Location: Nam Nao National Park, Chaiyaphum
Date: Saturday 13th August, 2016
Habitat: Mid- to upland forested stream and some ponds
Following a few decent trips to Phu Khieo which bagged me a couple of new species for my records, I planned to go again at the weekend. However, terrible weather, too much work and being decidedly skint almost put paid to that idea. However, reading up on Facebook that Andrew Pierce had photographed Microgomphus thailandicus at the stream which crosses the pathway on the way to Som Bun Ranger Station and seeing a great photo from Noppadon Makbun on Facebook, my mind was made up. The stream he visited is actually in Chaiyaphum (which I didn't know at first). Anyway, with Andrew's great finding, I had to go and find it for myself. I didn't even set off until 9 am and arrived a little after 11 am - still plenty of time to do some serious searching for one small Gomphid! The first species I saw, however, was rather surprising as it was one of my favourite Gomphids, Merogomphus pavici. It is easily recognisable with its seemingly permanently arched abdomen. Unfortunately, it was obscured by leaves to get a solid shot of it (I already have a great shot but wanted the money shot). I edged my way around and spent around 10 minutes doing so. However, by the time I had done so, the clouds had appeared and, as if by magic, the dragon disappeared too. And that was it. Nothing appeared for around 30 minutes as it rained. Only a solitary and sad looking Trithemis aurora perched defiantly on his stick. I almost gave up when suddenly the clouds gave way to a small, but significant burst of sunshine. Out came a million Pantala flavescens overhead swooping at every bug. Then, from nowhere, came a beast of a Gomphid I have seen here before in decent numbers too. Gomphidia kruegeri krugeri is not a rare or even that uncommon in NE Thailand, but getting a decent photo is really tough. It flies away at the slightest movement. Fortunately for me, however, once it landed - or rather plonked - onto a large rock, the clouds returned and he seemed somewhat paralysed, unable to move. I was able to get pretty close and fire off some decent shots before the sun returned and he shot off. I was then greeted by a female of the same species which was carrying a cargo of red eggs. Sadly, I had no chance of photographing her as she moved quickly between rocks searching for areas to offload her eggs. Still, this is only the second time I have seen the female so I was happy indeed. Other than that, I was the extremely common Prodasineura autumnalis everywhere, but I also managed to encounter Prodasineura auricolor here for the first time. A new provincial record? Not sure, but it is for me anyway. For the rest of the day, I pretty much sat around the stream or walked as far as I could in search of M. thailandicus, but it never showed. Maybe as the weather too poor for it and it prefers sunshine like many Gomphids. I decided it was time to move back up the path and try and locate any ponds. I found a couple but most of them were man-made, created for wild animals and didn't house that much. A couple of ponds, however, seemed to have potential and I will return for sure. I did manage to spot a couple of male Palpopleura sexmaculata sexmaculata which are always a welcome sight and though Indothemis carnatica males were present in small numbers, the females seemed to be everywhere. I also saw a solitary male Lestes praemorsus decipiens and a male Ceriagrion azureum. Other than that, it was common species and nothing really to report.
Though I didn't see that much, I really need to investigate this place much more as I think there are one or two species still to be found here. Watch this space.
My best photos of the short trip:
Not common, but fairly easy to find around Nam Nao NP
Fairly common, but not easy to photograph
How can anyone not want to photograph this beauty...
Females, old and young ...
Just for the record, I am not completely all about dragons ... I saw a stunning little frog and also The Blue Kaiser butterfly made an appearance for the first time for me.