When we were here at Jalon in Spain in early May this year, we spotted a pair of Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) beside Las Salinas, a lagoon in Calpe on the coast. I was a little surprised because the water is probably salt or, at best, brackish, hence the name. To see whether or not this sighting was an aberration, we returned this morning.
No, not an aberration. While our hosts were shopping, Francine and I wandered along the edge of Las Salinas where we disturbed Red-veined Darters on a regular basis, finally counting 21 in various states of maturity. This one is an immature male just beginning to turn red. I now see that my dragonfly bible does mentions Red-veined Darters and coastal lagoons in the same sentence.
In the afternoon I returned to the local Jalon river to show Francine where I’d been rummaging around yesterday and to use her as my spotter. At one of the fords that had produced nothing the previous day – at least, nothing that I’d seen – Francine saw a blue flash whiz past. We lost sight of it, as is not uncommon. While looking for it though, we did disturb a Scarlet Darter/Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea).
Our blue flash returned. I spent about 15 minutes trying to get a decent vantage point to snap it as it spent a similar amount of time avoiding being snapped. Eventually I had to resort to getting my walking shoes very wet wading in the ford to get an angle. My first thought looking through the lens was Southern Darter (Orhetrum brunneum), it was the same colouration, but it didn’t look quite right – too narrow in the abdomen. Back chez Chris and Yvonne consulting my bible again, I suspect that what we have here is a so-called Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma). This is an African species that has made it into southern Spain.
It’s a good job the weather is hot and sunny, my shoes dried by the time we’d walked home.