Butterflies, Moths and Wildflowers in the Picos de Europa and Western Portugal
    Wildflower, butterfly & birdwatching tours in Iberia: Spanish & Portuguese wildlife at its most memorable
Teresa Farino © Wendy Wilson

Teresa Farino

Wildflowers, butterflies & moths and general natural history holidays throughout Spain and Portugal, in particular the Picos de Europa.

Teresa is an all-round naturalist and author with a special interest in the flora, lepidoptera and odonata of the Iberian peninsula. She lives in the Picos de Europa and has been leading wildlife tours in Spain and Portugal since 1989.

View Teresa's wildlife holidays for 2016

A little bit about me…

I fell in love with the Picos de Europa, in northern Spain, during a university field trip in 1985, and promptly abandoned a career in nature conservation in Britain to eke out a precarious existence as an environmental journalist, just so that I could live in these magnificent mountains. In 1989, I started Mountain Houseleek – Sempervivum montanum © Teresa FarinoMountain Houseleek
Sempervivum montanum (Huesca)
© Teresa Farino
leading natural history tours to the region, in order to share the extraordinary wealth of wildlife to be found in the Picos de Europa with the rest of the world… and have been doing so ever since.

In the meantime, I grabbed every possible opportunity to explore the rest of the Iberian peninsula, marvelling at how one – relatively – small area could harbour so many different ecosystems, each home to a unique assemblage of plants and animals, Southern White Admiral – Limenitis reducta © Teresa FarinoSouthern White Admiral
Limenitis reducta (Gerona)
© Teresa Farino
as well as at the specific way of life selected by our ancestors to exploit the resources of each in a traditional manner.

I have written about these experiences in many books and articles concerned with the natural history of Spain and Portugal, most notably Travellers' Nature Guides: Spain (co-authored with Mike Lockwood; Oxford University Press, 2004), which gives a comprehensive account of hundreds of prime Spanish wildlife destinations and their flora and fauna.  As this book is now out of print, we are in the process of preparing a series of more detailed regional guides, in conjunction with Náyade Editorial.  By contrast, my most recent book – Wild Spain (New Holland, 2009) – was designed with the armchair naturalist in mind, and is lavishly illustrated with both my own photographs and images from renowned wildlife photographer Carlos Sánchez.

Aesculapian Snake – Zamenis longissimus © Teresa FarinoAesculapian Snake Zamenis longissimus (Cantabria)© Teresa Farino

Although I would probably describe myself as a botanist first and foremost, I am fascinated by all aspects of Iberian wildlife, and particularly passionate about wildflowers, butterflies and moths; since 1988 I have been compiling a database of the Lepidoptera of the Picos de Europa. Over the years I have also built up an extensive photographic library of the landscapes, flora and fauna of Spain and Portugal, with an emphasis on flowers, invertebrates and herptiles, a few examples of which can be seen on these pages.

In addition to contributing to magazines such as BBC WILDLIFE and British Wildlife, as well as to most books currently in print that deal with Spanish wildlife, I have also written Landscapes of the Picos de Europa (now in its fifth edition) and – with Mike LockwoodLandscapes of the Costa Brava (2003/2006), both for Sunflower Books. These two books are walking guides with an added natural history element. Andalusian Funnel-web Spider – Macrothele calpeiana © Teresa FarinoAndalusian Funnel-web Spider
Macrothele calpeiana (Cádiz)
© Teresa Farino
Other books of a more general nature include The Living World (1989), Sharks – the ultimate predators (1990) and The Photographic Encyclopaedia of Wildflowers (1991), all for Colour Library Books, Godalming.

Over the years I have led wildlife holidays to many Spanish and Portuguese destinations apart from the Picos de Europa, including the Algarve, western Portugal, the Canary Islands, Extremadura, Grazalema, Almería, along the length of the River Ebro, the Páramos of Northern Castile and the Catalan and Aragonese Pyrenees.

In 2016 I will be organising and leading my usual series of wildlife tours in the Picos de Europa, ranging from a focus on general natural history to orchids and other wildflowers, and butterflies and moths. My first trip of the year is, as usual, to the Western Canaries (on this occasion operated in conjunction with Jeff Clarke Ecology), followed by spring trips to the arid badlands and wetlands of Almería and to observe brown bears in Somiedo.

Come June, a new trip to Cádiz and Grazalema (South-west Spain) takes place at an excellent time of year for butterflies, birds, dragonflies and the endemic flora, and at the end of the month I will be returning to the Catalan Pyrenees, once again in collaboration with Jeff Clarke Ecology.

