Monday, November 26, 2012

A Quiet Walk Along Mandai Park Connector

On a rather hot Saturday morning (17 Nov) I was strolling along Mandai Park Connector and Mandai Track 15. The weather was perfect for photography but I just could not find anything interesting for a shot.

At last I saw some moth larvae feeding on a Leea indica leaf. You should notice that these early instar larvae didn't consume the whole leaf..
My first sighting of this interesting-looking fly with a long tail. What kind of fly is this ?
There were quiet a number of dragonflies hovering in the air or resting on leaves. I am very poor at identifying a dragonfly species especially if it is a female or a juvenile.
I was delighted to see at least four or five Grey Pansies (Junonia atlites atlites) flitting around and feeding on the Bidens flowers outside a protected area. Under the hot sun, they were extremely skittish and alert to my presence. However, with great patience of waiting for them to feed in front of me, I managed to snap a few instinctive shots. 
On my way back to the starting point, I noticed a large and  red-eyed shipper resting on a leaf.  A shade-loving skipper, this Coconut Skipper (Hidari irava) changed perch a few times but every perch was not ideal for a good shot. 
This was another perch on a tree trunk.
I believe this is the Yellow Grass Dart (Taractrocera archias archias) - a common species that can be found  in a grassland habitat along the forest fringe.   
I noticed that the end point of  Mandai Track 15 in fact connects to a mountain biking trail that should lead us to Gangsa Loop and Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. Perhaps, I should trek beyond Track 15 next time.   

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some Critters Outside NTU

On a fine Saturday morning, I decided to explore a patch of wasteland outside Nanyang Technological University (NTU). At the "entrance", a female Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber mulciber) was busy feeding on the Bidens flowers. I stalked and chased her for a while before I could nail a few shots.
Another elegant pose.
There were quite a number of dragonflies in the area, one of the species was this Nesoxenia lineata - this male specimen was rather tame perching on a twig waiting for me to take a few shots.
Another beautiful male dragonfly,  the  Crailla metallica was quite abundant there.
 This eight-legged critter looks like a jumping spider which was ambushing its prey on a leaf surface.
My last shot before I kept my camera was a female Spotted Judy (Abisara geza niya). She was rather "shy" and hopped around from leaf to leaf - no chance at all for a proper shot.
Here is a glimpse of her uppersides.
I was waiting at the bus stop when Ben Jin called me from the opposite side the road - glad to see him shooting again. I went with him exploring a small segment of this wasteland again. This time at least two Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide?bisaltide)  butterflies came down to search for their nutrients on the ground. They were rather skittish and alert but at last this fellow stayed long enough for us to snap a few shots.  
I spotted this lycaeid resting on a blade of grass at a rather awkward angle. Dr Seow from BC  has identified  it as a female Pointed Line Blue (Ionolyce helicon merguiana)
 These yellow flowers of an aquatic plant were definitely attractive enough for us to take a shot.
I could sense that the wasteland should be a good place for butterfly-hunting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Community Herb Garden @ NTU

The herb garden at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)  has been changed to a new name - Community Herb Garden (see my previous blog article). I visited the garden again on a fine Saturday morning during one of weekly outings.   
There were not many critters and butterflies fluttering in the garden this time. But I did manage to snap a few butterfly shots. A rather small orange skipper - a Potanthus species loved to open its wings whenever it settled on a new perch. With great patience, I finally snapped a quick shot of its underside. The black patches on the hindwing beneath look strange to me.    
With the uppersides shot, I still cannot identify it with confidence.  
This is the Grass Demon (Udaspes folus)  flitting around at the ground level.  
When there were less critters to shoot, I decided to take some flower shots. I have no idea about what these flowers are. A rather big five-petal herbal plant flower   
A cluster of interesting flowers were blooming in a radial pattern.
These Purplish-blue  flowers were prominent enough to attract my attention, 
A kind of Cat's Whiskers flowers were in full bloom
The nectar of this white flower must be very delicious for this small little bug which stayed in the flower for quite sometime.

The garden appeared to have suffered  from a shortage of manpower for maintenance. The endowment fund that has been set up by NTU  to support this garden has so far raised $500k which is a mere quarter of the targeted amount. Let us do our part to keep this herbs' garden, making it a unique and a special herb garden in Singapore (read here for more information).

