Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Quiet Morning @ Wild Wild West

Though Singapore is just a little red dot on a world map, we still have quite a number of wastelands and the central catchment nature reserve for nature lovers to replenish their body with fresh and clean air. Occasionally, if I really could not decide where I should head to for my routined weekend trekking and photographing session, I would let the bus to decide for me.

Last Saturday 18 September, the bus which was going to a wild place in the western side of Singapore arrived first and thus determined my outing location.

It was a slightly cloudy morning - insects were still lethargic and hiding in the comfort of their overnight shelters - whatever they were. A very skittish pair of Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis mineus macromalayana) finally showed up and gave me a bit of excitement - chasing and stalking before getting this shot.
The colour tone of the underside markings on this lycaenid butterfly, the Ancyra Blue (Catopyrops ancyra) is rather distinctive compared to other lycaenids. While it was "testing" the ground for a puddling spot, I quickly snapped a few shots. The life history of Ancyra Blue has been recorded in great details here.The Club Silverline (Spindasis syama terana) seems to have established a permanent resident status here. This species and its cousin Long-banded Silverline (Spindasis lohita senama) rarely puddle and they usually prefer to perch on the upperside of sun-lit foliage . I was rather fortunate to see this very pristine specimen with all its white-tipped tails in a perfect condition acting as a model for me to take shots from different angles.
A rather huge robberfly with its prey was found resting on a leaf surface at a distance away. It flew off when I went a few steps nearer.
Though it was a rather quiet outing in terms of wild life activity, I still enjoyed the feeling of getting close to nature, being surrounded by wilderrness and greenery and last but not least the "thrill" of being confronted by some unwelcoming creatures like this situation shown below.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

After Rain @ Upper Seletar Reservoir

On the day (10 Sept) which marks the end of a month-long Ramadan fasting period for our Muslim friends, BJ and I went to explore a park-connector near Mandai. After a heavy but short downpour, we decided to go to Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park as there wasn't anything interesting that could hold us back at the park connector.

This Malayan Bush Brown (Mycalesis fusca fusca) was skittishly hoping away whenever I came close to it. At last, I gave up chasing and had to be contented with this long distance shot.
This Suffused Flash (Rapala suffusa barthema) was another unfriendly guy which made us work very hard just to get a few record shots. Its life history has been very well-documented here .
A female Horsfield's Baron (Tanaecia iapis puseda) made a sudden perch near the host plant, the Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum). Male Horsfield's Barons were rather commonly seen on a sunny day along forest paths - spotting a female is considered a fortunate moment.
Green Oakblue (Arhopala eumolphus maxwelli) was successfully bred (see here) and thus the identification of this species was further confirmed. A male and a female were seen loitering around a Singapore Rhododendron shrub. This particular shot is a male (whose metallic green upperside could be seen when in flight) when it was perching above my eye level.One rather consistent feature of Green Oakblue which allows us to distinguish it from other tailed Arhopala specie is that the the post-discal spot bordered by thin white bands in space 4 on the underside of the forewing was very much out of line with the rest of the similar spots and displaced towards the wing edge(termen). I always have problem identifying an orange skipper with confidence. This is a Telicota species resting rather tamely on a fern.
This moth caterpillar was resting on the Wild Cinnamon leaf. It looks like a larva of Pompelon marginata - a predominantly black with some metallic blue day-flying moth. Another larva - I have no idea what it is. A very common damselfly in USR, but I am not sure what it is at the moment.
Lastly, this drab and dark moth loved to hide underneath the leaf - I have never seen this rather large moth before. On 12 Oct, Les has identified it to be a male Erebus hieroglyphicam , thanks.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Lantana Bushes @ Toa Payoh Town Park

Last Saturday(4 Sept) morning, I decided to take a look again at Toa Payoh Town Park (TPTP) as it has been quite a while since my last shooting there. A pleasant surprise - some new Lantana bushes and other flowering shrubs have been added to the park near the swimming pool.

