Monday, August 6, 2012

152.Coeliccia sp. (undescribed species)

Number: 152
Family: Platycnemididae
Genus:  Coeliccia
Species:  Coeliccia sp. (undescribed species)
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): N/A
Habitat: Heavily forested uplands stream
Province(s) sighted: Lamklong Ngu NP (Kanchanaburi)
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): August
Species easily confused with: Coeliccia didymaCoeliccia octogesima

A 2-hour drive from Kanchanaburi, followed by a torrid drive through mud to only be told that the place was closed, was heart-wrenching. The pathway was blocked with fallen bamboo and there was no way through for the car. Unperturbed, I left the car at the entrance (with my girlfriend inside) and set off, climbing over bamboo and trees that had fallen over in the torrential rain. 

I reached the river ... awesome. Yet, unlike the last time when odonata were buzzing around everywhere, there were simply none. Nothing at all. I walked about 500 metres along an extremely slippery pathway, only to be greeted by a blocked section of the river, which caused mass flooding of the area and there was totally and utterly no way through. A waste of a journey. I turned back and made it to the entrance of the river. I looked along the sheltered trees to see if any specimens were taking refuge ... and there was a solitary Coeliccia didyma. I couldn't get a shot of him where he was (too far up and the leaf he was on was constantly bouncing from the rain drops), so I picked him up with my fingers and noticed something different about him ... the thoracic markings were totally different. Surely this wasn't C. didyma at all, was it? I scrambled to get my camera out of the bag again with one hand (the other held the specimen) and as I attempted to get the ring flash, the heavens opened once more. This time heavier than ever. There was no way I could use the ring flash - the water would have wrecked it for sure. Instead, I was limited to my camera without flash and in extremely low light. Crouched over my camera to keep it as dry as possible, I took a few photos, but just as I was about to take photos of the caudal appendages, I noticed that my camera bag was open and I reacted to close it and save may camera equipment and passport from certain death. By doing this I momentarily let go of the specimen and he flew about 5 metres high up into the branches - I could see him, but he was too far away. The rain continued to pour down heavily and I had to give up my search. 

The male is similar to that of C. didyma, but also resembles both C. nemoricola (endemic to Borneo) and C. octogesima (consigned to the very south of Thailand). However, looking at all 3 species [see], it is clearly none of them.

I have since had this confirmed by Noppadon Makbun that it is indeed a different species. However, it is yet to be described (and has been undescribed for a long time). The first record of this species was also recorded at the same place. So good news that it is a new species. Bad news, however, that it's not yet been described!

The male ...
Here is the standard shot in the hand ... he looks the same as C. didyma. However, there is a small black downward-turning protrusion at the base of the inferior caudal appendages.

Here is where the species differs much more. It looks like music notes ... 

Here I was trying to focus on the neck joint - the whiteish-grey joint between the head and the neck (sorry for not knowing the correct technical words) If you look closely, you can clearly see 2 small blue arrow shaped marks.

Unfortunately, as I was about to photograph the caudal appendages, all hell broke loose and he was able to fly up into the trees. 

Hopefully, one day, it will be described and I can give him a name!
Many thanks to Noppadon for the info!

151. Protosticta medusa (Fraser, 1934)

Number: 151
Family: Platystictidae
Genus:  Protosticta
Species:  Protosticta medusa
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): แมลงปอเข็มรำไรเมดูซา
Habitat: Extremely darkened areas in forested streams
Province(s) sighted: Sai Yok Yai Waterfall (Kanchanaburi)
Sightings (by me): Rare
In flight (that I have seen): August

Following a difficult day at Erawan (seriously dark with heavy rain, mud and tourists), I decided to venture to a place I had been to once before. Again, it was extremely quiet on the odonata front and the heavens opened within about 5 minutes of my arrival. Fortunately, there was a break in the weather and I was able to search gingerly. The place was totally void of odonata ... well, not quite. Under a tree and heavily shaded, almost black, was a solitary damselfly. And I knew it was a new species straight away, due to its rather distinct caudal appendages. 

Searching the Internet when I returned home, I think it is Protosticta medusa. I only saw this solitary male, but did get a fleeting glimpse of the female. She came into view (near the same tree) and the male [I was photographing] swooped down onto her and then carried her high up into the trees. And that was it. I didn't see another male or female for that matter, even though I continued for long periods. Still, I got pretty good shots of the male. 

The male
It looks similar to many other species in the genus. However, its caudal appendages and highly distinctive and large. It also seems to have some kind of feather thing (???) above the caudal appendages, though I'm not sure what this is, or what it is used for.

Caudal appendages ...
Here you can see just how complex the caudal appendages are. Also, you can see the little feather-like protrusion coming out of the top. Any ideas what this is for???

150. Protosticta curiosa (Fraser, 1934)

Number: 150
Family: Platystictidae
Genus:  Protosticta
Species:  Protosticta curiosa
Common name(s): N/A
Thai name(s): แมลงปอเข็มรำไรปล้องฟ้า, แมลงปอเข็มรำไรปล้องขาว
Habitat: Extremely darkened areas in upland forested streams
Province(s) sighted: Erawan Waterfall [level 5] (Kanchanaburi); Tak environs
Sightings (by me): Scarce
In flight (that I have seen): August-October
An amazingly difficult and arduous trip to Kanachanburi only yielded a few new species. In fact, there were very few species of any description full stop. Primarily, as it was raining heavily throughout the trip and many areas were completely inaccessible (some areas were totally blocked). After 4 hours of searching at Erawan waterfall, amongst the millions of Speedo-wearing tourists, I was about to give up. Then, my girlfriend, Beau, noticed a small damselfly deep in the bushes directly below level 5. It turned out to be a female Protosticta grandis - a species I had spotted briefly before, but only a teneral male. Searching deeper in the bushes, I noticed another male and then several more. Amongst them, I saw a single male of another species. It had an extremely long and slim abdomen. I could hardly see it and it took me an age to get any decent photos in almost pitch dark. Not only was it dark, they were resting on twigs just above rotting leaves. They were almost impossible to see. I saw 2 males and 3-4 females within a very small area. 
I returned home and did a little research on the Internet. I'm confident its Protosticta curiosa.
The male
It is instantly recognisable for its extremely long and slim abdomen - how can they fly with wings s short? It eyes are more of a jade colour too, whereas other similar species they are more of a blue colour. Since then, I have also spotted a male in Tak province and managed to get improved photos.


The female
There were more females than males present, but were still extremely difficult to photograph. Similar to the male, but has a much stouter and shorter abdomen.

In the hand
Here's a female I managed to catch with my fingers. Unfortunately, it was that dark, I couldn't hardly see when focussing, even with the pilot light on my ring flash. Though not a great photo (blurred to buggery), it shows more accurate colours (especially in the eyes).

If you want to see this species, you will have to search really carefully - even then it may elude you.