26 May

Still staying with O. Up to a huge breakfast made by his mother, she even packed a lunch for us! We headed to a far off stream.

The last few days have been kind of bummers, but today was different! I got three species of Gomphids (Big, Medium, and Small). Iím pretty sure Iíve identified the larger one and have collected it in a providence from whence it has not yet been reported.

Another great find. The first time Iíve seen this great big red guy, and I got him! Another possible range extension.

I got some other pictures of the local critters. I have a feeling that, had I touched this, I would have been badly burnt. All those branches probably have either small hairs that break like glass and get embedded in your skin, or hairs tipped with some form of venom, like a bee sting. Either way, I took its picture, but did not pet.

Here is a stand off. The mantid was immature, therefore it lacked developed wings. If it moves the frog can see it, and GULP! If it holds still its safe. How it ended I know not.

And here is a wacky katydid.

The second site was similar, a very nice stream. I got the big red guy again!

Also Iíve collected this species before, but I donít think Iíve taken a picture of it yet.

The last site was a pond by the side of the road. Little kids swarmed. Nothing new, I got the usual complex of lowland species. You got to see a small picture of this guy setting, but here he is in the hand.

Back for a final night with O. We drove many miles today. When this is over Iíll make a map of all the places we collected. So far It would consist of about 80 dots scattered from Chiang Mai all the way down the west side of the country until you get to about the level of Phuket (pronounced Poo-Ket). Weíre headed further south in the next few days.

Anything can be fascinating if you know enough about it. Dragonflies are just the tip of the iceberg. But if youíre interested in dragons there is a wonderful book for the beginner. It has a description, color picture, range, and notes concerning each species in the United States. The title is Dragonflies Through Binoculars. Written by Sidney Dunkle (I think). Anyway its about $20-30 and well worth it. (If they still have copies available www.hamiltonbooks.com has it for $20 plus $3 SandH.)

 

 

 

27 May

Before we left for todayís drive I got a picture of the building that O works in. It is a huge horse shoe shaped building, newly finished. Located in the middle of many plots of rubber trees, its back is flanked by real forest. The building is three or four stories tall (12 ft tall ceilings). Much of it, however, is open air, all the hallways and the cafeteria. The offices can be closed off and air-conditioned, and some of the class rooms.

Drove to a new area and started looking for streams or ponds. We used an entire tank of gas and only found one place to collect! It was a stream that had been dammed to provide a reservoir for the locals. So around and above the dam I collected pond species, and below I collected stream species. The local kids showed up to swim but swarmed A and I. Nothing special, but with the help of the kids (they would yell "One!" and point whenever they saw a dragon), I got every species I saw. Even the common species have not been recorded from all the provinces they are in, so common stuff from the right place can be very important.

I got a picture of this bug while I was collecting. Know what it is? Why a butterfly of course. About a half inch long.

 

28 May 2003

Drove to a better area of the county. Got to a waterfall around 10am.

We started collecting and I was grabbing all I could get, when what do I stumble onto but a very important find. Remember that my prime directive is to associate immatures with adults. Well, hereís a risky shot, but I got it collected AND FOUND TWO MORE! Iím pretty sure they are all the same species, but that doesnít hurt.

Iíve collected this guy before, but I donít remember if Iíve shown you a picture.

This is the first time Iíve seen one of these (though undoubtedly Iíve walk past thousands). This is the exuviae of a damselfly (positive) in the family Calopterygidae (Pretty sure). They are very long and stick like. It helps them hide in the water plants and attack prey on the sneak.

The next spot was a steam that A had collected before. They had built a nice new road and he barely recognized the place. I got new species for me here. It is a little damselfly which looks like the little yellow (bastard) that was so hard for me to catch earlier. Only this guy is red instead of yellow. I tried to get pictures, but it was overcast and none of the color came through. There was a walkway over the stream. I spotted a wasp nest and took a quick pick. Cute little gals.

The last spot of the day was a very wide, shallow snakeish river. I grabbed all I could, including a very small dragon I only remember collecting one other place. A, of course, figures he got a new species from there! Before we left I saw a school of newly hatched fish fry, so I got a shot.

We went in search of a hotel, food, and internet. Scored on all three. Much appreciated rest.

End of Day.

 

29 May

The fist site today was a beautiful set of falls with a nice stream below.

