Picos de Europa Wildlife Holidays with Iberian Wildlife Tours
    Iberian Wildlife Tours in Spain and Portugal - for the wildlife holiday or natural history tour of a lifetime

Picos de Europa:
a naturalist's paradise - part 3
by Teresa Farino

Glorious haymeadows in the southern reaches of the Picos de Europa

Herb Paris - Paris quadrifolia Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia © Teresa Farino

Between the foot of the cable car and the village of Espinama lies a wonderful tract of haymeadows, interspersed with beech forest, which harbours a quite different assemblage of plants and animals.This is one of the best places in the Picos de Europa to look for orchids, with early June bringing out a plethora of man, pyramidal, early marsh, Barton's, fragrant, lizard, bird's-nest, early purple, burnt, tongue and fly orchids, as well as dull, woodcock, early spider and sawfly ophrys.

The meadows themselves are colourful assemblages of kidney vetch (here with pink flowers), bloody crane's-bill, pale flax, musk-mallow, greater yellow-rattle (subspecies asturicus) and white asphodel, with other species of note including maiden pink, rock cinquefoil, round-headed rampion, the stemless, lilac-flowered 'thistle' Carduncellus mitissimus and round-headed leek, as well as sheets of Pink Butterfly Orchids - Orchis papilionacea Pink Butterfly Orchids
Orchis papilionacea
© Teresa Farino
English irises from July onwards. Wetter areas teem with globeflower, marsh marigold, whorled lousewort, marsh ragwort and marsh hawk's-beard, while the woodland margins harbour astrantia, Pimpinella siifolia, bastard balm, spreading and rampion bellflowers, spiked rampion, spiked star-of-Bethlehem, martagon and Kerry lilies, Solomon's-seal, herb-Paris and Pyrenean squill.

The butterfly fauna of this corner of the Picos de Europa is stupendous in early summer, including grizzled and mallow skippers, both Iberian swallowtails, Red-backed Shrike - Lanius collurio Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio © Teresa Farino black-veined white, Camberwell beauty, Glanville and knapweed fritillaries, Adonis, chalk-hill, turquoise, long-tailed, short-tailed, silver-studded and black-eyed blues, sooty and purple-edged coppers, blue-spot hairstreak and Duke of Burgundy fritillary. Roe deer and red-backed shrikes inhabit the edges of the meadows, wryneck, spotted flycatcher, black redstart, serin and cirl bunting abound in the villages of Pido and Espinama, and middle spotted woodpecker, tree pipit, Bonelli's warbler, marsh tit and short-toed treecreeper occupy the forest, although the beechwoods along the track leading north from Espinama towards the Puertos de Áliva are a better bet for black woodpecker, crested tit, red squirrel and pine marten.

Cork oak forest of Tolibes.

Spotted Fritillary - Melitaea didyma Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma © Teresa Farino

Close to Potes, in the southeastern corner of the Picos de Europa, lies an expanse of Mediterranean forest on acid shales, dominated by cork and western holm oaks sheltering an understorey of prickly juniper, osyris, turpentine tree, Mediterranean buckthorn, Cistus psilosepalus, strawberry-tree, Phillyrea latifolia, wild jasmine and Etruscan honeysuckle. Dry meadows here have pink butterfly, green-winged and Sicilian orchids plus Deptford pink, spotted rock-rose, field eryngo, wild clary and cone knapweed, while rocky outcrops host rock soapwort, Ruta angustifolia, French lavender, daisy-leaved toadflax, Helichrysum stoechas and - in spring - angel's-tears. The whole area is excellent for butterflies, including Spanish Swallowtail, Cleopatra, Provence Orange Tip, spotted fritillary and brown, purple, Spanish purple, blue-spot, ilex, false ilex and sloe hairstreaks, as well as sooty copper, black-eyed, Lang's short-tailed and Baton blues.

 
Picos de Europa: a naturalist's paradise
Introduction
Alpine birds & flowers
[Meadows & forests]
Lakes & gorges
San Glorio
Scientific names of plants
 
Butterfly Conservation donation ad

Natural history tours in the Picos de Europa:

A Feast of Flowers - botanical trips to the Picos de Europa
Spring Butterflies & Moths of the Picos de Europa
Natural History of the Picos de Europa & Páramos of Northern Castile
A Family Wildlife Holiday in the Picos de Europa
Autumn Moth Weekend in the Picos de Europa
Daily wildlife excursions in the Picos de Europa

Reports from past trips to the Picos de Europa:

Picos de Europa trip report 2013
Picos and Páramos trip report 2012
Picos de Europa trip report 2011
Picos de Europa trip report 2010
A Feast of Flowers in the Picos de Europa - 2009 trip report
Butterflies & moths of the Picos de Europa - 2008 trip report
Butterflies & moths of the Picos de Europa - 2006 trip report
Butterflies & moths of the Picos de Europa - 2005 trip report
BSBI Botanical Tour of the Picos de Europa - 2004 trip report

Related information:

Complete list of orchids for the Picos de Europa
Complete list of butterflies for the Picos de Europa
Read about Teresa Farino
Wildlife holidays and natural history tours in Spain & Portugal
HomeTours for 2017About IWTTestimonialsIWT BlogContact us Publications
Wildlife books
Wildlife articles
Translations
Custom wildlife & birding tours
Birds & birdwatching
List of birds
Geography & climate
List of dragonflies & damselflies
Travellers' Nature Guide species menu
Andalucia tours
Cabo de Gata
Sierra de Grazalema
Grazalema botanical trip report 2007
Aragón tours
Benasque botanical trip report 2008
Canaries tours
Natural History of the Canary Islands
Fuerteventura trip report
Catalonia tours
Catalan Pyrenees botanical trip report 2005
Extremadura tours
Birds & birding
Habitats
Location & geography
List of birds
List of butterflies
List of dragonflies & damselflies
Castilla y Leon tours
La Mancha tours
Birds & birding
Botanical trip report 2009
Madrid tours
Birds & birding
List of dragonflies & damselflies
Navarra tours
Picos tours
A naturalist's paradise
List of orchids
Botanical trip report 2004
Butterfly & moth trip report 2005
Butterfly & moth trip report 2006
Butterfly & moth trip report 2008
List of butterflies
Picos walking guide
Natural history of the Arrábida
Wildlife of the Sado estuary
Botanical trip report 2006
Ecuador cloudforest birdwatching
Birds & bison in Poland
 
 
 
  
Hostal / Apartamentos Nevandi
Friendly, family-run hotel in Espinama and self-catering apartments in Pido, both close to the Fuente Dé cable-car. Mouth-watering local cuisine!
All photos and text © copyright of the authors.

Home  |  About Iberian Wildlife Tours  |  Contact

Website by Richard Albion