Sunday, May 25, 2014

From Lornie to Venus

I could feel that too much eating and too little exercise during a recent short trip to Melbourne (29 Apr - 2 May) had added some extra calories to my body. So I decided to go for a long hike on a fine Saturday morning (10 May) - from Lornie Trail to Rifle Range Link and ended up at  Venus Drive. 

For a long period of time, there wasn't  any clear shooting opportunity along the Lornie Trail except for this striking red fruit (or was it a seed pot , not sure what this is).
At last, I encountered a lycaenid flying rather erratically at the reservoir edge. I stood still and locked my sight on it until I could snap a few shots.  I believe this is a male Nacaduba berenice icena (The Rounded Sixline Blue).
While it was walking on a dry tree stem, I took more shots.
I had to bear the scorching heat while walking on a stretch of  tarred road between the reservoir and the golf course. I thought some selective tree-plantings on both sides of the road not only would provide shade for joggers and trekkers, they definitely would add greenery and aesthetics to the current not-so-scenic view of this part of the reservoir.  
Another awful sight (for me at least) is this very wild "grassland" in the heart of our nature reserve - I am puzzled why it has been like this since the day I started photography as a hobby.
At last I came to a more pleasant scene at the Jelutong Hut. More than half a dozen of Striped Blue Crows
(Euploea mulciber mulciber) were flitting around and puddling on the cement floor and seats. Strangely, I could  not find any female. 
The proboscis was seen "scratching and tasting" the concrete slabs.
A male Cruiser (Vindula dejone erotella) was flapping its wings while it was puddling on the cement floor in the shelter.
This underside shot was a bonus for me after a few attempts to freeze the wings at the correct moment.
While resting at the hut and observing the behaviour of these butterflies, here came another male visitor - the Magpie Crow (Euploea radamanthus radamantus).
I continued my hike towards the Rifle Range Link. The place where we used to lie flat on the ground to shoot puddling butterflies was flooded and had become a "river". Nevertheless, I was luck to bump into a small sandy patch where some butterflies seemed to like it very much.

I have not been shooting a Tree Yellow (Gandaca harina distanti) for a long time. It was seen puddling on a patch of damp soil along the Riffle Range Link.
This Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon agamemnon) appeared from no where but also disappeared from the scene the moment I snapped an impromptu shot.
This Fivebar Swordtail (Pathysa antiphates itamputi) was slightly more cooperative.
Another common species around the area was the Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon luctatius) but they were also active and alert. Perhaps these butterflies need some special nutrients for them to stay on the ground longer.
There were a few smaller butterflies nearby. I seldom chased a Brown but this Mycalesis which appeared to be the The Dark Brand Bush Brown (M. mineus macromalayana) was on the ground longer than I had expected.
A few smaller lycaenids were flitting around nearby too. They looked common to me so I didn't bother much of their presence. Two different Prosotas species were there - the Common Line Blue (P. nora superdates) and the Tailless Line Blue (P. dubiosa lumpura); no luck for me to see and shoot a third species. 
Another male Rounded Sixline Blue was very sensitive towards flash light - but this behaviour allowed me snap a glimpse of its uppersides.

Lastly, let me pose two skipper shots - awaiting for confirmation of their identities. I suspect this is a Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans)
And this is likely to be a Potanthus omaha omaha. 
 must say this was the most fruitful hiking and photographic outing I have had this year.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Courting Dance by a Male Common Birdwing

The Saturday morning on 26 April was ideal for an outing. I decided to make a trip to Pulau Ubin - one of the best "wild" places in terms of  natural greenery and biodiversity in Singapore for nature photographers, trekkers and cyclists. 

While en route to the Butterfly Hill, I detoured to check out compounds around the temple. I saw quite a few Lesser Darkwing (Allotinus unicolor unicolor) flitting aimlessly and perching intermittently at a shady and mosquitoes-infested spot.
As usual, I stayed put at the Butterfly Hill for quite sometime, looking around for "visitors'. Perhaps due to the frequent rainy days in the preceding weeks, many unwelcome "visitors"- the mosquitoes were out in strength buzzing around  and attacking us - me and three RGS students who were Nparks volunteers doing gardening work there.   

Walking down a slope, this Flos apidanus aturatus (Plain Plushblue) crossed my sight when it was on a high perch. 
A warm and sunny morning engergised many butterflies to put up a very dynamic "flying-flowers show" around some flowering trees.  But there were some static and less active butterflies enjoyed their own quiet moment. Together with a few Glassy Tiger butterflies, this Spotted Black Crow (Eupolea crameri bremeri) was feeding on some dry leaves and fruits.  
  This Coconut Skipper (Hidari irava) was spotted at a shady spot along the Sensory Trail. 
Usually, I would give up shooting Bush Brown butterflies if they were not cooperative. However, this pair of Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis mineus macromalayana) appeared to be lethargic which remained in this position for awhile. 
When I went back to the Butterfly Hill again from the Sensory Trail, I was entertained by a male Common Birdwing (Troides helena cerberus) performing "courting dance" surrounding a female but the female appeared to be uninterested and  indifferent to her "suitor".              

Many shots were take from far and  most of them were blur - I should have taken video instead of trying to capture them in pictures.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Afternoon Walk Along MacRitchie Reservoir Trails

Due to bad weather on a stormy Saturday morning (11 Apr), my weekly photography-cum-walking outing was postponed to the next day. Strolling along the Prunas Boardwalk on a quiet Sunday afternoon at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park, I noticed a late instar larva of the Acacia Blue (Surendra vivarna amisena) resting motionlessly on a young shoot of a Petai tree (Parkia speciosa).
Many butterflies in the family Lycaenidae display a myrmecophilous association with ants - here is another shot demonstrating this mutually-rewarding relationship between the Acacia Blue larva and the ants. These ants were climbing over the body of the larva to benefit from the secretions of the nectary organs.  An excellent write-up  the life cycle of this species can be found here.
After completing half of the boardwalk, I branched off to check out a stretch of the forest fringe along some private houses. Some tiny Pygmy Grass Blues (Zizula hylax pygmaea) were seen fluttering around.
A solitary Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius) was flitting past me. It finally perched on a leaf of the Singapore Rhododendron.
I followed it closely whenever it changed its perch and rewarded with a a few more shots.
A surprise for me in this late afternoon outing was the sighting of a worn out male Magpie Crow (Euploea radamanthus radamantus) - my first encounter of this species at MacRithchie Reservoir. It liked to rest on the brickwall and use it proboscis to "taste" the wall.