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 2015

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 2015 I will be organising and leading my usual series of wildlife tours in the Picos de Europa, focussing on general natural history, orchids and other wildflowers, and butterflies and moths, as well as spring trips to the Western Canaries and Extremadura, during which we can expect to encounter all manner of animals and plants. Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes © Teresa FarinoRed Fox Vulpes vulpes (Jaén)© Teresa FarinoCome early summer, Grazalema (Western Andalucía) is once again on the agenda, at an excellent time of year for butterflies, birds and the endemic flora, and at the end of June I will be returning to Benasque, in the Aragonese Pyrenees, after an absence of 5 years.

My annual trip to La Cerdanya, in the Catalan Pyrenees is scheduled for early September in 2015, thus focussing on the region's fascinating suite of late-summer dragonflies and butterflies, and this is followed by a long weekend dedicated to the autumn moths of the Picos de Europa. In mid October I'll be heading off to Cádiz once again for my customary invertebrate extravaganza in Andalucía.

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Teresa Farino – Trip Listing for 2015

Wavy Bubble Snail - Micromelo undata © Teresa FarinoWavy Bubble Snail
Micromelo undata
© Teresa Farino

Spring in 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

5 – 12 March 2015

The Canary Islands are 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 might find 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 the ferry crossings. (Maximum 8 clients)

Wood Fairy – Nemoptera bipennis © Teresa FarinoWood Fairy
Nemoptera bipennis
© Teresa Farino

Springtime in Extremadura

A profusion of flora, invertebrates, reptiles & amphibians and birds in the environs of the Monfragüe National Park and the Llanos de Cáceres

9 – 16 May 2015

A visit to Extremadura in the spring surely has to rate as one of Europe's finest all-round wildlife experiences, providing a wealth of photographic opportunities. Not only are the raptors and other birds simply out of this world, but the array of less 'popular' creatures is also fabulous, and all set against one of the most colourful spring floral displays in Spain. (Maximum 8 clients)

Giant Peacock – Saturnia pyri © Teresa FarinoGiant Peacock Moth
Saturnia pyri
© Teresa Farino

Spring Butterflies and Moths

The perfect time for an outstanding assemblage of Lepidoptera in the Picos de Europa

19 – 25 May 2015

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 Giant Peacock, Tawny Prominent, The Alchymist, Lunar Double-stripe, endemic Iberian Puss Moths and Spanish Tigers, and many more. (Maximum 8 clients)

Sawfly Ophrys – Ophrys tenthredinifera © Teresa FarinoSawfly Ophrys
O. tenthredinifera
© Teresa Farino

A Feast of Flowers

Orchids and other botanical treasures of the Picos de Europa

26 May – 2 June 2015

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 tenth year; early booking is advisable. (Maximum 8 clients)

Aetherie Fritillary – Melitaea aetherie © Teresa FarinoAetherie Fritillary
Melitaea aetherie
© Teresa Farino

Sierra de Grazalema

Late-spring wildflowers, butterflies, birds and a wealth of other wildlife in the limestone mountains of western Andalucía

5 – 12 June 2015

The Sierra de Grazalema is one of south-western Spain's natural wonders. In early June, the flora and fauna of these magnificent limestone mountains is perhaps at its best, offering us the opportunity to track down some of the unique plants that occur here, as well as a good range of butterflies and dragonflies, many reptiles & amphibians, and a fine selection of colourful Mediterranean birds. (Maximum 8 clients)

Pyrenean Saxifrage – Saxifraga longifolia © Teresa FarinoPyrenean Saxifrage
Saxifraga longifolia
© Teresa Farino

Wildlife of the Aragonese Pyrenees

A wealth of flowers, butterflies and birds in the Benasque valley, amid spectacular landscapes at the foot of the highest peak in the Pyrenees

25 June – 2 July 2015

A superb haymeadow and alpine rock-garden flora on both granite and limestone, with a fauna to match. Alpine Marmot, Isard, Lammergeier, Pyrenean Brook Newt and fabulous butterflies, with Clouded Apollo, Apollo, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Eros Blue, Shepherd's Fritillary and Spanish Brassy Ringlet among the highlights. Two-toothed Goldenring has also been seen here on previous tours. (Maximum 8 clients)

Woodland Brown – Lopinga achine © Teresa FarinoWoodland Brown
Lopinga achine
© 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

7 – 16 July 2015

We will investigate first the meadows, forests and alpine habitats of the Picos de Europa (154 species of butterflies & almost 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)

Rosalia alpina © Teresa FarinoRosalia alpina© Teresa FarinoA 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

1 – 8 August 2015

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.

Banded Darter – Sympetrum pedemontanum © Mike LockwoodBanded Darter
S. pedemontanum
© Mike Lockwood

Late Summer in the Catalan Pyrenees

Butterflies, dragonflies, birds and wildflowers of La Cerdanya

2 – 9 September 2015

Considered to be one of the richest parts of Spain for wildlife, this section of the eastern Pyrenees hosts an exceptional flora and fauna. Late-summer butterflies should include Map, Lesser Purple Emperor and Great Banded, Woodland and Tree Graylings, with Banded, Yellow-winged & Moustached Darters and Blue & Migrant Hawkers among the dragonflies. Notable birds include Lammergeier, Citril Finch and Rock Thrush, with plenty of Alpine Marmots in the boulder chokes. (Maximum 8 clients)

The Passenger – Dysgonia algira © Teresa FarinoThe Passenger
Dysgonia algira
© 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

16 – 21 September 2015

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)

Dwarf European Mantis – Ameles spallanzania © Teresa FarinoDwarf European Mantis
Ameles spallanzania
© Teresa Farino

Autumn in Andalucía

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

8 – 15 October 2015

A real treat for macro-photography enthusiasts, with expected highlights including Orange-winged & Violet Dropwings, Long Skimmer, Northern Banded Groundling, Zeller's Skipper, Monarch, Plain Tiger, Two-tailed Pasha, Mediterranean, Dwarf European & Giant African Mantises and many other invertebrates. Mandrakes and several species of autumn-flowering narcissi among the flora. (Maximum 8 clients)

Owly Sulphurs – Libelloides coccajus © Teresa FarinoOwly Sulphurs
Libelloides coccajus
© Teresa Farino

Daily Wildlife Walks in the Picos de Europa

Daily excursions in search of birds, butterflies and wildflowers

throughout 2015

If you're on holiday 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 copy, the price is 17.50€, excluding postage and packaging; alternatively, a copyrighted PDF document sent by email costs 11.50€. 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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