Until 2009, there was just the Banded Groundling (Brachythemis leucosticta), a species of African origin. Then K-D Dijkstra & Nataly Matushkina suggested that it was really two separate “morphotypes” based upon differences they noticed in the field. Since the two races seemed geographically split, north and south, other than a band of overlap where they coexist, The Northern Banded Groundling (Brachythemis impartita) was born, with the Southern Banded Groundling retaining the original binomial name (Brachythemis leucosticta).
This was all in the categories of interesting and immaterial to us until we came across our first ever specimens in Spain at the Parque Natural del Hondo (near Alicante) in 2016. A new species is always a thrill but this is especially so when they follow you around landing at your feet, seemingly asking to be photographed. These delightful characters supposedly follow “large mammals” closely after disturbed prey items. They certainly followed us. The only requirement is to have a lens with a close enough MFD. At 1.8m with me being 1.85m tall, mine was proving difficult. We managed to get some shots, though, and retired very happy bunnies, though I may well return again with a more suitable lens.
The males’ wing banding position and size make these pretty much unmistakable in the European arena.
- ♂ & ♀ – light cream pterostigmas
- ♂ & ♀ – eyes appear striped
- ♂ – wings banded, darker when mature, from node to short of pterostigmas
- ♂ (mature) – dark blue/black abdomen and thorax
- ♂ (immature) – coloured as female but wings usually lightly banded
- ♀ – sandy/cream coloured abdomen and thorax