Friday, December 31, 2010

Summary of Odonata Collection in 2010!

2010 was another fruitful year for me in photographing Odonata. I have added 17 new dragonfly and 8 damselfly species in my collection, many of which are classified as uncommon, rare, very rare or even extinct in Singapore. The breakdown is as follows:

Dragonflies (17)
Common species = 4
Uncommon species = 9
Rare species = 2
Critical Endangered = 1

Damselflies (8)
Uncommon species = 3
Rare species = 1
Very Rare species = 2
Extinct in Singapore = 2 (photographed in Malaysia)

With that, I have collected a total of 74 odonata species so far, which represents 60% of 124 Singapore species.  Looking forward to add more in Year 2011.

Wishing all a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Damselfly (32) - Platylestes heterostylus

Family : Lestidae
Common name : Slender Sprendwing
Status : Very Rare
Location : Endau Rompin State Park

According to the Photographic Guide to Dragonflies of Singapore Book, Platylestes heterostylus was found in Singapore in 1960 - 1970's and was last recorded at Macritchie on 29 Aug 1980.  It looks very much like Lestes praemorsus except that its thorax is pale green in colour with dark spots instead of greyish-blue.

For the past 30 years, it has never been sighted again and that may be the reason why there was no picture available (only drawing) in the abovementioned Dragonflies book.  Although it was classified as very rare, it is highly possible that it may already been extinct in Singapore.

(Endau-Rompin State Park - 30 Oct 2010)

When I photographed the above damselfly at Endau-Rompin State Park, it never occurred to me that it was a species that was previously recorded in Singapore.  It was only when Noppadon makbun, an odonata expert from Thailand, advised me on its id.  I was delighted that I had added another Singapore damselfly species in my collection.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Revisit Endau Rompin State Park (29 - 31 Oct 2010)

Endau Rompin, straddling the Johor/Pahang border, is the second National Park in Malaysia, after Taman Negara. It covers an area of approximately 80,000 hectares of rich and exotic flora and fauna, encompassing the watershed of the rivers Endau and Rompin, from which it derives its name.

This was my third visit to Endau-Rompin State Park (ERSP), the first and second being more on a recce mission.  Together with 3 Committee Members from Nature Photographic Society of Singapore (NPSS), we organised a 3 days 2 night trip for 22 paid-up members.

Although ERSP is a huge place, we spent most of our shootings at only 3 small areas ie. a wetland, a forest stream outside ERSP and a 50-metre tall waterfall inside ERSP.

Wetland outside ERSP

This wetland was about 10 minutes drive from the entrance of ERSP. Dragonflies and damselflies are quite plentiful here such as Diplacodes nebulosa, Nannophya pygmaea, a look-alike Lestes praemorsus, a look-alike Pseudagrion australasiae, etc.

(A wetland outside Endau Rompin State Park)

Personally, the most unusual species that I phographed at this wetland was a look-alike Lestes praemorsus.  Unlike the bluish-grey Lestes praemorus that we see in Singapore, it has a pale greenish outlook.  Everything else such as size, appearance, habitat and its unique way of perching, are exactly the same as L. praemorsus.  It was quite skittish and after a few shots, it flew off and disappeared.  I have searched the internet but I could not find any image that matches this damselfly.  So, if you know the ID, kindly let me know.

(A look-alike Lestes praemorsus - 30 Oct 2010)

There was another damselfly species that looks like our Pseudagrion australasiae.  The female looks no different but the thorax of the male is greenish blue in colour instead of light blue from the Singapore version.  They were plentiful of this species here but it was difficult to get close to them when it was perching alone.  It was only when they were in mating position that I could take some decent shots of them.   

(A look-alike Pseudagrion australasiae)

The smallest dragonfly, Nannophya pygmaea, can also be found here.  The males, immature males, females were all over the place and I believe most of us have some good shots of them.  I managed to get an improvement shot of an immature male.

(Immature male Nannophya pygmaea - 30 Oct 2010)

Small forest stream Outside ERSP

There was a small forest stream just 5 minutes drive from the above wetland where we found quite a no. of uncommon damselfly species.  These include Dysphaea dimidiata, Libellago aurantiaca, Vestalis amoena, Prodasineur humeralis, Prodasineura interrupta, Rhinagrion macrocephalum, Elattoneura analis, Sundacypha petiolata, etc.

