After the fantastic foray into Europe last year we thought we’d treat the girls to the west of Europe, so where better to head than Portugal? It was going to be a city based holiday so I wasn’t too hopeful of seeing any butterflies but took my camera anyway reasoning that there might be some parks to visit or at least some green spaces which could throw up a butterfly or two…
9th August – Journey Day!
A very full breakfast, a quick check around the room and we were away from the Travelodge. When I say very full it was even bigger than the Limit Cafes Aberystwyth’s breakfast so I actually rolled to the car when doing one of several trips to the load the car. During this I noted both Small and Large White but not much else. Just before we left my wife wanted to film a plane coming in to land so I enjoyed the surreal experience of watching an Emperor Dragonfly moving slowly towards me and coming to a stop to hover close in to the soundtrack of rumbling jet engines. After this it was all airport security, plane, bus, metro and a brief wander round lost until we found the apartment.
10th August First Day
A stroll around Alfarma to find an open Supermercado threw up zilch butterflies during the wander out but on the way back a blue of some description did a fly-by which given the very medieval/urban habitat was quite encouraging. Later we decided to walk to one of the city’s parks, the Jardin da Estela and on the way I saw a further 3 bluey grey butterflies none of which stopped and all where gone in a flash. Discontent I took a photo of a camera shop as their emblem was a butterfly as I felt that this may be the only butterfly I was going to get a shot of!
This did change when we got to the Jardin where I saw a couple of blues and a White. However it was now ludicrously hot (35+) so they were solar charged and of the three I think I got a single shot. I think it was a Long-tailed Blue which I was chuffed to see but also gutted as with this sighting a crate of Badger Beer from my friend, Philzoid, evaporated.
We went further into the park and the girls had a play so I nipped off. At the first little section of flowers I found a small, female Blue. I know she was a female as she saw off a second passing/interested Blue and also did some ovi-positing. I reckon she was a Lang’s Short-tailed Blue as the underside didn’t show the broad white line of a Long-tail.
Slightly up the hill was a patch of Geraniums and this was a very active little site with Blues flying but never stopping, at last 5 of them. Also present were 3 smaller, greyer looking butterflies which turned out to be Geranium Bronzes. A Specklie fluttered by but landed far too high up for any successful photos although it was easy to see the difference between the races as this Specklie was brown and marmalade.
A small pond even further up the hill didn’t look particularly good but there I got onto a photo taking opportunity of a LTB (that crate of Badger Beer was definitely gone now) and a couple of whites again fluttered by without stopping.
As we left the park there were a few more Blue/White sightings as well as a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Parakeets and a Xylocopa violacea – a huge blue/violet bee. Once ‘home’ (via the metro so no butterflies) I happened to look out of the window. A Blue had landed 3 floors below so I rushed down the very steep flights of stairs and outside. It had landed in a tiny patch of grass and my wife had been watching the spot so I knew that it hadn’t flown but it just wasn’t visible. I turned to move off and then it flew and disappeared above the roofs. I slowly climbed the stairs hoping that the rest of the holiday wasn’t going to as hard as this…