During our May trip to Spain, we’d discovered that a lot of dredging had been performed at our usual port of call in the Pego-Oliva marsh. That can be bad news because the odonata larvae living under water get dredged up along with the silt. Activity then was, indeed, very poor but we found another area on the northern edge of the marsh that was noticeably better. We wanted to see how it was doing in late August so we headed straight there.
Our first customer was one of my favourites, a delightful pink Violet Darter (Trithemis annulata). Within their range, this species is very common but the striking colour, in conjunction with the fact that I don’t live in their range and so don’t see them that much, means that I am always captivated by them and could watch them for hours. They are originally an African species that made he jump across the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain, worked its way gradually up Spain and is now continuing its northward journey through France, where it has currently made it about half way. Indeed, Southern France was where we encountered, fleetingly, our very first. To be accurate, it was Francine who encountered it but I was otherwise occupied and missed it. I cursed roundly. This one had staked out a territory beside the parking area at the beginning of our visit. I’ve seen it in our valley at Jalón before but it was new tome here.
I managed to tear myself away and we began our wander along the stream. A Blue Emperor (Anax imperator) hung up but on the opposite side of the water course so there was only a distant shot on offer. At one point, a boardwalk veered off into the reeds and, as we were getting back close to the main track, a Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria) posed beside me perfectly. It was a brief pause but it was enough for a decent shot. A second new species for this location.
Our return wander produced lots of the usual suspects, Broad Scarlets (Crocothemis erythraea) and Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii), both as common as much in this vicinity but still interesting to a Brit normally starved of exotic species. I was very pleased, though, to see yet more pink delights, the enchanting Violet Dropwings, and I just have to publish this very well posed individual showing himself off to great effect on a coordinating flower.
I was first introduced to this site by a birder with the U3A in Jalón .so it was perhaps fitting that we were entertained by a passing pair of Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata) on our return wander to the car; craning my neck up instead of down made quite a change.
We did call in to our original parking spot before leaving for some light refreshment. There were some Odos in evidence here but accessibility was not good. The most interesting we saw were Crayfish which seemed to be leaving their holes in the wet mud and engaging in some sort of tussle. I’m sure it was more than display/mating activity because at one point, one of the protagonists got flipped onto its back. Given the scarcity of our own native Crayfish in the UK now, thanks to the aggressive Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) import, I tried manfully to ignore visions of crayfish tails on toast. There are three imported species in Spain compared to just one native and I don’t know which these were. I assume they have a similar problem.