I got lots of specimens today. We are near Kanchanaburi (spelt incorrectly). The first site is a very nice stream and it is teaming with bugs. I swipe low at two dragons and scoop too much water. CRACK! I got my specimens, but the net is in two pieces again. I start taking it apart and up from the log I was by flies a teneral dragon. I swipe it and find an exuvia on the log. A possible association, it will take a little lab work to find out. Ten minutes, bamboo, and Duct tape and Iím back in business. Iíd like to say something about bamboo at this juncture. Bamboo is natures plastic. Immensely useful you can do anything with it. Its easy to work with, strong, and lasts. We have native bamboo in Missouri, lots in Sam A. Baker State Park, and even some growing on MUís campus. However our bamboo is somewhat spindly. You could kill a man with the bamboo around here. Kill a man and build a coffin to put him in. You could kill a man, build a coffin to put him in AND a raft to float the coffin down the river. You could kill a man, build a coffin to put him in, a raft to float the coffin down the river, and do all of this in the shade of a hut built out of bamboo. Thatís good grass.
Lets look at some pictures. Here are two exuviae. These are the outer skin of a baby (larvae) dragonfly. The one of the left is a damselfly (there are the remains of three gills at the base of the abdomen). The one on the right belongs to a dragonfly in the family Aeschnidae.
Here are some shots of new species for me. How many species of dragonflies and damselflies are there in Thailand? The last count was more than 315. I hope to have at least 100 by the end of the trip. Weíll see.
Believe it or not, this little yellow bastard too 10 minutes to collect. Was it the only one? No, there were lots of them! I swiped and swiped, got lots of other things, but it took forever to get this guy. Heís not oriented right (I should be showing you the left side), but this picture was the best for showing characters.
Another picture not oriented right, I wanted to show you the dorsal (top) of the wings in this specimen. Also note the plethora of veins in the wing.
And finally this is what a good collecting stop yields. These will all be put in triangles, labeled, put in acetone over night, and then be brought back to the states for ID.
The next stop was a big one. A beautiful stream with a "pond" right by, this area had both species complexes. I got at least 50 specimens from here. Additionally I saw my white whale, and, unlike Captain Ahab, I got it. In fact I got three!
Here are some more specimens I got from the site. And a shot of a nearby mountain. These look very different from the ones at Doi Intanon (near Chaing Mai).
The third site was a disappointment. Looking for Hydrometra, A found none. I found some great exuviae, but alas, no good larvae. All in all it was an amazing day. Well over 100 specimens for one day.
The night before I got a picture of the crab sculpture that graces "Main Street". Apparently (and I could be wrong here) it was a new species found that made the region some what famous. Whyever, it was a nice sculpture.
Long drive today, but we stop (A is good to me) by the Bridge over the River Kwai. Not the original bridge, but the original site. Of course lots of tourists, tours, shops, restaurants, boat rides, museums, etc. Its nice that we can capitalize on history.
The first site is a "pond". I get all but two species that I see there. The two I missed were a huge Anax (bigger than a Green Darner) and a very frustrating Macromia (I think). But I got everything else, including this pretty yellow damsel.
More driving, with rain. We make our way to a national park. We collect in what used to be a spring, but is now much more stagnant do to a recent dam that was constructed. A had visited the site before when it was a spring. I could tell the change had happened due to the rocky bottom covered with 6 inches of silt and mud. Additionally the dragonfly community was made entirely of pond species.
We head back to town. Looking for internet, we finally find a spot, but no CD-Roms in the computers! So I can email, but canít upload any new pages. Oh well, will do later. Eat, take care of specimens, and bed.
We go to a large waterfall that has 9 "levels". The night before A mentions that he will head to the top (level 9). Iím slow out of the vehicle, so A gives me the keys and he and DaNong head up ahead of me. Well, remember I wander, stroll, mosey. I do all three as I ascend along the trail. I got a bunch of dragons! Lots (maybe 4 or 5) species that are new to my collection.
The huge claspers on this guy are used to hold on to females. Also they act to make sure the male grabs a female of the correct species.
Making my way up and up and up. Finally the trail turns to almost nothing and I am climbing on vast rocks following trees with red stripes painted on them. Quite a while has pasted, I donít really know where anyone else is, its very hot, this "trail" is leading me more toward the top of the mountain than the top of the falls, screw this. I take a waypoint and decide to head back down. It is now that I come across the first of the more unusual beasts I have yet to encounter on the trip.
What is it? Mouthparts of a beetle, antennae of a butterfly, wings similar to damselfly. This is none of the above. This is an Owlfly (Family Ascalaphidae). It is in the Order Neuroptera, lacewings, antlions, mantidflies, etc. I collect 4 of these wonderful beasts on way down.
When I make it to the car, my companions are waiting. Did they go to the top? No, just a little ways. How long have you been waiting? An hour and a half. Well, sorry guys. But I got some great specimens!
Also I got a pic of this huge spider, the abdomen (not counting the head) was at least 4 inches long! The little spider also in the web was probably the male. Typically male spiders are disposable after mating, so there is no need to grow them large of long lived.
We continue on our way and come to another set of falls. I collect all I see and get these pics.
After a late lunch we drive to the big city and put DaNong on a bus. She is headed home. But we will meet again later in southern Thailand. A and I secure a hotel room and strike out again. Not far out of the city we find a promising "pond". It turns out to be quite profitable. As A and I stalk about, a gaggle of small children swarms, questions and chatter. I swipe a dragon and they crowd in to see. One of the little monkeys starts tugging on the sweep net I have in my belt. So I lend it to him, and he becomes a dragon hunter too. The whole group helped, as he would collect they would ferry specimens too me.
I pick up a female that is new to me. I donít know if Iíve already collected the male of this species or not.
When I begin to collect at a site I keep track of what species (forms) I see and which I have collected. I always try to collect at least one of each, even if itís a very common species of which I already have many specimens, I still want to record its presence at that location. This site was no different and I stalked and stalked, slowly picking up each of the species Iíd seen flying. I was down to one little skinny dark blue bugger which I had only seen for a fleeting instant. And low and behold, here comes a grinning face with an out stretched hand. With a little help I have a specimen of every dragon I saw at the "pool". Before we left I requested a picture, here are my helpers.
Food, sleep (in a very small room).