Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Picos de Europa Wildlife

Meadows, Bugs and Wallcreepers

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This May I was lucky to escape my usual routine and enjoy three days out with Teresa Farino and Jeff Clarke on their Picos de Europa guided wildlife holiday. Between these two experts in their fields they have bases pretty much covered, Teresa looking after plants, butterflies and moths and Jeff birds, mammals and other invertebrates.

Meadows and Woodland around Fuente De

The top of the cable car from a meadow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragging ourselves away from Swallowtails and various fritillaries we headed up an ancient track to the first orchid-rich meadow. On the way were the first of many owlflies (Ascalaphids) either flying or resting with wings open, like a cross between a butterfly and a dragonfly but with very long antennae. The species here is Libelloides coccajus.

libelloides_coccajus_upper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the orchids the first of sixteen or seventeen species of the day (to be honest I lost count before that) was Man orchid, now known as Orchis anthropophora. Among the Ophrys were sphegoides, Early spider, fusca, Sombre bee (seen below with accompanying and properly confused bee that I think is a Common mining bee, Andrena bicolor) and tenthredinifera, Sawfly, the latter pickling a slope at the top of our walk.

orchis_anthropophora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ophrys_sphegoidesophrys_sphegoides_2

 

fusca_andrena_bicolor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ophrys_tenthrediniferasawfly_orchid

 

Alongside the myriad yellow forms of  Elder-flowered orchids, Dactylorhiza sambucina, were a good number of Barton's orchid, Dactylorhiza insularis, with just the two remnant dark spots on the lip. On the way down to the lower wet part of the meadow a small patch of luminescent pink could be seen from a way away, Dianthus deltoides.

dactylorhiza_insularisdactylorhiza_maculata

 

dianthus_deltoides

The last orchids of the day were found in beech woods; Bird's nest, Neottia nidus-avis, camouflaged among the dead leaves on the wood floor and Common twayblade, from old English meaning two-leaved, Listera ovata.

neottia_nidus-avislistera_ovata

 

Also found in this venerable habitat were a few tiny Adder's tongue ferns, Ophioglossum vulgatum.

adders_tongue_fern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lush meadows and warm, rocky hillsides were pulsating with invertebrate life.

bombylella_atra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spotted_fritillary_caterpillarcercopis_intermedia

 

(See the next page for the similar Heath fritillary caterpillar). Teresa found a wart biter, Decticus verrucivorus, but I found it hard to focus while at the same time expecting it to bite at any moment.........

decticus_verrucivorus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

robins_pincushion_gall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of the afternoon and the owlflies were now resting with wings closed, preparing to roost for the night. Peter kindly helped me take my favourite photo of the day, Libelloides coccajus hiding behind a big, fat stalk.............

lebelloides_coccajus

 

Flora and Fauna of the Picos de Europa
Go to Iberian Wildlife
Over the past 25 years, Teresa Farino has compiled a report (more than 100 A4 pages) that includes lists of all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers & crickets and vascular plants ever recorded the Picos de Europa, plus summaries of each of these groups and an eight-page introduction to the natural history of these mountains. If you would like to purchase a copy, the price is 17.50€, excluding postage and packaging; alternatively, a copyrighted PDF document sent by email costs 11.50€. Click on the image to contact Teresa for further details or to place your order.

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