Today we thought we’d try and find some wildlife habitats further from home and drove a few kilometres to the Étang de Cistude. (Cistude is, apparently the European Pond Tortoise which, I assume means European Terrapin in proper English.) Here we found a reception shack run by the WWF with a few books that I’d like to have bought but didn’t – very restrained! There was also a boardwalk to an observatory relatively full of ornithological anoraks with spotting scopes. Excellent – more power to them!
We did go into the hide and looked but little grabbed us and we were, of course, were more interested in the small flying critters lurking about in the grass. The weather wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great, either. Francine soon spotted a few damsels hunkering down in the undergrowth, some of which were clearly emeralds, so we snapped away for good measure.
We tried another hide in another reserve on the way back but that was a dead loss, frankly.
In the afternoon we returned to our own small “no-fishing” lake where we found more subjects including some more cooperative emerald damselflies. Again, we snapped away for good measure assuming they were well known suspects.
We really should have realised that these were smaller than our previously observed emeralds. These were very different and very new – to us, that is. Having eliminated all other emeralds by comparing one feature or another, it is clear to me that the examples from both locations are Small Emerald Damselflies (Lestes virens). I’ll go further, I’m pretty convinced that these are examples of subspecies vestalis. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a more attractive, delicate creature. Generally emerald damselflies are quite large; how we managed to not notice that these were clearly considerably smaller eludes me. Lets put it down to concentrating on getting the shot.
2½ new species in 2½ days. Astonishing!