(A small forest stream outside ERSP)

My most precious find has to be the Sundacypha petiolata.  It is an uncommon forest species that cannot be found in Singapore.  It likes to perch lowly just above the stream water under the shaded forest canopy.  Lighting was not ideal but this species was very cooperative.

(Sundacypha petiolata - 30 Oct 2010)

I also managed to get some improvement shots of a male Libellago aurantiaca here.  Unfortunately, my target of shooting the female did not materialised.  2 males were spotted but the females were nowhere to be seen.

(Male Libellago aurantiaca - 30 Oct 2010)

Rhinagrion macrocephalum is one of the most colourful damselfies that I have seen so far.  My first encounter of this species was at Panti Forest about 6 months ago.  I was happy to find it here and this time I got a better shot of it.

(Rhinagrion macrocephalum - 30 Oct 2010)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dragonfly (42) - Pornothemis starrei

Family : Libelluidae
Common Name : Mangrove Marshal
Status : Rare
Location : Punggol Forest

According to the Singapore Dragonflies Book, this is a rare mangrove dragonfly species spotted only at Pulau Ubin, Mandai & Lim Chu Kang.  The male has a black thorax & abdomen with dull greenish blue eyes. Females are said to have olive-coloured thorax.

During this morning's macro outing with many of my friends at Punggol forest, we were lucky to spot 2 males at a small muddy stream.   The surrounding was quite dark and this species preferred to perch lowly just above the water making it difficult to shoot.  Fortunately, it was quite cooperative allowing us to take some record shots. 

From the dorsal view, it looks like a bigger version of Chalybeothemis fluviatilis.  I hope I did not identify this species wrongly.

(Punggol Forest - 13 Nov 2010)

(Dorsal view - 13 Nov 2010)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Damselfly (31) - Libellago Stigmatizans

Family : Chlorocyphidae
Common Name : Orange-faced Gem
Status : Extinct in Singapore
Location : Panti Forest, Johor

Libellago Stigmatizans is one of the 4 Libellago species in Singapore.  While the other 3 species can still be found locally, L. Stigmatizans is classified as “probably extinct” in Singapore.  The male has turquoise-blue and black markings on its thorax with interesting bright orange coloration between its eyes.  The female has similar colours of the other 3 Libellago species which is greyish black in colour.

(Male - Panti Forest, 15 May 2010)

Two males were spotted in a stream about 2 to 3 metres wide, at Panti Forest (Johor, Malaysia) where the water was swift moving but quite muddy. They were flying non-stop and engaged in territorial fights. Occasionally, one would perch near the water surface but the next moment, you would see the 2nd one attacking it and they started fighting in mid-air again. Under such situation, shooting them with a tripod proved to be near impossible. So, I released my camera from the tripod, set to full flash mode and my target was to get both males fighting in the air in a single frame.

As the stream water was almost at knee-level high, I could not squat down as it would wet my backside. Standing would not be able to get close enough to the damselflies, so I had to blend down quite a little like an old man. It was tiring shooting in this position as I had to move where the damsels moved. I had to take a break every 5 minutes or so. This went on for the next half an hour and despite my hard work I failed to get the shots I wanted. I could only manage some flight shots of individual males as a consolation.

Initially, I tried using manual focus but my hands were not fast enough. Autofocus works better for me in this condition.  I am likely to visit Panti Forest in the near future and I hope to meet the female in my next visit there.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Behaviours of Libellago Lineata

I was fortunate to witness some interesting behaviours of Libellago Lineata recently.  I saw a few pairs of males involving in territorial fights on separate occasions.  When they fight, the two males would confront  and face one another in mid air. They hover a few seconds and make forward movements but without contact.  Usually, one would flee the area after a minute or so but it would come back shortly to challenge the temporary winning male again until the utimate victor is declared!

