Heliogomphus kelantanensis : sighting again at the CCNR in June 2018!

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

In June 2018, I sighted a pristine male Heliogomphus kelantanensis perched on low foliage in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The recent dragonfly checklist in 2016 listed it as restricted and rare and critically endangered.  It is a species that is endemic to P. Malaysia and Singapore.

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Love at first sight!!
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It has uniform olive green to the sides of the thorax
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Notice the large separated bluish-green eyes.
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Anal appendages are dark and short.
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The dorsum is dark with pale green markings.
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Waiting and anticipating the arrival of the female, but … will she arrive?

Hope to meet this species again next year!

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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.

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This male specimen, well, the one and only male specimen I have seen, perched on a dry twig, motionlessly for quite awhile.
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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.
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Dorsal view showing it’s hyaline wings and the three-colored tone abdomen.
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A frontal shot, showing it’s large compound eyes, largely black with reddish on top and the whitish mouth part.
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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.
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Another angle , same specimen.
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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.

Heliaeschna crassa Krüger, 1899

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

Another very rare hawker species that can be found in Singapore, H. crassa inhabit swampy forests and are crepuscular in it’s natural habitat.

This was my 3rd sighting of this species, at the dense under-story of Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Compare to H. uninervulata and other Gynacantha Sp., H. crassa is far more elusive and also sensitive even to the slightest movements.

I am only able to capture a glimpse of this individual and a few shots before it disappear into the surrounding vegetation.

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H.crassa -male. perching on a plant’s stem about 1.5 metre above the ground.
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An older male with part of it’s upper right wing missing.
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Unlike H.idae, H.crassa has it’s anal appendages slightly recurved.

Female of either H. crassa or H. idae has been photographed before in Singapore but I have yet to encounter any female species.

Heliaeschna uninervulata (F) Martin, 1909

Family: Aeshnidae
Scientific Name: Heliaeschna uninervulata
Common Name: Lesser Night Hawker

Heliaeschna uninervulata aka lesser Nighthawker in the local context is considered to be very rare in Singapore. I have sighted this species a couple of times especially at the Central Catchment Nature Reserves.

The current female species is sighted outside the nature reserve at a place I frequently explore for Gynacantha sp. such a G.basiguttata and G.dohrni. I am quite surprise to find this species over there as my impression is that this species prefers pristine forest with running streams nearby.

Nevertheless I am more than happy to have captured this species again – my third female’s encountered.

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At a glance the female is considered to be quite small in size, compared to H.crassa.
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The wings are clear and the appendages are still intact.
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Abdomen is dark brownish with dark flecks and patches.
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Notice the very striking greenish yellow eyes and olive green thorax.
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Here the single crossvein at the base of the wing median space can be seen.
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The visibly astonishing yellowish lower eyes and nice greenish thorax coloration is amazing.
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A glimpse of the female reproductive organs.

I believe this species is quite widely distributed in Singapore as I had bumped into this species at no less than five occasions, all at different locations. The Central Catchment Nature Reserve is the best place to observe this species.

Mortonagrion arthuri Fraser, 1942

Family: Coenagrionidae
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.

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Female mortonagrion arthuri. Notice the blue stripes and blue spots on the abdomen. This specimen was found at Pulau Ubin.
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Same female as above.
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Another female at Pulau Ubin. This is a much older female where the abdomen is almost black with no visible spots on it’s abdomen.
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Another old female. The end of the abdomen are almost covered with earth. A sign of ovipositing on muddy soil.
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This female was found at Sungei cina. An old female with a muddy abdomen.
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Same female as above. This picture shows a brownish thorax with yellowish strips and postocular spots.
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An interesting view of the front which shows the dark brownish eyes and black face. Notice the “dracula-like” mouth!.
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Another female at sungei cina. This is a younger female with distinct blue spots at it’s abdomen.
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A lateral view of the above female.

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.

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Blue form male #1. It has distinct blue stripes and spots on it’s abdomen. Also notice the unique shape of it’s postocular spots
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Male #1. side view.
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Male #1. Lateral view
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Male #1. Frontal shot showing the interesting facial features.
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Male #2. Young male, blue form.
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Male #2. Dorsal view. Notice the unique postocular eye spots, slim blue stripes and blue marks on the abdomen’s segment 8.
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Male #2. Appendages are black The superior appendages are shorter than the inferiors.
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Male #3, yellow form. taken against the swampy mangrove.
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Male #3. Lateral view. Notice the small spots at the side of the abdomen.
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Male #4 yellow form. Why is this specimen looks abit greenish in color?
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Male #4. yellowish / greenish male form.
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Male #4.

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.

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.

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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.
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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.

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A female pornothemis starrei.
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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.

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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.
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An older female. The blue markings on the abdomen is already obscured and could not be seen.
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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.

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A male Orthetrum sabina ( Variegated green skimmer).
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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.

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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 amata (female) & O.foliacea (male)

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.