Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nam Nao: A Year in the Making (December)


Location 1: Helicopter Pad Lake, Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun. 
Date: Saturday,  15th December, 2012.
Weather: Misty,  cold and wet - then fairly hot
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): Less than zero
Leech bites:

In the penultimate month of my project, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you were in the UK. It was cold, wet, misty and freezing ... like a typical summer in England! For two hours I searched for odonates, hoping to spot one full of early morning dew. I didn't spot one and I wonder where they were. Probably high up in the trees, keeping off the wet saturated ground. Still, even though the place was void of odonates, there were a few photo opportunities to be had.



No dragonflies anywhere for a couple of hours, but I saw some nice photo opportunities:






Eventually, the sun appeared and so, too, did the odonates. It was still rather quiet, but as the sun got stronger, the more common species appeared in decent numbers. The only addition was a solitary male Ischnura aurora, which have returned following a lengthy absence (though he was off before I'd got my camera ready).  Agriocnemis pygmea had also returned in their droves, but I didn't spot a single Ceriagrion sp. Other than that, it was common species (for the lake) all the way.

Unfortunately for some, those beautiful webs spelled the end of the road ...


You wait two hours for a dragonfly and then 4 come at once ... I've never spotted 4 species on one stick before


A. tillyardi, close up ... you've got to love the blues and purples. According to Noppadon Makbun, it's one of only a few species in Thailand that have a violet colour.


A. borneense, female (as I will group all of them for now), very scarce at Nam Nao this year.


A. nana, female still going strong - even at this time of year.


Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola, a very old female ... she was almost white.



I now know for sure that it's B. farinosa with 8 antenodal crossveins (thanks Noppadon/Oleg).


Neurothemis intermedia, male - now very common (but I still haven't spotted a mature male here)


Neurothemis tullia tullia, young male - there were so many very young, brownish coloured males 


Pseudagrion r. rubriceps, female - the males are now back in high numbers


Nam Nao Helicopter Pad (added species from the last visit, bold; new species for the lake, blue; species not seen from last visit, red)

Fam. Coenagrionidae
Aciagrion tillyardi ♂  [extremely common]
Aciagrion borneense ♂ [uncommon]
Aciagrion pallidum
Agriocnemis femina femina ♂ ♀ [common]
Agriocnemis nana ♂ [ fairly common]
Agriocnemis pygmea ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola  [fairly common]
Ceriagrion indochinense
Ischnura aurora ♂ [1]
Ischnura senegalensis ♂ ♀ [uncommon]
Onychargia atrocyana ♂ ♀ [uncommon]
Pseudagrion microcephalum
Pseudagrion australasiae
Pseudagrion rubriceps rubriceps ♂ ♀ [ very common]

Fam. Platycnemididae
Copera ciliata ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Copera marginipes  [common]

Fam. Protoneuridae
Prodasineura autumnalis ♂ ♀ [very common]

Fam. Gomphidae
Ictinogomphus decoratus

Fam. Libellulidae
Acisoma panorpoides panorpoides ♂ ♀ [very common]
Brachydiplax farinosa ♂ ♀ [♂ very common]
Brachythemis contaminata ♂ ♀ [very common]
Crocothemis servilia ♂ ♀ [fairly common]
Diplacodes nebulosa ♂ ♀ [very common]
Diplacodes trivialis ♂ ♀ [common]
Indothemis carnatica
Indothemis limbata (Selys, 1891) ♂ [♂ extremely common]
Neurothemis intermedia atalanta ♂ [very common]
Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum ♂ [fairly common]
Neurothemis tullia tullia ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Orthetrum glaucum
Orthetrum sabina sabina ♀ [very common]
Rhodothemis rufa
Tholymis tillarga 
Trithemis aurora ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Trithemis pallidinervis


 Location 2: Tiny natural pond, 1 kms from entrance to Nam Nao National Park HQ, Petchabun. 
Date: Saturday, 15th November, 2012.
Weather: hot and bright sunshine
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): Zero
Leech bites: 0

