Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nam Nao: A Year in the Making (July)



Location 1: Helicopter Pad Lake, Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun. 
Date: Saturday,  28th July, 2012.
Weather: Heavily overcast and very windy, but no rain
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): medium
Leech bites: 2 (there were only a few leeches for some reason)

Another month and another load of dragonflies to get my teeth into. With the month of July, usually comes a number of additional species that prefer the rainy season. So, armed with my new monopod, I set of an hour earlier than normal when in my brother's car (3.15 a.m.). I arrived at the lake at 5.00 a.m. and it was still dark. I had a look around for 'resting' odonata, but I could hear elephants in the background, so I was a little nervous about heading to the lake itself. Instead, I waited a short while until it was light enough to see beyond a few feet and headed down the slope towards the lake. 
Early on, the lake was inundated with the micro species Agriocnemis femina, Agriocnemis nana etc. and a few of the usual suspects Brachythemis contaminata and Trithemis aurora. Ohter than that, it was very quiet. 

As the morning grew in light, so did the number of odonata and species. However, there was nothing new to report. I continued round the lake (realising that I hadn't noticed a single Ceriagrion or Rhyothemis species) and eventually reached the rear end of the lake where it is mostly undisturbed and partially shrouded in tree cover. There is a section at the end which becomes like a little canal-like feature when the lake becomes deeper. It was here that I managed to get my first good photos of a female Rhodothemis rufa. I have spotted the male on many occasions around the country, but the females are seldom seen. If you do spot one, they are generally high up in the trees. Continuing round, I was happy to eventually spot a new species for the lake - Agrionoptera insignis, female. I have only spotted this species once before in a similar type lake in Khao Yai (uplands pond, heavily tree-lined/completely covered in parts). I only saw a solitary female, but proves that they are present. Continuing round, more regulars were appearing and I got a second sighting of a male Indolestes inflatus. That's only 2 males and 1 female for the year so far. Number seem lower than last year - and they were scarce then. One worry, is the introduction of a number of fishing platforms (to keep the leeches from biting) and the obvious increase in human activity (rubbish and crude fishing items). Maybe this has affected them. By around 9.30 a.m. the sun was just poking through the heavy cloud cover and many other common species for the lake were present. Strangely, though, I didn't spot a single Ceriagrion species, Rhyothemis species or even Ictinogomphus decoratus for that matter. It was a strange day weather-wise, but these are common species that should be present here at this time of year. With that in mind, I decided to return here once I had visited the stream at the headquarters ... a notion that was blasted out of the sky by torrential rain at about 3.30 p.m. just as I was heading back there. 

Still, it was a pretty good day ... and was about to get even better at the stream. 

Here are my best photos of the day:

Rhodothemis rufa, female - a common species, but really tough to get good photos of the female.



Agrionoptera insignis, female (perching above my head) - a new addition to the lake and possibly a new provincial record.



Here is the best lateral photo I got - she was above my head, so I had to hold a heavy camera, lens and ring flash above my head too. 


Indolestes inflatus, male my 2nd sighting of a male this year to add to the female I saw last time out.



Prodasineura auricolor, female. She was sitting almost right on the lake. Shows they are adaptable and don't just live along streams. 


Agriocnemis nana, male - easily my best photo of the mature male - and it was windy in low light. I am really happy with this photo. Also, I have realised that the black dorsal markings on S8-9 are highly variable.


A new species - Copera ciliatapinkylegs ... Seriously, though, this specimen (taken very early in the morning), shows just how variable the colours are on this species (Copera ciliata, that is!!!)


Mortonagrion aborense, teneral male - I have spotted the female here before, but they are extremely scarce here. 


Nam Nao Helicopter Pad (added species from the last visit, bold; new species for the lake, blue; species not seen from last visit, red)

Note: Numbers were low/absent common species probably due to the heavily overcast conditions.

Fam. Coenagrionidae
Aciagrion tillyardi (Laidlaw, 1919) ♂ ♀ [very common]
Agriocnemis femina (Brauer, 1868) ♂ ♀ [very common]
Agriocnemis nana (Laidlaw, 1914)  [very common]
Agriocnemis pygmaea (Rambur, 1842) ♂ ♀ [common]
Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola Selys, 1877) ♀ [♂ common]
Ceriagrion indochinense Asahina, 1967
Ischnura senegalensis (Rambur, 1842) ♂ ♀ [uncommon]
Onychargia atrocyana Selys, 1865 ♂ ♀ [tenerals extremely common]
Pseudagrion rubriceps rubriceps (Selys, 1876) ♂ [1]

Fam. Lestidae
Indolestes inflatus ♂ [1]

Fam. Platycnemididae
Coeliccia chromothorax (Selys, 1891)  [1]
Copera ciliata (Selys, 1863) ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Copera marginipes (Rambur, 1842) ♂ [common]

Fam. Protoneuridae
Prodasineura autumnalis (Fraser, 1922) ♂ ♀ [extremely common]

Prodasineura auricolor ♀ [1]

Fam. Gomphidae
Ictinogomphus decoratus (Selys, 1854)

