Extremadura 5-day Bio-blitz (3)

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Continuing along the road, a promising looking spot with a ‘dry stone wall’ seemed a good place to explore for the smaller inhabitants of the Dehesa.  

The roadside plants here and indeed along the majority of Extremadura’s roads make for a very beautiful and ecologically important floral display.  The plants identified (tentatively) from this picturesque collection included: Echium lycopsis, Echium Plantagineum,

Long-headed Poppy Papaver dubium, Corn Marigold Coleostephus myconis, Sheep's-bit Scabious Jasione montana and the fragrant French/Spanish Lavender Lavendula stoechas, which grows in profusion in the area.

The first animal of interest that caught the eye, on the stone wall was a rather large and formidable ant, with a large head Camponotus cruentatus.  Several of these ants were seen, almost constantly on the move along the wall, but on occasions still enough for photos.

A Large Psammodromus Psammodromus algirus was found basking at the base of the wall and further sightings of this lizard gave some opportunities to photograph it.

A very interesting fly was seen, resting on the side of the wall, a Black-cloaked Bee-fly Hemipenthes velutina and an Empididae (Dance Fly), probably Empis testacea was also found.

Further ‘exploration in the undergrowth’ found Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas, a Darkling Beetle Heliotaurus ruficollis and Two-spotted Longhorn beetle Nuestra distigma.  The acknowledged ‘black and red form’ was almost certainly N. distigma but an almost identical longhorn was also present but this was an ‘all black’ individual.  This may relate to a different species of longhorn or a variable form of N. distigma.

Two more insects were photographed, but both remain unidentified to species level, at this time.  The first was a ‘black’ bee species, possibly an Andrena species and a very striking (but still unidentified!) predominantly orange Plant or Capsid Bug (Miridae) species.  Fascinating finds nevertheless.

Continuing along the EX-20, Corn Buntings were regularly seen, Crested and Thekla Larks, Red-rumped and Barn Swallow, House Martin, Kingfisher, Common Kestrel, Jay, Spotless Starling, Spanish and House Sparrows and Stonechat were present, whilst White Stork’s nests were often seen at various nesting structures.

Another stop near a farm entrance resulted in another insect foray amongst the vegetation near the entrance and wall of the farm.

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A worn Brown Argus (most probably A. cramera) and a mating pair of brown argus, (in much better condition) were found along with a couple of Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina.

Several species of Orthoptera (Grasshoppers and Crickets) were found here, along with a Cranefly species, two species of bees and a blue Longhorn Beetle probably an Agapanthia species.

Two species of spiders were found, including one which appears to be one of the many variable morphs of Pisaura mirabilis carrying an egg sac.  Dark brown chevrons on the dorsal side of the abdomen were very noticeable and the usual central pale stripe on the cephalothorax was present.  The other species (only photographed from the underside) remains unidentified.

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Agapanthia sp.                                          Spanish Brown Argus                                                                            Meadow Brown

Small Copper                                                                     Two-spotted Longhorn Beetle                                         Darkling Beetle

Camponotus cruentatus                                              Large Psammodromus                                                               Black-cloaked Bee-fly

Black Vulture                                                                    Thekla Lark                                                                      Corn Bunting

Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpie

Roadside scenery Extremadura style