Friday, October 29, 2010

Nothing New Along A Forest Trail

On a cloudy Saturday morning, I went on a solo outing to a forest trail along the Upper Thomson Road.

There were quite a few white bracket fungi sprouting out from the the forest floor - they grew in layers like a bunch of petals.
A rather small ant with a pair of long antennae, this ant looks like a Polyrhachis species, resting on the surface of a Hairy Clidermia (Clidemia hirta) leaf. Endowed with a pair of muscular and powerful hindlegs, this leaping insect is a species of cricket . A male cricket can male chirping noise by rubbing its forewings.
Though they were in an intimate position, this pair of mating Agionoptera insignis was rather active and alert. After stalking them for a while, my patience paid off and they allowed me to take a few shots from far.
This shot looks like a male Agionoptera insignis perching on a twig
Another skittish and rather large dragonfly, Cratilla metallica lives up to its name by displaying its attractive metallic blue body.
The Common Five Ring (Ypthima baldus newboldi) seems to be more common than the other Ring butterflies along this stretch of the forest trail. Here a mating pair was quietly enjoying their private moment in a shade before I disturbed them to perch at a more accessible position.
I didn't have much time to venture deep into the forest so after about an hour I had to make a u-turn and ended this rather disappointing outing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wallace Trail @ Dairy Farm Park

It was past noon on a hot Saturday (9 Oct), I decided to drop by the Dairy Farm Park as I was nearby. The usual butterfly species such as the Common Birdwing, Cruiser, Tailed Jay were visiting the Lantana bushes and the Pagoda flowers but I just could not withstand the unbearable heat to wait for them to perch. I decided to take a slow walk along the Wallace Trail instead.

My first impression of this elongated red-winged insect with an interesting pair of serrated antennae was a moth. On the computer screen, I realise that it may be a net-winged beetle (Taphes brevicollis) belonging to the family Lycidae.
This is a kind of fly which looks like a mosquito. At first, it kept wandering on a fallen tree trunk and I just could not get a proper shot. At one moment it decided to rest underneath the tree trunk, though just a few seconds, thankfully it was good enough for me to snap a shot. What do you think of this shot is ? A twig ? No, It is likely to be a moth larva - I wish I knew more about this interesting-looking and weird creature.
I was rather lucky to spot a very tame damselfly Devadatta argyoides. According to Tang's book, this is an uncommon species which has a tendency to perch with its wings inclined to its body at an angle. Here is a very informative blog write-up on the copulation behaviour and here is yet another blog entry on this species.

A pair of mating Micropezid fly - very common in our forested areas.
I could see a few butterfly species flying past me along Wallace Trail. It was this male Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa lambi) that caught my attention as it was fluttering erratically along the trail to-and-fro, looking for puddling spots - at last he found one. This lycaenid looks like a Rounded 6-line Blue (Nacaduba berenice icena). From my field observation, it has the tendency to lean side way slightly whenever it perches on a leaf or puddles.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Park Connector @ Mandai

The weather forecast for 2 Oct morning was cloudy with showers which meant that it was not a day for a long outing so I decided to check out a park connector at Mandai which is near my in-law's place.

My first shot on a gloomy morning was this Silver Forget-me-not (Catochrysops panormus exiguus ) 蓝咖灰蝶). A few of them were fluttering at a low level . The little marginal black spot on the forewing is closer to the fascia as compared to another highly look-alike species Forget-me-not (Catochrysops strabo strabo).
This dark brown skipper which looks like Caltoris cormasa was resting in the bush in the early morning.
The drastic and dramatic change in the weather before noon created a vibrant scene - I began to see many speices of butterfly fluttering around. This Gram Blue (Euchrysops cnejus cnejus) mating pair was enjoying their intimate moment under the hot sun.
The ground creeper Vigna reflexopilosa (?) was abundant there - I believe this is one of the larval host plants for both the Gram Blue and Silver-forget-me-not.
A close-up shot of some yellow flowers - take a closer look if you can see something very small.
This is a small orange skipper which resembles the Yellow Grass Dart (Taractrocea archias quinta). Its speedy darting flights from perch to perch at the ground level posed a great difficulty for me to track its where-about with my naked eyes.
The Common Faun (Faunis canens arcesilas) is a shade-loving forest denizen. I was rather surprised to see it puddling on a tarmac road - it might have come from the secondary forest nearby.
Another orange skipper appeared around 1 pm outside a big shelter where I was resting and packing up to depart. I am quite sure that this skipper belongs to the genus Telicota but which species it is ?
There were quite a few dragonfly species - one of them was this rather skittish Rhyothemis phyllis , hovering in the air and perching intermittently. I could only get a long-distance shot.
Two different species of spiders were spotted in the same vicinity - both look new to me. I hope some "spidermen" or "spidewowen" out there would provide the name for me. (Note : I think the first shot below is a Hasselt's Spiny Spider ?)
This is a kind of squash bug with a pair of long and solid hind legs - you may think that it was ambushing its preys on a grass blade. In fact it is herbivorous - plant sap is its main diet.
This cluster of wild fungus was growing on a tree trunk in a shady part of the trail - not sure if they would glow at night but the contrasting white colour was certainly prominent in the shade.
The construction of this park connector is still going on. I am sure when it is completed next year, it will be another wonderful place for macro-photographers to explore - many thanks to the Nparks' Park Connector Network.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Did I Spot A Very Rare Damselfly ?

