Sunday, September 27, 2020

A New Addition to Singapore Butterfly Species @ Pulau Ubin

With the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe resulting in closure of  country borders and restrictions of big group gatherings and so on it is no surprise  that local nature parks and offshore islands such as Bukit Timah Hill and Pulau Ubin have been crowded with hikers and nature photographers - because leisure travel out of the country is not possible for now!

Pulau Ubin's is ideal for any stray butterflies coming from the north to take a break in. As such Ubin has always been an important location for  photographing special or rare butterfly species. Indeed, Nparks has revealed that new fauna has been discovered in the island. 

Since June this year,  I have visited Ubin a few times. Here, I would showcase some of my encounters here.

The Acacia Blue (Surendra vivarna amisena) was found on a beach area while I was there to look for a rare lycanid. 

The Bamboo Tree Brown (Lethe europa malaya) is a skittish shade-loving butterfly, preferring to stay on the ground level and blending well with the undergrowth. Occasionally, it may rest on a foliage and provided us a chance to spot it easily.   

CA and a small group of ButterflyCircle members spotted the Swine Tiger (Danaus affinis malayanus) on 29 Aug on Butterfly Hill.  The next day, I was there. Shortly after 9 am this Orange Gull (Cepora iudith malaya) greeted me but just for a few minutes before it disappeared completely. 
I was rather lucky to see and get a few shots of this new addition to Ubin's fauna, the Swine Tiger (Danaus affinis malayanus) after the Orange Gall left the hill (see here). 
Though it didn't stay on the flowers for long, it preferred a high perch under the morning sun.
Very soon when it decided to change perch, I quickly snapped a few shots of its upperside wings while it was flapping.
This Common Jay (Gaphium doson evemonides) was busy siphoning nutrient solutions from the moist ground. 
During the past two outings to Ubin, I was able to spot the Metallic Caerulean 
(Jamides alecto ageladas
Skippers are common in Ubin. At a shady corner of Butterfly Hill, a few yellow skippers were flitting around. This is likely to be a male Pothanthus mingo. 
This is likely to be the Pale Palm Dart (Telicota augias augias), opening its wing partially. 
When it closed its wings, I quickly took a shot for the sake of identifying. 
 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Butterflies @ Springleaf Nature Park

The Springleaf Nature Park is situated at the T-junction of Mandai Road and Upper Thompson Road. The cannel joining the Upper Seletar Reservoir and the Lower Seletar Reservoir serves as a boundary of the nature park.

Since its official opening in late 2014, I have visited this nature park a few times. During my most recent visit there on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in July, I managed to capture quite a few butterfly shots though all these butterfly species are rather common. 

I have seen Centaur Oakblue (Arhopala centaurus nakula) a few times at this nature park but this was my best shot I had taken. 
There were many wild flowers blooming along the cannel and these flowers not only add colours to the park, they attract insects to the park, especially butterflies,  creating and enriching more wildlife activities - quite often, I could spot skippers and Grey Pansy butterfly feeding on these flowers.  (I hope Nparks keep these flowers).  
 
