A 2-days Trip To Xuân Son

The 10th and 11th May, I spent 2 days at Xuân Son National Park (130 km northwest from Hanoi, in Phu Tho Province), exploring the streams in untouched karst forest but also open rivers with boulders in shrubland/secondary forest/agricultural habitats. Forest streams were keenly surveyed.

Shortly after my arrival in the park, I checked a rock seeping with water and found Calicnemia soccifera, a species described in 2013 from China and apparently not rare in northern Vietnam.
Later, in the same area, along a streamlet on steep slope, I came across many Devadatta ducatrix (never seen so many specimens at a same place), Protosticta grandis, Protosticta satoi, 3 species of Coeliccia (sasamotoi, onoi and acco), all seen later during the trip (except D. ducatrix).

The rest of the trip, I focused in the valley. Many interesting species were encountered. The small forested streams were teeming with Mnais. Three specimens were vouchered and identified subsequently as mneme (I wonder if mneme and andersoni can share the same location...). Unfortunately streams were also teeming with huge horseflies, several of which sucked greedily my blood as I photographed specimens. This frequently left me with a dilemma : stop the pain or get the shot!

I was very thrilled to find a male and a female of the huge and colorful Philoganga vetusta. Another notable finding was the very attractive Libellulids Tetrathemis platyptera and Lyriothemis flava - the latter a new record for Vietnam.

I came across two species of Macromia. A large one (total body lenght : 75-77 mm ; hind wing 46-48 mm) without yellow humeral stripe, with dark brownish face marked by a bright yellow postclypeus. Active by day time, making rapid patrolling flights up and down the stream course; it was vouchered but until now, I have not been able to pinpoint the species*.
And a smaller one (a female), caught just before dusk and identified as M. unca, described in 2004 from China and until now never recorded in Vietnam. But I would like to see a male to confirm.

Individual males of Chlorogomphus sachiyoae were observed and netted on three occasions, patrolling up and down rocky streams, with a slow flight, 0.5m above the stream. A female was seen ovipositing over a shallow gravel section.
On the Gomphid front, the most remarkable was the Gomphidictinus sp. nov. discovered last year by Tom Kompier at Tam Dao and subsequently (April 2014) found at Xuân Son. I saw 3-4 males, a copula and an ovipositing female, at a stream under heavy canopy cover. Also spotted  in the same area Merogomphus paviei, Asiagomphus acco, Heliogomphus scorpioLeptogomphus perforatus. 
Of particular note was also Prodasineura croconota, known from a handful of localities in Vietnam (and apparently never recorded at Xuân Son).
On the Caloptera (Cholorocyphid, Calopterygid, Euphaeid) front, the best were Cryptophaea vietnamensis and Archineura hetaerinoides.

I think it was worth the 280 kms round trip on my scooter! I will definitely return in 2 months or so.

A short checklist of some species spotted at the location:

Devadatta ducatrix
Philoganga vetusta
Heliocypha perforata
Archineura hetaerinoides 
Mnais mneme
Euphaea guerini
Euphaea masoni
Cryptophaea vietnamensis
Orolestes selysi
Prodasineura croconota
Calicnemia soccifera
Coeliccia acco
Coeliccia sasamotoi
Coeliccia onoi
Protosticta grandis
Protosticta satoi
Agriomorpha fusca
Gomphidictinus sp. (undescribed species)

Gomphidia kruegeri
Leptogomphus perforatus
Merogomphus paviei
Heliogomphus scorpio
Asiagomphus acco
Chlorogomphus sachiyoae
Macromia sp*.
Macromia sp. cf. unca
Gynacantha subinterrupta
Lyriothemis flava
Tetrathemis platyptera
Onychothemis testacea

*Update June 2014 : finally identified by Tom Kompier 
as M. malleifera (see his blog entry), 1st record for Vietnam

Here's some shots taken during the trip:

Devadatta ducatrix, male 
Devadatta ducatrix, female

Philoganga vetusta, male

Philoganga vetusta, male

Philoganga sp., male (teneral vetusta?) 

Philoganga vetusta, female

Female ovipositing

Female ovipositing

Archineura hetaerinoides, male
 A wary Calopterygid with white basal wing coloration. A spectacular sight! This is one of the largest Caloptera, equaled only by Archineura incarnata (Karsh, 1892) from China and Echo maxima Martin, 1904 from northern Vietnam - the latter not recorded since its description in 1904 ! Known from Laos, North, Central & South Vietnam, southern China, in both lowland and upland sites, but apparently very localized. 

