During our winter trip to Spain, my right leg suffered from what I believe was an attack of housemaid’s knee. Being an overuse injury, this was likely caused by an over-zealous return to walking in the mountains. A calmer approach to walking during the remainder of that trip to Spain did seem to begin easing it. I am happy to say that the relative inactivity imposed by a so-called English spring appears to have completed the repair and my knee no felt able to return to some enjoyable Spanish walks. I’ll try and take it more gently for this reprise.
One of our favoured more gentle walks is a circuit between Castell de Castells and Tarbena. We are in to orchid season and, this walk usually producing some subjects, Francine was keen to check it out. I took my camera along, too, just in case any butterflies posed favourably in the mountain meadows or trackside scrub. This may give a sense of why we like being there.
Upon our arrival, it looked as though a walking group might have beaten us to it; there were five or so cars already there. Happily we found room for our rental and set about searching, starting with a few spots that were known to us. There are orchids on the rocky ground right beside the parking area at the beginning of the route, like this Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys scolopax).
A couple of hundred metres further along the track Francine was a little surprised to find a remaining Giant Orchid (Barlia robertiana), surprised because she thought they were all finished. This one was going over but still worth recording. Standing close by was what looks like a very fresh example of a Man Orchid (Orchis anthropophora), with only the lower blooms out.
Leaving Francine snapping the Giant and Man Orchids, I wandered off up a woodland track. A sunny glade looked interesting and, sure enough, there I found a small colony of Orchis olbiensis, something new to me and an orchid for which we haven’t yet found a common name, though it used to be lumped in as a subspecies of Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula). It now enjoys existence in its own right. Bloody taxonomists.
Part way around our loop we took a side track down towards a font and here we ran into a plentiful collection of Yellow Ophrys (Ophrys lutea). With their sunny disposition, these really are delightful little plants.
Here was a classic example of why a camera in rucksack is bugger all good when ones favoured subject is not a plant rooted to the spot. A Southern Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) posed perfectly but quite unexpectedly on a bramble stem. Naturally, it scarpered as I was opening my rucksack. Lesson learned, the camera now assumed its usual position on my monopod over my shoulder – just in case.
Good decision, Franco. Although it would have been nice to snag my Southern Scarce Swallowtail, I could regard that as a nice to have, since I already have them in my collection. I would have been pig sick if I had missed what fluttered into view next. I swear my heart missed a beat. I chased the first one for some time, never really getting a clear shot. I wasn’t really satisfied. Mercifully, a little further on a second example posed more favourably. This is something I’ve always wanted, a Spanish Festoon. I did actually get one in Andalucia two years ago but that fleeting specimen had its wings closed. Now they were open.
Once the Spanish Festoon disappeared we were free to continue. Or final patch was the mother lode of more Yellow Ophrys but with a handful of Dull Ophrys (Ophrys fusca) plants scattered about for good measure.
Francine was happy with her collection of six orchids on the day and I was certainly happy to finally snag a Spanish Festoon with its wings open. No wonder we like this walk.