As I approached my second location (the stream at the headquarters), I was greeted by around 15 coaches and 6-7 cars all trying to get into the park. I knew that it would be quiet at the stream by now and with the addition of about 10 million people arriving en masse, I decided to give the place a wide birth. I carried on past the entrance, looking for a place to turn. There was a small exit which led to a locked gate. Amazingly, there was a tiny, natural pond next to it. I got out of the car and instantly noticed a male Tramea transmarina, constantly gliding over the water. Every time the sun went behind a cloud, he would fly high into the treetops. When the sun came out again, he would resume constant flying above the water. I tried to catch him with my net, but he was way too quick for me. Diplacodes trivialis was also present, as was a solitary Potamarcha congener. Two male Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum constantly harassed the Tramea transmarina. Then I noticed a large number of teneral damselflies a one edge of the pond. As I approached they all moved away quickly and I didn't get close to any of them. In any case, they were almost clear in colour and I would not have been able to ID them. I will return there next month and hopefully spot a few adults. They were large in size and could have been Lestes elatus (there was a solitary male there). However, they didn't seem to fit the bill. Finally, I spotted a male Aciagrion borneense. I managed to capture him and take a few photos. It was a pleasant surprise to find the pond and added 2 new species for the area with Tramea transmarina and Potamarcha congener.

The solitary male Lestes elatus





Quick checklist of species sighted (good prospect for next flight season): 

Aciagrion borneense ♂ [1]

Lestes elatus ♂ [1]

Diplacodes trivialis ♂ [4]
Potamarcha congener ♂ [1]
Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum ♂ [2]
Tramea transmarina ♂ [1]


 Location 3: Small stream, 1 kms from entrance to Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun (Chumpae entrance). 
Date: Saturday, 15th November, 2012.
Weather: hot and bright sunshine
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): Zero
Leech bites: 0


On way way home I decided to stop at one of the streams which run along the base of Nam Nao NP. It was a little bit tricky to get down to, but it was well worth it. There weren't that many specimens there, but there were a number of species ... and I hope it will be a good place to look at next year. Most were common species, but I did spot a male Rhinagrion viridatum. He only landed momentarily, but it was enough for a positive visual ID. I only managed to get some decent photos of Copera marginipes, which were still abundant. 

I only got photos of C. marginipes as a copula, but some are quite interesting:







Quick checklist of species sighted (good prospect for next flight season - it looks perfect with lots of trees and rocks): 

Neurobasis chinensis  ♀ [1]
Pseudagrion rubriceps rubriceps  ♂ [1]
Heliocypha biforata  ♂ [1]
Euphaea masoni  ♂ ♀ [very common]
Euphaea ochracea  ♂ [1]
Rhinagrion viridatum  ♂ [1]
Copera marginipes  ♂ ♀ [very common]
Prodasineura autumnalis  ♂ ♀ [very common]

Next trip: January







Monday, December 10, 2012

157 Aethriamanta gracilis (Brauer, 1878)


Number: 157
Family: Libellulidae
Genus:  Aethriamanta
Species:  Aethriamanta gracilis
Common name(s): Blue Lucida
Synonyms: N/A
Habitat: Uplands, exposed ponds
Province(s) sighted: Nam Nao National Park and environs (Petchabun); Phu Pha Man NP (Khon Kaen province)
Sightings (by me): Rare (though possibly mistaken for similar species)
In flight (that I have seen): June
Species easily confused with: Brachydiplax farinosaBrachydiplax sobrinaBrachydiplax chalybea; Aethriamanta aethra
Thanks to Noppadon Makbun's expertise and knowledge, I have been able to add a new species to my list. This time in the shape of Aethriamanta gracilis. The species is easily confused with Brachydiplax farinosa and Brachydiplax sobrina. However, Noppadon's keen eye said that it is in fact a new species for me as it has 6 antenodal crossveins. Aethriamanta aethra also has 6 antenodal crossveins. However, A. aethra is a deeper blue, the black thoracic markings are more prominent and the colouration to the base of the hind wings is much darker (almost black) and prominent. This species is also slightly smaller than Brachydiplax and it's abdomen seems stouter, yet this is difficult to spot in the field. 
The male
Very similar to Brachydiplax chalybea, but much smaller and similar to its cousin, A. aethra, but a much brighter powder blue and slightly smaller. I have seen the species now at two different locations, but both similar environments (exposed marshy pond areas). I think this species is more common than believed. However, it is easily overlooked as it resides alongside more common species ... for me size (or lack of it) is key to IDing this species in the field.





