Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Trip to Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary

Location:  Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiyaphum Province
Date: Sunday 17 November, 2014
Areas visited: A number of small, forested ponds and lakes / marshland

Finally, I got round to visiting a place I have wanted to visit for a number of years ... Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary. I have read up a lot on this place, but never visited. Why? Well, everything I have read, mentioned that you have to reserve a place in advance, it's 4 1/2 hours from Khon Kaen and doesn't open the gates until 8.00 am. Anyway, I decided it was time to try and visit. I got my girlfriend, Beau, to phone the rangers and they explained that you only have to book if you are staying for one night or more ... fantastic. One obstacle out of the way. The second was the distance. I don't have time at the moment to stay for days ... only single day trips are available. 4 1/2 hours is a long time when doubled in one day. Unperturbed, both my brother, Paul, and I, decided to head out there anyway. It took a little over 2 hours to reach the checkpoint ... nothing like the 4 1/2 hours it said on Google Maps!!! Also, it opens at 6.00am, not 8. It took a further 30 minutes once inside, but I was stopping every 2 minutes, anyway So, why visit this place? Well, I had read that there were many species there that I hadn't seen before. Most were river dwellers and being November, it's not the best time to visit rivers. I decide to target the ponds, in search of another rare species,  Ceriagrion pallidum, which has been reported there. I didn't get to see it, nor did I spot any new species for my list. However, being very quiet and similar to Nam Nao, but with an abundance of water bodies to go at - even a large, open marshy area - it IS going to be my target place next season. All in all, I spotted 40 species between myself and my brother, though mostly common species. AND I hadn't even ventured down to any streams! Roll on next April/May ... I think there will be many surprises in store. 

My best photos of the trip:

A list of the dragonflies of the ponds around Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum (that I have photographed or recorded visually)

Aciagrion borneense Ris, 1911  [♂ 2, ♀ 1]
Aciagrion pallidum Selys, 1891  [♂ 1]
Agriocnemis minima Selys, 1877  [♂, ♀ common]
Agriocnemis nana Laidlaw, 1914  [♂, ♀ very common]
Agriocnemis pygmaea (Rambur, 1842)  [♂, ♀ common]
Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola Selys, 1877  [♀ 1]
Ceriagrion auranticum auranticum Fraser, 1922  [♂ 3-4]
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum (Brauer, 1865)  [♂ common, ♀ 1]
Ceriagrion indochinense Asahina, 1967  [♂ 1]
Ischnura aurora aurora Brauer, 1865  [♂ 2, ♀ 1]
Ischnura senegalensis (Rambur, 1842)  [♂, ♀ common]
Onychargia atrocyana Selys, 1865  [♂, ♀ common, all teneral]
Pseudagrion australasiae Selys, 1876  [♂ 2-3]
Pseudagrion rubriceps rubriceps Selys, 1876  [♂, ♀ common]

Lestes concinnus Hagen in Selys, 1862  [♂, ♀ common]
Lestes elatus Hagen in Selys, 1862  [♀ 1]
Lestes praemorsus decipiens Hagen in Selys, 1862  [♂ 1]

Copera ciliata (Selys, 1863)  [♂, ♀ very common]
Copera marginipes (Rambur, 1842)  [♂ 2]
Copera vittata (Selys, 1863)   [♂ 1]

 Prodasineura autumnalis (Fraser, 1922)  [♂, ♀ common]

Ictinogomphus decoratus melaenops (Selys, 1854)  [♂ 1]

Acisoma panorpoides Rambur, 1842  [♂, ♀ fairly common]
Brachydiplax farinosa Kr├╝ger, 1902  [♂ 3-4, ♀ 1]
Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793)  [♂, ♀ very common]
Crocothemis servilia servilia (Drury, 1773)  [♂, ♀ common]
Diplacodes nebulosa (Fabricius, 1793)  [♂, ♀ very common]
Diplacodes trivialis (Rambur, 1842)  [♂, ♀ very common]
Indothemis limbata limbata (Selys, 1891)  [♂ 3-4]
Neurothemis fulvia (Drury, 1773)  [♂ 2]
Neurothemis intermedia atalanta Ris, 1919  [♂, ♀ very common]
Neurothemis tullia tullia (Drury, 1773)  [♂, ♀ very common]
Orthetrum chrysis (Selys, 1891)  [♂ common, ♀ 1]
Orthetrum glaucum (Brauer, 1865)  [♂ 3-4]
Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum (Burmeister, 1839)   [♂ very common]
Orthetrum sabina sabina (Drury, 1770)  [♂, ♀ very common]
Rhyothemis sp. (R. phyllis or R. variegate)  [♂ 1]
Tholymis tillarga (Fabricius, 1798)  [♀ 1]
Tramea transmarina euryale Selys, 1878  [♂ 2]
Trithemis aurora (Burmeister, 1839)  [♂, ♀ fairly common]

I hope to DOUBLE this list by the end of next year. Here's to hoping (and praying)!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A trip to Bam Luang Waterfall Park

Location: Bam Luang Waterfall Park, Kranuan, Khon Kaen Province
Date: Saturday 10 October, 2014
Areas visited: Small, lowland-forested waterfalls/stream and lowland lakes
Another quick trip almost to the most northerly edge of Khon Kaen province, didn't yield much in terms of species (it was vey quiet), but did add another species to my ever-growing Khon Kaen province species list. I saw Agriocnemis femina femina for the first time in KK province, following 6 years of searching. Not a rare species, by any stretch of the imagination, but one I thought wasn't present in the province. Well, it is - just. The species was abundant in one field just away from the park. That said, I didn't spot it anywhere else. Still, it has now been recorded. Other than that, it was very common species all the way, though I did spot Ceriagrion cerinorubellum yet again ... I seem to spot a solitary male on each of my trips of late.
My best photos of the day:
Welcome to Khon Kaen, Mr. and Mrs. A. femina
Are you the same male, following me around?