(Two males involving in territorial fight - 29 Sep 2010)

The winning male has the right of the territory usually within a small area of not more than 3 metres.  I was told that female Lineata normally perch high up in trees and would come down to find a mate when they are ready to do so.  I have seen 3 mating pairs within 2 days and what was interesting is that unlike other damselflies where they usually mate for a long period (sometime in hours), Lineata only mates for about 20 to 30 seconds! Within such a short period of mating time, getting a good shot at it depends alot on luck.  I only managed to shoot about 20 shots from the 3 mating pairs add together, most of which are not of the best quality but I am happy to have finally got a good record mating shot of this species.  

(A mating pair in wheel formation - 29 Sep 2010)
After separation from mating, the female would perch on nearby floating log or large tree roots to lay eggs by submersing its adbominal tip into the water.

(A female dips the tip of its adbomen into water to lay eggs)

Based on my observation, the ovipositing process takes about 15 to 30 minutes.  During this period, the male will guard the ovipositing female from the disturbance by rival males by perching very nearby.  The female does not lay its eggs on a fixed spot, it would crawl usually forward as they ovipositing.  Sometimes they would fly away for a second or two but return to the perch.  During this egg laying process, there are good apportunities to shoot both the male and females in a single frame ie. side by side, back to back, facing each other, etc.

(A male guarding the ovipositing female)

(A male guarding the ovipositing female)

(A male guarding the ovipositing female)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Damselfly (30) - Libellago Lineata

Family : Chlorocyphidae
Common Name : Golden Gem
Status : Rare
Location : Lower Pierce Reservior

According to the The Singapore Dragonflies Book, this Golden Gem has only been recorded at Mandai forest stream.  The male has a similar thorax of Libellago Hyalina but it can be easier distinuished with its golden-yellow markings on the first 5-6 abdominal segments and black colour from segment 7-10.  The female is said to be bigger with greyish & dark marking on its thorax and abdomen.

(Juvenile Male - Lower Peirce Reservior, 23 Sep 2010)

The above damselfly was spotted perching on a dry twig near the edge of Lower Peirce Reservior.  For afar, based on at its colour and size, it looked like a female L. Hyalina to me.  But when I moved closer, I got the feeling that it could be a juvenile male L. Hyalina.  It was quite cooperative acutally but I could photograph only 3 shots due to my carelessness.  My tripod touched the twig accidentally when I moved closer causing it to shake violently.  It flew away and disappeared into nowhere!  I searched high and low for the next 20 mins or so but I could not locate it.

I seek Mr Tang's advice on its id and he told me that this could be a juvenile male, L. Lineata.  It doesn't quite look like what was described above as its colours have not fully developed yet.  A great find accordingly to him as it means that this species can be found elsewhere other than in Mandai forest.  He  asked me for the exact location which I obliged as he wanted to study this species further.  I shall visit this place again with the hope of shooting the adult species soon.

Afternote : I revisited this morning and was rewarded with this shot below.  The striking yellowish orange colour of this beautiful damselfly is particularly attractive to me.

(Adult Male - Lower Peirce Reservior, 27 Sep 2010)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dragonfly (42) - Orchithemis Pruinans

Family : Libelluidae
Common Name : Blue Sentinel
Status : Rare
Location : Upper Peirce

This is a rare forest species which prefers to perch under shaded areas.  The male has dark thorax and abdomen.  Abdominal segments 2-4 are powdery bluish-white.  It looks very similar to the dark form of male Orchithemis Pulcherrima except that O. Pruinans is slighter larger and its abdomen is thinner and longer.  The white marking of O. Pulcherrima covers only the second and third segments of its abdomen. The female is said to be brown in colour which has not been recorded in Singapore.

(Male - Upper Peirce, 20 Sep 2010)

This male was spotted recently at Upper Peirce forest.  I have originally thought that it was an uncommon dark form male O. Pulcherrima, which I was glad to add to my collection.  Little did I know that it was actually a rare O. Pruinans making me even happier!  It is an easy subject to photograph as it stays at the fixed spot for a long period.  Even if it flew away, it would return or perch very nearby.  The only problem is the poor lighting as it always choose a shaded area to perch.  I saw quite a no. of them around the vincinity but I am unsure whether they were O. Pulcherrima or O. Pruinans now.

