Damselflies & Dragonflies @ Bekok Waterfall

Bekok is a town located at the eastern side of the district of Segamat, Johor, Malaysia. Bekok is well-known especially among nature lovers since Bekok is the western entrance to Endau Rompin National Park as well as having a refreshing waterfall known as Sungai Bantang Waterfall.

Bekok-Map

I had visited Bekok waterfall twice, one on a recce mission on 25 May 2013, and the recent one on 29 June 2013 where I joined Nature Photographic Society, Singapore (NPSS) on a marco photography outing.  The meeting point was at the first Esso Petrol kiosk after Tuas 2nd link Customs.   18 of us gathered at 6.35 am, drove to Machap for breakfast and arrived Bekok Waterfall at 9.45 am, approximately 200 km of driving.

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(Group photo at the entrance of Bekok Waterfall)

There is a stream near the entrance and it looks like a place full of damselflies, just like the stream at Gunung Belumut.

(A stream near the entrance)

(A stream near the entrance)

Unfortunately it was not the case, only a few species could be found. One of which was a Protoneuridae interrupta. In Singapore, it is classified as an uncommon forest species.

(Podasineura interrupta)

(Podasineura interrupta)

There were quite a no. of the male Euphaea ochracea, most of them perched just above the fast flowing water. This must be one of the most common forest species in Malaysia.

(Euphaea ochracea, Male)

(Euphaea ochracea, Male)

There were a few Aristocypha fenestrella. This is a sun-loving species and they prefer to perch on rocks under direct sunlight. Photographing them is a little challenging as it is difficult to avoid the harsh sunlight. They were also more sensitive to human than the other damselflies species in Bekok.

(Aristocypha fenestrella, male & female)

(Aristocypha fenestrella, male & female)

It has a very nice common name known as Peacock Jewel, most likely due to its beautiful metallic colouration on its wing!. One of the most interesting behaviours of A. frnestrella is when two males are involved in aerial territorial fight.  Getting both males sharp while they are fighting in mid-air are extremely difficult.  I did not manage to get any decent fighting shot of A. frnestrella but was happy to photograph a male Heliocypha perforate chasing another losing male during a fight!

(Heliocypha perforate - Territorial fight )

(Heliocypha perforate – Territorial fight )

There were some common dragonflies and damselflies such as Spine-tufted Skimmer, Yellow Featherlegs, Blue-sided Satinwing, Common Flashwing, etc which I did not capture them as they are quite easily found in Singapore. One common dragonfly however caught our attention and that was a male Tree-hugger. It is special because its left wing did not have the metallic bluish-black at the base of the hingwing.

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(Tree-hugger, male)

While I was disappointed not to find more damselfly species here, it was compensated with the sighting of a few lantern bugs (Laternaria ruhli) on a tree nearby.  Lantern bugs are very rare in Singapore, the last official sighting was in October 2009 (See “Records of Lantern Bug … ” by NUS).  As none of us have seen lantern bugs in Singapore, we would not want to miss this great opportunity to add this into our collection.

(Shooting lantern bugs overlooking the stream)

(Shooting lantern bugs overlooking the main stream)

I have seen images of lantern bugs taken by friends in Malaysia before but I didn’t expect it to be that big. I think it is about 20% bigger than the common cicada that we see in Singapore.

(Lantern bugs)

(Lantern bugs)

Another highlight of the trip was we found many butterflies, 6 species to be exact, feeding on sandy ground near the edge of the stream. I was not sure what were they feeding on but it must be very tasty as they kept coming back to the same spot.

(6 butterfly species feeding on sandy ground)

(6 butterfly species feeding on sandy ground)

Among all the butterfly shots, the image below is my favourite as it shows the size difference between the tiny Common Pierrot vs the much larger Common Jay (please correct me if I identified them incorrectly).

(Common Pierrot vs Common Jay)

(Common Pierrot vs Common Jay)

After lunch, we walked through the forested path and soon reached the upper stream where there is a nice refreshing waterfall. This should be the Bekok waterfall that people are taking about.

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(Bekok Waterfall)

If Gunung Belumut is a heaven for damselflies, Bekok should be a paradise for frogs and toads as we spotted so many of them both from the lower and upper streams.

(Toad & Frogs)

(Toad & Frogs)

Frogs in particular are photogenic subjects to shoot and it was no surprise to see my friends trying to get the best angles.

(Shooting the "prince charming"!)

(Shooting the “prince charming”!)

I personally find the Black-spotted Rock frogs most charming and therefore I had shot them with various angles.

(Black-spotted Rock frogs)

(Black-spotted Rock frogs)

When the black-spotted rock frogs were in abundant, it was not difficult to spot at least 2 of them together. Some of my friends saw 3 to 5 of them in a single spot, I could only shoot 2 in a frame.

(A pair of Black-spotted Rock frogs)

Thanks to my friend, Allan, who found a black-spotting rock frog having a male Euphaea ochracea damselfly as lunch near the waterfall. This is my first time seeing a frog eating and this has to be my catch of the day!

(Black-spotted rock frog having damselfly as lunch!)

(Black-spotted rock frog having damselfly as lunch!)

Happy with what I had already shot, I put aside my camera gear to join Yan Leong, Allan & Chiat Pin for a cool dip in the stream. OMG! It was cold in there!

(Photo credit : Hazel Han)

(Photo credit : Hazel Han)

After a tired but rewarding day, we deserved a good dinner at Cathay Restaurant in Kulai.

(Photo credit : Tony Png)

(Photo credit : Tony Png)

Reference : Wikipedia

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Euphaea ochracea (Malaysia Species)

In Singapore, there are 2 damselfly species under the family of Euphaeidae (Satinwings) namely Dysphaea dimidiata and Euphaea impar.  In Peninsular Malaysia, there is another species known as the Euphaea ochracea.

My first sighting was a single male at a small clear flowing stream in Endau Rompin State Park.  It was very skittish that I didn’t get any shot of it.  I saw another male a few months later at a relatively big stream near Mt Ophir.    This time, I managed some record shots.

It was only in Gunung Belumut last year where we saw quite a no. of this species.  The males prefer to perch on rocks or logs just above clear flowing water.

(A male perching on a rock surrounded by fast flowing water)

When they perch in such a manner, it is harder to photograph as one would need to go very low to get a eye-level shot. Also, the face of the damselfly would often look downward in the frame which is not nice to view. Hence, I would search for one that perch on a twig or falling branches as shown below.

(Euphaea ochracea, male)

The male has a distinctive golden brown/red body and wings making it very easy to recognise. I was lucky to spot a younger male where it has yellow markings on its thorax similar to that of the female. The wings are less golden than the mature male.

(Euphaea ochracea, younger male)

The female is less common than the male. I have only seen them in Gunung Belumut so far. Unlike the male, the female doesn’t perch so low and hardly on rock. They are often seen perching at least knee-level high on twigs or falling branches. Photographing the female is relatively easier than the male.

(Euphaea ochracea, female)

We have seen the younger male earlier, let us take a look at an aged female which has paler colour.

(Euphaea ochracea, aged female)

Since the female are less commonly found, I can’t resist to take a portrait of it.

(A smiling Portrait of a female, Euphaea ochracea)

The next time I see this beautiful damselfly again, I plan to take a portrait shot of the male. My wish is to photograph a mating pair!