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Honeyguide news archive 2012

Two things had an impact on November's Madeira holiday. Heavy rain in previous weeks, the edge of Hurricane Sandy over in America, damaged some roads in north Madeira, affecting the itinerary. Then a strike at the airport on the return day meant an additional night on the island. But the special island birds were still on show: Madeira firecrest, trocaz pigeon, Bethelot's pipit and various subspecies, plus Cory's shearwater close to the boat at sea. Skylarks, plus the usual scattering of ducks and waders, had found their way onto this safe haven in the Atlantic.

But the most remarkable vagrants were two African species of butterfly, the African migrant (a white) and diadem Hypolimnas misippus (Wikipedia entry here). The latter, also known as false plain tiger, is found in Africa and America. Pictured are males: the females are mimics, taking on the appearance of the toxic monarch butterfly, also seen on the holiday.

Madeira highlights from November 2013. From the left: diadem butterfly Hypolimnas misippus, upper & lower (Madeira Wind Birds); Bethelot's pipit (Marion Hession). Holiday report here.

Welsh poppies

What are the links between Welsh poppies in the French Pyrenees (right), Wales and our gardens? More here.

Welsh poppy

White-fronted bee-eater; zebras; giraffes with oxpeckers, African jacana.

It's quite a challenge to sum up in a few sentences what 13 Honeyguiders experienced in South Africa's Kruger National Park in a fortnight. Andrew Goodhart writes: “The wildlife was incredible, birds everywhere as well as all the big animals. One highlight was seeing weaver birds very active over a small lake. Others included a lion just sitting on the road, kingfishers, herons and waders on the rivers, a spotted hyena suckling her cubs, and a leopard who we watched as he chose and climbed a tree. Our guides Geoff Crane and Mike Raymaker showed us their expertise in making breakfasts and lunches when staff were on strike at camps in the Kruger.

From John and Jan Croft: "The birds and wildlife were mind blowing. There were sightings where the skills of Geoff and Mike ensured we had good views in a changing situation. One in particular was the following of a pack of wild dogs as they loped along the road for about half an hour – magical! While the grandeur of many of the animals often stole the show, there was plenty of fascinating birdlife - often easier to see than to photograph." Or maybe not ... it's been tough choosing from so many photos by the group (several hundred are here) and some of Rob May's are below. Click on the pictures to see full-size images. Holiday report here.

southern masked weaver
Wild dogs; southern masked weaver, a lion in the road.

Blogging Honeyguide leaders

Great white egret (Steve Fletcher)

Great white egret (Steve Fletcher)

We still have places available on our Extremadura holiday in March 2013.

Martin Kelsey's blogspot from Extremadura is always a good read. His latest posting is on the numbers, mostly growing, of a range of heron and egret species in his home region of Spain. Our visit in February 2012 (report here) followed a dry winter: it's good to read in Martin's account that "The landscape is looking magnificently green" following autumn rains, which bodes well for our visit next March.

Languedoc holiday leader Derek Moore has been around in nature conservation for many years and I've known him most of that time, but he'll be new to most Honeyguiders. His blog Derek Bird Brain includes recent entries and photos from the south of France. His co-leader in France will be Rob Macklin. Both Rob and Derek were at one time key characters in the Suffolk birding and conservation scene, but now live elsewhere. 

There are three places available on next spring's Languedoc holiday, though the possible flights from Liverpool to Carcassonne mentioned in the Honeyguide brochure are no longer on the same days as the holiday next year, a hazard of trying to plan dates before airline schedules come out.

serin in Languedoc

Serin (Derek Moore)

Derek and Rob are on our Languedoc leaders web page, as are some mystery characters in black-and-white. Email me your thoughts on who they are (not too difficult) and why they are together (trickier).

Domingos Leitão in Portugal reminds us — looking forward to our Algarve & Alentejo holiday in autumn 2013 — how many nice birds there can be in south Portugal in late autumn, this year including ferruginous ducks, little bitterns, a flock of some 500 griffon vultures, an escaped sacred ibis and a nice sprinkling of late migrants . More in updates from SPEA for late October here, early November here and late November here.

