Category Archives: Insects

Spider preying on Dragonfly.

The grass and reed beds by the sides of our inland reservoirs is a micro ecosystem by itself. It is teeming with insect life, mainly dragonflies, damselflies, grasshopper and some butterflies. I have been visiting the wetlands around our freshwater reservoirs mainly to photograph the odonatas.

Typical wetland habitat at our reservoirs.

Fong and his brother were photographing what looked like a Saint Andrew’s Cross Spider Argiope versicolor, wrapping up a motionless Common Scarlet dragonfly that got caught in its web.

The female St. Andrew’s Cross Spider wrapping up the Common Scarlet dragonfly.

All my past sightings of the St. Andrew’s Cross Spiders were by the forest edges and along the jungle trails in our nature reserves. This is the first time I seen it with its web across the long grasses by the water edge. How and why did this spider move out of the forest to a very different habitat was a puzzle to me. Could it be that there is a lack of insects or looking at a change of diet?

Another female just a meter away waiting to snare a dragonfly. The zigzag web is supposed to draw the prey to the web.

I did some checking in Biodiversity of Singapore and found that this is the Yellow-Silver St. Andrew’s Cross Spider, Argiope cantenulata, ( Marcus Ng), also known as a Grass Cross Spider. This orb-weaver spider is found from India to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

A helpless Common Scarlet falling victim to a smaller predator.

It preys mainly on dragonflies that hunt and breed in this habitat. Once it flew into its web, the spider quickly immobilizes it by spinning and wrapping the prey with its web. It then injects digestive enzymes into the victim to break down its body tissues. The spider sucks up the pre-digested tissues and repeats the process again. It seems to be locally common with most of the sightings along the edges of reservoirs. Apparently they are quite common in the padi fields in Malaysia.

Reference:

Biodiversity of Singapore.

Wikipedia.

Butterflies of Sabah.

By Alan OwYong.

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.

With David Tseu, Wilson Leung, Theresa Ng.

Mydosama pitana. Endemic to Borneo. Photographed at Trus Madi montane forest.
The Bornean subspecies of the Orange Gull. Cepora judith montana. We saw this by the roadside at around 500m and at the Mahua Waterfalls.
Common Mapwing. Cyrestis maenalis seminigra ( Northern Borneo). Puddling at the camp area.
Large Assyrian. A few seen near the camp area along the logging track
Black Prince at Gunung Alab
Straight-lined Mapwing. A butterfly found in South East Asia. Photographed at the Mahua Waterfalls
Potanthus sp. Mahua Waterfalls.
Great Orange Tip. Extinct in Singapore.
Great Orange Tip. Mimics a dead leaf when resting to avoid predators.

Trus Madi, Crocker Range. A Trip Report.

Trus Madi, Crocker Range. A Trip Report.

By Alan OwYong. 

The Crocker Range has remained my last birding destination in Sabah for some time. When news that the elusive Bulwer’s Pheasant had been seen at the montane hill forests at Trus Madi Forest Reserve, I started to do some serious planning and waited for the borders to open.

Crocker Range National Park.

I got in touch with David Tseu, a long time nature guide based in Kota Kinabalu, through the recommendation of friends. 

A 4 days trip was arranged and together with Wilson Leung and his wife Theresa Ng, a first time birder, we scooted to Kota Kinabalu on the 13 June 2022.

The morning mist just rising up from the valley below. Wilson and Theresa up and early, checking on the overnight insects at Trus Madi.

Wilson arranged an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Express where the ceiling to floor windows look out to a forested hillside. A Blue-throated Bee-eater and flocks of Asian Glossy Starlings were ticked off. A stay at KK will not be complete without a seafood dinner. We chose the Crab House at Sabah Suria and shared two large crabs and grouper soup for RM 230. 

Popular rest stop at Gunung Alab Motel
The Plume-toed Swiftlets nesting under the roof of the motel.

David met us the next morning in his spacious 4WD and drove towards Tambunan with a break for breakfast at Gunung Alab Motel, a popular rest stop. The road was winding but thankfully the morning traffic was light. 

Gravel track inside leading to the camp accessible only to 4 WD.

We reached the Borneo Girl Jungle Camp inside Trus Madi Conservation Area in time for lunch after surviving a 90 mins bone shaking ride on the bumpy gravel logging track for the last part of the journey. Jimmy Chew and his partners have slowly expanded the camp, providing nature lovers with clean, comfortable but basic rooms. The nights are cold as we are at 1,400 meter asl. The big surprise for me was the food here. It was the best Hakka/ Cantonese cooking I ever had in all my jungle birding trips. Sweet and sour kampong chicken for dinner and double boiled Shiitake Mushroom soup for the next evening. 