This species has 6 antenodal crossveins

The female
I am now pretty confident that this is also the female. I have always thought that it looked different and now - thanks to Noppadon's input - I can see that it, too, has 6 antenodal veins (can clearly be seen as part of the copula below). So I am hoping that this is also Aethriamanta gracilis. You can also see that she is clearly carrying eggs, which are a beautiful colour.



Once again, many many thanks to Noppadon for the ID and the information.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nam Nao: A Year in the Making (November)


Location 1: Helicopter Pad Lake, Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun. 
Date: Saturday,  24th November, 2012.
Weather: Hot, cloudy and rainy
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): Less than zero
Leech bites: 22 (a new provincial record haha)


As a bit of a movie buff, I have come to learn that the best films always have an exciting start to grip you, followed by the main content of the movie to keep you engrossed, finishing with all-out action to leave you pumped with adrenaline through fear, excitement and awe. Have I instilled this knowledge into my Nam Nao project? Not even close. My project had a very slow start in February, followed by the best bit throughout June-August, and will finish no doubt with a damp squib come January. If I had had half a brain I would have started this project in August or September. That way, it would have started with a bang and finished right at the peak of the odonata season, finishing with a classic Tarantino-style crescendo of a project - in my world that would mean a new species or a few new provincial records. Not me. No. I had to start at the quietest time of the year for spotting odonates and so, will also finish during the bleak season. And this trip was far from exciting to say the least. Worse still, I know I have 2 more trips in order to conclude this project and they are going to be quieter still. My backside hurts already at the prospect of a further 600 bum-numbing kilometres on my little scooter ... and I know there won't be a lot to show for it. Once this project is finished in January, I don't think Quentin will be knocking on my door any time soon.


Now I've got my little moan out of the way, I'll continue. My first disappointment was the lack of variety on show, hence all of the above. The usual suspects were present, yet nothing much else appeared. The constantly-morphing weather wasn't much help either. Sunny. Dull. Rainy. Hot. Cool ... I was half expecting snow next. I know this drastically affects the odonates that reside here. Damselflies retreat to the long grasses and the dragonflies fly a million miles high up into the trees. So, did I spot anything? Well, of course. Agriocnemis femina femina were in their thousands... little white dots were everywhere and you could be forgiven for thinking it actually was snowing. Aciagrion borneense and Aciagrion tillyardi were very common with the latter copulating in large numbers, and Pseudagrion r. rubriceps had swelled significantly in numbers since my last trip. Aciagrion pallidum was also in larger numbers, though still low. As ever, Indothemis limbata and Trithemis aurora were the dominant species in the dragonfly world. I did, however, manage to spot a male Indothemis carnatica for only the second time at the lake. He was basking on a sandy area next to the water's edge, though he was to quick to photograph. I think that the males of this species prefer to bask in this manner, as opposed to its cousin, I. limbata which likes to perch on grasses overhanging water. I did spot a large Aeschnidae sp. charging at great speed around the perimeter of the water's edge for long periods. It was way to quick to catch or even ID. It was a dull brownish colour. It was possibly Anaciaeschna jaspidea as I have spotted a female there before, but I will never know for sure. Also, I saw two bright blue and tiny Agriocnemis-sized specimens in the marshy area (I thought that the first one was Aciagrion borneense, until I saw a second next to another A. borneense and noticed it was much smaller). Unfortunately, they vanished as I approached and didn't give me chance to look at them. Aciagrion azureum???? Maybe not, but hopefully they will be there on my next visit ... if I spot that species next time, maybe my bum won't feel so numb from the trip, after all.


Here's my best photos from the trip:

Ceriagrion indochinense, male - the only Ceriagrion specimen I saw

Ceriagrion indochinense, male

Agriocnemis femina femina, male - is that snow on its thorax?

Agriocnemis femina femina, male doing early morning exercises


Agriocnemis femina femina, male - any ideas what that protrusion is near its genitalia?