Infrared success — including movies of otters and golden jackals

Management Body of Parnonas Moustos

Our conservation contribution for this spring's holiday in the Peloponnese was unusual. We gave two infrared motion-sensor cameras to the Management Body of Mount Parnon & Moustos Wetland to help record wildlife in the protected area. These cameras are especially useful to confirm the presence of secretive mammals.

They take some skill and trial & error to position and use, but we have good news.

George Tryfonopoulos, biologist working in the protected area, reports success with the cameras, recording golden jackals Canis aureus (motion sensor camera shot, right) and otters.


golden jackal

YouTube Movies: otters moving and approaching the camera; and golden jackals. Towards the end of the latter the jackals are filmed in daylight, including cubs, playing in water. Be ready to turn down the music!
: a badger in front of the camera for many minutes.

The Honeyguide group features in 'Foreign visitors to Moustos' Places on our Peloponnese holiday in 2013 are all spoken for, but there are places on all the other holidays in next year's programme.

Updated by Chris Durdin, 7 November 2012.

News from holidays in September

Frank Vargas and a small group were in Tarifa & Gibraltar in early September, coinciding with migration. This included more than 7,000 soaring species (black kites, black storks, booted eagle, honey buzzards, pallid harrier, short-toed eagle), crossing the Strait on their third day there in less than an hour, and close views of a Spanish imperial eagle. Holiday report here. After checking photos , a putative Rüppell‘s vulture was put down as a griffon vulture.

maiden pink Camberwell beauty Pyrenean rock lizard
A migrant pied flycatcher, maiden pink, Camberwell beauty and Pyrenean rock lizard, all in the French Pyrenees, September 2012.

I am back from a super week in the French Pyrenees. As well as the expected resident birds, such as dippers, alpine choughs, lammergeiers and griffon vultures, migrants included pied flycatchers, hundreds of swallows and an osprey going over a mountain pass. Flowers included sheets of merendera, autumn crocus, grass of Parnassus and two types of monkshood, and butterflies included a profusion of three types of blues in one valley and striking individual Camberwell beauties, swallowtail and Queen of Spain fritillary. The scenery in (mostly) autumn sunshine must be some of the best in Europe, and we found local specialities like Pyrenean brook newt, Pyrenean rock lizard and isard, the Pyrenean chamois. Holiday report here.

Isard, the Pyrenean chamois, in the French Pyrenees, September 2012.

Five intrepid Honeyguiders were in Berdún in the Spanish Pyrenees to walk part of the Camino de Santiago. Holiday summary here.

Campaign special, July 2012

There are threats to two areas known to Honeyguiders – and you can help.

In Algarve, Lagoa dos Salgados – often known as Pêra Marsh – is under threat from a major development.  All four of our Algarve holiday groups visited this splendid wetland with the last group, in 2009, enjoying a close encounter with bald ibises there.

SPEA (BirdLife Portugal) and the RSPB have been battling to safeguard this Important Bird Area for years, but at the moment the developers are pressing on and, despite the environmental damage and severe economic doubts, local government is on the side of the developers.

Read the full story here in the Algarve Resident online newspaper (and there’s more here.)

You can help by signing the online petition on Avaaz.org here. The petition website has a simple sign-up process. The petition is supported by SPEA (here, in English) and the aim is 40,000 people signing up.

bald ibises
Bald ibises at Lagoa dos Salgados at Pêra, April 2009 - from a reintroduction project in Spain.

The Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust is supporting the protection of Lilium rhodopaeum, a scarce endemic flower of the Western Rhodopes, found on just a handful of sites in Bulgaria and over the border in Greece.

It's a flower that the group in June 2012 saw well, and concluded they'd like to help. The conservation contributions from our holiday in 2012 raised £400 and we have doubled this to £800, using some additional funds in the Charitable Trust's account, raised by the Wildlife Outreach Network.

Read the full story here, and holiday report here.

