Butterflies, Moths and Wildflowers in the Picos de Europa and Western Portugal
    Wildflower, butterfly & birdwatching tours in Iberia: Spanish & Portuguese wildlife at its most memorable
Teresa Farino © Wendy Wilson

Teresa Farino

Wildflowers, butterflies & moths and general natural history holidays throughout Spain and Portugal, in particular the Picos de Europa.

Teresa is an all-round naturalist and author with a special interest in the flora, lepidoptera and odonata of the Iberian peninsula. She lives in the Picos de Europa and has been leading wildlife tours in Spain and Portugal since 1989.

View Teresa's wildlife holidays for 2017

A little bit about me…

I fell in love with the Picos de Europa, in northern Spain, during a university field trip in 1985, and promptly abandoned a career in nature conservation in Britain to eke out a precarious existence as an environmental journalist, just so that I could live in these magnificent mountains. In 1989, I started Mountain Houseleek – Sempervivum montanum © Teresa FarinoMountain Houseleek
Sempervivum montanum (Huesca)
© Teresa Farino
leading natural history tours to the region, in order to share the extraordinary wealth of wildlife to be found in the Picos de Europa with the rest of the world… and have been doing so ever since.

In the meantime, I grabbed every possible opportunity to explore the rest of the Iberian peninsula, marvelling at how one – relatively – small area could harbour so many different ecosystems, each home to a unique assemblage of plants and animals, Southern White Admiral – Limenitis reducta © Teresa FarinoSouthern White Admiral
Limenitis reducta (Gerona)
© Teresa Farino
as well as at the specific way of life selected by our ancestors to exploit the resources of each in a traditional manner.

I have written about these experiences in many books and articles concerned with the natural history of Spain and Portugal, most notably Travellers' Nature Guides: Spain (co-authored with Mike Lockwood; Oxford University Press, 2004), which gives a comprehensive account of hundreds of prime Spanish wildlife destinations and their flora and fauna.  As this book is now out of print, we are in the process of preparing a series of more detailed regional guides, in conjunction with Náyade Editorial.  By contrast, my most recent book – Wild Spain (New Holland, 2009) – was designed with the armchair naturalist in mind, and is lavishly illustrated with both my own photographs and images from renowned wildlife photographer Carlos Sánchez.

Aesculapian Snake – Zamenis longissimus © Teresa FarinoAesculapian Snake Zamenis longissimus (Cantabria)© Teresa Farino

Although I started life as a botanist, I am fascinated by all aspects of Iberian wildlife, and am nowadays particularly passionate about invertebrates, especially butterflies and moths; since 1988 I have been compiling a database of the Lepidoptera of the Picos de Europa. Over the years I have also built up an extensive photographic library of the landscapes, flora and fauna of Spain and Portugal, with an emphasis on flowers, invertebrates and herptiles, a few examples of which can be seen on these pages.

In addition to contributing to magazines such as BBC WILDLIFE and British Wildlife, as well as to most books currently in print that deal with Spanish wildlife, I have also written Landscapes of the Picos de Europa (now in its sixth edition) and – with Mike LockwoodLandscapes of the Costa Brava (2003/2006), both for Sunflower Books. These two books are walking guides with an added natural history element. Andalusian Funnel-web Spider – Macrothele calpeiana © Teresa FarinoAndalusian Funnel-web Spider
Macrothele calpeiana (Cádiz)
© Teresa Farino
Other books of a more general nature include The Living World (1989), Sharks – the ultimate predators (1990) and The Photographic Encyclopaedia of Wildflowers (1991), all for Colour Library Books, Godalming.

Over the years I have led wildlife holidays to many Spanish and Portuguese destinations apart from the Picos de Europa, including the Algarve, western Portugal, the Canary Islands, Extremadura, Grazalema, Almería, along the length of the River Ebro, the Páramos of Northern Castile and the Catalan and Aragonese Pyrenees.

