Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Short, Sweet Trip to Phu Khieo

Location: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum
Date: Saturday, 26 May 2017
Habitat: Forested streams

Well, after such an amazing experience at Hala-Bala WS last month surely nothing could top it, could it? Well, it wasn't quite as good in terms of having to busy myself making millions of mental notes regarding all the species I saw, but it was still a cracking day all the same. This was, in part, due to being introduced to Adrian Plant who was weirder than me in terms of his main interest: Diptera (flies to you and me). Yup, that puts my rather peculiar love of dragonflies to shame and can only be matched by a researcher who I once met at Nam Nao who was into moss, mushrooms and lichen. 

Adrian's deep knowledge and sheer enthusiasm could only rub off on you and leave you champing at the bit to get going! It was great walking and talking with him and my brother about anything and everything and we meandered slowly up the road towards the top, stopping off at all the small streams (my real target for the season).

On the dragonfly front, it was still a little early and snip on the quiet side. However, it seems as though things were bubbling away under the surface and would soon emerge... roll on next month. 

That said, it wasn't all bad. Standing on one of the bridges that go over the small streams, I managed to spot a large damsel high above the trees and a good distance away. I knew what it was straight away even without my bins but had no chance armed only with my 180mm macro lens... why do I keep forgetting to take my long lens? However, armed with a brother who was set up for birds, I got him to fire off a few shots and it was another species in the bag, be it a record shot for now as it was so far away. I am talking about Philoganga loringae, a species I have always wanted to see. I knew it had been recorded from the sanctuary but had never seen it before and I can only assume it was recorded quite some time ago. It was a male and must have been old as it is usually only in flight during March and April. Still, that is 15 new species clocked for my personal records this year and it only May! I also spotted female Microgomphus svihleri (formerly M. thailandicus) for the first time. I spotted a male there last year, but hadn't seen a female until now. I managed to spot a mature female full of eggs and a couple of teneral specimens. Other than the usual Gomphidia kruegeri krugeri and Gomphidictinus perakensis, the other gomphid of interest was Merogomphus pavici, a super cool species I have bumped into several times but the first time in May. Talking of May, this is the first time that I have seen Archibasis viola in this month so that extends its flight season there -- though I only got a terrible record shot (it was in the middle of a deep muddy pond as it was starting to rain and I already have very good shots of the male so gave up... the female is another story, however). I also saw 3-4 species that could have been new whizzing past me and they were impossible to net, let alone ID so there is hope for a few more additions yet... and the reason why I keep going.

That said, I did record a few more species for the sanctuary, including Zyxomma petiolatum (there were 3-4 males bombing it around a small pond after it had rained and I managed to net one for ID purposes) and Coeliccia poungyi. There were several males, females and even copula of the latter species at a dead end of a stream (it was blocked by serious amounts of debris and impassable). Though it is common at Nam Nao, I hadn't seen it there until now so another three species to add to the ever-growing list (including P. loringae). All the other species I recorded that day were fairly common for the place and not worth noting as such.

So, not the world's best trip in terms of species, but a great one all the same with my brother and Adrian to boot... or should that be 'boots' to tie in with his big wellies? Haha...

My best photos of the day:

Microgomphus svihleri, female (ID by Noppadon Makbun)... my first sighting of a female... and check out those eggs. Maybe she has been stealing salmon eggs!

... and of a teneral female (I saw 2-3 females)

Merogomphus pavici, male. I see this species quite often and it is one of my favourites... now in flight in May! 

Zyxomma petiolatum, male (in hand)... I had to net it for a positive ID before releasing it (it was so dark I could only see dark shapes moving around rapidly). Another new species for the place as was Coeliccia poungyi - though I didn't photograph it.
Ouch... a sad ending for this little fellow but at least it gave me a chance to see the wings properly rather than folded away. Euphaea masoni, male. First time I have ever seen a 'blue tint' on the wings... interesting.
 Always around but I can rarely resist when they land right in front of you... Heliocypha biforata, male.
What species am I? Answers on the back of a postcard, please...
The highlight of the day... Philoganga loringae, male. Not the best shot in the world as it was from so far away, but a cracking species and one that I WILL find again now I know where it resides.
And my interesting non-dragonfly things... any takers on species?

Coolest robber fly ever? Check out those silver go-faster stripes on the abdomen!
The ubiquitous frog... this time a tiny almost invisible frog with a lovely orange stripe along its entire body.

Next trip: Not sure but hopefully somewhere new!

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