Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Guadalhorce Valley, Malaga Province.

Two new Dragons.

Steve and I set off for a days Dragon hunting in the Valley of the Rio Guadalhorce and on some of its tributaries. We travelled down the main road from Campillos to Malaga and made our first stop at the bridge over the Rio Grande. Several Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) were the most common species on the river but we also saw Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). As soon as we got out of the car dragonflies appeared, Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) was the first with both male and female posing, quickly follow by a less helpful male Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma). Down in the vegetation by the river we quickly realized that there was a mass emergence of Epaulet Skimmers, as we found loads of teneral insects clinging to plant stems and many exuvia of insects already flown. Here we also caught up with Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and several Broad Scarlet’s (Crocothemis erythraea), both males and females. A newly emerged insect was photographed and Steve later identified it as a teneral Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), a new colonizer from Africa, proving that the species is breeding here and not just migrating. Back near the car we found a sub adult male and full male Orange-winged Dropwing as well as an old female Epaulet Skimmer.
The next stop was at a bridge over the arroyo de Casarabonela, again there were loads of Epaulet Skimmers, Orange-winged Dropwings, Broad Scarlet’s, Violet Dropwing and the first sighting of the dragon of the day a male Ringed Cascader (Zygonyx torridus), which cruised up and down the same stretch of river the whole time we were there but only settled briefly but Steve was equally as quick with the long lens camera and managed to crack off a couple of shots (one shown in the blog, thanks Steve). A nice pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) soared over head and a couple of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) flew up and down the river feeding.
The next stop was on one of the tributaries near Pizarra called the Arroyode las Canas, again the Orange-winged Dropwing was common here along with more Epaulet Skimmers, Broad Scarlet’s, Iberian Bluetails, Violet Dropwings and our second Ringed Cascader of the day. A Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) flew off from up stream and did a wide circle around us be for dropping back in to cover a little down stream, another Booted Eagle flew over and European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) called close by.
The last stop in this valley was a little closer to Pizarra on the Rio Guadalhorce, all the above species were seen again plus several pairs of White Featherlegs (Platycnemis latipes) and Blue-eye’s / Goblet-marked Damselflies (Erythromma lindenii) were seen in tandem. Up stream there was a small shallow back water off the main river, the water here was very warm and the numbers of dragons in this small area was amazing. Birds seen at this included White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and an immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax). On the down stream side of the bridge we added the only Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) of the day but nothing else.
Our last stop of the day was on the road towards Ronda at a water extraction point on the Rio Guadalieba, again we kept up the sightings of Orange-winged Dropwing with a nice male flying around the lower pool. On the upper part of the river very good numbers of Copper Demoiselles (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) danced around in the reeds and by the car a Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa) showed nicely above ground. After getting some shots of the Demoiselles we made our way back to Sue and Clive’s and then I continued back home.
Photographs from the top: Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) female, Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma) old female, Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi) teneral and sub adult, Ringed Cascader (Zygonyx torridus) Taken by STEVE JONES of www.cornishnature.co.uk, Orange-winged Dropwing adult male and male Broad Scarlet’s (Crocothemis erythraea).

1 comment:

Steve Jones said...

A great reminder of a thoroughly enjoyable day Mick, thanks for taking the trouble of hooking up to explore these really interesting sites. I look forward to doing the same again in the future.