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Onychothemis testacea Laidlaw, 1902

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Onychothemis testacea
Common Name: Riverhawk

It was a normal sunny Thursday morning on 29th December 2011, as usual, I was shooting dragonflies at one of my favourite hunting ground – chestnut forests. That morning was exceptionally good in insect activities as the ground was literally bustling with these foraging insects. There were common blue skimmers, slender blue skimmers, spine-tufted skimmers, scarlet skimmers and many small skipper butterflies flying around. I thought since all these are commoners, it will be another uneventful day.

While I was shooting the common dragonflies, I turned around and suddenly saw a strange and fierce looking dragonfly perched on a small twig, about 3 metres away from me. It was a robust, black looking insect, with yellow stripes on it’s thorax, yellow bands on it’s abdomen, very long hind legs and a pair of piercing dark green eyes. I slowing moved forward and from a distance, about 2 metres away, with my 100mm macro lens, I quickly snapped a few shots, knowing that this was something which I have never seen before.

While I moved in closer and tried to compose another shot, the dragonfly suddenly flew off and gone. Just as it suddenly disappeared, from nowhere, it re-appeared again, this time round with a small brown skipper butterfly under it’s claws. It was eating that butterfly alive. I was stunned! I quickly moved a few steps forward and took another few more shots.

When I tried to move in even closer, and focused on the eyes of that dragonfly, it saw me. Yes, it literally tilted it’s head up and look into my lens. Now, I was eye-to-eye in direct contact with this insect. Sensing my threat, it flew off again, still with it’s food in it’s mouth and disappeared to nowhere.

For the next 5 minutes or so, I tried to search for it everywhere, and eventually yes, I did found it, this time, it perched on a tree branch, about 2.5 to 3 metres away from the ground. From this angle, I could only manage some long distance shots.

I sent the photos to Mr. Tang and he told me that this was a very rare dragonfly, a female Onychothemis testacea. I was told that I was the first and only person in Singapore who have seen and shot this female dragonfly. (A male of this species was shot along a nature trail in MacRitchie Reservoir in January 2008.)

After that fateful day, I have never seen this dragonfly again.

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Aethriamanta aethra Ris, 1912 (Adult Male)

Family: Libellulidae
Scientific Name: Aethriamanta aethra
Common Name: Blue Adjudant

Blue Adjudant is a small and inconspicuous Libellulid. The Body length is  about 27-30mm. It is rare in Singapore and found at open swamp forest and well-vegetated ponds in open country.

I have seen this species at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserves fresh water ponds; Chestnut Forest; and Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West. For adult male, it is generally bluish in colour on the thorax and part of the abdomen. The last four segments of the male’s abdomen are dark and a very distinctive dark brown patches at the base of the hind wings.

Young male is light brown in colour with dark markings at the thorax.  Wind Venation of this species is open.

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Adult male at Chestnut Forest
Adult male at Chestnut Forest
Adult male at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West
Adult male at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West
Adult male at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West
Adult male at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West

Refer to Pictures of Young Male here.

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Vestalis amethystina Lieftinck, 1965

Family: Calopterygidae
Scientific Name: Vestalis amethystina
Common Name: Common Flashwing

This is a relatively large damselfly, the total body length is about 50-56mm and commonly found near forest streams at Central Catchment Nature Reserves and Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. So far, I have seen this species at MacRitchie reservoir -along the board walk, Upper Seletar Reservoir, Upper Pierce Reservoir, Chestnut Ave forest, and Dairy Farm Nature Reserves.

Males and females look quite alike, the main difference is their anal appendages. Both has metallic green body with very long and thin legs.  It has a pair of transparent wings which show off a sparkling bluish purple iridescence from reflection from the light.

Male
Male
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Male
Female
Female
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Female

This species tend to occur on smaller streams in the primary forests.