Archive for the ‘Butterflies’ Category

Southern Gatekeeper-5653

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Southern Gatekeeper-5653, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

The weather this Spring has been gorgeous, hot sunny days interspersed with a few rainy ones here and there. Wetter than normal and the rain seems to have lasted a great deal later than usual which has kept everything green and fresh.
Loads of food around for all of nature to take advantage of and we’ve had great fun observing it all.
One of the nicest places around the Quinta is the little Cortebrique Valley about three miles away, and I’ve spent many happy hours there during the past few months. It has a mixture of habitats from scrub to grassy meadows to kitchen gardens and fields of maize and wheat to patches of cork oaks and woodland. I’ve posted quite a few pictures of birds I’ve seen there on the Quinta’s Birding website, and it’s sometimes difficult to know where that blog ends and this one begins – or vice versa – but this beautiful Southern Gatekeeper belongs here I think.
There were quite a few of them yesterday in a small patch of wood, flitting about early on in the morning warming up; this is a male.
He’s smaller than the female, (only about 15mm wide rather than 20mm), who lacks that beautiful pattern on the top forewing shown above. The pattern is actually scent glands called androconia that are used in attracting the female. They feed on grasses and like it hot with dappled shade, so the Cortebrique Valley suits them right down to the ground. They fly in one brood from June onwards throughout the summer, extending from Portugal eastwards to Turkey and along the north African shore, though apparently absent from the eastern Mediterranean.
I got most of the above information, including the original id, from Matt Rowlings and his excellent website, so “Thanks, Matt!”. If you’re interested in butterflys I can heartily recommend a visit.

In the garden right now …

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Juvenile Fire Salamander

We’ve all been horrendously busy during the last few weeks as Spring is Springing like nobody’s business and we’ve been choc-a-bloc with Nature enthusiasts. I’m out guiding most days, so when the forecast last night said rain it was with a sigh of relief that we looked forward to a small lie-in, but it wasn’t to be …

A huge thunderstorm broke over our heads in the middle of the night and I was up and down the stairs protecting our electricity – most of the time splashing about with a tatty old umbrella and an equally tatty hat and dressing gown!

I finally got back to sleep again in the wee hours, only to be woken by an excited Flora at half past six gabbling on excitedly about something or other, and my excitement matched hers as she told me about the Fire Salamander she’d just found outside.

Rushing downstairs again we found him where she’d left him. They don’t wander far – nor too fast either, though this one was quicker than most as it was only young – and they’re territorial so it’s a real bonus to have them around here. They love this warm, wet weather and come out on nights like the one we’d just had, so it was a real silver lining to all that lost sleep.

Death’s Head Hawkmoth

Contrary to the forecast it turned into a beautiful day as well AND we found a Death’s Head Hawkmoth.

These moths are huge and love honey, regularly raiding bee-hives; we have a few of these here at the Quinta as you may know – it’s where our delicious honey comes from – but this moth had been attracted to a hive in the roof of one of the staff rooms and become trapped inside. We took some photos and let him out and he’s been resting on one of the poles on the terrace all day, getting ready for the night’s activities …

Dartford Warbler

It was great to spend a day at home, the first in quite a while, and to take a little wander around the “home patch” too; we were even lucky enough to come across this Dartford Warbler who’s got a nest in some scrub in the garden; what bliss!


Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Spanish-Festoon-0019, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

The warm days of Spring have produced a truly wonderful brood of butterflies this year, and these Spanish Festoons are some of the best. Everything seems to be buzzing at the moment and with the streams all still flowing it really is the most perfect setting for long lazy walks nearby.


Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Painted-Lady-20090528, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Painted Ladies seemed to be everywhere … a veritable cloud of them flitting this way and that, around our ankles and even in-between our legs ….


Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Cleopatra-20090528, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

We had a lovely walk this morning along a new valley I’ve found near the Quinta. I’d already dropped the children off to school and in-between the first drop and the second had had time to sit quietly by a stream for a quarter of an hour and watch the Kingfishers, (we saw four different individuals), and an Otter….. the sun was shining fit to bust and everywhere there was the hum of insects and the call of birds, Bee-eaters, Corn Buntings, Melodious Warblers, Stonechats, Linnets, Goldfinches, Wood Larks, Turtle Doves ….. and we had a good view of a Bonelli’s Eagle soaring above us too, but the walk we did up the valley was primarily in search of Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies and these pictures are the result; I hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them! (To see pictures and read news of the birds around the Quinta it’s best to visit my Birding Blog at
We only saw a few Cleopatras, and it was a pity that there was some shade across this photo ….


Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Scarce-Swallowtail-4, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

The gardens at the Quinta were planted with nature in mind and it’s wonderful to see the myriad different species attracted to them nowadays, from Serins hopping around on the lawns through Red rumped Swallows nesting (again) in the garage and Rock Buntings down by the gate right the way down to the Geckos, Tree frogs, Lizards, Skinks and of course Butterflies like this Scarce Swallowtail. Above and below were just too lovely not to post.


Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Scarce-Swallowtail-2, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.


Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Swallowtail-20090315_2773, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Here’s a better shot of a Swallowtail taken this afternoon on a birding trip to the Plains.


Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Swallowtail-20090314_2742, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Not a brilliant shot I’m afraid, but a nice enough one to be included here.


Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Spanish-Festoon-20090314_2740, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

One of my favourites, though the forewing pattern on this one I found this morning is not as brilliant as most we see.