Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lunar New Year's Eve @ LT

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning on 22 Jan which marked the last day of the Rabbit Year on the lunar calender, I decided to drop by Lornie Trail (LT). At my favourite spot, the invasive weed Mile-a-Minute (Mikania micrantha) didn't flower in time to welcome and usher in the Dragon Year.

While waiting for critters to appear and perch, I stood still and gazed at the ferns. I began to notice they were quite artistic and unique - a moment of silence with contemplation enables me to discover a new form of natural beauty.
The morning dews look exceptionally pleasing to the eyes - but I didn't do justice to these amazing and short-lived natural formations as my shots failed to reveal the details and their natural beauty.
In great disappointment, I walked towards a grass patch along the reservoir edge. A pair of small orange skippers engaging themselves in an intimate position caught my attention. After taking a few shots, I realised that they didn't look like the Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha).
I was afraid that the trekkers and the joggers may scare them away, I quickly captured a few more shots - this upperside shot would be useful for us to identify the species.
They look like Potanthus ganda according to Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle.

There were many St. Andrew's Cross spiders (Argiope sp) waiting patiently on their webs to prey on any insects.
This one with a silvery pattern looks nice and different from the rest.
I am not a fan of spiders. After a few selective shots, I walked back to the Mile-a-Minute spot, hoping for a better luck. As the sunshine was getting warmer, the Bush Browns (Mycalesis species) which were in good numbers, started flitting around rather skittishly.

This is a Mycalesis perseoides perseoides as the brown straie on the forewing were distinctive enough for a positive identification.
This is another Mycalesis perseoides perseoides .
This is yet another Mycalesis perseoides perseoides perching on a kind of wild red ginger flower.
Before I made my way out to the main road, a Malay Viscount (Tanaecia pelea pelea) appeared and bid farewell to me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Skipper Day @ Mandai Park Connector

When I didn't have a definite place for my weekend outing, I would hop on to the first bus arriving at the bus stop. On a fine Saturday morning (14 Jan) , I deliberately gave Upper Seletar Reservoir Park a miss and went further to Mandai area where the zoo is.

Except for a few cyclists passing by, this park connector was devoid of joggers and trekkers.

With this "red hot" squash bug to symbolise good luck in the Chinese culture and traditions, I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous Lunar New Year. Let's hope that the Year of the Dragon will bring peace and human well-being to every corner on Earth.
For a long period of time, I was just walking and searching for macro subjects - there weren't any things attractive enough for me to shoot until I came to a place where the blooms of the Bidens dominated my sight of view, even from far.

I could see at least five orange skippers feeding on the flowers at one time. I was spoilt for choice of shooting them. Let me begin with this relatively large skipper (compared to the rest featured below) the Besta Palm Dart (Telicota besta bina).
Another Besta Palm Dart.
This is a rather "chubby-looking" Potanthus species - with its hindwing veins clearly not darken may suggest that it is a P. ganda.
How about this ? It looks like a P. juno. I can see the dusted black markings on the hindwing are slightly different from that of the e P. ganda above.
This Potanthus species is the biggest amongst those that I have shot - it looks like a Large Dart (Potanthus serina). These orange skippers seemed to attract to each other's presence - they had the tendency to perch or feed and "dog-fight" at the same time.

One solitary Starry Bob (Iambrix stellifer) was feeding on some Leea indica flowers along a shady trail. Perhaps it could detact my presence, it begin to tease me with its wings open.
But it also became very alert and active. My patience paid off at last and I was fortunate to nailed a record shot.
On my way out to the main road, this lonely and skittish Three Spot Grass Yellow (Eurema blanda snelleni) was seen puddling, With patience and a bit of luck, I managed to take a couple of quick shots.
On the eve of the Lunar New Year, I wish all readers a healthy and fruitful year ahead.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Cloudy Morning @ Pulau Ubin

On a very cloudy Sunday morning (8 Jan). I accompanied some friends for a hiking around Pulau Ubin - we headed to the western part of the island first.

A rather shy Three Spot Grass Yellow (Eurema blanda snelleni) was hiding underneath a blade of grass - my first butterfly shot of the morning.
It was a nice and easy walk on a cool morning.. This is a male Common Mormon (Papilio polytes romulus ) which was resting on a leaf not far away from the Celestial Resort.
The imperfect underside wings and some fuzzy and strange markings make me uncertain about this Potanthus skipper. However, Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle identified it as P. omaha - a rather common species in many of our grassland habitats.
This is its upperside shot
It was drizzling by the time we reached the Ketam quarry. This beautiful bug was taken with my umbrella on one hand.
On our way back to the jetty, I detoured to the Butterfly Hill - this is still the best place for butterfly watching and photography. This ochreouos brown skipper had a partially concealed perch, I managed to find a small unobstructed view for taking this shot - this may be a female Caltoris malaya according to Dr Seow.
There were many "Tigers" flitting around on the hill. This is a Common Tiger (Danaus genutia genutia) on a familiar perch.
This male Black Veined Tiger (Danaus melanippus hegesippus) was scratching the surface of a seed pod.
I am not sure why these butterflies were attracted to the dry Crotalaria seed pods.
Finally, a Common Sailor (Neptis hylas papaja) was very cooperative and kind for me to take a few shots.
I was quite happy to capture these shots on a cloudy and drizzling day as the main objective of this outing was to enjoy the walk with a group of friends.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Grey Pansy In Danger @ Seletar Wasteland

On the last Saturday of the year 2011, I dropped by Seletar wasteland. My last visit to this wasteland was last National Day (see here). I was shock to see ....