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Discovered Another New Butterfly Species for SG

It was not an ideal Saturday (3 September) for a photographic outing. But die-hard butterfly photographers like Loke, CJ, Simon and me still went for an outing to a wild place near where I work. Of course, other than shooting, another reason we met was to collect a butterfly book from Khew through  CJ.  Thanks CJ for being the driver in this outing.

The Dark Tit (Hypolycaena thecloides thecloides) was spotted by Simon and Loke in a wasteland. Though it was rather tame, its perch wasn't ideal for a photographically perfect shot. While we tried to change its perch it scooted up to the canopy. 

There were quite a number of Common Caerulean-like lycaenids flitting around in the wasteland. The underside markings look like the  Jamides celeno aelianus but somehow the not-so-whitish uppersides (seen when it was in flight) cast some doubt on the identification. 
The sky started to drizzle a bit but it did not dampen our spirit of chasing a  rather dark skipper. It finally perched on a blade of grass, long enough  for us to snap some shots from a distance. This skipper  looks like The Forest Skipper (Astictopterus jama jama).
  An upperside shot was taken from afar.
A rather small Swift ? was spotted feeding on the Biden flowers and later we found it resting on a blade of grass enjoying the cool air. 
Perhaps due to the super "nice" weather, we didn't see many butterflies come out to play so we decided to venture into a shady forested area.

When I was roaming aimlessly in a very humid habitat full of spider webs and mosquitoes, my line of sight intercepted a skipper resting on a leaf surface a few metres in front of me - with a prominent yellow patch at its tornal area, I knew it was the Yelllow Flat.     
It was rather tame at first allowing me to take quite a few shots but as you can see, it was just too high for me to snap a good shot. After getting some record shots, I started shouting for my other three shooting companions  to come to my location. While waiting anxiously for them, this rather pristine Yellow Flat (Mooreana trichoneura trichoneura)  changed its perch a few times but luckily it didn't fly too far away from its initial perch.
Just before Simon, Loke and CJ arrived at the location, it was feeding on bird's dropping on a dry leaf. I was afraid that going nearer may scare it away, so I just took a long distance shot.
After Simon had snapped one or two puddling shots, it changed perch again - this time it hid underneath a leaf.   

It was sheer luck and timing for me to discover a new butterfly species again within a month (see BC's blog also). I sincerely hope that this particular forested habitat will remain at least as it is now otherwise the survival of a few rare butterfly species which have established their homes there will be critically threatened. I wise we have the wisdom and foresight to do something good for them ?    

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From Bukit Brown to Lornie Trail

Once again I dropped by Bukit Brown to look for the newly discovered Banded Line Blue (Prosotas lutea sivoka) in the early morning of 28 Oct. I did encounter one but it was too skittish for me to take any shot.

Strolling along the dirt tracks towards the main gate, I met a contingent of horse riders passing me by. Again, I failed to find any interesting subjects for photographing along the tracks. 

I went over to Lornie Trail (LT). A few big and attractive Passiflora flowers attracted my attention near the boardwalk.
Perhaps due to the dame soil, I encountered quite a few wild fungi today. I like this filmsy and delicate very much.
A cluster of white fungi growing on a decayed tree trunk was simply outstanding in the shade - not sure if they would glow in the dark.
Another type of fungi were sprouting out from the ground.
As usual, the Mile-a-Minute flowers attracted a few butterflies - one of them was this Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis). 
The Common Lascar (Pantoporia hordonia hordonia) came down to feed also.
With the white spots shown in space 2, 3 and 6,  the brown skipper  looks like a Formosan  Swift (Borbo cinnara)
This must be a larva of a moth. Hanging itself on a thin thread from a tree, it was seen struggling to move upwards. A sequence of two quick shots show that it curled its body while moving upwards.

As the activities at the Mile-a-Minute location were rather disappointing, I took a slow walk along the quiet forest trail towards another spot at the reservoir edge where I usually could find one of the smallest dragonflies - Nannophya pygmaea. There were a few males but not a single female was sighted. 
At the newly constructed hut, a rather pristine but skittish male Cruiser (Vindula dejone erotella) was searching for a puddling spot.