Sunday, 22 April 2018

Yellow-tailed Shadow-emerald

The shockingly poor spring continues, with currently nothing more than a very weak trickle of only the most expected species filtering through my coastal woodlots. The phenomenon seems this year not to be restricted to Qi Gu, with nothing to twitch either nearby or even island-wide for that matter. Friday did bring a couple of new Ferruginous Flycatchers Muscicapa ferruginea locally, both of which were reasonably confiding, but absolutely nothing else.

Although I would ordinarily be reluctant to leave Qi Gu at this time of year (as late April is usually the best part of the spring), I was more than happy to accept a lift to Pingtung to twitch a dragonfly when it was offered Friday, as the forecast for Qi Gu was depressingly for unchanging conditions. The target was Yellow-tailed Shadow-emerald Macromidia ishidai, one of which had recently been photographed along the stream at Nei Wen. Despite having dipped on this species three times previously, I felt (given the circumstances) that I had a much better chance of connecting with this than I did of connecting with anything new in Qi Gu! And things did get off to the best possible start right upon arrival Saturday, with a newly-emerged Common Goldenring Sinorogomphus suzukii available to be photographed; a nice big one that usually does not sit still!

The Yellow-tailed Shadow-emerald took a lot more finding, though, and after a couple of hours of carefully scrutiny of its favoured clump of trees, we had come up with nothing and it looked once more like a dip was on the cards. I think we had both just about given up when Da Chiao Lin succeeded in picking one out much higher up in the tree than either of us had been looking. Fortunately, it was not so high as to be entirely out of range, just really not at the best of angles. This hardly mattered, though, as I would now be going home with 'something' rather than with the nothing I had slowly been resigning myself to right before this one got found!

Somewhat surprisingly (as they are supposed to remain in the same spot for very long periods), after twenty minutes or so this individual chose to fly off upstream. I assumed that it had flown into a second 'favoured tree' nearby, and this seemed to be confirmed when I relocated 'it' quickly in that very tree. I write 'it' because, as it turned out, 'it' was in fact a second individual! It has been such a long time since I last looked at dragonflies that, in my hurry and excitement to photograph this new one, I rather overlooked the morphology of the first one and failed to notice the different abdomen and wing shapes of the second when in the field! This second individual had the thick, even-width abdomen and curved hindwing of a female, whereas the first individual had in fact had the narrower abdomen with club-shaped tip and square-cut hindwing of a male!

Elated to finally have Yellow-tailed Shadow-emerald ticked (and, as it turned out, both male and female photographed), there was still time in the day to head off to the treacherously muddy Gaosi(!) Meadow to search for other species. Although I did manage to see the rather localised Mindanao Emerald Hemicordulia mindana, the only species to make it onto my camera was the rather ubiquitous (there, absent from Tainan) Green Spreadwing Orolestes selysi.

Unfortunately, there was still time in the weekend to head back to Qi Gu Sunday for more of the same disappointment, as just one Ferruginous Flycatcher remained in the woodlots and there were no new arrivals. From the looks of things, this year may well be one of those in which it will be more profitable to look for dragonflies than it will be to look for anything feathered! Above photos taken in Qi Gu, Tainan County 20/4/18 and around Mu Dan, Pingtung County 21/4/18.

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