Sunday, May 24, 2020

My First Post of The Year !

Yes, quite embarrassing, almost 5 months have passed but this is my first post in the blog this year.

Just like any other photographers, I have not been shooting since the Circuit Breaker (CB)  period started almost two months ago. So naturally, I have got nothing to showcase here. Five months have passed this unforgettable 2020, I think I should fill the void of this blog with an outing I could recall quite vividly.  

Back on 5th January this year when the virus has not reached SG, thanks CA for initiating a trip to Pulau Ubin and giving me a lift there on a nice Sunday morning. Together with Mr Foo, when we arrived at Ubin, we headed straight to the Butterfly Hill and stayed there throughout the whole duration of the outing.


I remembered there were quite a number of butterflies fluttering around - Grass Demon (was abundant and they were out for sunbathing and feeding on flowers.
  Taking a shot on flower was both challenging and rewarding.
A lonely Nacaduba berenice icena (Rounded Sixline Blue) was fluttering in a shady part of bushes.
Leopard Lacewing (Cethosia cyane) appeared to be rather rare in the late 2018 - 2019. This single male specimen found at a shady corner at the Butterfly Hill gave me a moment of  excitement though I have shot this species many times before.  
Its open-wing shot.
At the same spot, another butterfly attracted my attention - a rather pristine Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus).
At another shady corner behind the Lacewing butterfly, a Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) was fluttering around. When it perched on a twig, I quickly snapped a few quick shots.
I have seen Palm King (Amathusia phidippus phidippus) many times at Pulau Ubin - this was my best record shot that I had in many years. 
It was a day of skippers - there were quite a number of them zipping past us, at different locations. This one looks like the Detached Dart (Potanthus trachala tytleri).
Another Potanthus species lurking in a shade.
In contrast, the Yellow Palm Dart (Cephrenes trichopepla) seemed to prefer sunlit spot on a leaf.
This was  a Banded Demon (Notocryta paralysos varians), trying to spread out its wings to sunbathe. 
Another large size brown Demon skipper, a Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita maura) resting on a bamboo shoot.
Enough of Demons, we always like to see more species of butterflies. The Dwarf Crow (Euploea tulliolus ledereri) is a special bitterfly in Ubin - as far as I know, it has not been spotted in SG main island yet.
I remembered I spotted this female Green Baron (Euthalia adonia pinwilli) came down to feed on some Ixora flowers briefly. She was just too shy and scooted off rapidly even I was afar. She appeared in the late morning and I remember, at the critical moment, my flash light failed me - this was the only decent shot taken without the flash light when she folded her wings.   

I must say that butterfly-outing on 5 Jan was a memorable one as it was my first outing since I returned from HK that I got to see and shoot so many species at one place in a single outing

This sudden Covid-19 pandemic has shocked and waken me up somewhat - social activities and the freedom of travelling to everywhere that we have enjoyed should not be seen as a given now. We all believe that it is a matter of time, the current pandemic situation will be over and become an episode in the  history of mankind. But, we need to remind ourselves now, before the next one strikes us (no one can predict when it will happen) we must treasure every opportunity that allows us to pursue our dreams, to explore and enjoy nature before we are immobilised by whatever causes.       

On this note, I need to motivate myself to explore, write and post more often! 

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Endagered Raffles' Banded Langur @ Thomson Nature Park

This newest 50-hectare nature park is located in the eastern side of the central catchment nature reserve, bounded between a stretch of Old Upper Thomson and Upper Thomson road.

Source of image from : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So8174tEar8

This nature park is rather unique as it was conceptualized and developed on the site of an old Hainan Village. Here is a quick overview of the park produced by CNA which I downloaded from YouTube.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YS7inThrGcU

The park was officially open to the public on 11 Oct. Being a Hinanese myself, naturally I was curious to find out how an abandoned Hainan village was turned into a nature park -  so on a nice Sunday afternoon (13 Oct) I went alone to the park via the Old Upper Thomson Road. 

The walking paths in the park were clearly demarcated with white ropes and most of the trails are gravel paths without many steps and steep slopes.
I noticed that there were many old and tall trees in this park.
I guess that was an abandoned bee hive high up on the tree.

















Well-illustrated information sign boards on various contents are placed along the trails. When I looked at this, I was hopping to see the Raffles' Banded Langur (Presbytis femoralis femoralis) again.
Indeed I was rather lucky to spot a family of  four Raffles' Banded Langur (2 adults and 2 juveniles), seemingly high up on a reubutan tree on 20 Oct morning when I visited the park again. Though it was my second sighting of this endangered species in SG, but these were my first record shots of them ! ( should have used my HP to take video!)    



Two smaller individuals in size (may be juveniles?) were seen following behind at lower branches but I didn't have a clear view to snap some shots. Read here for more information about this rare primate.

The ruins of houses, brick walls and the information signages provide us with some idea about the life in the village before 1980.
One of the significant historical elements of this nature park is the house and the ambutan garden of Mr Han Wei Toon. A large information poster (picture below) provides  me a good lesson about the life and work of Mr Han Wei Toon.   

