Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Krathing Waterfall... 3rd Time (Very) Lucky!

Location: Krathing Waterfall and environs (Chantaburi)
Date: 13-15 July, 2018
Habitat: Forest swamp, waterfalls, open farmland and scrub

Well, I think the number is 10... it took me 10 years to reach 200 photographed species and 10 years to finally get to meet Noppadon Makbun! As a wonderful bonus, I got to meet the entire admin of Dragonflies of Thailand, Facebook Group (and few other great guys) -- some of which I have known for 7 or 8 years but only through the group. Finally, I can put a face to everyone... though I am old and will forget soon meaning there will have to be many more trips so that I can remember!

The venue was Krathing Waterfall in Chantaburi, a place I had visited on two other occasions but in April and December. They were decent trips, but quiet on the ode front. This trip, however, had everything for me... missing a few vital shots, seeing a few incredibly rare species, being waist deep in pond (as usual), having a wonderful time and, of course, seeing the guys! I was invited by Noppadon to tag along and, for the first time, I was actually free to join them! So, along with Beau -- who also wanted to meet everyone -- we set off at 3.30 am on the Friday morning. It took around 9 hours to get there including a few stop-offs. I was informed by Noppadon that there was a hidden swamp just outside the entrance where Brachygonia oculata could be found (a lifer for me)... but he failed to mention how hidden it was! It took me about 20 minutes to find it! So, in I went with my camera, Beau waiting in the car. I searched for what seemed an eternity being ripped to shreds by savage bamboo... why is it always where great dragons are? Anyway, I almost gave up... but finally I saw a white wisp... and there it was. I managed to get decent shots of it after a calamity with my lens (serious fogging) and almost dark with heavy cloud cover setting in. And that was the theme of the trip... terrible weather, tough conditions, and still those dragons appeared -- eventually. These included Macromia cupricincta (crashed into my bungalow window at dusk), Orchithemis pulcherrima, female (though some saw a male) which was a total surprise, Risiophlebia guentheri, the reason for the trip... and an awesome species, as well as two species found outside the park and in farmer's fields of all places including Mortonagrion falactum and another Lyriothemis species (similar to others... see earlier posts). There were also many species I had seen before but many I rarely see like Nannophya species a species I saw once at Phu Khieo WS (probably to be described)! So photo opportunities ahoy!

Overall, I saw 6 new species for my records and had countless other photographic opportunities... I will hopefully be meeting up with them again very soon indeed!

 The gang... (Lyriothemis sp. field in the background). Can you see me?
And eating... 
 My bungalow... very cute... deep discussion about Yingsak's 'yellow damsel' if memory serves correct!
A couple of 'action shots'...
Best shots of the trip...

Not new but sooooo cool, the micro Nannophya species... abundant in a paddy field...
 ...but the female is even more handsome and my first sighting...
Tetrathemis irregularis hyalina, female... I am now happy that I have seem in at Khao Yai. However... I saw about 5 males and walked past them all. What an idiot!!!
Certainly not rare anywhere... but they don't come much more beautiful than this. Rhyothemis plutonia, male.
And not to leave out his cousin... Rhyothemis obsolescens, male
and finally I have a full wing shot of Neurothemis fluctuans, male... not common where I live, but very common here. 
Not that common in Issarn, but seemingly so here... Agrionoptera insignis insignis, male.
Probably the most common of all that I photographed but who cares? Copera marginipes, female 'ghost form' ... or just a teneral to most of us!
 Blue is the colour... why do I never see the blue males near home (they are green) and only here... Ceriagrion cerinorubellum, male

 And now the 'newbies'...
A lifer for me, the minuscule, Brachygonia oculata... what an awesome species that sparkled in the darkness!
...and one even knocked on the door to visit me... Macromia cupricincta, male
The 'surprise' of the trip... Orchithemis pulcherrima, youngish female. Known from more southerly reaches... shame I missed the male!
and abundant in a paddy field or two and in the same fields as the Nannophya species, Mortonagrion falcatum, male... weirdest location ever?
...and the female...
The 'reason' for the trip... Risiophlebia guentheri, male in seriously dull conditions in swamp...
 ...and the female...
... and the potentially new Lyriothemis species abundant in scrub... possibly the strangest location ever to find such a rarity! Though the other field will give it a run for its money!
The male...
...and the female...
Finally, Noppadon may not like this but I don't care hahaha... 10 years in the making....
I would just like to thank everyone for making it such a wonderful experience... even though it was weird hunting for dragons in a group (my first time as I have done 10 years alone) and it was awesome... roll on the next trip!