After a lazy Sunday recovering from our day travelling to get here – lazy apart from an early morning run back to Alicante airport to drop our hosts off for their flight back to Blighty, that is – our valley wasn’t looking too cheery this morning. The valley was dry but grey, so, after a gentle start designed to wake us up and warm the day up somewhat, we made for Calpe to investigate Las Salinas. Calpe is coastal, so it often has brighter weather and, being lower, i.e. at sea level instead of 300m up, it is usually warmer, too.
We’ve seen dragonflies, Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii), around Las Salinas, a coastal lagoon, before, out of what we would regard as season, so I was interested to see if we could find any more. We parked and began wandering but it was a little breezy and nothing was in evidence. There were Flamingos out in the middle of the lagoon. There are usually Black Stilts around, too, but I couldn’t see any sign of those. A cormorant was drying its wings.
We made our way towards a board walk with overlooks the landward side of the lagoon. There were butterflies flitting about, most of which were Painted Ladies, though there were a few bright Clouded yellows, too. There are several different species of Clouded Yellow but I’ve never seen any closely enough to begin trying to spot the differences. Irritatingly, they always sit with their wings closed.
All looked quiet at the end of the boardwalk until Francine finally spotted a movement. At some distance, I could just make out a female Red-veined Darter, perched on a grass stem in a hollow and sheltering from the wind. Surely where there was one, there should be more. We drew a blank, though, she seemed to be it. We turned back, satisfied that we’d found one but not exactly thrilled. Still, it was getting towards the end of November.
As we made our way back along the boardwalk, hawk-eyed Francine again spotted something on pine cone, flapping in the breeze. It looked like a Shieldbug of some kind but not one that we were familiar with. Despite flacking in the breeze, I managed a half-way decent shot for later (hopeful) identification. As it turned out, the twin light patches on its elytra (the wing covers are called elytra on beetles so I’m hoping that’s what they’re called on Shieldbugs, too?) made it quite easy, once found. This distinctive character rejoices in the name of Solenosthedium bilunatum, the light patches being the bilunata. Excellent, a brand new Shieldbug for the collection, and with an impressive name, too. 😀 Much more satisfied.
Approaching the car, the day had warmed a little more and we finally scared up a couple of dragonflies, both Red-veined Darters, one male and one female. They weren’t particularly cooperative at first but eventually the male settled somewhere to allow a decent line up. We scared a few more up as we progressed, about six in all, I’d say, though with them moving about so much counting is always a challenge.
It was relatively hard work but worth it in the end.