Lilium rhodopeaum

Photospot: silver-studded blue butterfly

silver-studded blue: female undersidesilver-studded blue: female upperside
Silver-studded blues, photographed on a heathland north of Norwich, 12 July 2012. Left : female, underside, on bell heather. Centre: female, upper. Right; a spine is just visible on the male's tibia (which the very similar European species, Idas blue, lacks). Mullein moth caterpillar photospot here.

News from holidays in June 2012

Three holidays ran last month. In the Picos de Europa, highlights included snowfinches and wallcreepers on the high tops and, as pictured in the brochure, dark-flowered pasque flowers and marbled newt. The wealth of wildlife in the Danube Delta was as impressive as ever, and below is a selection of photos from Honeyguider Judith Wells.

rollerwhite-tailed eaglecardinalrose-coloured starlingspelicans
Some Danube Delta highlights from 2012, photographed by Judith Wells. From left to right, top: kingfisher, squacco heron, roller. Bottom row: white-tailed eagle, cardinal butterfly, rose-coloured starlings, white pelicans with a Dalmatian pelican.

Bulgaria wasn't in the brochure, but a group of Honeyguiders arranged a stay in the Western Rhodopes. Helen Crowder writes: "Bulgaria warmly welcomed us with blue skies and sunshine, calandra larks, plump, purple mulberries and flamboyant, spoon-winged lacewings. Meadows were alive with butterflies and bright with an abundance of wildflowers. Patches of Lilium rhodopeaum studded one steep slope, while from below a corncrake called loudly and dozens of blues and fritillaries cascaded like confetti over the muddy path.

"The Trigrad Gorge wallcreepers did not disappoint, a pair emerging from their nest hole as we arrived and flicking around the gorge. Damp rock faces dripped with Haberlea rhodopensis in full bloom and varieties of honey were tasted and bought. In the forest, two nutcrackers flew down to drink from a puddle just a few feet away. At the Devinska River, a poplar admiral posed for photos and an apollo fluttered bird-like around us.

"In Yagodina the old, traditional ways continue, for the time being anyway. Family cows are daily herded up to graze the high pastures and small plots of land are cultivated with potatoes and beans. Logs are stacked everywhere for daily cooking and in preparation for the long winter. The wildlife is rich and the people might be materially poor but they possess a wealth of open-heartedness which enveloped us all."


Bee orchids back near Norwich City FC

Three years ago, I persuaded the men with strimmers to spare bee orchids growing outside the Big Yellow Self Storage in Canary Way, opposite Norwich City Football Club (2009 story here). None seemed to pop up for the last two years, then long grass in the same place caught my eye last night (25 June). I returned with my camera and counted 29 flowering spikes. I phoned to congratulate store manager Rob Harley, who tells me they found 37. All credit to the Norwich Big Yellow Self Storage team for noticing these charming wild flowers and for taking care of them. Eastern Daily Press story here (on 29 June).

bee orchid outside Big Yellow Self Storage uncut grass for bee orchids
Bee orchid, left, outside Big Yellow Self Storage in Norwich, with grass left uncut.


The Dordogne, May 2012

The Dordogne's winter was dry and cold but followed by lots of rain in April and early May, which roughly offset each other, with spring flowers and birds slightly delayed but catching up rapidly in a very warm week. Another full group enjoyed the warmth of welcome inside Castang, as well as the summer weather outside. Highlights included particularly active golden orioles, many hundreds of sombre bee orchids and some tame map butterflies. Holiday report here.

map butterfly narrow-bordered bee hawkmoths firecrest
Map butterfly on cow parsley; narrow-bordered bee hawkmoths on meadow clary; and a firecrest. To hear this firecrest singing, click here.

News from recent holidays in April/May 2012

Portugal, April 2012. Rob Macklin writes: "A splendid week with our host Domingos Leitão, although the weather was somewhat variable, to say the least. We explored two distinct areas with the first half of the week in and around the Tejo estuary and river. This area held excellent numbers of various herons, including purple and black-crowned night herons plus many breeding white storks. Recent rains had brought out many flowers including many orchids such as pink butterfly orchid. We had very good views of black-shouldered kites in the montados (wood pasture) and well as finding a roosting long-eared owl.

