Monday, August 6, 2012

154.Coeliccia sp. (undescribed species)


Number: 154
Family: Platycnemididae
Genus:  Coeliccia
Species:  Coeliccia sp. (undescribed species)
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): N/A
Habitat: Heavily forested uplands stream
Province(s) sighted: Lamklong Ngu NP (Kanchanaburi)
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): August
Species easily confused with: Coeliccia didymaCoeliccia octogesima

A 2-hour drive from Kanchanaburi, followed by a torrid drive through mud to only be told that the place was closed, was heart-wrenching. The pathway was blocked with fallen bamboo and there was no way through for the car. Unperturbed, I left the car at the entrance (with my girlfriend inside) and set off, climbing over bamboo and trees that had fallen over in the torrential rain. 

I reached the river ... awesome. Yet, unlike the last time when odonata were buzzing around everywhere, there were simply none. Nothing at all. I walked about 500 metres along an extremely slippery pathway, only to be greeted by a blocked section of the river, which caused mass flooding of the area and there was totally and utterly no way through. A waste of a journey. I turned back and made it to the entrance of the river. I looked along the sheltered trees to see if any specimens were taking refuge ... and there was a solitary Coeliccia didyma. I couldn't get a shot of him where he was (too far up and the leaf he was on was constantly bouncing from the rain drops), so I picked him up with my fingers and noticed something different about him ... the thoracic markings were totally different. Surely this wasn't C. didyma at all, was it? I scrambled to get my camera out of the bag again with one hand (the other held the specimen) and as I attempted to get the ring flash, the heavens opened once more. This time heavier than ever. There was no way I could use the ring flash - the water would have wrecked it for sure. Instead, I was limited to my camera without flash and in extremely low light. Crouched over my camera to keep it as dry as possible, I took a few photos, but just as I was about to take photos of the caudal appendages, I noticed that my camera bag was open and I reacted to close it and save may camera equipment and passport from certain death. By doing this I momentarily let go of the specimen and he flew about 5 metres high up into the branches - I could see him, but he was too far away. The rain continued to pour down heavily and I had to give up my search. 

The male is similar to that of C. didyma, but also resembles both C. nemoricola (endemic to Borneo) and C. octogesima (consigned to the very south of Thailand). However, looking at all 3 species [see asia-dragonfly.net], it is clearly none of them.

I have since had this confirmed by Noppadon Makbun that it is indeed a different species. However, it is yet to be described (and has been undescribed for a long time). The first record of this species was also recorded at the same place. So good news that it is a new species. Bad news, however, that it's not yet been described!

The male ...
Here is the standard shot in the hand ... he looks the same as C. didyma. However, there is a small black downward-turning protrusion at the base of the inferior caudal appendages.


Here is where the species differs much more. It looks like music notes ... 


Here I was trying to focus on the neck joint - the whiteish-grey joint between the head and the neck (sorry for not knowing the correct technical words) If you look closely, you can clearly see 2 small blue arrow shaped marks.


Unfortunately, as I was about to photograph the caudal appendages, all hell broke loose and he was able to fly up into the trees. 

Hopefully, one day, it will be described and I can give him a name!
Many thanks to Noppadon for the info!