Sunday, June 5, 2016

A trip to Phu Kao - Phu Phan Kham National Park (Khon Kaen)

Location: Phu Kao - Phu Phan Kham National Park, Khon Kaen
Date: Saturday 28th May, 2016
Habitat: lowland, shallow lake on the edge of some decent forest

As we all know, trying something new doesn't always pay off. And this little trip was neither a new location nor did it yield any new species for me. However, I had only visited once before really early in the season and I saw quite a few decent species. Therefore, I thought it was high time to return. Unfortunately, all those earlier species had vanished and there were very few species to be seen at all. The location was almost identical to that at Nam Phong (shallow yet large lake surrounded by lowland forest - and is within the same strip of forest) and I expected to see Sinictinogomphus clavatus phaleratus. It duly delivered. It is most certainly an uncommon species in Thailand, yet within ten minutes of looking, I found one of the large beasts perched on a solitary stick about five metre out in the water. Creeping up to it and getting decent photos, however, is a completely different thing. Though it is a massive species, it is incredibly skittish and is easily spooked. One wrong move, going a little too close or even blinking at the wrong time and it has already taken off before you have a chance to photograph it.

That said, unlike at Nam Phong where it seems quite scarce, it was most certainly abundant here. Failed attempt after failed attempt, however, nearly got the better of me. And with that horrible blistering Issan sunshine, I was already wilting by 10 am. However, thinking about my many failed attempts from previous trips, I marched - or rather crept - on. Eventually, I managed to get close to one specimen and it simply didn't move. Instead, he was happy to perch on his stick even with me near him. I was amazed, but seriously happy. I got my photos of the male at last and was even lucky to spot and photograph a female ovipositing, closely guarded by another male. Other than this species and many specimens of Epophthalmia frontalis whizzing around the lake, but all in flight and NEVER perched (as always) and that was it. I am sure there are more species there, but I spent all my time on S. clavatus.

My best shots of the day:
A decent shot of the female in flight (she kept on pausing like this to produce eggs).
She then swooped down and literally smashed her abdomen into the water's surface with a loud splash.
All the while, the male was guarding here closely from above