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.

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

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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.

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

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Pseudagrion rubriceps Selys, 1876

Family: Coenagrionidae
Scientific Name: Pseudagrion rubriceps
Common Name: Orange-faced Sprite

According to the book of dragonflies by Mr. Tang, this very rare damselfly has been found only at two locations in Singapore. These sightings were at Toa Payoh Town Park, and at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

My sighting of this species were at a very remote location at the western part of Singapore. The place has a small running stream surrounded by short and weedy vegetation.

The male has a striking bright orange face with olive green on the dorsum. It has beautiful light blue on the sides of the synthorax and blue markings on segment 10.

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My very first “blurry” picture of this male orange-faced sprite. Do you see him? This picture shows the stream and vegetation where the damselfly was found.
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He landed on the long root of a plant near the stream. The orange-faced is very outstanding!
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A closer look at this species. It has beautiful combination of blue and green on it’s thorax.
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A ventral view of it’s synthorax. Notice the blue eyes spots.
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A lateral view of the male. The wings of this species is hyaline, but this individual has it’s wings tinted white.
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One of the most beautiful damselfly species I have encountered in Singapore.

It is sad that this species can no longer be found at Toa Payoh Town Park, but elsewhere in Singapore, it can still be found.

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Oligoaeschna Sp. O.Amata & Foliacea

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Oligoaeschna amata – female (Fӧrster, 1903) & Oligoaeschna foliacea – male (Lieftinck, 1968)
Common Name: Paddle-tail

On 25th September 2016, I was at the Central Catchment Nature Reserves and in the dense undergrowth of the thick vegetation, I found a male O. foliacea & a female O.amata.

These species are supposed to be very rare and only appeared in certain months of the year.

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Female O.amata.
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Side profile of the female.
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Another angle of the same female.
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Male O. foliacea. Both male O. foliacea and amata are very similar. It can be separated by the shape of it’s anal appendages.
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This should be a younger male.
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Side profile view.
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Idionyx yolanda Selys, 1871- female

Family: Corduliidae
Scientific Name: Idionyx yolanda
Common Name: Shadowdancer

Idionyx yolanda is a small and lightly built dragonfly inhabiting forest streams and swamps in the nature reserves. Although rare, it can be found in most forested areas such as Upper Peirce Reservoir, Upper Seletar Reservoir, MacRitchie Reservoir, and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

This female was found perching on a twig near to a forest stream at the Dairy Farm Nature Park.

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Female Idionyx yolanda. Side view. Very prominent yellow lateral band on it’s thorax.
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Green eyes and dark and thin abdomen.
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Dorsal view. This is an aged female.
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Heliaeschna crassa Krüger, 1899

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Heliaeschna crassa
Common Name: Nighthawker

Heliaeschna crassa is very rare in Singapore. It inhabit swampy forests and are crepuscular. So far, I have bumped into this species only twice over the span of 5 years of my dragonfly hunting. Once in the forest near Upper Pierce Reservoir, and this one, near Chestnut forest. On both occasions, it’s appearance was caused by my unintentional disturbance while I was walking along the forest trail. My observation of this species is that it tends to be very sensitive to any movements in the surroundings. Once it flies off, it will never come back again. Also, it tends to perch quite low in the dense vegetation.

This is a pretty large species. The eyes of the male are bottle green. The thorax is green and somewhat flatten with greenish transverse flecks and the abdomen of this one is black, probably indicating this is an older male. It has 4-5 crossveins in the median space at the base of the wings.

The top of the frons is black w/o a T-mark. The wings are brownish tinted.

The most unique feature of this species is it’s anal appendages. The male superior appendages is thin and long with a somewhat swollen recurved tip pointing outward. The inferior appendage is very short and slightly recurved.

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This old male was taken in the chestnut forest in July 2016.
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A closer look at it’s appendages. Do you think it’s a H.crassa or H.idae?

This species is definitely one of the rarest species of dragonfly in Singapore. Unfortunately, I only managed to take a couple of shots before this male shoot off and disappeared into the forests.

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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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Libellago hyalina, Selys, 1859

Family: Chlorocyphidae (Jewels)
Scientific Name: Libellago hyalina
Common Name: Clearwing Gem

July is definitely the breeding month for the Clearwing gems where I have seen many of these little gems scattering around an open patch of the forest in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. This time round, males are evidently more abundant than females.

Majority of the males are matured male which has a bluish grey abdomen. Younger male has attractive steel blue abdomen.

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This is an adult matured male. The abdomen is bluish grey in colour.
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Another matured male.
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Third male with the same colouration. This is the most common colour form.
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Adult male with amazing steel blue abdomen.

Females has a thicker abdomen and stouter in appearance. Young female has a golden orange body whilst older females are paler bluish grey in colour.

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Young female has a orange-striped abdomen. The pterostigma is white in colour.
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Another young female.
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Older female has a dull bluish abdomen.
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Oligoaeschna amata (Fӧrster, 1903) – female Paddletail –

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Oligoaeschna amata (Fӧrster, 1903)
Common Name: Paddle-tail

Female O.amata is considered to be rare in Singapore. This species can only be found at a few localised areas in the Central Catchment Nature Reserves. Although rare, this species may appear in numbers, both males and females during the breeding seasons. During the day, it hides in the deep undergrowth in the secondary forests, and forages during dusk and dawn. I have seen female species of both O.amata and O.foliacea occurs during the breeding seasons.

This species normally rest on leaves or twig just above an observer’s eyes level. It prefers heavily shaded forests where it rests during the day. It is quite easy to approach this species if it is left undisturbed, although taking photograph in the dim environment may pose a challenge.

Of all the Aeshnide species of dragonfly that can be found in Singapore, this is amongst the most brilliantly coloured species.

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Female O. amata. It has green eyes and green markings on the thorax and abdomen.
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Side view – same individual. Notice the stripes on the thorax.
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Ventral view. The two racket-like appendages is intact.
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Another female individual. The wings are almost fully tinted in brown.
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Third female individual. This female has a brilliant pink-coloured thorax and orange abdomen with green markings. It has yellowish legs.
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Another dorsal view. Notice the tinted wings and paddle-tail.
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A glimpse at the under-side of the abdomen, which is more paler.
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Female’s ovipositor can be observed here.
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Hey!! “What are you looking at??”
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Gynacantha basiguttata Selys, 1882 – A Male Galore!

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Gynacantha basiguttata Selys,1882
Common Name: Spoon-tailed Duskhawker

Gynacantha basiguttata is a large forest-dwelling species of dragonfly which is rarely seen in Singapore. During the recent dry spell, I have encountered at least four males guarding their own territory in the dry forest pool. Each male perched on their favourite spot which overlook it’s territory. When there is intrusion of the same species male, the territory male will drive away the intruder and return to it’s favourite perch.

The male will stay in their territories for days in anticipation for the arrival of the female. Sometimes very close and violent contact among males do occurred where the sound of wings clasping could be heard.

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Male no.1 – resting under a fallen tree trunk.
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Male no. 1 – dorsal view. Notice the mud stricken abdomen.
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Lateral view.
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Male no.2 – A slightly young individual.
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Full Dorsal View.
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Male no.3 – Matured male with slightly worn wings.
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Male no.4 – Young and “fresh” male individual. Wings are clear.
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A close lateral view – showing great details of the head and thorax.
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Another dorsal shot.

This time round I did not notice any females around, although I have seen female of another hawker species, Gynacantha dohrni. When female arrives, they will mate with the male and then proceed to lay their eggs in the forest floor, before the rain arrives and flooded the forest floor.