Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Trip to Khon Kaen Environs

Location: Canal-like pond, 12-13 kms outside Khon Kaen City 
Date: Saturday,  25th May, 2013.
Weather: Exceptionally hot (as always in Khon Kaen)
Returning to where I very first started to get an interest in odonata, I visited a heavily tree-lined pond, which is exposed at one end and then turns into a kind of canal, which is extremely dark in parts, due to the tree cover. Upon my arrival, I saw a species I have only seen once before in Khon Kaen and that was about 20 kms in the other direction - Ceriagrion cerinorubellum. Amazingly it was also about 50 metres from Mitraphap Road ... the busiest and nosiest road in the world (well, not really, but it's really busy). I also managed to spot (visually) a solitary male Rhyothemis plutonia - the closest to KK I have seen before is at Phu Wiang NP, around 80 kms away from the city. There were also hundreds of Ceriagrion praetermissum - including about 50 copula. I hadn't seen this species is Khon Kaen for a few years, so they are definitely making a comeback. There were also several common species that made an appearance. However, moment of the day, was when I saw a male Heliaeschna uninervulata resting from the hot day sun under heavy tree cover. It is the first time that I have seen this species and is probably a provincial record though I will need confirmation on this. So, all in all, a good day. I hope to compile a comprehensive species list for the province of Khon Kaen by the end of this year. There are a few interesting species already on the list from previous years and I hope to add a few more by visiting the few waterfalls I haven't been to - if the water ever arrives for them!
Heliaeschna uninervulata, male
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum, male - only my second sighting in Khon Kaen

The location of the above species (looking back towards the road where you can see my bike)

Ceriagrion praetermissum - seemingly none for a long time and then plenty ...

... including lots and lots of copula

Rhodothemis rufa, male - common but really hard to get near to photograph

Ictinogomphus decoratus melaenops, male - extremely common, but a classic-looking dragonfly!

A simple checklist of species spotted at the location:
Ceriagrion praetermissum (male and female very common) 
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum (solitary male)
Ceriagrion auranticum (2 males)
 Brachythemis Contaminata (common)
Aethriamanta aethra (3-4 mature blue males)
Brachydiplax chalybea chalybea (males common)
Crocothemis servilia servilia (common)
Agriocnemis pygmaea (common)
Diplacodes trivialis (fairly common)
Heliaeschna uninervulata (5-6 specimens - can't confirm male/female)
 Ictinogomphus decoratus melaenops (males common)
Pantala flavescens (common)
Pseudagrion microcephalum (solitary male)
Rhodothemis rufa (males common)
Rhyothemis plutonia (solitary male)
Tholymis tillagra (2 resting males)

158. Heliaeschna uninervulata (Martin, 1909)

Number: 158
Family: Aeschnidae
Genus: Heliaeschna
Species: Heliaeschna uninervulata
Common name(s): N/A
Synonyms: N/A
Habitat: Heavily tree-lined lowland ponds
Province(s) sighted: Khon Kaen environs
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): RMay-June (2013)
Species easily confused with: N/A

A quick trip to a few old haunts around Khon Kaen today yielded another new species ... and a cracking one at that. Along a fairly long canal-like pond, that was heavily tree-covered I noticed a dragonfly tucked deep into a dark alcove created by trees. I crept forward and thought at first that it was gynacantha subinterrupta, a commonly sighted species in Khon Kaen. However, as I approached gingerly, I noticed its caudal appendages were significantly different. I managed to get a few shots in before I stood on a twig and the noise was enough for it to fly deeper into the dark tree alcove ... amazingly, though, another male flew towards it and a brief battle ensued. The same male rested once more (the other fled) and I was able to get a few more photos in, though any slight movement ensured that the dragonfly moved too. I saw a few more specimens in the same area, but they were already in flight when I saw them (I scared them into flying). When I returned home, a little research on the Internet revealed that it was a male Heliaeschna uninervulata. According to Noppadon Makbun, it's an uncommon species - and I'm pretty sure that it is a provincial record.

The male.
Similar to gynacantha subinterrupta, yet has siginficantly different caudal appendages. I think it really is a stunning species and one I hope to bump into again.

Here's how I first saw him (it was very dark, obviously flash was used)

Close-up ...

Here, he had settled again

And here's another one I saw a little later on in the day

The unique caudal appendages (though from the wrong side) - look at how beautiful the shape is ... almost like leaves.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A trip to Kosamphi Forest Park, Mahasarakam province

Location: Kosamphi Forest Park, Mahasarakam province.
Date: Saturday,  18th May, 2013.
Weather: Exceptionally hot
Another trip and another province, about 45 minutes on my motorbike from Khon Kaen. It was an easy and pleasurable journey compared to those I made on my mammoth Nam Nao survey/field trip. Kosamphi Sai is a small and typically Issarn town on the edge of Mahasarakam province, made popular by the forest park. When I arrived at the gates, I instantly felt watched ... from every angle. Monkeys. Hundreds. No, thousands of them were in the trees, on the pathways, on rocks ... even at the nearby market, stealing fruit. No surprise as you have to pass an enormous monkey statue at the entrance. Being extra cautious with my camera/bag I parked my scooter and headed down towards the River Chi (or Chee as it was spelled in the forest park). There was a large, open section accessible on foot and the level of the river seemed particularily low. With caution I could gingerly make my way across the river - something there is no chance of doing where the same river runs through Khon Kaen. I observed and photographed several healthy populations of common species and one or two species that seem rather uncommon in Khon Kaen, but were abundant here along a different stretch of the river. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a lowland dwelling Gomphidae or something similar. Yet, as I waded through the water, looking along the banks, the reeds and up along the tree-lined edges, the sun decided to pulsate with heat and, so too, did my head. It rose in temperature and I started to wilt in the blazing sunshine. With that, I retreated into the forested area and made my way towards a small pond. The pond was covered in algae and almost seemed devoid of any life. There were some fish present and an enormous white heron, but the park's dragonfly species list wasn't added to here. Only a few individual common species decided to make this area home. So, all in all, not the most successful trip ever, but at least I am now back in the swing of things for the new dragonfly season.
You're being watched ... cheeky monkeys were everywhere
The River Chi at Khosamphi Forest Park. It was shallow enough to wade through.
Here's my best photos of the day ... all common, but some nice results.
Ictinogomphus decoratus, male ... fairly common

Cercion malayanum, male (probably immature - as it is still very light in colour)

Rhyothemis variegata variegata, female - there were many speciemens, sometimes in large groups fluttering away

Aethriamanta aethra, male - large numbers of adult males were present along the stretch of river.

Ceriagrion praetermissum, male - I spotted a solitary male and female

Urothemis signata, copula - I saw many males, but I also managed (just) to get my first photo of a copula!

Aethriamanta aethra, copula - and also my first copula of this species (and female in flight)


Basic species list (18 common species in total):
Acisoma p. panorpoides (males, females - uncommon)
Aethriamanta aethra (males, females - common)
Aethriamanta brevipennis (males - common)
Agriocnemis pygmaea (males, females - common)
Brachythemis Contaminata (males, females - common)
Cercion malayanum (solitary male)
Ceriagrion praetermissum (1 male, 1 female)
Copera ciliata (1 female)
Crocothemis servilia (males, females - fairly common)
Diplacodes nebulosa (males, uncommon)
Diplacodes trivialis (males, females - common)
Ictinogomphus decoratus (males - common)
Neurothemis tullia (males, females - common)
Orthetrum sabina (males, females - common)
Pantala flavescens (males, female - common)
Rhyothemis phyllis (males - common)
Rhyothemis variegata (males, females - common)
Urothemis signata (males - common, females scarce)