Odonata of Oe-Cusse's Journal

April 28, 2019

Photographing Flutterers and Sultans with an unlikely lens and adaptor combo

Ever since my trip to Oebaha, where I managed to photograph some Sultans I have worked on perfecting my skills by trying to come up with a minimalist set up, which means leaving the tripod and my flash behind.

The first pictures taken documenting the first record of Sultan in the Oe-Cusse Region, was a proof of concept, as I paired two unlikely pieces of gear, the M. Zuiko 75-300 mm variable aperture telephoto lens and the Meike, automatic 16mm extension tube.

At first I though it would not work, but it does work. So the tip is if you happen to use this set up (I use it with a OMD EM10 mark ii body, with a grip), to:
1- Switch on the In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) and put it in Automatic;
2- Select your focus point to the centre of the frame;
3- Zoom in until the image is blurry but you can make sense of the outlines of twigs, etc.
4- Half press the shutter for it to focus;

So lets say your Dragonfly is perching on a twig and there is a lot of background noise, and you did not reach the expected results using the first approach. Then you can try to do the following:

1- Select your focus point to the centre of the frame;
2- Zoom in until you can visually note the different contrast between the twig and Dragonfly;
3- Move the camera so the centre point covers part of the more "contrasty" part of your composition;
4- Half press the shutter to attain focus;
5- Zoom slowly followed by Half press of the shutter until you reach the desired Focal length (which is often the 300 mm), and shoot away.

Posted on April 28, 2019 04:45 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 10, 2019

Site description: Oebaha

Location: Suco - Bobometo
Site name: Oebaha, Oelpanaf


Fig.1-Oebaha

How to get there?

This site is located some 18 km from Pante Macassar town centre (BM STA 0 000) located in front of Hotel Inur Sakato. You’ll need to get out of town via the recently built Samoro-Pasar Tono Market Road, pass Nuslau and take what will hopefully become the Tono Market – Oesilo National Road. You’ll need to cross two (2) bridges, Kinloki and Abanal bridge over tributaries of the Tono River. The site is fairly close to the second bridge, however during the rainy season it takes you anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes to get to Oebaha. Some 550 meters from the second bridge’s end (abutment towards Oebaha) you’ll have to turn right as if going toward the neighborhood known as Faut, as you get to the river known as Noeana (little river) a tributary of the Tono River, you’ll have to hike 600 metres up the river and get to the margin to your left, there you’ll see a small drainage canal and a fairly visible landmark (a well). This entire area roughly 1.5 hectares is known as Oelpanaf (Well).


Fig.2-Oelpanaf, shaded by a Samanea saman

Where does the water come from?

There is a slight depression and a small size pond is formed here during the rainy season and the lower parts of the depression retain water all year round. Water flowing from the surrounding steep hills drains into this site, which acts as a retention basin, retaining also waters drained from rice field located in the flatlands next to it. All this water then drains to the river by means of an earth dug canal.


Fig.3-Water Canal

Vegetation

The less sheltered and more disturted flatlands have some trees which include the schleichera oleosa, the palm Borassus flabellifer, and some scattered Zyziphus. This site has been taken over by Bellyache bush (Senna alata), some candlebush (Senna alata). The more sheltered and protected steep slope have Pterocarcus, and a small trek is available from the well all the way to the ponds far edge through this more shaded and protected area. Several flowering plants where photographed here.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075949
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075842
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075841
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075839
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075838
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075836
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075405
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075404
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21075142
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21074403
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21074400

What can you expect to find:

  1. Lestes concinnus (?) (?)(margins of the pond)
  2. Ischnura senegalensis (margins of the pond)
  3. Pseudagrion microcephalum (?)(margins of the pond)
  4. Pseudagrion pilidorsum (margins of the earth canal)
  5. Anax guttatus (?) (caught in the morning 10 am flying at the water edge near shaded areas with Borassus palms)
  6. Camacina gigantea (a fairly common species in the pond)
  7. Neurothemis ramburii (photographed near the well)
  8. Orthetrum caledonicum (?)
  9. Potamarcha congener (pond)
  10. Zyxomma obtusum (caught at dawn flying in a shaded area earth canal )
  11. Gynacantha sp. (caught at dawn)