I started gathering the usual species. A was on the falls and yelled for me to come, as there were some big dragons up there. I climbed my way up and saw a huge male gomphid setting happily on a stick across the falls. I made my way over (carefully), lined up my shot, stopped breathing, psyched my self up for a hit, and fired my net out and over so fast it was a blur. I never saw him move but before Iíd rolled the net over I knew Iíd missed. Some of these guys are ghosts! I was cussing. Some big guys just disappear after a miss, and I may have missed my only chance. I started looking, the sky, the ground, the trees, everywhere. Straight behind me, he was sitting, cool as you like, on a stick. Lets do it all over again. Slowly cross over, line up the shot, double psyche, gotta GET HIM! Fired as fast and hard as I can and knew I had him before I had the net closed! I donít remember collecting something with so much black and so little yellow (Iíll have to review my pictures), but here he is.

After that I picked up another specimen of the real big red guy Iíd gotten earlier. Wandered over to A, he was having a red letter day, with three possible new species. I climbed up and a rock and looked down to find another new species of dragon (for me) setting happily on a stick by a pool. The only one Iíve see this trip and I got it!

Wandering around I spotted this chrysalis hanging from a leaf.

And I got a picture of a nice flower (can you see the two ants?).

Looking long and hard we finally found a private pond at which we could collect. After about a half hour it started raining, hard. Iíd already grabbed most all of what was flying, and A had gotten good stuff, so we waited it out in a gazebo built over the water and then headed out to find another spot. Lots of driving all over the map led us to a perfect looking pond on the side of the road. Turns out it wasnít good at all (most of the water was from rains the day before) and the mud was bad. I stayed out of it and got everything that was flying and in my searching saw this. Iím really surprised that I havenít blundered into one of these and gotten the crap stung out of me. I see these wasps everywhere. Cute little gals.

Back to the same hotel we stayed at two nights ago. Nice place. They have hot water. Iíve failed to mention that hot water is not a given in Thailand, even in the cities. Some places you have to pay extra to get a room with hot water, and as A is tougher than I, Iíve taken a few cold showers to save a little money. Hey, you need cold showers and a couple months without Mt. Dew to make you realize just how important hot water and that sweet nectar oí the Pepsi Corporation really is. Stumbling up the steps I find the decapitated remains of what looks like a species new to my collection. The findings of the next day will call that into question, but no worries, all will be revealed when Iím home with my scope.

Fell asleep early, but some damn horny frogs were really loud about 3am. Give me chickens any day.

30 May

Another long day of looking for a place to collect.

We went to a most unusual place. There are, scattered about, hot springs. Really hot actually, these are geothermally warmed and spout out of the earth steaming. Well, this place not only had a hot spring (keen), but also the spring fell over a waterfall (very keen). We had to pay a couple dollars to get in, but they had a very nice elevated concrete walkway through the forest back to the falls. Just a little drop, not more than ten feet but it was very nice. Of course there were two guys taking showers in the falls when we arrived, but this is standard fair around waterfalls in Thailand. They had shunted some of the flow off to the right to fill two pools for people to sit in. We looked and looked and couldnít find a single living thing in the water. No dragons flying either. So we wandered on.

We drove and wandered and wandered and drove and finally made our way to a waterfall by the highway. There was a huge pool at the base of a rather small fall. The species collected by both A and I were indicative of stagnant rather than flowing water. I collected a (whole) specimen of the "new" species I had found decapitated above. However, I think it may be a young example of a species Iím collected before, its just not old enough to show its true colors.

Here's another dragon I'm not sure if I've shown you, and a very nice toad.

Although I got common species, there were a lot flying and this was a new province for me to collect in, it was a very profitable stop.

Itís the start of the rainy season here. Which means that itís the end of the dry season. Its been raining buckets most mornings for about the last four or five days. So when we see a "pond" by the side of the road we have to scrutinize it to see if itís a real pond or just new water. New water doesnít bother me if Iím collecting adults because they will set up territories around new or old water. It was getting late and we stop at a pond. New water, so I collect all I see while A waits. No more sites for the day. Just because Iím not getting new species for my collection doesnít mean this collecting is for not. Even the common species have not been collected from all the provinces in which they occur. This means that my collection will help flesh out where and when particular species occur in Thailand. Some will be found over the entire country the whole year round, while others will be much more restricted in their distribution and flight times.

We find a hotel and eat a big supper.