(Side view - Upper Peirce, 20 Sep 2010)

Reference : A photographic guide on Dragonflies of Singapore.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Damselfly (29) - Pseudagrion Pruinosum ( 赤斑蟌)

Family : Coenagrionidae
Common Name : Grey Sprite
Status : Uncommon forest species
Location : Panti Forest, Malaysia

This uncommon damselfly was first recorded in Singapore in 1997.  The male has a pale greyish blue thorax with brown eyes.  A middle-sized species with a relatively long abdomen.  The female is said to be quite different from the male in that it has an olive-green eyes and thorax.  The male is not really an attractive species in my view but what is quite unique about it, is that it has an unmistakeable orange-brown face. 

(Male - Panti Forest, 15 May 2010)

This male P. Pruinosum was spotted in a grass patch near an open small stream in Panti Forest, Johor.  A cooperative species that allowed me to get a close-up side view.  I should have taken a frontal close-up showing its unique orange face.  I wish I could spot this species, both the males and female, in Singapore soon.

(Male close-up - Panti Forest, 15 May 2010)

Reference : A photographic guide to the Dragonflies of Singapore

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Damselfly (28) - Agriocnemis Nana

Family : Coenagrionidae
Common Name : Dwarf Wisp
Status : Very rare
Location : Lornie Trail

This is the smallest damselfly in Singapore, a very rare species.  It is about 2 cm, slightly smaller than Agriocnemis Femina.  The thorax and abdomen of the male are blue in colour with black markings.  It looks like a smaller version of the male Pseudagrion Microcephalum.  The female has a greenish yellow with black marking thorax, more attractive than the male, in my opinion.

(Female - Lornie Trail, 15 Sep 2010)

I spotted this tiny female at Lornie Trail this morning.  After I took a single shot, a female dragonfly (Acisoma Panorpoides) suddenly came and preyed on it!  The dragonfly ate so fast that within a few minutes, my precious damselfly species was gone.  My friend found another female nearby but before we could capture it, it flew away.  As this species was very small in size, it was extremely difficult to re-locate it.  A real pity that I did not photograph this species well :-(  

(Eaten by a dragonfly - 15 Sep 2010)
Afternote : I revisited Lornie Trail on 20 Oct 2010 and I sighted one female around the same area.  I was happy to capture some improvement shots this time round.

(Lornie Trail - 20 Oct 2010)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dragonflies & Damselflies @ Endau-Rompin National Park

After a 3 days 2 nights landscape photography trip at mersing from 28 - 30 August 2010, Allan, Tony & I extended a day trip to Endau-Rompin National Park to shoot macro. There were quite a no. of damselflies and dragonflies here and these are some that I managed to capture on pixars.

(Indocnemis Orang, Male - the largest damselfly that I have seen so far!)

(Elattoneura analis)

(ID unknown)

(Nannopha Pygmaea, Male - 31 Aug 2010)

(Diplacodes Nebulosa, Male - 31 Aug 2010)

(Diplacodes Nebulosa, Female - 31 Aug 2010)

(Ictinogomphus Decoratus with prey)

(Rhyothemis Obsolescens)

(Trithemis Festiva, Male)

Podasineura Interrupta
Dysphaea Dimidiata

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dragonfly (41) - Nesoxenia Lineata

Family : Libellulidae
Common Name : Striped Grenadier
Status : Uncommon forest species
Location : Lornie Trail

According to the "Singapore Dragonfly Book", this is an uncommon forest species which has been recorded  only in MacRichie Reservior and Kent Ridge.  It looks quite similar to Agrionoptera Insignis especially from the side view.  My way of differiating these 2 species are (1) N. Lineata is slightly smaller than A. Insignis; (2) the dorsum of the thorax of N. Lineata is pale blue in colour; (3) for N. Lineata, only abdominal segments 6-8 are red in colour while the abdomen of A. Insignis is red throughout.  From the dorsal view, it also looks a little like the male Agrionoptera Sexlineata.

