Mothing The Straits!
6 Days – 2nd – 7th May 2019
£995 for 6 days – price includes all accommodation, meals, guiding, transportation, taxes and entrances but excludes flights.
Single supplement: £120
Deposit: £200 (payable upon booking).
To book your place on the above tour, check availability or for further information contact us
We like birds, but we like other animals too! That´s why we have on our team the mothing man extraordinaire, Dave Grundy to offer you this six-day Lepidopteran extravaganza around Southern Andalusía.
We will be based near the Straits of Gibraltar, just 14 kilometers from North Africa, where the moths have more in common with Africa than with Northern Europe. We are conveniently situated between two of Spain’s most exciting Natural Parks; the Natural Park of the Straits which is home to moths of coastal and Olive-based Mediterranean scrub and the Los Alcornacales Natural Park up where the hills are shrouded with evergreen cork oak forest and mist.
This holiday will all be about adding a touch of Mediterranean spice to the moths you see. You will see a whole suite of moths that we think of as migrants in the UK from Silver Y to Striped Hawkmoth, as well as real Mediterranean specials such as the stunning small and shaggy Omphalophana serrata. We should be able to see over 200 species of moths during our stay.
This southernmost province of Spain is perhaps best known for its fantastic tapas, passionate discussions, and welcoming people. However it is also the most biodiverse region not only in Spain but the whole of Europe.
Because of its strategic position at the gateway of two continents, the land here has changed hands countless times in history between the ruling forces of Europe and North Africa, so the culture here is a fascinating blend of Mediterranean and Moroccan. The flora and fauna here too provides tantalising glimpses of nature from across the waters, and are firmly influenced by the warm Mediterranean.
In just under a week of moth trapping we are likely to see over 200 moth species depending on weather conditions. Most of these will be moths you have rarely seen in Britain if ever, apart from a handful of commoner migrants such as Silver Y – Autographa gamma and Rusty-dot Pearl – Udea ferrugalis. Some of the more exciting species that we should see on this holiday will include; the Tapestry Moth – Trichophaga tapetzella, Etiella zinckenella, Phyllodesma kermesifolia, Dorset Cream Wave – Stegania trimaculata, Lydd Beauty – Peribatodes ilicaria, Tawny Prominent – Harpyia milhauseri, Plumed Fan-foot – Polypogon plumigeralis, Four-spotted Tyta luctuosa, Porter’s Rustic – Athetis hospes, Guernsey Underwing – Polyphaenis sericata, Small Black Arches – Meganola strigula and Speckled Footman – Coscinia cribraria. For British moth-trappers, these offer great experience of species you will be very lucky to see at home as very rare vagrants. In addition there are many species of macro-moths to look out for that don’t have an English name because they have never been recorded in Britain, such as the beautiful green Earias albovenosana and Cilix hispanica which is a close relative of the Chinese Character – Cilix glaucata. (Other target moths for us are shown in photos below)
The itinerary is as follows, but this is likely to be adapted to fit in best with weather conditions of the area. Winds in the Straits are usually from the west or the east, so it is important to juggle sites to take advantage of shelter when necessary. Moths perform best out of the wind and we want to maximise the numbers we see!
You will begin with a flight to Gibraltar, from where we transfer to our delightful eco-resort in tranquil woodland near Tarifa, the new ‘centre of moth-ing’ in the Straits. Most people will arrive in time for lunch.
Our base at Huerta Grande is ideal for watching moths from this area as it is located in the hills above the Straits of Gibraltar, amongst lush Cork Oak forest.
After lunch there will be a chance to involve yourself in local culture; with a leisurely unpack and siesta or a trip out to Tarifa to see this fascinating coastal town with so many Moorish influences. There we can chat about what we hope to see over the week in a friendly local cafe
After our evening meal we will head up into the nearby hills to set up at least 5 moth traps in the evergreen oak woods of Las Corzas in the Los Alcornacales Natural Park, where there are panoramic views between the trees to the whole sweep of the Bay of Gibraltar. We will also run a couple of traps at the excellent Ornipark for comparison. (This is a small woodland nature reserve only 2 minutes’ walk from our base which has an excellent diversity of moth species characteristic of the area.)
