Monday, July 13, 2015

A Trip to Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary

Location:  Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiyaphum Province
Dates: Saturday 4 and Saturday/Sunday 11 & 12 July, 2015
Areas visited: A number of small, forested ponds, lakes / marshland and the large river

So, another trip to the holy grail for Issarn dragonfly hunters ... well, actually two trips. I visited last Saturday with my brother, Paul (he was there for the birds) with the intention of finding out more about the place. I visited a number of ponds and managed to get a few decent shots and even a new species for my records and a new genus at that in the shape of Lyriothemis. However, it is difficult to ID and could quite possibly be a completely new species. I thought it was Lyriothemis elegantissima, but as it turns out that is likely to be an incorrect ID. So Lyriothemis sp. it is for now. I also saw a few uncommon species amongst many common species, such as Rhyothemis obsolescens, Aethriamanta gracilis and Orthetrum luzonicum (which I know is common, but I seldom see in these parts). I then visited the river and the water was belting through at an electric pace and was heavily swollen and chocolate brown. I had a quick look around but access was almost impossible. I later found out that they had opened the gates at the dam to let out lots of water ... I gave up but noted the river's potential (and knowing that there are still many goodies to be found there). So, other than the Lyriothemis species, it was rather quiet, spoiled somewhat by an incredibly strong wind, though I did also manage to spot a few nice butterflies, too.
A week later, I returned, again with my brother, Paul (both of us now armed with a brand new Canon 7D mark ii each ... thanks, r kid) and he left me at the river and shot off to find birds. I walked to the river and couldn't hear it this time as I approached. I studied the ponds and saw the same species as previously (always on the lookout for Ceriagrion pallidum, as it is supposed to reside in the sanctuary but I am yet to spot it). When I arrived at the river it was completely different to the previous week. It was like a stream, slow and graceful with easy access for rock hopping. Brilliant, I would surely find a few new Gomphids ... alas, no. Though there were many common species, I only managed to spot one female Gomphid and got great shots before the card in my camera decided to pack up and I lost all my shots from that day (around 400 including some butts, to be precise). I later saw another but only managed a very poor record shot. I am not sure what it is yet, though I am working on it. Other than that, it was extremely quiet. My brother found me again at around 3.00pm and we ventured up towards the summit once more. He wanted to go in one direction, me the other. So we parted company once more and I decided upon the large marshy area near the helicopter pad. Wading very slowly in thick, sticky mud was torture, but I managed to spot two more species for me in the shape of Platylestes platystylus and a new record for Thailand: Indolestes gracilis ssp. (though which exact subspecies it is isn't known). The following day, I returned to the marsh in search of the Indolestes gracilis ssp. female, but to no avail. However, I did managed to spot and photograph the female of P. platystylus, as well as a copula so all was great. I finally returned to the river to finish of the trip but with heavy rain clouds looming along with imminent darkness, it was time to pack up and head home.
My best photos of the trip:

My cool brother, Paul, 'in action' 

 Next trip: Phu Khieo WS, of course!

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