On 22nd December, the day after we arrived in Jalón, a search along the local river produce half a dozen or more Darters still active in the warm winter sunshine. Some debate ensued in a Spanish interest group and I’ve finally settled on the decision that these late season fliers are Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum).
This identification makes sense. The Common Darters are the last on the wing in the UK where they often persist into November and occasionally, if conditions are good, into December. Such was definitely not the case this year.
In 2016 [Xmas 2015 trip] I did find a few individuals flying in Jalón on January 3rd, which was then my latest ever European record. Today, on January 4th and with an afternoon of bright, warm sunshine, I couldn’t resist another look along the local river to see if I could push that date a little further.
The first two spots where I had encountered them before Xmas produced nothing. I continued to draw blanks at the final two spots until, as I had given up and was returning, I spotted a lone male perched and hunting from a sunny stem at the ford where ovipositing had been going on previously.
Here he is. He even posed advantageously. He looked a bit lonely, possibly the last of the few, though there may well have been others that I’d missed. This handsome character now becomes my latest European record.