The hottest hours of the day bring out the fire in diurnal libellulids, which seem to vanish when clouds block the sun but return with subspace speed when the sky flashes anew with pale fury. Blue dashers are among the boldest dragonflies around the ponds of the Botanic Gardens; the stiff-winged males are partial to the tips of emergent rheophytes, from which they intercept rivals and roving midges before returning to wax in blinding pruinescence. The brown females are somewhat less conspicious, but can be spotted at times as they sally over weedy pools and flick their brood into the still shadows of fallen leaves and silty litter.
Common parasols prefer to perch closer to the ground. Some individuals flee long before striking range. Others tolerate prolonged intrusions into their personal space and this male even leapt from his twig to the back of my palm, as if he welcomed the chance to sample a new ride. Possibly the most abundant dragonfly on the island, these stocky libellulids are remarkably difficult to frame, for too harsh a light burns the warm maroon of their wings and washes away the brilliance of an urban gem. And for all their ubiquity, a closer look might still pay off were a regional rarity were to be revealed in the local population.
Higher up on the same soft shrubs, crimson dropwings raised their bottoms to the last rays of the day. Mature males come in purplish pink, but immature ones and females glow amber brown. But last light was fast approaching and an early duskhawk had begun to claim the airspace between the screwpines and swaying reeds. The gardens grew dim and my heart ducked behind the cover of a bed of Canna where dragons rest on every leaf tip and rock to the gentle rhythm of wind-stroked stalks.