Friday, April 11, 2014

Butterfly Watching and Photographing Deep In the Forest

I was privileged and delighted to be invited by Mr Teo to join him and Cher Hern hosting a Japanese butterfly researcher Dr Inoue A. Takashi who visited Singapore on 22 March. We brought our guest to the nature reserve for butterfly-watching, specifically looking for the Great Helen (Papilio iswara iswara).

After one quick round of butterfly-hunting at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, we decided to head to the Upper Peirce Reservoir Park (UPR Park) and its nearby trails.

Behind the toilet at the UPR Park, Cher Hern spotted an early instar of the Plain Nawab's (Polyura ebe platus) lava resting on a Red Saga (Adenanthera pavonina) leaf.  Here is an excellent write-up on its life history.
The forest trail was exceptionally calm and quiet until the sun began to warm its denizens up in the early afternoon. An instinctive record shot was what I could get when I spotted this Grand Imperial (Neocheritra amrita amrita) above my eye level.  
An Arhopala was having a peaceful perch along a shady forest trail until my camera flash triggered its alertness. You could see how it reacted to the flashlight.
In order to take a record shot, I had to switch off the flash light. Thanks Dr Seow from BC who helped me to identify the species as the Raffles' Oakblue (Arhopala pseudomuta pseudomuta).

Again, CH's sharp eyes spotted a young lava - hopefully it would grow into a Commander (Moduza procris milonia) in a few week's time.
I bumped into some puddling butterflies on a small patch of sandy ground while we were on our way out of the forest. But all the four papilionids in the picture were extremely skittish - they took off hastily when I inched closer. 
However, this Silver-Forget-Me-Not (Catochrysops panormus exigus) stayed on the ground for us to snap a few shots.
It was accompanied by this Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates).
We hope that Dr Inoue A. Takashi  had captured some video clips of the Great Helen when they were fluttering speedily past us a few times. Though we didn't get to photograph many butterflies in this outing, we did see quite a number of species of butterflies in the early afternoon. 

We really enjoyed this outing with our visitor and a big thank you to Mr Teo for giving us a lunch treat.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bukit Panjang Area On Two Saturdays

I went to the western part of the nature reserve on two consecutive Saturdays (8 and 15 March) near Bukit Panjang. Walking alone underneath an overhead bridge towards the forest on 8 March, I bumped into this Black Veined Tiger (Danaus melanippus hegesippus) when it was taking a morning nap - I thought it was a good start for the day.  
But after that, it was just trekking and no shooting for a long period of time until a rather worn-out female Horsfield's Baron (Tanaecia iapis puseda) (correction : this should be a female Malay Baron (Euthalia monina monina)  was seen flitting around. 
I was attracted by this rather strange-looking creature above my head - a kind of fly with a long tail? 
I met up with Scast on 15 March at Kim San Leng coffee shop. After a quick lunch, we started to trek from Bukit Panjang to Dairy Farm Park. We saw quite a number of Pea Blues (Lampides boeticus) and Gram Blues (Euchrysops cnejus cnejus) flitting around a small plot of land used by residents to grow vegetables and cucumbers.
Staying rather tamely on a leaf, this pink grasshopper looked nice and unique.
An orange skipper appeared to be a Telicota species was resting peacefully at the same vicinity as the Pea Blues.
A beautiful and commonly sighted dragonfly in the nature reserve, this is likely to be a female Cratilla metallica. She had a tendency to come back to the same perch again.  
The ovipositing bebaviour of a Pygmy Grass Blue (Zizula hylax pygmaea) along the roadside caught our attention. 
The sky turned cloudy and followed by a short period of drizzling when we were near Zhenghua Park moving towards the Dairy Farm Park. We welcomed this long-overdue light shower after more than one month of drought. 

Our last shot of the day (15 March) was this Silver-Forget-me-not (Catochrysops panormus exiguus) when it landed on my bag at the washing point. Lately, I have encountered and shot this species quite often than before - a  rather strange phenomenon.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Two Different Pansies @ Punggol End

It was rather hot and hazy but windy when I arrived at Punggol end in the late morning on 1 March. I could feel the heat emancipating from the ground - wild vegetation was struggling to fight the drought; a large patch of a grassland had been wiped out by bush fire brought about by a prolonged period of dry spell since mid January. In fact, this February is Singapore's driest month since 1869 (see here and here).

I was delighted to see a few Blue Pansies (Junonia orithya wallacei) actively flying around at one particular location and occasionally resting on the dry ground. With a lot of patience waiting for them to perch, I managed to snap some quick shots.
Another specimen rested on a dry lalang leaf.
While exploring the surrounding area, I came to a stream near Track 17 where I noticed a small colony of Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlies). 
Another specimen was feeding on some wild flowers.
A very worn out Arhopala was flitting above me but I failed to get a shot. Instead, I noticed a dark moth-like bug resting on a leaf - a kind of planthopper or something else?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Prunas Trail On A Windy Day

It has been a long time since my last visit to the Prunas Trail at MacRitchie Reservoir. I decided to drop by Prunas Trail on a windy late morning on 15 Feb. After a long period of time strolling along the boardwalk, shooting nothing, a Malay Viscount (Tanaecia pelea pelea) flitting past me and settled on a leaf of the Hairy Clidemia (Clidemia hirta).
A few meters away along the boardwalk, I was lucky to bumped into this female Knight (Lebade martha parkeri).
The Great Helen (Papilio iswara iswara) seemed to be a permanent resident of the MacRitchie Nature Trail. I had a long distance shot of this female Great Helen when she made a short perch.   
The all orange coloured Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius) is a very distinctive lycaenid. It was loitering around its larval host plant Smilax bracteata at a side trail leading to some private houses.
This small Pygmy Grass Blue (Zizula hylax pygmaea) was my last shot of the day before I packed my camera gears, heading towards a coffee shop.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Quiet Afternoon @ Mandai Track 15

