Thursday, October 07, 2004

Spanish wildlife

Once more, I have been guiding with the Company of Whales across the Bay of Biscay on the Pride of Bilbao ferry. Despite the windy conditions, we still mustered about 20 Fin Whales, a few hundred Common Dolphins, half-a-dozen Sabine's Gulls and even a Short-eared Owl out at sea. For a full listing of what we saw, check out www.companyofwhales.co.uk.
We always get a few hours in Spain, and head up to the hill above the port of Santurtzi for a a bit of quality wildlife watching. This time the weather was very good, bringing out losts of butterflies (including good numbers of Adonis Blues) and quite a few praying mantids. We watched a pair of these whoppers in an exciting mating sequence, from first acquaintance to mating – though we couldn't wait for the eventual, inevitable, reputed devouring of the male by the female...
Here are some of the best goodies from the hill walk. All photos are from 4.10.04.

Goldfinches were out in good numbers, with a flock of 200 doing the rounds. This bird is a male (I believe) feeding on a sea holly species (I think).

Butterflies included this continental-race Speckled Wood (more orangey yellow than the UK race)...

...and this worn male Adonis Blue (one of dozens on the hill).

We also found this massive 'horsefly' the size of a large hornet. Boy did that have some mean-looking eating apparatus!

We encountered good numbers of praying mantids.

Here, a male (brown and on the right) mantis approaches a female, with one intent, mating. Slowly he creeps up on her in the manner practised by chameleons and mantids, a sort of rocking motion – two rocks forward one rock back – pretending to be a stick blowing in the wind.

As he gets nearer, his front foot touches her rear one, and she looks round, seemingly startled, as only mantids can. He continues rocking closer. As an extra invitation, she starts to flatten herself on the rock-face, getting a tight grip with her clasping forelimbs.

In an instant, he leaps onto her back, facing the wrong way and, in a blink, turns round to grasp her in a mating position.


Finally he moves his abdomen round and under to join in the mating position. And there we leave them to it... Bon appetit!
"Classic intercourse!" as Alan Partridge would say and, as I would say, a classic piece of Weedon's World of Nature action!

2 comments:

Glaucus said...

For the fly ID see the following page:

http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Waterworks.html

Glaucus said...

For the fly ID see the following page:

http://www.glaucus.org.uk/Waterworks.html

Hornet Robber Fly, Asilus crabroniformis