"The second half of the week was in the eastern part of the region, based near Marvão. The views from this hilltop fortress were absolutely stunning as was the close-up views of a glorious male blue rock thrush. Our visit to the São Mamede Natural Park was superbly rounded off by great views of three Bonelli’s eagles over the cliffs by the Spanish border. On the final day we explored the Elvas plains where we were delighted to see two male great bustards flying right in front of the group." Continued, right.

fire salamander southern smooth snake stripeless tree frog

Crete, April 2012. Chris Gibson writes: "It had been a long, cold winter on Crete. And the northerly winds at the start of the week helped to stall bird migration. So our week in Crete was distinctly different from usual - the tulips and many of the orchids needed at least another week or two before they would have been at their best. The corollary was though that general floral displays, albeit 'common' species such as poppies, crown daisy, viper's-buglosses and honeywort, were quite stunning, along with good displays of endemics such as Cretan ebony. More, right.

Chalicidoma sicula Yellow-horned poppy, Plakias Tulipa doerfleri, Spili Eucera sp. on Ebenus cretica Psiloritis from Festos Orchis italicum - naked man orchid Tim Strudwick's Crete photos here (a few thumbnails above).

Peloponnese, April/May 2012

Our first holiday in the Peloponnese was a great success, with glorious weather and flower-filled hillsides. Here are some pictures - below and right.

red-rumped swallowPeloponnese cyclamenloggerhead turtleCorinth Canal
Red-rumped swallow; close-up of Peloponnese cyclamen, a deceased loggerhead turtle and Corinth Canal.


News, first, that ornithology is in a twitter with a dispute about birds and communication . . .

Photo, but definitely not the words, by John Buxton. Better suggestions for what the avocet said to the shelduck are very welcome! 1st April 2012

Our first Honeyguide holiday on Fuerteventura for 16 years went well. Leader David Collins writes:

“Our Fuerteventura holiday of 14-21 March was timed to perfection: we arrived just as lots of migrant birds dropped in.  As a result we saw no less than 90 species, including several that are uncommon migrants on the island, such as purple heron, squacco heron, osprey, red-rumped swallow and woodchat shrike. Best of all though was a superb male white-spotted bluethroat, which gave wonderful prolonged views at one of the small wetlands.

"On the down side, Fuerteventura is suffering the worst drought for more than half a century, and there were virtually no flowers or butterflies, although we did see both plain tiger and monarch." More on the right; holiday report here.

Barbary ground squirrel cream-coloured-courser southern grey shrike
Fuerteventura photos, taken in March 2012: Barbary ground squirrel, cream-coloured courser, view at La Oliva, southern grey shrike (Lesley & David Lord).

Spanish Pyrenees Crossbill Guide: the previous Honeyguide discount for Crossbill Guides is suspended, following changes at WildGuides. We hope to set up something similar, but in the meantime, by arrangement with Crossbill Guides, we can offer the new guide to the Spanish Pyrenees, an area enjoyed by scores of Honeyguiders over the last 22 years. This book will be usually £20.95 plus postage online, but as we can order a batch directly for Honeyguiders, it will be £18.95 and post free. If you'd like one, a cheque or bank transfer for £18.95 to Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays, please.

Posted by Chris Durdin, 1 April

Extremadura's winter was the driest in 70 years. On our holiday here in February, it was cold at night and during the early part of the day, but warming through the day and always sunny. You could see the drought's impact on the landscape, and it reduced the number of flowers, but the birds more than made up for it. Swallows, lesser kestrels and displaying storks were signs of spring, and resident birds including Spanish imperial eagle, vultures, two species of bustard and sandgrouse, black-winged kite and penduline tit showed well.

azure-winged magpies Peña Falcón
Azure-winged magpies on a picnic table in Monfragüe National Park. Watch them as a movie here or click on the picture. The pale strip on Peña Falcón shows the reservoir's low water level on account of the very dry winter.