You will soon get used to setting up moth traps underneath cork oak trees and seeing some oak-feeding specialist moths. Very different from oak woodland moths in Britain!
On our first morning, we will again zig-zag up into the hills above Huerta Grande to check the moth traps in the oak woods of Las Corzas. Look up from the moth traps and you will see stunning views across the Straits to North Africa. If there has been recent rainfall, then look out for some stunning fungi in this untouched woodland.
We will all take part in looking through the traps using Spanish field guides to help us identify the moths. Most of the moths will be new species for you if you have never looked at moths in Spain before. It’s fascinating to see the diversity involved.
We will spend all morning checking through the traps before taking any particularly interesting individuals back to Huerta Grande, where we can check their ID further with the help of an extensive field book library. We will have plenty of time to photograph the star moths, as well as chance to visit the Visitor Centre of Huerta Grande and learn more about the wildlife of the Straits.
After a picnic lunch, you will have time to yourselves in the afternoon. Now is an excellent chance to get into local culture by taking a siesta! For non-nappers, we might make an optional local trip out to enjoy some of the area´s rich and varied bird life.
In the evening we will drive out to Punta Paloma – an excellent sand dune site on the Atlantic coast near Tarifa and set up moth traps there.
We will head out back to Punta Paloma in the morning and cross a huge sand dune along the road which looks more like the Sahara than Spain! Punta Paloma doesn’t have the number of species that other sites we visit have, but it more than makes up for that with some really specialist sand dune moth species. This part of the Andalucian coast is a great unknown for moths and you will be real trail blazers visiting it for only the second year it has ever been trapped!
Again we will take moths back to Huerta Grande for further ID checks and photography and this will be followed by lunch, and either a siesta or another trip out to see the local area.
After the evening meal we will be back out setting up traps. We will visit the excellent Mediterranean Olive scrub habitat near the shores of the Straits, at the Centro Internacional de Migracion de Aves (CIMA) – this is a bird migration study centre with some great moth habitat nearby. If you are interested in birds as well then take your binoculars with you, as this trip coincides with the peak migration period for Honey Buzzards. In the right conditions we may be able to see hundreds of them crossing the Straits from Africa, alongside other birds of prey such as Booted and Short-toed Eagles and Black Kites.
We will return to CIMA again in the morning along the coast road with panoramic views across the Straits to the towering mountain that is Jebel Musa in Africa – one of the Pillars of Hercules. Everyone will take part in checking the traps again and if you take a moment to look up, migrating birds of prey may be spotted soaring overhead. There will also be time allowed for people to visit the excellent CIMA Observatory of the Strait where you have great views of the Moroccan coast.
After lunch we´ll spend more time IDing, photographing and relaxing – maybe taking a dip in our eco-lodge´s delightful swimming pool. Then after our evening meal we will head out to set up traps at the Pine Forest of Pinar del Rey near San Roque. For a change we will stay out with the moth traps until around midnight, watching moths arrive at the sheet and light. This will possibly be our largest moth list of the holiday in stunning habitat.
In the morning we will drive back out to Pinar del Rey – this pine wood on sandy soils was planted by the Spanish Navy to supply timber to build warships. The trees were never used because the Spanish and French fleets were defeated in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. As a result these pine woods have developed a unique habitat that is special for its moths. Moths will again be taken back to Huerta Grande for a closer look and some photography in the afternoon.
In the evening we will stay local to Huerta Grande and concentrate our moth traps in the Ornipark for a last time and can either potter round the traps for the evening or walk up to the neighbouring village of Pelayo to visit a local bar.
Unfortunately today is our last day and means we will need to head back to the UK, but for early risers there will be a last chance to walk over and check the traps in the Ornipark before jumping on the plane home!
Contact us for further information and to book your place on this tour.