On this the first day of Autumn, I look back at the Summer of 2011 and can’t help thinking: what a cool Summer! The fact is it was pretty cool, literally. I don’t normally love the Summers in Spain too much because of the heat. I try to escape to the Pyrenees or the Alps or even to Ireland (that’s really escaping). But this year the heat didn’t bother me at all. Apart from a few days in mid-August I didn’t suffer in the slightest. Cool! Or maybe not so cool if you consider how strange the weather has been this year in general (see previous post). I mean, while I don’t look forward to suffering in Summer, I would prefer to suffer a little and have ‘normal’ weather year round.
But there are other things that make Summer cool. One such thing is butterflies and this year was cool in lepidopterous terms. Aside from the usual brilliant cast of Brimstones (Limonera), Tortoiseshells (Ortiguera), Marbled Whites (Medioluto), Clouded Yellows (Colias común) and many others who appear on the Guadarrama stage every year, we also got to see a few of those butterflies only to be found in the mountains and often only quite high up in the mountains. This Summer we were lucky enough to see the Scarce Copper (Manto de Oro) several times in the Fuenfría area, usually above 1500-1600m.
This year was probably also cool for the butterflies themselves (and not just for selfish humans who like to observe them) in both the literal and the idiomatic senses of the word. Butterflies are one group – among many others – who are especially sensitive to temperature changes. Those that live higher up in the mountains are driven ever higher as temperatures rise, meaning that their habitat is slowly eroded.. until there is no more mountain left. So this Summer of relatively mild temperatures in the Sierra may have reduced the pressure on some species – the Scarce Copper for instance. Cool!
If you’d like to read a little more about butterflies and temperature, look here.