The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Alicante, Spain - Butterflies - April 2011

After a long and exceptionally snowy winter we headed for the sun of southern Spain for a week. We rented an apartment in Torrevieja, which unfortunately didn't prove to be a particularly good location for butterflies.

These little Geranium Bronzes, Cacyreus marshalli, have spread along much of the Mediterranean after being introduced from Southern Africa on geranium plants. They were enjoying the pot plants at the apartment.

I've never had any luck photographing the upper side of the wings!

Most of the area around the apartment was quite built-up and the surrounding landscape was very flat. I had been recommended a walk along a river - the Rio Segura, where there may have been more butterflies. Unfortunately the day I was there it was quite windy, so there were very few butterflies about. Of course, I saw the ubiquitous Small White butterfly, Pieris rapae.

Part way along the river I spotted a track heading up towards a farm where there was a scrubby knoll that I thought looked promising. On one small sheltered, sunny spot I saw some blue butterflies amongst the wild flowers and herbs. They turned out to be Black-eyed Blues, Glaucopsyche melanops. They are stunning little butterflies. The the upper side of the males are two shades of blue with a black surround and narrow white edge. The females are mostly brown with a few blue flecks. The under-sides of the wings are grey with lovely black markings.

I spent some time just watching the small colony of these beautiful little creatures. I had a very brief view of these in Portugal a couple of years earlier, but it was fantastic being able to watch them so closely.

On the drive back to the apartment I saw a small white butterfly at the side of the road, so I stopped and tried to get a closer look. It turned out to be a Bath White, Pontia daplidice, but it wasn't keen on stopping for a picture. This was the best I could manage. I did see them later in the holiday in a couple of places, but never managed a picture.

Another day I headed for the distant hills, thinking that there may be more butterflies there. However, the hills seemed to be further away than I thought and I got a little lost and ended up by a reservoir. Initially there didn't seem to be many butterflies there, but after I had been there a while they started to appear. This is a Spanish Marbled White, Melanargia ines. There were a couple of them arguing over a sunny spot. I kept trying to follow them to take a photograph, but every time one settled the other would fly past and disturb it. I noticed that they always came back to the same point and so I just sat and waited with my camera ready and before long one flew into shot!

Other butterflies that I saw on the trip were:
Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui
Large White, Pieris brassicae
Swallowtail, Papilio machaon
Clouded Yellow, Colias crocea
Southern Swallowtail, Iphiclides feisthamelii
Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria aegeria
Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera
Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta
13 butterflies in total. I was expecting to see more, but I was thrilled to get good views of the Black-eyed Blues and Spanish Marbled Whites and I was particularly pleased to see the Bath Whites, a butterfly I hadn't seen before.


  1. Wow. I feel I little bit like the genie just instantly granted my wish, when the next post had the Geranium :-). I love those little Blues. They are a lot like the Silver Blues of North America. But that Marbled she's a stunner. And your shot is simple amazing. I really love it.

    1. Sylvia, I'm not sure quite how I feel about Geranium Bronzes! They are not really meant to be in Europe, being introduced with ornamental Geraniums from South Africa. But I suppose they don't do any harm, unless you enjoy growing Geraniums!
      I agree, the Marbled Whites are lovely. Strangely they are classified with the browns or Satyridae. They look quite different from all of the others in that family.

  2. Now I know the name after searching and searching, geranium bronze! Thank you :)

  3. Just discovered your wonderful blog, Nick - thank you so much for sharing your superb photographs and wealth of knowledge! My brother sent me a shot of a Geranium Bronze he took in Marbella last year which I managed to identify, and now I am going through some shots I took at Montgo Natural Park in 2012 (an absolute heaven for wildlife lovers), to ID some butterflies I found there... so a site as good as this is a delight to wander round!

    1. Hi Anthony, I am pleased that you found my blog helpful. I had to Google Montgo Natural Park. I wish I had known about it when I visited Jalon a few years ago.