I have looked at High Resolution Satellite imagery for this location (1 pixel = 10cm) and this small depression was not visible as the image was taken during an El Nino Year. The only thing you can only see a non-farmed area (the pond) covering some 1.2 ha in total. If you were to look at Google maps you would think I made a georeferencing mistake, however I photographed using my Olympus TG4 with GPS and Glonass enabled, took my handheld GPS (Garmin etrex 30x). If you look back at sat imagery from 2011 and 2016 you’ll be able to tell it just.

This is a fairly good site, many different species can be seen here. This was the site where I made my first record of a Camacina and of a Potamarcha . I was bitten by a Camacina for the first time here. I did not know how aggressive this little beast can be. This would be a perfect place for a picnic with friends, although there are no waterholes nearby big enough for a swill. The surrounding hills host, as I have been told three different species of orchids, which are now in bloom. I’m looking forward revisit this site.

Posted on March 10, 2019 01:11 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 08, 2019

Preparing to describe a new site

As you guys may have noticed, there were several significant records from a site “Oebaha”. A recent collection by a friend yielded many species, which include Camacinia gigantea (first record of the species in Oe-Cusse), Anax guttatus, Tramea stenoloba, Zyxomma obtusum and a very interesting Gynacantha.

Most of the times I do the collection myself when I cannot photograph them in the wild, but lately I have been given specimens collected by friend and family that check some of the pictures I post on Facebook. Few people know and/or realize the work required in preparing a visit to a new site. My steps tend to be always the same, first find a good local informant, nothing beat local knowledge. I have found that most of the times either children or >60 year old informants are the best. Children are great for Damselflies and >60 for anything crepuscular.

After having a good key informant I try to understand beforehand what kind of vegetation I’ll encounter, try to estimating travel times (by motorbike/car or by foot), prepare the main camera body (with macro lens), prepare backup camera body with a telephoto and some extension tubes, take GPS, take my “point and shoot” camera with built in GPS and GLONASS. Then comes preparing the first aid kit, which is followed by preparing what I’ll end up using as a Kill Jar, some sample jars, the nets.

Having a Key informant is crucial as a lot of the sites with water are under specific traditional natural resource management practices, with a range of taboos put in place. Thus far I have not been denied access to a single site after explaining what my nets where for. There are many restrictions when it comes to harvest of freshwater prawns here. Because my Meto is fairly poor, and most people here do not speak Tetun no Portuguese, I rely on the first pictures in my SD card (of different Dragonflies) to show what I’m after to photograph.

But before all of that and after preparing what will eventually become my kill jars I have a look at different military maps (Indonesian, Portuguese, Australian) to check contour lines and set treks and/or quadrats depending on what I hope to photograph and document, this is followed by looking at some of the aerial photography and high resolution satellite imagery of the area, by the time this is done, I’m exhausted and usually sleep less than 7 hours before traveling.

For the Oebaha site I’m blessed with having a good friend (Custódio Bobo) whom I’ve worked with in Fisheries Management issues, he has retired and moved back to be with his wife and tend after the gardens and his paddy rice fields, he is an expert in Anax and has an amazing knowledge of habitats and behavior. His son in law, Jeffrey, whom I work with, is fairly interested in odanating and is always keen to join and help me out. He is particularly good as posing dead specimens in the most natural of ways. Borju a young man whom I have recently met, although a trained accountant has not managed to find a job but is very keen to join and learn he is particularly good at netting and has the eyes of a falcon and is as proficient in the use of a net.

