Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Other Critters and Plants @ Semakau Island On 20 Aug

Continue from my previous post.

There were not many species of butterflies on the grassland. Fortunately, other critters and some very beautiful wild flowers kept me busy. Let me begin with some flowers.

This uniquely patterned, large and showy pinkish-purple flower of the Beach Morning Glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) is definitely attractive. This coastal ground creeper is quite invasive which has extended its territory to the scrub land. A detailed write-up on this plant can be found here.
Passiflora foetida is a vine that can grow wild in wasteland. Though its white flowers are less conspicuous, these flowers could attract insects - look carefully, there was a fly on the flower.
I guess these are the flowers of Vigna reflexopilosa. A small colony of Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) and one or two Gram Blue buterflies (Euchrysops cnejus cnejus) were spotted around this ground creeper.
This pair of mating leaf beetle was found on a blade of grass.
This is another tiny and cute beetle - a great deal of patience and luck was needed to get a decent shot under a windy condition.
Another interesting-looking and colourful beetle (or was it a bug ?) was looking downwards, clinging on to some young leaves, making it difficult for me to take a proper shot.
This is the only spider species that I saw - a rather small one. I have no idea what it is.
I think this is a kind of lacewing (this is an owlfly, thanks Marcus) which I have never seen before.
Here is another record shot from a slightly different angle.
I am not sure if this is a kind of broad-headed bug which rested on the mimosa leaves.
I encountered quite a few small dragonflies like these shots below - they look like the Diplacodes nebulosa.
Another individual.
On our way back to the jetty, I saw this male Diplacodes trivialis dragonfly perching on the ground.
I saw a few Yellow-Barred Flutter (Rhyothemis phyllis) dragonflies hovering in the air and settling down on a twig at times.
According to John, this wasp looks a Ropalidia marginata (need confirmation). It didn't stay long enough on the ferns for me to take more shots.
I have no clue if this is a rare or common grasshopper - since it was a survey outing, I would post it here.
I am not sure what plant this is but the flowers certainly attracted some insects.
A close-up shot on the tiny flowers.
Here is another plant that I hope someone could provide me with a name.
Though the white flowers look quite small, they are quite nice and unique if we view them with a macro lens.
On our way back to the jetty, we stumbled on a pond (in fact we saw two ponds) and scared off a flock of birds resting there.
The vegetation and plants that grow on this landfill are getting more diverse, growing taller and denser. This huge grassland will be home to many more animals in years to come.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Butterflies @ Semakau Island On 20 Aug

Thanks Khew for giving me a lift to the West Coast Pier, reaching there a few minutes before 7 am, the earliest outing I have ever had. Thanks Ria and Marcus for organising this trip and inviting ButterflyCircle (BC) members to do a butterfly survey on the island.

The morning sea was calm and the constant breeze really helped refresh our body and engage many of us in conversations. I didn't feel it was a 30-minute long journey.
After a quick briefing by Ria at the Semakau jetty, we walked towards the hut, a few kilometers away.
Cher Hern and I saw some Blue Pansies (Junonia orithya wallacei ) frolicking at the edge of the open grassland. We broke away from the group and decided to fill our stomach first before we ventured into the overgrown grassland to chase the Blue Pansy.
This female gave in to my relentless effort of chasing and stalking and she finally rested a bit longer, allowing me to take a few shots.
This is a record shot of a male Blue Pansy - can you see the slight differences in the size of the eyespots ?
There were many Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis lampa) fluttering eractically on a patch of grassland near the jetty where we had our breakfast.
Another common butterfly on this huge open grassland, the Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe contubernalis) was seen fluttering amongst the wild flowers - but they were often shy away from camera.
Tawny Coster (Acraea violae) was rather abundant in this open wasteland as its larval host plant is passiflora foetida - a common wasteland weed, was growing wild here.
Another specimen was taking a rest on some dry seed pods.
This is either a 3rd or 4th instar larva of the Tawny Coster which was munching the leaf of the hostplant.
This grassland is really big. After two hours of wandering in it we still have not reached the forested area where other BC members were. So we decided to turn back to the jetty in order not to miss the boat at 12:30 pm.

The erratic flight pattern of a small lycaenid attracted my attention. Determined to find out what it was, I waited patiently for it to perch and tool a few shots - it turned out to be a Tailless Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura).
I encountered quite a few orange skippers along one stretch of a dirt road.
I must thank Dr. Seow from BC for identifying these orange skippers for me. This is a shot of the Common Palm Dart (Telicota colon stinga) stretching its legs while I took this lucky shot.
Another specimen.
I noticed that this orange skipper was slightly bigger than the Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha). Seow said this is Potanthus confucius - apparently a rather common species in Hong Kong
Its proboscis and antennae went deep into the corolla tube of the Asystasia flower.
This is a record shot of a Potanthus species at the same vicinity of the previous two shots. It looks like a P. confucius.
This brown skipper, a Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans) was rather skittish and sensitive to flashlight - no chance for a better shot.
There were many other critters making this huge open grassland their home - you will find out in my next post.

Blog posts related to this outing :

(a) Wild Shores of Singapore - 'White patch' in Semakau mangroves : a closer look and Semakau Otter Overload !
(b) Singapore Nature - 110820 Semakau forest

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Seletar Wasteland On Our 46th National Day

Just like any other public holidays, I woke up early on 9 Aug. Bad economic news filled the front page of the newspaper - another severe financial crisis is looming. I saw the need to replenish our "green-intake" for our mind and body to help rejuvenate the subdued mood, I decided to visit the wildest place that I could think of - the Seletar wasteland.

Common Sailor (Neptis hylas papaja) is a rather common butterfly in this wasteland. One of its larval hostplants Aeschynomene americana was abundant along the first 500 m stretch of the trail.
The black-and-white upperside wing patterns are very similar to a few other Sailors or Sergeant species. A very well-documented of the life history of this species can be found here.
Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlites) seems to be a permanent resident in this wasteland. There were at least four individuals frolicking under the morning sun, executing their typical flapping-cum-gliding flight pattern. They usually landed on the leaf surface after a short flight, with both wings folded, displaying the rather unattractive pale grey undersides.
The uppersides are "prettier". This Grey Pansy was seen "loitering" at the ground level where the plant Nelsonia canescens (Family : Acanthaceae) was growing.
This dragonfly Rhyothemis phyllis was abundant. I noticed a few of them hovering in the mid-air but I failed to get any decent in-flight shot despite my effort in stalking and chasing them.
However, the hover fly on the other hand is easier for me.
This Orb-web spider (Nephila species) could be easily spotted due to its large size.
This rather worn-out orange skipper looks like a female Palm Dart (Telicota augias augias).
Almost at the end of the trail, I saw this Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) feeding on the white Asystasia flowers.
Insects in the Order Orthoptera are endowed with leaping prowess due to their muscular and powerful hind legs. I guess this is a nymph of a katydid.
Another nymph of a grasshopper was hiding under a grass blade in a bush.
A predatory fly with a pair of large and sharp eyes and spiny legs, this robber fly was lurking at the edge of a leaf, ready to strike any passing-by insects.
I wonder who created this linear arrangement - a form of "art" piece to me.
Whenever I came to this wasteland, I always waited at one particular spot for at least 10 mins, hoping to meet up with one of our lost friends, NBGY (Eurema brigitta senna). Their last known home ground at Punggol was destroyed about two years ago. We miss them ! Let's hope they have found a new home at one corner on this wasteland which I have not discovered.