Very well-camouflaged and blended impeccably with its habitat, this skittish Common Evening Brown (Melanitis leda leda) was photographed at a undergrowth of a forest trail on a windy and dry Saturday afternoon (9 Feb).
At the training shed where skippers were commonly sighted, I noticed this Potanthus feeding on Bidens flowers. 
A colony of lycaenids was actively flitting along a section of the biking trail. This lucky shot was the result of my curiosity of  knowing what species it was - surprisingly, it was the Silver-Forget-Me-Not (Catochrysops panomus exiguus). 
Another super active small butterfly was teasing me for a long period of time. At last, this Blue Brownie (Miletus symethus petronius) presented me with a tilted perch underneath a leaf at my knee level - what a "torturing" perch for me to shoot. 
Due to other commitment in the early evening, I didn't venture very deep into the forest. While looping back to the starting point using another trail, I bumped into a small colony of Arhopala species - this is Arhopala major major.  I suspected there was another species flitting around. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Butterflies@Lower Peirce Reservoir Park

After an early lunch at the Casuarina Road Prata shop on a Saturday (25 Jan) morning, my plan of heading to Upper Seleter Reservoir Park was dashed by the bad service of  bus 138 (two buses refused to stop for me). I decided to drop by Lower Peirce Reservoir Park for my weekly butterfly photography outing.

This damselfly showing an elegant perch on some leaves was spotted at a quiet corner of the reservoir edge.  I have no idea what species this is.
Strolling leisurely on the boardwalk, I noticed a Burmese Lascar (Lasippa heliodore dorelia) sailing and gliding past me. When it settled down, I managed to snap a quick shot.
A skipper was zipping around with high speeds. But on a very quiet day, I decided to wait and observe carefully where it would stop at. I was lucky to be able to spot it again and take a few quick shots. This brown skipper turned out to be the Pugnacious Lancer (Pemara pugnans).
A rather pristine male Archduke (Lexias pardalis dirteana) gave me an opportunity to increase my camera's shutter count - my last shot of the day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Visiting Mount Faber Park Again - After A Long Time

It has been more than 2 years since my last visit to Mount Faber Park. On 18 Jan, after an early lunch at Seam Im Food Centre, it was only sensible for me to walk leisurely up to the Mount Faber Park via Marang Trail.

Only some hikers walked past me on a rather quiet morning along the trail. For a long period of time, I was alone hunting for critters. At last, a small orange skipper rested on a leaf of the Hairy Clidemia. It looks like a Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha omaha).
I was loitering around the Merlion statue amongst many tourists, not shooting anything but enjoying the cold breeze, the panoramic view of the sea and the southern islands afar. Finally, this male Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina bolina) succumbed to the cooling effect of the breeze and  hid beneath a leaf.
Along my way to a rather secluded high ground where some of us liked to station there during our many past outings, I bumped into this skittish female Malayan Plum Judy (Abisara saturata kausambiodes).   
I spent more than 30 minutes resting and waiting for butterflies to appear at this particular spot. My first visitor was this Large Dart (Potanthus sarina) which landed on some ferns.
A female Scarlet Flash (Rapala dieneces dieneces)  was changing her perch frequently. With some luck and patience, I finally managed to snap a few instinctive shots.
It seems that the Transparent Six-line Blue (Nacaduba kurava nemana) is a permanent resident of the Mount Faber Park.
Luck and being observant usually play a big part in spotting small butterflies especially skippers in the Coeliadinae subfamily as they have the habit of hiding under foliage. This cute and chubby-looking Orange Awlet (Burara harisa consobrina) was spotted taking a short nap along the Marang Trail while I came down from the hill top.  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rare Dragonflies and Fallen Trees

It was a long trekking outing deep into the forest on 11 Jan 2014. I started at Old Upper Thomson Road and walked along  a forest trail leading me to Upper Peirce Reservoir. My very first shot of the morning was this Ultra Snowflat (Tagiades Ultra) at the entrance to the trail.
The Flashwing damselfly is beautiful. There were quite a few of them sunbathing along a quiet forest trail. I am not sure if this is the Vestalis amethystina.
This is the Malay Viscount (Tanaecia pelea pelea ) feeding on a kind of fruit - not sure what it was and I wasn't able to get closer to it.
A Tree Flitter (Hyarotis adrastus praba) just appeared from nowhere when I was at the spot where I could not proceed any further. It kept changing its perch even it was feeding on the Common Snakeweed flowers. 
My first sighting of a Libellago species deep in the forest near a stream. It looks like the rare Libellago hyalina - am I correct ?
Another rare dragonfly was found nearby - again it was my sighting of the  Paragomphus capricornis if I had identified it correctly.
Another damselfly was shot at a low-light environment when I was on my way out  - what is this species ?
I would like to sound an alarm here as there are clear symptoms that our forest has been "falling sick". I encountered more than five fallen trees along the forest trail; let me just post two shots here.

More fallen trees would mean that very soon our forest undergrowths would be taken over by the fast and wild-growing ferns like this.
This "patient" needs a lot of attention now. We need suitable "medicine" to nurse this "patient" back to good health before it is too late.