In 2017 I will be organising and leading my usual series of wildlife tours in the Picos de Europa, either for general natural history or with an emphasis on butterflies and moths, plus a varied selection of holidays to other choice Spanish wildlife hotspots.

Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes © Teresa FarinoRed Fox Vulpes vulpes (Jaén)© Teresa Farino

My first trip of the year is, as usual, to the Western Canaries (again in conjunction with Jeff Clarke Ecology), followed by a new early-spring long weekend for Spanish Festoons and other wildlife in the Picos de Europa. Come May, I will be revisiting Extremadura and observing Spring Butterflies and Moths in the Picos, as well as running a new trip to track down Spanish Moon Moths, butterflies and orchids galore in Navarra, following an extremely successful and enjoyable reccy to the area in May 2016.

In June you can join me on a two-base excursion to south-west Spain, where butterflies and dragonflies and the endemic flora are the primary focus, after which I will be returning to Benasque in the Aragonese Pyrenees, for flowers, butterflies and a wealth of other wildlife. High summer trips include a two-base natural history experience in the Picos & Páramos, in collaboration with Jeff Clarke, followed by my long-running family wildlife tour in the Picos de Europa, with a 25% discount for children under the age of 14.

In early September I will be repeating my late-summer excursion to the Catalan Pyrenees, where a wealth of butterflies, dragonflies and grasshoppers and crickets are on the menu, followed by my annual Autumn Moths Weekend in the Picos. This year's mid-October invertebrate extravaganza for macro-photographers will take place once again in Cádiz, on this occasion in association with bird and cetacean expert Jeff Clarke.

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Teresa Farino – Trip Listing for 2017

Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth – Hyles tithymaliBarbary Spurge Hawkmoth
Hyles tithymali
© Teresa Farino

Wildlife of the Western Canaries

Tenerife and La Gomera offer an exceptional diversity of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and birds, many of which are found nowhere else in the world

7 – 15 March 2017

The Canary archipelago is the ideal destination for people who like a little bit of everything, including winter sun! Because of the high level of endemism, almost every animal and plant we encounter in the wildlife-rich arid coastal badlands, semi-tropical laurel forests and stately Canary Pinewoods will be new to UK naturalists. Opportunities to observe cetaceans & seabirds on a private boat charter from La Gomera. In association with Jeff Clarke Ecology. (Maximum 14 clients)

Spanish Festoon – Zerynthia ruminaSpanish Festoon
Zerynthia rumina
© Teresa Farino

Spanish Festoon Special

An early-spring tour at the foot of the snow-capped Picos de Europa, designed to coincide with the peak flight period of our Spanish Festoons

29 March – 3 April 2017

This is a lovely time of year to visit the Picos, when the first orchids are in bloom and spring butterflies dance across the verdant meadows. Although observation of our Picos colonies of Spanish Festoons and other spring butterflies is the principal focus of the tour, there will be plenty of other fauna and flora on offer, with moth-trapping an additional benefit. (Maximum, 8 clients)

Stripeless Tree Frog – Hyla meridionalisStripeless Tree Frog
Hyla meridionalis
© Teresa Farino

Springtime in Extremadura

A profusion of flora, invertebrates, reptiles & amphibians and birds in the environs of the Monfragüe National Park and the Llanos de Cáceres

29 April – 6 May 2017

A visit to Extremadura in the spring surely has to rate as one of Europe's finest all-round wildlife experiences, providing a wealth of photographic opportunities. Not only are the raptors and other birds simply out of this world, but the array of less 'popular' creatures is also fabulous, and all set against one of the most colourful spring floral displays in Spain. (Maximum 8 clients)

Duke of Burgundy Fritillary – Hamearis lucinaDuke of Burgundy
Hamearis lucina
© Teresa Farino

Spring Butterflies and Moths Weekend

Five nights at the perfect time for an outstanding assemblage of Lepidoptera in the Picos de Europa, with a first-rate helping of orchids, birds and other spring wildlife on the side

