Friday, 18 April 2014

Sapa, 14-16 April

To continue the saga of Sapa, we arrived late on Sunday 13th after a grueling drive, persuaded by my Papago! to drive a different route, not as I planned along QL 32, but first along QL 70, where we eventually ran into a traffic jam and had to U-turn, drive back for an hour and then followed TL 151, equally disastrous, as it was no more than a off road dirt track ruined by working traffic for the highway being built. But we made it. In Sapa we noticed great dragonfly spots, but did not specifically explore them, as this was a birding trip. However, the swampy field along the trail to Love Waterfall was very productive and birding the lower areas of Phan Xi Pang mountain was also great, irrespective of the time of the year (early) although diversity was still low.

I will need some time to sort everything out, but this is the information I can share right now. Any suggestions on the IDs are very welcome. The streams were still mostly empty, but the pools and swampy fields had interesting species. Orthetrum glaucum, O. pruinosum, O. triangulare and O. sabina were to be expected, but O. internum was the commonest species by far. I had not seen it before in Vietnam. The presence of Anax nigrofasciatus was a nice surprise, with 2 males at the marsh of Love Waterfall and another somewhere over a pond. A freshly emerged, but somewhat damaged Anotogaster male was also a wonderful find on Phan Xi Pang. And Libellula melli was yet another species I had not expected. This cousin of the Eurasian L. depressa occurs in Southern China but to my knowledge is new for Vietnam.

Damselflies were also very interesting, although I encountered only a few. A Megalestes species was found emerging at various locations and once a mature female was seen, but escaped before it good be photographed. Common in a variety of habitats was a species that seems to be a Mesopodagrion species, and as it does not look like M. tibetanum, it could be M. yachowensis. To be continued. Another species seen only once is also an unknown, suggestions are welcome. This was a beautiful species similar in size to the Mesopodagrion and interacting with it in the forest. I am at a loss for now. And the last damsel found was Ceriagrion fallax. It was common at one particular stream near Sapa town.

Let's start with the completely unknown, suggestions welcome!

The same damsel, detail of thorax

The same damsel, lateral view of appendages

Anax nigrofasciatus, male

Ceriagrion fallax, male

Orthetrum internum, male

Megalestes spec, work in progress, female

Very cool Mesopodagrion species, male

Mesopodagrion species in tandem

Libellula melli, male, new for Vietnam

The unfortunate Anotogaster male, something went wrong during emergence


  1. This O. japonicum looks distinctly different from those found in Taiwan and Japan. Have you checked the male cerci and secondary genitalia? I have found the photos of the same species from Yunnan and Thailand on internet.

    1. Dear Chi Yeh, yes, it is a different subspecies. In Japan O. j. japonicum and in Southern China O. j. internum. Presumably the same subspecies here, for instance no pruinosity on the thorax.