Saturday, April 28, 2012

From Lornie Trail to Rifle Range Link Part 3

Continue from my last post.
Apart from some common dragonflies darting and perching along the reservoir edge, no other critters caught my attention and arouse my curiosity.

I had to bear with the hot sun and a muddy dirt path that brought me to the Jelutong Tower via the Gold Link boardwalk. At one point on the boardwalk which is opposite a grass patch (I just wonder why for years there has not been any reforestation done on this rather "eyesore" site in our forest ?) a female Colour Sergeant (Athyma nefte subrata) was seen resting on a wild Cinnamon leaf. I approached closer and took a quick shot just before it scooted off.     

I decided to take a breather at one newly constructed shelter near the tower. I noticed that there was a male Spotted Black Crow (Euploea crameri bremeri) perching and apparently feeding on the signage of the shelter. But this guy was skittish and shy who preferred to stay high up in the shelter.    
While I was trying to tease him and wait for this guy to come down, his female companion appeared. She was flitting around in the shelter for a while until she found my water bottle and got intoxicated by the fluids - yes, who wouldn't  love water on a very hot and humid day.   
Next moment, she found my sweaty bag and seemed to enjoy salt contents in the sipping.
A male Cruiser (Vidula dejone erotella) who also liked the shade and cool provided by the shelter came down to hunt for nice spots for puddling. As usual, I had to fire some quick and rapid shots to capture the moment when his flapping-wings were both flat on the ground.    
I decided to move on to the Rifle Range Link to find out if there were more butterfly species along the stream. What a disappointment as there was not a single species turning up at the location due to the flooding stream. Only a rather worn-out puddling Purple Duke (Eulaceura osteria kumana) on the forest trail gave me little consolation.    
I decided to move a bit further until I reached the Rifle Range Link. Along the way, I managed to snap just one skipper - a Common Dartlet (Oriens gola pseudolus) I believe.
I headed back to the Ranger Station - a disappointment again as I used to see many butterflies there in the past. A few shots on a wasp and a beetle were the only rewards from a long rest at the Ranger Station.           
On my way back via the MacRitchie Nature Trail, I walked rather fast and was too tired to hunt for critters except for this unlucky female Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus ) I presumed, caught my eyes. 
The completion of a more than 4-hour trekking deep into our forest not only gave me a sense of achievement but also allowed me to capture some shots of many fascinating and  beautiful critters especially butterflies in our forest - it was a very rewarding feeling indeed.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From Lornie Trail To Rifle Range Part 2

Apart from the Lance Sergeant (see my last post), there were other butterflies visited this place. A Commander (Moduza procris milonia ) was zipping past me a few times before it joined in the fest.
It also liked the Mile-a-Minute flowers nearby. 
I didn't know when this male Malay Baron (Euthalia monina monina) came to feed on a ripened fruit at one corner. A rather skittish bugger which didn't give me many opportunities for shooting.
The Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates) is a small lycaenid which can be found on damp soil puddling. However, this time it was feeding on nectar.
It was my first sighting of a Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber mulciber) at this location. This is a female which came and disappeared as soon as I snapped two quick shots.  
This Copper Flash (Rapala pheretima sequeira) was at a distance away when I first spotted it. It offered me a good chance of shooting when it perched and fed on flowers which were closer to me.
Of course, Chocolate Grass Yewllow (Eurema sari sodalis) is a permanent resident here, you can always find them around along this trail. 
There were quite a few Cilliate Blues (Anthene emolus goberus) hanging around the area. They like to open their wings slightly under the morning sun.

After more than an hour of a very fruitful and exciting photographing session at this location, I decided to walk towards the Jelutong Tower - a long trekking into the forest began at around 10:30am. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

From Lornie Trail To Rifle Range Part 1

It was a hot and sunny Saturday morning (7 Apr). I set off early to Lornie Trail. After a morning thunderstorm and a very wet Easter holiday on 6 Apr, the forest floor was exceptionally muddy.

