Monday, June 29, 2009

Winged Beauties @ Endau Rompin (Selai) Part 3

The picture shows the common toilets just a few steps away from our huts. We were satisfied with the conditions of the toilets, providing us with very clean and refreshing water supplies from the river all the time.
This is Acytolepis puspa lambi (Common Hedge Blue), a very common Lycaenidae butterfly in Singapore as well. When this particular male was in flight, we could see his shimmering metallic blue uppersides like what you can see in this shot below.
Psolos fuligo fuligo (Coon) is a relatively large brown skipper with some obscure markings on the hindwings beneath. The posture is quite unique in the form of hunchback when it is at rest. It was spotted along the main forest trail not far away from the base camp.It flew quite slowly passing by me along the main trail, this Parantica melaneus sinopion (Chocolate Tiger) flapped its wings a few times before it perched on the tip of a climber, allowing me to have a glimpse of the uppersides which showed light yellowish patches near the abdomen area. This species is not found in Singapore.
One of the many Jay species that we can not find in Singapore, this Graphium chironides malayanum (Striped Jay) landed quite far from me. Instinctively, I snapped a quick shot and moved nearer but it flew off without giving me a chance for a 2nd shot.
Along a very shady forest trail towards the direction of the waterfalls, Mycalesis oroatis ustulata (Red Bush Brown) was spotted by Yong. Very hard to know which Bush Brown it was in the field. However, when it hopped around in the understory of the thick forest canopy, its reddish brown uppersides could be seen briefly.
It was a pity that most of us, except Yong, could not nail an upperside shot of this male Laringa castelnaui castelnaui, belonging to the Nymphalidae family. We were all awed by its very intense blue uppersides. The all blue uppersides were even more spectacular when it was basking in the the sun with open wings, though very briefly.This looks like a The Wavy Maplet (Chersonesia rahria rahria). It was found fluttering along the main forest trail at noon. Very skittish bugger, it did not rest long enough for me to take a better shot. Here is a record shot of its underside.
I was hoping to see some different Ring butterflies in ER. But what I encountered were mostly similar to these two very common species, Common Three Ring and Common Five Ring that we can find in Singapore. So I was quite disappointed and decided not to chase around the Ring butterflies after first day.
This is a Nacaduba species which I cannot identify based on a shot like this, especially so when this was shot in ER. Can you guess what it was feeding on ?Endau Rompin National Park occupies a large area of roughly 800 square km which is slightly larger that the Singapore main island. What we saw on ER during our short trip was just a tiny spot of it, like our USR in Singapore perhaps. There were a few waterfalls within walking distances from the base camp but due to time constraint we were not able to explore them. The Orang Asli who chit chatted with Yong and SC on the second night told us that he saw more butterflies in the month of August and September. This Orang Asli (pity that we did not take a picture of him) told us many interesting stories about how he was involved in helping the Japaneses, Europeans and researchers from the Malayan Nature Society doing field work such as catching and dissecting insects and other animals, counting and weighing elephant dungs etc. Thanks SC for doing the translations for me and BJ to enjoy his very rich life experiences.

Most alarmingly, he told us that just about two weeks ago, a tiger crossed the river and rested somewhere near where we stayed. I cannot imagine how we will react if we really encounter a tiger in front of us.

One of the highlights in this trip was that we had a cheap (RM$24 for six big durians) and superb delicious durian lunch around 3:30 pm before we bidded farewell to Bekok. This extraordinary meal was made possible by our 4WD driver.

On a concluding note, I must thank Yong for initiating and making this trip possible for us. Together with BJ and SC, I must also thank you all for being such wonderful shooting mates in the field (next time we must not forget to take a group picture with the Orang Asli guides).

Good bye ER and we will definitely meet again. But we hope you will remain unchanged in the long future as we can only recognise you in the way you are today.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Winged Beauties @ Endau Rompin (Selai) Part 2

Please read Part 1 if you have not done so. Thanks.