My autumn trips include the usual long weekend dedicated to the autumn moths of the Picos de Europa at the end of September, while this year's mid October invertebrate extravaganza will take place in Extremadura.

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Teresa Farino – Trip Listing for 2016

Boettger's Lizard – Gallotia caesarisBoettger's Lizard
Gallotia caesaris
© Teresa Farino

Wildlife of the Western Canaries

Tenerife and La Gomera offer an exceptional diversity of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and birds, many of which are found nowhere else in the world

8 – 16 March 2016

The Canary archipelago is an ideal destination for people who like a little bit of everything, including winter sun! Because of the high level of endemism, almost every animal and plant we encounter in the wildlife-rich arid coastal badlands, semi-tropical laurel forests and stately Canary Pinewoods will be new to UK naturalists. Opportunities to observe cetaceans & seabirds on a private boat charter from La Gomera. (Maximum 14 clients)

European Caralluma – Caralluma europaeaEuropean Caralluma
Caralluma europaea
© Teresa Farino

Wildlife of Almería

Butterflies and dragonflies, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and general natural history of the arid south-eastern corner of Spain

21 – 28 April 2016

The desert-like badlands, varied coastal and wetland habitats and rugged volcanic mountains of the south-eastern corner of Spain harbour unique communities of wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates, plus some of Europe's most charismatic and colourful birds and reptiles. And what's more, it hardly ever rains here! (Maximum, 8 clients)

Brown Bear – Ursus arctosBrown Bear
Ursus arctos
© Teresa Farino

Somiedo in Spring

A week spent observing some of Somiedo's thriving population of Brown Bears amid the superb mountain scenery of western Asturias, plus an abundance of spring wildlife

9 – 15 May 2016

This is one of the best times to spot bears in Somiedo. Throughout the week we'll be accompanied one or more wardens from the Fundación Oso Pardo, who will take us to some of the least known localities to observe these magnificent plantigrades. There will also be plenty of other spring fauna and flora on offer during our daily excursions. (Maximum 8 clients)

Columbine – Aquilegia vulgarisColumbine
Aquilegia vulgaris
© Teresa Farino

A Feast of Flowers

Orchids and other botanical treasures of the Picos de Europa

24 – 31 May 2016

The mosaic of flower-rich haymeadows, ancient forests and high-altitude rock-gardens in the spectacular limestone mountains of the Picos de Europa harbour more than 1500 species of vascular plants, including orchids galore at this time of year, as well as many plants unique to northern Spain. Enabling us to observe a wealth of animal life too, this very popular spring botanical tour is now in its eleventh year. ONLY TWO PLACES LEFT! (Maximum 8 clients)

Marsh Fritillary – Euphydryas auriniaMarsh Fritillary
Euphydryas aurinia
© Teresa Farino

Spring Butterflies and Moths Weekend

Five nights at the perfect time for an outstanding assemblage of Lepidoptera in the Picos de Europa, on this occasion to coincide with European Moth Nights

2 – 7 June 2016

A wealth of early-flying butterflies: both Swallowtails, Chequered Skipper, Provence Orange Tip, Black-veined White, Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, Sooty Copper, Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Black-eyed Blue and emblematic fritillaries such as Marsh, Queen of Spain, Spotted, Pearl-bordered and Glanville. Fabulous moths include Great Peacock, Tawny Prominent, The Alchymist, Lunar Double-stripe, endemic Iberian Puss Moths and Spanish Tigers and many more. (Maximum 8 clients)

Orange-winged Dropwing – Trithemis kirbyiOrange-winged Dropwing
Trithemis kirbyi
© Teresa Farino

Early Summer in South-west Spain

Late-spring wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, birds and a wealth of other wildlife of the sand-dunes, lagoons and limestone mountains of western Andalucía

9 – 16 June 2016

A two-base holiday starting near Medina del Campo and continuing to the Sierra de Grazalema. In June, the flora and fauna of southwest Spain is perhaps at its best, offering us the opportunity to track down some of the unique butterflies, dragonflies and other invertebrates that occur here, as well as a good range of plants, many reptiles & amphibians, and a fine selection of colourful Mediterranean birds. (Maximum 8 clients)

WoAlpine Marmots – Marmota marmotaAlpine Marmots
Marmota marmota
© Teresa Farino
Wildlife of the Catalan Pyrenees

