Anax ephippiger is a wanderer and an opportunist; it can turn up almost anywhere but it is most common in southern Europe and Africa. Henri Dumont (pers comm) reported seeing literally millions around lakes in the Sahara.
I first saw it in the Gambia in the 1990s and although I have recorded it in many parts of Spain these have only been isolated records. On Saturday (11-March) we arrived in Aguadulce; the weather was good and, most importantly here, there was very little wind. The forecast looked bad so we decided to walk to my favourite pond on the coast. We arrived and the only dragonfly around was A. ephippiger and mostly copulas (I managed one photo – see Facebook). What luck!! Unfortunately, the pond was as full as I have ever seen it; I peered through the reeds and there were at least 6 pairs looking to oviposit. To see them properly I would have to get in the water; but I had no equipment, close observation would have to wait. I tried next day but the wind was a gale and the temperature had dropped, no sign of any dragonflies. On the following days, The weather got even worse with winds gusting to 80 km/hr and torrential rain causing torrents in the Rambla in Aguadulce.
On Wednesday 15-March we went north to Cazorla and then to the Subbeticas returning on the following Wednesday. On Tuesday 21-March we looked at the weather forecast for Aguadulce. It had been fine with high temperatures and the wind had dropped but it was due to increase again on Wednesday afternoon. Next morning we drove straight back to the coast. The weather had clearly been good as all the snow on the Sierra de Gador had disappeared; but The palms were blowing ominously and when we arrived at the pond there was indeed a strong breeze. Had I blown it? Was I too late? On went the dry suit and I ventured to the edge of the pond fearing. There they were, at least three pairs, which, because of the wind, were searching out broken reed stems floating in the sheltered side of the pond. Up to my waist in the pond I just had to wait and let the beasts get used to me. Two pairs obliged and I was able to observe them oviposit closely. Just half an hour later the wind had become so strong that the insects disappeared. We had timed it just right. Luck is usually the key but as Gary Player the great golfer once said. “The more I practice, the luckier I get”.