We were charged RM$60 per night for each hut which is equipped with a fan and power supply, big enough for two to sleep comfortably.
The dinning area is just beside the sandy river banks.
Most puddling shots posted here were taken on Day 2 around 2 to 4 pm along this stretch of river bank.There were two male Great Mormon (Papilio memnon agenor) flapping their forewings continuously while siphoning liquids from the sandy soils. This shot was taken at 1/800 in order to freeze the forewings. Eurema simulatrix tecmessa (1st shot below) and Eurema sari sodalis (Chocolate Grass Yellow) are two lookalikes. Quite often, these two different species from the Pieridae family were seen puddling in the same vicinity. Can you distinguish these two species? Look at the differences in their forewing apical brown patches. Waiting nearby with minimum movement, patience and tolerance of the scorching heat, we would be able to photograph them quite easily as these Yellows would get used to our presence and continue to puddle.
SC shot a Bibasis sena uniformis (Orange-Tail Awl) on Day 2 early morning before we had breakfast. I missed it. Luckily another very pristine specimen appeared on Day 3 morning around 7 plus – very early indeed. It was very alert initially, however, it became very tame and cooperative once it found a juicy spot for its morning nutrition supply. Look at the long proboscis, you know what it was doing. Having a strong and rapid flight, Polyura athamas athamas (Common Nawab) loves to puddle and is rather common in Malaysia however it has not been found in Singapore. Besides the river banks, we encountered at least two individuals along the road leading to the base camp. This species is highly similar to what we have in Singapore, Polyura hebe plautus (Plain Nawab). From what I observed on the forewing beneath, Common Nawab has two small black basal dots and a row of postdiscal crescent-shaped markings. Graphium evemon eventus (Blue Jay) was abundant and they came down in good numbers puddling on the moist river banks. Once they got used to our close proximity with them , we could easily take many shots. I was really lucky to capture and freeze a bee flying towards this Blue Jay.Look at a similar species below. Can you spot the difference? Graphium eurypylus mecisteus (Great Jay) was never in my mind when I shot this species. I thought it was a Graphium doson evemonides (Common Jay). The disjoint bands at the hindwing costal region where the red dot is, separates this species from Common Jay which can be found in Pulau Ubin. There was one male Euploea radamanthus radamanthus (Magpie Crow) hanging around at our huts. It was a very skittish guy but on the 3rd day morning, it decided to puddle at the river banks. This was a lucky shot when it just took off from puddling.
This Curetis santana malayica (Malayan Sunbeam) was spotted in the late afternoon when its intense orange colour of its uppersides caught our eyes. This Lesser Albatross (Appias paulina distanti) was my very last puddling shot taken at the ER before the 4WD came to fetch us. Thanks Yong for pointing this to me. We met this guy trying to puddle along the main forest trail. From the shape of the forewings and its gliding style, we knew that it was an Athyma species. We stalked quite a while before we could get a decent shot. After checking, I feel that this is Athyma reta moorei (Malay Staff Sergeant) though the extra small white spots on the forewing postdiscal region did cast some doubt on the id. The last shot is Neptis leucoporos cresina (Grey Sailor) which is common in Singapore. I am sure you can you see the differences between them.In part 3, I will write about some other non-puddling winged beauties that I encountered at ER.


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

2. Butterflies of Thailand, Pisuth Ek-Amnuay, 1st Edition, 2006

Friday, June 26, 2009

Winged Beauties@ Endau Rompin (Selai) Part 1

Endau Rompin (ER) National Park, situated between the Johor and Pahang state, is one of the oldest and the 2nd largest tropical rainforest in the Peninsular Malaysia. Well-known for its lush, rich biodiversity, waterfalls and many endemic species of plants and animals, ER never fails to attract and excite many nature lovers and adventurers. Deeply inspired by a BC's outing there, BJ, Yong, SC and I took the 7:40 am Lambaian Timur train on 20 June to Bekok, a small and quiet town near Segamat. After passing 8 train stops in Malaysia, the train arrived at Bekok around 11:30 am, much later than the scheduled time.
We had a simple fried noodles lunch opposite the train station. We also packed fried rice for our first day dinner here. The 4WD in the picture above brought us to the park office which was just round the corner. While Yong who is conversant in Malay, was busy helping us to settle all the administrative stuff (insurance, park permit etc) before we could go into the park, the rest of us surveyed the next door sundry shop and bought some cup noodles, breads and other food and drink supplies necessary for our Day 2 and Day 3 consumption.

