Thursday, December 31, 2020

Revisit Bukit Brown Cemetery - In Search of the Banded Line Blue

Jan 2013 was my last outing to Bukit Brown Cemetery before this large municipal Chinese cemetery ground was cordoned off for the construction of the Lornie Highway. Since the full completion of the highway in Apr 2019, I have not visited the place until early this month. 

The roads around the area have been changed or diverted quite a bit so it took me awhile to find the old main entrance gate to the cemetery. 
Not far from the main gate, information signage mounted on a makeshift wooden stand have been put up by the Singapore Heritage Society (SSS) with the support of the Ministry of National Development and the National Heritage Board. It is definitely educational and good to have these signage to educate the public about the history of the cemetery and the different cultural rituals or practices associated with tombs. 

More information about the SHS's Wayfinder project which started in October 2017 of documenting and explaining some of the prominent or special tombs can be found here

Indeed, the rich biodiversity attracted hikers and nature photographers to come here to look for rarities before the construction of the highway.
However, I was rather disappointed with the information presented above - it does not provide us a complete and accurate "picture". I think NSS should have also featured the Banded Line Blue (Prosotas lutea sivoca) as its larval host plant and the butterfly can still be found, as of today, at 3 different locations at Bukit Brown.(note: Golden Loyal and Banded Line Blue were spotted in the same year).
I was relieved and happy to see, though just one female ovipositing on the host plant (Acacia conccina) on 4 December. With the abundance of the host plants growing at the same site that I discovered this species about 8 years ago, I guess this tiny Blue has been surviving quite well all these years even during the construction period - thanks to the authority or whoever preserving the host plants there.
While searching and waiting for the BLB to appear, I spotted other butterflies visiting some Lantana flowers - they were a Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon agamemnon), a Plain Nawab (Polyura hebe plautus) and a Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius).

These were the instinctive snap shots as they were just too fast and uncooperative. 
A long-distance shot of the Plain Nawab and the Yamfly.
This Yamfly was very skittish - no chance of getting closer to it.
I noticed a small lycaenid fluttering at the ground level. Hoping that it could be the BLB, I decided to stalk and chase after it -  but it was a disappointment for me as it turned out to be the Common Line Blue (Prosotas nora superdates). 

About 3 weeks later on 26 Dec, a fellow BC member CA found a small colony of puddling BLB at another site which is somewhere south of the two known locations. 

Thanks to CH for giving me a ride to Bukit Brown in the morning on 27 Dec to look for the BLB.  After some effort of figuring out the "new" location on the Google Map, we finally found one BLB puddling on a dirt track.

Though occasionally it fluttered and disappeared in the canopy, quite often it came back again, staying on the moist sandy ground for us to shoot.

There was a large number of larvae of the Maylan Eggfly (Hypolimnas anomala anomala) and pristine adults fluttering in the vicinity of its host plant.
One of those Line Blues caught my attention when it was puddling on a pile of sand. After taking some shots, I noticed that this is a Tailess Line Blue (Prosotas dubiosa lumpura).
Apart from the scenic greenery and many tall trees with climbers engulfing this secluded area,  the site offers us good opportunity of finding and photographing butterflies and perhaps other critters.

With the Covid-19 pandemic inflicting losses in life and affecting livelihood in almost every part of the world,  Year 2020 is disastrous for some and surely unforgettable for everyone. Many countries and regions are still grappling with the increasing number of deaths, severe economic impacts brought about by restrictions of cross-border movement and social interactions. I believe that with wisdom, unity, co-operations and a common goal in mind, mankind will overcome this crisis and win the fight against the pandemic to some extent in Year 2021.    

I wish everyone a happy, fruitful and healthy 2021. 


Sunday, September 27, 2020

A New Addition to Singapore Butterfly Species @ Pulau Ubin

With the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe resulting in closure of  country borders and restrictions of big group gatherings and so on it is no surprise  that local nature parks and offshore islands such as Bukit Timah Hill and Pulau Ubin have been crowded with hikers and nature photographers - because leisure travel out of the country is not possible for now!

Pulau Ubin's is ideal for any stray butterflies coming from the north to take a break in. As such Ubin has always been an important location for  photographing special or rare butterfly species. Indeed, Nparks has revealed that new fauna has been discovered in the island. 

Since June this year,  I have visited Ubin a few times. Here, I would showcase some of my encounters here.

The Acacia Blue (Surendra vivarna amisena) was found on a beach area while I was there to look for a rare lycanid. 