My first shot of the morning was this bee feeding on the Mile-a-Minute flowers. Displaying all sort of "stunts" , it never gave me a good opportunity to take a satisfactory shot.
A very dark skipper perching on a blade of grass was in my sight at a distance away. It allowed me for one quick shot only. Looking at the camera's viewfinder, from the colour and the shape of its wings and body, I sensed that it wasn't the kind of skipper I usually saw.
I patiently searched and found it again. It was a Forest Hopper (Astictopterus jama jama) - my first sighting of this skipper at this wasteland and my second sighting on the main island. Here is another shot with a stronger fill-flash to brighten up the wings to show more details.
Next, I spotted a Centaur Oakblues (Arhopala centaurus nakula) which is one of the commonest and largest Arhopala species - my first sighting of this lycaenid at this wasteland.
This orange skipper was very alert. It tended to open its wing whenever it perched under the sun. It looks like the Common Dartlet (Oriens gola pseudolus).
Being skittish and very sensitive to the camera's flash light, it was never cooperative and kind to me. This is my best underside shot.
After feeding on some wild flowers, this female Common Mormon (Papilio polytes romulus) suddenly rested on a leaf in front of me.
The Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlites) was thriving - at least half a dozen of them were frolicking under the sun and at least two females were busy laying eggs. This particular mother Grey Pansy was testing the soil to lay her egg - luckily she was wise enough not to oviposit any egg om the ground if my eyes didn't deceive me.
Of course she got it right at last - can you see a tiny egg in green colour on the host plant which looks like Nelsonia canescens (Family : Acanthaceae) ?
The Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlites) is the rarest of the four Pansies we can find in Singapore. A permanent resident of this wasteland. I always found them around whenever I visited this place - I really hope that I will find them during my next visit there if there is one !!
The upperside wings were prettier with some patterned markings and ocelli.
Here is shot of another specimen when it perched on a blade of grass.
Currently there is a road-widening project going on along Tampines Expressway that is parallel to this wasteland. About a 50-metre stretch of the original wasteland in front of the construction site remained untouched on 30 Dec 2011. I guess by now it has been gone. I am not sure how much of the wasteland will remain eventually but one thing is quite certain - the Grey Pansy and the host plants are in great danger of disappearing from this habitat.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Other Critters @ Bukit Brown

Apart from butterflies and moths at Bukit Brown (see here), I also noticed other critters.

Grasshoppers and crickets seemed abundant on this cemetery grounds which are covered with wild weeds and grasses. Before I entering the main gate, I saw this tiny and cute critter - it may be a nymph of a cricket.
A slightly bigger one was found next to the tiny chap. Again, I am clueless about its identification.
I have shot this brown and weired looking monkey grasshopper before along forest fringes. It has very short antennae, a pair of strong hind legs and a stout-looking body frame. It appeared to be munching a blade of grass when I took this shot.
With a pair of long antennae, this shot looks like a kind of cricket. A huge katydid was found perching on a twig along a shady and mosquitoes-infested trail. Look at the the long and big hind legs, we can imagine how powerful its leaps can be. I suppose this is a kind of digger wasp with a slender yellow section of its abdomen. It appeared to look for preys on the muddy ground.
A St Andrew's Cross spider and its prey.
Another smaller St. Andrew Cross spider and its prey - look at how it crossed its eight legs to form a cross pattern.
The iridescence of the wings of this particular assassin bug is quite nice. In fact, there were quite a number of them along a short-cut trail that joining two tarred roads.
Is this the same species as the above. ?

I don't know what this small fly is. It has a pair of short scissors-like antennae and the lovely colours on the wings are attractive enough for me to take a few shots.This is a common dragonfly - a male Orthetrum luzonicum basking in the sun.I suppose this is the female.
A cluster of large brown fungi was found on a decayed wood.
This is a kind of bracket fungus found next to the above brown fungi.This small but colourful Ricaniid planthopper (Ricanula stigmatica) is rather common in wastelands and grasslands.

On a particular spot, there were many wild yellow flowers like this. Collectively, they looked distinctively beautiful, standing up-right in the green sea of foliage - no wonder this grasshopper was attracted to it. How can these attractive wild ginger flowers swaying in the wind escape a photographer's attention ?
I am not a historian but I do feel that Bukit Brown is a very valuable and unique heritage site for our younger generations to reflect and learn from many of these pioneers who had contributed in one way or another to the early Chinese community. In addition, the epitaphs, the different kind of art forms found on the tombstones and the rituals are valuable records of our very early Chinese immigrants' culture. Let us keep and improve Bukit Brown for as long as we can - no matter how good a virtual object or replica is created, it can never be the same and as valuable as the real and authentic one.

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