After yesterday’s scare with our engine-shaped warning light in the car, today when I started the car all appeared to be normal. I’m going to be nervous for some time.
As this is our first visit in the midst of dragonfly season, I wanted to go and investigate the Riú Xaló-Gorgos, the river which flows through the valley and Jalon itself. We’ve seen the river swell to a fierce torrent capable of washing cars downstream in the winter months but now, in summer, it is a much calmer affair. There are several fords, hence the cars being bowled downstream, all of which are now largely dry, and the flow rate is much slower. My plan was to park in town and walk upstream towards a dammed area which widens out into a modestly sized lake.
I followed the river checking various areas where I could access the water as I came across them. Nothing, not a sausage, pas un chat as the French say. I wonder what the equivalent Spanish phrase might be?
Once far enough upstream, I fought my way through the undergrowth to a wider area of water just beneath the dam. Still nothing, still not a sausage, encore pas un chat as the French continue to say.
Fearing that this river might not actually support any populations of Odonata, I moved up above the dam and fought my way through yet more undergrowth and tall grasses in an effort to get somewhere near the water’s edge. Ah ha, finally I disturbed a dragon, a Broad Scarlet/Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea). These brilliant red dragonflies can be seen in the UK on occasion but I’m most used to seeing them in the south of France. Beside the Scarlet, perched just over the water, was another one of my friends that does occur commonly in England, a Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).
My best find of the afternoon, however, was a little further back from the water where I discovered one of my favourites, a Violet Dropwing/Violet-marked Darter (Trithemis annulata). These rather gaudily pink males are colourful at any time but in the lighting conditions here, this one looked spectacular, I thought. Very happy snapper!
I did also spot a Blue-tailed Damselfly which remains a bit of a mystery. There are two possible suspects in this neck of the woods, the “regular” Blue-tailed Damselfly/Common Bluetail (Ischnura elegans) and the Iberian Bluetail (I. graellsii), both of which look painfully similar. Just to make life even more challenging, in areas where the two species overlap, as here, they apparently hybridize. I think I’m going to need a targeted photo, now that I know what to look for, to decide what I think they are – assuming I can find them again, of course.