The scarlet basker is described as a medium-sized libellulid, but its stature, which could well be taken for granted at a lonely pond, becomes apparent in the company of smaller odonates, namely the common parasols that float through reed beds and skim over garden pools. Males of the latterr, with their livery of colour that stops short of the tips of their stubby, fluttery wings, seldom stray far from wayside vegetation, defending territories spanning just a few square feet. Their manner of flight has a certain hesitancy which keeps the insects on a low and lingering leash, though these limitations of power do not appear to hinder the species' conquest of suburban habitats.
Look up a little and it's likely that the pond where dozens of parasols perch and prey is watched over by a rather larger odonate with colours that burn and somewhat angular wings with pointed tips and aggressive veins. The base of the hindwings bear a brownish patch and there are two diamond-shaped spots on the eight and ninth abdominal segments, which are plainly visible when the dragonfly stands to attention with its tail to the sun.
Urothemis signata insignata usually selects a prominent lookout well above the marshy understorey and offering a clear passage to all corners of his domain. When the two occupy the same line of sight, the bulk of the basker, with its near eight-centimetre wingspan, makes gnats of Neurothemis fluctuans, local populations of which rarely breach the five-centimetre mark. Males of the former dominate the scene, launching themselves into wide arcs and high sweeps to intercept similarly clad intruders or invite passing females, plain as they are in yellowish brown, to a parlance of signs. If she fails to see red and offers him her neck, the pair will sail around in a grip of passion before dumping their spoils into a nursery at the shallow end.
Another big, red dragonfly, but one far larger, and much less attached to its aquatic womb is the saddlebag glider, which is named for the hindwing markings that in related species were thought to resemble equestrian gear. In colour, pose and its preference for commanding perches, it superficially resembles a basker, but Tramea transmarina euryale has darker eyes, a brown, rather than scarlet, thorax, and thicker spots near the end of the abdomen. Among local libellulids, it is in breadth second only to the sultan, with which it shares a tribe and markedly expanded hindwing bases.
In flight, the glider eschews the wild dashes of urothemistines, achieving cruising height with minimal effort by riding updrafts that allow the dragonfly to maintain altitude and stay the course with just periodic flicks of their wings. The genus, having at its disposal such powers of dispersal, not infrequently wanders far from its breeding grounds, at times in the company of another, more compulsive, drifter, seeking waterbodies only to court and procreate. Keeping little faith to their lands of origin, these aerial tramps have established themselves in oceanic realms and invaded unoccupied spaces in the wilder fringes of this island, where they soar over fields and open country, sustaining themselves on the cloud of minute bodies that rise each day from a state of suspended animation to die in mid-air and swarm in the empty corners of suburban minds.