(Lornie Trail - 25 Aug 2010)

This was spotted along Lornie Trail just after the golf link, my first sighting.  It perched quite high up on a twig and I had to fully stretch the tripod on the board walk in order to get an eye level shot.  It stayed there for a long period without moving abit except glancing at me occasionally while I took pictures of it.  I wanted to get a dorsal view but it was too high up for me.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Dragonfly (40) - Urothemis Signata

Family : Libellulidae
Common Name : Scarlet Basker
Status : Common
Location : Lornie Trail

This is another common dragonfly but my first sighting was only recently at Lornie Trail.  The eyes, thorax  and abdomen are all red in colour. From the dorsal view, there are 2 black marks near the abdomen tip.  I may have seen this species before and mistaken it as Crocothemis Servilia.  Both are all red in colour and you need to take a closer look to differentiate them.

(Male - Lornie Trail, 25 Aug 2010)

There were quite a no. of them flying near the reservior edge and a few of them appeared to enjoy perching under the hot sunlight. I was lucky to find one that perched comfortably under a shaded tree which made it easier for me to shoot. The female is said to be light yellow brown in colour which I hope to see one soon.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Dragonfly (39) - Gynacantha Subinterrupta

Family : Aeshnidae
Common Name : Dingy Duskhawker
Status : Uncommon forest species
Location : Tagore Forest

This uncommon species is large in size with an unique and attractive turquoish green eyes.  The male has a green thorax with green and blue markings on the base of its abdomen.  There is a distinct, dark T-shaped mark on the supper surface of the frons.

This was my first sighting of this dragonfly at the forested area in Tagore Drive this morning.  My first impression was that it should be a Gynacantha Dohrni as both look so similar in terms of size, colours and design.  I had seen G. Dohrni about 2 to 3 times at Venus Drive more than a year ago and, if I recalled correctly, G. Subinterrupta should be slightly bigger in size than G. Dohrni.

This dragonfly perched on a small tree trunk near a fast flowing stream.  The surrounding was quite dim under the forest canopy making it difficult to photograph.  Although I could only manage some records shots on the dorsal view and some close-up shots of it, I am happy to have added this species to my collection.  There are many small branches and leaves surrounding the perch and when I tried to clear them away hoping to get some side view shots, it flew away and disappeared into the forest.

(Male - Tagore Forest, 040910)

Afternote : I joined the Informal Macro Outing Group at Thanggam forest yesterday.  My friend, Allan Lee,  found a uncommon dragonfly and knowing that I like to collect dragonflies, he kindly offer me to shoot.  The surrounding was quite dim and it was difficult to identify its id there.  Mr Tang later confirmed that it was a female G. Subinterrupta which looks similar to the male except for its duller colours. 

(Female - Thanggam Forest, 25 Sep 2010) 

Friday, September 03, 2010

Damselfly (27) - Podasineura Interrupta

Family : Protoneuridae
Common Name : Interrupted Threadtail
Status : Uncommon forest species
Location : Endau-Rompin Natural Park, Malaysia

This is an uncommon damselfly that frequents dark forest streams.  In Singapore, it can only be found in Central Catchment and Bukit Timah Nature Reserves but I have not seen one here yet. 

(Male - Endau-Rompon National Park, 31 Aug 2010)

My first encounter with this species was at Panti forest, Malaysia but I didn't get any shots of it as I was busy shooting other species.  This was my 2nd sighting and it was spotted recently at a stream in Endau-Rompin National Park. 

(Side view - 31 Aug 2010)

The thorax of the male has nice bright blue bands on it as seen in the above image.  The upper part of the eyes is black and blue colour at the bottom half.

(Dorsal view - 31 Aug 2010)

One way to identify this species is to check the distinctive blue dorsal markings on it abdominal segments 9-10.  Also, there are two blue marks on the head near the eyes.  I hope to meet one in Singapore soon.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Damselfly (26) - Dysphaea Dimidiata

Family : Euphaeidae
Common Name : Black Velvetwing
Status : Extinct in Singapore
Location : Endau-Rompin National Park, Malaysia

According to the "Dragonflies of Singapore" book, this black with a slight purplish-coloured damselfly was already extinct in Singapore long ago.  This was photographed during my recent trip to Endau-Rompin National Park in Eastern Malaysia.  It was quite big is size and liked to perch on rocks in clear stream.  This male was quite skittish and I took quite sometimes to have finally got a decent shot of it.

(Male - Endau-Rompin National Park, Malaysia - 31 Aug 2010)