The first site of the day was a beautiful waterfall, low volume, that went more or less straight up. With a little monkeying you could make it quite a ways up.
I didnít get much, just common stuff, but A motions for me to come up higher. He found Naucorids. Flattened oval shaped bugs that scoot around on the vertical rock surface. They belonged to a undescribed species in an undescribed genus, AND they were about 400 miles further south than anyone had ever found them! A very important find for him. The waterfall is spitting drops on me, and the naucorids are scooting fast, but I want a picture of one on the rock surface. I shield my camera from above with my sweep net, point, click, and hope for the best. Well, miracle of miracles, one shot and it came out wonderfully. Heís on a vertical surface pointed head down and covered with a thin film of flowing water.
Stumbling around I got a picture of this flower, about two feet high. I know not what it is.
I still donít know what to think of these. Iíve collected these white damsels at a few locations now and I still donít know if they are white, or have just not come into their colors let. Iíll find out when I get it identified.
The next site was a pond. There were some big guys I couldnít get, very annoying. Just before we left some water buffalo wandered into a far off field. These are used as beasts of burden. They are huge, and built like mobile rocks. Iíve never seen a small one, I think they only come fully grown. They never seen mean, actually for the most part they act board. As I understand it they are little changed from the wild ancestors from which they came.
Looking for the next site, it began to rain. We found a nice stream and waited under the eaves of a nice family (or two) that lived across from the creek. The rain let up so we set to, but it was soon pouring again. I made it under the bridge before the worst came down, but got soaked heading to the house.
The last site of the day was a big waterfall right by the road. Technically not a place we want to be see collecting, I stood watch while A scraped some good specimens (more naucorids) off the rocks. Just as well, the sun was nearly set and I saw no dragons nor exuviae.
It rained hard. From first light till about 2 in the afternoon. We breakfasted at the hotel restaurant. A spotted this and we both got pictures.
We made it to the trail for one waterfall. A kilometer (six tenths of a mile) walk. It was still raining so we decided to skip this one and head on. The next waterfall was less of a walk. We were even guided by a nice guy that somehow was associated with the Royal Thai Forestry Dept. I didnít see anything, flying, in the water, nothing. No worries. Its still raining but I ziplocked my camera and was (carefully) able to still take pictures. A found only one adult of his naucorid, and I got a picture of a snake.
Well by now, dear reader, no doubt you are beginning to think, "Is this the end for Mike? So many species that were new to his collection, perhaps he has run out of luck. Nothing more for Mike to do, but just step back and call it a trip." Well, read on.
There is a brand new, with wide shoulders and fresh lines, highway through the middle of nowhere which leads right to another waterfall (and ends right there). No one is around, the rain is letting up. Itís a short hike to the falls and what do I see on a tree trunk about 12 feet up, but this surprising little guy. The sun was not out, so you canít see the iridescent blue that was in the center of the base of the hind wings, but it is there nonetheless.
Everything is wet. When walking on a waterfall you are offered NO cushions. Its just you and a rock. And that rock is always slanted down. This waterfall was huge and it took us many tries to get up to the rocks that would let us access the rock face. Well, you could access the face if you walked down a crevasse, placed your foot in the only foot hold available and allowed the rest of your body weight to fall against the rock face. I monkeyed my way down and noticed that the only foot hold was in the middle of a perfect slide down to the small pool at the base of the falls. The falls were huge and all of the water was passing UNDER two huge rocks and a log about three feet across. Naucorids were everywhere so I grabbed one and held it up to A, "I got one," I yell over the noise of the falls. He motions me up. I scamper out, "If you slip, you die," says I. He made it about half way down and decided that only a complete moron would keep going. Luckily naucorids were everywhere. We got about forty before heading on down stream.
I collect lots of specimens. Stumbling along the stream I see a pale damselfly sitting on a rock! Instantly I pounce, and sure enough there is an exuvia right beside it! Second association!!!! It was very teneral so I got no pictures. Sorry.
There was a "pond" in the middle of an island created by the splitting of the stream and I picked up a second specimen of the little blue spot above. Just about time to leave I see the sudden flask of a gomphid. Just inches above the water and traveling at top speed you could only follow him with your eyes for a few feet before you lost him. I slowly make my way up stream hoping to find him perched. I look across the stream and see a huge gomphid on a perched stick. The only one Iíve seen, and at that size if he flies Iíll never get him. I have the whole steam to cross. Slowly I stalk forward, you have to be careful not to take too big of steps, or loose your balance and make a sudden move or youíll spook him. I get him in range, calm myself, stop breathing, relax, relax some more, relax a little more, and SWING! The rustle of wings against net, the second sweetest sound in the world (have you ever listened, really listened, to the sound of a can of Mountain Dew being opened?). I breath again. This is one of the most beautiful flying/eating machines Iíve ever seen. Red and green, look at the claspers on the end of the abdomen. A full four inches long with jaws that would have drawn blood. One of my favorite specimens to date.
As I slip him into my killing jar, who comes buy, but the little gomphid I was chasing in the first place! He was nice enough to hover for me, and I swiped him! A very good site.
We collect one more stream before going home. This one was very pretty and I got lots of specimens and exuviae.
Sunny this morning. We check out and hit the road. Let me say something about breakfast here. Thais never figured it out. Breakfast (which we have every day) is the same food that one would have for lunch or supper. Itís not unpleasant, just strange to me.
The first site is a pond. There are dragons with, except for the tip, entirely red wings. There must have been 150 of them at this pond. Flying all over the place. This makes it hard to track and collect other species, but I grab all I can. Common stuff.
As we are heading towards the car I see a little gomphid hovering and hold back to take a swipe. I give him time and he lands, whish and heís mine. I take my pictures and head to the car. Not until I look at the photos later do I realize that this is actually a libelluid! A completely different family (I can tell due to the veins in the hind wing).
The second stop of the day was the worst water Iíve been in so far. The water was crystal clear, but had recently risen about a foot due to rains. There was some sort of fungus growing on the decomposing plants that was red. I thought it smelt faintly like blood (due to iron), A thought is smelt like sulphur. Whichever, it was bad. I got common stuff, and (Lucky) my white whale mating! We hit a gas station and washed our legs afterward.
The last stop was another pond. Chasing common stuff I feel something biting my foot. It was a leach, about 6 inches long without stretching. I ripped him off and tossed him on shore. They have an anticoagulant, so I bled for about ten minutes, still have a pretty big bite mark. Mean little guy.
We continue driving looking for more spots, see one weíll try the next day, and I get a picture of a mountain near a national park. Check into a hotel, eat, and write logs.