For our last day in Les Alpilles we thought we’d call into another noted wildlife habitat and Odonata spotting spot in these parts called the Étang des Aulnes. It’s a Sunday and, being a fishermans’ hang out, I was rather afraid it would be busy with French fishermen avoiding the French equivalent of ‘er indoors, rather as fishermen do in the UK. My fears were unfounded; there was but one other car in the car park and nobody from it was in evidence. We had the place to ourselves.
The main étang is pretty big, nothing even approaching the Étang de Vaccarès in that you can see the other side of it, but big nonetheless. Much better for Odo-spotting are smaller bodies of water. This area came with a series of three small, straight (clearly man-made) “finger-lakes” which is where we concentrated our efforts.
Most of what we saw were the now familiar usual suspects in these parts … until we focussed on what I first assumed to be a Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum). It didn’t look quite right, though, in that the abdomen appeared to have gone pruinose, a feature I didn’t think I’d seen before. Looking at the photos later, I noticed that the eyes and frons are also blue-ish. Enter our sixth new species: a suspected Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum). (I say suspected because, never having seen one before, I need more expert confirmation.) The book shows no black tip to the tail but I’m pretty sure this is just down to wear and tear after a hard season’s reproduction together with territorial disputes.
Whose a happy camper, then? 🙂