Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Return Trip to the River Chi, Khon Kaen

Location: Khon Kaen environs
Date: Saturday, 23 November 2013 
Areas visited: River Chi, a wide, chocolate-coloured river, heavily tree-lined and overgrown 
 Continuing the tour of my old haunts in Khon Kaen, I returned to an area along the river Chi that previously yielded several uncommon species for my list. I hadn't been there for a number of years and was rather shocked when I arrived. There are now buildings all around the old entrance and on a large area of marshland - which was great for odonates - is now a kind of farm. Some of the marshy area remains, though it has been cultivated somewhat and I will return next week to investigate. My target, however, was Prodasineura coerulescens - a species I had encountered sporadically at the river, though I hadn't seen it in over four years. I made my way along a man-made clay barrier towards the river and there were common dragonflies everywhere, with the most abundant being Trithemis pallidinervis, Tholymis tillarga, Pantala flavescens, Potamarcha congener, Diplacodes trivialis and Diplacodes nebulosa. It's good to see that so many were still managing to flourish there. I then made my way through a tiny marsh area (whilst being scratched to death by horrible bushes) and saw healthy numbers of Ceriagrion auranticum auranticum and Acisoma panorpoides. Eventually, I managed to cut my way through years of unkempt scrub and I arrived close to where I had been at the river previously ... I could hear a generator! Hmmm ... right at the point where I had cut my teeth on river dwelling species, labourers were in the process of constructing a railway bridge ... brilliant! As I was contemplating what to do, I looked down and saw a Gynacantha sp ... straight away I knew it as female Gynacantha saltatrix ... either this is a highly successful year for them or I have been blind in recent years. I have seen this species at numerous locations this season. This however, gave me the impetus to go on. Battling through the undergrowth I saw countless numbers of Gynacantha sp. Most of which were G. subinterrupta, yet every one of them evaded my lens, slipping away into the gloom. I continued along a difficult [sort of] pathway and then I was shocked again ... the labourers had cleared a path themselves. Yet as it had turned out, it was to my advantage. I could now reach much further along the river than previous visits. The undergrowth, where once too dense and difficult to attempt to get through, was now sparse. I continued making my way along some dangerously steep banking ... just to see what was there. It was extremely quiet on the odonata front. The silence only broken by the odd Gynacantha sp. woken from its slumber. Still, I was determined. It was getting late and I was worried that time was against me, when I stumbled - quite literally - into a large mass of ground-weed infested mud banking about 15 metres from the river. By tripping, I disturbed a damselfly, which then hovered for what seemed an eternity. Only one species I had seen before hovered for so long .... Prodasineura coerulescens. And there it was - my target. Then I saw another and another. Females were present too (though look incredibly similar to P. autumnulis - with slightly longer abdomens, it seems). All in all, there were 6-7 males and the same numbers of females in one small area. So, I suppose persistence does pay after all. Cuts, bruises, bitten to death by mosquitoes and extremely tired ... I finally found my target!
My best photos of the day:

This species is abundant in Khon Kaen this year.


Away from the river, amongst drying grasses, these were everywhere ... I have never seen so many!

NEXT TRIP: A potentially futile attempt to find Lestes thoracicus, a species I saw in the back garden of my old rented house 3-4 years ago ... and initially miss-identified it, hence the lack of quality photos! I also saw one male near a tiny farmer's pond, which doesn't exist anymore. Can I find it again? Only one way to find out ...

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