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.

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