As usual, I didn't encounter many critters along the quiet trail until I reached my  favourite spot. The dry and ripened Singapore Rhododendron ((Melastoma malabathricum) fruits attracted quite a few butterfly species, one of which was the Lance Sergeant (Athyma pravara helma).
There were at least half a dozen of them gliding and feeding on one particular Singapore Rhododendron shrub. They tend to flap their wings while feeding -patience and timing was crucial in snapping this blue-sky shot.
They were busy feeding and hardly perched with a clear open winged pose. However, there were moments they rested on a foliage. Unfortunately, the perch was a bit too high for me to get a better shot.
Just like a few other look-alikes Sailor and Sergeant butterflies, Lance Sergeant displays a gliding flight pattern. Occasionally, they rest with both wings folded. 
A forest denizen, Lance Sergeant can be identified quite easily by the presence of a narrow and continuous cell streak which becomes broader and shaped  like an egg at both ends.The streak runs across its thorax on the upperside of the forewings. Its larvae feed on some Uncaria plants and its life history has been documented by a ButterflyCircle's member (see here).       
This is Ypthima horsfieldi humei which looks very similar to Common Five Ring (Ypthima baldus newboldi)  except perhaps the middle two ocelli on the hindwings are smaller and further apart then that of the Common Five Ring.
It has the tendency to flap its wings when perching or feeding - this was one such moment when I was faster than its speed of flapping. 
The Singapore Rhododendron is a very common shrub in the forests, wastelands or even some town parks -  a very important plant for butterflies (see here). So, next time if you see a Melastoma shrub blooming or fruiting, stop for a moment and  you may find some interesting critters on the plant.   

Friday, April 13, 2012

After a Morning Rain @ Upper Peirce Reservoir

After a very heavy rain on the 31 March morning, I met up with Mr Yano again at Lower Peirce Reservoir for a late morning outing. After a quick bite at the parata shop, we took a leisure walk along the Old Upper Thomson Road towards Upper Peirce Reservoir. Very few cars and cyclists passed us by on a wet and cool morning. So it was not surprise that my only shot along the road was this Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis minuus macromalayana). (Note :  Dr Seow from BC has identified it as a Long Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis visala phamis).
Finally we reached a quiet corner along the reservoir edge where we saw quite a few skippers zipping around. This Tree Flitter (Hyarotis adrastus praba) was one of them but it decided to rest for a while.
These two intimate Potanthus skippers (P. omaha omaha) remained at this mating position for a few minutes but due to the water-logged ground, I could not get closer to them.    
Here is another shot with a better view of the undersides.
The uppersides of a Bush Brown (Mycalesis species) are not that attractive.  
A rather alert and active Malayan Bush Brown (Mycalesis fusca fusca) didn't give me a second chance of getting a better shot.   
Finally, just before we reached the main road, I saw a strange-looking spider - what kind of spider is it ?
Though we didn't see and shoot many critters, we still enjoyed this long but easy walk in the forest.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Punggol Waterway Park

On a rather hot Saturday morning (24 March), partly inspired by Siyang’s postI decided to visit the place where I used to spend hours hunting for critters.I alighted at the same LRT station – Kadaloor and walked the same path as I did before. I cut across a grass field next to a new golf-driving range. I could see many families, young and old people walking and cycling alongside the waterway. I didn’t join them. Instead I strolled along a patch of wasteland and was extremely delighted to see that a few trees and shrubs were kept intact – the Common Rhu (Casuarina equisetifolia ) and Lantana bushes are among a few other familiar trees that I could recognise.

The Tawny Coster (Acraea violae) butterfly was first discovered on this wasteland in 2006. I am glad to report that the species is doing fine there - at least a dozen of them was fluttering in the hot sun - thanks to the small patch of wasteland that provides them with sufficient host plants.  
I spotted a few Pea Blues (Lampides boeticus) but they were too active and alert for me to take a good underside shot. However, I was lucky to spot a female sunbathing on a leaf near the bridge connecting Lorong Halus. Again, thanks to a small stretch of wasteland that allows its larval host plant, a crotalaria species thriving there. 
Many critters need a piece of grassland to survive. This is a Common Palm Dart (Telicota colon stinga) perching with wings open on the tip of a grass blade.  
Now, it decided to close its wings and stay still for a few seconds. 
Of course, there are other skippers surviving on this stretch of wasteland. This is a Detached Dart (Potanthus trachala tytleri). 
An intimate pair of Lesser Dart (Potanthus Omaha Omaha) added to my excitement and the diversity of critters we can find in a wasteland.
When I crossed over the bridge around noon, I realised that there was a celebration of the World Water Day at Lorong Halus. Though I didn’t witness the event, I could see that many students were  supporting their friends who where showcasing and explaining their projects. 
To wrap up this post, I would like to show a beautiful damselfly taken at a pond near the entrance to the Lorong Halus Wetland Park. 
HDB and Nparks did the right thing by keeping some pockets of  the wasteland habitat wild and intact. Not only would a small stretch of wasteland create a natural and rustic environment that balances the man-made Waterway Park, it would also benefit the overall biodiversity of the park in the long run.
I will definitely visit the park again to look out for more.