hyale) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Southern White Admiral (Limenitis reducta) were also present in good numbers, gliding up and down the tree-lined road. We ploughed on and eventually reached a junction with roads leading to Tornafort and Malmercat. We decided to stop here since some of the surrounding fields looked very promising with nectar sources bursting into life all around us.

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Road to Tornafort at junction to Malmercat
Photo © Peter Eeles
Mistletoe on Scots Pine
Photo © Chris Manley

As it happens, we managed to turn up 35 species for that area with 8 new species for the trip; Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus) which were in good numbers, Amanda's Blue (Polyommatus amandus), Chequered Blue (Scolitantides orion), Green-underside Blue (Glaucopsyche alexis), Marbled Fritillary (Brenthis daphne), Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania), Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia) and Sloe Hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae). Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) were frequently seen, behaving much like our own Orange-tip, with a relatively-weak flight and males investigating every flower head of their larval foodplant in search of a mate.

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Adonis Blue (female)
Photo © Peter Eeles
Chequered Blue (female)
Photo © Peter Eeles
Chequered Blue (female)
Photo © Pat Turner
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Amanda's Blue (male)
Photo © Peter Eeles
Amanda's Blue (female)
Photo © Peter Eeles
Amanda's Blue (underside)
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Marbled Fritillary
Photo © Peter Eeles
Marbled Fritillary
Photo © Peter Eeles
Pearly Heath
Photo © Robin Turner

We carried on to Tornafort, finding 9 new species for the trip as a result; Comma (Polygonia c-album), Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola), False Heath Fritillary (Melitaea diamina), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus), Piedmont Ringlet (Erebia meolans), Safflower Skipper (Pyrgus carthami) and Small Blue (Cupido minimus). Moths seen included Anania funebris, Pyrausta sanguinalis, Eurrhypis pollinalis, Black-veined and Beautiful Marbled. Also a stunning blue beetle and a pair of quail.

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View from Tornafort
Photo © Chris Manley
False Heath Fritillary
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Piedmont Ringlet
Photo © Peter Eeles
Safflower Skipper
Photo © Peter Eeles

To round off the day we decided to drive back to the main road and then up the other side of the valley toward Enviny. We were, once again, astounded by the sheer variety of species found in such a small area. We also managed to notch up another 2 new species for the trip, Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) and Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), as well as a new burnet moth, before heading back to Casa Guilla for another sumptuous meal!

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Other side of valley from Tornafort
Photo © Peter Eeles
Anania funebris
Photo © Chris Manley
Zygaena romeo
Photo © Chris Manley

Butterfly Day Listing

J - Road to Tornafort at base of hill
K - Road to Tornafort at junction to Malmercat
L - Tornafort
M - Other side of valley from Tornafort

Tuesday 22nd June

Milder conditions overnight produced a better catch of moths with 54 species, including Olive Beauty, Antirrhinum Brocade, Portland Ribbon Wave, Dark Umber, Scarce Blackneck and Spurge Hawk. Also Zethes insularis, looking very like a Passenger, and the extraordinary-looking Eutelia adulatrix.

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Antirrhinum Brocade
Photo © Chris Manley
Zethes insularis
Photo © Chris Manley
Eutelia adulatrix
Photo © Chris Manley

Today we decided to head south-west, to Reserva del Congost de Mont Rebei, a rather spectacular gorge that had been cut into the mountainside by the river that runs through it. Turning that last corner to see the gorge open up is really quite difficult to describe, but was quite spectacular with a great river plane stretching into the distance. We quickly made our way onto the reserve which, surprisingly (given its size) only had a few visitors' cars in the car park - one advantage of visiting while children are still at school!

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Reserva del Congost de Mont Rebei
Photo © Peter Eeles
Reserva del Congost de Mont Rebei
Photo © Chris Manley

A damp clearing next to the car park contained a small colony of Twin-spot Fritillary (Brenthis hecate), flying alongside numerous Wood White (Leptidea sinapis). A single Purple Hairstreak (Favonius quercus) was also seen along with several Great Banded Grayling (Brintesia circe) that looked absolutely huge when compared with the other species flying. Other firsts for the trip included Green-veined White (Pieris napi), Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus), Marbled White (Melanargia galathea), Northern Wall Brown (Lasiommata petropolitana), Rosy Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus onopordi) and our third Marbled White species for the trip, Western Marbled White (Melanargia occitanica). The variety of habitats available and the sheer variety and number of butterflies kept our interest and the 4 or 5 hours spent here seemed to fly by. We left the reserve having seen 43 butterfly species in total, as well as 8 moths including Oncocera semirubella and Feathered Footman.

