Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Visit to Places Around Kota Kinabalu Part 3

On 7 June morning, after a rather unique Laksa breakfast, we headed to the Mari Mari Cultural Village which is situated at a forested area on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu. We were the first group to reach the village. While waiting outside the gate, I spotted this orange butterfly appeared to be Mycalesis anapita.
From far I saw this Nawab butterfly (polyura athamas) feeding on the grass. When I went lower to take the shot, the surge of a terrible smell told me that it was actually hooked on some animal droppings on the ground.

This Fluffy Tit (Zeltus amasa) was busy puddling on the road outside the cultural village. It looks very much the same as our local species.
Our excursion guide finally led us through the gate after a short briefing on the dos and don'ts in the village. The guide who spoke good English went through detailed introductions of the different cultural traditions of the various tribes - the Bajau, Murut,Lundanyeh, Rungus and the Dusun. An excellent blog write-up can be found here.

While we were listening to the guide explaining how Dusun women cook their food inside bamboo tubes, this male Raja Brook Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana ) seemed to have an interest in the food as well, fluttering around and testing the ground for puddling.

The Murut tribe is the third largest ethnic group in Sabah as shown on the signboard outside its hut. In the hut, the kids in our group really had lots of fun doing the "canvas jump". Outside the hut I spotted a few butterflies.

The Banded Angle was feeding voraciously on bird droppings. Occasionally, it would rest on the leaf and returned to feed again.
And this Neptis species was looking for a sweet spot to feed but it didn't stay still for us to take a good shot.
As we were the first group to finish the guided tour, I had time to "roam" around the area outside the concert hall. Here I spotted quite a number of butterflies, such as Clipper but I could only managed to a shot of the Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina) After their performances, guests were invited to do simple dance on stage.
We had a simple buffet lunch at the cultural centre before we headed back to town for an free-and-easy afternoon. Here is another Neptis species hat I shot outside the dinning area.
My first trip to Kota Kinabalu was a memorable one as not only I had many opportunities to take many pictures of insects, I got to see many fantastic places around KK. Thanks Ai Ling from Oh' Farm for organising this trip.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Visit to Places Around Kota Kinabalu Part 2

Recognised as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2004 for its outstanding "universal values", Kinabalu Park has a lot to offer to nature lovers. Two of us (Yong and I) decided to stay one night (4 June) at Liwagu Suite near the Visitor Centre, at a high altitude of 1585 metres above sea level.

This beautiful shrub (perhaps Medinella species, family Melastomataceae) with lots of edible berries can be seen almost everywhere in the park.

After an early breakfast at the Visitor Centre (a 10 min-walk from where we stayed), with a map in hands we were on the mountain trails - covering at least 4 to 5 km in about 3 hours. Perhaps we were a bit early, there were rather few critters out there to welcome us. But, we truly enjoyed the serenity and the coolness of the high mountain forest.

A bird flew off rather hastily and suddenly, a few metres in front of me. When I took a closer look, I found a bird nest with two eggs in a soil burrow.

Along another forest trail along a river, two small and birds were seen hopping in the undergrowth of the forest. Wild mushrooms and fungi growing on fallen tree trunks covered with mosses or lichens were rather abundant along the forest trails.

After lunch, we decided to explore around the area near the Visitor Centre and the Botanic Garden just behind our room. This small lycaenid looks like a Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis)
This rather alert lycaenid looks like a Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa) fluttering and puddling on a sandy ground . Another alert puddling Blue, this Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora) was found in the same vicinity of the Common Hedge Blue. Note that the markings and colour tone of these butterflies look slightly different from those found in Singapore and West Malaysia - must be different sub-species I guess.

The markings of this rather small lycaenid look like The Malayan (Megisba malaya) which landed on Yong's pant for me to take a few shots.

The only "Ring" butterflies I could find is the Common Tree Ring (Ypthima pandocus) which could be seen quite abundantly at the meadow and forest fringes. This is a shot of its upperside in the late afternoon.
An Euploea species was playing hide-and-seek with us. Though it was puddling on the cement ground, it was very unfriendly to our presence. This is my best record shot from far.
We were very fortunate to see this pretty endemic butterfly Delias eumolpe eumolpe. While we were stalking and shooting other butterflies on a slope, it suddenly perched on a high leaf and stayed there for quite a while in the early afternoon.We visited Sapi island on 6 June which is one of the five picturesque islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine Park. It is just a 20-minute boat ride away from downtown Kota Kinabalu. Well-known for its crystal clear water and rich marine life, Sapi Island is a popular and excellent location for snorkeling and other adventurous activities such as diving.

Once again, Victor, Yong and I chose to explore the forest trail (the dotted line in the map below) which is less known and less-travelled according to our tour guide.

This female Plane (Bindahar phocides) was shot along the coastal area leading to the forest trail. The trail is not easy for the general public - climbing over fallen tree trunks, long and steep slopes would make you think twice of going forward. Before going up to the hilltop, there was this flowering tree that attracted quite a number of Jamides philatus - a very common species on the island. In my next update of this blog, I will feature quite a number of butterflies spotted at the Mari Mari Cultural Village.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

First Visit to Places Around Kota Kinabalu Part 1

I tagged along with some staff members of Butterfly Lodge @ Oh' Farms who went on a guided tour to Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah. The fully-booked Jetstar flight touched down KK slightly behind schedule on 3 June. After a sumptuous chicken rice lunch and a rather long coach journey, we finally checked in at the Zen Garden Resort in the late afternoon.
There were many beautiful flowers outside our rooms.

