The beauty of Paragomphus capricornis

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Male, a robust and stout-bodied gomphid.
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An unmistakable dark body with yellow bands. Male’s appendages are unique.
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It has light to dark green eyes. A sun-loving species which prefer opened grasslands.
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Females are equally majestic as the males. Here, she is doing the obelisk stunt under the scorching heat.
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Another female with a well-balancing act.
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This female looks quite gruesome. does she?
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Heliogomphus kelantanensis (Laidlaw, 1902)

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Heliogomphus kelantanensis
Common Name: Malayan Grappletail

The Malayan Grappletail has turned up again in the CCNR of Singapore in July 2016. I have seen this very species of gomphid almost every year at the same spot at one of the streams in the Nature Reserve.

Normally I have seen at least two males individual hanging within the vicinity of the slow flowing stream, but this time round, I have only encounter a single male.

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This is a small gomphid. Total body length is only about 37mm. It is endemic to P.Malaysia & Singapore.
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It has bluish green eyes, olive green thorax and dark abdomen.
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My favourite gomphid species. It is very rewarding to be able to capture this species not withstanding the long and tiring trip in the nature reserve.
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Dorsal view of this male. It has clear wings and very unique anal appendages.

This species is one of the easiest gomphid species to photograph as it will tend to stay patiently at it’s favourite perch. Even if it’s disturbed, it will fly to a nearby perch and will stay for long period of time.

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Paragomphus capricornis enjoying sunbath in the grassland

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Paragomphus capricornis
Common Name: Banded Hooktail

Banded hooktail is a rare gomphid in Singapore. It inhabits clear streams with gravel bottom in open forest. Male prefer to perch on logs and stones in mid-stream.

These hooktails, both males and females, prefer to perch on twigs and wild flowers in the grassland under the hot sun. Sometimes they would raise their abdomen in an obelisk posture to minimise their body exposure to the sun.

Here are some shots taken recently at their favourite grassland.

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A male – notice the hook-like superior appendages, is resting on a dried bidens flower.
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This male is resting on a twig. This is where they rest and feast on small flying insects.
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A closer shot of the same male.
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Another shot.
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Another male.
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They are not very skittish. Once disturbed, they would usually fly to a nearby perch.
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A frontal shot.
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A female which perch with her abdomen slightly raised. Wings pointed down.
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A closer shot.
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A lateral shot of the female.
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Heliogomphus kelantanensis (Laidlaw, 1902) – Sighting of a mating pair

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Heliogomphus kelantanensis
Common Name: Malayan Grappletail

Heliogomphus kelantanensis is a rare forest inhabitant of swift flowing streams. It is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. In Singapore, this rare species is found in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

According to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015, a male specimen has been described by Laidlaw in 1902, but the female is in a poor state to describe. The only other record of the female is by Lieftinck (1932), who described based on a larva of a female.

In May 2015, I came across two males perching on low vegetation in the deep forest of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The first male was a rather pristine young male, whilst the second male has it’s right lower wing slightly torn at the tip. The two males were perching very low near a forest stream, about 1 metre apart from each other, and were possibly waiting for a mating female.

Shortly after, a female arrived, and was immediately grabbed by the second male and they flew away to the nearly shrub while in tandem. The mating took well over ten minutes before they flew deeper into the thick vegetation and out of sight. This was the first time I have seen a mating pair.

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The first male, rather pristine. It has a uniform olive green to the sides of the thorax.
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The eyes are bluish-green. The wings are clear. Abdomen is dark and anal appendages are short.
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The synthorax is dark with pale green markings.
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It is a medium-size gomphid. Hindwing 25-26mm, body length 37mm.
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The second male. Right lower wing slightly torn at the tip.
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A young male, which could have emerged about the same time as the first male.
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Dorsal view of the second male.
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Here the torn wing is clearly visible. The damaged wing could be due to fighting with rival male.

I have seen the female of this species only once in June 2013 in the Nature Reserve. Female has similar markings as the male.

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A female in dorsal view. A bit duller but otherwise, thoracic markings similar to the male.
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The lower pair of wings is rounder. Abdomen is slightly thicker.
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The sides of the thorax is yellowish-green. There is a series of yellow markings to the sides of the abdomen.
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The mating pair as described earlier. The mating male is the second male with the torn wing.
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Macrogomphus quadratus – the large green-eye gomphid!

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Macrogomphus quadratus
Common Name: Forktail

Macrogomphus quadratus is undeniably a large and ferocious-looking gomphid which frequent slow flowing streams in the Central Catchment Area, such as Upper Seletar Reservoir, MacRitchie Reservoir and NSSF.

Here are a couple of shots of both male and female captured during a recent trip to the Central Nature Reserve.

Male
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Female
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Merogomphus femoralis Laidlaw, 1931

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Merogomphus femoralis
Common Name: Malayan Spineleg

This species is very rare in Singapore and was first recorded in Nee Soon Swamp Forest in 2007 and 2008. There was a single male specimen recorded from Peninsular Malaysia on 1921.

I found the female individual at a heavily shaded forest trial at NSSF in Jun 2013. It was found resting on a fallen tree trunk on the trail when I first seen it. Shortly afterwards, it flew and rested on top of a leaf slightly above my eye level and facing away from my view. I managed to took a few quick shots before it flew even more higher up to the canopy and disappeared soon after.

