Friend Mike was keen to show us a few parts of “the marsh” with which we would probably be unfamiliar. Two in particular that he had in mind were less than straightforward for a local to find. Nonetheless, find them we did. Mike thought they might be reasonable sites for a dragonfly spotter, too. He was quite right on both counts.
Turning off a tarmac road, we trundled down a long forest track, past a man logging trees, and ended up at the far end of the track at a T-junction of two modestly sized drainage canals. The Marais Poitevin is tagged as the “Venice Verte” [green Venice] because the canals were largely covered, and I do mean covered, in floating duckweed making the canals a vivid green colour. However, following a relatively recent clean-up operation involving a new sewage plant – apparently raw sewage used to flow into the water system – the great majority of the duckweed has disappeared and the green water covering is no more. Frankly, some of the photographic charm of the marais is now missing, though I’m sure the environment will be better off. A new epithet for the Marais Poitevin may be required.
The canals T-junction was, indeed, a good spot for dragons, as well as for catching crayfish which is what Mike does here. It was particularly good for some of the dragonfly species that develop a pale blue covering of pruinosity, what Francine and I like to refer to collectively as prunes. A Scarce Chaser/Blue Chaser (Libellula fulva) was flitting about the junction itself. Up the smaller side arm a couple of Broad-bodied Chasers (Libellula depressa) were hunting, one of which posed advantageously. A Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) also zoomed past me but my biggest surprise, because I don’t recall seeing the species here before, was a couple of White-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum albistylum), including an ovipositing female. Quite a collection of prunes. 🙂
We needed to time our escape because the logger occasionally left his enormous log-dragging tractor blocking the forest track while he disappeared off into the forest. Making a suitably timed run for it, where we escape to was a delightful mill on the river just outside Niort. Here, dozens of Banded Demoiselles (Calopteryx splendens) were flitting about the picturesquely arranged lily pads. I was expecting to find a Redeye of some sort, given all the leaves to sit on, but, no, not a one that I could see. There were a good number of the common-as-muck-around-here related Blue-eyes/Goblet-marked Damselflies (Erythromma lindenii), though, and a good smattering of Common Bluetails (Ischnura elegans). The large river (the Sèvre Niortaise) produced a Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus), a Blue Emperor/Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) and a host more Blue Chasers.
11 species for the day. Here’s a couple of the nicer shots, plus the White-tailed Skimmer just ‘cos it’s a first in this area.