Posted on March 08, 2019 11:40 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 05, 2019

A decent (posed) photograph of Zyxomma obtusum

Finally managed to get a site with enough Z. obtusum to collect, they are somewhat hard to photograph perching as I have not been able to see it yet. I have uploaded a dead posed Zyxomma. I'm somewhat unclear whether it will turn out to be Z. obtusum (a bit unclear now given that I have not had much experience with the species). The photographed one was caught 6:20 AM before sunrise, I have seen them flying at dusk before sunset. They are active for little over 30 minutes and are very active fliers. I have never seen one perching.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20940239

Posted on March 05, 2019 11:57 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 02, 2019

The return of the Neurothemis

Hours before catching my flight back to Dili (Capital of Timor-Leste) to visit family and stock up on some supplies, I saw them, Neurothemis ramburii, one of the skimmers/grasshawks that I truly enjoy photographing. Unfortunately I did not have my camera, but have taken a GPS reading and added a point into my next site to photograph. The weather is really good, the humidity is off the roof but given that sun is rising slightly earlier I can get a solid 1:30 of photographing before getting into the office and do my overlords bids.

They are back in Aosnak. They appear to prefer the pools over the flowing water.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20936155
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20936159
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20936162

Posted on March 02, 2019 02:04 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 23, 2019

2019 Challenge: Game on!

So after having contributed to Malte's paper on odonatans of Timor, I have extracted a list of species I'm meant to look for during 2019, these include:
• Anaciaeschna jaspidea (CRESPUSCULAR - Meokana)
• Anax gibbosulus (Site selected: Oeupo)
• Epophthalmia vittigera
• Hemicordulia australiae
• Hemicordulia tau
• Rhyothemis graphiptera
• Rhyothemis phyllis
• Tetrathemis irregularis
• Urothemis aliena
• Zygonyx ida (site selected to survey: Nubau falls, Padiae)
• Zyxomma obtusum (CRESPUSCULAR - site selected to survey: Sumlilin river, Cruz)
• Zyxomma petiolatum (CREPUSCULAR - site selected: To be identified)

According to surveys conducted in Malaysia, most of the crepuscular activity seems to happen in May. While so I have noted crepuscular species throughough the year (mainly Tholymis tillarga). I shall continue to survey during dusk and dawn to see if I notice any increase in number and/or changes in the species.

Wilson, K.D.P., Gibert, E. (2006). Survey of Odonata at Endau-Rompin, Peninsular Malaysia. Technical Report.

Posted on February 23, 2019 12:12 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 3 comments | Leave a comment

February 22, 2019

Starting new sites and sites descriptions

As the rains start to finish we are witnessing here in Oe-Cusse some interesting changes in species abundance of Odanatans. For instance I have continued to survey Oesono neighborhood for crepuscular species and found the open fields ( -9.201356°, 124.379810°) while being very goo habitat for the species I'm after, it mainly hosts P. flavens. It is interesting to see this species flying, they have an irregular flight pattern and were some relatively easy to catch (due to their sheer abundance). Here other larger AESHNIDAE have been spotted but with less that 30 minutes of netting time I'm yet to collect an Anax or another Gynacantha.

Other species in a 2 km radius inclue: Orthetrum testaceum, Orthetrum sabina, Diplacodes trivialis.

I will soon start describing new sites namely one some 1.5 hour hike from this one. My next planned visit is Meokana Water falls, let me see what this site holds. This was the place where my wife was hidden from the Indonesian Militia in 1999, I hope I'm able to make this site justice and record as many odonatans as I can and find and expand my collections of plants, birds, freshwater fish and some freshwater bugs as well.

Posted on February 22, 2019 15:48 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 14, 2019

Pantala flavescens, they are back!

As the rainfalls starts to taper off, sites that were pretty much devoid of libellulidae (Oesono rivermouth) now host them more specifically P. flavens. They are very easy to net and Oesono rivermouth is probably the best place to spot them this year. While trying to expand on my checklist of crepuscular species I have encountered hundreds of dragon flies resembling P. flavens flying above Ipomoea pes-caprae. I have collected one and will upload some pictures tomorrow alongside a brief site description. I plan to revisit this site at 6 AM tomorrow.

