Brachygonia oculata (Brauer, 1878)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Brachygonia oculata
Common Name: Pixie

This gorgeous little dragonfly was very rare in Singapore. According to records, it was collected by A.R.Wallace in Singapore in 1854. After which no records were known until it was seen again in May 2007 in the Western Catchment area of Singapore.

This attractive small dragonfly is predominantly orange in color with splashes of powdery white to it’s abdomen. The last three segments of it’s abdomen are black.

Female is less attractive and brown in color.

This male specimen, well, the one and only male specimen I have seen, perched on a dry twig, motionlessly for quite awhile.
It has a surprisingly large head. It is in fact very small, the size of a black-tipped percher. It’s total body length is only about 22mm.
Dorsal view showing it’s hyaline wings and the three-colored tone abdomen.
A frontal shot, showing it’s large compound eyes, largely black with reddish on top and the whitish mouth part.
Another dorsal view here. Hmm.. the powdery white patches over it’s abdomen looks very interesting as if someone has splashed a layer of white paint over it.
Another angle , same specimen.
Final pose. One of the most prettiest and attractive dragonfly that can be found in Singapore.

I can count myself as being extremely lucky to have seen a male specimen of this rare dragonfly in Singapore.


Orchithemis pulcherrima – various color forms of the female.

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Orchithemis pulcherrima
Common Name: Variable Sentinel

Orchithemis pulcherrima are small narrow-winged dragonfly species which are common and occurs in many sites within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

These species prefer dark forests undergrowth and some times it can be found along forest streams and pools.

Immature females are yellowish brown, while matured females are normally blueish dark, and some have color in-between yellow and dark form. Females with red abdomen are rare.

Below is a gallery of all possible female color forms from my collection.

I also put up all the images in the following slide show.

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Let me know which is your favorite color forms.

Macrodiplax cora (Brauer, 1867)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Macrodiplax cora
Common Name: Coastal Glider

Macrodiplax cora is a common dragonfly species which is found at reclaimed land, reservoirs and coastal areas. In Singapore, I have seen this species at MacRitchie Reservoir, Upper Seletar Reservoir, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and Upper Peirce Reservoir.

Adult male Macrodiplax cora is a medium-sized dragonfly with a body length of 43mm. It has large head and dark brown thorax.  Both sexes has a distinctive thick dark broken line along the dorsum of the abdomen.

Female is light orange-yellow on thorax and abdomen.Immature male resemble female in colors. The wings are clear except for a yellowish patch at the base of the hind wing.

This species perches on the tip of twigs or branches along edges of the reservoirs.


Macrodiplax cora-2
A young male rest on the tip of plant branches along the reservoir.
Macrodiplax cora-4
Dark thick broken lines along the abdomen is it’s distinguishing feature.
Macrodiplax cora-7
Another but slightly older male.


Macrodiplax cora-5
Young female with orange-yellow coloration on the thorax and abdomen.
Macrodiplax cora-3
Similarly to male, she has dark broken lines along the abdomen.
Macrodiplax cora-6
This female embarks a vertical obelisk posture under the hot midday sun.

Macrodiplax cora may be a migratory species and has been known to be salt-tolerant.

Encounter with a Sub-adult male Trithemis festiva (albeit a dead-one)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Trithemis festiva
Common Name: Indigo Dropwing

I believed everyone has seen a blue-coloured Trithemis festiva before, but has anyone seen a yellow one?

A few years ago while I was walking along a gravel track inside Lor Asrama , a small dragonfly suddenly fell from the sky and landed in front of me. Noticing it was something I have never seen, I immediately took a few shots as it wriggled on the ground, dying from the immense heat on the dirt road.

Later, I moved and placed it on top of a small plant under some shades and took some photos.

I believed it could be the sub-adult male of Trithemis festiva which not many people had seen before.

What do you think?

This sub-adult male Trithemis festiva suddenly dropped from the sky and landed on the gravel road. It was dead a short while later.
I placed it on top of a small plant. Notice the similarities from the adult males, such as the top of the eyes are brownish, and the small dark spots on the base of the hind wings.
While one thing similar to the adult form of the blue male is that they both have the yellow steaks along the abdomen.
The yellow strips on the side of the thorax and and abdomen would later turn into dark blue when the male matures.
Frontal shot of the light brownish eyes.

