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Moon Moths & More! – Spring in the Spanish Pyrenees

Moon Moths & More! – Spring in the Spanish Pyrenees


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A new, relaxing one centre spring break in the wonderful surroundings of the Spanish Pyrenees! 

The Pyrenees are truly a centre of European biodiversity, a mingling of western, Mediterranean and montane flora and fauna. Based in the Aragonese village of Berdún, we will stay in Casa Sarasa, a delightful family-run casa rural where our food, drink and comfort requirements will be provided more than amply, all within a magnificent Pre-Pyrenean landscape. And Casa Sarasa has the added advantages of a garden that the owners have managed specifically to encourage wildlife – butterflies and orchids abound – and they have a moth trap (and a licence to run it, as required in Spain).

Indeed, it is hoped that the moth trap (which will be operated whenever the overnight weather permits) will bring some of our target species right to our door. It will be relatively early in the season, so expect a rage of tiger moths, hawk moths and perhaps multiple examples of the Giant Peacock, one of the largest moths of Europe. But the real prize, if we are lucky, will be the Spanish Moon Moth – big and beautiful, tailed and translucent, a piece of living Art Nouveau.

There will be plenty of time also to explore the garden and the wild habitats within walking distance of Berdún, including open scrubland and rocky riverine woodland. Interesting butterflies could include Spanish Fritillary, Provence (Moroccan) Orange-tip, Panoptes Blue and Spanish Festoon, among the more familiar – but no less dramatic – swallowtails, fritillaries, blues, skippers and other early season insects. The first day-flying burnet moths are likely to be on the wing, particularly Zygaena lavanduli, and other insects might include Rose Chafer, longhorn beetles, Egyptian Locust, owl-flies and tiger-beetles. The spring flora of the Berdún area includes a wide range of orchids, including Lady, Military, Lizard, Yellow Bee and Mirror, competing for attention with the brightest blue Beautiful Flax, pink Shrubby Rest-harrow and yellow Genista scorpius. And of course the birds will also be drawing our eyes skyward: Griffon Vultures darkening the skies, while Bee-eaters light them up with rainbow colour.

Most days we will have day trips by minibus (with wonderful picnics!) to sites within an hour or so drive from Berdún. Where we actually go depends on several things, most notably the weather conditions (always unpredictable in mountains) and the state of the season. If it has been an early spring, the high tops above 1700m will be productive, but if a late season, we will likely remain lower.

Among the sites that may be visited are:

Riglos and San Juan de la Peña – dramatic conglomerate mountains the Pre-Pyrenees, with endemic  Ramonda myconi, daffodils, Champagne Orchid, Liverleaf, Black Woodpecker and more vultures

Lumbier, Biniés, Fago – the lower gorges, always dramatic to look at and walk along, can provide the shelter and foodplants for many butterflies; Griffon Vultures are always present, and in May the gorge walls can be clothed in spectacular flowers such as Pyrenean Saxifrage, Rock Soapwort and Petrocoptis.

Roncal, Ansó, Hecho, Aísa and Portalet – the higher valleys and passes, if the snow has receded, should be coming to life under swathes of Elder-flowered Orchids, daffodils and Pyrenean Fritillaries, hellebores, Oxlips and the first few gentians. Golden Eagle and Lammergeier may well join the omni-present Griffons, and both Izard (Pyrenean Chamois) and Alpine Marmot are a real possibility.

Depending on demand and local information nearer the time, we may throw in a longer trip into



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