Dates & Prices
Dates: 30th Jul – 5 Aug 2020 Places available
Single Room Supplement: £120
Deposit: £150 per person
Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, holiday report
Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks & other personal items
Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to Butterfly Conservation
Leader(s): David Moore with Jon Dunn (second guide will join a larger group)
Group Size: Minimum 4 & maximum 12 guests + 1-2 leaders.
Grade: Generally easy walking at a gentle pace.
- Explore a lesser trodden path in central Spain for a rich palette of summer butterflies, including some rarities and endemics!
- 100 species recorded on our 2018 & 2019 tours!
- Led by European butterfly expert David Moore
- Look for special butterflies such as the Zapater’s Ringlet, Mother of Pearl Blue, Spanish & Azure Chalkhill Blues, Hermit, Southern Hermit, Striped Grayling & lots more!
- Around 140 species have been recorded in the area & it is a great place to see several different Blues
- Stay in the beautiful medieval walled town of Albarracín – considered to be one of the most beautiful and charming places in the whole of Spain!
- Contribute to Butterfly Conservation
A special summer tour in central Spain looking for a host of special butterflies!
David Moore has been visiting and studying the Alps for several years and as such his knowledge of the area and its butterflies is superb. David knows France very well and is an integral member of our French Alps and French Pyrenees guiding team. He crossed the border into Spain for this tour in 2018 and helped our group record over 100 species then and again in 2019, including all the rare and endemic species!
David is very active on the butterfly scene in general and is on the team of the popular UK Butterflies online community, where he coordinates the identification service element of the site.
Jon Dunn is a natural history writer, photographer and experienced wildlife tour leader based in the Shetland Isles, but with strong links in mainland Europe and North America that see him travelling widely in search of memorable wildlife encounters.
An accomplished all-round naturalist and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, Jon is the author of the critically acclaimed botanical bestseller “Orchid Summer” (Bloomsbury, 2018), and is also the author of the “Britain’s Sea Mammals” field-guide, and co-author of the “Britain’s Mammals” field-guide, both for Princeton University Press. Jon writes weekly “Rarity Round-Ups” for Rare Bird Alert. His writing and photography feature in many popular wildlife magazines, including BBC Wildlife, Birdwatching, and British Wildlife, and he is the wildlife columnist for regional airline Loganair.
A special summer tour in central Spain for a host of special butterflies!
We’re delighted to return to this special part of Spain in summer 2020! We hope you can join us for what promises to be a wonderful tour with some special butterflies!
The Montes Universales are a forgotten corner of central spain and though by Alpine standards they are hardly mountains only rising to 1900 metres from a base of a 1000 metres they are a unique hotspot of butterfly biodiversity. The area is mainly wooded with fertile low lying areas sown for wheat together with grass and scrub areas with low intensity grazing. Many former grazing areas are now abandoned.
The Reserva Nacional de Montes Universales lies in central-eastern Spain between Teruel and Cuenca, some 180-200 km east of Madrid and 140-150 km north-west of Valencia. The range of mountains embraces the Sierra de Albarracin and runs roughly south-east to north-west, separating the Serrania de Cuenca to the south-west from the A23 Teruel – Zaragoza motorway to the east. It is an area of some 1,000 square km (roughly the same size as our English Lake District), made up of patches of arable land in the low-lying areas mainly used for grain, arid scrub, poplars, junipers and pine forest with occasional oak woods. The Tagus River rises here but there are many dry riverbeds, filled only by storms and late winter snow-melt. Summer temperatures are very high with little rain and we can expect temperatures of between 29-36 C.
We will stay in the delightful old walled Moorish town of Albarracín, at the eastern edge of the Reserva, for the entire week. It sits at an elevation of about 1,000m and has a similar number of residents. It is worthy of a visit in its own right, being a very well restored and historic site and recognised as a National Monument. Many of the locations we plan to visit are only a few miles away from Albarracín, though some are more distant. An early start is required to get out before the heat gets extreme and often going higher for the afternoons where it is cooler. There are good roads and access is not a problem.
The area boasts its own set of butterflies whose distributions overlap here as well as its own endemic Erebia zapateri Zapater’s Ringlet. We hope to find this rare butterfly but please be aware that there is a chance we might be early for it, depending on the season.
In all there are 140 species within the Reserva and it is the best place to see several Blues including Spanish and Azure Chalkhill Blues Lysandra albicans and L. caelestissima as well as Polyommatus nivescens the Mother of Pearl Blue and Polyommatus fabressei Oberthür’s Anomolous Blue. Earlier in the year Kretania hesperica the Spanish Zephir Blue is widespread but not common. There are many other more common blues for us to find to keep you guessing and practicing identification skills on!
Late summer in the baking dry heat means that several Satyrids are found, including 3 gatekeepers (Pyronia tithonus, Pyronia bathseba and Pyronia cecilia), Hermit Chazara briseis, Grayling Hipparchia semele, Striped grayling Hipparchia fidia, Tree Grayling Hipparchia statilinus, Great Banded Grayling Brintesia circe and False Grayling Arethusana arethusa. Very scarce but previously recorded in the area is the Southern Hermit Chazara prieuri. Esper’s Marbled White Melanargia russiae can be found in the region too and Apollo Parnassius apollo can also be found at higher altitudes.
Sage Skipper Muschampia proto is found and Sandy Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus cinarae has been recorded. Cinquefoil skipper Pyrgus cirsii is also present. A few other highlights we’ll look out for include Spanish Chestnut Heath, Spanish Sooty Copper and Spanish argus.
Day 1: Meet at Valencia airport and transfer to Albarracín. If time permits we’ll fit in excursions locally or en route from the airport.
Day 2: Xavier’s Rambla and road to Pozondon. Target Species all 3 gatekeepers (Pyronia tithonus, bathseba and Cecilia), Southern Hermit (Chazara prieuri), Oberthurs’s Anomalous Blue (Polyommatus fabressei), Spanish Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra albicans), Cinquefoil Skipper (Pyrgus cirsii), Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus baeticus), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto).
Day 3: AM Noguera Target: Mother of Pearl Blue (Polyommatus nivescens), Azure Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra caelestissima), Safflower skipper (Pyrgus carthami), Cinquefoil Skipper (Pyrgus cirsii), Purple Shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron) and several species in the list for Day 1.
PM Bronchales and Sierra Alta (1,854m) Targets: Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia Lachesis), Zapater’s Ringlet (Erebia zapateri), Provençal Fritillary (Melitea deione), Hermit (Chazara briseis) and many previously mentioned.
Day 4: Moscardon. Targets include large Fritillaries (all 5 Argynnis – paphia, aglaja, niobe, pandora and adippe). Twin Spot Fritillary (Brenthis hecate), Lesser Marbled Fritillary (Brenthis ino), Azure Chalk-hill Blue (Lysandra caelestissima), Spanish Chestnut Heath (Coenynympha glycerion f. iphioides)
Day 5: El Vallecilio and Ojos de Cabriel Targets: Esper’s Marbled White (Melanargia russiae), Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris), Zapater’s Ringlet (Erebia zapateri) and many other species.
Day 6: Near Bronchales. Our main target for today is Zapater’s Ringlet (Erebia zapateri). We will be also on the lookout for Iberian Sooty Copper (Lycaena bleusi), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia crameri), Southern Mountain Argus (Aricia montensis) and Sandy Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus cinarae)
Day 7: Depart Albarracín and transfer to Valencia Airport. If time permits we’ll fit in excursions locally or en route to the airport.