It was strange why wasn’t the sub-adult male as frequently seen as the adult male. It could be that the young male prefer to reside in the tree top before venturing into the nearby streams for mating when it becomes adult male.

Dragonflies & Damselfly of the mangrove swamps

In this post, I would like to showcase a few species of dragonfly and damselfly which could only be found in the mangrove swamps around Singapore’s coastal regions. Areas which I had visited include Sungei  Buloh Wetalnd Reserves, Pulau Ubin, and the mangrove swamps around the North Western part of Singapore.

Some species are uncommon such as mangrove dwarf (Raphismia bispina) whilst others are rare, such as the elusive mangrove marshal (Pornothemis starrei) and Arthur’s Midget (Mortonagrion arthuri).

  1. Raphismia bispina (Mangrove Dwarf)

They are uncommon species and one of the few dragonfly species that lives and breeds in the salt water in mangrove swamps. I have seen and recorded this species at Pulau Ubin, SBWR, and Sungei Cina.

Young female Raphisma bispina. It has clear wings. The eyes are brown on top and yellow below. It has mottled yellow marking at the side of it’s thorax and yellow streaks along the abdomen.
An older female where the yellow markings at the side of the thorax and abdomen are obscured.

2. Pornothemis starrei (Mangrove Marshal)

This species is rare in Singapore. I have come across it once at SBWR and Pulau Ubin and a few occasions at sungei cina.

A female pornothemis starrei.
A male pornothemis starrei. It is slightly metallic black with white pruinescence on the dorsum of the thorax.

3. Mortonagrion arthuri ( Arthur’s Midget)

Mortonagrion arthuri is also a mangrove species and could be found at Pulau Ubin and Sungei Cina.

A female Mortonagrion arthuri resting at the tip of the root of mangrove tree. It has brown thorax with blue stripes. Similar to males, it also has distinct blue markings on segment 8 of the abdomen.
An older female. The blue markings on the abdomen is already obscured and could not be seen.
A male mortonagrion arthuri. Male has two colour forms. This is a bue form which it has blue stripes on the thorax and blue postocular spots. Notice the distinct blue markings at segment 8 of the abdomen.

Although not exclusively associate with mangrove habitats, the following two species of dragonfly could also be found there.

A male Orthetrum sabina ( Variegated green skimmer).
A female Agrionoptera insignis (grenadier).

It is important to preserve our limited mangrove habitats so the rare species of plants and animals could continue to thrive there.


Pornothemis starrei Lieftinck, 1948

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Pornothemis starrei
Common Name: Mangrove Marshal

Mangrove Marshall is predominantly a mangrove species of rare dragonfly that can be found in mangrove habitat in most part of Singapore coastal areas. I have encountered this species at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Pulau Ubin, and at the mangrove swamps at Western part of Singapore.

The male has a metallic black body with light bluish pruinescence on the dorsum of the thorax. It also has markings that look like “stars” on the synthorax, that differs between individuals. The abdomen is thin, dark and curved when view from the side It has a pair of attractive greenish-blue eyes.

Females are olive in colour on the sides of the thorax and are rarely encountered.

Pornothemis starrei, male. Notice the dark green eyes and the predominantly black body.
A younger individual male. The wings are clear. The light bluish pruinescence on the dorsum is clearly visible.
Another male. Notice the unique markings on the synthorax of each individual.
This male has a more prominent blue pruinescence on the dorsum and first 3 segments of the abdomen. It has a more rounded markings on the synthorax.
Yet another male with an overall black abdomen. You can also notice the slight curvature of the abdomen.
An old female with an olive body. It has the same appearance as the male but more stouter and bigger.
Another female in dorsal view. Notice the hyaline wings and a little patch of brown at the base of the wings.
A younger female in lateral view. The hind legs are quite long, and notice the prominent flags on each side of the abdominal segment 8.
Very young female. The body is golden brown in colour with yellowish strips and markings on the abdomen.
In live specimen, this young female has a very striking golden hue to her body.  
Side view of the above female.
Another young female in dorsal view.
Profile view of the above female.

