Friday, January 11, 2013

156. Macrodiplax cora (Kaup in Brauer, 1867)

Number: 156
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Macrodiplax
Species:  Macrodiplax cora
Common name(s): Coastal Glider, Cora’s Pennant, Wandering Pennant
Synonyms: Diplax cora (Kaup in Brauer, 1867)
Habitat: Large, exposed ponds, lowlands
Province(s) sighted: Nam Phong NP & Khon Kaen environs
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): January-May
Species easily confused with: Crocothemis servilia serviliaRhodothemis rufaUrothemis signata signata
A new year and a new species already! On a very short afternoon trip around Khon Kaen environs (basically near home), I stopped at an area with a series of open lakes I hadn't bothered with before, as it looks like every other lake in Khon Kaen. Surrounded by cultivated farmland and land which is under housing development - and being January - and you could forgive me for not holding out much hope. Except I couldn't be further from the truth. A few kilometres from where I was stunned to see Ceriagrion cerinorubellum, I bumped into a species I couldn't work out quite what it was. With the world's brightest sunshine blinding me, all I could see was a red dragonfly. It looked like Urothemis signata signata, yet it seemed to perch very near the water's edge and low down (not high up on twigs). When disturbed, it would hover for long periods - another characteristic unlike U. signata. So I tried to get a photo. Eventually, I managed just about to get a record shot and knew what it was straight away ... Macrodiplax cora. The prominent stripe along the abdomen reminds me of a human backbone. I tried and tried to get good shots, but with the horrible lighting and the fact that the specimen was extremely skittish, I moved on. There were several other males and I also saw a copula. So they are well and truly established there. I had heard that the species doesn't go any higher than Bangkok (it is supposed to like areas along the coast), so I was pleasantly surprised to see the species living happily in a lake in Khon Kaen. 

I returned the following day at 10.30 a.m. and unlike the previous day, it was dull and windy. AND devoid of any specimens. I decided to visit a few other lakes and then returned at 1.00 p.m. They were still absent ... well, almost. I managed to spot a solitary male and he was very cooperative, unlike the previous day when they would fly away even if I breathed. I have since spotted a solitary female at Nam Pong National Park, though I am not sure it is an established species there,

The male
The male looks like many other similar red pond species, but can easily be distinguished by its unique 'human backbone' dorsal stripe along the abdomen.

Here you can clearly see the 'backbone' dorsal stripe, which helps distinguish the species.

The female

The female looks almost identical to the male (if you can find it!) and has the same prominent dorsal 'backbone' stripe along the abdomen. However, it is more of a yellow-orange colour and can be separated easily (except for the young male which is very similar in colour). I had spotted 1 or 2 females previously, but they were always part of a copula and I couldn't get anywhere near them. Then, following many hours of searching, I saw an extremely skittish female perching high up in the branches of a sparse tree set back from the same ponds where I have spotted many males. She was extremely difficult to approach and it took almost an hour in baking sunshine for me to get close enough to get half-decent shots. If you do see a female, approach with extreme caution ... or you could miss out!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Just spent time in Chiang Rai and photographed many dragonflies. Please check out my Flickr photostream where I will post pics when I get time. Regards Derek