The first two weeks of this trip were plagued by floods, firstly a Gota Fria causing a raging torrent in the local river, secondly my nose continually dripping courtesy of an accursed cold that I imported from the UK and which lasted until beyond Xmas. The weather cleared up well before Xmas and I’ve just been waiting for me to clear up so we can get out and play in what we enjoy most, the countryside.
Today was just such a day. The sun shone, with a little high level haze drifting across, and the temperature was hovering around 15C, perfect for walking uphill. I needed to be a little wary of the old lungs, which were still suffering from lack of use due to the cold, so we chose to set off up to the cross on the hill behind Senija. It’s a good first leg stretch and there are often butterflies “hill-topping” at the summit.
We passed a merry band of Deutschers on the way up, just enough to practice a few rudimentary phrases in another language, and we were soon at the summit. I wasn’t disappointed, butterflies there were. In season this is a great place to see the magnificent Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Iberian Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) butterflies. They weren’t here now but there were many small Blues flitting about. Regarding this as a post-cold training walk, lazy Franco had not brought his camera and wildlife lens with him but Francine saved the day and snagged a couple of critical shots, good enough to identify the Blues as Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous); they are quite delightful. The Blues were accompanied by a number of Wall Browns who were not intent on posing for pictures. Good to see, though.
On the way down we found something much more familiar to folks in the UK, a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) was sunning itself on a wall as they are wont to do on sunny winter days in the UK, being one of our five species to over-winter as an adult. [Go ahead, try to name them.]
We spotted some interesting plants, too. After all, there has to be something around for nectar feeders flying at this time of year. Not that I think any butterfly could feed on the first of these, judging by the shape of it – a Friar’s Cowl (Arisarum vulgare). The second one that caught our eye looked a bit more promising; it’s a White Ramping-fumitory (Fumaria capreolata). [That’s easy for you to say. No it isn’t.] What a curious name, though.
The legs survived their first excursion of 2017. It was great to be out in the countryside studying it, too.