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Twin-spot Fritillary
Photo © Peter Eeles
Rosy Grizzled Skipper
Photo © Robin Turner
Western Marbled White
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Oncocera semirubella
Photo © Chris Manley
Feathered Footman
Photo © Chris Manley

Heading back to Case Guilla, we stopped near the top of Col del Montellbar to see what was around - stopping at the side of the road nearly always seemed to reveal something interesting! Although we found no new species, there were good numbers of very fresh Twin-spot Fritillary (Brenthis hecate) and good numbers of Provence Chalkhill Blue (Polyommatus hispanus) too. We were also joined by several species that had become very familiar during the trip; they seemed to be at most sites. This included Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis), Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi), Chapman's Blue (Polyommatus thersites), Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Osiris Blue (Cupido osiris), Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus), Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba) and Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma).

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Near Col del Montellbar
Photo © Peter Eeles
Near Col del Montellbar
Photo © Chris Manley

Butterfly Day Listing

N - Col del Montellbar (on way to Reserva del Congost de Mont Rebei)
O - Reserva del Congost de Mont Rebei
P - Near Col del Montellbar

Wednesday 23rd June

The moth traps overnight produced some 60 species, including Oak Yellow Underwing, Purple Marbled, Dorset Cream Wave, Ancylis cinnamomella and Feathered Beauty.

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Purple Marbled
Photo © Chris Manley
Oak Yellow Underwing
Photo © Chris Manley
Ancylosis cinnamomella
Photo © Chris Manley

Today we decided to get high into the mountains, and settled on those above Lessui in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Slowly, but surely, we made our way up the winding roads, stopping to give way to an incredible number of blues that were mud-puddling on a trickle of water that was coming off the mountain and running across the road. Identifying all of the species was an impossible task but photographic evidence, once back home, gave the "mud puddling blues" as Adonis Blue (Polyommatus bellargus), Chapman's Blue (Polyommatus thersites), Chequered Blue (Scolitantides orion), Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), Escher's Blue (Polyommatus escheri), Geranium Argus (Aricia eumedon) (new for the trip), Green-underside Blue (Glaucopsyche alexis), Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus), Mother-of-pearl Blue (Polyommatus nivescens) (new for the trip), Osiris Blue (Cupido osiris), Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus), Small Blue (Cupido minimus) and Turquoise Blue (Polyommatus dorylas) (new for the trip). That's 13 species in total! Given that these were also joined by various fritillaries and skippers, it was no wonder we felt a little overwhelmed. Thank goodness for our digital record!

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Mud-puddling Blues
Photo © Peter Eeles
Mud-puddling Blues
Photo © Peter Eeles
Mud-puddling Blues
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Turquoise Blue
Photo © Peter Eeles
Turquoise Blue
Photo © Pat Turner

In addition to a few of the blues, other new species for the trip were familiar to us - Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) and Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne). We also saw our first Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa), Provental Fritillary (Melitaea deione) and Sooty Copper (Lycaena tityrus). Being so high up we also found what we were hoping for - some Erebia. A single Piedmont Ringlet (Erebia meolans) was accompanied by a good number of de Prunner's Ringlet (Erebia triaria), whose dark wings really stood out among the other butterflies.

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de Prunner's Ringlet
Photo © Peter Eeles
de Prunner's Ringlet
Photo © Peter Eeles

Driving further up the mountain we could see the snow-covered peaks. We eventually reached some abandoned ski lifts and could only imagine what the mountain must look like when totally covered in snow. With few nectar sources, we didn't see that many butterflies. However, we did end the day with a total of 50 species so couldn't complain!

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Track leading up from Lessui
Photo © Chris Manley
Mountains above Lessui
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Mountains above Lessui
Photo © Peter Eeles
Gentians above Lessui
Photo © Chris Manley

Butterfly Day Listing

Q - Mountains above Lessui

Thursday 24th June

There were 76 species of moths this morning including Bright Wave, Spotted Sulphur, Clancy's Rustic, Latreille's Latin and Pine Tree Lappet.

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Pine Tree Lappet
Photo © Chris Manley
Spotted Sulphur
Photo © Chris Manley
Lime Hawk-moth aberration
Photo © Chris Manley

Today we decided to head off to Creu de Perves, first taking in the village of Rivert, not far from Santa Engracia. Given the relatively-small area we covered, we were surpsied to come away with a tally of 33 species in a little over an hour.

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Rivert near Santa Engracia
Photo © Peter Eeles
Rivert near Santa Engracia
Photo © Peter Eeles

The first surprise was finding a Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) settled on some riverside plants, predictably flying up into the air as it was approached, never to be seen again! We also got our first sightings of Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris) which, while similar to our own Purple Hairstreak, is noticeably different when seen close up. Other firsts for the trip included Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). Cynaeda dentalis was spotted, as well as Humming-bird Hawk, Feathered Footman, Straw Belle and Chimney Sweeper.

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Spanish Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Peter Eeles
Spanish Purple Hairstreak
Photo © Pat Turner
Cynaeda dentalis
Photo © Chris Manley

We then headed on to Creu de Perves, a village perched on a mountainside. We drove past the village and ultimately parked up in a fairly open area where most of the surrounding area was accessible. The village is at an elevation of 1334 metres (for the record, Britain's highest peak is Ben Nevis at 1344 metres).

