Thursday, July 5, 2018

Phu Phan National Park: Part 2

Location: Phu Phan National Park (Kalasin)
Date: Saturday, 30 June 2018
Habitat: Lowland forest (waterfall, small pond, dry and dingy riverbed) 

Well, following my recent visit to Phu Phan National Park (Kalasin end), there were a number of questions left unanswered. Therefore, I had to return. However, being so busy with teaching, proofreading and now doing a ton of coursework for my teacher's licence with trips to Bangkok you would be forgiven or thinking that I simply did not have the time. Well, I simply had to find time. 

So, I returned... though I didn't arrive until almost 10 am. I decided to hit the pond where I previously saw a few decent species, including around 25 Camacinia gigantea. Now, the pond/marsh was starting to fill up with water. It was much more difficult to get around and I always got that sinking feeling with almost every step... quite literally. So, I had to tread carefully. Being later did have its advantages as it was already super bright and hot. Again, Camacinia gigantea were everywhere. And there were even more of them. It was an amazingly cool spectacle watching them whiz around the  marshy area diving into incredibly short mid-air battles with other males. I then was drawn to a small blue copula... a species that I saw on the previous trip... was it, in fact, the species that I quickly dismissed as Indolestes anomalus? Well, turns out it was. Not long after, another Anax guttatus turned up like it did last time... but then it got me thinking: "Was it A. guttatus?" With the blinding sun beating down and right in my face (like last time) it was difficult to tell and so my only option was to (secretly) get out my net. I bombed it passed a few times coming closer with each passing. Then, I just went for it and YES! I got it. Even through the net, I realised that I was incorrect with my initial ID. It was, in fact, Anax indicus! Certainly not the rarest of species, but the first time I have seen in it Kalasin. Provincial record? Who knows?

Well, that was about it for the pond, but I will return there later in the year. I needed to hit the bone dry stream -- or overflow from the pond. This time I wasn't attacked by bees or wasps and the walk was painless enough. Once I reached to dry stream it looked the same as last time. Quite a few Vestalis gracilis still watching me from afar but that seemed to be it. I finally saw a glimmer of blue in the gloom and knew what it was... but thought I would leave it til later. I decided to search for the Gynacantha species I saw last time. However, being a snip brighter this time round left the place devoid of life. Nothing, now't, zip... not a sausage. There were rangers doing something about 50 meters away and maybe they had scared them off, but I think they had moved much deeper into the undergrowth due to the light. So, back to that blue dot. Like last time, there was only one Coeliccia species there. And there was only one specimen. Being so dark and the specimen being as skittish as hell I was none the wiser. So, I moved along a little and at another junction, I saw a further three males and a solitary female. 

Also, with slightly better light I finally managed to get improvement shots, though I still want better. Now, I am pretty sure that it is, in fact, Coeliccia nigrescens. I also managed to collect a solitary male and I am sending it to Noppadon so hopefully will have 100% confirmation an time now. So, that was it. Quiet, but still has bags of potential when the water finally arrives. It has also opened my mind to searching more 'dead' dry stream beds as it seems that I may have been wrong about them after all...

Best shots of the day...

Indolestes anomalus, copula -- a first for Kalasin? Anyway, nice to see all the same. 
 Anax indicus, male -- a beautiful beast of a dragon. I would love to catch them all to compare!
... and upon release. One shot and he flew straight up into the trees!

Coeliccia nigrescens, male. Pretty sure this is correct now... but could be a sub-species, possibly? The appendages scream C. nigrescens, but those thoracic markings don't add up.

Another angle...

And I even got a fleeting glimpse of the female!

 Camacinia gigantea, male... these were very common at the one pond! Brilliant to see so many.
 Acisoma panorpoides, female. I cannot remember the last time I took a photo of this species!
Lathrecista asiatica asiatica, male -- first sighting of the year. There were several males in the sidelines.
I already have cracking photos of the wheel, but how could I resist? Ceriagrion indochinense, copula.

Next trip: Khao Kitchacup National Park, Chantaburi (13-15 July), all being well.