Odonata in the Algarve October 2011

Odonata in the Algarve October 2011


Anax parthenope – Lesser Emperor

When not sitting on a chair in Sagres, Algarve, Portugal, scanning the skies for the next raptor to add to the day count, probably the next easiest things to see are the masses of Sympetrum, normally moving west or north. It is an impressive sight for anyone who hasn’t seen what can only be called a ‘swarm’ of darters!

A quiet day in Sagres in early October prompted me to head to a site I know reasonably well called the Boca Do Rio which provides ample opportunity to see dragonflies and darters, as well as a few birds.

When the Boca holds areas of standing water it is best described as awesome. On arrival I was greeted by a mass of Odonata of various species which numbered 50+ Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator 150+ Lesser Emperor A. parthenope the odd Vagrant Emperor A. ephippiger (though these were noticeable by their lack of number compared to recent years) 1500+ Red-viened Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii 60+ Broad Scarlet Crocothemis erythraea the odd Southern Darter S. meridionale a few Iberian Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura graellsii while my first Black Percher Diplacodes lefebvrii showed well flying past me before perching up just too far away for a picture in the impenetrable Portuguese vegetation. You get the idea? It is a bit of spectacle!!! Rather makes my Yorkshire site counts of 80 Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata look rather tame by comparison!

Anax imperator Emperor Dragonfly

Aeshna mixta Migrant Hawker

The Red-viened Darters S. fonscolombii sit reasonably well, though sometimes the wind makes getting a decent photo awkward.

While the Broad Scarlets C. erythraea are most often seen perched up sky-pointing or defending territory against just about anything that flies into their zone.

Though this washed out female/over-mature male posed a few problems for identification as its flight pattern and behaviour was total different to any others of this species I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m reasonably familiar with the species but it was good to learn from.

Having made numerous visits to the site over several years, I have an idea of what is around though its good to add new species to my area list. This time around, searching yielded a male and female Epaulet Skimmer Orthetrum chryostigma

Male above, female below

This Willow Emerald Lestes viridis one of two encountered while I had the wrong lens on the camera!

Plenty to see, and not enough time to spend doing Odonata and draining everything that could be seen in the Algarve, but it gives a taste of just what is there.

I’ve been trying to capture a decent picture to relate the idea of the number of Sympetrum in Sagres at any one time. So I’ve decided to show this evening picture showing part of the pine line viewable from the hill one evening. I’ve altered it to black and white so the wings show up a little more… and bear in mind you can only see the ones against the dark trees!

And that line of pines is about 700 metres away from the hill! Darters are everywhere, these are just the ones the camera picked up!


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