Spain, Apr 2018

The crappy cold grey weather that some may think passes for spring in the UK was getting us down so much that we booked a return trip to Spain for 2½ weeks of respite care. This was, of course, a flying trip. SqueasyJet had flight prices that we could hardly resist.

We’d be in Spain for the last two weeks of April and a few days at the beginning of May. I was aware that in doing so I would probably miss the first Large Red Damselflies of the new Bedfordshire year but if the current weather trend were to continue I rather doubted it. Besides, why not go and try to see something more interesting at the start of the Spanish year? I did miss them, of course, ad the weather naturally changed so I missed the two or three days of unseasonably warm weather that would undoubtedly constitute spring in the UK and probably summer, too. That remains to be seen and let’s hope I’m wrong.

Things began quite slowly. I’m always a little surprised that the start of the Spanish doesn’t seem that far ahead of the UK considering that the end of their season can extend throughout January and into February in the more southern areas – a decent two months longer than the UK. Sightings soon picked up though, with 10 species, 9 of which were Anisopterans, being recorded before May began.

We tried to find two new locations, one successfully and one less so. This is explained below after the locations map.

Riu Jalón-Gorgos, Jalón, 14, 22, 27 Apr [#1]

J18_1965  Trithemis kirbyiOur local river in Spain so quite closely watched. The valley floor is a shade over 200m so we have a bit of altitude keeping us cooler, longer. Hence, I think, the quite slow start. The first thing we saw on 14th April was the Blue Emperor (Anax imperator) and we didn’t see it again. Curious. The later appearance of an Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi) cheered the spirits, though, even if it was less than completely cooperative.

So, this list of three species may be a little misleading in that we saw just one Blue Emperor once, one Orange-winged Dropwing once, and, I think, three Common Bluletails once. No consistency over a two week period, then.

  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Trithemis kirbyi (Orange-winged Dropwing)

Marjal de Pego-Oliva, 15, 28 Apr [#2]

J18_1985  Aeshna isoceles30 minutes from “home”, this is definitely the star local location. Apart from anything else, it’s a pleasant walk in a rural setting with (usually) few noisy members of Joe Public to suffer. It’s a reliable location for Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), together with, at the right season, Green-eyed Hawker/Norfok Hawker (Aershna isoceles). I had been wondering if the latter would appear before we headed home and so they did, in good numbers – we counted at least 10. None of ‘em stopped, though. 😉

J18_1862 Gomphus pulchellus femaleWe were also very lucky to see the maiden flight of a a Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus) which, I’m told by a local Spaniard, is quite rare in the Alicante region.

  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Aeshna isoceles (Green-eyed Hawker)
  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Gomphus pulchellus (Western Clubtail)
  • Crocothemis erythraea (Broad Scarlet)
  • Trithemis annulata (Violet Dropwing)

Parque Natural el Hondo, 17, 29 Apr [#3]

J18_1995  Ischnura elegansNormally one of my favourite locations, albeit about 90-minutes distant, this proved disappointing this time around over two visits. Mind you, we did suffer high winds so I think most critters were hunkered down.

  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Sympetrum fonscolombii (Red-veined Darter)

Las Salinas, Calpe, 17, 24 Apr [#4]

J18_1959  Sympetrum fonscolombii maleBeing what I suspect is, at best, a brackish lagoon, this is never a species-rich environment but it is reliable for Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombi) so we keep an eye on it. Only our later visit produced any. [The resident Flamingos can be fun, too.]

  • Anax imperator (Blue Emperor)
  • Sympetrum fonscolombii (Red-veined Darter)

Clot de Galvany, 17 Apr [#5]

[No, I have no idea what a clot is.]

J18_1882 Orthetrum cancellatum maleCarol spotted this new location on our map as we were searching for another [see below]. We found it relatively easily and road parking immediately outside the reserve was plentiful – at least, it was plentiful out of holiday season though that may change in the height of the season given the amount of apartments beside the road. We had a little difficulty finding our way in  but once in the paths were great.

Unfortunately from a dragonfly enthusiast’s viewpoint, the two smaller water bodies are completely enclosed and obscured by high fencing, apart from a single bird hide at each one. Thus, unless a dragonfly chooses to fly in front of the hide, you don’t see much. So, god for birders, less good for odo-nutters. 😉

Here’s what we did see.

  • Ischnura elegans (Common Bluetail)
  • Anax parthenope (Lesser Emperor)
  • Orthetrum cancellatum (Black-tailed Skimmer)
  • Sympetrum fonscolombii (Red-veined Darter)

Lagunas de Rabasa, 29 Apr [black pin]

This was basically a failure, so I’ve left it unnumbered, but I wanted to mention it to explain.

I learned of this from a Spanish contact and the site supposedly supports a population of Common Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fusca), hence my interest. We tried to access the site on both trips down to Hondo [#3]. On the first attempt we got tied up in a maze of residential streets with no way through and bailed out. Our second attempt got us to the correct location BUT this is essentially an old industrial wasteland.There are three permanent lagoons, quite deep, created by clay extraction for use in the manufacture of ceramics. In appearance, it is decidedly unattractive, not at all a welcoming sight (or site), requiring either driving down some very rough dirt/rock tracks to gain access to the three water bodies, or abandoning ones vehicle at some more suitable point followed by a lengthy walk. Given our brand-spanking-new rental car with little ground clearance, I really didn’t want either to abandon it to walk [the area looked less than salubrious] or to risk knocking out its sump trying to drive in.

A ready beaten up SUV with decent ground clearance might be another matter. If I’m ever here with a suitable vehicle, I may try again, now I know where it is. Until then, though, it’s off my list.

Posted in 2018, Spain, Trip reports

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