Friday, March 17, 2023

Butterflies & more

Earlier this week, I went up into "Serra do Caldeirão", the mid mountain range (up to c. 589m) stretching across most of the Algarve's interior. Just follow (the now famous) "N2"- road from Faro to São Brâs de Alportel and continue further north. Spring has defenitely arrived now and it is quite a celebration! The green and lush season usually lasts till around mid May, then the summer-heat sets in and most of the grasses and annual herbs dry out fairly quickly.

Provence Hairstreak (Tomarus ballus) a small and rather scarce butterfly-species of South-Western Europe and North Africa. The main feeding plant for the caterpillar is Erophaca baetica (a white flowering species of milkvetch).The adult can be seen from late February or early March (weather depnding) to April. Serra do Caldeirão (Loulé), 15-March-2023. Foto: Georg Schreier.

I had noticed a population of the Provence Hairsstreak on walks in the area, in recent years, but never took any photos. Curiously, when photographing this butterfly at the roadside on this sunny mid morning, I noticed a shadow on the road and looked up: An adult (female) Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) was circling above me, apparently checking me out! The male of this pair was nearby. The Algarve population of this magnificent bird of prey is tree-nesting. I took some pictures (see below) to capture the encounter, but did not have the ideal lens on the camera that moment. Spring migrants are quite late so far ("winter" lasted till early March this year...) but Iberian Chiffchaffs have arrived by now and I also saw the first Western Subalpine Warblers of the year that day. An early Common Cuckoo sang near Tõr (Barrocal) on March, 12th.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) adult female. A resident breeder of the Algarve Serras. Loulé, 15-March-2023. Foto: GS.

But back to butterflies. Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) is another much sought-after species of the region and also found early in the season. Perhaps this is why its Portuguese name translates to "carnival-butterfly" (borboleta-carnaval). Or is it because of its "patchy" and multicoloured look, resembling the traditional carnival costumes in the north of the country, showing a lot of yellow and red?

Spanish Festoon / Westlicher Osterluzeifalter (Zerythia rumina) feeding on Fedia cornucopiae. The larvae lives on species of Pipevine (Aristolochia sp.). Salir-area (Barrocal), 12 -March-2023. Fotos: GS.

Iberian Scarce Swallowtail / Iberischer Segelfalter (Iphiclides feisthamelii) is one of the biggest and most impressive species in the area, perhaps together with Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius), the latter best seen in summer though. Serra do Caldeirão (Loulé), 15-March-2023. Foto: GS.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is an American species, famous for its migrations. The populations in Iberia and on the Macaronesian islands originate from specimen "blown across" the atlantic from the east coast populations in the US. Near Portimão, Algarve, 24-February-2023. Foto: GS.

Just to add some different colours, two photos from May last year: Adonis Blue / Himmelblauer Bläuling (Polyommatus bellargus) male. 25-May-2022, Salir, Algarve. Foto: GS.

Clouded Yellow / Wandergelbling (Colias croceus) near Salir, 25-May-2022. Foto: GS.

Restless and hard to photograph, but quite common in the region: Western Dappled White / Westlicher Gesprenkelter Weißling (Euchloe crameri). Comprehensive info (& more photos) on this species is here (D).

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