Having got beyond April Fool’s Day without a glitch, we used another good weather day to investigate the nearby Marjal de Pego-Oliva. Jalon’s valley floor is about 700 feet above sea level and, though we’d thus far drawn an Odonata blank there, I wondered if the low-lying marsh, essentially at sea level, would be warmer sooner and might produce an earlier result. We drove out the 20 minutes and found our favoured parking spot from a couple of previous visits.
We began by studying the ditches near the road. Everything was very quiet and things did not look promising, though a Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) did glide about on the far side of the marsh for a time, too far away for anything but an identification shot.
We wandered further into the marsh. Eventually Francine spotted a movement and managed to keep track of it. “It” settled on a grass stem in the verge of the track and proved to be a female Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). Though not ideally placed for a photograph, she was our first of 2015.
Once our first spot disappeared from our sight, we continued. Soon, other wings were seen fluttering up but, in the brisk breeze, they typically disappeared almost as soon as they had appeared. We cut sideways down a waterway that had proved productive a few years ago. Sure enough, more glistening wings fluttered up in the breeze. The shining wings and relatively colourless pterostigmas indicated that these were teneral – it was a day for emergence.
Lower down we spotted a couple of Bluetails. Bluetails are tricky in this neck of the woods because two very similar species overlap, the Common Bluetail (Ischura elegans) and the Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii). Not only do both exist here but they apparently hybridize making determination yet more tricky. I will resist being drawn, though I may seek some local opinion if I can find it. There’s a Spanish Dragonfly group on Facebook that may be able to help. Eventually, I tried taking some shots of a rufescens female that might help with the distinguishing features. Fingers crossed!
Around the time I was flat on my less-than-flat belly taking that previoius shot, another Red-veined Darter finally posed advantageously with its wings held aloft in the breeze. I retired from the field of battle a very happy camper. 2015 is underway, in Spain, at least.