There were many Bush Hoppers (Ampitta dioscorides camertes) feeding on the Biden flowers - enjoyable and nice to see them foraging so these flowers. I pointed out to a kid with his parents who happened to walk past me -  parents and kids told me it was their first time seeing how a butterfly was feeding on flowers and they told me that their mental image of a butterfly was so different from what they  saw in front of them.  
Another specimen resting comfortably on a leaf. 
The leaf beetle seemed to warn a Bush Hopper not to come to its territory. I like this kind of "encounter". We can only observe interesting moments in nature if we slow down our pace and enjoy the flora and fauna around us. 
A brown skipper - this may be the Formosan Swift (Borbo cinnara)
Very glad and nice to see a "sizable" community of the Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlites) roaming in the park - this is so because I could see that the larval host plant was carpeting the sides of the cannel.
Most of the time they were alert and very active, especially in a hot day.  
There were other butterflies fluttering in the park - this is the Common Sailor (Neptis hylas papajs)  
A fast-flying Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona pomona) decided to take a short rest on a leaf under shade.
The Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus) was seen resting on the flower perhaps after a good morning breakfast.
When there are Leea indica flowers, we should slow down and take at look at those white and tiny flowers closely - we may find critters feeding on them, big or small. This is the Leopard (Phalanta phalantha phalantha).
If you look around at the ground level, you may be able to spot some brown and dull butterflies flitting around - one of them can be the Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis minenus macromalaya). Thia guy was hopping around before it rested on a metal railing along the cannel.  
Near the entrance, this conspicuous and attractive red flower would definitely draw every visitor's attention. At first, I thought it was a fly feeding on its nectar.  I was wrong when I took a closer shot on that tiny critter.
A very quiet nature park that offers visitors a place to relax and roam aimlessly. I sincerely hope that Nparks can be more tolerant and keep the wild flowers in nature parks (also save money and don't cut them away so frequently!).  A nature park should be different from an artificial neighbourhood park and home gardens -  natural elements and wilderness will add vibrancy and wildlife activities to a nature park.    

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My First Post of The Year! (Outing to Pulau Ubin)

Yes, quite embarrassing, almost 5 months have passed but this is my first post in the blog this year.

Just like any other photographers, I have not been shooting since the Circuit Breaker (CB)  period started almost two months ago. So naturally, I have got nothing to showcase here. Five months have passed this unforgettable 2020, I think I should fill the void of this blog with an outing I could recall quite vividly.  

Back on 5th January this year when the virus has not reached SG, thanks CA for initiating a trip to Pulau Ubin and giving me a lift there on a nice Sunday morning. Together with Mr Foo, once we arrived at Ubin, we headed straight to the Butterfly Hill and stayed there throughout the whole duration of the outing.

I remembered there were quite a number of butterflies fluttering around - Grass Demon (was abundant and they were out for sunbathing and feeding on flowers.
  Taking a shot on flower was both challenging and rewarding.
A lonely Nacaduba berenice icena (Rounded Sixline Blue) was fluttering in a shady part of bushes. 
Leopard Lacewing (Cethosia cyane) appeared to be rather rare in the late 2018 - 2019. This single male specimen found at a shady corner at the Butterfly Hill gave me a moment of  excitement though I have shot this species many times before.  
Its open-wing shot.
At the same spot, another butterfly attracted my attention - a rather pristine Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus).
At another shady corner behind the Lacewing butterfly, a Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) was fluttering around. When it perched on a twig, I quickly snapped a few quick shots.
I have seen Palm King (Amathusia phidippus phidippus) many times at Pulau Ubin - this was my best record shot that I had in many years. 
It was a day of skippers - there were quite a number of them zipping past us, at different locations. This one looks like the Detached Dart (Potanthus trachala tytleri).
Another Potanthus species (it is a  male Potanthus mingo identified by Dr Seow at BC) lurking in a shade.
In contrast, the Yellow Palm Dart (Cephrenes trichopepla) seemed to prefer sunlit spot on a leaf.
This was  a Banded Demon (Notocryta paralysos varians), trying to spread out its wings to sunbathe. 
Another large size brown Demon skipper, a Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita maura) resting on a bamboo shoot.
Enough of Demons, we always like to see more species of butterflies. The Dwarf Crow (Euploea tulliolus ledereri) is a special bitterfly in Ubin - as far as I know, it has not been spotted in SG main island yet.
I remembered I spotted this female Green Baron (Euthalia adonia pinwilli) came down to feed on some Ixora flowers briefly. She was just too shy and scooted off rapidly even I was afar. She appeared in the late morning and I remember, at the critical moment, my flash light failed me - this was the only decent shot taken without the flash light when she folded her wings.   

