Dragonfly (47) – Raphismia bispina

Family : Libellulidae
Common Name : Mangrove Dwarf
Status : Uncommon
Location : Pasir Ris Farmway

This is an uncommon dragonfly and is one of the few species that lives and breeds in saline water in mangroves. Both the male & female are small in size about 2.5 cm long. Accordingly to Mr Tang Hung Bun’s Dragonfly Book, the Mangrove Dwarf has been recorded in Changi, Mandai, Pulau Semakau, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

I first saw the image of a female taken by my friend, Yan Leong, in August 2010 and subsequently, a male captured by Allan Lee in December 2011, both found at Chek Jawa mangrove in Pulau Ubin. An internet search reveals that not many people have photographed this mangrove species. Those who were lucky usually spotted them at Chek Jawa.

I have wanted to photograph this uncommon dragonfly for a long time but I just didn’t want to bother Yan Leong or Allan to bring me all the way to Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin. It was only recently when I met Loh, someone who is probably more crazy about dragonflies especially mangrove species than me, at Zhenghua Forest where he shared his well-captured images of both the male & female of this dragonfly. He shot them somewhere at Pasir Ris Farmway and it appears that this dragonfly species is a permanently resident there. I requested that he brings me along of his next visit.

Yesterday, I met him at the entrance of Pasir Ris Farmway. We drove a short distance from here and park our cars near the main road side. On the right is a small forested area which looks very ordinary to me. There are no mangrove swamps in sight and I would never expect to find this species here. I think Mr Tang Hung Bun would be surprised too!

(Residence of Mangrove Dwarf)

(Residence of Mangrove Dwarf)

Without further delay, we crossed the road and moved into the forest. Loh showed me the small area that he usually sighted this dragonfly. Within 10 minutes, I found a small blue dragonfly perched on a pool of fallen branches near the road side. I alerted Loh and he confirmed that this was the male mangrove dwarf!

(A male Raphismia bispina)

(A male Raphismia bispina)

The males resemble Brachydiplax chalybea which usually perch motionless on an exposed branch for long periods, guarding their territories around a salty mangrove pool. This male fits into this description except that there wasn’t any salty mangrove nearby. I did find a small patch of muddy area with little water a few metres away. Anyway, another male was spotted high up at a branch near a spider web.

(Another male Mangrove Dwarf)

(Another male Mangrove Dwarf)

A third male was found and I took the opportunity to take the front view.

(Front view of the male)

(Front view of the male)

Here are 2 more images of the same male on the same perch. The different is that the male on the right was taken with Loh helping me to block the strong sunlight. Which one do you think is better?

(Same dragonfly, same perch but different lighting condition)

(Same dragonfly, same perch but different lighting condition)

I shot another male but this one didn’t have the blue on its thorax or abdomen.  Could this be a young or aged male?

(An aged male?)

(An aged male?)

I am glad to spot a few female mangrove dwarfs too. The female has a black coloured body with yellow marking on the side of the thorax and yellow streaks along the abdomen.

(Female)

(Female)

Here is another female:

(Female Mangrove Dwarf)

(Female Mangrove Dwarf)

Another view of the female:

(Front view of a female)

(Front view of a female)

In total, there were about 4 males and 3 females spotted within a radius of approximately 5 metres. Certainly a healthy sign of this species. I must thank Loh once again for sharing this site to me, otherwise, I would not be able to take so many decent shots of these cute little creatures.

Reference : A photographic guide to the Dragonflies of Singapore

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