Friday, September 3, 2021

Common Butterflies Along Lornie Trail and Lornie Nature Corridor

We lost some greenery and cemetery ground at Bukit Brown due to the construction of the Lornie Highway but we gained a very serene and beautiful Lornie Nature Corridor.  Since its official opening in Nov 2020, this 1.7 km nature corridor has become one of my favourite hiking cum butterfly-photography trails.

The nature corridor runs parallelly to the old Lornie Road.  Flowering shrubs such as Leea rubra and different kind of tropical trees with name and descriptions are planted along the road.

There are two entrance points to the MacRitchie Reservoir Nature Reserve. Usually I went into the nature reserve and came out from the other entrance point near the golf course.  

A long-tailed and elegant lycaenid, the Branded Imperial (Eooxylides tharis distanti) is a common denizen in the forest. Very often, this species loves to perch on its larval host plant, a forest climber the Bearded Smilax (Smilex bracteata). 

A rare occasion like this is what we hope for - two in one frame is nice (yes, forget about the restrictions of "social distancing"!) 

Another orange lycaenid, the Yamfly (Loxura atymnus fuconius) was spotted hopping at the same Smilax vine. This was not a surprise as its larval host plant is the same vine. 

Occasionally, it opened its wings partially enjoying the sunshine. 
Another common beauty that can be found along the stretch of forest trail that is parallel to the nature corridor is the Common Posy (Drupadia ravindra moorei).
The reservoir edge next to the Chemperai hut is where I usually shot dragonflies and damselflies. This is the male Scarlet Pygmy (Nanaophya pygmaea) - one of the smallest dragonfly in the region.    

Another small dragonfly found at the same location. I am not sure what this is.

I am almost sure to see Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis) fluttering along the trail each time I dropped by here. This species is usually very alert and notoriously difficult subject for photography. The best time to take a shot is when it is puddling on the moist ground or on decaying wet wood.

The male Cruiser (Vindula dejone erotella) is a conspicuous forest species with an orange "outfit".  The females look very different from the males which like to puddle on leaf litter or on the ground.

This is another specimen when he was licking liquid on a cement seat.

I recalled that I was having a hard time shooting this Malayan Lascar (Lasippa tiga siaka). It was sensitive to the camera flash light and never stayed still on the ground for me to take a closer shot. 

A Large Fourline Blue (Nacaduba pactolus odon) was found fluttering at the ground level and occasionally, it stopped for a short while.

In recent years, the Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites atlites) has become common in many locations. This shot was taken near the golf course area.

I cannot remember when the exercise corner at the T-junction was demolished. I am very glad to see some trees have been planted at the location. Indeed, with more frequent extreme weather we are going to encounter as a result of climate change, preemptive measures and actions such as re-forestation and soil enhancement programme should be considered and implemented with urgency. 

Very sad to see many big fallen trees in our forests - we have to prevent this from worsening !   

Friday, June 18, 2021

Butterflies in Coney Island

Since its official opening to public in October 2015,  Coney Island Park has become a popular and relatively untamed wilderness for hiking and cycling in  north-eastern Singapore. Also known as Pulau Serangoon, the Island has been enlarged significantly, doubling its original size to about 100 hectare through a series of land reclamations .  

Apart from its interesting history (read here), natural habitats such as the grasslands, mangroves and the casurina woodlands are deliberately kept intact. 

There are two main trails about 2-km long connecting the east and the west entrances.  The well-paved trail along the eastern coastal offers us scenic views of the skylines and bridges in Punggol waterfront housing estate.    
One of the permanent residents of this tranquil island is a slow-flying migrant butterfly - the Tawny Coster (Araea terpsicore). Sometimes, we could see a large colony of them fluttering around and feeding on wild Biden flowers. 
Another shot - a male specimen.
The beauty of this male Blue Pansy butterfly (Junonia orithya wallacei)  certainly attracted our attention if we happen to see it.
Quite often, we can spot another beautiful butterfly feeding on flowers, - the Common Tiger (Danaus genutia genutia).
Another male specimen was seen feeding on the Leea rubra  flowers near the west entrance.
Shooting the undersides is a great challenge as they rarely open their wings fully for a sufficiently long period of time for us to snap a few shots. This is a female.

A male here
A solitary Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina) was resting on a leaf surface but it just took off after just one shot.
During a few outings there, I noticed that there were not many skippers at Coney Island. We usually encountered orange skippers such as the Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha omaha).

The genus Telicota species are similar to the Potanthus species. This one looks like a male T. colon stinga.
Its upperside shot.
The Blues (lycaenids) seem to be more common. This Silver Forget-me-not (Catochrysops panormus panormus)   was spotted near the west entrance. 
A look-alike lycaenid, the Forget-me-not (Catochrysops strabo strabo) was shot on the same day.  
The Cycad Bue (Chilades pandava pandava) is a lot more common than the previous two species - a high perch shot.
The Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus) flew past me and perched on a leaf. Before I could snap another shot, it scooted off.
When a small  but scintillating blue butterfly zipping past me, I would normally show a great interest in tracking it. It turned out to be a Dark Caerulean (Jamides bochus nabonassar).
The Bush Brown butterflies tend to flutter at ground level and blend quite with the environment. This looks like the Long Branded Bush Brown (Mycalesis visala phamis) resting on a small rock.
I have mixed feeing when I saw a long stretch of hoardings being put up about 500m away from the east entrance - there will be another outward bound training site in a few years' time.
I hope the relevant authority has carried out a few biodiversity surveys of the area before these hoardings were erected. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Revisiting the 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 (started in October 2017)  on 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 on a cool 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 from the ground, perhaps to 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 livelihoods 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.