Sunday, October 20, 2013

161. Matrona nigripectus (Selys, 1879)

Number: 161
Family: Calopterygidae
Genus: Matrona
Species: Matrona nigripectus
Common name(s): N/A
Synonyms: N/A
Habitat: Montane  streams
Province(s) sighted: Doi Suthep (Chiang Mai)
Sightings (by me):  Uncommon
In flight (that I have seen): October (2013)
Species easily confused with: Neurobasis chinensis chinensis

A northern species that I have always wanted to see and one that is simply divine, is Matrona nigripectus. My chance came recently to go to Chiang Mai (where it can be found). Though I didn't have that much time to search, I knew where it could be (thanks to Noppadon Makbun). Looking at references and pictures, however, I couldn't spot the difference between that species and N. chinensis, a similar-looking but common species, though no less beautiful. It looks almost identical on small online photos. Noppadon explained that in the field the wings are darker and broader ... then he let me in on a secret. Wait for it to fly. The inside of the wings are black and irredescent blue (N. chinensis is bright green with black tips). I began my search and, amazingly, on a seriously quiet and wet day, I found a male hiding under a wooden footbridge and he allowed me to snap away; even get some shots of him with his wings opening (hopefully this will help anyone else trying to see the difference between the two species). In all honesty, when you see the two species together (they live side-by-side) it is easy to separate them, as M. nigripectus is bigger all-round and the green colouring of the abdomen is much brighter in my opinion. So, even though I only saw this species and didn't even get to spot the female, I am well-chuffed (meaning 'very happy' in Northern English dialect). And who wouldn't be spotting a beautiful creature like this?

The male.

And why it's so beautiful ...

I also managed to get a full shot though not as clear (only the wings are focused - but remember you have only a second or so to capture this) ... you can see little squares in the patternation. Stunning, it really is!

If you visit Chiang Mai late in the year (October to December), you MUST visit this species at Doi Suthep - but tell me where the females are!

A Trip to Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai

Location: Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Date: Thursday, 17 October 2013
Areas visited: Several areas up the mountain, including Hauy Kaeo Waterfall and Wang Bua Ban Waterfall, plus smaller streams.
Well, I can finally add another page to my blog ... seems like it's been about two years since I last contributed. Anyway, a girlfriend holiday / grabbing a bit of dragonfly hunting started off perfectly and then turned rather sour. (There seems to be a thread running through my trips this season.) A nice trip to Chiang Mai was planned for the October holidays. The break with my girlfriend went swimmingly, taking in lots of culture, cuisine and the odd beer or two - even a pint of Guinness (though one was all I could afford). I even tempted Beau into a short trip to Huay Kaeo waterfall and I managed to get a few decent photos of more common dragonflies while I was there. On the dragonfly front, though, that's when things started to go wrong. It had been blazing sunshine all week and I had noticed dragonflies were buzzing around everywhere at the waterfall and I knew that ascending to the top of Doi Suthep (along with infor from Noppadon) could yield one or two new records for my species list. Everything felt perfect. That was on the Tuesday and I planned to go up the mountain on the Thursday, with Beau going shopping (and not annoying me). On the Wednesday morning I awoke and there was something wrong with my right eye. My eyelid and underneath my eye had become inflamed and was bright red. I didn't think much of it at first but became extremely noticeable by lunchtime. I think people looked at me as though I had been punched. It was only in the afternoon that I realised what had happened. I had burnt that area! How? Well, hanging over the water's edge at Huay Kaeo seemed harmless enough, but attempting to get good photos and not moving for long periods (with one eye looking through the camera the other closed), left a sensitive area of skin exposed and by the end of the following day, it looked like I had stapled a rasher of bacon to the underside of my eye. Unperturbed and with Wednesday daylight drawing to a hasty close, I wandered into a bike shop with my bacon accessory to rent a scooter for the next day. Literally, the second I paid for the damn thing, the heavens opened, though only for a short burst. It's OK, I thought. It's been sunny all week. Just a blip! Everything was sorted for my trip ... and keep in mind I had waited three and a half years to return to Doi Suthep. I was really excited. So much so, I didn't sleep at all. I rolled out of bed at 5.30 a.m. and got ready. Everything was hunky dory (probably as I hadn't looked out of the gloomy little window where we were staying). I almost skipped down the 4 flights of stairs. Only to be greeted by drizzle. No problem, it will let up as the sun warms the day. Hmmm.... I couldn't be more wrong. The drizzle turned into rain. The rain into a heavy thunderstorm. My defence ... a t-shirt and shorts. Brilliant. I still drove almost 20 kms to the top and was beaten there by heavy mist which shrouded the mountain. I was now freezing, wet and in danger of becoming sick. The temperature was extremely low at the top. I still had a look around the stream, but nothing and I mean NOTHING presented itself. I decided that my only option was to work my way down the mountain which was much warmer and drier and would probably increase my chances of seeing something. I saw a few common species and it was almost a washout until - for some reason - I decided to look under a small wooden footbridge. And there, sitting in the gloom, was a male Matrona nigripectus! He was happy to let me shoot away. So a new species after all and one I was desperate to see! As the day warmed with a little sun at times and I managed to see a few more species, though M. nigripectus was the only new addition to my list! I would have gone out again on the Friday, but rain rain rain all the way. Saturday, too. Still, I'm going back there in March so WILL find something then ... unless my bad luck continues!
My best photos of the day:
Matrona nigripectus, a beautiful northern species, but the female eluded me.
Stunning wings when opened (I will add a nice opening sequence later):

More commonly sighted species:

 Lots of species in the end, but I really want to add to my list!