Monday, August 17, 2015

Another Trip to Nam Nao

Location: Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun 
Date: Saturday 17 August, 2015 
Areas visited: Suan Son Ban Baek (several natural ponds)

Well, another weekend was fast approaching and it had been pouring down all week. I had to make a decision ... was I going to even bother going anywhere, especially as it was forecast rain all weekend, too. It was forecast heavy rain at Phu Khieo and possible thunderstorms at Nam Nao. Well, being the idiot that I am, I decided to brave it no matter what. Happily, Mark Hogarth - a fellow nature lover and birder - was also mad enough to come along too in search of feathered friends. We decided upon Nam Nao as there was less chance of rain. However, there really is no point in me hitting the helicopter pad lake as I don't think there is much left for me to see (if anything). So, I decided upon a 4 kms trail I went down in January and saw small numbers of teneral Indolestes anomalus. My hope was to find it again, but as fully 'mature' adults. So, I dropped Mark off at the HQ so he could follow the trails inside and I shot off to the entrance to the trail which is about 1.5kms further along heading towards Lomsak. I parked the car near the gate (you can't drive inside) and noticed that the ditch that was tiny in winter, was now slightly swollen. I decided to have a quick look and it was totally devoid of anything. Then, in the corner of my eye, I saw my old friend, Indolestes inflatus, male. It was the only thing there at that time, but started my day off perfectly. I then followed the trail. The first couple of kilometres are quiet, only a few male Cratilla lineata calverti were around defending their private puddles along the way. Eventually, I reached the first small but natural pond. There were a few common species knowing around, Lestes elatus and several Ceriagrion indochinense. There is also a strange-looking female, which could be C. olivaceum or even a freaky C. indochinense. I dream of it being C. pallidum, but I didn't see a single male so doubt it. I continued down the trail stopping at all the little ponds and ditches along the way, getting bitten to death by horseflies. I saw a few male and a solitary female Orolestes octomaculata - only my second sighting of the female. Finally, I reached the end of the trail, which has a fairly decent-sized pond surrounded by reeds and trees around that. It is a great place. I waded around the place and it was very quiet. The very first thing I saw was another teneral Indolestes anomalus. I followed it and lost it near the trees at the back. However, looking up there were dozens of mature males in the trees but too high up to photograph. Then, with the appearance of the sun, many specimens started to appear at pond level. There were many male I. anomalus and eventually there were was literally dozens of copula. Large numbers of Ceriagrion azureum appeared (I have never seen so many) and they, too, were copulating, so I saw the female for the first time. Everywhere I looked, they were at it! Possibly as it was the first decent break in the weather for a long time and the were randy! The numbers of specimens was large but only a few species were present. Then, flying straight through the reeds was Lestes praemorsus decipiens. Or was it? I followed it around the pond attempting to take photos but it was seriously skittish. I finally hit lucky and it perched long enough to get photos. The striking difference was the small dorsal patch on unlike the large patch on Lestes praemorsus. It also seemed a little larger and upon closer inspection it seems that the inferior appendages are too short. It could possibly be Lestes dorothea (as it was recorded at Phu Khieo, not too far away), but it is too pruinosed to be sure. So, for now, it will have to stay as Lestes sp. On my way back I visited the same ponds and now they, too were filled with the same species. Copula everywhere. Now including many of the Lestes species too and hundreds of L. anomalus copula everywhere. Even back at the ditch near the car there were several specimens of the same species I had seen along the trail. It really was the right time to go there! However, I think I will have to return to collect specimens of the Lestes species to find out exactly what it is.
Best pics of the day:

How many copula can you get on a stick? ... they were everywhere. Note the white holes created by the females to place eggs.

The Lestes sp. ... L. dorothea or a variation of L. praemorsus?

... and the copula (even the female looks different than that of Lestes praemorsus)

My bag was being well guarded by a tiny frog ...

if you ever want to go ...

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