Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day 2011 @ USR Park

The sky looked cloudy but the sun, assisted by the gutsy winds from the north was working hard dispersing the clouds. Hoping for a late Christmas present from the butterfly fairy and a wild prediction that the clouds would not prevail, I decided to head out to Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park in the early afternoon on the Christmas Day.

This long legged, interesting-looking crane fly with a slender abdomen stayed "flat" , appeared to be dead on the leaf . However, the gutsy winds really posed a great challenge for me to take a decent shot of it.
This shot shows how it stretched its long legs when resting on another leaf surface.The Yellow Creeping Daisy flowers (Wedelia trilobata) were in full blooms which attracted quite a few small insects.

A colourful and tiny metalmark moth (Saptha beryllitis. Family : Choreutidae) showed us how it was feeding on the florets.
A few orange skippers were zipping around and feeding on the yellow flower heads. The intermittent strong winds seemed to agitate them a lot and make them extremely alert to movement. I only managed to take a few shots of this Taractrocera archias quinta.
This is another shot showing its long proboscis was inserted into a floret.
I could never get a satisfactory shot of this very tiny fly - worst still, the winds added more challenge for me. In the process of feeding these small insects also play the role of pollinating the flowers.
A rustle in the Ixora bushes drew my attention. How lucky I was ! - my second consecutive sighting of this beautiful creature - our native Green Crested Lixard (Bronchocela cristatella) seems surviving quite well in the forests.
A rather common forest resident, this Malay Viscount (Tanaecia pelea pelea) "sailed" past me and perched on a Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum).
It decided to offer me a nicer perch on some ferns just a few steps away.
A beautiful moth with some parts of its upperside wings torn was found resting on a Hairy Clidemia (Clidemia hirta) leaf.
Never mind there was no butterfly fairy and no surprise on a very windy and cool afternoon outing, I still enjoyed lazing and strolling along the forest trails and of course taking pictures.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lornie Trail on 21 Dec 2011

At last, it was a bright and sunny Wednesday (21 Dec) morning after a few days of gloomy and stormy weather during our usual year-end monsoon season. I seized the opportunity and headed down to Lornie Trail which is just 15 minutes of a bus ride from my home.

What a lucky morning for me - a perfect Five Bar Swordtail (Pathysa antiphates itamputi ) welcomed me at my favourite spot near the reservoir edge, loitering around the area and occasionally checking the ground. I knew it would visit and feed the Mile-a-minute flowers after a few days' of "starvation" . Yes, true enough, it did.
A magnificent Papilionid with a pair of sword-like slender long tails, Five Bar Swordtail is a forest denizen which is always alert and fast on the wings. However, its uppersides are less attractive - predominantly white and unmarked.
This is another shot while it finally settled down to puddle on a wet plastic bag.
This rather pristine female Malay Lacewing (Cethosia hypsea hypsina) was also busy feeding on the Mile-a-minute flowers. Unlike the Five Bar Swordtail, it fluttered slowly and gracefully amongst the flowers.
The underside wings are prettier but she was too shy to fold her wings up for me to snap a proper shot.
There were quite a few Chocolate Grass Yellows ( Eurema sari sodalis ) fluttering and frolicking in the morning sun. As usual, they were extremely alert but once they were feeding, we could quickly snapped a few shots.
The Green Crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) is our native species which is getting rarer. However, they seemed to show up quite often at this particular location.
Another individual which plunged from a tree branch a few meters away from me.
I am not sure what this tiny but colourful spider is. It was lurking on a flower stalk when I noticed it moving towards its prey - the Five Bar Swordtail. Of course it was too slow to bite the alert and fast-flying papilionid.
I suspect this is a Scarlet Flash (Rapala dieneces dieneces) (note : it is Rapala manea chozeba,Slate Flash  identifed by Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle). Perching on the edge of a leaf at my eye level, it gave me a few seconds to squeeze off two shots before it took off vertically up towards the canopy.
On my way back to the bus stop near the main road, I spotted a brown skipper, perhaps a Caltoris Bromus resting on a leaf surface with wings partially open.
This was a lucky shot because it turned out to be quite acceptable as the skipper closed its wings when it responded to the flash light.
I must say it was a very fruitful 2-hour long outing and I really enjoyed the peace and serenity of our forest on a weekday morning.

However, the ugly sights of fallen trees in our forest (the first picture below was taken a few weeks ago) make me worry about the health of our nature reserve - thorough health checks must be done regularly in order to preserve our very limited natural resources on land - the greenery and a small forest.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

USR on 10 Dec 2011

I was away for more than a week, attending conferences in Rotorua, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia. When I came back, I really missed the greenery and the flying jewels of our forest. So on a fine Saturday morning (10 Dec) I set off early for a solo outing to Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park.

You would agree with me that the Royal Assyrain (Terinos terpander robertsia) is a beautiful butterfly which I have not seen and taken any picture of it  for more than a year.

