Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pulau Semakau On 18 Jan 2009

My previous boat ride to a southern island was more than a decade ago. So, I was very excited about this butterfly survey trip to Semakau island. Once again, we must thank Ria Tan (her blog) for arranging and making this trip possible for ButterflyCircle members.

During our comfortable 25-min or so boat ride, we witnessed the awesome oil refinery facilities at Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom.
Occasionally the boatman had to skillfully manoeuvre to avoid the coral reefs.

At last, we alighted near the shelter outside the forested area. A Common Tiger and a Leopard (We were in danger ! Not really, they are just butterflies) were already there welcoming us.

Without much delay, seven of us were prowling and hunting for butterflies along the mozzies-infested forest trail which led us to the shore.Butterfly photographers like us not only look around but also look up for our targets. That's why we could spot this Baron-like butterfly, quietly overlooking us from a leaf high up..
Butterfly activities were considered low and we didn't take too long to reach the beach. At the shore, I was attracted by this citric-like plant. The fruits are elliptical in shape and they don't look like the usual citrus fruits.

When I returned to the shelter along the same trail, this orange skipper, likely to be a Potanthus sarina, was tamely waiting for us at the entrance. A few of us took some shots. This shot reveals a bit of the upperside markings.

I decided to cross the road and explored a huge plot of grassland.A few isolated Acacia auriculiformis trees, standing tall and withstanding the onslaught of the gutsy wind, were in my sight from where I stood. With the help of strong wind neutralising the scorching heat from the sun, we were able to spend sometime hunting for butterflies on this huge patch of grassland. Finally we spotted quite a few of this Nacaduba biocellata (Two Spotted Line Blue). They were congregating and fluttering under a flowering Acacia tree.

Most of them were pristine specimen and we could spot them perching on different objects, giving us adequate shooting opportunities.

This Asystasia gangetica ssp. micrantha was abundant here and so was Junonia orithya wallacei (Blue Pansy) as it is a larval host plant of Blue Pansy.
I could only shoot the underside of this Blue Pansy from far.Usually they were very alert under the hot sun.Passiflora foetida is such an invasive vine that it is growing on almost every grassland that I have been to.

I could see them climbing up the Acacia tree and it was not difficult to spot the caterpillars of Acraea violae (Tawny Coster) feeding on Passiflora foetida. At around noon, I headed back to the shelter to have my packet lunch. Soon after that, I went into the forested area again. This time, I could see more butterfly species.
Quite a few Arhopala centaurus nakula (Centaur Oak Blue) though most of them were tattered.When in flight, the metallic blue uppersides of this Nacaduba species could be seen. It was fluttering non-stop and there were a few of them. I only managed a long distance record shot.

I didn't realise it was ovipositing until I saw the shot on my camera's viewfinder. I went back to shoot the plant, apparently, an Ardisia species.

When there were no butterfly species, I shot dragonflies and other insects. At least one dragonfly and a very beautiful damselfly (Tang HB has identified it to be a Teinobasis ruficollis, thanks) crossed my path. These two became my models for just a few seconds.
Here are two other insects found in the forested area. A strange looking insect that I have never seen before. I wonder how many legs there are ?

Saw a whole bunch of Cotton Stainer bugs on the underside of a leaf and I managed to shoot two of them which were roaming around on the upperside of the same leaf.
I guess these are forest fungi growing on fallen tree branches, making use of wood as the substrate. I shall let the expert on fungus to identify them.

It was a fruitful outing for me on a windy, dry and hot Sunday. There is a good potential discovering more species of flora and fauna in future survey as we have not covered very much of the island yet . Here is the write-up on the first survey.


  1. WOW! I am in awe of how you and the rest of the team can find and photograph so perfectly all these lovely insects! I can't even take a shot of a plant in all that wind.

    And as usual, I learnt more from your blog entry! Now I know more about the pretty wildflowers that were everywhere on Semakau.

    Hope you and the team can come again soon!

  2. Hello,

    We are from TACTIC PR and we are doing publicity for National Geographic Channel.

    National Geographic Explorer and host of Megafishes, Zeb Hogan would be coming down to Singapore for a seminar.

    We would like you to participate in this not-to-be-missed opportunity and of the seminar's participants, 40 would be chosen to go on a special trail with Zeb Hogan to Pulau Semakau and view the special island through his eyes.

    Do let me know if you would be interested and I will send you the information so that you can share on your blog with your readers!

    Thank you so much.

    Genevieve Lim