The sun rises very much early here. I was awaken by the loud calls of roosters before 5 am. The morning cool highland breeze and fresh air swept away my fatique due to insufficient sleep. I explored the surrounding places and found a few green leaf beetles.

This is a kind of firefly beetle I guess.

After breakfast, we were on our way to Poring Hot Spring - less than an hour journey. Our tour guide Clement knew where to find the lantern bug which belongs to the genus Pyrops in the order Hempitera. The contrastingly beautiful colours and patterns on the wings enticed many of us queing up to take a picture of it - only pity was that they stayed rather high up on the tree trunk.Instead of going to the Canopy Walk, I chose to explore the jungle trail. My first interesting sighting on the trail was this extremely striking red ginger flower growing at the soil level - a peculiar and interesting plant indeed which attracted a few passerby to take its picture.It was a hot day, most butterflies I encountered were very alert and active - only a few Laycaenids allowed me to take some shots. This shot looks like a Pointed Line Blue (Ionolyce helicon) taking a short break on a grass blade.

There was a waterfall at the end of the jungle trail where I shot this Nacaduba species - quite a few of them puddling on the moist ground or rocks. (note : Seow TL has identified this a male N. calauria)There were a few species of butterflies fluttering along the trail leading to the waterfall. One of them was this Purple Bush Brown (Mycalesis orseis) This is a Jamides species which was fluttering around some Torch Ginger flowers just outside the entrance gate of Poring Hot Spring.The upperside of this Blue is whitish without any metallic blue markings, she finally found a ideal spot to lay her egg.

In my next post, I will feature the critters I found at Kinabalu Park, Sapi Island and the Mari Mari Cultural Village.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Moths From Kinabalu National Park

The sun set rather fast in Kota Kinabalu Park. By 6 pm, the sky was already quite dark, the fluorescent lights at the dinning area of Liwagu Suite where we stayed, were like special attractors to many species of moths and some unknown insects.

Once the moths were attracted to the brightness, they would head to the light source and many of them in fact resting on the glass panel, on the tiled floor, chairs and tables.

Many people think that moths are drab and hairy compared with butterflies. The reality is that some moth species are colourful with fascinating natural cryptic patterns which help them to camouflage.

One effective way to distinguish between a moth and a butterfly is by looking at the antennae. The antennae of a butterfly are club-shaped at the tip whereas the antennae of a moth are unclubed at the end - some species even have comb-like or feathery antennae.

There are more than 150 000 species of moths with different sizes, colours and shapes.

There were many small moths high up on the wall which was out of my camera's effective range. In addition to the night symphony performed by frogs and other night critters, these moths make our night a memorable one.

Though many Moths are nocturnal but there are some species active in the day. This particular moth was found in Sapi Island along the beach.
This orange day-flying moth belongs to the family Callidulidae which can be easily mistaken as a butterfly as it landed with both wings folded. Indeed, not all moths fold their wings when they are at rest.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My First Visit To Bukit Batok Nature Park

Occupying an area of 36 hectare along Bukit Batok East Ave 6 , Bukit Batok Nature Park was developed in 1988 on an abandoned quarry site.
On my first visit to this park on 29 May morning, I explored almost every corner of the park. The hilly terrain makes it a good physical fitness training ground.

The very first butterfly that welcomed me from far was this shy Ancyra Blue (Catopyrops ancyra). Since its first appearance in Pulau Ubin a few years ago, this species has been found quite regularly in the western part of Singapore as well as in the nature reserves. An excellent write-up of the life history can be found in the BC blog here.Next, I saw this hoverfly resting on a grass blade. The morning breeze made me feel refreshing and comfortable but it also posed a great challenge for me to get a good shot. Interestingly, I noticed this fly curving its abdomen, not sure what it was trying to do.A rather common Hairstreak butterfly which can be found in some urban parks, this Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus) was rather restless and flitting around actively. With patience, I finally could trigger off a few shots when it finally settled down on a leaf along a drain. Near a stream, a kind of white Jasmine flowers were in full bloom. This Chocolate Demon(Ancistroides nigrita maura ) enjoyed the fragrance so much that it visited almost every flower, thus allowing me to take up a good position to take this shot. The way its long proboscis inserting into the flower make it like a fishing line. The common name of this orange lycaenid is Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius), a rather common species in the forest where its larval host plant Smilax bracteata is abundant. The Bamboo Tree Brown (Lethe europa malaya) is usually very skittish and alert. It is quite rare that we can go as close as we like to take a shot. I was rather fortunate to see this guy flitting out from its natural habitat, a bamboo clump to rest on a leaf. Instinctively, I squeezed off a few shots before losing it.

A few birds were seen feeding on a grass patch along the main entrance when I was on my way out. Apparently, they were not afraid of people who came close to them. What are these birds ?