The Chequered LancerPlastingia naga and the Yellow Chequered LancerPlastingia pellonia are the only two Plastingia species in Singapore. Both are forest species and like to rest in the shade of the undergrowth with folded wings. The only time they open their wings is to bask in the sunshine when puddling. The former is uncommon and the latter is rarer.
I have yet to see the Yellow Chequered Lancer but have encountered the Chequered Lancer on two occasions at Dairy Farm Nature Park and Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. Unfortunately they were too quick for me to get any photographs.
Over the year, there were several sightings of the Chequered Lancer along the forest trails at MacRitchie Reservoir, which I missed. So it was third time lucky when I came upon a tame individual resting by the side of the trail on 1st Sept 2022.
What made this encounter special was getting photos of the top view and the side views of their full wing spread. I cannot find any photos of the Yellow Chequered Lancer upper wings but I read that both look similar with the white spots of the Yellow Chequered Lancer appearing larger than the Chequered Lancer. Whereas the underside is very different. The markings of the Yellow Chequered Lancer are yellow while the Chequered Lancer markings are white, giving it a black and white chequered look.
We photographed 21 butterfly species during our 4 days of birding at the Trus Madi Conservation Area, Gunung Alab Substation and Mahua Waterfalls, all part of the Crocker Range of Sabah, from 14 t0 17 June 2022. One endemic and two sub endemic species.
Here are some of the butterflies that are not found or gone extinct in Singapore. Will appreciate any corrections on the identity and notes.
Just happy that I developed an interest in butterflies besides birds over the years. During this restricted gathering period, I preferred to go looking for butterflies in quieter nature areas like Upper Seletar Reservoir Park, Butterfly Hill in Ubin, Bukit Brown and SBG-Gallop Extension to get my nature fix.
Here are some of the beauties that I encountered this July. Some are moderately rare, most are common with one or two lifers in between. My thanks to Catalina Tong, Lim Kim Keang, Gan Cheong Weei, YT Choong, Lee Yue Teng, Lena Chow and Lawrence Leong for sharing their knowledge, showing me the butterflies and identifying them.
The Upper Seletar Reservoir Park is a gem of a place for insect and macro photographers. Rare forest butterflies, damselflies, spiders, flies and other critters can be found along the forest edges if you spent time looking for them. The rows of Syzygium zeylanicum when in bloom are a magnet for a host of butterflies and moths that are rarely seen outside the forest. Landscape planting of the Leea indica, Leea rubra and Ixoras provided added food sources for them.
Spending a morning combing the forest edges early this week with Richard White, Laurence Leong and Lee Yue Teng opened a whole new world to the insect and understorey life for me. Star finds include a Scorpion, two Agamid lizards, cockroach, spider, a fly and some butts but surprisingly no damselflies.
Nick Baker and Kelvin Lim. Wild Animals of Singapore. NSS.
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
Made a short visit to Jurong Eco Gardens on Friday 8th September to check if any of the migrant flycatchers or shrikes were around. It was rather quiet for most of the morning. Even the usual residents were absent except for four Straw-headed Bulbuls and a pair of Oriental Magpie Robins. At least their melodious song livened up the place.
So the next best thing to do is to do some butterfly watching even though the Leea indica plants were past their flowering. Luckily the butterflies were out in force even if they are the more common species.
The Common Mormons were easy to see, so was a Common Birdwing. The rarer Grey Pansies were chasing each other in the company of the Chocolate Pansies. But the summit was quiet this morning, no signs of the Lesser Harlequins.
Two Leopards were flying around the Weeping Willow trees, their host plant, by the side of the pond.
Like some alien species, this young shoot of the Elephant Foot Fern.
The Traveler’s Palm from Madagascar is not a true palm. It is elegant looking but is out of favor as the base of its fronds trap water for mosquitoes to breed. I found only a small cluster here.
Symmetricand colorful patterns of the Travelers Palm
Found several new species of butterflies in the park.
Butterfly watching is somewhat different from birding but just as absorbing. For one thing they are smaller and harder to identify in the field. The best part I like about it is not having to wake up at the break of dawn, as the butterflies are active much later in the morning. Lim Kim Keang, veteran birder and a keen butterfly watcher first got me interested in butterflies. On some slow birding days I got a chance to do some butterfly watching with him and also learn from other members of the Butterfly and Insect Group.
Recently I was fascinated with the forest butterflies that were seen at our reservoir parks. Some of the rarer ones are found at the host plants inside the forests, which is not very accessible. But they will move out when the plants along the forest edges flower.
Early this month a row of Syzygium spp at the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park bloomed. I was lucky to see a proliferation of rare Awls, Snow Flats and Skippers that were not normally seen outside the forests. To top it all we had a rare mango moth to end the season. I had a total of eleven lifers thanks to the help from so many butterfly experts I met there. Here are some of the butterflies and insects we managed to get on our sensors during those few mornings.
The Purple Duke is the only butterfly in its genus found here and Malaysia. When disturbed it will zipped away and hide at the underside of leaves with folded wings.
Acknowledgement: I like to thank Lim Kim Keang, Khew Sin Khoon, Yong Yik Shih, Lena Chow and Chan Yiu Nam for showing me these butterflies and how to identify them.
Reference: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Singapore. Gan Cheong Weei and Simon Chan. A Guide to the Common Butterflies of Singapore. Steven Neo. Butterfly Circle Butterflies Checklist.
What does a birder do when the birds are quiet and lifers are hard to come by? Luckily in Singapore, there are many other fauna to check out. Thanks to Kim Keang’s alert earlier this week, I went butting or butterfly shooting at a reservoir park.
In two days I ended up with eight lifers, some uncommon and a few rare butterflies. I don’t remembered seeing so many new and rare birds in two days in my years of birding. I was told that the flowering Syzygium species at the edge of the Central forest was the reason why so many hard to see butterfly species were seen. Besides the butterflies, there were hoverfly, beetles and moths to keep me busy.