Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Forest Butterflies and some birds...


The stunningly beautiful Two-tailed Pasha is a small member of the family Nymphalidae, but it is a typical member of the genus Charaxes which is predominantly an African species. This is the only Charaxes in Europe.
The butterfly is brown and orange with blue, white and grey spots. Hind wings have two tails.

The distribution of the Two-tailed Pasha includes whole Africa except the Sahel and the Mediterranean areas. This large and colourful butterfly can occur up to 800m above sea level in Spain.

These were photos I took in the Alcornocales Parque Natural, here in Cadiz province. The Alcornocales is the largest natural Cork-oak forest in the world and is a working forest with many diverse insect species.

This flight shot shows up the upper-wing and body. The butterfly usually closes it's wings on landing.
I found this very informative site on the web from Paul Harcourt Davies which gives a wonderful detailed account and excellent photos of the butterflies metamorphosis


Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The very bright Monarch's too are a real joy to watch.
A few theories are talked about as to how they spread. It's known that they originate from the Americas and it's thought that their strong flight allowed their crossing to the Canary Islands then expanded into Africa.

This one's a Plain Tiger (essentially an African species - Danaus chrysippus)

A Monarch feeding

Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus)
On the edge of the forest 's open spaces you can find many different plants where Monarchs and Tigers rest. It seems that they prefer types of Euphorbia's, particularly Milkweed for depositing their eggs. I haven't seen their caterpillars on any other plant here in Andalucia.
Some time ago I wrote a piece on this blog about the Monarch in our garden and it's metamorphosis. You can read about it here


As the Bonelli's Warblers leave the forests for their winter in Africa, the sedentary birds like these amazing Firecrests can be seen feeding through the Cork-oak canopy. Small, fast and extremely active, they are one of the trickiest birds to photograph.

These two shots of this very obliging male taken this week, show his vivid crest with that lovely bright red stripe and the yellow tinge that runs down the neck making an incomplete bright collar. The Goldcrest doesn't have this neck marking and of course the crest lacks the red stripe.

I have to sign off now and organise my kit for another eight day tour which starts with quite a large group arriving at Gibraltar airport this morning. At least I'm on home ground on part of the tour with a Limosa Holidays/Travelling Naturalist group, visiting the Coto Doñana and The Strait.
Happy birding,
Stephen
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