11 – 16 May 2017

A wealth of early-flying butterflies: both Swallowtails, Chequered Skipper, Provence Orange Tip, Black-veined White, Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, Sooty Copper, Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Black-eyed Blue and emblematic fritillaries such as Marsh, Queen of Spain, Spotted, Pearl-bordered and Glanville. Fabulous moths might include Great Peacock, Tawny Prominent, The Alchymist, Lunar Double-stripe, endemic Iberian Puss Moths and Spanish Tigers and many more. (Maximum 8 clients)

Spanish Moon Moth – Actias isabellaeSpanish Moon Moth
Actias isabellae
© Teresa Farino

Moon Moths and Monkey Orchids

Our first-ever tour to Navarra, for fabulous Spanish Moon Moths, many unusual spring butterflies, a plethora of orchids and macro-photography opportunities galore

22 – 28 May 2017

The mosaic of grasslands, garrigue, broadleaved and coniferous forest and cereal fields on calcareous soils around Pamplona boasts a unique assemblage of flora and fauna, quite unlike that found anywhere else in Spain. The principal focus of the tour is undoubtedly the superb Spanish Moon Moth, but the array of spring butterflies and orchids on offer is also exceptional. (Maximum 8 clients)

Small Pincertail – Onychogomphus forcipatusSmall Pincertail
O. forcipatus
© Teresa Farino

Early Summer in South-west Spain

Late-spring wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, birds and a wealth of other wildlife in the sand-dunes, lagoons and limestone mountains of western Andalucía

8 – 15 June 2017

A two-base holiday starting near Medina del Campo and continuing to the Sierra de Grazalema. In June, the flora and fauna of southwest Spain is perhaps at its best, offering us the opportunity to track down some of the unique butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates that occur here, as well as a good range of endemic plants, many reptiles & amphibians, and a fine selection of colourful Mediterranean birds. (Maximum 8 clients)

Clouded Apollo – Parnassius mnemosyneClouded Apollo
P. mnemosyne
© Teresa Farino
Wildlife of the Aragonese Pyrenees

A wealth of flowers, butterflies and birds in the Benasque valley, amid spectacular landscapes at the foot of the highest peak in the Pyrenees

20 – 27 June 2017

A superb haymeadow and alpine rock-garden flora on both granite and limestone, with a fauna to match. Alpine Marmot, Isard, Lammergeier, Pyrenean Brook Newt and fabulous butterflies, with Clouded Apollo, Apollo, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Eros Blue, Shepherd's Fritillary and Spanish Brassy Ringlet among the highlights. Two-toothed Goldenring has also been seen here on previous tours. (Maximum 8 clients)

Wallcreeper – Tichodroma murariaWallcreeper
Tichodroma muraria
© Jeff Clarke
Natural History of the Picos de Europa & Páramos of Northern Castile

A two-base holiday to observe the fabulous mid-summer diversity of birds, butterflies & moths, dragonflies and wildflowers of northern Spain

4 – 13 July 2017

We will investigate first the diverse flora and fauna associated with the haymeadows, forests and alpine habitats of the Picos de Europa, followed by four nights exploring the Castilian limestone plateaux and river canyons further south, for a completely different assemblage of animals and plants; photographic opportunities abound! In association with Jeff Clarke Ecology. (Maximum 14 clients)

Imani with Marbled Newt – Triturus marmoratusA fine Marbled Newt
Triturus marmoratus
© Teresa Farino
A family wildlife holiday in the Picos de Europa

Introduce your children to the animals and plants of the spectacular mountains of northern Spain this summer

3 – 10 August 2017

A fun-filled family holiday designed to bring children into close contact with the abundant wildlife of the Picos de Europa. Although the emphasis is on creepy-crawlies (butterflies, beetles, crickets & dragonflies), there will also be plenty of opportunity for encounters with mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians, as well as to swim in a mountain lake or spend a day at the beach. 20% discount for children under 14.

