Conundrum Solved

Yesterday, Thursday, was our first full day back in Jalón and was largely a day for getting straight. With Easter approaching, a little forward planning would be required. We managed to get straight with food supplies but both the Correos [Post Office] and bank were closed..

Stick with me on this; Spain gets complicated. It seems that food shops are not allowed to be closed for two consecutive days on which they’d normally be open. Friday is usually a trading day so the food shops had to be open for business on Thursday. The post office and the bank could close and did. My local authority bill which needed paying would have to wait. The shops would be open again on Saturday, of course, but then more planning would be needed. On Sunday food shops are usually shut, it’s not a usual trading day, so doesn’t count  Easter Monday would be another closure. On Saturday we’d need food for three days. I know my mother used to a weekly shop but I’m not used tot hat now. Bloody religious festivals!

Anyway, we had a squint at the local river which was still flowing well after Spain’s proper winter. It had plenty of water but it didn’t have any dragonflies, save one fly-through which remains unidentified. It is a bit of a late starter. I suspect a combination of the altitude – the valley floor is ~700ft above sea level – and the species list, which doesn’t contain some of the earlier emergers.

I’d seen reports of activity at the nearby marsh, the marjal de Pego-Oliva. We went for an afternoon rummage there.

Our first spot produced three suspects, one of which was being flighty and not posing very well. It looked a  bit confusing, though. It became even more flighty when a couple parked and tipped out a small dachshund for a drink. The dachshund didn’t want to drink but it did scare off my suspect. Thanks. Bloody dogs. [I have to admit that it looked quite cute.] The badger hound turned dragonfly hound duly left.

Another suspect was a male Bluetailed Damselfly. I’ve been deliberately non-specific, and so to my conundrum. We have chosen an awkward part of Spain; awkward for a couple reasons, really. Firstly it is one of the drier parts of Spain and thus not greatly suited to aquatic insects such as Odonata. Secondly, it is an area of Spain where two different species of Bluetailed Damselflies co-exist, the Common Bluetail (Ischnura elegans) and the Iberian Bluetail (I. graellsii). It is the devil’s own job to snap clearly the very small distinguishing feature that differentiates the two and, for the last couple of years, I’ve not really known which we have in this marsh. We could, I imagine, actually have both but it would be nice to get a firm id on at least one. Consequently, we hopefully snap any candidate fr later study. We duly snapped this one.

J17_0686 Gomphus pulchellusContinuing to the main area our hunting improved. We were early in the season and stood a chance of seeing different species for this location. Sure enough, Francine soon spotted a Clubtail which cooperatively settled on a stem over the bank of the stream. We’ve seen this character, a Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus), in France but this was a first in Spain.

J17_0688 Erythromma lindeniiA second new species to this marsh presented itself. This is a female Blue-eye (Erythromma lindenii). It’s one of those species that makes me baulk at the BDS [British Dragonfly Society] names: Goblet-marked Damselfly, indeed. How ungainly is that? This is the female, BTW, the male does, indeed, have blue eyes making the alternative name more appealing. I confess, though, that I still refer to them as goblets, for short.

I’d heard rumours of our third new addition which, sure enough, I bumped into along a boardwalk between reed beds. Here was another example of inappropriate names: a Norfolk Hawker (Aeshna isoseles). Really? A Norfolk Hawker on the Mediterranean coast? Hmmm. I prefer the European-centric name of Green-eyed Hawker, which is, at least descriptive. Even in the UK, it is not now confined to Norfolk, as it used to be. Whatever we call it, it was flying tirelessly and, with a confusing reedy background, no photo opportunity presented itself. We did see at least two individuals, though.

J17_0695 Ischnura elegansFinally another Bluetail opportunity presented itself when we found a copulating pair in and advantageous position. I’d brought my macro lens specifically, for just such a situation. Later, I could now see enough detail to know that this male, at least, was the Common Bluetail (Ischnura elegans). I’d have preferred the other answer ‘cos that would’ve been a new species for me but I was happy to know. The little beggars apparently hybridize, too, just to make life more difficult interesting.

Good Friday lived up to its name. (Bloody religious festivals.)

Posted in 2017-Spring Spain
One comment on “Conundrum Solved
  1. Maureen Barlin says:

    Apart from “bloody religious festivals” and “bloody dogs” you seem to be having a successful dragonfly hunt!

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