Sunday, May 24, 2009

Along Forest Fringes

It was a fine Sunday morning. Just like any other weekends, this stretch of the forest trail is always streaming with nature-loving or rather nature-deficient city dwellers who came for either a walk or a jog. In order not to disturb them or rather to have a peaceful shooting session, I decided to walk round the forest fringes.

There is this not so tall but rather bushy Ardisia elliptica (Family : Myrsinaceae ) at the entrance of the trail, about to be in full blooms, caught my attention. The scene around this tree was vibrant with many insect activities, mainly wasps, bees and others. This is an evergreen small tree that can grow up to a few metres high. The elliptical shape of the leaves are alternate and the new foliage often reddish. The colour of the star-shaped petals is so unique, a kind of pinkish purple or purplish pink or even mauve. I really can’t describe the colour appropriately. I was very fortunate to be able to snap a quick shot on this hover wasp when it was about to land on a leaf .Here was a shot of the moment when it just landed. The abdomen was pointing downwards and making a 90 degrees with the body. Without a picture I would never be able to see this with my naked eyes. According to John, our wasp and bee expert who is based in Hong Kong at the moment, identified this as a kind of solitary bee, probably belonging to Halictidae or Andrenidae family. It was found sunbathing and very alert to my presence. Unfortunately a photo like this is not good enough to identify the species. According to John again, this is a tumbling flower beetle because it tends to fall onto the ground when disturbed and there are quite a few species in Singapore. He mentioned that once he picked up one in Pasir Ris, it could actually "sting" , causing a stabbing pain on his fingers which turned itchy and swollen later. He asked a few people who know a lot about insects but none of them could explain. This assasin bug was found trying to cross the gap between two palm leaves. I managed only one shot as I was not fast enough to capture its subsequent actions. After photographing all these insects, I walked along the fringe of the forest. Yes, I made the right choice as no one would shout ‘excuse me “ when I stood in the middle of the trail to shoot . In fact I was all alone throughout .

Two individual male Common Posy (Drupadia ravindra moorei) were found on a solitary Turn-in-the-wind (Mallotus paniculatus, Euphorbiaceae) shrub. Common Posy is a beautiful forest denizen. It has a hopping flight pattern and tends to perch in the shade. I usually found it basking in the sun in the late afternoon. I was fortunate to have this tame male specimen (upperside blue) that stayed quite still in the early morning. Here is another shot of the same specimen. Look at the palpi, the expression is cute as if telling the ant that I am feeding, go away, don’t disturb me. A close-up shot shows that it was sucking something from the base of the leaf where the petiole is. Once again, I met this Eooxylides tharis distanti (Branded Imperial) on the same tree. Suastus gremius gremius (Palm Bob) is a brown skipper, rather common in our parks and forest edges. Just like other skippers, it flies with high speed, darting from perch to perch. The black spots on the hindwing below are distinctive enough for us to identify this species. The genus Arhopala consists of many look-alikes and thus confusing species. However, this Arhopala centaurus nakula (Centaur Oakblue) is one of the largest Arhopala species that we have in Singapore. Centarur Oakblue can be found in both nature reserves and public parks. The distinguishing feature of this species is the silvery greenish streaks below the forewing cell. When in flight, the blue upperside of this specimen is simply magnificent and eye-catching.

Ypthima baldus newboldi (Common Five Ring) and other common Ypthima species are always found along grassy areas. It has the feature that the two occelus in space 1b on the hindwing beneath are not quite inlined with the two occelus in space 2 and 3. This mating pair was very alert. I had to chase and stalk carefully before shoting them.

I looped back along the main forest trail. This was another specimen of Branded Imperial found along the main trail. This one was roaming to and fro on a palm leaf , quite an interesting behaviour that I cannot understand.

Reference :

The Butterflies of The Malay Peninsula, A.S. Corbet and H.M. Pendlebury, 4th Edition, Malayan Nature Society.


  1. Thank you for another wonderful insight into the creatures of our forest. I always learn so much from your posts. I like that: 'nature-deficient'...haha.

  2. Thanks Ria.
    Most of us suffer from “nature deficiency illness“ on weekdays, so we have to "cure" it on weekends. But sadly, many people don't realise it.

  3. I know exactly what you mean by 'nature deficiency syndrome'. I suffer from it quite badly :-(

  4. Hi Frederick, I just came across your blog and I think it's beautiful! Exactly what my heart was after!! Love your photos and your blog description is about what I feel too! Will be back again! Cheers!

  5. Hi Kanak Hagjer

    Thanks for dropping by here and your comments.