Friday, May 28, 2010

A Short Afternoon Walk Along MNT

Ardisia elliptica is a shrub that bears whitish pink axillary inflorescence. Its drupes are small and spherical, growing in clumps, initially pale red and turning dark purplish when they are ripe. Interesting to know that about last year this time, the same shrub at the entrance to the MacRitchie Nature Trail (MNT) was flowering as well (see here).
I don't know how many species of planthopper in Singapore. It was my first sighting of this exceptionally small planthopper with a pair of light-blue furry wings which was found underneath a leaf besides the Ardisia shrub.

I guess this is a species of fly with a pair of long antennae.

Chocolate Pansy (Junonia hedonia ida) is a common butterfly in the parks and along forest fringes due to the abundance of its larval host plant Red Flame Ivy (Hemigraphis alternata), a common weed. I was fortunate to spot a mating pair which stayed quite still for me to take a few shots.
The Leopard Lacewing (Cethosia cyane) was not seen previously by me in MNT though the species has established its permanent residence status in many parts of Singapore. This picture looks like a female Neurothemis fluctuans dragonfly resting on a piece of wood. She has the habit of coming back to the same perch after darting off whenever I came near to her.
This looks like a female Jumping Spider (Telamonia festiva ?), playing hide-and-seek with me on the leaf surface.
A kind of soldier fly with yellow-stripped abdomen rested peacefully on a palm tree leaf.

Two different Lycaenids were ovipositing on the young shoot of a jungle vine which looks like Combretum sundaicum (Family : Combretaceae) - only 3 leaves left on this plant.
This looks like a small size "under-nourished" Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa lambi) laid a tiny egg on the tip of the vine followed by a Common Caerulean (Jamides celeno aelianus). I should have take a picture of the egg.

It has been a few weeks since my last blog post on nature sightings at Bukit Timah Hill. I should be updating this blog with one more write-up before I head north again in early June to Kinabalu National Park this time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Flying Jewels @ Lata Kinjang

Lata Kinjang waterfall is situated at Chendering , a small town between Kampar and Tapah in Perak. On 2nd May morning, we arrived there quite early and managed to find a parking lot. There were already some families setting up tents and children wading in the river.

We slowly climbed up the hill. Near a shelter, this Dark Yellow-banded Flat (Celaenorrhinus aurivittatus cameroni) was seen basking in the morning sun with wings fully opened. The prominent orange band vertically divides the forewing above into half. After taking some shots, both BJ and I realised that we had already donated some blood to leeches. Near the place where we shot the above skipper, we saw a Royal Assyrian (Terinos terpander robertsia) puddling in the shelter. This magnificent species can be found in some parts of the central catchment area in Singapore. A detailed write-up of this species can be found here. The absence of the subapical white spots on the forewing below suggests that this Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide) is likely to be the subspecies pratipa as pointed out by Khew
This unknown Miletus species was found along a path on our way back to the carpark in the late morning. Larger than the usual Miletus species that I have seen in Singapore, I am not able to identify which species it is.
The highlight of the morning was this gorgeous Jewel Nawab (Polyura delphis concha). With the experience of BJ, he knew which sweet spot the Jewel Nawab would visit, so we waited there for a while. Yes, true enough it finally showed up and puddled near the riverbank for us to take a few shots.
A member of the Satyrinae subfamily, this Dark Evening Brown (Melanitis phedima abdullae) flew past me while we were walking through an Orang Asli kumpong towards the downstream of the waterfall.
While I was waiting at the riverbank, a rather pristine Banded Angle (Odontoptilum pygela pygela) landed on some leaf litter. It stayed at this position for a while waiting for us to take more shots.
I misidentified this to be a Common Sailor (Neptis hylas papaja). Yong who has shot many Malaysian species pointed out that this may be a Neptis nata gononata.

This is a record shot of its uppersides taken at a hut. Indeed, there is a slight difference in the cell streak between N. hylas paparia and N. nata gononata.
Red Helen (Papilio helenus helenus) is rather common , again we saw at least two individuals puddling on the riverbank.
BJ contributed this video clip showing how above Red Helen puddled.

