Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Rare Encounter @ USR

Some weeks ago, CH from the ButterflyCircle sighted and posted a shot of a very rare (in Singapore) butterfly, the Plain Lacewing (Cethosia methypsea methypsea). With great excitement, I decided to drop by Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park on a late Saturday morning (13 Sept) to hunt for this rarity which I have not encountered since 2004 when I started butterfly photography.

There are three different species from the genus Cethosia in Singapore,  C hypsea ,  C. cyane and  C. methypsea being the rarest. We were excited to encounter this beautiful butterfly again since its last appearance at USR was more than a decade ago.  

With some luck, a rather pristine specimen appeared and started to feed on some tiny flowers on the ground. We managed to have a few shots when it perched on a leaf for a short while.
The presence of a row of small sub-marginal white spots on the forewing distinguish it  from one its closest look-alikes, the C. hypsea .
I was waiting to snap a shot of its uppersides. Unfortunately, it didn't offer me a good opportunity for a better shot. Like the other two Lacewing species, it is believed that its larval host plant is from the Passifloraceae family. 
At a sunlit spot along a hedge of shrubs, a male Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina bolina) kept changing its perches, testing my patience. At last, he gave in to my persistence of stalking him and stayed on the leaf for several seconds, long enough for me to compose my shots.
Outside the toilet, this brilliantly coloured  reddish pink dragonfly was sunbathing on a dry leaf - it looks like the Orthetrum testaceum

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Some Dragonflies @ Lornie Trail

I dropped by Lornie Trail in a late Saturday afternoon (6 Sept). Taking a leisure walk on the forest trail, I stopped at the reservoir edge where I used to find butterflies feeding on the Leea indica flowers but not this time. However, this small but attractive long-legged fly kept me busy for a while as it reacted to the flashlight  faster than the shutter speed.  So I decided to take some shots without the camera flashlight.                   
When butterflies came along, I would go after them. This is a female Knight (Lebadea martha parkeri) looking for food on the ground. But it didn't stay too long for me to get a better shot.
There were at least three individual Arhopala lycaenids but they all looked haggard,  flitting around  a shady spot along the Lornie Trail.
This is a rather worn-out skipper that looks like a Telicota species but I could not identify with certainty.
I decided to look for dragonflies when the butterflies all went hiding. You won't miss this common red dragonfly, Neurothemis fluctuans when you walk along the forest trail.
I was glad to find the Aethriamanta brevipennis again -  one of the smallest dragonflies in the world. As usual, the female was nowhere to be seen. When some hikers stopped by to look at what I was photographing, they were amazed that I could spot such a small creature. Well, when we know what to look out for, we can find it if it is there.  
The size of a damselfly is smaller and it was much harder to spot. Taking a good look at the aquatic plants surrounding the reservoir edge, I spotted this lovely damselfly Ceriagrion cerinorubellum perching on a twig.
There were a few blue damselflies showing different perches along the reservoir edge. I hope I have identified it correctly as  Pseudagrion microcephalum.

When the number of butterflies getting fewer, the number of dragonflies at this particular spot seemed to be as good as before.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Skippers @ Mandai

I decided to check out the forested areas outside the Mandai Zoo on 31 Aug. Strolling along the Mandai Lake Road, I ventured into a few forest trails before ending my outing  at Mandai Track 15.
My first instinctive shot of the morning was this skittish lycaenid which was identified by Dr Seow (from BC) as a male Nacaduba calauria malayica. Very active and demonstrating a zigzag and random flight pattern, it didn't stay still for me to take more shots.
There were quite a number of Bush Browns flitting along the reservoir edge. This is likely to be a Mycalesis perseoides perseoides.
A Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos varians) was zipping around from flower to flower. When it rested momentarily, I approached closer and snapped a few shots.
A rather dark skipper was resting at one shady corner along a forest trail . With its unmarked dark hindwing, it appeared to be a male Caltoris cormasa.
Not far away from the main road, some Bidens flowers attracted quite a number skippers. This Grass Demon (Udaspes folus) was one of them foraging for nectar and occasionally taking a short break on a leaf surface.
The Detached Dart  (Potanthus trachala tytleri) tends to open its wings while feeding.
I had to squeeze off a shot rapidly whenever it landed on a new flower so as to capture its underside wings.
Here is another shot.
The Silver-Forget-Me-Not (Catochrysops panormus exiguus) seems to be a permanent resident in this area.
This small orange skipper is Oriens gola pseudolus, a rather common fast flying skipper in forested areas.
This is likely to be a Parnara species, a small brown skipper which didn't open its wings as frequent as some of the Pelopidas species that I have known of.   
This is a female Telicota colon stinga according to Dr Seow. Identifying a Telicota species has always been a nightmare for me.
Here is another shot.

On my way back to the main gate, I tumbled over a puddling Melanitis leda leda. It took off from the ground and perched on a leaf. I approached it closer and took this shot.
Thanks Dr Seow for identifying many of the species featured here.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lotus Flowers @ Pulau Ubin

A last minute decision on a fine Saturday morning (24 Aug) brought me to Pulau Ubin. The jetty was crowded with different groups of people. Over the years, I have noticed that more people visited the island on weekends to cycle, hike and enjoy the peaceful "kampong" life style.  

I found a few Lesser Darkwings (Allotinus unicolor unicolor) at the same shady spot on my way to the Butterfly Hill.
At the Butterfly Hill, there were a few Euploea butterflies visiting flowers for their food supply. This was a female Spotted Black Crow (Euploea crameri bremeri).
A solitary Striped Black Crow (Euploea eyndhovii gardineri) loved to enjoy its food high on some flowers of the String Bush. A long-distance shot was my only reward for being patiently waiting for it to come down.
A small lycaenid flitting with a rather erratic flight pattern, the Apefly (Spalgis epius epius) is an interesting butterfly as its larvae are carnivorous. 
I usually would not chase a Line Butterfly (Papilio demoleus malayanus) as it is too fast and alert for me to snap a shot. I was lucky to encounter a lethargic one, resting on a leaf long enough for me to take a few shots.
A Common Mime (Chilasa clytia clytia) was attracted by some wild Lanta flowers. Getting a shot was a bonus for me as it was energetic and kept changing its perch and flapping its wings.
Taking a slow walk through the Sensory Trail was my usual route whenever I visited Ubin. I passed by a pond where the lotus flowers were in blooms. Cyclists and hikers alike were attracted by many of these magnificent and showy aquatic flowers. I was no exception.
The Sensory Trail was rather quiet and there were very few photographic opportunities. This skittish Parak Lascar (Pantoporia paraka paraka) was my only butterfly shot along the trail. 
Perhaps searching for food, this rather large wasp was found on damp soil. I have no idea what this wasp is.
What a beautiful Ginger flower at the foot of the butterfly hill - how could I not capture it !