Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A paradise for Coeliccia

Xuan Son National Park is known for the Calopteryds, so I expected to see many of those and indeed I was not disappointed. But what I did not expect was to find 5 species of Coeliccia in this time of the year. Notably at Tam Dao for instance, only the common Coeliccia scutellum remains. So I was very surprised on the drizzly Saturday to bump into a really splendid larger Coeliccia with very large light blue patches on the dorsum of the synthorax, as large as those of Indocnemis orang. I could make a few records shots, but on Sunday I saw several males again, along the concrete path adjacent to the stream through the forest near Lap village. Indeed, this was Coeliccia poungyi, a species to my knowledge not known from Vietnam, although later I learned it had been recorded at Xuan Son before.

Coeliccia poungyi, male

Slightly different angle

And in hand close-up, marvelous
The other species I found already on Saturday is Coeliccia pyriformis. This little species, the smallest amongst the five I found, has banana shaped blueish markings on the dorsum of the thorax. Although IUCN rates it as data deficient and known from only three sites in Laos and Vietnam, I have found it at all reserves I visited, but in Van Long. We saw it at Ba Be, Ba Vi, Cuc Phuong, Tam Dao and now at Xuan Son. It must therefore be considered widespread.

Coeliccia pyriformis, male

On the Sunday the first surprise I had was a male Coeliccia uenoi next to the much smaller C. pyriformis at a seep in the forest. C. uenoi is a striking species, large and with characteristic dorsal markings. I had seen it at Cuc Phuong, where it is known to occur, but I did not expect it here at Xuan Son. IUCN lists it as known from only two sites in Ninh Binh Province (Cuc Phuong is in Ninh Binh).

Striking and large Coeliccia uenoi, male

Close-up of the dorsal pattern of the thorax
Later the same day I bumped into several tens of yet another unknown Coeliccia, C. sasamotoi. This species had been only recently described (2011) based on specimens from Central Vietnam and Laos. Since then it has also been found in Hoa Binh Province, already considerably further north. Now Xuan Son can be added to the list. Apparently is has quite a broad range. It is yet another striking species, with interestingly very little tail light, just whitish appendages. The female of this again rather large species has two sets of yellow spots on the dorsum of the synthorax, a bit like the much smaller undescribed species from Cuc Phuong (see that post).

Beautiful Coeliccia sasamotoi, male

And another male, the flash has made it slightly lighter than it is, see below

Close-up of the dorsal pattern of the male

Coeliccia sasamotoi, female

The same female from a different angle
On top of these species I also bumped later in the day into a few Coeliccia cyanomelas, a species I had seen at Ba Vi and Tam Dao, where it was quite common especially in August. Here are a few shots of a male in hand. For completeness I added a photo from Tam Dao of a copula.

Coeliccia cyanomelas, copula at Tam Dao, mid September

Coeliccia cyanomelas, male

Close-up of the dorsal pattern, with two smallish spots proximal and tiny ones distally, plus the typical black 'bite' taken out of the blue flanks at the 'shoulder'
All these 5 species were found within a few kilometers of trail. Likely there are still other species present, making this a Coeliccia hotspot!

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