Sunday, March 31, 2013

Have You Seen These Creatures in the Wild ? - Part 1

I went to this wild place in the northern part of Singapore on two consecutive Saturdays in March. Let me showcase some interesting critters that I encountered.

Along a forest trail, a very dark skipper perched on a leaf at my knee level. I squatted down and took a few shots at low shutter speed. This is a male Quedara monteithi monteithi.
Two small black-and-white lycaenids were flitting on the ground. They were looking for something on the forest floor to puddle on. This guy decided to climb up a "slope" and gave me a few seconds for some shots.
I was lucky to spot this rather rare White Spotted Palmer (Eetion elia) - my second sighting along the trial. In between its swift and speedy darting flights, it stopped a few times. I stayed still,  observed where it landed and with a bit of luck, I could snap some quick shots this time.  
I met N and E one early morning. Though the forest appeared to be quiet and devoid of life,  nothing could escape the sharp eyes of N who spotted this strange and beautiful critter - perhaps a kind of cricket (hope someone can come in to id this).
Here is another shot.
Guess what this butterfly is who was high on a leaf on performing its surveillance duty.
The undersides of this male Horsfield's Baron (Tanaecia iapis puseda) are rather dull and uninteresting. Having a tendency to visit the same high perch, he never gave me a chance to take a shot of his more attractive uppersides. 

An adventure into forest rewarded me with a few shots of this stack of butterfly eggs - I guess this is a way to protect all the eggs being parasited by other insects.
I bumped into S in the afternoon and we were very lucky to see a female Banded Swallowtail (Papilio demolion demolion) hovering around a young shrub with big leaves. She stopped and I snapped a few shots but we didn't notice she was actually ovipositing her eggs in a stack. S took a shot from another angle and noticed this unique and valuable moment.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

An Uncommon Butterfly@Mandai

Thanks CH for giving me a lift from WWW to a Park Connector at Mandai on 9 March. While we were walking towards the shelter, we saw a few Acacia Blue (Surendra vivarna amisena) feeding on the Costus flower buds. Most of them were quite tattered except for this specimen.
This specimen landed just in front of me when we were hunting for butterflies on a patch of grassland.
We could only find a few Common Sailors (Neptis hylas papaja) chasing each other and feeding on some wild flowers and perhaps fruits of grasses under the hot sun.
I managed to snap a quick shot of the uppersides of this Common Sailor when it spent a few seconds longer on the perch.
Along a gravel road, we saw a small Pothanthus species.
We met Horace at the trail also. At around 2 pm, a male butterfly Euripus nyctelius euploeoides suddenly appeared. CH and I waited patiently for him to perch before we could take some shots of this rather pristine specimen.
The common name of this rather uncommon butterfly is Courtesan, a rather strange and disgraceful name given to this beauty. Here is another shot when he was on a high perch.
A Slate Flash (Rapala manea chozeba ) landed on a Trema shrub.
A snap shot of its uppersides when it suddenly opened its wings partially.
I  could see quite a number of skippers zipping around along a forest trail but I was just too slow or rather these skipper were just too active and alert for me to get any record shot - I have to visit this place more often if I want to find out what these skippers are. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beautiful Damselflies in the Nature Reserve

It was a nice Saturday morning in late February. I strolled along a forest trail along Old Upper Thomson Road. This rather worn-out Potanthus skipper offered me a chance to snap a few shots to begin my long hide into the forest.
This forest trail is especially quiet and devoid of human activity. This tailless Arhopala which looks like an A. major major was actively flitting around in the shade. Where were the Arhopala species? They seemed to have disappeared from this forest trail.
This lycaenid  is a Jamides species for sure. I think with its whitish upperside wings that could be seen when it was in flight, it is closer to a J. celeno aelianus.  
This orange skipper looks like a male Plain Palm Dart (Cephrenes acalle niasicus) - thanks Dr Seow for providing the clue. How can I overlook this species? I think it must be more than a year since my shot of a Cephrenes species. 
This large and magnificent Common Flashwing (Vestalis amethystina) damselfly was rather common along this stretch of the forest trail in the nature reserve.
At the end of the this long trail, a solitary small damselfly was plying hide-and-seek with me. The stream made it very hard for me to position myself parallel to the damselfly without getting myself wet.
I spent a lot of time stalking this guy though it didn't fly far away from the stream. I browsed through the book (written by Tang, Wang & Matti, 2010), I could not find a close match - I guess it may be Prodasineura humeralis.
When it was not on a perch, it  hovered above the water surface. I snapped a few in-flight shots - this is my best shot.
Before I turned right into another trail, there were a few other dragonfly species hovering and darting in the air above the water-logged and muddy ground. I realised that shooting this pair of mating dragonfly which look more like  the Spine-tufted Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysis) wasn't that easy.
I saw more fallen trees and dead tree branches in our nature reserve these days - an indication that the forest is falling sick and it needs a closer attention now before it is too late - trees need time to grow slowly to make a healthy forest.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Re-visit to Wild Wild West

Thanks CH for giving me a lift to this very wild place in the western part of Singapore on 9 March. My last visit to this place was more than two years ago (see http://peacockroyal.blogspot.sg/2010/09/quiet-morning-wild-wild-west.html).  There were many wild Lantana flowers in this wasteland but critters didn't seem to be interested in them.
There were many Bidens flowers too. While I was scanning a sea of flowers, suddenly a Yellow Flat (Mooreana  trichoneura trichoneura) caught my sight - this was my second sighting in the field. 

While chasing and stalking to shoot this guy, CH spot another more pristine Yellow Flat but slightly smaller. I managed to squeeze off a few shots while it was feeding on the Bidens flowers.
I believe this is a Common Caerulean (Jamides celeno aelianus). It was "sliding" its wings when I took a this shot - the whitish uppersides may be useful for us to identify the species correctly.
I was lucky to bump into a male Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber mulciber) flitting around a drain. It was rather alert and sensitive to my presence. This is one of the two shots I took when it perched momentarily. 
A white jumping spider was roaming on a leaf surface near the entrance. I have not seen this before so I decided to snap a few shots. 
Except for the two Yellow Flats found in this wasteland, there wasn't any other interesting creatures holding us back. So, we decided to head to Mandai before noon.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Two Short Outings During Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year period was exceptionally wet this year. Gloomy weather and the erratic passing showers during the Lunar New Year week (10 - 17 Feb) made long-distance outings impossible. I could only sneak out to the nature reserves for a short stroll and photographing session when the sky appeared to be clear on two afternoons.  

The Tree Yellow (Gandaca harina distanti) is a forest denizen. The damp forest paths provided some ideal  spots for them to puddle. Apart from being very skittish and alert to movement, the water-logged trails  gave me a hard time taking some shots. 
The Ypthima species are rather unattractive in appearance but they too are naturally alert - this Common Four-Ring (Ypthima huebneri) was no exception.
Nearby, a tiny spider unknown to me, was waiting patiently for its prey to be trapped in its webs. I noticed that somehow the butterflies seemed to be able to avoid the spider webs.
Along a forest fringe, this small Yellow Grass Dart (Taractrocera archias quinta) enjoyed its quiet moment on a low perch.
I was quite lucky to see this slender but beautiful red-headed snake crawling on the forest floor. It deprived me a second shot as it  wriggled underneath the forest litters rather quickly when I approached closer.
How can I resist taking a shot of the uppersides of this male Common Posy (Drupadia ravindra moorei) even thought it was not pristine. 
I didn't see many butterflies on both occasions so common butterflies such as the The Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis lampa) also attracted my attention.