So with my good friend Doug Fairweather trapping the first Convolvulus Hawk-moth Agrius convolvuli at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire overnight on September 4th, it was rather apt that here in the Algarve, Portugal, one was attracted to the lights of Loureiro just a few days later. Not the best specimen, a much better looking moth can be seen on the official Tophill Low website.
In fact, here in Loureiro, the moths have a Tophill Low feel to them… Palpita vitrealis is an immigrant to the UK, one was trapped last summer on South Marsh East, and they appear in small numbers here at the lights.
Diamond-back Plutella xylostella is another species attracted to the Tophill lights on occasions. The Vestal Rhodometra sacraria is recorded here on most evenings. Another regular immigrant to the UK, the first appearance in the Tophill traps is eagerly anticipated as the quest to take the list to 700 species continues.
A few more butterflies have been noted during the latest period of work. The always stunning Swallow-tail Papilio machaon can be found on the wing in various spots, along with the occasional Southern Scarce Swallow-tail Iphiclides feisthamelii. Striped Grayling Hipparchia fidia is another species that will pose for photographs if it can be found in shaded areas, while Southern Brown Argus Aricia cramera and Southern Gatekeeper Pyronia cecilia flit among the current flora flowering in the arid conditions.
A trip to the harbour in Sagres enabled a good number of Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis to be observed. However, the stunning adult Sabine’s Gull Xema sabini photographed earlier in the area had already left.
Visiting various spots along the peninsula provides a good diversity of passerines. A few Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe are moving through, with Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis flying over and the scrub containing various Sylvia warblers. Wryneck Jynx torquilla can be found with luck, as can the occasional Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus.
However, I am supposed to be spending my time looking at the fantastic blue skies on offer here in the Algarve… look hard enough and you can see a few raptors on the move including Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus and Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus.