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Update on 2012 departures with Iberian Wildlife Tours: Christmas 2011

Teresa Farino
07/12/2011 07:50:39

A short summary of availability on Teresa's Spanish natural history holidays in 2012

Posted in: Flora, Butterflies and Moths, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Other Invertebrates, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Mammals, Endangered Wildlife and Habitats | Andalusia, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile-Leon | Mainland Spain, Northern Spain, Southern Spain, Spanish Islands


As I write this, bright sunlight is streaming in through my window here in the Picos de Europa, so it’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner and 2012 only a few weeks away. That said, it's pretty cold out there, very little is in flower, and opportunities for watching wildlife are rather thin on the ground.

Atlantic Lizard - Gallotia atlantica © Teresa FarinoAtlantic Lizard
Gallotia atlantica
© Teresa Farino
As the longest night of the year approaches, a ray of hope on the horizon is the fact that in a couple of months’ time I’ll be basking in the sunshine in the Canary Islands, revelling in the dazzling spring array of flora and fauna that this Macaronesian archipelago is renowned for.

There’s no need to be jealous, however, because although this tour was organised in the first instance for members of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, there are still a few places left, so we have decided to open it to everyone, be they BSBI members or not. There will certainly be plenty of fauna on offer, particularly reptiles, invertebrates and birds, with observation of the latter being in the capable hands of my IWT colleague and co-leader John Muddeman.

Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus © Teresa FarinoGreater Flamingo
Phoenicopterus roseus
© Teresa Farino
Next up, just after Easter, I will be heading down to the south-eastern corner of Spain for my annual wildlife bonanza in Almería, where again there is plenty of sunshine on the menu. We will be based in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, which is a veritable hotspot for flora and fauna, harbouring many unique plant species and a fabulous assemblage of birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates. Once again, a few places remain on this tour, although with a maximum of eight clients it should fill pretty soon, so do let me know promptly if you would like further details.

Western Peony - Paeonia broteri © Teresa FarinoWestern Peony
Paeonia broteri
© Teresa Farino
Just a few days at home to say hi to the kids after Almería, and then I’ll be off again, this time to south-western Spain, where I’m co-leading a general natural history tour of the Sierra de Grazalema with professional ornithologist and all-round naturalist Jeff Clarke. This has to be one of my favourite wildlife destinations in Spain at this time of year; the superb spring flora thrives amid superb scenery, and is complemented by a complete Mediterranean faunal community, with birds, reptiles and spring butterflies among the highlights.

The bulk of the late spring and summer season will be spent on my home patch in the Picos de Europa. I’m so lucky to live here, surrounded by a vast array of animals and plants that come in all shapes and sizes. Having acquired an in-depth knowledge of the flora, butterflies and moths and vertebrates of these spectacular mountains over the past 25 years, every season my interest is piqued by yet another component of the Picos ecosystem; my most recent ‘passions’ are grasshoppers and crickets, dragonflies and damselflies and longhorn beetles.

Lizard Orchid - Himantoglossum hircinum © Teresa FarinoLizard Orchid
Himantoglossum hircinum
© Teresa Farino
If you’re of a botanical bent, there are still a few vacancies left on my very popular Feast of Flowers tour in late May–early June, when many of the Picos orchids are in full bloom, the haymeadows are simply glorious, and the alpine rock-gardens are carpeted with gentians and tiny daffodils.

However, if general natural history is more your cup of tea, why not join my annual tour of the Picos with Jeff Clarke, which next year is taking place in late June? This holiday has been extended in 2012 to take in a second base in the páramos of northern Castile in early July, and is proving very popular with Jeff’s regular clients, although there are still a few places left.

In mid-July comes one of the high points of my summer: the chance to carry out a more intensive study of the huge diversity of butterflies and moths in the Picos de Europa in the company of like-minded enthusiasts. In 2012, Butterflies and Moths of the Southern Valleys of the Picos will take in not only the lepidoptera hotspot of Liébana (Cantabria) but also the Valdeón valley in León, in the southern reaches of the Picos de Europa National Park.

aSpanish Purple Hairstreak - Laeosopis roboris © Teresa FarinoSpanish Purple Hairstreak
Laeosopis roboris
© Teresa Farino
Every year during this tour we add new species of macromoths to the ever-growing Picos list, and occasionally a new butterfly too, including Lesser Purple Emperor and Niobe Fritillary in recent years. This specialist holiday, which I have been running since 2005, is nearly full, so you are advised to make your interest known promptly in order to guarantee a place in 2012.

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, unfortunately there are no places left on the general natural history tour of the Picos de Europa that John Muddeman and I are leading for Honeyguide in early June.

More details of all the above tours can be found by following the links in the text, or by visiting my personal page.



Finally, I wish you all a joyous and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.



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