After more than an hour of journey on mostly good-conditioned country roads , passing through palm oil plantations and tree-logging sites, we reached the Lubuk Tapah Base Camp around 2:15 pm. This was my very first shot at ER, a male Tyriobapta torrida. He seemed to love “hugging and kissing" the tree trunk. I observed that it came back to the same place often. Two male individuals were sighted but I did not see any female around.
Eupheae ochracea is a red-winged damselfly which we don't find it in Singapore. It is surely attractive enough for me to chase and shoot this very distinctive looking beauty. There were quite a few of this species along the sandy river banks, resting either on sandstones or weeds.
Another small but unique black Dysphaea dimidiate damselfly was found along the river banks as well. This one was resting on a twig protruding stoutly from the river bed. I had to maneuver carefully among the rocks to position myself closer to it.

I spent quite sometime observing how this small male Heliocypha perforate with a very striking blue abdomen and thorax was guarding three females who were nearby busy laying eggs on a piece of plank on the sandy river banks.

While these two female were ovipositing their eggs they also showed us how good they were in putting up gymnastic formations like this. The third female was in fact near by laying eggs as well. You can imagin the total number of eggs laid will be at least a few hundreds. The eggs must be very small as I could not see any with my naked eyes.
This Vestalis species was shot on Day 2 along a shady forest trail when the Orang Asli guide brought us venturing into the forest searching for butterfly species. We could see this large damselfly almost everywhere, of course less than the number of leeches on the moist ground.
This slightly smaller partially red-winged forest damselfly was shot in the vicinity of the Vestalis species. I am yet to find out what it is.
I didn't capture many other critters as most of the time I was hunting for butterfly species. However, this colourful fly with red and black abdomen caught my attention.
This wasp was loitering on a leaf as if searching for food.
SC found this juvenile bird along the main trail on Day 1. I saw it again on Day 3 morning perching on a tree stem just outside the base camp. This cutie was waiting for its mother to feed her. I wonder what bird this is.In part 2 of my write-up, I would feature mainly the butterfly species that I have shot in ER.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fauna Show @ USR Part 2

Other than the butterfly species (previous post), one of the highlights must be the sighting of four Papilio demolion demolion (Banded Swallowtail) caterpillars along a forest trail. These attractive caterpillars were in their last stage of growth before pupation. All of them stayed very still on the leafs and they were quite vulnerable to predators. This host plant looks like Melicope lunu-ankenda (Family : Rutaceae ) is not a climber, it looks more like a shrub. The trifoliate leafs are big when crushed the leafs exuding a nice scent. Another host plant, a climber with smaller and thicker leaves is growing nearby. It is good to know that caterpillars of Papilio demolion demolion (Banded Swallowtail) utilise more than one host plant.

This is a leaf beetle (Lema species ?) which feeds on either flowers or foliage. The shimmering metallic blue colour of its hardshell was brought out by flash light. This small moth (need someone to id ) was found hiding behind a leaf. Very nice wing patterns with a few black symmetrical streaks, this moth would certainly attract photographers to take a few shots. This looks like a sap-feeding Flatid Planthopper which is a member of the order Homoptera. This light green species is quite big which was resting on a tree trunk. In flight, I could see its uppersides were white in colour.

These plants are Elephantopus scaber (Elephant’s Foot, Family Asteraceae ). The elongated and toothed leaves are growing at the base of the stem and lying flat on the ground like this. Though the flowers are small, they are quite attractive and abundant at USR. Quite often, small butterflies such as skippers and Yellows and bees were found feeding on these flowersThis may be a digger wasp. It was busy using its front legs scooping out soils to crate a burrow on the ground.
This is another shot showing the wasp at work. It was very good at digging, within a few minutes, the burrow was big enough for hiding itself inside.
I saw this small and strange-looking critter on a grass blade. Not sure what it was initially, I took a few shots to realise that it was a sleeping-spider. I need a spider man to identify this small spider.