But it was the cranes that drew most of us to Spain in late winter. There were the expected groups scattered in the dehesa and on open fields, and some 2,000 in the rice paddies near the crane information centre at Moheda Alta. But the undisputed highlight of the holiday was a glorious spectacle of a succession of calling flocks moving slowly past us over a steppe south of Trujillo on the first leg of their journey back to northern Europe. Magical.

photographing toadswestern spadefoot toadcranes on the move

Photographing a toad: Chris with arms down a cattle grid, photographing western spadefoot toads (middle). Click on the photo or here to see a movie of the toad: look for the black spots on its feet. Minutes later, cranes were moving overhead.

Poking fun at airines: anyone who enjoyed Fascinating Aida on 'Cheap Flights' (here if you missed it) will enjoy this British Airways parody here.

Posted by Chris Durdin, 1 March

Spring is coming ... honestly!

Some wintry weather is forecast in the UK, but farther south there are signs of spring. On Sunday, 29th January, Domingos Leitão photographed the first new season flowers in Santarém, Central Portugal, near to where Honeyguide’s group will stay for four nights. These - on the right - were the stunning giant orchid (Barlia robertiana) and the strange western friar’s cowl (Arisarum simorrhinum). "In a few weeks the area will be teeming with several orchids, daffodils, squills, fritillaries and many other beautiful flowers," says Domingos.

New web pages: Dordogne butterflies & Dordogne bugs; Crete orchid gallery & Crete orchids page.

large copperpill millipedecream-spot tiger mothrose chafers
Left to right: large copper, pill millipede, cream-spot tiger and rose chafers.

More news from Portugal

The Caia Dam Important Bird Area in Portugal is one of the sites visited by the Honeyguide holiday. Its large population of waterbirds includes collared pratincoles, little and gull-billed terns, red-crested pochards and other duck, spoonbill and egret species. SPEA, BirdLife partner in Portugal, is managing ten islands used by terns and pratincoles to nest.

Caia Dam IBA

Gull-billed terns at Caia Dam IBA

More and pictures on our Portugal News web page.

Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust: the late Roger Jordan and his group of friends in the Wildlife Outreach Network in the Chelmsford area raised funds to support conservation projects overseas, including a regular series of top-ups for Honeyguide's conservation donations, £4,700 by 2010. Jill Jordan kindly arranged that the remaining money they raised, £1,643, also cames to Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust. The trustees' plan is to use this linked to our own projects, much as before, in Roger's words "... to give a little help and encouragement to conservationists … overseas." As always, the Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust welcomes additional donations or legacies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Posted 6 January 2012

Some Honeyguiders are planning to walk parts of the Camino de Santiago in the Spanish Pyrenees in the early autumn, probably for a week in late September. It will be fairly gentle walking, though covering more distance than a typical Honeyguide group, taking in wildlife, buildings and the stunning scenery along the way, but not a religious pilgrimage.

Accommodation will be at Casa Sarasa in Berdún (right). While it'll be a small group, there's scope for more to join them. If you're interested, please contact us.

Would you like to search this website? We don't yet have a search function, but if you type into Google site:honeyguide.co.uk plus your search item - e.g. site:honeyguide.co.uk wallcreeper it searches www.honeyguide.co.uk

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Honeyguide leader Chris Gibson was on Menorca in October 2012, planning for our holiday here in October 2013. Read Chris's Menorca October 2012 recce report.

sea squillstrawberry tree fruits
Sea squill Urginea maritima, and fruits of the strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, Menorca, October 2012.

In Hungary, recent improvements at Kondor Lodge include a pond and a small cliff, completely with ready-made holes, to tempt the many local bee-eaters to nest there. These are pictured here.

A good way to keep up with bird news from France is Ken Hall's LPO News website. Ken has also brought us up to date on the terrific growth in numbers of lesser kestrels at La Crau, likely to be of interest to anyone who has been to the Camargue. Details here.

Air safety, New Zealand style, recommended viewing for hobbits and other Middle Earth folk here.

crested barbet

Table-top wildlife in the Kruger: crested barbet (John Croft).

Painted ladies: return migration revealed.

It's long been a mystery how butterflies are seen as they come north in spring/summer, but rarely seem to return south. Now we know it's the humans that were in the dark, and the insects aren't so daft.

