Hutan Panti Reserve just north of Kota Tinggi is still the closest birding site for the many of the lowland bird species that went extinct in Singapore over the past 50 years. Families like the trogons and broadbills come into mind. But it is also a place for some of the rare forest butterflies that cannot be found here.
I wish I had spent time looking for them during those early years when we were birding there. But it is not too late as many of the rare species are still there.
Last weekend we spent two mornings there. It was quite birdy. Two Scarlet-rumped Trogons showed up and a flowering Syzygium attracted spiderhunters and a Red-throated Sunbird. Collectively we had a total of 80 bird species, many from calls. But unfortunately no lifers for me.
It was a good thing that we went looking for butterflies as well. We found some rare ones and some real stunners. Most are new to me. Yes lifers! Here are a few that I managed to photograph.
The Arhopala trogon is rare but have been photographed at Panti before. So easy to overlook we are just lucky to find it.
The Sumatran Gem is uncommon in Panti, but rarer in Singapore, recently shot at Rifle Range Link.
The Great Marquis is a family new to me. Uncommon resident of lowland forest like Panti.
The Syszgiun flowers also attracted this female Great Helen and other butterflies to it. My first photo of this large butterfly. Uncommon in Singapore.
This badly shot oakblue is identified as the Large Metallic Oakblue. They all looked so similiar to me.
The little of what is left of our mangroves is vital for the survival of many of our mangrove dependent birds, reptiles, butterflies and dragonflies. Without the mangroves they will simply disappear and we will be the poorer for it. On a short morning walk at Sungei Buloh yesterday, we came across some of these survivors there. Let’s hope that this protected wetland will be their home for many years to come.
Out door nature workshops for the students during the school holidays. All lined up on the bridge waiting for the crocodiles to appear.
Scarce Silverstreak at KM
Conjoined Swift at KM
From top left, the Colonel is locally common at the Kranji Marshes. Kim Keang’s sharp eyes picked up the smaller and less colorful Scarce Silverstreak at a distance. My lifer the Full Stop Swift( bottom) was spotted by Richard White.
First time I came across this beautiful Mangrove Shield Bug, seen along the boardwalk. Lena Chow posted a link from WildSingapore with the ID. Not only are they mangrove dependent, the larvae can only be found on the Buta buta trees where they will feed on the new fruits. The adults were often seen clustered together under the leaves.
The Mangrove Dwarf as the name suggested is a smallish dragonfly that is found only in the mangroves. This uncommon dragonfly lives and breeds in the saline waters of the mangrove.
The Copper-throated Sunbirds, another mangrove specialist, are busy bringing up another brood to grace our wetlands. I had the wrong setting for this and had to brighten it.
The Ashy Tailorbird is also confined to the Mangroves. They are often jumpy or hiding behind the vegetation. Good to have this one out in the open posing for a shot.
It is never easy to spot a small motionless snake that has the same color as the surface it is resting on. But Marcel Finlay managed to see this Mangrove Pit Viper along Route I. Small ( about 40 cm) but venomous, it likes to stay near water edges and wait for its prey. The rest of us were happily shooting away for another great encounter of the herpy kind.
Thanks to Lim Kim Keang, Lena Chow and a few others, I now pay great attention to the butterflies I see along the way when I am out birding. Some days birding can be slow so there is no harm in looking down instead of up for these painted wings zipping around or resting under the leaves. Adding birds to my national list of 335 is getting tough, but there are still hundred plus new butterflies that I have not seen in Singapore.
It helped that my micro four thirds Olympus OM-D set up with 70-300 mm birding lens allows me to get some decent shots of these creatures without having to change to a marco lens. Of course the results are not that spectacular but good enough for posting.
Some of the butterflies that I photographed last months include two lifers to kept the excitement going during these outings.
This Malayan Sunbeam at Bukit Batok NP was so engrossed with licking on the surface of the Simpong Ayer leaf, that it did not move at all. Obviously it did not get its name from the pale underside but rather from the bright orange of the upperside. The other sunbeam is the Sumatran found mostly around the mangroves.
We were at Dairy Farm Nature Park to shoot the Jambu Fruit Dove that was feeding on the False Curry Leaf Tree when this colorful day moth Dysphania subrepleta was struggling to fly. It may have just eclosed and needed some time before flying away to the safety of the greenery.
The Centuar Oakblue is another lifer from Bidadari. I was there to check out the returning migrants and saw it flitting around a low bush. It is the biggest of the oakblues but easy to miss.
Reference: Gan Cheong Weei and Simon Chan Kee Mun. A pocket Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore. Nature Society (Singapore) 2007. Steven Neo Say Hian. A Guide to Common Butterflies of Singapore. Singapore Science Center. 1996