Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Frogs and Toads

Libellulidae - Rhyothemis obsolescens

Another Rhyothemis Dragonfly

Recently went exploring in the forests with a few friends and had a great time!  Thank you for inviting me for the ramblings and scramblings.

Anyway, the morning started out without a single dragonfly in sight at the stream though along the way, there were lots of ants and even a tree frog!  Later in the day, when we reached the forest fringe, there was a pond with stagnant water and one red dragonfly buzzing around.  It was the Orthetrum testaceum, a common species, yet it was nice to see even just one dragonfly.

While walking back, I glimpsed a dark spot buzzing around and stopped to look.  As I had hoped, it had two pairs of dark-coloured wings.  I felt like I had just hit the jackpot!



It is the Rhyothemis obsolescens of the family Libellulidae.  This species is supposed to be common in open, well-vegetated areas and widespread in Sundaland; except Java. 

This dragonfly can be recognised by the variegated light and dark markings on its bronze wings.  The males have hindwing length of 21.5-23 mm and both the males and females of this species are similarly marked. 

A handful of these dragonflies were sighted.



Saturday, 20 February 2010

Coenagrionidae - Agriocnemis femina

Libellulidae - Brachydiplax chalybea

Blue And Brown

I used to see quite a number of this dragonfly species buzzing around some months ago but of late, I have not been noticing them.  Perhaps it is because I have been looking out for other species instead?  Or perhaps there is less of them out and about during the current hot and dry season?



Anyway, this is the Brachydiplax chalybea of the family Libellulidae.  It is a small to medium sized dragonfly with hindwing length of 23-26mm.  The male of this species is mostly bluish with a rather strong yellow tint at the base of its hindwings whereas the female is brown and the hindwing base is clear.  The tip of the abdomen is dark for both male and female.



I wonder if this species could perhaps be migratory? 

And I wonder where have they gone?




Pick of the Day!

Took this pic in the morning of a golden yellow dragonfly.  Looks like it is the Crocothemis servilia.  Well, I think it is...

Isn't she a beauty!




Saturday, 13 February 2010

Libellulidae - Pantala flasvescens

It's Quite Golden!

I had been out walking along this trail since morning. 

By noon, I was ready to find a spot to rest and sit down for my lunch when I saw this dragonfly that was a nice golden yellow colour.  With my untrained eye, it would have been easy for me to brush it off as the female of the Crocothemis servilia but the colour was really just different, it also looked very attractive and seemed slightly larger.  When I had another good look at it, I noticed the shape of its hindwings were different too.

That was when I realised I had chanced upon another species.



This golden yellow dragonfly is the Pantala flavescens of the family Libellulidae.  It is a female.  The male would have dark tips on its hindwings and the colour would be more brown-orangey though it is variable depending on maturity.  This species can be found almost everywhere in open country. 

According to the Pocket Guide, this species is migratory, often present in large swarms.  I had found only this one individual and managed to take two shots before it flew off.

I wonder if I will find it again?



Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Diplacodes trivialis In Wheel And Ovipositing

Came across this pair of Diplacodes trivialis in wheel recently.



I couldn't get any closer for more photos as they kept flying away. 

Anyway, once the copulation was complete, the female flew over to a grassy patch on the pond and oviposited here eggs there on her own.  The male was nowhere to be seen at that time.



I hope to get more photos of this species in wheel one of these days.



Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Colourful Find On A Cloudy Morning

It was cloudy, overcast and a bit gloomy this morning.  Since I was already up, I thought I might as well pay a visit to the pond anyway.

As I had thought, the place was quiet and full of inactivity.  And there was none of the usual chirping of birds to break the silence of the dawn and fill the air with greetings for a new day.

I saw only a few of the usual common odonata species hidden among the grasses, still waking up and getting warmed up for flight and I did not see the usual scene of dragonflies buzzing around patrolling their territories.  Nevertheless, there was a pair of Ischnura senegalensis in tandem, a pair of Pseudagrion microcephalum in wheel, a pair of Copera ciliata in tandem and a few of the Agriocnemis femina just starting to move about more actively.  I took a few photos of all of  them and continued walking around the pond.

Just when I thought that's about the most I will find for this morning, a spot of colours caught my eye.



This brightly coloured damselfly is the Ceriagrion cerinorubellum of the family Coenagrionidae.  The male of this species has hindwing length of 17mm.  According to the Pocket Guide, this is one of the commonest and most colourful member of its family and this damselfly is a ferocious predator, consuming teneral individuals and other damselflies larger than itself.

Yet this was the only damselfly of this species that I found.



It has amazing colours on the thorax and abdomen but its face has a "plasticky" appearance like the Ischnura senegalensis owing to the large mandibles that make up a big proportion of its face.  As you can see in the above photo, it gives the damselfly a seemingly savage look.

I guess its reputation as a ferocious predator explains why it was quite undeterred by me as I got closer to have a good look and take a few photos.  I could move about freely and this tiny damselfly did not even flutter away warily like some of the other species do.

It is as fearless as it looks!



Saturday, 6 February 2010

Libellulidae - Indothemis limbata

Rather Obscure-Looking Yet Pleasing


I found this dragonfly perched on a grass stem at a pond recently. 

It is the Indothemis limbata of the family Libellulidae.  This medium-sized dragonfly has hindwing length of 29mm, dark wing tips and a dark patch at the base of its hindwings that aid in the identification of this species.

Here's a look at his face...



There is a slaty blue patch on its face that is almost a match to the colour of its abdomen whereas the compound eyes, thorax and basal dark patch on its hindwings are uniformly dark-coloured.  The colours and the way it is perched makes it almost inconspicuous in its surroundings.  It seems like a rather obscure-looking dragonfly yet the slaty blue colours give it a pleasing look.

