Yes, the first day of the new year and a sunny one here at the Costa Blanca. 2019, if you please. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we in the IT industry were fretting about the havoc that a change of millennium would cause to all our computer systems. In the similar intervening period a century ago we had time for a couple of bicycle engineers to get man aloft in a powered heavier-than-air craft, begin filling the world with cars and to fight one of the most senseless and bloody conflicts in European history. I guess 19 years is a long time. Following WW I part II, the European Union was originally formed to prevent further bloodbaths and this year, here we stand on the brink of turning our back on it.
Ignoring that which we are powerless to control, we went out to enjoy the sunshine. A little further up our valley is a side road offering access to a site, Pla de Peteracos, with some Neolithic paintings. Having ignored it for a year or two, we thought we’d go an have a squint at last.
Not being a historian, I had to look up Neolithic: apparently it was a.k.a. the New Stone Age and began about 12,000 years ago. If only Dulux could make paint that would last that long. We took the side road and drove up to the handy-dandy parking area created immediately below the relevant cliffs. A short walk uphill was enough to get us to the now fenced off site (apparently it had been vandalized at some point in time) and to wake up our legs and lungs. The first design proved very difficult to see, particularly for me, until I adjusted my scale – it’s quite faint, only about 3cms long and depicts a wounded deer (it says). The remaining designs were larger, stronger and more readily seen from a distance. I’ve circled the two “shelters” on the bigger picture of the cliff face better to show location.
We’d been up this road before but playing with the flowers rather than the rock art. Then just a little beyond where we now were, the metalled road continued to climb but petered out and became a rough track. It was probably passable in the days when Land Rover made proper off road vehicles but was likely to be a little less attractive to their modern Chelsea Tractors. We left our car parked a wandered up further listening to the constant 50Hz mains hum of bees in the flowers, and were surprised to note that the road now appeared to be metalled all the way. It was a little narrow but a better surface than anything in our now dilapidated road system at home. We returned to the car and drove off to see where it went.
Where it went, passing a few places where the ironing board flat road surface sides would benefit from shoring up against falling stones, was over the mountain and down into the next valley at the Vall d’Ebo, one of my dragonfly hunting spots. The sun was out but the air was chill; we had seen patches of frost in some of the constantly shaded areas. My dragonfly habitat was bathed in sunshine, though, so we stopped for a look. From the road bridge, I was surprised to see not only a dragonfly but an ovipositing female dragonfly. Along the side of the stream we found several males, basking on the rocks in the 1st January sunshine and flying occasional sorties over the water.
A New year Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) for 2019.