Sunday, August 7, 2016

The species keep on coming .... at Phu Khieo WS

Location: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum
Date: Saturday 6th August, 2016
Habitat: Mid- to upland forested ponds (many temporary)

First of all, I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like recently and it can be frustrating. However, needs must and I can't turn down work. Unfortunately, this work is eating right into the best part of the season. Worse still, it seems as though another species turns up during every trip. If I could get out there even more, I would be approaching that magical 200 sooner, I think. Anyway, rant over and on with yesterday. It had been pouring down with rain all week, sometimes it was torrential, and I was in two minds whether to even go or not. August is a particularly bad month for rain and I never seen to get to go out. Therefore, at the last hour I set out regardless, totally unperturbed. I even set out later than usual, at around 5.30am (instead of 4.00am) with the idea that by the time I arrived, the dragons would have too. Unfortunately, it was raining upon arrival and making my way to the summit was slower than usual. I checked out a few ponds at the lower reaches and only saw a couple of common species, though I did see a freshly emerged Gynacantha subinterrupta which, by the time I had assembled my camera gear and crept back down the banking and into the water, had gained enough energy to flutter up into the canopy. Note to self: set up before you enter the park!!!

The other small ponds on the stretch between the entrance and the River Phrom housed the usual suspects and nothing really to report. One of my aims was to scour the river as it was the perfect time. However, upon reaching the river at the bridge, I glanced and quickly moved on. It was heavily swollen and bombing through. There was no chance of seeing anything and it looked rather dangerous. So, a pond day it was. This became the turning point of the day as I am getting familiar with many of the small ponds on the way up. There is one that is set back and I only know it is there from memory. It is hard to find in all honesty and I fell upon it by chance. After following a couple of spreadwings species hoping that one of them was the elusive L. dorothea (which none of them were), I saw two male Ceriagrion indochinense harry a slightly smaller, slimmer and much paler specimen into the reeds. Was it? Could it ... naaa? I checked anyway. And there it was: Ceriagrion pallidum, a species I had been looking for now for two years. It was recorded from the park once previously and is the only known place in Thailand. I was over the moon to say the least. Better still, I saw a second male and then a female. Both of which were happy to pose and were not skittish like most from the genus. Clicking my heels, I searched around the rest of the little pond and I was instantly shocked again. Right before my eyes was the tiniest red dragonfly I had ever seen. Much smaller than I ever imagined, but there it was: Nannophya pygmaea. A real lifer for me. It didn't hang around long so I searched the place for another male or even the female for a couple of hours, but to no avail. So I moved on. Two new species for my records under my belt and I was really happy. I continued up to the top searching for Gynacantha species and any other species I could find. Other than spotting numerous Orolestes octomaculata, a few O. selysi and got decent shots of a Tramea transmarina euryale copula, it was just the usual species. However, I did manage to spot C. pallidum at several other ponds, but were in small numbers, so there seems to be a healthy population. As for N. pygmaea, it is a rare species at the best of times. In NE Thailand it may be even rarer. In terms of seeing it again and its female counterpart, only time will tell.

My best shots of the day:

Tramea transmarina euryale, the female had been invaded by parasites, though it didn't seem to affect performance.

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Ceriagrion pallidum. Not sure if natural photos have ever been taken of this species in the wild, but here they are now anyway. At first glance, it could look like one of several species.

A lifer for me, gone in a flash. Nannophya pygmaea. Now I know it's here, I WILL find it again and the female.

A few other usual suspects


  1. The little round things on her abdomen are parasites?

    1. Yes, indeed they are... however, they don't really cause much harm I believe.