Sunday, June 16, 2013

160. Burmagomphus asahinai (Kosterin, Makbun & Dawrueng, 2012)

Number: 160
Family: Gomphidae
Genus: Burmagomphus
Species: Burmagomphus asahinai
Common name(s): N/A
Synonyms: N/A
Habitat: Uplands stream
Province(s) sighted: Nr. Sum Bon Ranger Station, Nam Nao National Park (Petchabun)
Sightings (by me): Extremely Rare
In flight (that I have seen): June (2013)
Species easily confused with: Burmagomphus divaricatus

Yesterday, I returned to Nam Nao NP in the hope of finding something new for my personal records ... even a provincial record, maybe. As I waded through a shallow, but rocky stream, I noticed a small Gomphidae obilisking in the hot sun. As I carefully approached, another slightly larger Gomphidae dropped onto it and a battle ensued. Both flew away ... you could say I was a bit p****d off to say the least. I carried on and eventually at a long flat area of rock surface in the middle of the stream, I saw 2 more males of the same species soaking up the sun. This time I managed to photograph them pretty well  in blinding sunshine and thought that they were Burmagomphus divaricatus. It was only when I got home and looked through my photos more carefully that I noticed that it had slightly different thoracic markings to those I saw in Nam Nao town (about 60-70 kms away) and at Khao Yai - both other places were large, open streams. This was small and rocky. Anyway, I posted a few photos on Dragonflies of Thailand Group (Facebook) and it was comfirmed as Burmagomphus asahinai, a species recently described by three people who I don't have any idea who they are ... hahaha Seriously, though, both Noppadon Makbun and Pattarawich Dawrueng comfirmed this species and Pattarawich also said it was a provincial record ... so I think I can safely say that this is correct. Many thanks to those mentioned as well as everyone else who contributes on the Dragonflies of Thailand Group (Facebook). Without you, as well as Oleg Kosterin, I wouldn't be able to differentiate between Burmagomphus asahinai and Diplacodes trivialis haha

The male
The male is difficult to differentiate between the other species in the genus. The thoracic markings are probably the most obviously difference, though still subtle.  The only thing I can suggest is, always take photos of Gomphidae ... it's not as if you see them everyday anyway. and you may record a new species for yourself!

Male appendages
The male appendages differ slightly to those of Burmagomphus divaricatus (click on link to see entry) - they seem slightly thicker and more curved than those of B. divaricatus. Not the best photos in the world, but may help someone correctly ID the species in the field.

I will return in a month hopefully to spot the female ...

159. Stylogomphus sp. (possibly undescribed)

Number: 159
Family: Gomphidae
Genus: Stylogomphus
Species: Stylogomphus sp. (unknown species)
Common name(s): N/A
Synonyms: N/A
Habitat: Uplands stream
Province(s) sighted: Nr. Sum Bon Ranger Station, Nam Nao National Park (Petchabun)
Sightings (by me): Extremely Rare
In flight (that I have seen): June (2013)
Species easily confused with: ALL small Gomphidae species (unless you can see the appendages)
Upon my return to Nam Nao National Park for the first time in 5 months, I didn't really expect to find too many new records for me. However, being the eternal optimist, I always think I'm going to find 100 new species on every trip - until I get there. This time, however, everywhere just seemed alive with dragonflies. I had to search through the common species and butterflies to try and find something new. At a tiny stream near the Ranger Station in the National Park (entrance near the Helicopter Pad lake), I thought I'd have a final look before heading home. I climbed down the steep banking and instantly I saw a teneral Gomphidae hiding deep in the grasses. I managed to get a few half-decent photos in, but as I tried to carefully clear some of the grass to get a better shot of the anal appendages, he flew up, high into the tree canopies. Still, it has been ID'd by the guys on Dragonflies of Thailand (Facebook Group) as Stylogomphus sp., though the exact species is unknown. It may even be undescribed. Noppadon Makbun said that it looked similar to those found in Western and Northen Thailand. Hopefully, one day, I'll find out for sure.

Since then, I have found another Stylogomphus species at Kaeng Krachan, which can be found here.

Here's the best I could do with showing the appendages (rubbish, I know). They do show the whitish protrusion pointing outwards from the caudal appendages. It looks like the stylus from an old record player ... probably where it gets its name.

Return trip to Nam Nam NP

Location: Nam Nam National Park, Petchabun Province
Date: Saturday, 15 June 2013
Areas visited: Helicopter Pad Lake, 2 small streams near Som Bun Ranger Station
I finally returned to Nam Nao NP for the first time since I completed my year-long project 5 months ago. I arrived at 6.30 a.m. and it was already warm and bright with a few very common species buzzing around. Then I noticed a little blue specimen perching on the grasses in the marshy area ... I knew what he was straight away, Amphiallagma parvum. A beautiful species I rarely see and one reason I was here again was to spot the female. I did also spot a young male Gynacantha subinterrupta, for the first time. Maybe it's a provincial record but I don't think so. Still, it's a new record for me at the lake! Other than that, it was mainly common, ever-present species so, by 10.30 a.m. I moved on to the first stream. To reach the stream you have to travel along a long and bumpy dirt track to get to the ranger station. It's about 14-15 kms and your body knows it has been busy by the end. I reached the first stream and it was very low and small. I could see a number of male Gomphidia kruegeri kruegeri and Gomphidictinus perakensis, perched on sticks and branches. However, my target stream was further on. At the second stream odonates were moving around everywhere and couldn't get my camera out quick enough. There were that many specimens that I had to ignore the more common ones and try to look through them to spot less common. Now, not only were there loads of dragonflies, butterflies were everywhere too! Literally thousands of 'things' everywhere. There was almost no sky left in some areas haha. Eventually I saw another Gomphidae in the shape of Merogomphus parvus, which I had seen once before at the stream which runs through the HQ. Later on I saw a small number of a species close to (or a slight variation on) Burmagomphus divaricatus, which I have seen near Nam Nao town about 60 or so kms away. Other than that, it was the usual candidates which can be found at the HQ stream, but are far more abundant here. I will definitely return in a month or so. On the way back I stopped at the tiny stream and the males were still there. I made my way down and instantly saw a small teneral Gomphidae tucked away deep in the grasses. I took some photos (the best I could) and then posted them on Facebook (Dragonflies of Thailand). It has been IDd as a Stylogomphus sp. so a new species and genus for me! Finally, I returned to the Helicopter Pad lake for a final quick visit. Amazingly, I saw about 4-5 male Ceriagrion azureum (I had previously only seen 2 males on the same day before) and I saw 3 male Indolestes inflatus, deep in the grasses. So I never did get to spot female Amphiallagma parvum, but I did get to see some rare species ... and I have the perfect excuse to come back again!
Was it worth the 330 kms round trip on my little scooter? I'll let you decide.
Ceriagrion azureum, male - one of my favourite species

