Sunday, October 28, 2012

A New Lycaenid (for SG) Found at Bukit Brown

After breakfast at home on a nice Saturday morning (20 Oct), I had Lornie Trail (LT) in mind for my weekly outing and photographing session. When I alighted at the bus stop opposite SICC, a thought of  "checking out Bukit Brown" flashed through my mind. So instead of crossing the pedestrian overhead bridge to LT, I went straight and turned into Sime Road.  

What a serene and breezy  morning at Bukit Brown (BB) - tranquility and a peaceful ambiance characterised   this historical burial ground for many of our forefathers of  Singapore.

At the round-about, I began to see some common butterflies fluttering on a patch of overgrown grasses. Firstly, a very tiny Pygmy Grass Blue (Zizula hylax pygmaea) was still "sleeping" completely oblivious to the breeze and my presence.
A Peacock Pansy (Junonia almana javana) was nearby also, enjoying its morning sunbathing on a blade of grass seemed to be the best thing to do.
There were many "Ring" butterflies (Yathima species) flitting on a grass patch but somehow I felt that they were extremely skittish and liked to open their wings whenever they landed on something. So, this is the only shot I had.
I encountered a very skittish guy which kept flitting around without stopping for me to take a good look at what it was. Finally it gave in to my persistence and patience of waiting. This Tailless Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura) perched on a dry leaf that was so close to me that I had do move my body backwards to  snap a few shots.
I encountered a few orange skippers. Firstly a rather large Potanthus species was feeding on the Asystasia flower at first. 
The next moment, it perched on a leaf and it didn't have the habit of opening its wings like many smaller orange skippers did. Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle suspected that it might be a P. pava .  
At another location, I spotted a few smaller Potanthus species - they tended to open their wings either  immediately or a few seconds later once they perched. This looks like a P. ganda before it took off in great speed.  
Two brown skippers were frolicking and dog-fighting. When they landed, I quickly snapped a few shots of one of them. This is the Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans). 
At around 11:10 am, while I was walking towards the gate, I saw a few small lycaenids fluttering around some Mile-a-Minute (Mikania micrantha) flowers. I stood on the tarred road, patiently watching them and hoping that at least one of them would  perch. Yes, one of them did. I quickly walked past some graves and took a shot to see what it was - to my great surprsise, I could not identify this small and tailless butterfly immediately. So I inched myself nearer without stepping on the tombstones in front of me and got some better shots.
This fellow scooted off while I was trying to get even closer and parallel to the subject.  I examined the shots carefully and concluded that it was definitely not the Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates) - another Prosotas species (see BC's write-up also) was discovered by me at BB.
What a coincidence is that I met Yi Kai (aka Lemon) at a dirt track just a few metres in front of the location. He told me that he was looking for the Golden Royal (Pseudotajuria donatana donatana) which someone had posted a picture on a forum - another surprise ! (I found out later that it was Anuj from NSS). When I showed him what I just shot, he immediately identified it as P. lutea which he shot in Fraser's Hill recently. I remember I shot this species back in 2008 at Taman Negara.

Butterfly fairy did not smile on me twice as I failed to find any lycaenids along the dirt tracks which lead me to the main gate.

So far there isn't any significant change to BB since my last visit in February this year except that exhumations of some graves have already begun. But once the construction of the proposed road that will cut through this "cultural treasure trove" begins, the biodiversity and the natural habitat at BB will be severely affected. I sincerely hope that the authority would put in its best effort to do something good to preserve our biodiversity.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making A New Friend @ USR

It was a cloudy Saturday morning on 13 Oct. Despite the unfavourable weather for outing and nature photography, I headed to Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park. Indeed, the forest trails were exceptionally quiet and calm.

Along a patch of overgrown grasses along the forest fringe, I took a shot of this very docile grasshopper as there was nothing else could attract my attention.        
For a long period of time, I was just strolling on the forest trails alone without touching the camera shuttle. I came back to the shelters and while I was about to leave for Mandai Track 15, this female Hoary Palmer (Unkana ambasa batara) suddenly appeared,  zipping around and feeding on the Ixora flowers.
A very alert and active skipper, she made me work hard, tracking and chasing her around the shelters. While I was almost giving up of her, CH came with a Taiwanese friend who was a teacher on a study trip to Singapore but took time off on a cloudy Saturday to photograph our tropical butterflies. 

While CH brought his friend exploring USR I stayed in the shelter, waiting for the Hoary Palmer to appear again. A male Great Helen (Papilio iswara iswara) came instead and settled on a low perch for a few seconds before he fluttered off.  

I went behind the toilet. A lonely brown skipper which looks like a Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans)  was resting on a leaf.
I have not been shooting any dragonfly for a long time. I found this fellow very tame and decided to take a few shots. It looks like a juvenile dragonfly but which species is this ?
It started to rain after I had shot this little beauty. Due to bad weather, we had to leave USR for an early  lunch at our usual food stall  before we headed to the Butterfly Lodge (BL). Thanks CH for introducing Mr 呂晟智 to me. Three of us had a long chat at BL after our guest had taken some shots of our local butterfly species in BL. I realised that Mr 呂 is a very experienced and knowledgeable butterfly enthusiast and photographer. Mr 呂, thanks for giving us your butterfly book and we look forward to meeting you again.         

