Sunday, June 21, 2015

Strolling Along the Rail Corridor

With the relocation of the historic Tanjong Pagar train station to Woodlands in 2011, the 24 km railway tracks running from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands has now become a popular hiking and cycling trail.

Pondering where I should start my morning walk on a fine and breezy Saturday morning (1 June), I decided to take a look at the Bukit Timah Railway Station as it was gazetted as a building for conservation. So this train station marked my starting point of my first visit to the rail corridor.
My first encounter of a butterfly was a Tawny Coster (Acraea violae) which was found flitting around the building and feeding on some wild Asystasia flowers.
Of course, there were many wild flowers on both sides of the trail - this white flower of a climber attracted by attention.
An assassin bug was swaying in the breeze on a leaf. After a quick snap, I moved towards the black iron bridge - one of the prominent landmarks of this railway track.

On this bridge, I was rather fortunate to notice a mating pair of Small Branded Swift (Pelopidas mathias mathias) scooting off from a leaf and landed on the track. A few quick shots were what I could get as there were a few hikers were behind me.
After walking past a short and rather open trail  parallel to the Riffle Range Road and the underneath of the Anak Bukit Flyover, I was greeted with a straight path ahead of me with shade and a lot of wild greenery on both sides of the trail. 
Here, I encountered  quite a number of skippers. A rather shy Contiguous Swift (Polytremis lubricans lubricans) refused to come closer to me despite a few attempts to "reset" is resting position.
However, when it did came closer after sometime, it always opened its wings -  this was my best attempt of taking an upperside shot.

This small orange skipper looks more like a Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha omaha).
It had a tendency to open its wings fully a few seconds later on  a new perch.
Apart from hikers, there were many cyclists on the trail - usually in a group.
Perhaps it was next to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, there were more butterflies at one particular spot near the Visitor Centre. I noticed from far, a Sunbeam flitting at the ground level. It was skittish but with patience, I was finally able to snap a few shots - a  Malayan Sunbeam (Curetis santana malayica).
I was waiting for it to open its wings fully but this was the best I could get. 
At a waterlogged spot, there were a lot of dragonflies and other bugs. A Common Parasol (Neurothemis fluctuans) displayed an elegant perch on a twig.
The way and the position they perched made it difficult for me to take a good shot of  this small mating pair of damselflies - I am not sure if these are the Shortail (Onychargia atrocyana).
Is this a kind of shield bug? 
An interesting fly (?) with colourful legs - is this rare?

I was excited when this large Great Helen (Papilio iswara iswara) or perhaps Blue Helen (Papilio prexaspes prexaspes) came down at around noon. It was fluttering with high speed on the grass but I just could not take a underside shot to determine its identity with certainty. 
I wandered around at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Visitor Centre (still under renovation) and bumped into a Fivebar Swordtail (Pythysa antiphates itamputi) feeding on some flowers of the Leea indica.
I was very lucky to notice a motionless Malayan Colugo (Cynocephalus variegatus) sleeping high on a big tree trunk 
I finally reached the Railway Mall and had my lunch there. It was a slow and fruitful walk  - indeed, when we slow down our pace and take a closer look at nature, we get to see more things  nature offers us. Let's hope that this railway corridor becomes a permanent green corridor for our hardworking people, young and old and families to come here to exercise, relax and enjoy the wilderness of our nature.