Aciagrion tillyardi, female

Aciagrion tillyardi, female

Aciagrion borneense, male

Aciagrion borneense, male

Aciagrion borneense, male

Aciagrion pallidum, male

Aciagrion pallidum, female

Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola, teneral female

Indothemis limbata limbata, the oldest female in the world

Diplacodes nebulosa, mature male


Nam Nao Helicopter Pad (added species from the last visit, bold; new species for the lake, blue; species not seen from last visit, red)


Fam. Aeschnidae

Unknown sp. (large brownish colour - possibly Anaciaeschna jaspidea, previously seen)

Fam. Coenagrionidae
Aciagrion tillyardi ♂  [extremely common]
Aciagrion borneense ♂ [fairly common]
Aciagrion pallidum ♂ [fairly common]
Agriocnemis femina femina ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Agriocnemis nana ♂ [ fairly common]
Argiocnemis rubescens rubeola  [fairly common]
Ceriagrion cerinorubellum
Ceriagrion indochinense ♂ [1]
Ischnura senegalensis ♂ ♀ [common]
Onychargia atrocyana ♂ ♀ [uncommon]
Pseudagrion microcephalum ♂ [2]
Pseudagrion australasiae ♂ [1]
Pseudagrion rubriceps rubriceps  [fairly common]

Fam. Platycnemididae
Copera ciliata ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Copera marginipes  [common]

Fam. Protoneuridae
Prodasineura autumnalis ♂ ♀ [common]

Fam. Gomphidae
Ictinogomphus decoratus ♂ [2]

Fam. Libellulidae
Acisoma panorpoides panorpoides ♂ ♀ [very common]
Brachydiplax farinosa ♂ ♀ [♂ very common]
Brachythemis contaminata ♂ ♀ [very common]
Crocothemis servilia ♂ ♀ [fairly common]
Diplacodes nebulosa ♂ ♀ [very common]
Diplacodes trivialis ♂ ♀ [common]
Indothemis carnatica ♂ [1]
Indothemis limbata (Selys, 1891) ♂ [♂ extremely common]
Neurothemis intermedia atalanta ♂ [1]
Orthetrum pruinosum neglectum ♂ [common]
Neurothemis tullia tullia ♂ ♀ [common]
Orthetrum glaucum ♂ [1]
Orthetrum sabina sabina ♀ [very common]
Rhodothemis rufa ♂ [2]
Tholymis tillarga ♂ [1]
Trithemis aurora ♂ ♀ [extremely common]
Trithemis pallidinervis ♂ ♀ [fairly common]

 Location 2: Stream at the Heaquarters, Nam Nao National Park, Petchabun. 
Date: Saturday, 24th November, 2012.
Weather: Dull, dull, dull
Expectations of recording additional species (for my list): Zero
Leech bites: 0

Bad day? Bad timing? Bad eyesight? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that virtually all residents at the stream had vanished. Only decent numbers of Coeliccia remained (except C. c.f. loogali, which has also disappeared) and the ever-present Copera v. vittata, the latter which I can never photograph properly!  I also spotted a solitary Euphaea ochracea and that was it. I trudged along an incredibly shallow stream, only catching glimpses of shadowy Coeliccia movement.  The highlight was spotting and managing to get a half-decent photo of a copula of C. poungyi.  Still, there's always next month to look forward to...



Here are my best photos from the trip: 

Coeliccia poungyi, male - it's like photographing a needle in a darkened room


Coeliccia poungyi, copula - my first [semi] successful photo shoot 


Coeliccia poungyi, copula - the female

Nam Nao Headquarter's stream (added species from the last visit, bold; new species for the stream, blue; species not seen from last visit, red)

Family: Chlorocyphidae
Rhinocypha biforata
Rhinocypha fenestrella

Family: Euphaeidae
Euphaea ochracea  [1]

Family: Megapodagriondae 
Rhinagrion viridatum

Family: Platycnemididae
Coeliccia chromothorax ♂ ♀ [common]
Coeliccia didyma ♂ ♀ [♂ common]
Coeliccia c.f. loogali
Coeliccia poungyi  ♂ ♀ [♂ common]  
Copera vittata ♂ ♀ [very common]

Family: Protoneuridae
Prodasineura auricolor

Next trip: December