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.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Sierra Nevada Butterflies - July 2016 (4)

By now it was really time to be heading back to the villa, but I had three quick stops I wanted to make on my way back down the mountain. The first was at a viewpoint I had found two years ago. This is at about 2100 metres above sea level and the last time I was there I saw several Swallowtails hill topping.

I thought that the first butterfly I saw there was a very worn Blue-spot Hairstreak, but when I was looking at my pictures later I realised it was a False Ilex Hairstreak, Satyrium esculi.

When compared to the Blue-spot Hairstreaks, Satyrium spini, you can see the subtle difference in the white line on their wings.

In contrast to my last visit, I only saw one Swallowtail, Papilio machaon, this year and it was very ragged. There was also just the one Spanish Swallowtail, Iphiclides feisthamelii, in slightly better condition, but it had still lost its tails!

As with my previous visit there were a lot of Wall Browns squabbling over their territories, but I didn't spot any Large Wall Browns this year. I did see a Clouded Yellow, Colias crocea, which I haven't seen before in that location.

I jumped back in the car and drove down another 100 metres to the spot that Mike Prentice had suggested. There were a lot more butterflies there now than there had been at 9am.

I saw two Graylings, Hipparchia semele, one much lighter than the other. I spent ages checking my photographs to see if either of them were Nevada Graylings, but they both turned out to just be standard Graylings!

There were so many different butterflies flying amongst the vegetation there, including Long-tailed Blues, Spotted Fritillaries and Common Blues. They were very active in the afternoon heat, so many of them didn't stop for a picture! I managed to catch a shot of this Queen of Spain Fritillary, Issoria lathonia.

And I think this is a Large Grizzled Skipper, Pyrgus alveus. I have to admit that I find it very difficult to differentiate between many of the skippers.

Other butterflies there included Silver-studded Blues, Marbled Whites, Great Banded Grayling, Blue-spot Hairstreak and Southern Brown Argus. However, I didn't have long to watch them on my whistle-stop descent!

My final stop of the day was a little further down the mountain at about 1800 metres above sea level. This is a little scrubby area next to some Pine trees that I discovered two years ago. As then, I certainly wasn't disappointed with the butterflies I saw there.

Strangely, exactly as on my visit two years ago, the first butterfly I saw was a Marsh Fritillary, Euphydryas aurinia beckeri. Just the one next to where I parked the car.

The place was awash with butterflies, including Southern Brown Argus, Aricia cramera;

Essex Skippers, Thymelicus lineola hemmingi;

Silver-studded Blues, Plebejus argus hypochionus;

And I think this is a female Idas Blue, Plebejus idas nevadensis.

There were also Large Whites, Small Whites, Common Blues, Purple-shot Coppers, Cleopatras, a Rock Grayling and an Oriental Meadow Brown. Just like the last time, I saw one Black-veined White, Aporia crataegi, but this year it was kind enough to allow me to take a picture!

I spent some time following this Iberian Marbled White, Melanargia lachesis, to try to identify it. There are three different species found in the Sierra Nevada, but I have only seen the Iberian Marbled White there.

All too soon I had to drag myself back to the car. I had had an amazing few hours in the Sierra Nevada seeing 42 different species of butterflies, with several of them being species I hadn't seen before. It was certainly worth the three hour drive each way to get there.


  1. Lovely collection of butterflies Nick, it is always exciting to discover new species in specific locations!
    Enjoy the new year :)

    1. Thank you Noushka. I wish you a good 2017, too. Good luck chasing wildlife!!

  2. Very good close-ups, I love the variety here. I especially like those two last ones.

  3. Hi Nick, i thought you are back to butterfly shooting even in winter! Then i realized they are just posts from July. They are so beautiful, i wonder if there are differences in color as affected by temperatures. I hope you know the answer to that. Just like with plants and flowers temperatures affect the distribution, but how about its effects on colors? Come here let us photograph butterflies, hahaha!

    1. Hi Andrea,
      It is difficult to know if the colours vary according to temperature. I have noticed that the Common Blues in southern Spain tend to be smaller than those in Scotland and they are not as small in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. That may be due to the availability of plants for them to feed on, with many plants being dried up in southern Spain in the summer. I will need to look into it a bit more and see if there are any differences in colour.
      The Philippines sound amazing and so do the butterflies there. I would have to leave it until your "cold" season in order to survive the temperatures! Do the butterflies have good and bad seasons there?

  4. I am so glad that you had a good time in the Sierra Nevada. Your butterfly spottings and photographs are wonderful. Plus your photos inspire daydreams of summer for me, fun.

    1. Thanks Tammie Lee. Yes, the memories from trips like that keep me going through the winter, along with thoughts about next year's holiday!!