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Dragonfly news: Orange-winged Dropwing spreads N and Faded Pincertail refound in Madrid!

John Muddeman
09/09/2012 10:59:01

Orange-winged Dropwing Trithemis kirbyi continues its northward spread and Faded Pincertail Onychogomphus costae is refound in Madrid over a century after it was first, and last, recorded there!

Posted in: Dragonflies and Damselflies | Andalusia, Catalonia, Extremadura, Madrid, Valencia | Mainland Spain, Northern Spain, Southern Spain, Eastern Spain, Western Spain, Central Spain

On a recent very short trip to the Sierra de Andújar Trithemis-kirbyi-001-m © John MuddemanMale Trithemis kirbyi© John Muddeman (province of Jaén, Andalucía), in the excellent company of Canadians Michelle & Paul, I was able to discover what are apparently the first Orange-winged Dropwings Trithemis kirbyi for NE Andalucía on the Jándula River. At least two and probably three mature males were present. This even provided moderate recompense for failing to connect with Iberian Lynx Lynx pardina by just a few minutes the following morning!

The bright red males of these spectacular insects are very eye-catching, though distant views need to be treated with caution due to the possible confusion with male Broad Scarlets Crocothemis erythraea. However, the smaller size, different abdomen shape and differently coloured legs and wings, in particular, should readily allow for positive identification given good views.

Trithemis-kirbyi-002-m © John MuddemanMale Trithemis kirbyi© John MuddemanThe species is being found further north each year, though with these records being predominantly adult males, perhaps true colonisation of the sites where they are being recorded will take much longer. The much more discrete females however are undoubtedly under-recorded, and given the drought conditions across most of C and S Spain this year, perhaps it is no surprise that individuals are turning up much further from previously known sites, presumably forced into moving as sites have dried up completely in late spring and summer.

The core area for the species is still in S Andalucía, and an approximate map for the species can be seen by registered users on the Biodiversidad Virtual website by clicking on the link "Ver Mapa Distribución" in the species' page. However, the species has also been recorded annually since 2010 at one site in extreme S Extremadura (A. Sánchez pers. comm.), while the apparent range extension this year has been particularly dramatic: late spring and summer records of males have been made at Don Benito (C Extremadura; F. Crystal per A. Sánchez pers. comm.), Castellón (N Valencia; J. Rueda et al. on the ODO-GIO forum)and the Algars river (a tributary of the Ebro) in Catalonia (T. Herrera on the ODO-GIO forum) in addition to that in Andújar.

Perhaps less expected, given the tremendous (and negative) changes experienced in river quality over the years, and even more exciting given the continued scarcity of the species in much of Iberia is the recent rediscovery of Faded Pincertail Onychgomphus costae in the Province of Madrid. First recorded in the province by Navas over a century ago, nothing has been known of the species here since, but the species' continued presence in mid August this year came to light when pictures were posted onto the citizen-based Biodiversidad Virtual website a couple of weeks later! Digital photography has again came up trumps, with photos of a male and a female both being available to see. Perhaps given the cryptic colours and nature of the species, it perhaps shouldn't come as such a surprise, but it is nonetheless a fantastic discovery and the author to be congratulated!

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