Amphiallagma parvum, male - only my second sighting at the lake, but I still haven't spotted the female!

Indolestes inflatus, male basking in the late afternoon sunshine.

R. triangularis - How can this beautiful species not brighten up your day?

The start of my incredible Gomphi 'day' - sorry, that was terrible.
Merogomphus parvus, male - always a welcome sight.
Gomphidia kruegeri kruegeri, male - only spotted 1 male before. They were common at both streams, but really difficult to approach
Stylogomphus sp., teneral male - probably may never know the exact species, but a new genus and new provincial record all the same!

Burmagomphus divaricatus, male - or very close to it. Seems to have slightly different thoracic markings to the others I have seen. Possibly a slight variation.

Tetrathemis platyptera, teneral male - hanging on to his new life... literally

 Aethriamanta gracilis, male - my second sighting at the lake.

Caught in a trap ...
 B. farinosa, male and  P. jorina, teneral female ... the latter I saved.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Trip to Phu Pha Man Nation Park

Location: Phu Pha Man National Park, Khon Kaen Province
Date: Saturday, 01 June 2013
Areas visited: Palan Thong Waterfall, Tat Yai Waterfall, large pond/stream area
A carefully planned trip to Phu Pha Man NP really didn't turn out as planned! It was a trip I had researched and was hoping it was going to be amazing, yielding lots of new species to add to my personal list. Instead, it was a case of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly ... very ugly, actually. The Good: on the way to Tat Yai waterfall, I managed to spot a beautiful area of tiny stream which had opened out into a large pond/lake and had Phu Pha Man mountains in the background. It was breathtaking. There were dragonflies everywhere, but hard to access as the pond was seriously deep and the edges were covered in tall grasses. However, I managed to spot 3 new records for Khon Kaen province Aethriamanta gracilis, Hydrobasileus croceus and Rhyothemis triangularis. It's not too far from the headquarters and I will return later in the year. The Bad: My main target was Palan Thong waterfall near the main headquarters (though it was a distance away and badly signposted. If I couldn't speak Thai, I would never have found it). Anyway, being June, I thought that there would have been a nice little stream to look at, even though not maybe in full flow... er, no. Not even a trickle. Though I searched for a few hours and didn't see a single odonate, there is hope. There were a few pockets of water which will hold larvae and the place looks good. Lots of tree cover and a few open places for odonates to soak up the sun when (or if) they arrive. I left sad, but somehow happy, confident of better reults on my next return. Nearby, I saw a small farmer's pond and there was a solitary male Tramea transmarina euryale patrolling as the sun shone, so another provincial record.... and now certainly the Ugly: Tat Yai waterfall was almost impossible to find. Everything was in Thai (so took me ages to work out), I had to work my way through kilometre after kilometre of cultivated farmland and then ride my scooter up a ridiculously steep hill. I think I topped about 3 kms an hour. This went on for a good distance and with the onset of thick mud and grit it was getting harder and harder ... even now I know I cannot return with the rains. I simply would not make it. Only a 4x4 would have a chance. My fat carcass on a tiny 110 cc motorbike? Hahaha. Anyway, following an arduous and sometimes perilous journey, I reached a crossroads in the dirt track ... a sign to different places (in Thai of course), but no mention of a waterfall. Great. Super. Smashing. Surely the real sign was: "turn back, Dennis!" Amazingly, I could hear a motorbike coming towards me. Two kids were messing about on a bike and I stopped and asked if there was a waterfall here. There was and they directed me to carry on and then take a left (thanks, kids!). I carried on and arrived at a tiny village??? It was weird. Then the road split 3 ways. I took the left and followed another stretch of path on the way to nowhere. Then, I could hear it ... no see it ... a tiny brown trickle at the top of a would-be waterfall, if there was any water. I looked around and there wasn't even the slightest buzzing sound. But there was sound: the sound of thunder... I was off, sharpish. I set off down the stupid hill and with my brakes fully locked the bike simply would not stop. So, feet on the ground and brakes locked, I slid down to the bottom. Then my brakes failed ... I don't know why, but I had no brakes for about 10 kms until their power slowly returned. Probably burnt out on the hill. Anyway, I returned to the stream pond and snapped away before returning home ...

Some photos ...

High hopes ... my bike at the Palan Thong Waterfall sign ...

... though not doing exactly what is says on the tin ...

Still, with tree-lined surroundings and pockets of water, there is hope for when I return ...

At a large pond/stream area en route ...

Aethriamanta gracilis, tiny but a new provincial record for Khon Kaen

Aethriamanta brevipennis, red males were fairly common ...

checklist to be added ASAP