After a few days of damp weather that peaked towards indifferent, today dawned with crystal clear blue skies. We’d used the rubbish weather to seek out a half piglet for our freezer ready for the festivities but now we were looking forward to getting out into the surrounding countryside à pied. After a few necessary chores, I slung my camera and monopod over my shoulder and headed out into the vineyards lying between Jalón and Lliber [pronounced “Yee-bear”].
It really is amazing what difference a blue sky makes to ones demeanour. It makes a difference to the demeanour of the wildlife, too. I spotted a few Small White butterflies flitting around the hedgerows and lines of vines but I was toting my camera largely for the birds which are always there. Regrettably, the birds proved to be very skittish and always too far away, even with a 300mm lens plus 1.4 extender on a 1.6 crop factor camera body; I began to wonder why I’d bothered. The old vines still held a few small unwanted bunches of grapes. I don’t know if these were what the birds were after or whether their target were insects. Had I been able to identify them, maybe I’d have known their diet.
We continued back along the river towards Jalón, always keeping eyes open for dragonflies. Normally at this time in late December I wouldn’t have been concerned about dragonflies but host Chris claimed to have seen one fly through his garden not too long before we arrived. Other than a few more Small Whites in the surrounding fields, though, the river appeared deserted.
Back in Jalón, we headed for Casa Aleluya in search of a coffee. We wandered past a small pool in the river that seemed to be something of a sun trap and our eyes caught some movement. Lo and behold, not only dragonflies but ovipositing dragonflies. The path was too far away but a lengthy diversion and scramble over some of the river rocks got me to within shooting distance – Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum), unsurprisingly, they are late season specialists, after all. Given that fellow Odo-nutters had been spotting Common Darters in Hampshire in the earlier days of December, I supposed I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was still activity this much further south in Spain. Curiously, I had not found this species here in August.
Toting my camera was a wise decision after all.