Monday, April 7, 2014

A trip to Chantaburi

Location(s):  Khao Soi Dao waterfall and Khao Kitchacut NP, Chantaburi province  
Date: Tuesday - Thursday, 01-03 April, 2014 
  Areas visited: Waterfalls, forested ponds and stream areas

Back in December 2011, I visited two well-known places in Chantaburi. The first place, Khao Soi Dao waterfall, is lesser-known as it is a little more difficult to get to. However, it is worth the visit as it is very quiet on the tourist front and if you camp there for a night (I strongly suggest that you do), you can see all kinds of wildlife. Khao Kitchacut NP satisfies the needs of Bangkokians looking for a weekend retreat. However, it is still a wonderful place to visit. This time, I went just before the rainy season and was in search of one species: Protosticta khaosoidaoensis, which I found quickly on the first day. Both places are well-equipped for camping (though I would take your own) and they have nice little restaurants. I particularily liked the one at Khao Soi Dao. On both days, it was still fairly quiet on the odonata front. However, I did manage to spot 3 new record species for me and get a decent number of photos. 

Here are my best photos of the trip:

The first time I have managed decent shots of this species

Female of the 'blue' variety ... even though the abdomen is very reddish

My first 'blue' male. all northern specimens seem green.

 My first decent photo of the male ...very common, but are so hard to get near and photograph in darkness.

 The strangest-looking Urothemis signata I have seen ... completely red face and no dorsal markings.

170. Drepanosticta jurzitzai Hämäläinen, 1999

Number: 170
Family:  Platystictidae
Genus: Drepanosticta
Species: Drepanosticta jurzitzai Hämäläinen, 1999
Common name(s):Jurzitza's Shadowdamsel
Synonyms: N/A 
Habitat: Deep forest area of upland streams 
 Province(s) sighted: Khao Kitchacut NP (Chantaburi)
Sightings (by me): 2 males
In flight (that I have seen): April (2014) 
Species easily confused with: N/A
Towards the end of a very fruitful trip, I was making my way back down the nicely laid out path of the waterfall at Khao Kitchacut NP. Really tired with burning legs from 2 /12 days of walking in and around streams and slippery boulders, I almost fell into an old hollowed out log between levels 7-8. Amazingly it spooked a damselfly I had missed on the way up. I knew straight away that it was a new species. I also knew it was a new genus for me though I wasn't sure of the species. I saw him land about 5 metres away. I edged forward and set myself up. Perfect ... ready ... focus ... bollocks! A female P. khaosiodaoensis spooked it and it seemed to fly away. I searched four about 20 minutes in really dull territory and almost gave up. Then I thought, "Maybe he has returned to that log." Amazingly, there he was. Inside his log. Now he was happy for me to snap away though the lighting was terrible and it took me a long time to get anything different. Once I was happy I had got good enough photos I said goodbye to him and went in search of his girlfriend. I didn't find her, but I did spot a second male at another log close by. When I returned home, I did a little research and it was clearly Drepanosticta jurzitzai, a species that seems to be only known from that location (though this may have changed). According to Noppadon Makbun, it is also early for the species ... maybe why there where no females to be found. 
The male.
It is instantly recognisable with its blue dorsal patch covering S9-10. They are easy to get near and photograph too.

 I will return one day in search of the female, though I will probably go a little later in the year when they may well  be more abundant.

169. Phaenandrogomphus sp. (possibly P. asthenes Lieftinck, 1964)

Number: 169
Family:  Gomphidae
Genus: Phaenandrogomphus
Species: Phaenandrogomphus sp. (possibly P. asthenes Lieftinck, 1964)
Common name(s):N/A
Synonyms: N/A 
Habitat: Exposed area of upland forested streams 
 Province(s) sighted: Khao Soi Dao waterfall
Sightings (by me): Common at this location 
In flight (that I have seen): April (2014) 
Species easily confused with: N/A

An extremely nice surprise was to see a newly emerged Gomphid. I was even fortunate enough to see it fill out, though I wish I'd arrived 15 minutes earlier to see the complete emergence. Still, I am happy to see yet another species for my personal list. It is clearly of the genus Phaenandrogomphus. However, it is too difficult to tell at this stage which exact species. Research points towards Phaenandrogomphus asthenes Lieftinck, 1964. However, the epipoct (lower appendage) seems too straight. This could be simply because it had just emerged. Unfortunately, I will probably never know, unless someone has witnessed an emergence of the same species. So, for the time being, I will leave it as Phaenandrogomphus sp.

The male.
With enormous accessory genitalia, it is clearly Phaenandrogomphus sp. However, lacking thoracic markings and colour, it is too difficult to be sure. 

 Now fully extended (and turned ready for his maiden flight high up into the trees).

His appendages ...

and his 'massive' accessory genitalia ... any dad would be proud haha

 ... and his old home.

If anyone can ID the species I will owe you one. 

168. Protosticta khaosoidaoensis Asahina, 1984

Number: 168 
Family:  Platystictidae 
Genus: Protosticta 
Species: Protosticta khaosoidaoensis 
Common name(s):Khao Soi Dao's Forestdamsel 
Synonyms: N/A 
Habitat: Upland forested streams 
 Province(s) sighted: Khao Soi Dao waterfall, Khao Kitchacut NP, (Chantaburi province) 
Sightings (by me): Common at this location 
In flight (that I have seen): April (2014) 
Species easily confused with: Protosticta curiosa Fraser, 1934

I recently visited two well-known locations in the province of Chantaburi, specifically in search of one tiny species. The places I refer to are Khao Soi Dao waterfall near the wildlife sanctuary and Khao Kitchacut NP. Both places are fairly well documented in terms of odonates, as well as birds. I had also visited both places before but this was back in 2011 and also it was December, when it was very quiet on the dragonfly front. The damselfly in question was Protosticta khaosoidaoensis, a tiny and extremely slender-looking species which is superficially identical to the far more commonly seen P. curiosa. The latter species is known from the west of Thailand, whereas P. khaosoidaoensis is only known from the above locations in the east. I was fortunate not only to find both male and female, but they were extremely abundant. I seem also to have spotted two different females. One of which has dark end segments as described and a slight variant which has a distinct dorsal patch on S9. This could simply be a variation or possibly a different species or sub-species. Maybe someone out there knows! Anyway, I have now seen all 4 known species from the genus ... I couldn't be happier!

The male
The male is almost identical to other males in the genus. One of the most obvious differences is that it has only 1 tiny black dot on the prothorax. I tried to photograph the caudal appendages, but anyone who has seen this genus will know that it is almost impossible with a standard macro lens and poor lighting. 

Here you can see the solitary dot on the otherwise whitish prothorax. 

 Here's my best attempt at photographing the appendages (awful, really)

The female
The female is very similar to others in the genus. However, S9-10 are entirely dark. 

Yet several females had clearly defined white dorsal patches.

... and this specimen, the dorsal patch seems to be very faint.

The above females could simply be mature females or possibly of a different species. Hopefully an expert will know for sure. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An emergence

Location:  Khao Soi Dao waterfall, Chantaburi province  
Date: Wednesday, 02 April, 2014 
  Areas visited: Waterfall and stream areas

On a recent trip to Chantaburi province, I was fortunate to see many odonates, including 3 new records for my slowly growing list (all my findings will be posted later). However, highlight of the trip for me was to witness my first full emergence of a damselfly. It was of a common species, male Euphaea masoni. I have added lots of photos below, which hopefully demonstrates nature at its best.

So, there you have it. My first sighting of an emergence. Now I just need to learn how to crop the size of the photos accurately. haha