Sunday, August 2, 2015

Yet another trip to Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary

Location:  Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum Province 
Date: Thursday 30 July, 2015 
Areas visited: Marshland, open grassland and a little stream

Well, I think that you have guessed the 'theme' for the season (and next) ... Phu Khieo. It is an amazing place and I know that there are loads of species waiting to be found, though I will settle for one right now. What's more, with a 4-day break upon me, it was impossible not to go somewhere and with my girlfriend, Beau, having to attend a seminar during a national Buddhist holiday (how pathetic is our school?), I had no option but to go to Phu Khieo .. well, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Well, it does for me, so shut it. Ahem. Anyway, it had been raining heavily all week and was forecast to do so that day. So ... I decided to stay at home and watch the telly. Yeah, right. I still went and this time I didn't travel alone. I travelled there with a birder whom I got to know through my brother. His name is Mark Hogarth and, as it turns out, he is the salt of the earth ... even though he is a birder haha. Moreover, his butties are top notch and he is welcome to come again any time ... as long as he makes the sandwiches! Seriously, though, he is a cool guy and very experienced when it comes to birds and nature. So, we arrived at 6am and entered the sanctuary. Straight away there were some colourful chickens knocking about and Mark was in his element. I think there was a sparrow and a pigeon, too. Joking aside, there were seemingly lots of birds and it took a while to reach the top. There, we parted ways. He went in search of birds, me, in search of odes. My only option due to the weather was the open marshy area. I really, really wanted to see that Indolestes gracilis ssp. again ... so, I searched for hours. Making my way slowly. Very slowly, though mud, silt, waist-deep water and enormous leeches. It was hard. With my bag up to 500 metres away (nestled in a dry patch), I always had one eye on the odes and one of the sky ... it was going to rain. Heavy clouds. I kept searching. And searching. I found only small numbers of odonates were present that day, but some were fairly scarce, namely Platylestes platystylus and Lestes praemorsus decipiens in the same location made separating them easy. The usual scarce species Rhyothemis obsolescens was also present in very small numbers, as were a few of the more common 'locals'. Anyway, by 12.15pm I had had enough wading through mud and prepared to return to the meeting point. I thought I would try returning via the trees and bushes as usual. Much harder but sometimes brings rewards. Just as I was getting annoyed with myself for not seeing Indolestes gracilis (4 trips, 1 sighting) again, I noticed a chubby yellow and black female. I knew what it was straight away. Lyriothemis sp. again ... this time a female of the same species I had encountered twice before (1 male and 1 female) ... this time I got decent photos, though I am non the wiser about which species it is. I returned to get my bag and then noticed a damselfly I had seen before in the north ... Pseudagrion pruinosum, a solitary male at a swamp. I was rather surprised to see it here! As I walked back to the top, I briefly caught sight of something take off ... it looked somewhat like a Idionyx sp. in the way it took off, but seemed strange that it was at the swamp. Anyway, that was gone and I can only hope to see it again. I met up with Mark and he was smiling like a Cheshire cat with the numbers of birds he had seen! We then went to a few other places and I didn't see anything new, though I was constantly on the look-out for new species in the grasses ... to no avail. Then down to a small stream. I tackled the stream but noticed a solitary Coeliccia c.f. loogali soaking up the brightest bit of gloom and that was it! Amazingly quiet. Still, looking forward to the next trip there ... 





probably a teneral of the above ...



Two teneral  B. farinosa females ... same location, very different appearance. Very interesting. 



I was very surprised to see this in Chaiyaphum in marshland. Maybe a provincial record. 


Mr. Coeliccia c.f. loogali .... my only sighting along a 1/2 kilometre stretch of a tiny stream ... I thought that there would be several species! Still it was a dull day.


Just when you thought it was safe to back into the water ... there were a few massive leeches hanging around in the boggy swamp. Not the usual little land leeches, these were enormous and even made me nervous. I picked one off my back but three still managed to drink about a litre of blood each from my legs. This one dropped off my leg once it had had its fill. And, yes. It was painful but only when as it released itself ... nice!