Posted on February 14, 2019 14:42 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 02, 2018

More suspected records of Agriocnemis

I've been waiting for the rain for such a long time. We have been getting some rains but not the usual down pours, so a lot of the ponds/puddles remain dry but we are getting more grass and a lusher vegetation. I had a couple of hours to spare so I tried focusing my efforts in expanding the checklist of Odonatans found in Kolam Xina.

In a previous journal entry about this site, I had mentioned that the best site to find Odonatans was in the larger pond which remain with water throughout the year. While that may be true during the dry season, during the rainy season you can find more species in the first water outlet reducing travel distance and time.

The first checklist during the dry season yielded the following species:

  1. Crocothemis servilia
  2. Diplacodes trivialis
  3. Orthetrum sabina
  4. Pantala flavescens

Since we have more grass growing after the first rains I decided to inspect closer the grass blades to see what kind of grasshoppers I could find here. It has been a while since I record an tobacco grasshopper (atractomorpha) and, was quickly called to inspect a minute damselfly. Slightly short of 20mm in length, given that I had not recorded any Agriocnemis in this site, and considering that the cow manure close by did not allow me to position myself to take a well framed picture in the wild I decided to catch it and keep it in a small sample jar.

I then moved along the edged of the small pond, as I now have my Gum boot all the time in the car for these special occasions. Here I saw what resembled a Agriocnemis, as was very excited. However in my first try, the Flash (a Nissin i40) did not fire, and while I was switching the flash output to try to squeeze more juice out of my eneloop batteries, puff, he was gone.

I cursed because I was already late for lunch with my work colleagues. I went back home to change into drop my camera and feeling slightly defeated went for lunch. I was able to expand the checklist of this site with a sighting of the ubiquitous Ischnura senegalensis.

After lunch I was compelled to return to the same spot and take pictures of the Agriocnemis in the wild, but a problem with my newly acquired editing software (Luminar 2018) meant that I had to trouble shoot until close to 5 PM, by then it was cloudy and horrible, and I though to myself, I will not photograph anything and will eventually get very wet in the process, since I was bored of figuring out what was happening and after sending emails to the software's support team I decided to go.

Three minutes after getting my gum boots wet, I saw several individuals and was able to photographed two specimens which I suspect to be Agriocnemis pygmaea: 18751981. 18751982.

I did see some Tholymis tillarga (Fabricius, 1798), here as well but was not able to photograph them as they rarely perch, always flying.

The updated checklist of Odanatans found in Kolam Xina is

  1. Crocothemis servilia
  2. Diplacodes trivialis
  3. Orthetrum sabina
  4. Pantala flavescens
  5. Ischnura senegalensis
  6. Agriocnemis pygmaea c.f.
  7. Tholymis tillarga
Posted on December 02, 2018 00:30 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 30, 2018

Celebrating TL independence: Quick walk to Bolkenat

While the rains are here, we have not had consistent downpours yet. I visited the Bolkenat site to see if I could record any more species here. It seems that this site is fairly stable sustaining 3 species throughout the year during both the rainy season and the dry season. The species found here have been Nososticta impercepta, Rhinocypha pagenstecheri timorana and Pseudagrion pilidorsum deflexum.

Other than the dramatic changes in the surrounding vegetation, end of November is marked by the flowering of Delonix Regia, found scattered throughout the trail towards the waterhole and the fruiting of the edible Schleichera oleosa. Interestingly a series of crabs were recorded in these water holes and several putrid dead frogs.

This is arguably a fairly bad time to take tourists here due to the unpleasant smell of dead frogs, and the considerable amount of mosquitoes.

Doing a collection here at dusk would be certainly interesting, however the treks are fairly untidy, most of the markings I had done last year are gone and I should probably redo this trail and redo the signage.

Posted on November 30, 2018 11:47 by ruidasilvapinto ruidasilvapinto | 0 comments | Leave a comment