Friday, 28 August 2009


This week I have been in Portugal with my family. Stolen moments during siesta have produced some results for my burgeoning dragonfly list with 6 lifers.
We were staying at Meia Praia in Lagos in the western Algarve. Betweeen our hotel and the beach is an area of dunes. A boardwalk ensures as much as possible that the dunes receive a small level of protection from the eager feet making for the beach. Grass and plants growing from the dunes provided perches for a good number of Red-veined Darters. They even came up to our pool area and I was able to watch them from my sunbed.
Close to Lagos is a small town called Alvor. It has a sanctuary which I hoped would have a freshwater section for the odes, but I had to make do with a tiny hole about 4m by 3m. It was a dribble that was used to water a tied-up horse, but it was permanent and just big enough to hold odonata. In fact, I was surprised by the number of species in such a small microcosm.
First and most obvious was a Broad Scarlet. It caused me much confusion as I did not think the abdomen was broad enough at first. Also, there were some black markings on the abdomen which my field guide told me there should not be. I found a tiny Iberian Bluetail quietly resting among the bank-side vegetation while I waited for a good picture of the scarlet. The Epaulet Skimmer caused me some ID issues as well. He is supposed to only rarely settle on the ground, yet this one seemed to prefer the ground to perching on any of the numerous available raised vantage points. The pinched abdomen was very obvious and I ended up wondering why I doubted myself.
The Lesser Emperor put in a fleeting performance, not settling at all, but the striking yellow band at the top of the abdomen was clear to see even with the naked eye.

A short drive from Lagos is the Baragem da Bravura, a large dam. Below the dam at the base of the wall a tiny dribble provides enough water for life to exist in the deeper holes of the outflow stream. Again, the profusion of odonata in such a small area surprised me. All of the anisoptera were repeated here and the new one was the Violet Dropwing. I was especially pleased to see this one as I recalled one catching my attention on a previous trip to Portugal. Not wanting to tick it retrospectively without any supporting evidence, it was worth the long climb up and down the wall of the dam.
The Lesser Emperor was again restless and did not seem inclined to stop for a picture until I saw one across the puddle, settle on a stalk.

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