Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mnais mneme and other Xuan Son goodies

Yes, we are in business! The first real sunny day of the spring in North Vietnam and I found myself in Xuan Son, for birds, but it was rather quiet, but I had good views of a singing Spotted Wren Babbler. But the sun also brought out quite a few dragons. Interestingly, several species were already in copula or ovipositing, so had been around for some time: Orthetrum pruinosum, Copera marginipes, Trithemis festiva, Pantala flavescens, not the rarest of species, but still.

The best species of the day was stunning Mnais mneme. I saw three males, all orange-winged. One I caught and it was very large, abdomen 49 mm, larger than either M. mneme or M. andersoni as described in Asahina's 1975 papers. The appendages pointed to M. andersoni, but the distal segment of the penile organ, as he calls it, is only very shallowly v-shaped, much like his Laos type. Based on this, and helped by the size, I identified it as M. mneme.

Mnais mneme, male orange-winged form

Appendages in ventral view. Tip of inferiors with hook and inferiors well short of superior appendages.

But see the almost t-shape of the distal segment
Another surprise was Ceriagrion azureum, two males in a rice field of all places. I had only seen this beautiful species in Ba Be National Park before. As they were a bit far away and I did not bring the long lens, a record shot only.

Ceriagrion azureum, beautiful species, bad photo
Heliocypha perforata was already common, with many males displaying. Here an immature male and a female.

Heliocypha perforata, female

And H. perforata, immature male, just starting to turn blue on the abdomen

Yet another species already common was Euphaea masoni. Many males were flitting about. Here an almost mature male and a female.

Is she crying, or just shy? Euphaea masoni, female

E. masoni, immature male
Vestalis gracilis was very common in some places, whereas in autumn it is not so easy to find in Xuan Son. I was a bit surprised how common it was already.

Two males Vestalis gracilis, side by side

And the last species I have photos of, Cratilla lineata. This species was also already ovipositing. Here a male.

Cratilla lineata, male
As it is interesting to know what the temporal distribution is of species, here the other species seen today:

Neurobasis chinensis, Aristocypha fenestrella, Agriocnemis femina, Paracercion calamorum, Coeliccia scutellum, Copera marginipes, C. ciliata, Prodasineura autumnalis, Pantala flavescens, Trithemis festiva, Orthetrum pruinosum, O. glaucum, O. triangulare, Brachythemis contaminata.

A total of 20 species, yes, we are in business!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

It has begun!

Today, Sunday March 2, I went to Tam Dao NP. It was misty and cloudy and difficult birding, but around 1 PM the mist lifted somewhat and I decided to go to Tay Thien to try the stream and surroundings there. Just when I arrived the sun broke through the clouds, not very strong, but nevertheless, there she was. And out came the first northern Vietnamese odonata of the spring! (Not exactly, as on March 1 we already spotted a few Pantala in Ba Vi). About 8 Orthetrum sabina, fresh but not teneral, Crocothemis servilia, an immature male, Pantala flavescens (about 10 flying above the fields) and Neurobasis chinensis, about 10 males and a female, some males fresh with creamy eyes). As most were immature specimens, these have recently emerged, which means that really anything is possible from now on! I am ready.