On impulse Elena & I drove up to Sierra Nevada this morning to give my 180 mm lens a workout on the butterflies up there. We drove straight up on the main road & made our first stop in the Botanical Gardens a kilometre or so before the ski resort. From memory the species seen in here included Great Banded Grayling, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Small, Large, Iberian Marbled and Bath Whites, Small Skipper, Common Blue and Speckled Wood.
Nothing particularly rare or unusual turned up but it is always nice to see the very attractive Queen of Spain Fritillary, and I enjoyed getting some decent shots of it in good light.
From here we moved on up above Pradollano & ventured out onto the "ski slopes" in the 4x4, following a rough road through the meadows, stopping occasionally to try to photograph the Apollo butterflies that frequent this open area. I have never managed to capture a really good image of the Apollo as although it's a very large insect the colours and markings are not distinctive, being rather wishy-washy, and it is always on plants that it blends-in with and so it does not stand out from the background. Nevertheless I did the best I could which was an improvement on previous efforts & I was reasonably happy.
In order to eliminate the background I tried some extreme close-ups in macro mode, but the insect still looks quite tepid, oh well, some of us are just not photogenic either.
There were a few other species about the including the Meadow Fritillary below, but I got the feeling that it was all a bit too late as many of the species I had hoped to find were not around, I get the feeling that as well as late perhaps it has been too dry this year. Not to see a Knapweed Fritillary, Black Satyr or Swallowtail for example is very disappointing.
On a much more positive note I was very pleased indeed to pick up a new species for my life list. It was one that we had hoped to see on previous visits without any luck, but this time some little Blues that were frequenting the muddy road by a crossing stream were later confirmed by friend Mick Richardson as Nevada Blues. Very nice.
As a footnote it is also worthwhile mentioning some of the birds seen. Although I was not using a birding lens we noted Short-toed Treecreeper, Whitethroat, Long tailed Tit, Rock Bunting, Northern Wheatear, Alpine Accentor as well as other more mundane species. On the little back road down to Huetor Sierra we stopped by a freshwater spring/basin and enjoyed watching a very large Goldenring dragonfly hawking around, which unfortunately did not settle for a photo, oh well, another time perhaps.
I found this nice image of a Blue Spot Hairstreak when revisiting the folder to delete unwanted files. It had remained un-edited but I'm glad I checked the RAW file before deleting it as I really like all the matching layers of brown behind the insect, they supplement and enhance the colour and texture of the butterfly's wings.
Retired seafarer living in Frigiliana, a white village in Malaga Province in southern Spain. Married to Elena. Keen bird and wildlife watchers.
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