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Creu de Perves
Photo © Peter Eeles
Creu de Perves
Photo © Chris Manley

The numerous Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi) were flying all around and it wasn't long before we found another new species for the trip, a number of newly-emerged Spanish form of Chestnut Heath (Coenonympha glycerion). A single Oberthnr's Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) was also found. Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia), Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia) and Meadow Fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides) were flying together in good numbers, testing our identification skills. To round off our visit, we found a final instar Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) larva feeding on Fennel. Stopping a little way down the hill we saw a couple of Camberwell Beauty (Nymphalis antiopa) before heading back to Casa Guilla.

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Chestnut Heath
Photo © Peter Eeles
Swallowtail larva
Photo © Peter Eeles

Day-flying moths included the stunning Pyrausta sanguinalis (now confined to the Isle of Man in Britain), Common Heath, Merrifielda leucodactyla as well as a large puffball looking totally out of place on the hot, dry, rocky slope.

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Pyrausta sanguinalis
Photo © Chris Manley
Merrifielda leucodactyla
Photo © Chris Manley
Puffball
Photo © Chris Manley

One item that should be mentioned, that isn't at all Lepidoptera-related, is the spectacular scenery we were treated to on our travels. Rivers, lakes and mountains seemed to follow us wherever we went, which made for a more-enjoyable car journey.

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Catalonia
Photo © Chris Manley

Butterfly Day Listing

R - Rivert near Santa Engracia
S - Creu de Perves
T - Down the hill from Creu de Perves

Friday 25th June

A good start to the day with 71 moth species were found in the traps this morning.

Knowing what to do on the last day of a trip is always a challenge. We'd always indended to head north, deep into the Pyrenees, but none of us really wanted to spend the best part of 5 hours travelling. We compromised and decided to spend the day back at Abella de la Conca which we felt held more secrets for us. The first order of the day, however, was to get up early to find Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathseba) that were just warming up and holding their wings open for more than a nanosecond! An early morning walk found them waking up around 7:30am and, as hoped for, were sunning themselves on patches of bare earth and obliging the cameras. "Little black jobs" were also flitting about - clearly hairsreaks of some sort. Closer inspection revealed gave us our first sightings of Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) for the trip - and just a walk down the road from Casa Guilla!

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Ilex Hairstreak
Photo © Pat Turner

It wasn't long before we arrived back at Abella de la Conca and already knowing the site definitely gave us an advantage. First stop - down in the gorge - which provided a great deal of shelter! Being here earlier in the day than our previous visit paid off with sightings of several new species for the trip - Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia), which was difficult to tell apart from Spanish Fritillary (Euphydryas desfontainii), Mountain Dappled White (Euchloe simplonia), Mountain Small White (Pieris ergane), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes) and a couple of very fresh male Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron) that were flying in a field next to a disused farmhouse down in the gorge and where some of the locals were swimming in the waters flowing down from the surrounding hills and into the gorge. Even our first Peacock (Aglais io) put in a showing. Butterflies were, literally, everywhere, and we spent a good few hours just taking it all in. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a single and very fresh male High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe) turned up, nectaring on a large Thistle, bringing our total for the site to a very respectable 55.

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Mountain Dappled White
Photo © Peter Eeles
Mountain Small White
Photo © Peter Eeles
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Purple-shot Copper
Photo © Peter Eeles
Purple-shot Copper
Photo © Peter Eeles

We decided to stop at a river valley at Montsec de R˙bies on the way back. Unfortunately, the scorching sun had completely baked the site which was not only unbearably hot, but unable to host many butterflies.

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Montsec de R˙bies
Photo © Tim Norriss

However, we did see our first Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) and Meleager's Blue (Polyommatus daphnis, with its distinctive scalloped hindwing) for the trip and were entertained by a Great Banded Grayling (Brintesia circe) that was flying around one of the cars, as well as good colonies of Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma), Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis) and False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi). There were a few moths flying such as Feathered Footman, Goldwing and Aglaope infausta (which is very local in north east Spain) in blackthorn thickets, and Alvaradoia numerica. 64 butterfly species on the last day of our trip (giving a grand total of 109 species) was the perfect ending to our trip to this wonderful part of the world.

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Meleager's Blue
Photo © Tim Norriss
Alvaradoia numerica
Photo © Chris Manley
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Aglaope infausta
Photo © Chris Manley
Aglaope infausta larva
Photo © Chris Manley

We stopped at the small meadow below Santa Engracia where we spotted 8 species of moth flying, including Lace Border, Feathered Footman, Straw Belle, Humming-bird Hawk, Chrysocrambus craterella and Oncocera semirubella. This gave a total of 188 moth species for the trip, of which 127 are on the British list.

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Chrysocrambus craterella
Photo © Chris Manley

Butterfly Day Listing

U - Santa Engracia
V - Abella de la Conca
W - Montsec de R˙bies

Appendix A - Summary of Butterfly Species Seen

Appendix B - Summary of Moth Species Seen

See Spain Moth Records Jun10.xls.