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Searching for Butterflies in The Montes Universales
A Week in The Montes Universales of Eastern Spain with Greenwings Holidays
At the end of July 2019 Paul and Helen visited The Montes Universales in Eastern Spain with Greenwings Holidays in search of some Spanish Specialities and endemic butterfly species of the area. The 6 day trip took place in the last few days of July and into August to coincide with the emergence of Zapater's Ringlet, an endemic species of the area.
Having been diagnosed with a rare cancer in May of 2018 I decided to try an easy trip that was organised for me, rather than spending hours pouring over the internets trip reports and maps. So after talking to the Greenwings team at Rutland Water Bird Fair, I plumped for the Montes Universales in Eastern Spain with its Spanish specialities, interesting butterflies of southern arid habitats and species endemic to these mountains.
We flew into Valencia airport on the 27 July to be met by David Moore and Jon Dunn, the group leaders who had already gathered the other participants together. We collected two large minibuses and headed off over vast sun bleached landscapes to Albarracin, our base for the week. Albarracin is a most beautiful town and the views from our hotel balcony were exquisite.
On the way we stopped off in a lay-by to take a look at some mud puddling butterflies beside the river, just to get a feel for the area. I saw two Skippers I'd never seen before and Spanish Chalk-hill Blue for only the second time.
The mouth watering numbers of butterflies had us all raring to go the next morning.
We visited the same site but this time we first walked up the nearby arid Ramble (a dry river bed) where Spanish Chalk-hill Blues were very common, as were the Sage Skipper and Cinquefoil Skipper species seen the previous day. Other new species found here were Southern Gatekeeper, Black Satyr and the much sought after Southern Hermit.
Later as the temperatures increased, puddling began down beside the river where I watched two more lifers, the plain looking Oberthur's Anomalous Blue and the beautiful Mother of Pearl Blue, both specialities of Eastern Spain.
Over the next few days we visited some interesting sites mostly centered around rivers or streams where the greenery attracted many species of butterflies and other interesting wildlife.
We discovered the beautiful Azure Chalk-hill Blue, False Grayling, Esper's Marbled White, Southern Marbled Skipper, Nettle Tree Butterfly, Provence Chalk-hill Blue and many other species.
The last two full days were spent looking for the endemic Zapater's Ringlet which only emerges at the beginning of August. David Moore, our tour leader, managed to find specimens of this butterfly on our last two full days, with several being sighted on the penultimate day of the trip.
The total number of species seen by all observers during the trip was 104. Helen and I personally saw 101 of these and I managed to film 88 including all of the specialities and endemic species of the region.
This was a well organised holiday with excellent leaders and good company. I would recommend the tour found at Greenwings.co to anyone with an interest in butterflies.
This production was filmed in broadcast quality digital format using a Canon XL-H1 High Definition video camera. The footage has been captured onto DVD and shows approximately 1 hour of high quality uncompressed digital video with complete menu accessed using your DVD players remote. Please take a look at the trailer above. The disc includes a full narrative which is different to that on the trailer.
This twin DVD film set "Searching for Butterflies in The Montes Universales" is available for purchase from only £12.00 including postage and packing.
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