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


  1. Oooh these are lovely. I've managed to succesfully breed the Tawny coster as I love their lazy sort of flight. Very beautiful to watch

  2. What gorgeous photos as usual! I don't know how you manage to take them. And such a wondrous variety of these beautiful creatures in just a short visit! You and the BC Team are awesome! Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. Thanks Cyren and Ria for your kind comments. Yes, Tawny Coster flutters rather leisurely and elegantly.
    Ria, luck and knowing the habits of these butterflies help us a lot.