Partly just because we hadn’t visited yet and partly to check out the little wildlife oasis, today we headed off to Moraira. We headed off early before it got too hot. The forecasters were suggesting very warm temperatures hitting 40°C. Mind you, by the time we’d got our act together and arrived, life was already simmering gently in the high 30s. Mornings seem to evaporate in Spain. I think this temporal evaporation is something to do with the silly time zone that Spain puts itself on. Given its latitude, my opinion is that it should really be in the same time zone as the UK but no, it’s on central European time, one hour ahead.
Anyway, arrive we did and as we did so, we could see a pall of dark smoke over the hills to the north of Moraira, off in the direction of Javea. “Nasty”, we mused, continuing our wander towards the little wildlife habitat of marjal del Senillar. More of this, later.
We spotted a few of the usual Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) suspects fairly quickly; exciting for a Brit who doesn’t travel but common as muck sur le continent. Then we strained over the fence and spotted something new, a Bluetail, which was new to this spot for me. Bluetails are a bugger, here, since two almost identical species co-exist, Common Bluetails (Ischnura elegans) and Iberian Bluetails (Ischnura graellsii). Separating these two is a bastard – so much of a bastard that I’ve thus far been unable to do so and resorted to calling them “CoBerian” Bluetails. They are known to hybridize, making life even more difficult.
The marjal is a bit of a bugger, too, since it’s fenced off with no public access. Frustratingly, I could see at least two larger dragonflies patrolling a patch of watery habitat in the inaccessible centre. Then, almost completing our circuit of the perimeter, a stranger asked if we were after birds. “No, dragonflies”, replied Francine. “We can see them in the middle but it’s too far for reliable identification. Our new acquaintance was wearing a volunteers shirt, which Francine recognized, those that look after this habitat. Spotting the cameras, “You can come in with me, if you like”, he offered. Wow, what luck and how kind. We bit his arm off, naturally.
Once inside, my paltry species count of three for this habitat, increased to seven. There were both Blue Emperors (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope) cruising about. Not only were they cruising but they hung up quite frequently, too, for pictures. With the temperature now up at 38°C/100°F, I wondered if things were getting a bit hot even for dragonflies to fly and if they were resting more frequently. Research required.
Whilst trying to photograph another new species for this site, a Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), I managed to lose the foot of my monopod in mud. The monopod slipped off the edge and buried itself by 10cms or so. When I puled it out, behold, no rubber foot. “Bugger”, or words to that effect. This has happened before but previously I hadn’t noticed in a timely fashion. At least now I did and new where to dig to retrieve said foot. I do hope this shot is worth it.
We thanked our new friend profusely and he asked for some photos to be sent to the volunteers. Happy to oblige.
Back to the smoke. This was due, we now learned, to a fire deliberately started at three points by arsonists. There was some thought that it might have been done by developers (burned land can be built on here, for some unaccountable reason) but it now seems that some teenagers have been arrested for the crime. IMHO, a very slow and very painful death should ensue. Mankind is incredible, isn’t he? In the space of an hour, we’d met a very pleasant and helpful environmental volunteer, and heard about degenerates heinous enough to start a life-threatening wild fire destroying property and habitat.
I despair. The planet would do better without us.