The Chocolate Royal (Remelana jangala travana ) can be found in Singapore's nature reserve. A four-tailed Hairstreak butterfly, it landed on my sweaty shirt at first but BJ skillfully transferred it to his finger.
This robberfly appeared to be much larger than what I usually encountered in our central catchment area. It was photographed along a trail near the puddling site of Jewel Nawab.
Finally, I would like to share a Tiger Beetle to conclude this series of blog posts on my trip to Perak from 30 Apr to 2 May. Once again thanks Yong for providing the transport, Chee Ming and his father who helped BJ and I to buy the coach ticket back to Singapore.

We certainly were awed by the great biodiversity in Perak and needless to say all of us enjoyed this trip greatly.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Winged Critters @ Kuala Woh Jungle Park, Perak

It was an overcast Labour Day in Kampar, Perak. After breakfast at the hotel, without much delay we were on an hour-long journey to Kuala Woh Jungle Park situated at the foot of Cameron Highlands. This jungle park is another picnic site for the local families indulging themselves in their very own way of fun-filled outings.

It was my first time seeing so many male RBBs, Rajah Brooke's Birdwings (Troides brookiana albescens) puddling on two spots on the river bank, what a magnificent sight for me.

The river banks were crowded with kids and overnight campers, the ground wasn't ideal for good photography. After taking some record shots, we decided to cross the suspension bridge to explore the forested area along a jungle walk. Here is a video clip shot by Ben Jin, showing how a group of male RBBs was puddling on the river bank.

According to Les this is Appias albina albina , puddling on the damp ground near the suspension bridge which had less picnickers.

We have a look-alike species in Singapore, Lesser Darkie ( Allotinus unicolor unicolor). Due to the difference in size and the hindwing submarginal markings look slightly different to me, I guess what I shot is another Allotinus species . Perhaps due to the cool and cloudy weather, we didn't see many butterfly species. So when BJ and I spotted this Yellow Grassy Tiger (Parantica aspasia aspasia), I was rather determined and eager to get a good shot of it despite this guy being super active and alert. I was patiently chasing and stalking it. But, at the end, I still could not get a satisfactory shot - this is why butterfly photography is challenging and full of thrills and excitement.
However, some unique critters did catch my attention. First of all, this gregarious and strikingly coloured red Stainer Bug was rather abundant along the jungle trail.This large Katydid species was resting peacefully in the shade. I think most Katydid species wear a green outfit and feed on plant leaves with a pair of long and powerful hind legs .Another specimen was found on a Hibiscus shrub in an open space next to the park's toilet.

A male Heliocypha perforat perforat damselfly was found in the forested area. Though resting on a twig tamely, the vegetation obstructed me going nearer to take more shots.
Carrying a green grasshopper prey, this wasp was making several stops on the leaves before it was out of my sight. Perhaps John can help me to identify the species. (This is a Liris species in the Crabronidae family according to John. Thanks)
In terms of butterfly diversity and species recorded, Kuala Woh is not as good as Gua Tempurung. However, the magnificent scene of many puddling and free-flying RBBs in Kuala Woh is definitely attractive enough for butterfly photographers to visit the place often.

My last write-up of this series of blog posts will feature some insects that were found around the Lata Kijang waterfall area.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flying Jewels @ Gua Tempurung Part 3

Continue from previous here.

My very first shot when we arrived at Gua Tempurung on 30 April was this large Long-horned Beetle. My first sighting of this gigantic beetle which was trying to cross the drain.