The expanded Borneo Jungle Girl Camp nestled against the thick forested hillside. Photo: Theresa Ng.

The weather forecast was for thunderstorms for the whole of our stay, but thank god the weatherman was wrong. We had only 2 hours of heavy downpour during our entire stay. Best of all, our birding was not disrupted by the usual morning and evening misty foggy weather.

We did all the birding along the old logging track near the camp. It was easy pleasant birding amidst the cool montane forest. Many of the endemic species that can be seen at Mt. Kinabalu Park are found here. A playful flock of Brown Fulvetta, part of a mini bird wave, greeted us the first morning. The endemic Charlotte’s Bulbul was preening away. It looks exactly like the Peninsular lowland Buff-vented Bulbul as it was a recent split. Theresa alerted us to a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills flying across the valley. It was quite a sight! The Buah Cherry trees and the hibiscus plants at the camp are frequently visited by the Bornean Leafbirds, Red-throated Barbets, Bornean Bulbuls and Temminck’s Sunbirds. Always a treat to be able to photograph such rare birds without too much hard work.

Red-throated Barbet feasting on the Buah Cherry
Brown Fulvetta. A small flock came by as part of a mini bird wave.
Theresa alerted us to a pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills flying pass below the valley.

There are several hides along the trail not far from the camp. We spent both mornings and afternoons in two of them.  We were extremely lucky to see and photograph all the species we came to see.

Wilson and Theresa at one of the spacious hides. This is Theresa’s first experience birding in a hide. The first bird she saw was the male Bornean Banded Pitta. She was beyond amazed at the beauty and color of this pitta.

Top of the list was the majestic Bulwer’s Pheasant, a most sought after endemic that had eluded many birdwatchers for a long time. A lone male showed up on the third afternoon. These are most probably the first photos of this pheasant taken in the wild by any group from Singapore. Next for me was the Bornean Banded Pitta and the Dayak’s Jungle Flycatcher. The bonus were a family flock of 14 Crested Partridges and the Temminck’s Babblers. Lifers for all of us.

The elusive male Bulwer’s Pheasant with a male and two female Crested Partridges.
Temminck’s Babbler resembles our Abbott’s Babbler but with more rufous flanks and streaky crown. The north Bornean is the longstaffi sub species. The nominate is found in Java.

Besides the birds, there were many interesting mammals to keep a lookout for. David’s acute sense of the jungle got us the endemic Red-leaf Langur, Whitehead’s Squirrels and Masked Palm Civet.

Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel with its distinctive ear tuffs. Diurnal and confined to the mountain ranges of Borneo.
Masked Palm Civet out on a night hunt, thanks to David’s spotting. Mainly nocturnal, it has a white face and a black “mask” from eyes to nose.

The ever changing views of drifting clouds across the mountain ranges and green valleys are just breathtaking. Sunrise and sunsets were even more spectacular. Unfortunately the nights were overcast and we missed seeing the Milky Way. 

Drifting clouds over the hill forests of Trus Madi.

The day’s action did not end after dinner. We were not prepared for the hundreds of moths and insects when we went to check out the four insect screens set up on a ridge near the camp. None of us have ever seen so many moths, beetles, cicadas and other weird and wonderful insects in our life. From the tiniest to palm size, the moths came in all shapes and colors. We had a great time perfecting our macro photography on them. We could not get enough of this and spent all three nights hoping to see some rare lunar moths, but none showed up.

We had a great time practicing our macro photography on the hundred of moths at night. Photo: David Tseu.
Archaeoattracus staudinger moth is larger and more purplish than the A atlas.. Forewings have prominent extensions at tip with markings resembling s snake head.

We left the camp after breakfast on the last morning and made our way back to the Gunung Alab Substation for the Red-breasted and Crimson-Headed partridges, both endemics. They proved to be more co-operative and came out within the first hour. The damp bamboo forest is their preferred habitat.

Family of endemic Red-breasted Partridges at Gunung Alab’s bamboo forest.

A family of Snowy-browed Flycatchers also took up residence here and it was nice to see the different plumages of the juveniles and females. 

Snowy-browed Flycatcher Male

There was enough time to pay a visit to the Mahua Waterfalls about 20 km from Tambunan to do some last minute butterfly photography  Some of the endemic butterflies including the Rajah Brooke and the Green Dragons can be found there. Wilson and Theresa booked an overnight stay at the resort outside the waterfalls and we bade them goodbye as David drove me to the airport for my evening flight home.

