Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Rare Butterfly at UPR

I was a few seconds late for the bus going to the Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park. Decided not to wait for the next bus, I walked  along the Old Thomson Road towards  the Upper Peirce Reservoir (UPR).

On a cool Saturday morning (17 March), only fresh air abounds; the road was quiet and the critters were still asleep for a long period of time. Finally, I got a chance to shoot this stick insect. If not for its prominent reddish body when it was in flight, I would not have noticed its presence in front of me.
I entered UPR and went on to explore a long and shady forest trail.  I made a right choice as I began to see butterflies flitting along the trail. A Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber mulciber) was waiting for me on a twig in a shade. But it felt threatened whenever I approached closer.  
Two alert Arhopala species were in a close proximity with each other. The tailless one is Arhopala major major and the other one is Vinous Oakblue  (Arhopla athada athada).   
When it was in flight, I could not be sure which species it was. But the moment it landed on the ground puddling on some fallen leaves,  the blue tinge on the forewings got me excited. This was my second sighting of a very rare butterfly after more than five years if I remember correctly - this White Tipped Baron (Euploea mulciber mulciber ) was the star of the day.
After a few upperside shots, I noticed that it flapped its wings when puddling. So I went down lower, preparing myself  to snap its underside shot. Unfortunately, I could manage only one pathetic blur shot just before it took off. 
What a lucky day for me !  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Beautiful Lycaenid Outside NTU

On a fine Saturday morning (10 March),  for a change, I decided to explore a patch of  forested area in the western part of Singapore outside the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).  

My first shot of the morning was this Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) in a wasteland not far away from the entrance to NTU.
I walked around the wasteland and found this rather "hagged" Silver-Forget-Me-Not (Catochrysops panormus exiguus) - a relatively uncommon lycaenid.
This is a common wasteland  butterfly, the Common Sailor (Neptis hylas papaja). It came out to feed and sunbathe in the morning sun.  
Before I left this wasteland, I noticed a wasp (this is a fly) moving  from leaf to leaf.
A Tailless Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura) was puddling on a road outside an army camp.  
A large part of a forested area on both sides of Nanyang Avenue was cleared, giving way to the construction of  the CleanTech Park and widening of road.

I was very pleased to spot a couple of  Harlequin (Taxila haquinus haguinus) in a small sector of the remaining forested area. The life history of this species was excellently recorded here.    
This is a female with her forewing sub-apical region more whitish. No one will deny the beauty of this lovely and rather tame lycaenid but the survival of this species has been severely threatened by the loss of its preferred habitat (see the save the Herlequin project here ).  
This orange skipper looks like a Common Dartlet (Oriens gola pseudolus), displaying a nice perch at my eye-level.    
A skittish Tawny Palmfly (Elymnias panthera panthera) really tested my patience - I could only manage a "hike-and-seek" shot -- shooting through some leaves. 
Due to one special reason, I was extremely excited to see an orange butterfly gliding at the tree top.Waiting patiently, I finally had a puddling shot when it came down. A bit disappointed, it was just a Malayan Lascar ( Lasippa tiga siaka).    
 Lastly, I would end this post with this dragonfly - I will find out the name later.
I feel that the wild places in western part of the island state have not been explored often. I am quite sure that these places would give us surprises in terms of biodiversity.                       

Sunday, March 18, 2012

From USR to Chestnut Avenue

I met up with Mr Yano on a cool Saturday morning (3 March) at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park (USR). My first shot of the morning was this Ricaniid planthopper found outside the golf driving range.
A grass patch opposite the golf driving range was a playing ground for quite a few orange skippers. This is a Potanthus species which looks like a P. ganda.
Its underside shot shows the veins are not darken.

Besides skippers, I found a slender and well camouflaged spider enjoying its breakfast underneath a blade of grass.
On the same leaf, I noticed that its partner, perhaps a female was guarding a web.
Shortly after we ventured deep into the forest, we saw a Purple Bush Brown (Mycalesis orseis nautilus) - to me, this is an uncommon species.
The early part of the morning was rather cloudy and there were few photographing opportunities in the forest. However, I stumbled on three Saturns ( Zeuxidia amethystus smethystus) at different locations. When they were in flight, the startling burst of the blue iridescence could be seen clearly. Here is a super long distance shot of one of them.

After more than 2 hours of hiking, we reached the western side of the forest and ended up on a small hill top, overlooking the water treatment plant at Chestnut Avenue - what a magnificent view up on top of the slope. We rested and had some food - thanks Mr Yano for offering me a delicious home-made sushi.

We continued our way out and encountered a colony of Common Caerulean (Jamdies celeno aelianus) flitting along a forest trail - a few females were busy ovipositing on a common forest climber, Combretum sundaicum.

