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 2018

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 seventh 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 2018 I will be organising and leading my usual series of wildlife tours in and around my home patch in the Picos de Europa, either for general natural history or with an emphasis on the flora or butterflies and moths, as well as 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 Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Gomera, followed by a jaunt to my favourite part of AlmeríaCabo de Gata – which should offer a wealth of flora and fauna at this time of year. Come May, I will be revisiting Extremadura (in conjunction with Jeff Clarke Ecology), as well as running a second trip to track down Spanish Moon Moths, butterflies and orchids galore in Navarra, following an extremely successful and enjoyable first holiday to the area in May 2017.

In June you might like to join me for an exploration of the fabulous limestone massif of Grazalema, in south-west Spain, where butterflies, dragonflies and the endemic flora are the primary focus, after which I will once again be offering my ever-popular Feast of Flowers holiday in the Picos de Europa. The end of the month sees me back in the Catalan Pyrenees: a simply splendid destination for wildlife enthusiasts from all branches of natural history.

High summer trips once again include a two-base natural history experience in the Picos & Páramos, followed by my long-running family wildlife holiday in the Picos de Europa, with a 25% discount for children under the age of 14. In early September I will be repeating my annual Autumn Moths Weekend in the Picos, while this year's mid-October invertebrate extravaganza for macro-photographers will once again take us to two very different ecosystems in Cádiz, western Andalucía.

Male & female Alpine Newts Ichthyosaura alpestris (Asturias)© Teresa Farino

Teresa Farino – Trip Listing for 2018

Red-veined Dropwing – Trithemis arteriosaRed-veined Dropwing
Trithemis arteriosa
© Teresa Farino

Wildlife of the Western Canaries

The Macaronesian islands of 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

15 – 22 March 2018

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. (Maximum 8 clients)

Common Tiger Blue – Tarucus theophrastusCommon Tiger Blue
Tarucus theophrastus
© Teresa Farino

Wildlife of Almería

Butterflies and dragonflies, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and general natural history of the arid south-eastern corner of Spain

5 – 12 April 2018

The desert-like badlands, varied coastal and wetland habitats and rugged volcanic mountains of the south-eastern corner of Spain harbour unique communities of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates, plus some of Europe's most charismatic and colourful birds and reptiles. And what’s more, it hardly ever rains here! (Maximum, 8 clients)

Woodchat Shrike – Lanius senatorWoodchat Shrike
Lanius senator
© Teresa Farino

Springtime in Extremadura

A profusion of birds, reptiles and amphibians, all manner of invertebrates and colourful wildflowers in the environs of the Monfragüe National Park and the Llanos de Cáceres

30 April – 7 May 2018

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. In association with Jeff Clarke Ecology. (Maximum 14 clients)

Southern White Admiral – Limenitis reductaSouthern White Admiral
Limenitis reducta
© Teresa Farino

Moon Moths and Monkey Orchids

Our base in Navarra is home to fabulous Spanish Moon Moths, many unusual spring butterflies, a plethora of orchids and a good selection of charismatic birds. Macro photo opportunities galore!

21 – 27 May 2018

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 30+ species of orchids found here are also exceptional. (Maximum 8 clients)

European Pond terrapin – Emys orbicularisEuropean Pond Terrapin
Emys orbicularis
© Teresa Farino

The Sierra de Grazalema

Late-spring wildflowers, butterflies, birds and a wealth of other wildlife in the limestone sierras of western Andalucía

30 May – 6 June 2018

The Sierra de Grazalema is one of south-western Spain's natural wonders. In early June, the flora and fauna of these magnificent limestone mountains is perhaps at its best, offering us the opportunity to track down some of the unique plants that occur here, as well as a good range of butterflies and dragonflies, many reptiles & amphibians, and a fine selection of colourful Mediterranean birds. (Maximum 8 clients)

Herb-Paris – Paris quadrifoliaHerb-Paris
Paris quadrifolia
© Teresa Farino
A Feast of Flowers

Orchids and other botanical treasures of the Picos de Europa, plus a good helping of other wildlife

9 – 16 June 2018

The mosaic of flower-rich haymeadows, ancient forests and high-altitude rock-gardens in the spectacular limestone mountains of the Picos de Europa harbours more than 1500 species of vascular plants, including orchids galore at this time of year, as well as many plants unique to northern Spain. Enabling us to observe a wealth of animal life too, this very popular spring botanical tour is now in its twelfth year (Maximum 8 clients)

Glandon Blue – Agriades glandonGlandon Blue
Agriades glandon
© Teresa Farino
Wildlife of the Catalan Pyrenees

Wildflowers, butterflies, birds & dragonflies of La Cerdanya, undoubtedly one Spain’s most diverse wildlife hotspots

20 – 27 June 2018

This section of the eastern Pyrenees encompasses both limestone and siliceous mountains and hosts an exceptional flora and fauna. The montane wildflowers are simply fabulous at this time of year, and up to 50 species of butterfly may be seen in a single day. Dragonflies abound and there’s a vertebrate fauna to match, notably Lammergeier, Citril Finch,, Pyrenean Chamois, Asp, etc. (Maximum 8 clients)

Chalk Burnet – Zygaena faustaChalk Burnet
Zygaena fausta
© Teresa Farino
Natural History of the Picos de Europa & Páramos of Northern Castile

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

3 – 12 July 2018

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! (Maximum 8 clients)

Wood Mouse – Apodemus sylvaticusWood Mouse
Apodemus sylvaticus
© 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

2 – 9 August 2018

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. 25% discount for children under 14.

Dusky Scalloped Oak — Crocallis dardoinariaDusky Scalloped Oak
Crocallis dardoinaria
© 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

6 – 11 September 2018

Simply the best of Spain's autumn moth fauna! This trip regularly turns up around 200 species of macromoths, including such gems 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. (Maximum 8 clients)

Migratory Bird Locust – Acanthacris ruficornisMigratory Bird Locust
Acanthacris ruficornis
© 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

9 – 17 October 2018

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 plus mandrakes and several species of autumn-flowering narcissi among the flora. (Maximum 8 clients)

Alpine Newt – Ichthyosaura alpestrisAlpine Newt
Ichthyosaura alpestris
© 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 2018

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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