Next trip: A return to Joe's Pad ... in search of B. sobrina, female!

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Trip to Udon Thani

Location: A trip to Udon Thani environs
Date: Saturday 04 October, 2014
Areas visited:  A cluster of small, lowland-forested ponds approx 70 kms east of Udon Thani
After a long time out, primarily due to work commitments and lack of funds, it was high time to charge my camera once more and set out dragonfly hunting. Though the Gomphid season has pretty much come and gone, there were surely lots of goodies still waiting to be found. So, where was I to go? Well, I decided to visit a fellow dragonfly hunter whom I had come to know through 'Dragonflies of Thailand' on Facebook. His name is Joe Hartman and he lives approximately 70 kms east of Udon Thani, in Issarn. Using my trusty gps, I arrived in the village where he lives, after driving for around 2 hours ... I then drove down a narrow dirt track. It became narrower and narrower ... and then ... I became stuck ... I had driven over a sandy area and the wheels slowly sank. I couldn't move with the wheels just spinning spraying sand everywhere. So, before I could hunt for dragonflies, I had to hunt for pebbles and it took me about 30 minutes to find enough to get the wheels moving again. Worse still, I was in the wrong place! I called Joe and we decided that it would be best to go back to the hospital and meet up there. Bloody gps! We met and he took me to his house for coffee and a chat, before hitting his local ponds. They were mainly small ponds on the edge of lowland forest amongst farmland, though some where protected in the temple area. We searched as many areas as possible, before finally giving up as the sun began to fade. We were also beginning to wilt as the sun had started to get to us. All in all, it was a fantastic day and, even though I didn't find any new species for my records, I found a few surprises along the way.
Joe was extremely kind, friendly and pasasionate about nature and I would like to thank him for such a wonderful time. I will return very soon, Joe!
Here are the best photos of the day:
Scarce elsewhere, but common around Joe's home, is Brachydiplax sobrina. Unfortunately, the mature males managed to avoid my lens ... for now!

B. farinosa was also present, but in smaller numbers.

The amazingly rare-to-be-photographed female of the ultra common Ictinogomphus decoratus melaenops. Only the second time I have managed to photograph the female in over 6 years.

Another uncommon species ... 

... and finally a Ceriagrion sp. I can't quite put my finger on. Probably a strangely coloured or very old C. indochinense.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Location:  A trip to Nam Nao environs 
Date: Saturday 07 June, 2014
  Areas visited:  Waterfall near the town centre

On my last trip, I planned a visit to somewhere new in Chaiyaphum (even though it still seems too early for Gomphids and it's June!). I awoke at 4.00am and started to prepare myself for the trip. However, heavy storms and rain were forecast (I checked on my phone) and I almost gave up any form of trip whatsoever. I decided then to look elsewhere and researched the weather at Nam Nao and it predicted cloudy weather, but no storms. So, within 5 minutes I had totally changed plans. Nam Nao it was. However, once I passed Chumphae, I started to wonder whether it was a good idea, as I want to see more species and I am pretty sure that I have recorded almost every species that resides with that area. So ... change of mind again. I decided to re-visit a waterfall I had visited once before, which is close to Nam Nao town centre. Noppadon Makbun had also visited there once before and had spotted Microgomphus chelifer. That species was my target once more. I arrived at the dirt track that leads to the waterfall and it was as bumpy and rocky as ever. Bones aching and head hurting, I finally made it to the waterfall. I had forgotten just how difficult it is to get around on the large rocks, which are extremely slippy and somewhat dangerous. After an extremely slow start, I managed to start spotting a few common species, yet the Gomphids were still very much absent. As the day progressed, the clouds began to slowly build and I wasn't confident of seeing any new species .... and certainly not M. chelifer. I finally spotted a somewhat damaged-looking teneral male Gomphid hanging on for dear life. I photographed it and knew it was Burmagpmhus species, but wasn't completely sure which species. Since then, it has been confirmed as Burmagomphus divaricatus, a species I have seen at Nam Nao before, as well as at Khao Yai NP. I did also see a Gomphid land in the reeds, close to me, but vanished as quickly as it arrived and I am not sure what species it was. The other interesting things I saw, were that of Pseudagrion pruinosum, which could be a new provincial record as I it seems to be more common along the west of Thailand and up to Chiang Mai. I also saw a yellow Oriental Vine Snake for the first time and it was small but simply beautiful. So, all in all, a good day, but with far more to come from this place as (hopefully) more Gomphids appear in July and August when I visit again.When I returned home, I had completely forgotten the name of the place and therefore can only put 'waterfall' for now until I return.

My best photos of the day:

Possibly a new record for Petchabun.

One of only a few 'Gomphid' sightings


'Ghost' specimens like this were everywhere.

 Though common, I have never seen a teneral female with so much colour on her wings before. Very strange. 

Another great sight was witnessing a courtship and oviposition of E. ochracea.

 They moved together slowly down the stem, until he simply 'flicked' her off by shaking his abdomen.
 She then oviposited under water for around one minute, before flying rapidly up into the air and then plunged back down onto another stem further away. 

And just to show you that I am not all about dragonflies, is there anything more beautiful than this?

Next trip: Hmmm ... I'll probably let the weather decide.