This elusive guy has the habit of hiding or perching underneath a leaf - so I was very lucky encountering this particular male sunbathing and puddling on some dried leaves. The iridescent purplish blue upperside hindwings are simply gorgeous and eye-catching under the sun or flash light.

The purplish-blue structural colour is less intense on the forewings. This was a lucky shot of an instantaneous moment when it was opening its wings fully while puddling.

It never stayed still at any spot while imbibing moisture from the ground or fallen leaves.
There were at least a dozen of a small damselfly near a stream. Is this the Prodasineura collaris (Collared Threadtail) ? 
This is a mating pair of  a kind of cricket. What did they do before mating ? The following 2 shots showed their behaviour.

On the whole it was a very quiet day at USR in terms of butterfly activity. But the appearance of  the relatively rare  Royal Assyrain really made my day.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Venus Trail On 19 Nov

It has been a very long time since I last visited the Venus Trail.  I decided to check out the trail on a sunny Saturday morning 

There were quite a number of Bush Brown butterflies fluttering and perching at a grass patch. This particular shot which looks more like a Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis mineus macromalayana) was my first shot of the morning. I didn't notice the water droplet when I took the shot.

I noticed an orange skipper resting on a leaf surface from far. It was rather docile, allowing me to get a few shots. I think this is a Common Dartlet (Oriens gola pseudolus), a small but quite common in grassy area especially along the fringe of the forest.
Here is another shot from a different angle.

A beautiful snake with a fluorescent green body, this whip snake can be found in our forest.

This immature cricket was lazing around on a fallen tree trunk. Who would anticipate this few minute's rest in fact was so fatal for it. Shortly after this shot, I was stunned !!

Shortly after taking the shot, I witnessed with my own eyes how a robber fly grabbed the cricket and landed on a leaf.

After reaching the Ranger Station, I decided to turn back and headed for home. Quite a few Pretty pink bugs caught my attention - here is one of them, peeping the ground beneath it.
Along the Island Club road while I was on my way out, I noticed a Large Snow Flat (Tagiades gana gana)   feeding on some Leea indica flowers. Though it didn't stay long on the flowers, I managed to snap a few shots.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Few Critters In the Central Catchment Areas

Perhaps due to the unusual weather in October - exceptionally wet this year, two short afternoon weekend outings to our nature reserves didn't give me any excitement and surprises at all.

Bush Hopper (Ampittia dioscorides camertes) appeared to be abundant lately. The body shape and posture of this species is quite distinctively different from other orange skippers - the head section is rather "pointed" and triangular.
There were two Starry Bobs (Iambrix stellifer) darting and chasing each other around a flowering Leea indica tree. Alert and active all the time, they were very shy for photography and this is the best I could get after many futile attempts.
A lonely and pristine Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis) was puddling on the damp forest soil along a shady trail. With patience and luck, I finally nailed a shot.
I always love to shoot Ornate Coraltail (Ceriagrion cerinorubellum) - a very common but beautiful damselfly. This is a male which took an afternoon nap along a forest fringe.
An interesting squash bug (?) caught my attention - wow, mathematics teacher could set a problem asking students to find the areas of the black spots on its body.
This small skipper which looks like a Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha omaha) was found at the entrance of a forest trail when I was about to leave for home.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lornie Trail On 29 Oct

I went to Lornie Trail (LT) again on a cool Saturday morning (29 Oct). Surprisingly, the species that I encountered were different from what I saw during my previous outing there (see previous post).

My first presentable shot was this orange skipper which tended to perch with an opening-wing posture. Looking at the upperside shot of this skipper, can you tell what species it is ? With this underside shot, I believe it is Taractrocera archias quinta, a small orange skipper with a relatively short and spoon-clubbed antennae.
How about this skipper ? Can you see the subtle differences between the two upperside shots ?
This is a common species Lesser Dart (Pothanthus omaha omaha) - one distinctive feature of this species is that the veins on both the hind and forewings are darken.
There were quite a number of them darting at high speeds and occasionally chasing each other.
Here is another upperside shot of a brown skipper - I didn't have a chance to shoot its underside but I am quite confident that this is a Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans).
A solitary Ciliate Blue (Anthene emolus goberus) was found loitering around on the ferns. I remembered I was shooting this guy in a light drizzle.
Saturn (Zeuxidia amethystus amethystus ) is a rather large forest butterfly which prefers to stay at the forest undergrowth, blending itself very well with the environment. I would not have noticed it if I had not walked past it puddling on some dried leaves next to a forest trail. It flew deeper into the forest and perched in a shade - of course, I didn't give up and was rewarded with this record shot.
I noticed a colourful grasshopper hiding on a blade of grass while I was searching for interesting dragonflies along the reservoir edge.
I guess this is a kind of soldier fly which I spotted it when I was on my way out.
Though it was a short outing (about an hour), I was rather fortunate to be able to see and take a few pictures of our forest denizens on a rather cloudy Saturday morning.