Things with Wings

J01_2301 RaindropsMonday dawned with more solid grey but the rain was mercifully missing. Yesterday’s rain was still around, though, covering the garden plants in raindrops. Since it was actually dry outside and raindrops were my only interesting subject, I experimented with some flash photography to try to make them sparkle. [Don’t ask me what the plant is – looks like a cross between a cabbage and an artichoke. :D]

To the south of us lies the Bernia, a 3000ft/1000m (ish) mountain. Surprise of surprises, in the early afternoon, we spotted what looked like a patch of blue just visible in the sky beyond it. In that direction lies Calpe, a costal town with an impressive lump of rock resembling a mini rock of Gibraltar. It also has a lagoon that is worth investigating for wildlife. Being about 250m/750ft lower than our valley floor, it’s also warmer. We headed out in the hope of something to point our cameras at.

J01_2320 Black-winged StiltJ01_2343 Calpe FlamingosThe lagoon at Calpe is a popular spot for birders. It is known for attracting flocks of Flamingos, though these tend to be more associated with the Camargue than with Spain. There were a few in residence today but they were some way out in the middle. I was more fascinated by its population of Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus) which I’d seen last year but had failed to get a decent picture. This time I concentrated on flight shots so their impressively long legs might show up.

J01_2345 Painted LadyJ01_2346 Red-veined DarterJ01_2348 Red-veined DarterThe blue sky advanced, the sun emerged and the temperature reached the dizzying heights of 18°C/65°F. The first interesting critter to appear in our new found spring-like weather was a very handsome Painted Lady butterfly (Cynthia cardui). Shortly afterwards, Francine became very animated when she spotted a dragonfly which promptly disappeared. Fortunately, after we’d been barked at by a stupid dog, our elusive Odo reappeared and settled on the ground just ahead of me. It was a not-fully-mature Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) – the abdomen was not yet fully red. In the bushes, we found his potential missus, too. 🙂

J01_2356 Lang's Short-tailed BlueJ01_2359 Lang's Short-tailed BlueOur next winged critter was my star attraction for the day, though. A blue butterfly zipped past us and settled in the grass nearby. Unusually for blues, it settled with its wings open and we managed to get several shots of a well displayed topside. Don’t quote me but I think this delightfully marked creature is Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous). We had encountered them last year but not as cooperatively as this. Upon closer examination, this beautiful creature turned out to be a new one for our catalogue, a Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus). [Well, I did say not to quote me. :)] A little further along the track we found another more traditionally displaying its underside.


Posted in 2013 Spain
9 comments on “Things with Wings
  1. Rosemary says:

    Loved the Lang’s Short-tailed Blue with almost swallow tail wings. Impressive undersides, too. Good to know the Odos think it is time to emerge from pupation.

    • Franco says:

      Delightful little butterfly, isn’t it? Technically, Odos don’t pupate but I know what you mean. 😉

      • Rosemary says:

        Just couldn’t think what the word is for nymphing!

        • Franco says:

          Ah, nymphing, I like that – I think it should be adopted.

          Generally, adult dragonflies are emerging or go through an emergence process.

          • rosemary blasdale says:

            How does an instar fit it to it all? And congrats on finding one of your elusive friends!

          • Franco says:

            Ah, hmm, an instar is a development stage of a nymph, I think. You’ll see Shield bug nymph forms referred to as 1st, 2nd, 3rd 4th, 5th instars before attaining full adult form. I think it’s to do with having to shed the hard exoskeleton to grow.

            Dragonfly young are, I think, nymphs, which tend to resemble the adult form (they have large eyes, six legs, wing buds etc) and grow through instars, rather than larvae (such as butterfly caterpillars, fly maggots, etc) which just get bigger and go through a complete metamorphosis via a pupal stage.

            But don’t quote me. 😀

  2. Franco says:

    Embarrassing correction:

    It seems that the delightfully cooperative blue butterfly featured here was actually a Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) and not Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous). Whoops!

    Correcting the text accordingly.

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