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Late Morning @ Lornie Trail

On an overcast Saturday morning (6 Oct), after having a long breakfast with my friend before he flew  back to Shanghai for work, I dropped by Lornie Trail.

This Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius) "hopped" out from the bushes as I examined some vines growing along  the fence between the golf course and the reservoir. This is one of my favourite spots for butterfly photography. 
It was alert and skittish, settling on high perches most of the time. This was a rare moment when it opened its wings for sunbathing on a blade of grass.
It scooted up again and stayed high up on the leaf for a while.
As usual, the forest trail was devoid of insect activity after that particular spot until I reached the reservoir edge. My first sighting of a larger butterfly was this Malay Viscount (Tanaecia pelea pelea) which was so engrossed in feeding on the dry and fermented Singapore Rhododendron fruits. 
As it was flapping its wings constantly while feeding, I snapped a quick shot of its undersides - Now, I can tell that it was a she.
Can you guess what she did after feeding ?  She rested at this posture for quite a while.
The Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa lambi) is a common lycaenid in our forest. A lonely individual was spotted resting rather tamely on a cool late morning.
Here is another shot taken from a different perch after it was disturbed and flew to another leaf.  
The Yellow Vein Lancer (Pyroneura latoia latoia) is a common forest skipper which loves to feed on all sort of flowers. The ButterflyCircle's blog just posted an excellent write-up of the life history of this species
I am not sure why it was sensitive to the camera flash after two shots - this was how it  reacted.
Usually I don't chase after a Mycalesis species unless it is cooperative. This docile specimen looks like a Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis mineus macromalayana).   
On my way out of Lornie Trail at the same location as the Yanfly, I saw this small orange skipper resembling a Common Dartlet (Oriens gola pseudolus) perching quietly on a leaf surface.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Skippers @ Mandai Park Connector

A cloudy Saturday morning on 29 September dampened my spirit of going for an outing.  As the weather improved gradually around noon, I headed to Casurina Road for lunch. After which, I went to explore  Mandai Park Connector.

The number of Gram Blue (Euchrysops cnejus cnejus) was not as many as before. I snapped a quick shot when this male opened its wings to sunbath when
With patience and waiting at the right place, it was not too difficult to take a shot of an adult.
The presence of a white cell spot on this brown skipper points to the Small Branded Swift (Pelopidas mathias mathias). I love the greenish-blue tints on the thorax shown on the upperside shot.
An orange insect perching on a blade of grass was prominent enough not to be used by any eyes. Getting an upperside shot was easy as this skipper always perched with wings open.
It was quite docile and allowed me to take a few shots from different perspectives.
With my intention of identifying the species, I tried very hard to nail an underside shot. This is the best I could get. Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle has identified it to be the Common Palm Dart (Telicota colon stinga).
I followed the tarred road and came to wasteland on a slope. Here I found quite a number of brown skippers. This one is The Formosan Swift (Borbo cinnara).
Another brown skipper resting on a blade of grass in a breeze.
Due to time constraint, I didn't venture further into the forest. At an open space opposite the shelter, I saw quite a few of butterflies and bees feeding on the Bidens flowers.  Look, the bee was really enjoying itself.
This is a male Striped Albatross (Appias libythea olferna) which was skittish and he loved to show off his uppersides while feeding on the flowers.   
This Detached Dart (Potanthus trachala tytleri) is one of the largest Potanthus species. Feeding on the flowers initially, it scooted off  when I accidentally disturbed it.  Fortunately, it perched again nearby.
This is another shot and its uppersides.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Cloudy Day @ Pulau Ubin

It was a cloudy and cool Saturday morning (22 Sept). I hesitated awhile before I made up my mind heading to Pulau Ubin since my last visit to the island was more than 3 months ago.  Perhaps students were having  examinations,  there were not many visitors on the island. 

As usual, I went straight to the Butterfly Hill. At the Nparks nursery, I noticed a Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) fluttering and puddling on the ground.
A  male Leopard Lacewing (Cethosia cyane) landed on a leaf  right in front of me at the Butterfly Hill. With my instinctive reaction, I was quick enough to snap a shot before he scooted off.
There were two rather skittish Black Veined Tiger (Danaus melanippus hegesippus) flitting around a grass patch at the foot of the Butterfly Hill. Quite often they perched on the dry Crotalaria retusa fruits and "scratched" the surfaces of the fruits. 
There were a few Dark Glassy Tigers (Parantica agleoides agleoides) fluttering around the shrubs as well.
There were quite a few larvae feeding on the Seven Golden Candlesticks (Cassia alata) leaves. This is one  of the late instar larvae of the Mottled Emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe pyranthe).  
I guess this is a Detached Dart Potanthus trachala tytrleri), one of the largest Potanthus species that can be found here in Singapore. 
If you are not observant, you would probably miss this skittish Bamboo Tree Brown (Lethe europa malaya) flitting on the shady ground covered with dry leaves. 
The cool and nice weather enticed me to venture to the northern part of the island. Along the way to  Noordin Beach, I could see an orange butterfly flitting amongst a hedge of mangrove shrubs. I could only get   an upperside shot of this female Sumatran Sunbeam (Curetis saronis sumatrana).   
I am glad to see that a few Chamaecrista mimosoides shrubs - the larval host plant of The No brand Grass Yellow (Eurema brigitta senna), were doing well. Let us hope that this unfortunate species which lost its home at Punggol would re-establish a new home at the Butterfly Hill soon.