This rather skittish Moore's Ace (Halpe porus) skipper was found near a shelter behind the ticketing counter. There were two of them zipping around and at times puddling on the cement floor.Some Ginger plants were growing behind the shelter where this Narrow-banded Velvet (Koruthaialos rubecula rubecula) was found perching on. With a prominent forewing orange band, this rather common skipper can be easily spotted in the field. This Banded Blue Pierrot (Discolampa ethion thalimar ) was found in a shelter in the late afternoon. It was fluttering around our sweaty bodies and puddling on the cement floor, so we tried to lure him to rest on our finger but it preferred Yong's watch instead. A small Lycaenid having similar size and markings as the Elbowed Pierrot, Banded Blue Pierriot is not found in Singapore.The ground colour of the uppersides of this Dark Blue Tiger (Tirumala septentrionis septentrionis) is dark brown with some attractive blue streaks of different sizes. A slow and leisure flier with a wingspan of 8-10 cm, Dark Blue Tiger is considered an inedible species by predators because of its toxicity and unpleasant taste.I call this a "black beauty" as the upperside of this male Rohana parisatis siamensis is as black as coal but his underside wings are quite nice. I spotted this rather tethered male specimen flapping its wings on the cement floor.
Late in the afternoon on 1st May, I snapped a sequence of shots of another male and this is the best shot I captured. Libythea myrrha hecura is a Nymphalid butterfly. The most unique characteristic we can notice is its long "beak" formed by the elongated labial palpi, the sensory organ capable for detecting pheromones. The palpi are more prominent in Libythea species than in any other group of butterflies.
The markings on the uppersides of this rather unique butterfly look similar to the Lascar species. I noticed that it loved to perch on the brickwall in the late afternoon.
This Yellow Barred (Xanthotaenia busiris busiris) was spotted on the ground feeding on a dry fruit in the late afternoon further away from the entrance to the cave. This is one of the better shots when it was resting on a leaf after feeding.

While it was flapping its wings, I waited patiently to snap a few shots of its uppersides.
At least three Red Helens (Papilio helenus helenus) were puddling in a drain behind the toilet. This open-winged shot was taken when one of them decided to rest in a shade after it had enough food for the rest of the day.

All of a sudden, a small Lacaenid perched in front me, opened its wings basking in the sun for a very short moment before it disappeared completely. I think this is Drupadia scaeva scaeva judging from my only shot shown here.
This small damselfly perching on a leaf was shot near a stream. Not sure what it is.
The number of butterfly species showing up in this popular and "civilised " place is amazing. Apart from the species that I feature here and in my last two posts, I was unable to photograph at least half a dozen more other species found in the area. Gua Tempurung is truly a paradise for butterfly watching and photographing.

The above shot was taken by BJ.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flying Jewels @ Gua Tempurung Part 2

Continue from my previous post.

Tempurung is a popular adventure site for caving activities. When we were there on 1 May afternoon, though the weather was overcast with passing showers the place was still crowded with visitors.

In this post, I should feature the butterfly species that can be found in Singapore.

There were two Chocolate Sailors (Neptis harita harita) frolicking along a row of shrubs behind a mountail trail . This brown Sailor butterfly was usually found in the nature reserves and it is not common in Singapore.A rather skittish bugger, it never gave me a good chance to take a shot of its uppersides.
Lance Sergeant ( Athyma pravara helma) can be found in Singapore forest trails or fringes. The unbroken white forewing cell streak, circular at one end is the characteristic that separates this from many other look-a-like species. The life history was very well-documented here.
Fulvous Pied Flat (Pseudocoladenia dan dhyana) is rather uncommon in Singapore. It is found in a few localised spots in our nature reserves. With a rapid flight, the Fulvous Pied Flat likes to feed on flowers.
Another skittish and alert butterfly, this Perak Lascar (Pantoporia paraka paraka) was found visiting a hedge of shrubs behind an open field.
The three submarginal pale orange lines on the forewing above and the broad orange bands are the main features of this species. In Singapore, it can be found in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pulau Ubin.
This lethargic Indian Cupid (Everes lacturnus rileyi ) was spotted outside the toilet in an open area on the last day before we headed back to the hotel. It even opened its wings to bask in the sun for us to admire its beautiful uppersides.
This looks like a Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius) to me. It was found in the late afternoon. Some ants seemed like checking out what this was.

Though there were many visitors streaming past a passage way behind the information counter, this Pointed Ciliate Blue ( Anthene lycaenina miya) was brave enough to stay on the edge of a cement wall, oblivious to human traffic. I took a quick shot so that I didn't obstruct the visitors.
Striped Blue Crow, 端紫斑蝶 (Euploea mulciber mulciber) is another species that we can find in Singapore. This guy likes the brickwall very much. I just wonder what was on the wall that attracted the butterfly.
Most of the species I featured here were found around the area behind the building shown in the picture. In my next post, I will feature some amazing butterfly species found in Malaysia but not in Singapore. Related post :