I have caught many males and females in pixel over a span of a few weeks of this elegant and rare species at the mangrove swamps of Singapore. One has to see the real specimen to appreciate the beauty of the species.


Camacinia gigantea (Brauer, 1867)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Camacinia gigantea
Common Name: Sultan

Camamcinia gigantea is a large dragonfly species that lives in open ponds, quarries and occasionally, forest pools.

I have observed this species many times, sometimes up to four to five individuals at the forest fringe at Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. It frequents flooded forest pools and may wander far from the water source.

It can co-habit peacefully with other smaller dragonfly species but may chase away rivals within a small territory.

The below photos are taken at a forest in the Mandai area where a small forest pools was formed after heavy rain and attracts a female and two male Sultans, a few Neurothemis fluctuans, a male Orthetrum testaceum and a male Potamarcha congener.

Two rival males perching on a twig anticipating for a female arrival
One male tries to dislodge another from his perch.
He has successfully mated with the female upon her arrival. The other rival male has to wait in despair.
Another photo of the two males perching side-by-side, one on top, and the other below.
The same couple moves to the favorite perch while in tandem.
This photo shows the smaller, but otherwise same coloration of the Neurothemis fluctuans in the background.
You can observe the difference of the two species by the pattern of the wings and size.

Although rare, Camacinia gigantea may occur in numbers when there are adequate water source and at certain time of the year. It is a delight to watch them fly gracefully over the surface of the water and then perch peacefully at their favorite spot.


Risiophlebia dohrni, Krüger, (Potbellied Elf) -1902

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Risiophlebia dohrni
Common Name: Potbellied Elf

Listed as endangered in the Singapore Red Data Book, Potbellied Elf is one of the most rare species of dragonflies that can still be found in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. It is very small and is often found near or in shaded forest pools and nearby streams and vegetation.

In July, I have encountered two females and a single male in the Nature Reserve.

The 1st female resting on twig near to the forest floor.
Same female. It has reddish brown eyes on top and yellowish below.
Top of the synthorax is metallic green.
This is the male potbellied elf. The abdomen is thinner and top of the eyes are more darker brown.
Look at the curvature of the abdomen!!
And the swollen 1-3 segments of the abdomen.
Handsome face shot. Very prominent yellow band on the upper lip?
Yellow strips on the sides of the thorax.
This is the 2nd female. Found a little further away from the forest pools and streams.
Dorsal view. Perched very near to the ground. Need a keen eye to spot it.
More reddish eyes and the nose part is metallic green.
Look at the swollen abdomen!!
Very beautiful species of dragonfly indeed.

I feel both happy and excited to see this species again in the Nature Reserve and hope it continues to survive in our forests.


Pornothemis starrei Lieftinck, 1948 – Young Male

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Pornothemis starrei
Common Name: Mangrove Marshal

Pornothemis starrei young male is like the female with almost the same coloration.

It was quite rare and this one was found at the mangrove habitats at the northern part of Singapore.

Young male resting on twig some distance away from the mangrove.
Side view with distinctive olive brown thorax.
Clear wings, black legs and abdomen.
Eyes are brownish on top and greenish below.
Protruding secondary genitalia.
close-up of head and thorax.

This species prefers mangrove habitats and males are always found nearby when females are around. A species that should not be that difficult to encounter if one is at the right time and place.


Pornothemis starrei Lieftinck, 1948 – Young Female

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Pornothemis starrei
Common Name: Mangrove Marshal

Pornothemis starrei is a mangrove species of dragonfly that is quite rare in Singapore. I have seen this species at SBWR, Pulau Ubin and the mangrove swamp at northern part of Singapore.

The male is slightly metallic black with greenish-blue eyes. Female was rarely photographed.

Recently, I have captured some female photos and here is one of the younger female.

Female Pornothemis starrei – males are occasionally encountered, females are very rare.
The eyes are greenish-blue. Wings are clear.
Legs and abdomen are black.
Body is olive colour. She has prominent flaps on the side of segment 8.
An easy species to photograph as long as it’s not disturbed.
A stunning beautiful species.