Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lornie Trail On A Sunday Afternoon

An outing to the Lornie Trail on the first Sunday afternoon in the year 2015 was just like many other outings that I had before - strolling leisurely on a familiar forest footpath, but now covered with gravels and therefore less muddy. Thanks for the improvement!

This male Cruiser (Vindula dejone erotella) might have pitied me for not taking any shot for a long period of time. It flew past me and landed on the ground. How could I be choosy if this was my first clear chance of snapping a shot.
As usual, I turned back when I caught sight of that long stretch of open footpath lying between the reservoir edge and the golf course. My return leg on the same forest path was more rewarding. It was this very restless Saturn (Zeuxidia amethy stus amethystus) that tested my patience and stopped me from moving forward - and this gave me opportunities to encounter a few other butterflies at the same location.
After chasing and taking two shots of the Saturn in the forest undergrowth, I bumped into this pristine Malay Viscount (Tanaecia pelea pelea). It was more accommodating towards my presence and presented its undersides to me.
There were a few skittish Archdukes (Lexias pardalis dirteana) flying past me and feeding on the ground too. Though they were alert and took off from the ground very frequently, they also came back to the same vicinity often.  
This was the only Arhopala species I encountered high on a leaf. It appeared to be the A. major major.
The moth caterpillar was found hanging on a thin silk and wriggling upwards - an amazing behaviour that I had encountered before. Taking shots of this small fellow in the breeze and in constant movement was a challenge for me.
Albeit the initial disappointment, at the end of the day it was still a pleasant outing for me. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wandering in the Wild Wild West

I almost forgot this solo outing to the western part of Singapore happened late last year in November.

I remembered that for a long period of time I was just wandering around, moving further away from the main road, without taking any shots. At last, at a shady spot along a forest path, a Pugnacious Lancer (Pemara pugnans) appeared and rested on a leaf quite tamely.
I went around it to take some shoots from a different angle. The Pugnacious Lancer is a not-so-common forest species. It can be identified by its undersides having a  good spread of dense pale yellowish hyaline spots.  
Not far away from the skipper, a Dark Tit (Hypolycaena thecloides thecloides) presented a high perch to tempt me. As there was nothing worthy of shooting, I waited patiently for it to come down to my eye level. This shot was my reward for my patience.
I decided to turn around and head back to the main road. Since its opening in year 2014, the Jurong Eco -Garden has been my butterfly-hunting ground if I go for an outing in the western parts of Singapore.  

To my surprise, there where quite a number of a tiny lycaenid, the Malayans (Megisba malaya sikkima) fluttering along a forest fringe.
 This Jamides specimen was very small. It fluttered among the Malayans.
I always tried to look for an endangered species apparently endemic to a small plot of forested ground along Nanyang Avenue - but I had no luck. Hope that I will be able to find the Harlequin (Taxila haquinus haquinus) in my next visit.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Extension of SBWR

The 31-hectare new extension to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) was opened to the public on 6 December (see a detailed description here). I decided to take a look at this new extension the next day.
I alighted from Bus 925 at the entrance to the SBWR and walked towards the new visitor centre. Some sun-bathing mudskippers on the mudflats attracted my attention.
From far, I saw a group of people taking pictures from the boardwalk. When I approached closer, I noticed that  a well-camouflaged mangrove crab was their model. 
I didn't encounter many terrestrial insects that were of interest to me. At a grass patch along the forest trail, I finally saw a orange skipper - a Potanthus species.
There were quite a number of Sumatran Sunbeam (Curetis saronis sumatrana) along the trail at different locations - but they were skittish and alert. With a bit of luck and a lot of patience, I managed to snap a few shots.
This Short Banded Sailor (Phaedyma collumella singa) came down to puddle on the ground. 
It scooted off when I approached it closer and rested on a leaf.
Not very sure of the species, I was very determined to take some shots of the undersides. I patiently followed this guy and eventually got a record shot.
At noon, I spotted a few Ciliate Blues (Anthene emolus goberus) - this pristine specimen became my model for awhile.
The weather in December was fast-changing and unpredictable. It turned cloudy in less than 30 mins, I had to head back to the Visitor Centre quickly. 
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy year in 2015.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trekking From USR Park to Bukit Panjang

On 9 Nov, my initial intention was just taking a leisure walk and hopefully shooting some butterflies at the Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park but it turned out to be a long but enjoyable trekking through the forest.

Morning critters seemed to be either over-sleeping or already deserting this part of the forest. For a long period of time, I didn't have a chance to increase  my shutter count until I saw a planthopper resting on an overhead leaf lethargically.
At the L-trail, I noticed a moth from the Callidulidae family flitting in the undergrowth. I followed its flight path and snapped a record shot. Unlike many other moths, moths from this family usually perch with folded wings.
I explored the reservoir edge. At one particular location deep inside the forest, I spotted quite a number of damselflies - one of them was the male Prodasineura humeralis (?).
This guy kept hovering above the water but a bit far from me. Nevertheless, it enticed me taking some long-distance in-flight shots.
My GPS on my Note 4 indicated I was in a non-man's land inside the forest. I decided to turn around and head towards the main trail. 

