Sunday, February 24, 2013

An Afternoon Trip To Mandai Track 15

It was a very hot Saturday afternoon on 2 Feb. After lunch I dropped by Mandai Track 15 for a leisure walk. Along a shady trail near the entrance of the Mandai Park Connector, a Flatid planthopper flew pass me and landed on a dry leaf. 
There were many lycaenids fluttering along the biking trail. While I was patiently waiting to find out what they were, this Cornelian (Deudorix epijarbas cinnabarus) surprised me with a nice perch just in front of me.
I snapped a few quick shots before it scooted off to the canopy.
There were not many shooting opportunities so I continued walking deep into the forest along the biking trail. At one corner, I saw this Blue Brownie (Miletus symethus petronius) ovipositing on a grass blade where some some ants and aphids were present.  
There were quite a few dragonflies near the reservoir edge. Thus should be a male Cratilla metallica, a rather common species in the forest.  
A few alert and active Common Posies (Drupadia rufotaenia rufotaenia) kept flitting and changing their perches. I didn't have much patience chasing them for a better shot.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

From Bukit Brown to Lornie Trail

Very soon hoardings will be erected; construction machinery will move in and access to Bukit Brown - an old burial ground for many eminent pioneers of Singapore will be difficult. I dropped by Bukit Brown again on 26 Jan to check for the status of the Banded Line Blue (Prosotas lutea sivoka). I could only see one female trying to oviposit on the host plants at the same site that I first shot it last December.
I am not sure what is the thing tangling at the tip of the abdoman of this female Babnded Line Blue.
While I was looking for more Banded Line Blue, this small Yellow Grass Dart (Taractrocera archias archias) appeared from no where but it disappeared completely when I tried to adjust my shooting position.     
I managed to take a shot of a female Blue Pansy (Junonia orithya wallacei) this time
At around noon, I went across Lornie Road and turned into Lornie Trail. This time, it was a disappointment at the two spots where I usually saw some butterflies. So I back-tracked and moved towards the MacRitchie Nature Trail.

This alert Knight (Lebadea marttha parkeri)  kept fluttering around me but if finally settled on a high perch.
This was my first sighting of  at least half a dozen Malay Barons (Euthalia monina monina) either flying close to the forest trail or puddling. The polymorphic male seemed to be more common than the female  and this shot shows one of its polymorphic forms, the decorata.
Here is another specimen.
A female Malay Baron was resting on a leaf overlooking the trail. I approached closer to her and took a few shots.
Are there any differences between the female Malay Baron and this butterfly ? Indeed, they look alike. The extent of the white patches and the "/\-shaped" markings on the hindwing distinguish this Malay Viscount ( Tanaecia pelea pelea) from the female Malay Baron.
It was very challenging to take an underside shot of this female Malay Baron - this was a lucky shot while she was flapping her wings. 
This is an underside shot of a male.
The close resemblance between the Malay Viscount and the female Malay Baron was also shown on the  underside wing markings.This is a shot of one of the Malay Viscounts that mingled among the Malay Barons.  
Along a shady trail leading to the main road, I saw two Dark Flat (Tapena thwaitesi bornea) feeding on bird droppings. But they took off when I approached closer to them. Luckily one of them perched on a leaf again .  
Lastly, sharing a shot of a funny-looking bug that I have no idea of what it is. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Close Encounter With a Hornbill @ Pulau Ubin

I decided to go for a solo outing to Pulau Ubin on a fine Saturday morning (12 Jan). As usual, I took a slow walk towards the Butterfly Hill.

My best high speed shot of a female Common Mormon (Papilio polytes romulus) when feeding furiously on a cluster of purple Duranta flowers.

