Location: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum
Date: Saturday 27th August, 2016
Habitat: Mid- to upland forested ponds and a small stream
Well, it had been raining all week and I was desperate for it to stop. Upon waking up on Saturday morning at 3.30am, I was greeted with that all too familiar sound of rain thudding against the roof. Unperturbed, I decided to go anyway. I set off and it rained all the way to Chaiyaphum around 90 kms away. There, it had stopped. Or it hadn't even started - one or the other anyway. The rest of the journey there was dry. Brilliant. Once I had entered, things seemed a little strange. It was duller than usual and I could already hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. I knew it was going to be a short day. I worked my way up the the top, stopping off at any water source I could find (which was a lot). Every puddle was occupied by one species or another, though most were common. As the day progressed, it was becoming apparent that a couple of the rarer species that reside there had now disappeared until next year. Notably, Ceriagrion pallidum, which emerged at the start of July (I saw a solitary teneral male) and has vanished already, giving it a really short flight season of around 6-7 weeks and probably the reason it is so rare or so rarely seen at least. Another was Orolestes selysi. This appears to be around for about two months also. The Lyriothemis species I have seen on a few occasions, has also long gone, though I have only ever seen that in June and July. As for Nannophya pygmaea, I searched in vain for another specimen, though I believe this just to be an incredibly rare species in these parts, rather than it not being in flight at this time of year. As for the other rare species that reside here and I am yet to find, the search goes on. On with the search and the main river was belting through and chocolate brown so that put paid to a number of the species I was looking for. Therefore, my attentions kind of turned to improvement shots of the more commonly seen residents. I also continued to search for Gynacantha species, but they eluded me once more. I will target those species in October onwards when they should hopefully be slightly more abundant. As for new records of any kind, my only addition was Rhinagrion viridatum, one of my favourite little damsels. I saw it from a bridge over a small but really muddy stream. I worked my way down to it and managed to get a pretty decent shot of it, adding to my growing list of species at PK. I searched the rest of the stream and it only threw up common species, though searching was near impossible due to the depth of the mud and the overgrown surroundings. I will target this stream after the rainy season and in April as I have an idea that this is where a few of those rare species may reside, though only time will tell. As I turned away from bridge, I came face to face with a massive monitor lizard. It stared at me frozen and, as I slowly raised my camera to get in a shot, it shot off instead crashing through the bushes at great speed. It must have been over 6 feet long and really fat - though I am sure the lizard thought the same of me! As for that rain, it had been developing overhead for several hours getting darker and darker and the thunder was increasing in frequency and volume. Before I knew it, I was caught in the middle of a heavy storm and dashed for the car. By 2 pm the day was over in terms of odes. As for the drive home it was a nightmare. The rain was so heavy that you can see better in thick fog. I was worried about flooding and getting trapped but made it home to tell the tale. In the end, I didn't manage to see any new species for my records, leaving me still 10 shy of that magical 200 barrier. I did, however, manage to take loads of photos, some of which I am very happy with indeed. I probably won't return to PK until the end of the rainy season where, I am hoping, that a few new species will appear and have me jumping for joy once more. Until then, I will have to find somewhere new I think. Watch this space ...
My best photos of the day.
Welcome to Phu Khieo ... Rhinagrion viridatum, new for my records at the place
An early rise makes it worth it sometimes ...
Love was certainly in the air. Copula seemed to abound, though I missed many of them as they are hard to approach
Probably the rarest female of the common species. Only my second sighting in 8 years and she simply plonked down next to me as I rested after trawling through mud. One shot, gone ... see you in another 8 years.
Blue was the order of the day...
Another rarely seen specimen and again incredibly skittish always flying straight up into the tree canopy. A hyaline male
Females of many species were very much present...
As were males ...
... and other things made an appearance.
A stunning owlfly (not to be confused with a dragonfly as I did when I first saw one years back). This one benefited from perfect lighting first thing in the morning.
and the ubiquitous frog ...another tiny one. Any ideas on species?
Next trip: No idea. No where's my Google Maps...?!?