The Bamboo Tree Brown (Lethe europa malaya) is a skittish shade-loving butterfly, preferring to stay on the ground level and blending well with the undergrowth. Occasionally, it may rest on a foliage and provided us a chance to spot it easily.   

CA and a small group of ButterflyCircle members spotted the Swine Tiger (Danaus affinis malayanus) on 29 Aug on Butterfly Hill.  The next day, I was there. Shortly after 9 am this Orange Gull (Cepora iudith malaya) greeted me but just for a few minutes before it disappeared completely. 
I was rather lucky to see and get a few shots of this new addition to Ubin's fauna, the Swine Tiger (Danaus affinis malayanus) after the Orange Gall left the hill (see here). 
Though it didn't stay on the flowers for long, it preferred a high perch under the morning sun.
Very soon when it decided to change perch, I quickly snapped a few shots of its upperside wings while it was flapping.
This Common Jay (Gaphium doson evemonides) was busy siphoning nutrient solutions from the moist ground. 
During the past two outings to Ubin, I was able to spot the Metallic Caerulean 
(Jamides alecto ageladas
Skippers are common in Ubin. At a shady corner of Butterfly Hill, a few yellow skippers were flitting around. This is likely to be a male Pothanthus mingo. 
This is likely to be the Pale Palm Dart (Telicota augias augias), opening its wing partially. 
When it closed its wings, I quickly took a shot for the sake of identifying. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Butterflies @ Springleaf Nature Park

The Springleaf Nature Park is situated at the T-junction of Mandai Road and Upper Thompson Road. The cannel joining the Upper Seletar Reservoir and the Lower Seletar Reservoir serves as a boundary of the nature park.

Since its official opening in late 2014, I have visited this nature park a few times. During my most recent visit there on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in July, I managed to capture quite a few butterfly shots though all these butterfly species are rather common. 

I have seen Centaur Oakblue (Arhopala centaurus nakula) a few times at this nature park but this was my best shot I had taken. 
There were many wild flowers blooming along the cannel and these flowers not only add colours to the park, they attract insects to the park, especially butterflies,  creating and enriching more wildlife activities - quite often, I could spot skippers and Grey Pansy butterfly feeding on these flowers.  (I hope Nparks keep these flowers).  
There were many Bush Hoppers (Ampitta dioscorides camertes) feeding on the Biden flowers - enjoyable and nice to see them foraging so these flowers. I pointed out to a kid with his parents who happened to walk past me -  parents and kids told me it was their first time seeing how a butterfly was feeding on flowers and they told me that their mental image of a butterfly was so different from what they  saw in front of them.  
Another specimen resting comfortably on a leaf. 
The leaf beetle seemed to warn a Bush Hopper not to come to its territory. I like this kind of "encounter". We can only observe interesting moments in nature if we slow down our pace and enjoy the flora and fauna around us. 
A brown skipper - this may be the Formosan Swift (Borbo cinnara)
Very glad and nice to see a "sizable" community of the Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlites) roaming in the park - this is so because I could see that the larval host plant was carpeting the sides of the cannel.
Most of the time they were alert and very active, especially in a hot day.  
There were other butterflies fluttering in the park - this is the Common Sailor (Neptis hylas papajs)  
A fast-flying Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona pomona) decided to take a short rest on a leaf under shade.
The Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus chrysippus) was seen resting on the flower perhaps after a good morning breakfast.
When there are Leea indica flowers, we should slow down and take at look at those white and tiny flowers closely - we may find critters feeding on them, big or small. This is the Leopard (Phalanta phalantha phalantha).
If you look around at the ground level, you may be able to spot some brown and dull butterflies flitting around - one of them can be the Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis minenus macromalaya). Thia guy was hopping around before it rested on a metal railing along the cannel.  
Near the entrance, this conspicuous and attractive red flower would definitely draw every visitor's attention. At first, I thought it was a fly feeding on its nectar.  I was wrong when I took a closer shot on that tiny critter.
A very quiet nature park that offers visitors a place to relax and roam aimlessly. I sincerely hope that Nparks can be more tolerant and keep the wild flowers in nature parks (also save money and don't cut them away so frequently!).  A nature park should be different from an artificial neighbourhood park and home gardens -  natural elements and wilderness will add vibrancy and wildlife activities to a nature park.    

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My First Post of The Year! (Outing to Pulau Ubin)

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, once 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 (it is a  male Potanthus mingo identified by Dr Seow at BC) 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!