Saturday, 26 September 2009

Simply Beautiful!

It was only yesterday that I found out I have more than one visitor among the ferns and potted plants at home.



This is the female of the Neurothemis fluctuans.  She is such a beautiful creature!



Judging by the perfect, undamaged, shiny wings, she is a young female.  Females of this species have hindwing length of 22-25 mm.  The wings are hyaline or transparent and there is also a very light yellow tint at the base of the wings.  They do not have the distinctive coloured wing patterns that you would find in the males

For a number of species of Odonata, you would not always find the females except when they come out to mate.  In most cases, after mating and laying their eggs, the females would fly away to their hiding places to rest until when they next come out again.

Elusive creatures. 

But isn't she simply beautiful?



Thursday, 24 September 2009

My Visitor Is Growing Up Fast!


This guy have been greeting me every morning for over a week now.  And I am quite certain he has made his home among the ferns, one of many among the potted plants in front of my window. 

Whenever the sun comes up early in the morning, he'll come out and bask in the sun. 

Sometimes I disturb him from slumber when I am watering the plants early in the morning and he'll then perch nearby on a twig or leaf to watch me and wait for me to finish.  He lets me get within inches of him.



It is an immature male of the Neurothemis fluctuans.  You can see the distinctive pattern on its wings though the colour of its wings is still a light brown tint.

Over the days, his colouration has become richer and darker as he grows into an adult.  The above pictures were taken on 19 September 2009. 

This morning I had the chance to take another photo of him.



In five days, his colour has turned to a darker brown.  He is growing up fast and will soon reach maturity.  And then, he will fly away to an area with water, probably the nearby padi fields, to stake his territory and begin looking for a mate.

Dragonflies often bask in the sun early in the morning as they need warmth for activity and during the day they maintain a certain internal temperature, which is quite high at approximately 43°C (or 110°F).  When morning breaks, the cold dragonfly has to prepare itself to get started for the day.  It will shiver its wings to create heat or stay perched in the sun until its thorax is warmed up enough to take flight for it to begin feeding and mating.



Sunday, 20 September 2009

Langkawi At Dusk

A Reddish Brown Species

On one of the days when I was out walking on a trail, I came across another Neurothemis species perched on a twig next to a stream.  It was not bothered by me at all when I got closer to have a look and then to take a few photos.



This is the Neurothemis fulvia of the family Libellulidae and it is easily differentiated from the Neurothemis fluctuans as it is slightly larger and has a reddish brown abdomen.  The hindwing length of the male is 28-31 mm.  Even the markings on the wings are different, namely the margins of the terminal hyaline area, which is roughly a convex.  Also, there is a tint that extends to its wing-tips.



Again, this species is widespread in mainland tropical Asia and commonly found around sluggish streams, mainly in lowland areas.

It is always a pleasure to sit on the grass next to a stream or on the edge of a pond and just absorb the beauty and serenity of the surroundings and listen the sounds of nature, the gurgles of a flowing stream, the music of the forest with the droning of some insects and a few birds chirping away.  All these have a very calming effect on the mind, body and soul.

And sitting there watching the activities of the dragonflies can be simply fascinating.

These are the simple pleasures in life.



Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A Brown Dragonfly

Lately, there have been so many other things on my mind and keeping me busy, such that I have not been out looking for dragonflies for a few weeks now.  And I miss it.  Yet I must admit there are quite a few species that I had come across earlier and still have not done anything about them for one reason or another.

Now that it has been raining quite a fair bit, it is about time I catch up on my checklist.....



This is the Neurothemis fluctuans of the family Libellulidae.  It is a common dragonfly often seen at various places throughout the island here and can be found around lakes, drains, marshes, padi and sometimes even in clearings far from water.  This species is widespread throughout tropical Asia.



This dragonfly has hindwing of 22-24 mm, its abdomen is mainly brown and it is easily differentiated from other Neurothemis species by the distinctive pattern on its hindwings.

I have also had the chance to come across a half-mature male of this species, before its wings attained full colouration with maturity, as shown in the picture below.



And then, early one morning just after the rain had stopped, I saw an immature male perched among some twigs in the bushes in my backyard. 



I wonder if dragonflies sleep in places like this in the bushes during the night?



Monday, 7 September 2009

Which Dark Dragonfly?

I was out kayaking this afternoon when, out of the blue, a dark insect flying overhead caught my attention.  And, of course, it had to turn out to be a dragonfly!

It was fluttering about 5m above, among the tree canopy, without a care in the world.  Its only concerns being the breeze blowing in its face, catching in its wings and lifting it in the air...

It is frustrating when I am not able to determine the species and I cannot even take a photo.  Well, at that height, there isn't any chance for any photos that would help in its identification anyway.  That's unless I have one of those super-duper megazooms that those National Geographic photographers use.  But, no such luck here!

