Solid Overcast and Rain

Thick, even grey clouds with frequent very wetting rain – not thrashing, just heavy and persistent. This is worse than the storm we arrived in yesterday afternoon ‘cos at least a thunderstorm is somewhat entertaining – once you can get inside Guillaume, that is.

I’ve been carrying out something of a long term lake watch at this Fanjeaux site, which we’ve been visiting for about 12 years. Once I became fascinated by odonata, this site proved to be a goldmine and we notched up 20 species, several of the damselflies being in large numbers.

About 6 years ago, a Koi Carp farmer began using the lake to rear fish intensively. Koi eat anything and everything. The lake also had Grass Carp introduced, which destroyed any floating vegetation and the odonata population plummeted. Several species clung  on in small numbers but I expressed my concern to Luc, the farmer. Mercifully the fish farmer now appears to be history and, after a 3-year gap, I was hoping to see how, if at all, the lake was recovering.

This year the lake is very full after a persistently wet spring. It is, though, a very muddy brown colour with all the run off from the surrounding quagmires that pass for fields. Because of the conditions, Luc is very behind with his crops which he needs to feed and care for his 300 sheep.

Unfortunately, the persistently wet spring seems to be continuing and, unless conditions improve, both Luc and I will have problems with our tasks. Luc’s tasks are much more important, of course. However, in one rain interval today we did find a few damselflies, three species in all, sheltering in the vegetation beside the lake:

  • Common Bluetail (Ischnura elegans)
  • Small Redeye (Erythromma viridulum)
  • Migrant Spreadwing/Southern Emerald Damselfly (Lestes barabrus)

J18_0858 Lestes barbarusSurprisingly, one of these, the Migrant Spreadwing/Southern Emerald Damselfly (Lestes barabrus) is a new species for this site, making 21 species in all over the years. I doubt that this species count would be seen here in any conditions currently but nature tends to find a way, if left to its own devices.

I can’t recall seeing L. barbarus in the near vicinity so I’m wondering where it might have come in from. I did actually also see a dragonfly, probably a Skimmer, zooming about but it is yet to be identified. A new species may, however, indicate that the lake is being recolonized gradually.

If the weather ever improves, I may get the chance to find out.

Posted in 2018 France

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