Surprisingly the sun reappeared today. Following yesterday’s late afternoon thrash I didn’t know how muddy it might be underfoot but we decided to have a run out to the marjal de Pego-Oliva to see who/what might be around. Besides, it looked brighter over in that valley.
Brighter it was. There were a few puddles on the stony track but underfoot beside the water conditions were fine and we were soon finding some activity. First up was a female Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) which just goes to show how the season stretches further in Spain than in the UK. She wasn’t posing for pictures, though. A flying Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta), whose relatives are still quite active in the UK, was more cooperative for Francine, though, and she captured the subject on the wing admirably.
We were out in some fresh air with nobody else around and it wasn’t raining so we were winning, though insect activity wasn’t exactly high. We found another damselfly species here, a Blue-eye (Erythromma lindenii), which did cooperate but most interest and action was provided by a butterfly, the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus), of which there were several flitting about. My only other representation of this species on pixels had been a battered specimen from Hondo which I had needed to repair using Photoshop wizardry. I dislike doing such things but needs must. So, I was very happy to catch an example in good condition which will eventually replace my repaired individual. These are relatives of the long distant migrant, the Monarch (Danaus plexippis); in fact, their common name in French translates as Small Monarch.
In the absence of any further interest, we moved on to what had been our very first area of the marjal, the rice paddies. Following our discovery of the river at the back of the reserve, we’ve been neglecting it lately. As well as yet more Plain Tigers, here we found quite a few Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) – here’s one with sun glinting off its wings – and a Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria), being less cooperative on the ground. The latter is rather fond of eating the former so this should have proved a reasonable hunting ground for it. Even if a hunter yourself, It can be a cruel world as a dragonfly.
By most accounts we’re heading towards a wet weekend.