Fam. Libellulidae
Acisoma panorpoides panorpoides (Rambur, 1842) ♂ ♀ [common]
Agrionoptera insignis (Rambur, 1842) ♀ [1]
Brachydiplax farinosa (Krüger 1902) ♂ ♀ [♂ common]
Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793) ♂ ♀ [common]
Crocothemis servilia (Drury, 1773) ♂ ♀ [fairly common]
Diplacodes trivialis (Rambur, 1842) ♂ ♀ [fairly common]
Indothemis limbata (Selys, 1891) ♂ ♀ [♂ extremely common]
Neurothemis fulvia (Drury, 1773)
Orthetrum chrysis (Selys, 1891)
Orthetrum sabina sabina (Drury, 1770)
Pseudothemis jorina Förster, 1904 ♀ [very common]
Rhodothemis rufa (Rambur, 1842) ♀ [1]
Rhyothemis triangularis (Kirby, 1889)
Tholymis tillarga (Fabricius, 1798♂ [1]
Trithemis aurora (Burmeister, 1839) ♂ ♀ [extremely common]

Location 2: Stream at the Heaquarters, Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun. 
Date: Saturday,  28th July, 2012.
Weather: Heavily overcast and heavy rain
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): medium
Leech bites:

So, following a strange, but productive morning at the Helicopter Lake, it was time for a stroll down the stream at the Headquarters. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a large number of birds (lots of species, colours and sizes). Woodpeckers were also present - and very much heard. Some white and brown birds were accompanied by squirrels as they searched through the debris looking for mid-morning goodies. It was amazing to watch, as was the sheer number of species. I moved along the stream and I was in total silence (other than squirrels dropping discarded nut shells around me) and a few noisy people who were netting part of the stream (probably some kind of science thing - but annoyingly loud all the same and totally disrespectful towards nature). Unfortunately, the odonata were quiet too, though this is nothing new here.

As I walked along, I eventullay noticed, among one or two commonly seen species, a male Merogomphus paviei. Then I saw a second, along a very shallow and slow, almost still, section of the river. I managed to creep up along the stream and get some half-decent photos, before the noisy group were shouting and splashing around again and it was off. I walked away from the party people and neared a log (pictured below). Here I noticed in the gloom a smallish damselfly perching directly below the log on a shaded branch. I knew it was something different, but had to get closer to investigate. It turned out to be a Rhinagrion species. I have actually spotted a female here before. It turns out to be Rhinagrion hainanense  - a species I saw once before at Khai Yai.

As I continued on my journey, I saw a number of Coeliccia c.f. loogali. July was obviously the month that they begin their flight. That said, C. didyma had disappeared. Maybe due to the dull conditions they were too lazy to make an appearance. Eventually, the heavens opened and the odonata door closed. I waited under tree cover for it to abate and eventually it stopped and the sun poked through the canopy. This encouraged another Merogomphus paviei, which constantly did battle with another specimen perching higher up, to show itself - in a bright spot of sunshine. Actually, I can spot this species easily now, as it arches its abdomen under its body as it flies, which is a unique characteristic over other similar species I have seen. On the way back I managed to spot a solitary male Gomphidictinus perakensi, which seem territorial and return to the same spot if you hide away slightly. Also, what I have noticed about this species, is that it 'quivers' its wings as you approach. The more it quivers, the more likely it is ready to bolt for the upper branches. If it does, move away and he will probably return. 

I got back to the car in order to return to the Helicopter Pad lake. Unfortunately, the heavens opened, putting an end to my rather fruitful day. Roll on August ... 

My best photos of the day:

Here's the tree where I saw the malRhinagrion hainanense



Rhinagrion hainanense, male


Merogomphus paviei, male - a beautiful and easy-to-recognise species, due to his distinctive arched abdomen as it patrols 'his' area


Gomphidictinus perakensi, male a fairly large and highly territorial species - watch him 'flap' his wings as you near him




Nam Nao Headquarter's stream (added species from the last visit, bold; new species for the stream, blue; species not seen from last visit, red)

Family: Chlorocyphidae
Rhinocypha biforata (Selys, 1859) ♂ ♀ [common]

Family: Euphaeidae
Euphaea ochracea (Selys, 1859) ♂ ♀ [common]

Family: Megapodagriondae
Rhinagrion hainanense, male ♂ [1] 

Family: Gomphidae
Gomphidictinus perakensi (Laidlaw, 1902) ♂ [1]  
Gomphidia k.kruegeri (Martin, 1904)
Merogomphus parvus (Krüger, 1899)
Merogomphus paviei (Martin, 1904) ♂ [4] 

Family: Platycnemididae
Coeliccia didyma (Selys, 1863) 
Coeliccia c.f. loogali (Fraser in Laidlaw, 1932)  [fairly common]
Copera marginipes (Rambur, 1842) ♂ ♀ [very common]
Copera vittata (Selys, 1863) ♂ ♀ [common]

Family: Protoneuridae
Prodasineura auricolor ♂ ♀ [very common]

Family: Libellulidae
Zygonyx iris malayana (Selys, 1869) ♂ [1]

Next trip: August (and a trip to Kanchanburi next week!)