Oct 2012 – Return to the Algarve

October 2012. I’m not long back from 10 days in the Algarve and although it was a few weeks earlier than my 2011 trip, the variety and numbers of butterflies I saw were very similar. My new Samsung phone enabled me to get some photos of the main species such as the Spanish Brown Argus, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (below left), Speckled Wood (European variety) and Crimson Speckled moth. A new discovery was the False Mallow Skipper (below right) which I was able to get quite close to, on my last day in Lagos, as it was sunning itself on a footpath. I discovered later surprisingly that it is quite rare in the Algarve where it seems to have a small presence separate from its more widespread relative the Mallow Skipper with which it cannot interbreed. The real joy for me however was to discover an area outside Lagos where I was able to sit and watch some beautiful Clouded Yellows flitting around. It was quite an open scrubby arid area and I couldn’t believe it one day when a Two-tailed Pasha flew past me. It was unmistakable – as big as a small bird, a powerful flyer and was so close to me that I could clearly see its striking colourings and patterns – search over!

short tailed blue 3 false mallow skipper 4

 

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October 2011 – “In Search of the Two-tailed Pasha”

This article on my Portuguese trip last October has now been published in Butterfly Conservation Ireland’s 2011 Annual Report. One of the highlights of this trip for me was the surprise discovery of a wonderful Borboletario or butterfly house in Lisbon’s Botanic Gardens where I was surrounded by beautiful Monarch butterflies. The migration cycle of this butterfly in North America is one of the most fascinating phenomena in Nature. They overwinter in Mexico and then move northwards in Springtime in a wave that goes all the way up to Canada – a journey of almost 3000 miles! I was talking to someone last Wednesday night who lives in Toronto and he was telling me how they await with joyful anticipation the arrival of the Monarch in their garden every year. It has greatly extended its range since the middle of the 19th century, colonizing New Zealand in 1840, Australia in 1870 and Canary Islands in 1880. It was first noted as a resident in Southern Iberia in 1980 and this photograph is courtesy of Simon Wates.

Monarch 1