A flowering Leea indica shrub attracted some Glassy Tiger butterflies. Though this Striped Black Crow (Euploea eyndhovii gardineri) was my main focus, it was rather shy and   kept feeding high on the tree.     
There were many Blue Glassy Tigers (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) feeding on the shrub but I wasn't very keen on taking more shots on them.  
A couple of Common Tigers (Danaus genutia genutia) was busy feeding on some Bidens flowers on a slope.  
The rarest of the five Tiger butterflies, the Black Veined Tiger (Danaus melanippus hegesippus) took a short rest on a leaf before it fluttered off hurriedly.     
This is a late instar larva of the Mottled Emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe pyranthe) which was found on a Seven Golden Candlestickes (Senna alata) leaf. 
Sensory Trail was my another hunting ground for critters. I was quite  lucky to see a rather elusive permanent resident of Pulau Ubin, the Common Jay (Graphium doson evemonides), attempting to puddle along a dirt track. I guessed the ground was too dry so it took off frequently - this was a quick snap shot of the moment when it landed in front of me at a distance away. 
The high perch of this large dragonfly attracted my attention I didn't recall I have seen it before in Ubin. Is this Camacinia gigantea ? I was quite puzzled by its hindwing markings.
The Coconut Skipper (Hidari irava) can be spotted quite easily in Ubin if we know its habitat and behaviour.
This time, I noticed that some wild spots along the Sensory Trail have been converted for cultivating herbs and fruit-tree plantings and the number of butterflies that I could see has dwindled a lot as well. So, I decided to head back to the Butterfly Hill. Wow, I almost exclaimed for joy. An Oriental Piped-hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) was perching on a tree trunk less than 10 metres away.       
I had to step backwards and tiled my camera to capture its long tail on the frame.
It picked up a clump of soil and flew away. I wonder what was the purpose of  the soil ? 
This orange skipper perched on a blade of grass. It looks like The Palm Dart (Telicota augias augias) ??
This may be the The Common Palm Dart (Telicota colon stinga) or T. linna ?  
I believe this was my first shot of a small and interesting-looking cricket.
Today is the last day of the Year of the Dragon. On the eve of a new Lunar Year of the Snake, let me wish all Chinese readers of the blog, 身体健康、万事如意.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Critters @ NTU's Vicinity

It has been quite a long time since my last group outing with ButterflyCircle members. Thanks Khew for giving me a lift on 6 Jan to the Community Herb Garden at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). My first shot of the morning was this Malayan Eggfly (Hypolimnas anomala anomala) at a wasteland outside NTU - in fact there were quite a few of them fluttering in that area.
We didn't spend much time at the wasteland. Instead, we crossed the road to visit the Community Herb Garden. The pink berries and some fermented dry fruits of the the Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) shrubs attracted a few species of butterflies. First, a female Colour Sergeant (Athyma nefte subrata) was "intoxicated" by a pink colour fruit. 
This female Silverstreak (Iraota rochana boswelliana) created some excitement among us. There was a male zipping around but I didn't have the luck to see  it.    
An old and haggard  Commander (Moduza procris milonia) was also attracted by the ripe berries - it stayed and fed on the fruit for a while. These pink berries are edible and they taste rather nice for me.       
Indeed, these pink ripe fruits were juicy; no wonder this Malay Staff Sergeant (Athyma reta moorei) was persistent in getting its share, trying to chase the Commander away.  
At last it found a sweet spot high on the tree.
A male Baron (Euthalia aconthea gurda) perched above my head. I could only take its underside shot.
This Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita maura) was found along the fence of the garden.
As I didn't see any new species visiting the garden, I went back to the wasteland - this time I adventured  deeper into it. At a shady forested area, I saw this orange skipper which looked like a Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha omaha).  
Very few critters offered me good opportunities to shoot. However, an Autmum Leaf pupa in its early stage was attractive enough for me. 
I also could not resist to snap a few quick shots of this fly hovering in front of me.
This day-flying moth perhaps the Pompelon marginata  flew past me and rested on a leaf when I was looking at a tall rambutan tree.
What kind of grasshopper is this ? It certainly looked strange to me.
In the early afternoon, we headed to a patch of forested area to look for The Harlequin (Taxila haquinus haquinus). We spotted quite a number of them at one location. However, they were rather alert and skittish this time. As far as I know, this beautiful lycaenid can only be found here regularly. I am worried that its habitat may be gone. 

The hindwing markings of this Arhopala species found in a deep shade of the forest suggested that it could be a Arhopala major major, but with some aberrations - this was my first sighting of a Arhopala species here.
BJ and I visited the location where I first discovered  and shot the Yellow Flat (Mooreana trichoneura trichoneura) last December. But we could not find any adult. Instead, we hung around its host plant and looked for any larvae or egg.  We could only found two dead young larvae like this.
Finally, I noticed that the larvae of the Yellow Flat ate the leaves in a special pattern like this.
With this observation, we managed to find a few larvae. Here is a shot of one of the smallest larvae. A detailed write-up of the complete life history of this species should be published in the near future  in the BC's blog
Many thanks to Mr Ng, the person in-charge of the garden for offering us very nice self-made herbal drinks on a rather hot Sunday morning. The Community Herb Garden is run by Mr Ng and a group of volunteers. They need the support from the public and the endorsement of the university so that this herb garden would be well-maintained, benefiting the public and the NTU community. Read here for more information.