Thursday, October 11, 2018

217. Polycanthagyna ornithocephala (McLachlan, 1896)

Number: 217
Family: Aeschnidae
Species: Polycanthagyna ornithocephala
Common name: Beak-tailed Hawker
Synonyms: Aeshna ornithocephala McLachlan, 1896
Habitat: Forested pond
Provinces sighted: Nam Nao NP (Petchabun)
Sightings: Rare (solitary male)
In flight (that I have seen): October
Species easily confused with: Polycanthagyna erythromelas

I recently visited Nam Nao NP in Petchabun for the first time in over two years. However, I have kind of done the main bits to death, as too has my brother Paul (for birds). Therefore, we decided to search a little deeper and try to find a few more areas. Though limited on where to visit at the park, there were numerous ponds and ditches along the 14 kms trail to the ranger station I hadn't visited before (I used to just drive quickly along the trail as it seemed to by dry and devoid of life all the way). Anyway, at one small pond that was part exposed to baking heat and the other part in shade, it looked like a typical pond and didn't seem to offer much. However, I suddenly noticed a large dragonfly fly out from the shaded area and into the bright sunshine where it was instantly attacked by several smaller dragonflies. Amazingly, it returned to the same shaded area and I was able to creep across the pond and get in some shots pretty easily, though I was hampered by the sun blasting through the trees making photograhpy difficult. Once I had got enough shots, I wasn't sure if it was a new species or not. It was likely to be Polycanthgyna erythromelas as I had once seen it at Phu Khieo, which is not too far away. Anyway, upon processing the photos I noticed that it had a blue head instead of green and some of the markings were slightly different, though I just put it all down to variation. Anyway, upon posting it on the Facebook dragonfly group, Noppadon Makbun thought it was actually a different species, Polycanthagyna ornithocephala, a species that had only been recorded from one location in Kanchanaburi back in 2000. Noppadon's suspicion was confirmed by Wen-Chi Yeh. So, amazingly, it turns out to be a rather rare and special species indeed! I hope to return soon and search for the female as it looks so cool!

The male
They don't come much more stunning than this. 

 Slightly nicer shot from a different angle as I could eliminate the annoying sun.

The appendages
Rather interesting appendages, I think.
Many thanks to Noppadon Makbun for correcting my initial ID and Wen-Chi Yeh for the confirmation.

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