The small Hainan community in the village helped each other out and shared farming lands. 
I was surprised to know that Caucasian also lived in this village - this was the site of the Fox's family. 
In those days, the village was accessible via two roads, Lorong Pelita and Jalan Belang. It is good to keep these two roads as walking paths in the garden.

During my second visit, I paid attention to butterflies and other critters. My first shot of a butterfly species was this male Archduke (Lexias pardalis direteana), puddling on the ground with lots of leaf litter.
There were a few common lycaenids fluttering close to the gravel ground along the red-marked trail. Due to human traffic, I got to be patient and quick to snap a few shots - this is the Tailless Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura) - a common species but good to know that the park does have some butterflies.
Its "cousin"  the Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates) was around too. It disappeared so fast that I didn't have a second chance to take more shots.

There was another look-alike lycaenid but slightly larger in size, I believed this is the Pointed Line Blue (Ionolyce helicon merguiana).
At another location along the "Red" trail, there was another lonely lycaenid - likely to be the Opaque Sixline Blue (Nacaduba beroe neon)
A Sunbeam was teasing me, zipping past me a few times and attempting to stop on sweaty shirt. But at last it preferred to hang around with the Blues.
I covered almost every corner of the park and fortunate again to see a stinkhorn mushroom. It has been more than a decade since my last sighting in the wild.
A cluster of wild mushrooms was found growing on a tree trunk.



Reference:
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/thomson-nature-park-opens-former-hainan-village-animals-11991072

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Butterflies at Dairy Farm Park (May - June) 2019

In the past two months (May and June 2019), I visited Dairy Farm Park on a few Sunday mornings either hiking up to the peak of our highest mountain or just for butterfly-hunting.    

Good to see a lot more people came to the park these days - in fact, many bird watchers and photographers always gathered at the furthest entrance point of the Wallace Trail. I was told that that area was good for watching and shooting birds.

On one particular Sunday morning in early May, I came out from the Wallace Trail and moved towards Car Park B. At the open space near the Wallace Education Centre,  I noticed a small lycaenid fluttering rather weakly in the air. I had no clue about what it was.  Out of curiosity, I watched and followed it closely until it landed - I was very surprised to see a rather pristine  Logania marmorata damis (The Pale Mottle) rested on a tiny rock - this is not the usual  hehaviour shown by this species.

There were a few small Blues fluttering at the ground level near the toilet at Car Park B. With patience, I managed to snapped some shots. I was particularly excited to shoot a Four-line Blue as I have not seen one for a long time.
In fact, this shot generated very profound discussions about its identity -  whether it is the Nacaduba hermus or the  N. pendleburyi in ButterflyCircle Forum here.
If you observe carefully, you notice that this Nacaduba species has 6 white lines in the forewing. This is perhaps a Rounded Six-line Blue (Nacaduba berenice icena).
Another Nacaduba species was shot in early June outside the toilet. Noticing the differences in the white striae, I suspect this is the N. beroe neon. 
Another look-alike lycaenid, this is  Jamides alecto ageladas (The Metallic Caerulean) also found puddling on the ground.
The blue iridescence on the upperside wings could be seen on this shot.
This Bush Brown, perhaps the Mycalesis mineus macromalayana was "hopping" around along a row of shrubs in front of the Wallace Education Centre. I ignored it until it perched on a nice position; long enough for me to snap a quick shot.  
This small tailed lycaenid was found puddling at a muddy spot along the Wallace Trail.  The ochreous straie on both wings are the characteristics of the Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates.)
Same background but a different butterfly from the same genus, this is a very common lycaenid called the Tailess Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura).
Another look-alike, but this is from another genus - the Ionolyce helicon merguiana (The Pointed Line Blue) is quite common in forested areas.  Correction - this is another  N. beroe neon (Thanks Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle)
Whenever a common forest shrub named Leea indica is flowering, its tiny white flowers would attract butterflies. This is Tagiades japetus atticus (Common Snow Flat) feeding on the small flowers.
A Large Snow Flat (Tagiades gana gana) also found on the same tree, feeding voraciously on the flowers.
This was my first sighting of an elegant butterfly at Dairy Farm Park, the Royal Assyrian (Terinos terpander robertsia) - a rather uncommon forest denizen. Being too active and skittish, it never presented me a nice and nearer perch for me to take better shots.
   An upperside shot.
The Cruiser (Vindula dejone erotella) is a large forest butterfly from the nymphalidae family. The male likes to puddle on the moist ground. 
This dark brown skipper, The Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos vrians is a very fast flyer but it tends to perch quite frequently. This is a record shot when it rested on a high perch in a shady area.
 Another common skipper the Palm Bob (Suastus gremius gremius) , much smaller than the Banded Demon. 
Lastly, two non-butterfly shots a tiny beetle and a snail to wrap up this long-overdue blog post.