Research has uncovered that painted ladies return to Africa, but fly at a high altitude, so are rarely seen. 'Radar in Hampshire operated by Rothamsted Research revealed that around 11 million high-flying Painted Ladies entered the UK in spring 2009 with 26 million departing in autumn', says Butterfly Conservation.

More here from Butterfly Conservation — and a reminder of the 2009 invasion here.  

painted lady

Lammergeiers in the Cévennes

Future groups in the Cévennes may be able to see lammergeiers, in addition to other vulture species.

Two young captive-bred 'casseurs d'os' (bone-breakers) were set free on a cliff in June 2012 by a project involving La Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), Cévennes National Park, European Union, Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park, where the birds were released.

It's part of a project to re-establish lammergeiers in their former range in Europe, here between the thriving wild population seen by many Honeyguiders in the Pyrenees and reintroduced birds in the Alps. More information here, in French.  


Lammergeier (Chris Knights)

Birdlife South Africa

Our group to the Kruger National Park in South Africa leaves on the evening of 17 October. We had several notes of thanks for our conservation donation, including this from Mark D. Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, BirdLife South Africa. He says: 

"Your annual support of SABAP2 is gratefully appreciated. For a project like SABAP2, a donation of R8700 can go a long way to achieving the project goals (such as sending atlasers to an unatlased area). SABAP 2 is providing very valuable information which is supporting a number of important projects, including the Important Bird Areas Programme."

You can view a brief (eight slides) summary of the atlas's year-by-year progress via here.

Madeira, November 2012: following recent cancellations, there are now two places available on this holiday.

Martin Kelsey, Honeyguide leader in Extremadura, is interviewed in El País about nature tourism here. In Spanish, 20 September 2012.

cardabelle at Col de Tentes

Cardabelle - or acanthus-leaved carline thistle - at Col de Tentes in the French Pyrenees.


Monkshood. Bees took nectar through holes they appeared to have made in flowers. Below: grass of Parnassus.

grass of Parnassus

Secretarybirds in South Africa are being tracked by satellite. News of this project, run by BirdLife South Africa and two other bodies, here (on the BirdGuides website).

Lagoa dos Salgados

Lagoa dos Salgados at Pêra

In Lesvos, there is a proposal for 153 wind turbines and some 100 km of access roads in the rugged west of the island. It’s feared that the construction impacts will be especially damaging in the key area for cinereous bunting in Europe. 

This is in an Important Bird Area (details here) dominated by phrygana (low scrub) on the mountains around, but not including, the Petrified Forest.

Steve Dudley, who runs the website Lesvos Birding, has assembled information on the proposals and where to send comments.

You can also read Honeyguide’s submission here, which includes email addresses.

Renewable energy is important, but there will be a big landscape impact and an opening up of access into a wild area. The authorities should be made aware of the value of an Important Bird Area, and what that means for wildlife tourism.

Online petition here.

View from Ipsilou monastary

View from Ipsilou monastary, with distant windfarm (Rob Lucking)

Silver-studded blues

Close up: those silver studs.

silver-studded blue male

Silver-studded blue, male. In the field the dark wing edges are a more useful ID feature than the silver studs.

Silver-studded ble, male underside

Silver-studded blue, male.

Hungary recce: I've been away, too (writes Chris Durdin), on a recce in the Kinkunság National Park south of Budapest, between the Tisza and Danube rivers. Honeyguide leader Paul Tout came over from Trieste to join me and our host Gabor for three days. It'll make a good holiday venue.

Rollers, bee-eaters and two shrike species were on the doorstep, and there were great bustards on the plains. Large oxbow lakes held a super selection of wetland birds, including pygmy cormorants. Butterflies included two species of purple emperors and there were flower-filled and colourful roadside verges, arable edge and unimproved meadows. There's a recce report here.

silver-washed fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary. Click here or on the picture for a movie of the butterfly.

Nemoptera sinuata

Bulgaria: a spoon-winged lacewing, Nemoptera sinuata. on the yellow yarrow Achillea clypeolata (Photos by Chris Gibson and Helen Crowder).