Autumn Ringlet – Erebia neoridasAutumn Ringlet
Erebia neoridas
© Teresa Farino

Late summer in the Catalan Pyrenees

Dragonflies, butterflies and other wildlife, especially Orthoptera, of La Cerdanya and the Cadí-Moixeró natural park

5 – 12 September 2017

One of the richest parts of Spain for wildlife, where late-summer butterflies should include Map, Lesser Purple Emperor, False and Tree Graylings & Autumn Ringlet, with Banded, Yellow-winged & Moustached Darters and Blue & Migrant Hawkers among the dragonflies. Plenty of Alpine Marmots in the boulder chokes, while notable birds include Lammergeier, Citril Finch and Rock Thrush. (Maximum 8 clients)

Figure of Eight – Diloba caeruleocephalaFigure of Eight
D. caeruleocephala
© Teresa Farino

Autumn moth weekend in the Picos de Europa

A five-night stay in a superb locality for nocturnal lepidoptera, with daily excursions in search of butterflies, orthoptera and other wildlife

20 – 25 September 2017

Simply the best of Spain's autumn moth fauna! This trip regularly turns up almost 200 macromoths, including such emblematic species as Jersey Tiger, Clifden Nonpareil (plus 9 other Catocala species!), Feathered, Bordered & Beautiful Gothics, Orache Moth, Smoky Bloom and Pyrenean Runic Carpet. Plenty of autumn butterflies, grasshoppers & crickets too. Overlaps with the 13th European Moth Nights. (Maximum 8 clients)

Zeller's Skipper – Borbo borbonicaZeller's Skipper
Borbo borbonica
© Teresa Farino

Autumn in Andalucía

An invertebrate extravaganza in Cádiz, SW Spain, with a helping of birds, reptiles, amphibians and autumn-flowering bulbs on the side

11 – 19 October 2017

A real treat for macro-photography enthusiasts: Zeller's Skipper, Monarch, Two-tailed Pasha, Orange-winged & Violet Dropwings, Long Skimmer, Northern Banded Groundling, Mediterranean, Dwarf European & Giant African Mantises and many other invertebrates. Bird migration observation and a whale-watching expedition, plus mandrakes and several species of autumn-flowering narcissi among the flora. In association with Jeff Clarke Ecology. (Maximum 14 clients)

Heart-flowered Serapias – Serapias cordigeraHeart-flowered Serapias
Serapias cordigera
© Teresa Farino

Daily Wildlife Walks in the Picos de Europa

Daily excursions in search of birds, butterflies, wildflowers and any other wildlife that might cross our path

throughout 2017

If you're holidaying in the Picos, why not join me to explore the natural wonders of these mountains for a day? Children are particularly welcome.

Alpine Pasque-flower – Pulsatilla alpina ssp. cantabrica © Teresa FarinoAlpine Pasque-flower
Pulsatilla alpina ssp. cantabrica (León)
© Teresa Farino

Please click on the tour that interests you for more details and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

I have also organised many private excursions over the years, with the emphasis on wildflowers, butterflies and moths, birdwatching and even Romanesque architecture. As such, I would be happy to discuss the possibility of designing a tour focused on your particular interests, so if the idea appeals to you, please do get in touch.

Flora & Fauna of the Picos de Europa
Over the past 30 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, spiders and vascular plants ever recorded the Picos de Europa, plus an eight-page introduction to the natural history of these mountains. If you would like to purchase a PDF copy, the price is 12 € (or the sterling equivalent). Please contact Teresa for further details or to place your order.
Dericorys lobata luteipes © Teresa FarinoDericorys lobata luteipes (Fuerteventura)© Teresa Farino

Teresa Farino – Contact Details

Address: Apartado de Correos 59
39570 Potes

Office: (+34) 942 735154
Mobile: (+34) 656 337129
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