French Catalonia, Jun 2014

A.k.a. France 2014, Part 2.

After our return to Provence looking for dragonflies, we spent four days at Loupian near the Bassin de Thau for a spot of rest and relaxation, including some photographic exercise for Carol. Then we were off to pastures new.

A friend of ours, a fellow Odo-nutter, has a house in Montesquieu-des-Albères at the eastern end of the Pyrenees, just a spit south of Perpignan and above the Spanish Border. The chance to see somewhere new and call in to say hello proved irresistible, especially as he had offered to show us one of his favourite odo-spotting sites together with a BBQ and some light refreshment. We’d never been anywhere near Perpignan before so the prospect was quite exciting.

We made our main approach down the very windy A9 autoroute. The windy conditions are, apparently, by no means unusual. Billy got buffeted about a bit, and the almost nose-to-tail trucks travelling between France and Spain didn’t help. Eventually we skirted inland and headed for our chosen campsite in completely unfamiliar territory at Llauro, on top of an exposed hill but offering views to the valley beneath. Regrettably it was an ACSI campsite, ACSI being the Dutch camping mafia. The campsite was adequate but that’s as far as I’d go. Our arrival coincided with the arrival of the Tramontane blowing a hoolie along the Pyrenees so life got “interesting”.

OK, the area in question is Les Albères, a modest group of mountains on the French side of the Pyrenees. This used to be Spanish, part of historic Catalonia, before the Treaty of the Pyrenees. Now it is French but the flag you see flying is the Catalan flag.

This was a relatively brief stay of three days, largely because we got tired of the Tramontane. SO, Odo-spotting opportunities were limited to two sites.

Plan d’Eau, Saint-Jean-Pla-de-Corts [#1]

J14_1287 Violet and ScarletWith little time to get to know our new area, our attention was grabbed by a sign indicating a plan d’eau off one of the roundabouts in the valley. Being a leisure lake, it didn’t look terribly promising at first. However, moving away from the cordoned-off swimming area to an end of the lake with emergent vegetation, we soon started notching up species. My highlight came when I spotted a beautiful male Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) flitting about. Although I messed up the picture DoF, it eventually perched very near a Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), making a delightful colour combination and showing an interesting difference in size.

  • Ischnura elegans (Blue-tailed Damselfly)
  • Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Blue Damselfly)
  • Erythromma lindenii (Goblet-marked Damselfly)
  • Platycnemis acutipennis (Orange Featherleg)
  • Platycnemis latipes (White Featherleg)
  • Anax imperator (Emperor Dragonfly)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Scarlet Darter)
  • Trithemis annulata (Violet Dropwing)

River Tech, Montesquieu-des-Albères [#2]

J14_1299 Onychogomphus forcipatus femaleThis was our friend’s local patch so we had a guide who knew the little side roads that lead us to the river side. The river was flowing moderately briskly and there was a shingle bank at the side enabling us to approach closely. At last, excellent access and no members of Joe Public. There were some very good sunlit rocks, too, which were proving irresistible to Pincertails, Small Pincertails (Onychogomphus forcipatus) in this case. Our first customer produced my first ever encounter with the female of this species. Furthermore, a decent side shot of one of the males was enough to convince me that at least some were a new subspecies for me, O. f. unguiculatus.

We think the place produced all three species of Featherlegs, too, though I’d like more photographic evidence of P. pennipes.

Good day!

  • Calopteryx xanthostoma (Western Demoiselle)
  • Ischnura elegans (Blue-tailed Damselfly)
  • Erythromma lindenii (Goblet-marked Damselfly)
  • Ceriagrion tenellum (Small Red Damselfly)
  • Platycnemis pennipes (White-legged Damselfly)
  • Platycnemis acutipennis (Orange Featherleg)
  • Platycnemis latipes (White Featherleg)
  • Onychogomphus forcipatus (Small Pincertail)
  • Orthetrum coerulescens (Keeled Skimmer)
  • Sympetrum striolatum (Common Darter) ?
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Scarlet Darter)

Technorati Tags: nature,wildlife,dragonflies,damselflies,odonata,travel,France

Posted in 2014, France, Trip reports

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