Thanks to our iPhones and an Eurasian family who trekked from the Upper Peirce Reservoir, we made a U-turn and headed towards the Chestnut Avenue direction correctly.

It was early afternoon, more butterflies were out to tease us. As usual this Abisara geza niya kept hopping and turning on a leaf - a rather uncooperative bugger which disappeared after we had a few shots.
I came to a familiar barricade where another Common Caelurean was puddling on some bird droppings, I believe.
Nearby, a Yellow Vein Lancer (Pyroneura latoia latoia) was feeding on some Leea indica flowers.

We were lucky to find this Pointed Ciliate Blue (Anthene laycaenina miya) puddling on the road.

Mr Yano was shooting this Pointed Line Blue.

I had a very long and enjoyable trekking with Mr Yano who was quite familiar with our forest. I was glad that I came to a few "corners" in the forest that I have never been to. I am looking forward to exploring these locations again in the future.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Butterflies @ NTU Herbs Garden (方草园)

The herbs garden (方草园)at Nanyang Technological University is home to about 200 species of tropical herbs. Within a year, this herbs garden which was started by a group of plant and herb lovers and led by Mr Ng Kim Chuan (from the Office of Facilities Planning and Management, NTU) won a Gold Award under the education institution category for the Community in Bloom Awards 2010.

Different herbs were planted on specially-made terrace growing beds on a hill slope. Here are some butterfly species I managed to photograph on two occasions when I visited the garden.

This orange butterfly is called Leopard (Phalanta phalantha phalantha). I saw many of them fluttering on all kinds of flowers. It has the habit of flapping its wings constantly when feeding and perching. So getting a good shot requires a lot of patience and luck.

I was trying hard to take an open wing shot of another individual when it was feeding on the flowers.

A small skipper looks like a Taractrocera archias quinta - this species can be distinguished from other look-alikes by examining the tip of its antennae.

This is a Blue Glassy Tiger butterfly (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) which liked to feed on some dry leaves of a herb.

Look at the forewing cell, can you see a slight difference between the Blue Glassy Tiger and the Dark Glassy Tiger (Parantica agleoides agleoides ) which is shown below ?
You should be familiar with this beautiful Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus malayanus) - a fast flyer which tends to flap its wings at a high speed while feeding on nectar. I was quite happy to snap a shot like this.

At least a couple of brown skippers were zipping around at the upper terrace of the garden. According to Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle, the first shot is a female Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans) followed by a male

Last but not least, a solitary Malayan Eggfly (Hypolimnas anomala anomala) showed an elegant perch at one quiet corner, looking out for any intruders from a high leaf.
The huge collection of Chinese medicinal herbs at the garden have benefited many patients from different ethnic groups who are in need of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment. It has in fact, in one way or another, contributed to the study of TCM in Singapore. In order to improve the garden further, NTU has set up an endowment fund to better support the volunteers and upgrade the garden. Let us do our part to help these volunteers who managed the herbs garden (Yes, I have made a contribution),

Let us do our small part to help this already very successful herb garden to do more for both the NTU community and beyond.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lornie Trail On A Friday Morning

Just like any other working day, my body clock never failed to wake me up early on 22 Feb even though I didn't have to work. After a quick breakfast, I decided to take a morning walk along Lornie Trail (LT) in the forest. The cicada songs were louder than before and there was no sign of other human beings for a long period of time.

There were quite a few Elbowed Pierrots (
Caleta elna Elvira) fluttering along the trail . One of them and a pointed Line Blue (Ionolyce helicon merguiana) were enjoying a good breakfast on a pool of bird droppings. If it were a weekend, I wouldn't have a chance to encounter this scene along any foot path.

The Elbow Pierrot decided to flee, leaving behind the Pointed Line Blue.

An usually small Ciliate Blue (Anthene emolus goberus) came down from the canopy to tease me a few times. At last, I got a few shots and it was such a pristine specimen that we could see the tiny tails on the hindwings.

Flitting from flower to flower of the Mile-a-Minute weed, this Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus) was busy feeding on the flowers most of the time.

Occasionally, it opened its wings partially to sunbathe.

I hope the readers can tell the subtle differences between these two Eurema species . The first one is the Eurema simulatrix tecmessa and the second shot is a Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis).

Perhaps this is a Potanthus ganda again.

After an hour or so shooting at the reservoir edge, I was on my way back. Along a shady trail leading to the main road, I spotted two skippers, the Large Snow Flat (Tagiades gana gana) and the Common Snow Flat (Tagiades japetus atticus) - both preferred hiding underneath the leaf.

I look forward to the days when I can visit the forest every morning.