Scientific Name: Mortonagrion arthuri
Common Name: Arthur’s Midget
Mortonagrion arthuri is a locally rare species of damselfly which is confined to mangrove habitats around Singapore, particularly Pulau Ubin, Pulau Semakau and Sungei Cina.
Their natural habitats are inlets of mangrove swamps where they like to rest on the tip of an emergent twig of mangrove trees.
Male has two color forms. Blue form and yellow form. The blue form has blue stripes on the side of the thorax and blue postocular spots; while the yellow form has similar features but in yellow. Male also has distinct blue spots on the segment 8 of it’s abdomen.
Females are duller in color. It has brown thorax with similar stripes to the male. Young female also has the distinct spots on it’s abdomen. Older female has the spots completely obscured.
In general, males of mortonagrion arthuri are more rarer than females.
Males of this species are generally hard to find. I have seen a couple of females at Pulau Ubin but not a single male.
I have better luck at Sungei Cina, where I managed to captured a couple of males both in blue and yellow form.
In Singapore, not many photos of this species has been available in the internet. I hope these photos could add to the archive of the diversity of odonata found in Singapore’s natural environment.
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).
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.
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.
3. Mortonagrion arthuri ( Arthur’s Midget)
Mortonagrion arthuri is also a mangrove species and could be found at Pulau Ubin and Sungei Cina.
Although not exclusively associate with mangrove habitats, the following two species of dragonfly could also be found there.
It is important to preserve our limited mangrove habitats so the rare species of plants and animals could continue to thrive there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.