The Pocket Guide lists this species as rare and local over open water and I did not see too many of them at the pond.



Friday, 5 February 2010

The Damselfly That Got Away!


This is one lucky damselfly indeed.

When I came across this damselfly, of the Pseudagrion species, it was actually on the water's surface and was trying to fly away as it had been caught in a spider's web.  It was fluttering its wings in vain as the spider's silk from the web was holding it back like a chain.  This damselfly kept struggling to get free.

Luckily for this damselfly, the spider did not get to it first and there was also some rubbish in this pond.  An old slipper to be exact.  And this damselfly, on one of its struggles, happened to land on the upturned slipper.  In this next photo, you can see the spider's silk quite clearly attached to the damselfly's abdomen.



Now that it's got a surface to hold on, this damselfly pulled with all it's might like a buffalo pulling a load uphill.  The textured surface of the slipper would have helped give a good grip going against the tensile strain of the silk, I guess.  It just kept walking and pushing forward step by step till the silk broke. 

In this next photo, you can see it straining against the pull of the spider's silk as it forged on.



Once it got free of the tangle, it flew off to a perch and tried to clean itself of the remnant trail of spider silk still attached to it.  It was swinging its abdomen back and forth in a series of swings and stretches.  I do realise it was in distress but what can I do but observe its behaviour and take a few photos?  So here they are.  Frankly, it was rather amazing to watch the damselfly's agility in its swinging and "gymnastic-like" movements.







And then finally it stops to rest!



What a start to the day for this little blue damselfly!



Thursday, 4 February 2010

In Wheel And Ovipositing - Copera ciliata

I decided to do a stake-out at one of the ponds this morning.  I have been thinking... if I sit there long enough and keep watch, I would eventually observe something happening, right? 

This theory have been proven true once again.  Towards the end of the stake-out, which actually lasted more than 3 hours, I had to put up with some discomfort from a full bladder but it was certainly well worth it.  After all, the saying that holding back will cause your full bladder to explode is really only a myth.

The stake-out was fruitful and as you can guess, I've got myself more photos of dragonflies and damselflies to add to my collection so I am rather pleased with the whole thing.

Actually, I was hoping to get a shot of the Tholymis tillarga that I have seen patrolling tirelessly at the pond but that did not happen.  Eventually, my focus went to the Copera ciliata instead.  I had posted some info and photos of this species in an earlier article, read it here.

Anyway, here's a photo of the Copera ciliata perched on a grass leaf that is still wet with dew this morning.



I did not see how it all started but all of a sudden there was this pair of Copera ciliata in wheel right in front of me, so I took tons of photos of them.  Although it was not mentioned in the Pocket Guide, I now know that the female has similar markings to the male and it looks to me that the female is more whitish in colour.  The next photo shows a pair of Copera ciliata in copula.



And then I sat and waited again.  After quite some time, having finished receiving the sperm pouch from the male to fertilise her eggs, the female straightened out her abdomen but the pair of Copera ciliata continued to remain in tandem for ages and they remained perch in the same place.



Perhaps due to activities of other dragonflies buzzing around, the tandem pair then flew away to perch on another grass leaf and this happened a few times.



After that, it was only the female damselfly who would perch while the male damselfly kept his hold on her and remained overhead to guard her.  But all they did was fly and perch, then fly and perch.



Eventually, while still in tandem, the female started ovipositing her eggs when she stopped at a perch.  The male kept his hold on her and was contact guarding the female all the time throughout the whole process.



Ovipositing occurred at various locations dispersed over a small area of the pond.  The female damselfly oviposited both into the grass stems above the water and also into the grassy pond.

After that, I lost them.

Even then, I am glad to have observed the wheel position and ovipositing behaviour of these damselflies.  It has certainly made my day!



Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Another Red Dragonfly But.....

Saw another red dragonfly the other day.  The way it was flying was different from other red dragonflies I had seen.  That was how I noticed it. 

Anyway, it kept flying tirelessly up and down guarding over its territory and seldom stopped to perch.  When it did, it was only for a short moment before it took off again.  I barely had any time to take any photos but noted a few features though it was not enough for me to id it.

This red dragonfly is rather large, has a dark coloured thorax and the tip of its abdomen was much darker too.

I waited there, all ready to take a shot when it did perch again but before any of that could happen, a bee-eater swooped down at the buzzing dragonfly and that was it!


Now I'll have to see if I can find it again.....

Anyway, here's the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater that ate the red dragonfly!




Monday, 1 February 2010

A Clubtail

It has been a long day.  But, yes... it was another great dragonfly day!

As I was walking towards the pond this morning, a dragonfly shot out from nowhere on my right and landed on the floor directly in front of me.  I managed to get a shot of it before it flew off.  Later, at another pond, I spotted this species again and took a few more photos. 

Here's a photo of the dragonfly that greeted me this morning...



It is the Ictinogomphus decoratus of the family Gomphidae.  The male has hindwing length of 39mm, it is common in open habitats and is widespread in this region.



The Gomphidae family of dragonflies are also known as Clubtails due to the enlarged abdominal segment, from S7 to S9, which gives it a club-like appearance.  It is especially more prominent in the males.



As these dragonflies are on average a little larger and also more stocky-looking, the "Clubtails" do give them a somewhat beastly appearance sometimes.  Bouncers come to mind.  Yet, these dragonflies are usually very wary and will fly off when approached making it quite a task to take photos of them.



The above photo shows the Ictinogomphus decoratus perched on the same twig as a red dragonfly, I'm guessing the Crocothemis servilia,  while another red dragonfly buzzed by.