Mnais mneme, male, orange-winged form
Super abundant actually at Xuân Son, along small forested streams, but hyaline-winged form much rarer. Males and females co-habit together happily. 

Better to photograph pruinosed males in natural light. With flash, it can really alter their appearance.

Mnais mneme, male, hyaline-winged form, not pruinosed as you can see. 
Much rarer than the orange-winged form - at Xuân Son at least.

Mnais mneme, female

Euphaea guerini, male

M. & Mrs. Euphaea guerini getting to know each other... 
(males are easily separated from the similar E. masoni by the presence of a tuft of long hairs at the ventral base of segment 9 - visible in this pic if you have good eyes. Closed winged of both species show a blue metallic sheen).

... before getting on with the serious business (tuft of hairs also visible here).

Cryptophaea vietnamensis, male

Cryptophaea vietnamensis, female

Prodasineura croconota, male. 
In Vietnam, known from a handful of sites, at least Thua Thien Hue Province (central Vietnam), Huu Lien (northern Vietnam) and now Xuân Son.

Calicnemia soccifera, male. 
Species described in 2013 from southern China. Seems to be fairly widespread in northen Vietnam also. 

Coeliccia sasamotoi, pair in tandem. 
Species described in 2011 based from specimens collected in 2004-2005 in central Vietnam (Ha Tinh Province) and central east Laos.

Coeliccia sasamotoi, male
The dorsum of synthorax bears 2 pairs of markings as follow: one pair of large patches, each one bicoloured (sky blue along the dorsal carina, whitish exteriorly) and a much smaller upper pair.

Coeliccia sasamotoi, female
The mesepisternum bears 2 pairs of yellow stripes.

Protosticta grandis, male

Protosticta grandis, male

Protosticta grandis, female

Gomphidictinus sp. nov., male. What a stunner! 
Note the very pale markings and the particular black ground color.

Gomphidictinus sp. nov., male

Gomphidictinus sp. nov., male

Gomphidictinus sp. nov., male

Gomphidia kruegeri, male

Gomphidia kruegeri, male

Merogomphus paviei, male

Described in 1904 by René Martin (1846-1925), an avid naturalist  who devoted much of his life to the study of Odonata of France and other regions in the world. He is considered as the pioneer of Vietnamese odonatology. 
Merogomphus paviei was named in honor of the French diplomat and explorer Auguste Pavie (1847-1925) who explored Indochina and Siam on foot, by elephant or down the river on rafts, gathering a large amount of scientific information, notably collections for the Museum of Natural History in Paris.
René Martin also published observations about birds, mammals, reptiles and fishes!

Merogomphus paviei, male

Heliogomphus scorpio, 2 males

Heliogomphus scorpio, male

Heliogomphus scorpio, male, dorsal view of appendages

Asiagomphus acco, female

Chlorogomphus sachiyoae, male

Chlorogomphus sachiyoae, male
Described in 2005. Maybe the first record outside the type locality (Tam Dao). 

Chlorogomphus sachiyoae, female

Caudal appendages: cerci curved inwards, with stout oblique ventral spine (obvious in lateral view, but also quite visible in dorsal view), apex bilobed. Epiproct slightly longer than the cerci, yellowish in the middle, somewhat curved upwards at apex with 2 minutes spines on dorso apical area. In dorsal view, middle part of epiproct notched.

Macromia sp*, male 
Macromia sp*, male 

*Update June 2014 : finally identified by Tom Kompier 
as M. malleifera (see his blog entry), 1st record for Vietnam

Some characteristics : 1/ large size (TL 75-77mm ; HW : 46-48mm, so slightly bigger than M. pinratani vietnamica) 2/ no yellow humeral stripe 3/ dark face with bright yellow postclypeus 4/ sharply hooked posterior hamulus 5/ active by day time 
None of the Macronia in the Vietnam checklist fit with this one, still working on it!

Posterior hamulus long and slender, the apex sharply hooked.

Macromia sp, male, tip of abdomen, lateral & dorsal views

Macromia sp. cf. unca, female, released after capture. 
I would like to see a male to confirm, but for the moment I go with this.

 Note the long and broad yellow antehumeral stripe

and the peculiar facial pattern

Zygonyx iris, female. My first good shot of the female!

Lyriothemis flava, female – a new record for Vietnam. 
It was impossible to swing a net. I was however able to obtain photographs from different angles.  As many (all ?) species of this genus, L. flava breed in phytotelmata i.e. small bodies of water held by plants - such as tree holes.

Tetrathemis platyptera, male 

Cratilla lineata, copula

Orolestes selysi, male, patch-winged form. Love it!

A party of Orange Albatross (Appias nero)

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