Yagodina from St Ilia

Yagodina village from St Ilia

poplar admiralLilium rhodopaeum

Poplar admiral and Lilium rhodopaeum

The most recent accountants' report for the Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust is now on the Trust's webpage. It's for the financial year from October 2010 to September 2011. The accounts show £7,961 going towards the conservation projects we support. This is well up from £5,214 in the previously published year (2009-10), though that year was untypical because of holidays lost due to volcanic ash and an air traffic control strike. 

The total should be well over £8,000 this year. Read about our recent Portugal donation (in Portuguese and English) here.

bee orchid with Norwich City FC behind

Bee orchid, with the Norwich City football ground behind. Photos taken 25 June 2012.

scarece swallowtail

Scarce swallowtail in the Dordogne. For a movie of this butterfly, accompanied by a singing firecrest, click here or on the picture.

Portugal, continued.

Domingos is especially good at finding reptiles and amphibians. In the main column there's a selection from April 2012. Left to right: fire salamander, southern smooth snake and stripeless tree frog. Below: Bedragia's (or five-toed) skink. Photos by John Rumpus.

Portugal holiday report here.

Bedragia's skink

Crete, continued.

"On the one day that a wave of migrants did come through, they were everywhere, with black-headed and blue-headed wagtails, whinchats, woodchat shrikes and whole host of others. Little crakes, little bitterns, squacco herons and black-winged stilts gave us splendid views on the wetlands, while griffon vultures were ever-present in the mountains. Up to four Bonelli's eagles performed in front of us on one day, and eventually - almost the last bird on the last day - one of Crete's few lammergeiers put in an appearance.

"Add to all that the generally good weather - mild, sometimes hot and sunny, with just one rainy day - great food and company, and a side order of hymenopterous (bees etc. - see here) enthusiasm from Tim, it was the recipe for an excellent trip."

Peloponnese butterflies

southern comma

Southern comma on valerian. Movies of southern comma and southern swallowtail: click on the red words

Orchis quadripunctata

Orchis quadripunctata (four-spot orchid), with Cyclamen peloponnesiacum.


More on Fuerteventura:

"Houbara bustard was more difficult to see than usual because of the dry conditions, but we had excellent views of three on our second day. One of them ran across the road in front of the van! Cream-coloured courser was also a bit difficult to see, though we had really close views on the last day, and the ‘courser field’ near our hotel in La Oliva produced no less than eleven during the week.

As usual, hoopoes were everywhere, and three birds fighting on the road just in front of our bus were a real highlight, as was a little egret gracefully ‘dancing’ in a small tidal pool in order to catch fish.

Last but not least, two of the group voted the delightful African blue tit as their bird of the week.”
stork webcam

Stork webcam: the storks are back in front of the webcam near Honeyguiders Karin and Brennan in Markt Schwaben, Germany. Click on the picture to see them.

When is a chaffinch not a chaffinch? Click on the picture to find out.

migrating cranes

Migrating cranes over Campo Lugar, south of Trujillo, 19 February 2012. Holiday report here.

Trujillo boys and bull-bike
Movie clip from February 2012: carnival time in Trujillo.

'Emergency conservation work pays off: Zino's Petrel bounces back!' says BirdLife International. A fire badly hit Europe’s rarest seabird, in 2010, and several Honeyguiders gave additional donations to boost our Madeira holiday's support to Frank Zino's Freira Conservation Project. Last year, 16 young fledged from 45 occupied nest burrows, many of which were restored or created after the fire. Full story here.


Friar's cowlgiant orchid
Friar's cowl and giant orchid (Domingos Leitão)

Website latest: Madeira, Bulgaria and Istria holiday reports are new on the Honeyguide website here.

Ophrys cretica Orchis italica

Crete orchid gallery - 20 photos, here and new Crete orchids page Above: Ophrys cretica and Orchis italica.

Also new are Dordogne butterflies and Dordogne bugs (see left) and a page for the Flowers of Crete website on flower books for Crete.


Casa Sarasa was on Aragón TV - watch it here. The programme lasts 25 minutes and is in Spanish.

Casa Sarasa
Casa Sarasa in Berdún

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... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

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