Mahua Waterfalls a popular weekend outing for the locals.
The Bornean sub species of the Orange Gull, Cepora judith montana. We encountered this by the roadside driving up and at the Mahua Waterfalls.

It had been a very successful and lucky trip, a memorable one as well, We got all our target birds, thanks to David’s local knowledge and experience. We recorded a total of 58 birds ( 14 endemics), 21 butterflies ( 2 endemics), 8 mammals ( 4 endemics), 1 reptile and hundreds of moths and insect species. We were blessed with good weather for all the four days. A big thank you to the staff at the camp for the delicious food and help.

Four happy smiling participants at the end of a successful tour.

Checklist Trus Madi Conservation Area, Sabah. 14-17 June 2022

Guide: David Tseu

Participants: Alan OwYong, Wilson and Theresa Leung.

Birds.

  1. Crested Partridge ( Family group of 14 )
  2. Bulwer’s Pheasant (Male).
  3. Little Cuckoo Dove
  4. Asian Emerald Dove ( on way out)
  5. Black and Yellow Broadbill.
  6. Black-bellied Malkoha
  7. Chestnut-breasted Malkoha ( photographed by Theresa)
  8. Plume-toed Swiftlet ( nesting at Mt. Alab Motel)
  9. Grey-rumped Treeswift
  10. Crested Serpent Eagle. ( one perched, another in flight)
  11. Barred Eagle Owl
  12. Rhinoceros Hornbill ( pair flying in the valley)
  13. Red-bearded Bee-eater
  14. Golden-naped Barbet ( Heard)
  15. Red-throated Barbet
  16. Rufous Piculet
  17. Bornean Banded Pitta. ( Both male and female showing at different times)
  18. White-bellied Erponis
  19. Dark-throated Oriole
  20. Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike
  21. White-throated Fantail
  22. Ashy Drongo (Bornean)
  23. Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher ( Seen by Theresa)
  24. Crested Shrikejay (Seen by David)
  25. Dark-necked Tailorbird
  26. Ashy Tailorbird
  27. Mountain Tailorbird (Heard)
  28. Pacific Swallow
  29. Bornean Bulbul
  30. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  31. Cream-vented Bulbul
  32. Streaked Bulbul 
  33. Yellow-bellied Bulbul ( seen by David)
  34. Charlotte’s Bulbul
  35. Cinereous Bulbul
  36. Chestnut-crested Yuhina
  37. Temminck’s Babbler
  38. Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler.
  39. Sunda Bush Warbler
  40. Brown Fulvetta
  41. Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush
  42. Oriental Magpie (Black)
  43. White-crowned Shama
  44. Dayak Blue Flycatcher (Family)
  45. Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher
  46. Verditer Flycatcher
  47. Snowy-browed Flycatcher ( Family group of 4)
  48. Little Pied Flycatcher
  49. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
  50. Black-sided Flowerpecker ( photographed by Wilson)
  51. Temminck’s Sunbird ( both male and female)
  52. Asian Fairy Bluebird ( seen by David on way out)
  53. Bornean Leafbird
  54. Dusky Munia (on way in and out)
  55. Chestnut Munia (on way in and out)
  56. Red-breasted Partridge ( Mt Alab)
  57. Crimson-headed Partridge ( Mt. Alab)
  58. Mountain Black-eye (Heard Mt. Alab )

Butterflies:

  1. Yellow-banded Awl
  2. Banded Yeoman
  3. Common Three Ring
  4. Banded Demon
  5. Knight
  6. Common Mapwing
  7. Orange Gull ssp montana
  8. Striped Blue Crow
  9. Common Hedge Blue
  10. Mydosama pitana
  11. Large Assyrian
  12. Common Grass Yellow
  13. Straight-lined Mapwing
  14. Pointed Six-line Blue
  15. Common Line Blue
  16. Potanthus sp
  17. Staff Sergeant
  18. Colored Sergeant
  19. Black Prince
  20. Great Orange Tip.

Mammals and others:

  1. Giant Squirrel
  2. Ear-Spot Squirrel
  3. Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel
  4. Bornean Mountain Ground Squirrel
  5. Masked Palm Civet
  6. Malay Civet
  7. Maroon Langur/ Red Leaf Monkey.
  8. Pig-tailed Macaque
  9. Many Line Sun skink. 

*Bornean endemics in bold.

The Weird and Wonderful Insects of Borneo.

