Sunday, June 24, 2012

Postcard from the Pyrenees

Just finished a two-week tour of the French and Spanish Pyrenees. The birding was OK but spent most of my time looking at bugs and herps. This crazy sawfly on the first day is probably Rhogogaster viridis but there are a few lookalikes.

Sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) go high into the Pyrennees at the southern extremity of their range.

 This freshly emerged apollo (Parnassius apollo) looked good in the early morning light on Canigou.

 Lamping at night around one of the hotels in Spain proved great for amphibians and even produced my first southern smooth snake (Coronella girondica).

I have been wanting to see a male midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans) with a backpack of eggs for some time. It came to pass on this tour!

Fat toad.

We found two asp vipers on the tour, this one was nearly knelt on by one of the team!

 Great to get photos of large psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) on the Spanish side, another species in a herp-rich tour.

With just over 1,000 species of plant logged by the botanists over the two week period, it was all rather bewildering for the non-botanist (nob?). I confined myself to enjoying the more way-out species as usual such as the splendid Leuzea conifera.

 One of my most enjoyable finds was of a pair fiery clearwing (Bembicia chrysidiformis) near Tremp. It has a widespread distribution, just sneaking into Kent in the UK, but is never easy to find.

Never a great trip for Odonates but we scored a few mostly widespread species including this Crocothemis erythraea.

Pyrenean brook newt (Euproctes asper) is a firm favourite on this tour and usually not too difficult to locate.

Western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) was added to the list on the penultimate day in the field whilst walking the fantastic Ossoue valley near Gavarnie.

The tour ended with a chance to walk the busy trail up to the famous Cirque de Gavarnie. Superb.


  1. Looks like a great place for a family trip - really like the final shot !

  2. Hey!!
    Funny how I stumbled on your blog looking for a spot in the Pyrenees mountains that would allow me to photograph Sympetrum danae!
    Such a shame you came pretty close to where I live before being in touch! ;-)
    How lucky to have "caught" the Apollo just after hatching and the Alytes obstetricans which I have yet to see!
    By the way, your Aspic is Vipera aspis zinnikeri! The only one so far I was able to spot!
    Here are my pics about that beauty:

    I bet living in Sweden must be fantastic!
    And you are lucky to be able to travel that often!
    Cheers, Phil!