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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Trip to Pa La-U Waterfall

Location:  A trip to Kaeng Krachan NP 
Date: Wednesday 07 May, 2014
  Areas visited: Pa La-U Waterfall and stream located just below

I recently took a holiday with my girlfriend to Hua Hin and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit the well-known Pa La-U Waterfall which lies approximately 65 kms west of Hua Hin, located inside Kaeng Krachan National Park, Prachaub Kiri Khan. 

Before I visited, I asked a few fellow dragon chasers and I was recommended to a stream near to the entrance of the waterfall by Pattarawich Dawwrueng. I was hoping to spot the stunning Gomphidae Nihonogomphus pulcherrimus. When I arrived, I loved the look of the stream. Extremely shallow and narrow with a sandy bottom. I did manage to see N. pulcherrimus straight away, but was unable to photograph it as every time it flew down from the treetops, it was attacked by numerous Onychothemis testacea and it eventually gave up and retreated. Amongst several commonly seen species, I managed to spot and photograph three new records for my blog: a solitary male Onychothemis culminicola was present, but extremely shy;  a small number of Paragomphus capricornis were present on the sandy and pebbled areas of the stream and I also saw a female Burmagomphus sp. that I was unable to identify, but looks different to the females of other species I have seen in the genus. I moved along the stream and could have spent days there. However, I only had one day and with time ticking, I decided it was time to move on and head to Pa La-U Waterfall. The only thing that annoyed me was that I had to pay "foreigner" price. 200 baht instead of 20. Normally I pay the same as Thais wherever I go as I pay tax in the country (I am a teacher if you didn't know). However, I wasn't going to miss out for 200 baht! Just a short walk from the car park and I had arrived. Quite literally. The place was alive with odonates. Most were common, but I did manage to spot a few more species to add to my collection. The first was a male specimen from the genus Onychogomphus. However, I'm not sure that it has been described yet, so I can only call it Onychogomphus sp. I only saw this male, but did managed to catch sight of a female ovipositing. It managed to evade my camera though. Once I had photographed the Gomphid, I stood up and a tiny female landed between my legs. I photographed it and then noticed a good number of males seemingly 'hopping' from rock to rock. I probably saw around 10 specimens. Upon my return home, it has been identified as Stylogomphus sp. - a species I had seen before. However, that wasn't true as the specimen I saw in Petchabun was much larger and the appendages are slightly different, though my photos are not perfect. Therefore, I would suggest that there are at least two species from the genus waiting to be described. If all that wasn't enough, I then witnessed my first ever full emergence of a Gomphid. It was amazing to see. Unfortunately, as it was extremely fresh and a female, it is almost impossible to ID. Hopefully someone can. For now, I can only call it "Unknown Gomphid". There were many other common species buzzing around and I continued up the waterfall. After several hours, a heavy-looking storm started looming and I was worried that I had no protection for my camera gear (I forgot all my waterproof stuff). I continued but the thunder got louder and it got darker. It was time to give up the ghost. I had been a brilliant day anyway. I started my way back down and as I almost reached the first level a long slender damselfly caught my eye in the gloom. I knew it was a Platystictidae species and upon inspection, knew that it was of the genus Drepanosticta, probably D. sharpi. However, when I returned and posted photos on Dragonflies of Thailand, I was informed that there are some species in the genus yet to be described by science. Therefore, I can only leave it as Drepanosticta sp. Hopefully, someone will describe them all in the very near future. And that was it. All in all, a brilliant day and a place I will return to for sure. 
My best photos of the trip:

And just to finish off the trip, I managed to spot a female (that looks like a male) I. senegalensis rather surprisingly at a brackish pond right alongside the coast - this is something I have been looking for for a long time!
Next Trip: probably Chaiyaphum