This is the continuation from my last post.

Along the way from Lornie Trail to Sime Forest, not only did I pay attention to butterfly species, I also looked out for other insects, especially dragonfly species. According to Tang's guidebook, Singapore has 124 species of dragonfly, so I am rather optimistic about encountering something new for me to photograph during each outing.

At the reservoir edge next to the SICC golf course, as usual, I spotted a few dragon and damselflies. This looks like a Acisoma panorpoides which was oblivious to my presence while it was "sleeping" on a grass blade.
At the same vicinity, some blue damselflies - likely to be male Pseudagrion microcephalum were also resting peacefully in the morning's cool breeze but most of them were too far away for me to take a full-frame shot.
This is a very cooperative female Trithemis pallidinervis which stayed at this position for quite sometime, allowing me to compose many shots. Thanks Tang HB for helping me to confirm the identification as T. pallidinervis.
I noticed quite a few other dragonflies darting around the reservoir edge as I moved towards the boardwalk. This is a male Orthetrum chrysus, displaying quite clearly its dark brown thorax and red abdomen and resting on a twig - coming back to the same perch whenever it was disturbed by passersby.
If I had known this may be a vary rare damselfly Archibasis rebeccae, I would have taken more shots even though it was perching in the middle of a forest stream near the Rifle Range Trail. This is the only shot I took from a distance in order not to get myself wet. I hope to go back there soon to take more pictures in order to identify it positively.
This is a kind of fly - but I don't know exactly what it is . When it was in flight under the sun shine the metallic blue wings really looked attractive.
Finally I would like to present a shot of a huge cricket or a grasshopper (?) hiding amongst some leaves. I think Ming Kai should be able to id for me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Artistic Tails of a Butterfly

The weather was ideal for a long trekking on 25 Sept, the day before Singapore F1 race at Marina Bay. Just like last year (see here) but alone this time, I headed out to the "spa" area in Sime Forest via Lornie Trail.

The first butterfly greeted me along Lornie Trail near the reservoir edge was this Common Snow Flat (Tagiades japetus atticus). A sun-loving skipper which tends to rest and feed on the Mile-a-minute flowers (Mikania micrantha) usually with both wings open, presented me with opportunities increasing the shutter counts of my camera.
Of course by just looking at the upperside shot of a "Ring" butterfly like this I would not know exactly what it was - anyway, this is Common Five Ring (Ypthima baldus newboldi) based on a long distance record shot of its underside.
The common name of this common butterfly is Nigger (Orsotriaena medus cinerea) - what an interesting but "illogical" common name you may have wondered - you can find out more here.
Smaller than a Telicota species, this orange skipper which looks like a Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha omaha) was taking a morning nap on a grass blade beside the reservoir edge - I almost got myself wet while trying to get parallel with this guy.
This brown skipper which had a tendency to open its wings whenever it perched looks like a Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans). It was zipping around between perching and feeding. At one moment it landed on a fern for me to snap a quick shot.
It was a quiet morning all the way from Lornie Trail to Rifle Range Trail - more humans than insects on a cool and windy morning. At the stream where we were shooting last year, I didn't see any butterflies puddling at all - perhaps the weather was not hot enough to wake them up. Only a Bush Hopper (Ampittia dioscorides camertes) was sympathetic and kind enough to allow me taking some shots.
Along Sime Track where the Jelutong Tower is, a few Rustics (Cupha erymanthis lotis) were fluttering and feeding on some Leea indica flowers - this was the only record shot I could manage on this highly uncooperative and alert guy.
After a short rest at the Ranger Station where I met a large group of international students who were also resting after hiking in the forest, I checked out the Lantana bushes - one of my favourite spots behind the Ranger Station. To my surprise, some heavy machinery and the noise from the construction work there stopped me from approaching nearer.

Moving towards SICC (Singapore Island Country Club) along the forest fringe, I was attracted by a small butterfly fluttering amongst a row of wild Cinnamon shrubs. A lycaenid with rather unusual and complex markings on the hindwings as shown here, Semnaga superba deliciosa is one of the flying gems that butterfly photographers would love to take many shots. However, this rather skittish and active female was just too shy for me to do so.
The highlight of the day must be this Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconinus) - it was spotted opposite SICC when I was heading out to Venus Drive. At first it was puddling on the ground - rather impatient to pose for me, but my patience and perseverance paid off.
It could be easily disturbed into fleeing flight away from the ground whenever there was movement nearby. But it would stay close to its host plant, Smilax bracteata - shaking its tails to form different angles and designs - a new form of animal art without killings ! Cheers !
The tails now formed a pair of scissors, so elegant and artistic. This Yamfly really made my day !
It was a long and enjoyable hike which I took more than 4 hours to complete. I am a bit worried as I have begun to feel that the fauna diversities and their frequency of sightings in our forest might have been declining. In addition, the number of fallen trees and the grass patches in the middle of the forest add to my concern.