At the Yellow Archduke's location, I saw a couple of them chasing each other but I just could not snap any shot. Instead, a female L. pardalis dirteana was cooperative enough for me to move in closer - but I wasn't very keen shooting this species.
Strolling forward slowly, I came to the highest point in the forest. After taking a short break on some big rocks, I decided for a change this time, going towards Bukit Panjang, at least another 3km to cover!

I bumped into a few Saturns (Zeuxidia amethystus amethystus) along the way. This guy was puddling on the dirt trail but it took off rapidly when I made just one step closer. Luckily, it landed on a dry leaf for a few seconds.
I had a reason to show this lousy specimen of the Purple Bush Brown (Mycalesis orseis nautilus) because it is an uncommon forest species which I have not shot it for many years. 
In terms of number of shots taken, it was a disappointing day. However, I still enjoyed the fresh air, the walking and sometimes the excitement of overcoming unexpected obstacles along the forest trails.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Butterflies @ Mae Kampong, Chiang Mai

Continue from this post.

Let me wrap up what I have shot during my butterfly-watching and photography trip to Chiang Mai. Our group of five butterfly enthusiasts from three different countries went to Mae Kampong waterfall on 15 Oct.

About an hour of driving from our hotel in the city brought us to the waterfall site.
Without much delay, I walked and looked around this shady site - my sight was attracted by a Yellow Flat (Mooreana trichoneura pralaya) sunbathing on a rock under the morning sun.
After shooting the Yellow Flat, I noticed a rather large butterfly flitting past me a few times. At last, it settled on a rock and allowed all of us taking many shots. This was my first sighting of the Veined Labyrinth (Neopa pulaha pulahoides).
The waterfall area was rather quiet so I decided to explore a trail which leads to a farm land. This skipper (Celaenorrhinus dhanada affinis) loved the ferns so much that it kept coming back to the same perch.
The Koruthaialos rubecula hector was abundant along the trail as I encountered a few of them resting on foilage. 
We drove up to a higher altitude and walked along the road. There was a small colony of  the Restricted Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus ila nolus). Once the weather turned cloudy, they disappeared from our sight.
It was a pity that I couldn't get a chance to take shots of pristine uppersides of this species . 
A common species, the Notocrypta curvifascia curvifascia was zipping around rapidly. It had the tendency to revisit the same leaf which gave me an opportunity to snap a quick shot.
Though the Spotted Snow Flat (Tagiades menaka menaka) was feeding on some Bidens flowers furiously, it kept moving on the flowers.
Walking down a slope, I spotted a Dark Judy (Abisara fylla fylla) was sun-bathing with its wings fully open.
In fact, as we walked further in along the trail, we saw more Dark Judy - they were either resting or feeding on some wild flowers.  
We were glad to meet Toi, a Thai butterfly-photography enthusiast on his motorcycle before meeting him again at the spot where a Dull Forester (Lethe gulnibal peguana) was puddling on a leaf together with its two friends - a fly and a Common Punchinello (Zemeros flegyas allica). It was certainly a rare and interesting gathering in the middle of the road.
I saw Sunny chasing something very patiently. I walked towards him and saw this White Dryad (Aemona lena) fluttering slowly. At last it rested in a shade behind some branches. After taking some shots, yes, I should mention here that I got rid of a leech from going under my shirt.
In the afternoon, we went back to the waterfall. Not knowing what it was, I took a few shots of this small brown skipper which was feeding on the rock. Again, thank you Dr Seow for identifying it, might be a Halpe arcuata.
Another Halpe species was zipping around at the waterfall. It finally found a sweet spot on a rock and stayed there for a long period of time, allowing everyone to take many shots. However, It has not been identified with confidence.
In the late afternoon, I went back to the trail again and bumped into this brown Rapala rhoecus rhoecus. This was my last shot of the day - so sorry that I didn't know all my friends were waiting for me in the car while I was shooting this guy.
Let me wrap up my Chiang Mai trip with other interesting critters. This is a kind of weevil I believe.
A beautiful moth that Les had mentioned the name to me but I am sorry that I cannot remember it now.
A colourful bug which stayed rather still for me to shoot.
Thanks Les for highlighting this large leech to me.
Lastly, a brilliantly coloured moth larva.
It was an enjoyable and fruitful trip for me. I sincerely thank Antonio for being our driver and our guide in Chiang Mai and his wife for baking and sharing the delicious cakes with us.  I am looking forward to next March when we will meet again in Chiang Mai.