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Saturday, 15 December 2018

In The Beginning .......... - May, 2003 !

Although my interest in dragonflies and damselflies only started blossoming around five years ago, that interest has been bubbling just below the surface since I was about 10 years old!

Over the past year or so, a few times my thoughts have returned to a short stay that Lindsay and I had on the Mediterranean island of Sardegna. On the last day of that stay, I remember visiting a lake in the north west of the island that was very rich in dragonflies, I also remembered attempting to photograph a few. This week I decided to try and find those photos - and I did! I also managed to pinpoint which lake it was that I visited.

I warn you here and now that the photography is not great! I was using a forerunner of the modern bridge camera - the Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi. This only had a 5 megapixel sensor and on a good day the batteries would allow you to take around 80 shots before they needed recharging! I was also not adept at using this on wildlife as I was mainly photographing trains at that time! I'd originally intended to just show the dragons and damsels in this post, but I decided to include a few other items too.

Sunday 11th May, 2003

We arrived at Alghero airport in Sardegna, picked up our hire car, and set off for our hotel, which was the Hotel Catalunya. We checked in to find that we'd been allocated a 'junior suit' , which was rather splendid. The view from our private lounge wasn't too bad either!

view from our 'junior suite' in the Hotel Catalunya
The day was spent exploring the town. However, I did take a photo of a dragonfly by the harbour. I didn't attempt to identify it at the time, but I'm now fairly certain that this was a Scarlet Dragonfly.

Scarlet Dragonfly (Crocothemis erythraea) (male) - Alghero, Sardegna
Monday 12th May, 2003

Much of the day was spent exploring inland. One of the first things I photographed was, I believe, a Red-veined Darter, but I cannot tell you where I saw it.

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) (female) - Sardegna
A quick look at a rocky outcrop revealed some lizards which I believe to be Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta).

Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta) - Sardegna
The wild flowers on the island were fabulous!
wild flowers - Sardegna
Tuesday 13th May, 2003

The morning was taken up with a boat trip to visit a spectacular cave system, Grotta di Nettuno, most easily accessible from the sea. To get there, we passed round the dramatic Capo Caccia.

Capo Caccia - Sardegna
Grotta di Nettuno - Sardegna
In the afternoon we did more exploration by car and on foot. The scenery was wonderful, but the only wildlife photographed was this butterfly. I don't know what species it was, but it was clearly of the Lycaenidae family.

butterfly - Sardegna
Wednesday 14th May, 2003

This day we made further, and extensive, explorations by car, and no wildlife was photographed. Here's a coastal scene from that day, however.

coastal scene - Sardegna
Thursday 15th May, 2003

This was, effectively, our last day, as we left early the following day. I seem to remember that there'd been a storm in the night and the seas were a little heavy when we ventured out. I'm not sure what made me seek out the Lago Baratz, but it might even have been a mention of dragonflies. It certainly proved to be an interesting place. However, Lindsay didn't wish to venture into the wooded area surrounding the lake and so stayed in the car, thus limiting my time here. There were a good number of dragonflies around and I am sure that if I visited again in fine weather in summer I could probably happily spend days at this location. 

The first shot I took was (I am relatively confident) of a female Black-tailed Skimmer with a male Emperor (with left front wing not properly formed). However, the colouration of the abdomen of the Emperor was much darker than I'm used to seeing in UK and it caused me to check the European field guide - several times!

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (female) + Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Lago Baratz, Sardegna
Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Lago Baratz, Sardegna
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (male)  - Lago Baratz, Sardegna
Scarlet Dragonfly (Crocothemis erythraea) (male) - Lago Baratz, Sardegna
At this time I knew little about the life-cycle of damselflies and dragonflies, and so, when I saw  a number of creatures crawling across the rocky shore of the lake, I didn't realise what it was that I was looking at. I did, however, take a couple of photos. I now realise that these were emerging damselflies. However, I find it remarkable that it seems that these were making the transition from larvae to adult whilst resting on solid ground - I have only ever witnessed emergence in UK, and then it has been from the larvae clinging to vegetation in a relatively vertical position. In the second image, you can see the damselfly is only partially emerged. It does occur to me that my original supposition may be wrong and this could be a failed emergence - I'd be happy to hear your views on this! By the way - I have absolutely no ideas as to the species of these!

emergent damselflies - Lago Baratz, Sardegna
The following morning we flew home.

I have done my best to correctly identify the species in this blog post but, if you notice any errors or omissions, please let me know.

In revisiting the images from this break, I feel a strong urge to return and, as Lindsay has fond memories of this visit too, it may happen. As someone who spent the last fifteen years of my working life travelling abroad once or twice a month, I was happy, on my retirement, to confine my travels to UK. It's now 10 years since I left British shores, and maybe the time has come to spread my wings again! 

I shall return to UK for my next blog post, but don't currently know what the subject matter will be!

Thank you for your visit - and, just in case I don't manage to squeeze in the next blog post for a week or so, I wish you all a peaceful and very Merry Christmas and a sparklingly good 2019, filled with wonderful wildlife experiences!