Even though it was a birding trip to the Crocker Range of Sabah to look for the Bulwer’s Pheasant at Trus Madi Conservation Area, we were surprised to find so many insects during our few days there. Most were moths that were attracted by the lights at night. But many of the strange and wonderful insects were seen during the daytime when the birds were not active.

The montane hill forests of the Trus Madi, Crocker Range.

There are many pygmy grasshoppers that mimic dead leaves, but there only two Oriental Macropterous in Asia. The Oxyphyllum found in India and Pakistan and the Paraphyllum in Borneo. David Tseu our guide knew exactly which rock face to find the P. antennatum on our way to the Trus Madi Camp. They are small and blend in well with the color of the rock surfaces. Their curved brown body looks like a dead leaf. We counted about half a dozen of them all males according to David. The females have an elongated tail.

Oriental macropterous Leaf-mimic pygmy grasshopper ( Paraphyllum antennatum)
Blending in well against the rock surface. All three are females.

We would have missed this on the track if not for David’s sharp eyes. The Pill Millipede, Glomeris sp. one of the largest millipede around, but short bodied. It exhibits the Pangolin way of defense by rolling into a ball when threatened. When left alone it will slowly open up, check the surrounding before fully extending to its full length.

The roly poly Pill Milllipede curling up in David’s Palm

Full extended size

This Tacua speciosa Cicada is one of the most colorful and also one of the loudest. Its call is unmistakable and can be heard for long distances. We missed the chance to photograph it close up and had to be contended with this back view shot.

Cicada. Tacua Speciosa

Lantern bugs of the Fulgoridae plant hopper family does not emit light but they are colorful. This is the common Pyrops sultana white body species with an orange snort, which is part of its inflated head. Wilson found this on the track near our camp.

Pyrops sultana .

I don’t know how David can spot such a small insect like this weevil resting on a thin blade of grass. This is the Larinus Weevil looking a bit like a shining beetle with a big nose.

Larinus Weevil

The menacing looking Giant Three-horned Rhinoceros Beetle, Chalcosoma moellenkampi, is one of the more common beetles that came to the screens at night. A favourite with beetle collectors, it is found only in Borneo. This is the male as the females do not have horns.

Giant Three-horned Beetle

Bee flies are colorful. This species Migya tantalus, was seen taking minerals at the Mahua Waterfalls area

Bee Fly Migya tantalus

Also on the way to the waterfalls beneath the dark forest canopy, David picked up this tiny jewel of a beetle on a leaf by the path. Borisb identified it as a Aplosonyx sp in iNaturalist. It looks like the A. monticola in another posting on iNaturalist by Gan Cheong Weei taken at the same location on 10 Jan 2019. There is not much information on this species online.

A nice find to end our trip.

Aplosonyx sp. Looks like A. monticola.

With Wilson Leung, Theresa Ng and David Tseu. 14-17 June 2022.

Many thanks to David for identifying the insects.

Reference: Wikipedia on line.

USR-An Amazing Reservoir Park.

Of Endemic Crab, Night Frog, Unique Spider and Rare Butterflies.

The quiet Upper Seletar Reservoir Park is well known for its forest bird, butterfly and insect life. But being adjacent to the Nee Soon Swamp Forest, there is also a surprising diversed freshwater aquatic life as well.

Singapore Swamp Crab Parathelphusa reticula USR

On one late August morning, I was delighted to find a nocturnal swamp crab in one of the drains here following Art Toh’s FB post. It turned out to be the Reticulated Swamp Crab (Paratherphusa retculata), one of our three endemic crabs found in Singapore. It was only discovered in 1989 inside the Nee Soon Swamp forest as its secretive and nocturnal habits have kept it hidden all these years.

Malesian Frog a nocturnal semi aquatic carnivore occurs in swampy mature forest.h

Nearby a Malesian Frog Limnonectes malesianus betrayed its well-hidden nook by jumping away. Luckily for us it stayed motionless at it’s next resting spot. According to Nick Baker all the local Malesian Frogs have this black marking on the external ear drum. Along the same drain, there was a small reddish brown catfish about 10 cm long. I missed getting a shot as It was quick to swim away and hide under the leave litter.  

Female Coin Spider guarding its eggs.

Further up the road, on a tree trunk that I used to go pass umpteen times, a family of Spotted Coin Spiders Herennia multipuncta, were busy bringing up another new generation of these unique spiders. They are small and live on the tree trunks all their life, using camouflage as their survival against predators. Every successful generation is a celebration for this species as the male can only mate once in their lifetime.

Two rare butterflies came out this morning. The small Malay Dartlet that can be confused with the Common Dartlet and the male White-tipped Baron which I though was the more common Common Baron. Both are my lifers.