This is a medium-sized gomphid with well-separated green eyes. It has greenish yellow stripes on the sides of the thorax. The abdomen segment has five horizontal yellowish stripes. Another distinguishing feature is the white superior appendages and the long hing legs.

The female Merogompus femoralis found at the forest trail at NSSF.
An enlarge cropped, showing the well-separated green-eyes and long femur legs. The five yellowish stripes on the abdomen can also been seen.

About a week later when I was at the exact spot where I seen the first female, I saw another individual (or was it the same female?), resting on the same tree. This individual was also very skittish and does not allowed me to take more than a few shots.

Not sure if this is the same individual as the first female? Or was it a male? I am very sure they are of the same species.
Although not very clear from this photo, the long, curved inwards, and whitish superior appendages can still been seen.

I have compared the photos of these two individuals with the one published by Mr. Tang and found it to be very similar. My conclusion of this species is that it is very skittish, and it could well be found deep in the Singapore forests.

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Banded Hooktail (Paragomphus capricornis, Förster, 1914)

Banded hooktail is a common dragonfly species in South East Asia but is certainly not common in Singapore. It is a very localized dragonfly and can only be found at very few places in Singapore. I have regularly seen this species in an open grassland at the northern part of Singapore.

This species like to perch on twigs on bright sunny days. I have seen both males and females foraging at the same locality but have yet to see a mating pair. They are not shy as long as you keep a safety distance. I have seen them hunting and consuming small insects and on one occasion, I have seen one male being eaten by a larger dragonfly, the variegated green skimmer ( Orthetrum sabina).

This is certainly a very beautiful species of smaller gomphid dragonfly.

Female and male banded hooktail basking on twigs on mid afternoon.
Female and male banded hooktail basking on twigs in mid afternoon.
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Male
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A male eating a small insect.
A male eating a small insect.
A male basking in hot sun.
A male basking in hot sun.
An unlucky male, being fallen prey to a variegated green skimmer dragonfly.
An unlucky male, being fallen prey to a variegated green skimmer dragonfly.
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Leptogomphus risi Laidlaw, 1933 – male

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Leptogomphus risi
Common Name: Ris’Clubtail

On May 03, 2014, I chanced upon a very rare gomphid, the very elusive leptogomphus risi, at the small stream at Dairy Farm Nature Reserve. This is a male specimen which so far, has only been recorded once in the forest at Rifle Range Road on 7th of March 2004, mentioned in Tang’s book of Singapore Dragonflies.

The male was resting on top of a fern plant very close to the stream. It is a small stream with slow flowing running water, deep in the heavily shaded forest in the Nature Reserves. This was my first sighting of a gomphid species at that part of the nature reserves.

It was regretted that I only have a few long distance shots of this male due to the fact that I only have my 100mm macro lens on hand and the dragonfly was actually perching very near to the stream while I was standing on an elevated ground of at least 2-3 metres away from the stream. After having taken a few long distance shots, I decided to go down to the stream for a closer look but on my way down, my movements frightened the dragonfly and it disappeared soon after.

I hope this dragonfly is still at the vicinity and I will try my luck again next time.

 

This shows how small it is from where I took this long distance shots.
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Leptogomphus risi Laidlaw, 1933 – female

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Leptogomphus risi
Common Name: Ris’Clubtail

This species of medium-size gomphid is very rare in Singapore. As stated in the book of “Dragonflies of Singapore”, so far, only a single male has been recorded in Singapore on 7th March 2004. This species is said to be found in Malaysia, southern Thailand and Singapore, where it inhibits lowland swamp forests.

On 23rd June 2013, my friends and I were at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve where we found a single female individual of this species resting on a fern leaf at the nearby stream.

This species is recognised by very slender abdomen which are predominantly black. There are two yellow stripes on the dorsal side of the thorax. Eyes are green and some yellow markings on the face.

The dorsal side of the thorax showing clearly the two yellow stripes which are almost parallel, as shown above.

Another lateral shot of the same female.

The “face”shot with distinct yellow markings.

Incidentally, another teneral female of the Leptogomphus risi was collected recently on 10th April 2013 at the stream at Venus trial. Read the interesting article HERE.

Paragomphus capricornis (Fӧrster, 1914)

Family: Gomphidae
Scientific Name: Paragomphus capricornis
Common Name: Banded Hooktail

Banded hooktail is a small gomphid which is rare in Singapore. It was known to exist in certain places in Singapore such as the Nee Soon Swamp Forest and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Of my three years of photographing dragonflies, this was the first time I have come across this species at a restricted area at the Western part of Singapore.

The male and female of this species is very similar. It has dark green to black eyes, very stout body, with yellow stripes at the side of the dorsum and abdomen. The male has a unique shaped superior appendages that look like a scimitar.

I was lucky to spot both a male and a female at an open grassland in a hot sunny day. Not far away, another female was spotted near to the water body and on my way out, another male was spotted at another location. This species is known to breed in sandy running streams and it was not uncommon to find it at this location.

A male bends it’s abdomen showing it’s unique -shaped Scimitar appendages
A female basking in a hot sunny day
Another male found a short distance away from the female