Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some Flying Jewels In Our Nature Reserves

White Royal ( Pratapa deva relata) was first sighted near an urban park more than two years ago. Since then this relatively rare Lycaenid was occasionally spotted at a few places including the central catchment area. An excellent account of its life history can be found on ButterflyCircle's blog here .A few White Royal came down to tease us intermittently on 11 Apr. Most of them appeared near its host plant for a short while before went hiding again at the canopy level. Fortunately, there were two very cooperative and tame individuals which offered us plenty of shooting opportunities .

Its larval host plant Scurrula ferrugineahe belongs to the family Loranthaceae which comprises mainly aerial parasitic plants termed mistletoes. I noticed that Scurrula ferrugineahe seems to prefer Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) as its host.
Spindasis lohita senama (Long-Banded Silverline) is another flying beauty that always entices butterfly photographers spending hours chasing it. The silvery streaks on the reddish brown patches of both wings make this species unique and attractive.
I was caught off-guard when it suddenly appeared in front of me while I was shooting the White Royal. It flew off so quickly that I didn't have time for a second shot. The place here was not its usual habitat that I know of. No wonder it fled away rapidly from the territory belonging to the White Royal .

Eooxylides tharis distanti (Branded Imperial) is a beautiful shade-loving butterfly with a pair of white long tails. Being our permanent resident in our nature reserves, sometimes we can find them in good numbers. Its flight pattern appears to be “hopping” around with a rather slow speed. After a short distance, it tends to settle down on the upper side of the leaf in a shade. A magnificent flying jewel, Pathysa antiphates itamputi (Five Bar Swordtail) is a forest butterfly. On a sunny day, we may find a low-flying male testing the ground and ultimately puddling on a moist forest trail. When it is puddling, the attractive pale orange and light green colour combinations making up the patterns of the underside hindwings, the forewing black patches, the marginal markings and a pair of long and slender sword-like tails, together make this beautiful forest winged-gem standing out against the background.
It is always a big bonus for us if we can have a picture of a Five Bar perching on a leaf. I was indeed very lucky to spot and shoot this guy resting on a fern.
This small dark brown skipper with a few white dots on the underside of both wings is Iambrix salsala salsala (Chestnut Bob). A rather common skipper which can be found in grassy areas near the forest fringe, Chestnut Bob likes to feed on small flowers in the early morning.This beautiful red fruit was found in a shady part of the forest. I am really poor at identifying forest trees and plants. It is time for me to get some reference books on plants. [Note : this may be Sterculia coccinea belonging to Malvaceae family]

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