Wildflowers, butterflies, birds and dragonflies of La Cerdanya

21 – 28 June 2016

Considered to be one of the richest parts of Spain for wildlife, this section of the eastern Pyrenees encompasses both limestone and siliceous mountains and hosts an exceptional flora and fauna. The montane wildflowers are simply fabulous at this time of year, and up to 50 species of butterfly may be seen in a single day. Dragonflies abound and there's a vertebrate fauna to match, notably Lammergeier, Citril Finch, Pyrenean Chamois, Asp, etc. (Maximum 14 clients)

Large Chequered Skipper – Heteropterus morpheusLarge Chequered Skipper
Heteropterus morpheus
© Teresa Farino
Butterflies and Moths of the Picos de Europa & Páramos of Northern Castile

Discover northern Spain's fabulous summer diversity of butterflies and moths

5 – 14 July 2016

We will investigate first the meadows, forests and alpine habitats of the Picos de Europa (154 species of butterflies & over 800 macromoths, with my terrace frequently coming in the top half-dozen sites in Europe during European Moth Nights), followed by four nights exploring the Castilian limestone plateaux and river canyons further south, for a completely different assemblage of butterflies and moths. Photographic opportunities abound! (Maximum 8 clients)

Red Squirrel – Sciurus vulgarisRed Squirrel
Sciurus vulgaris
© Teresa Farino
A family wildlife holiday in the Picos de Europa

Introduce your children to the plants and animals of the spectacular mountains of northern Spain this summer

2 – 9 August 2016

A fun-filled family holiday designed to bring children into close contact with the abundant wildlife of the Picos de Europa. Although the emphasis is on creepy-crawlies (butterflies, beetles, crickets & dragonflies), there will also be plenty of opportunity for encounters with mammals, birds, reptiles & amphibians, as well as to swim in a mountain lake or spend a day at the beach. 20% discount for children under 14.

Old Lady – Mormo mauraOld Lady
Mormo maura
© Teresa Farino

Autumn moth weekend in the Picos de Europa

A five-night stay in a superb locality for nocturnal lepidoptera, with daily excursions in search of butterflies, orthoptera and other wildlife

28 September – 3 October 2016

Simply the best of Spain's autumn moth fauna! This trip regularly turns up almost 200 macromoths, including such emblematic species as Jersey Tiger, Clifden Nonpareil (plus 9 other Catocala species!), Feathered, Bordered & Beautiful Gothics, Orache Moth, Smoky Bloom and Pyrenean Runic Carpet. Plenty of autumn butterflies, grasshoppers & crickets too. (Maximum 8 clients)

Grass Processionary – Thaumetopoea herculeanaGrass Processionary
Thaumetopoea herculeana
© Teresa Farino

Autumn in Extremadura

An invertebrate extravaganza in Extremadura, with a helping of birds, reptiles, amphibians and autumn-flowering bulbs on the side

11 – 18 October 2016

A real treat for macro-photography enthusiasts, with expected highlights including a wide range of moths attracted to the terrace lights, Southern Darter, Long Skimmer, Northern Banded Groundling, Two-tailed Pasha, several species of mantis and many other invertebrates. Autumn-flowering narcissi among the flora and a good chance of observing Otters at close quarters. (Maximum 8 clients)

Griffon Vulture – Gyps fulvusGriffon Vulture
Gyps fulvus
© Teresa Farino

Daily Wildlife Walks in the Picos de Europa

Daily excursions in search of birds, butterflies and wildflowers

throughout 2016

If you're holidaying in the Picos, why not join me to explore the natural wonders of these mountains for a day? Children are particularly welcome.

Alpine Pasque-flower – Pulsatilla alpina ssp. cantabrica © Teresa FarinoAlpine Pasque-flower
Pulsatilla alpina ssp. cantabrica (León)
© Teresa Farino

Please click on the tour that interests you for more details and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

I have also organised many private excursions over the years, with the emphasis on wildflowers, butterflies and moths, birdwatching and even Romanesque architecture. As such, I would be happy to discuss the possibility of designing a tour focused on your particular interests, so if the idea appeals to you, please do get in touch.

Flora & Fauna of the Picos de Europa
Over the past 25 years, Teresa Farino has compiled a report (more than 100 A4 pages) that includes lists of all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers & crickets and vascular plants ever recorded the Picos de Europa, plus summaries of each of these groups and an eight-page introduction to the natural history of these mountains. If you would like to purchase a PDF copy, the price is 12 € (or the sterling equivalent). Please contact Teresa for further details or to place your order.
Dericorys lobata luteipes © Teresa FarinoDericorys lobata luteipes (Fuerteventura)© Teresa Farino

Teresa Farino – Contact Details

Address: Apartado de Correos 59
39570 Potes

Office: (+34) 942 735154
Mobile: (+34) 656 337129
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