I must say that butterfly-outing on 5 Jan was a memorable one as it was my first outing since I returned from HK that I got to see and shoot so many species at one place in a single outing

This sudden Covid-19 pandemic has shocked and waken me up somewhat - social activities and the freedom of travelling to everywhere that we have enjoyed should not be seen as a given now. We all believe that it is a matter of time, the current pandemic situation will be over and become an episode in the  history of mankind. But, we need to remind ourselves now, before the next one strikes us (no one can predict when it will happen) we must treasure every opportunity that allows us to pursue our dreams, to explore and enjoy nature before we are immobilised by whatever causes.       

On this note, I need to motivate myself to explore, write and post more often! 

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Endagered Raffles' Banded Langur @ Thomson Nature Park

This newest 50-hectare nature park is located in the eastern side of the central catchment nature reserve, bounded between a stretch of Old Upper Thomson and Upper Thomson road.

Source of image from : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So8174tEar8

This nature park is rather unique as it was conceptualized and developed on the site of an old Hainan Village. Here is a quick overview of the park produced by CNA which I downloaded from YouTube.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YS7inThrGcU

The park was officially open to the public on 11 Oct. Being a Hinanese myself, naturally I was curious to find out how an abandoned Hainan village was turned into a nature park -  so on a nice Sunday afternoon (13 Oct) I went alone to the park via the Old Upper Thomson Road. 

The walking paths in the park were clearly demarcated with white ropes and most of the trails are gravel paths without many steps and steep slopes.
I noticed that there were many old and tall trees in this park.
I guess that was an abandoned bee hive high up on the tree.

















Well-illustrated information sign boards on various contents are placed along the trails. When I looked at this, I was hopping to see the Raffles' Banded Langur (Presbytis femoralis femoralis) again.
Indeed I was rather lucky to spot a family of  four Raffles' Banded Langur (2 adults and 2 juveniles), seemingly high up on a reubutan tree on 20 Oct morning when I visited the park again. Though it was my second sighting of this endangered species in SG, but these were my first record shots of them ! ( should have used my HP to take video!)    



Two smaller individuals in size (may be juveniles?) were seen following behind at lower branches but I didn't have a clear view to snap some shots. Read here for more information about this rare primate.

The ruins of houses, brick walls and the information signages provide us with some idea about the life in the village before 1980.
One of the significant historical elements of this nature park is the house and the ambutan garden of Mr Han Wei Toon. A large information poster (picture below) provides  me a good lesson about the life and work of Mr Han Wei Toon.   

The small Hainan community in the village helped each other out and shared farming lands. 
I was surprised to know that Caucasian also lived in this village - this was the site of the Fox's family. 
In those days, the village was accessible via two roads, Lorong Pelita and Jalan Belang. It is good to keep these two roads as walking paths in the garden.

During my second visit, I paid attention to butterflies and other critters. My first shot of a butterfly species was this male Archduke (Lexias pardalis direteana), puddling on the ground with lots of leaf litter.
There were a few common lycaenids fluttering close to the gravel ground along the red-marked trail. Due to human traffic, I got to be patient and quick to snap a few shots - this is the Tailless Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura) - a common species but good to know that the park does have some butterflies.
Its "cousin"  the Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates) was around too. It disappeared so fast that I didn't have a second chance to take more shots.

There was another look-alike lycaenid but slightly larger in size, I believed this is the Pointed Line Blue (Ionolyce helicon merguiana).
At another location along the "Red" trail, there was another lonely lycaenid - likely to be the Opaque Sixline Blue (Nacaduba beroe neon)
A Sunbeam was teasing me, zipping past me a few times and attempting to stop on sweaty shirt. But at last it preferred to hang around with the Blues.
I covered almost every corner of the park and fortunate again to see a stinkhorn mushroom. It has been more than a decade since my last sighting in the wild.
A cluster of wild mushrooms was found growing on a tree trunk.



Reference:
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/thomson-nature-park-opens-former-hainan-village-animals-11991072