Anyway, all I could see was the dark-coloured body and two pairs of completely dark wings against the bright, blue sky.  Almost like a silhouette!  Except, it was fluttering.  It must have rather broad wings since it is not one of those dragonflies that zap around.  Instead, it flutters and glides and then it flutters again... as if playing a game with the sea breeze.

I wonder which of the Rhyothemis species is this?  I guess this is something I will be pondering over for quite a while until I come across this dragonfly again.

Yet, when will I see it again?  Will I ever get to determine which species of dragonfly it is?  Will it be elusive?

It was such a chance encounter.  And it was rather brief, lasting only a few minutes.  And then, just as quickly, it disappeared out of my line of sight.

All I could do was look and wonder. 

And all I could do was enjoy the magic of the moment.



Saturday, 5 September 2009

Another Blue Damselfly

Since the padi fields have been flooded, I have found another haunt for my 'hunting'.  And it is also not far from home.  This is a pond with slow moving water, almost stagnant, and there are also grassy areas in the pond.  Another perfect spot for quite a few species of dragonflies and damselflies.

I had a field day!



This blue damselfly is the Pseudagrion microcephalum of the family Coenagrionidae.  I actually came across this damselfly a few months ago at another grassy pond but it was a large pond there and I could not get close enough for a good photo.  Even here in this small pond, I was still straining, but at least I can now get a good look at this damselfly.

The Pseudagrion microcephalum has hindwing length of 18mm and can be found on drains and ponds.  The females have patterns of olive green, pale blue and black and this species is actually widespread in the Indo-Australian tropics.  It has a paler blue compared to the Prodasineura laidlawii, so it is not as striking in colour but not less of a beauty anyway.

I did not see any mating pair in wheel position but I did come across a pair in tandem as they remain perched on a grass stalk after copulation.  Later, they flew about looking for a spot for the female to lay her eggs.



While flying in tandem looking for a suitable place for oviposition, I actually observed another male damselfly of the same species come near to this pair.  A short chase then ensued to get this intruder away while the pair still remained in tandem.

Finally, having found the right spot, the female proceeded to lay her eggs.  The male damselfly of this species engaged in contact guarding of the female in that the pair remained in tandem after copulation and during oviposition.



You can see from the photo above that the head of the female damselfly was barely just above the waterline while she oviposited into some grass stem in the pond.  At some point, she was completely dunked into the water and I could only watch in horror and amazement at the same time.



In the photo above, only the folded wings of the female damselfly could be seen out of the water.  Her whole head and body had been completely dunked into the pond during oviposition.

Seeing is believing.....

Anyway, you can see from some photos of odonata that these dragonflies and damselflies have tiny hairs on their heads and bodies.  And I have since learned that there are some species of odonata where the female would dive under the water's surface to oviposit.  These tiny hairs create a pocket of air so they would still be able to breathe while underwater, long enough to complete oviposition.

Amazing creatures, aren't they?



Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Everything Else But Odonata...

I went for a walk this morning and noticed that the flood waters have receded.  So here's a photo of the house in the middle of the padi fields, which is the same house that had stood in the middle of the 'lake' last week (click here to view earlier picture).



After that, I headed out to a forest trail.  Along the way, I could see signs of damages to lotus ponds and padi fields from all the rain and flooding this past week.  In areas that are developed, there were tell-tale signs and muddy marks where there had been flood waters.  In places where there are vast tracts of land and less development, you do not see that much damage or evidence of the floods.  Doesn't that make you wonder why?

I had to check myself.  The recent deluge of rain is Mother Nature trying to reclaim parts of the earth that man had been abusing for ages by clearing forests, defacing earth and putting in man-made structures without alignment to nature.  So is there a lesson to be learnt here from Mother Nature?

Anyway, I did not encounter too many dragonflies or damselflies out on the trail.  However, at one point when I looked up towards the sky, there must have been like a hundred butterflies fluttering around among the trees.  It was truly amazing!  I sat down on the trail and watched the butterflies for a while.

I should have known it would be a day for butterflies.  As soon as I got out of my front door, this butterfly was there to greet me...


The Hypolimnas bolina or Great Egg-Fly


And here are the various different species of butterflies on that trail, all fluttering around here and there at the same time.


Phalanta phalanta or Small Leopard


Euploea camaralzeman or Malayan Crow, female (?)


Euploea camaralzeman or Malayan Crow, male


Another Euploea spp


Euploea radamanthus or Magpie Crow


Ideopsis spp


Parantica agleoides or Dark Glassy Tiger


A mating pair of Euploea radamanthus


And the largest and most captivating of all is the Idea lynceus or Tree Nymph, which is found only in Malaysia...


I am still a learner at identifying butterflies and did some cross-referencing to check on the above names and species.  Should you spot any errors in the identification for the butterflies above, please kindly notify me.  I would also be most grateful to receive your feedback.