It's been a very strange year. In May I went to Spain with Pete; It poured with rain everyday and we saw virtually nothing. In June down to the Rio Mundo in search of rice paddies (new habitat for me), Not operating this year; it's probably easier to grow cabbages. With all the rain in May I thought that perhaps the Laguna de la Zaida would be flooded; no chance (see above). In Almeria in May I achieved some success by finding Zygonyx torridus at a new site in the Province (first record). Incessant strong winds seemed to dominate the weather for much of the summer but on my last trip to Almeria the conditions stilled and I had some wonderful days full of dragonflies
"If I sit by a river in Spain long enough, I am bound to meet Dave Chelmick. But I thought it might take longer than 5 minutes." The words of Geoff Gowlett whom I met on an Arroyo in Southern Spain last week. A fabulous day in wonderful habitat and grateful thanks to Paul Winter for all his help.
The best laid plans for the year were to keep this blog up to date - what a failure I have been; I'll try to do better in future
I was looking on the web about the Nacimiento de Tajo and, to my surprise, one of my trip reports was a reference. My old website :www.Macromia.com is now defunct and all the trip reports there are unavailable. My aim is to put them all on here (go to trip reports page).
Today, I have uploaded all the Spain reports. They may be of interest.
I spend a lot of time in Spain; I have had some good trips and not so good trips but frankly everything is serendipity. Let me show you what I mean.
This last trip was based around my favourite pond: the Balsa del Pinar near Teruel. Only Chelmick can base a whole trip around one pond! The species that interest me are Lestids; a family of damselflies that breed in temporary ponds as they can't cope with fish. the Balsa has four species of Lestids: L. virens, L. barbarus, L. sponsa and L. dryas. In 2012 the Balsa was dry and only filled again in 2015 when the Lestids all reappeared. Last week the Balsa was, once again, almost dry; just a small area of water with a few Anax and Enallagma present. No Lestes sponsa or L.dryas on this trip - or so I thought.
Driving back to Madrid on the last day, my wife decided that we should go via Albarracin and the Sierra de Cuenca. This took us by the Nacimeinto de Tajo (the source of the River Tagus which flows past Madrid and reaches the sea at Lisbon, Portugal). This site has a large monument which Chris spotted and decided that she wanted to look at it. I turned the car round and parked. Now, I have been here many times, there is a pond which has never been very good but I decided to go and look at it. The picture above shows what I found. It was superb and guess what, full of Lestes sponsa. which I had never seen here before. Serendipity or what!!
As Mike Tyson once said "Everyone has a plan til they get knocked out". Well we got knocked out in our first week. The plan was to look at sites in Toledo (the most under recorded province in Spain for dragonflies) and Extremadura but the weather knocked us out. Continuous rain for a whole week; it didn't let up until Pedro got his plane back to UK.
Even then when the rain stopped everywhere was so cold. last year the tanks in Almeria were buzzing with Othetrums, Selysiothemis. This year virtually nothing. Even down on the dune ponds it was a struggle to see anything. My final week up in Teruel was equally dissappointing. Last year Sympecma was everywhere laying on any emergent object; this year so few. I came home early ; no point in staying on.
I did get lots of exuviae including Zygonyx from an Almerian river (first for the province). When I sort out all the material I suspect that the trip will prove to have been useful but right now I'm still licking my wounds.
To sum it up I was driving over the Sierra de Cuenca on my last day. Admittedly I was at 5,000 feet but the thermometer was on 6 deg C. at midday!!
No recent posts folks; I've been getting ready for the Spain epic.:
I have been analysing the dragonflies of Iberia using the new European Atlas. You can find the page under Dragonflies of Iberia - Where are we now?
I was at a BDS meeting last week and Adrian Parr suggested that what we are missing in the dragonfly world is a "Why" Group. Most dragonfly work is centred upon "Where" but in some cases the bigger question is Why.
Grasping the idea, I have put a "Why" page on the site. Hopefully it will stimulate some discussion
John Luck and I have just finished at paper for the BDS Journal on Lestids in the Weald. One of the species is Lestes dryas and its recent find in the High Weald. The map above is taken from Ordnance Survey Explorer 125. Look carefully and you will see a landscape peppered with ponds. Be they marl pits or whatever purpose they could all be habitat for Lestes dryas; the problem is that we don't know because most are on private farmland.
This is a great opportunity. Take a leaf out of John Luck's book.He searched his map, located the ponds and their farms and then guess what, he went and knocked on the farmer's door and asked permission. It worked, the farmer was very cooperative and John visited his ponds. On two of those ponds Lestes dryas was found. These ponds could be its most important habitat in the Weald.
The answer depends on you. It would be great to have a WEDG meeting this autumn reviewing all your finds.
I have added a new section into the dragonflies of Iberia page. It relates to wetlands and describes may favourite habitats. I start with a lake that isn't a lake!! Enjoy