This male carpenter bee, probably a Xylocopa confusa was hovering around a cluster of Lantana flowers, tempting me to try a few in-flight shots.
Two late instar Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide) larvae were found munching happily on the dark red foliage of a Psederanthemum species - there were quite a number of larvae but no sign of any adult Autumn Leaf. A Short-banded Sailor (Phaedyma columella singa) though not very pristine attracted my attention when it was feeding on the Lantana flowers. A rather common butterfly which always glide gracefully, Short-banded Sailor can be found in urban parks and forest fringes. Its life history has been very well documented here.
There were more than a dozen of Pygmy Grass Blues (Zizula hylax pygmaea) flitting around the Lantana bushes. They were so active and alert under the morning hot sun - this one and only one shot was the result of my patience and fast reaction.
Two Peacock Pansies (Junonia almana javana) were flitting around the Lantana flowers and chasing each other under the morning sun. One of them decided to recede to a shady spot for a short rest, allowing me to snap a few shots.
A rather striking red-winged and common dragonfly, Neurothemis fluctuans can be found in many different habitats such as wastelands, forest edges, marshes, urban parks and ponds. A rather cooperative species, it allows me to get closer most of the time.
I am not sure if this is an immature male Neurothemis fluctuans or a different species.
A head shot of a very cooperative male Crocothemis servilia. These mating damselflies are rather small and they almost escaped my attention - I wonder if they are Ischnura senegalensis ? This light blue dragonfly with last two segments of the abdomen black looks like a male Aethriamanta gracilis.
This looks like a paper wasp nest built on a leaf surface - it was found along the boardwalk.

Good that Nparks has put in more flowering plants at TPTP. I hope more insects especially butterfly species would visit the park soon - this will create a more vibrant scene at the park.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Long-tailed Beauty @ AHBT

When you don't feel like walking a long distance to hunt for macro-subjects for a photography session, the butterfly trail at Alexandra Hospital (AHBT) is one of the best locations which can offer you good variety of species to increase the shutter counts. I dropped by there in the late morning on the last weekend of August.

The moment I stepped on the trail, I heard an intense high-pitched sound made by a cicada - I knew it was nearby. Scanning the tree trunk around me, I was lucky to see this well-camouflaged cicada (possibly Purana nebulilinea). Cicada is a sap-sucking insect which leads an ubiquitous life in lowland forest and woodland habitat - it reminded me the huge number of cicadas that I saw in a town park in Shinjuku, Toyko just two weeks ago.

While I was being directed by the sound of music made by the cicada, my line of sight met this fellow, a Ciliate Blue (Anthene emolus goberus) perching peacefully and cooperatively on a leaf.
The highlight of the day must be this long-tailed elegant lycaenid, the Common Imperial (Cheritra freja frigga) - a few of them chasing and frolicking amongst themselves. When one of them broke away from the group and perched, I quickly approached closer and snapped a few shots.There were a few Cycad Blues (Chilades pandava pandava) fluttering around their host plant - a Cycas species. This pristine mating pair became my models for a while - they were oblivious to my unwelcoming intrusion into their private life.This was a rather pristine but skittish Common Rose which refused to let me take more shots. I have not seen Common Rose (Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris) in our forested areas for a very long time - it appears that this species has become localised at AHBT and Singapore Botanic Garden. Perhaps it is time for us to deliberately spread its larval plant Aristolochia acuminata in our wild places.
Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita maura) is a permanent resident of this trail. Zipping around like any other skippers, it would still settle on a perch finally.
This is a side view of a bug. Can you guess what it is ?
Yes, it looks like a sting bug from this top view.
The size and the body shape of this nice-patterned insect may be a species of squash bug. I wonder why these bugs like to rest at the tip of the leaf.
It was a rather fruitful two-hour roaming and shooting in the trail. However, a concern is that I didn't see any Glassy Tiger butterfly that I used to see in the past. In fact, their larval host plants were slowly giving way to other vines. I hope that someone at AH continues to monitor and cultivate the larval host plants for Glassy Tiger and Common Tiger.