Malay Dartlet. It was not listed by early researchers and only discovered in 2011.
White-tipped Baron with a slight bluish sheen at the leading edge of the forewing. Thanks to Gan Cheong Weei and Aaron Soh for the id.

Besides these, there were some uncommon butterflies like the Full Stop Swift, Hoary Palmer, Palm Bob and the Darky Plushblue, the last staying on the same leaf for hours.

Full Stop Swift.
Darky Plushblue the least encounter among the four Flos in Singapore.
Hoary Palmer a fairly large skipper distinguished by its strongly whitened hindwings.
Palm Bob, once rare but expanded due to the cultivation of palm tress as ornamental plants.

Our hope is that there will be no developments at this park to destroy the precious biodiversity. Plans should be put in place to enhance it. There should be no trespasses inside the primary forests so as not to disturb the wildlife there.

I like to thank so many of my friends who helped to find and showed me these creatures, without which I would not have been able to photograph and post them here.

References:

Ng PKL (1997). The conservation status of freshwater prawns and crabs in Singapore with emphasis on the nature
reserves. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore, 49: 267–272.

Nick Baker & Kevin Lim 2008. Wild Animals of Singapore.

Butterflycircle.com

Singapore Biodiversity online

The Marco Jungle @ Upper Seletar Reservoir Park.

Undergrowth at the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park.

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.

A swamp forest habitat of our endemic fresh water crabs.

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.

Asian Forest Scorpion Heterometrus sp, a rare find in the daytime. Venom is not known to be lethal. Richard found it crawling along the tarmac and promptly brought it back to the forest.
First time seeing the underside of a forest cockroach. The six dots around the mouth is interesting.
The migrant Chocolate Albatross is still around. A total of six were counted at the park.
Long-legged Fly is a species of the Condylostylus genus. Feeds on aphids and other small insects.
The Common Three Ring used to be common here but is hard to find these days.
Subterranean Termites on the move.
Harvestmen or Daddy Long Legs. Over 6,000 species of this species have been discovered worldwide.
Black-beared Flying Lizard. Diurnal and noctunal, it inhabits the trees in mature forests.
Earless Agamid. This was found on the adjacent tree to the flying lizard. Aboral and diurnal, it is largely confined to the Central Forest. This is the only photo with showing the blue iris of the male.

References:

Nick Baker and Kelvin Lim. Wild Animals of Singapore. NSS.

Biodiversity of Singapore. NParks.

WIkipedia.

The Critters of Dairy Farm NP

Joined my friends for a walk at Dairy Farm NP this Sunday morning after hearing of a sighting of the Black-crested Bulbul there by Geri Lim. But it did not show. A few of us had brief glimpses of the Greater Green Leafbird feeding on the White Mulberry. Other than that it was rather quiet. So we ended up looking for the other creatures at the Park.

Stink Horn Fungi

Thanks to Meilin Khoo for showing us this Stink Horn Fungi growing by the roadside. Unfortunately the sweepers unwittingly broke half of the “skirt”, but it was still a good find. The smell of rotting flesh of the spore head attracts flies and other insects, and they in turn help to disperse the spores.

DFNP

The Nephilengys malabarenis was first found at the Malabar Coast of South India. This particular specimen was spotted by Art Toh hanging under the pile of Tembusu logs at the hilltop at its web. It quickly moved away just as we were trying to get some shots.

DFNP

Assassin Bug lived up to its name. This one found a male Golden Orb Spider. It will inject vernon to kill the prey and then suck out its dissolved remains.

Oriental Whip Snake DFNP

A pair of Oriental Whip Snakes by the Wallace Center provided us with some distraction. This one was moving its head up and I managed to catch a view of its underside. Mildly venomous, it can take small birds like the Pygmy Sunda Woodpecker.

St Andrew's Spider DFNP

St. Andrew’s Cross Spider rest with each pair of legs stretched out forming a cross. They also spin zig-zag whistish webs in the form of an X just where the legs rest like in this photo. Females are larger than the males.

Malay Viscount

A Malay Viscount, a common butterfly at the park looks very similiar to the Horsfield Baron.

Upper Seletar Reservoir Park Surprises

I seldom leave empty handed from visits to the Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. It is also one of the more accessible forest parks in Singapore. You can step right into the forest straight from the carpark. Even during midday, it can be rewarding if you venture into the nooks and crannies, away from the open areas.

The bird activity around this time was poor. Most were resting in the cooler shade inside the forest. But the butterflies loved the sunny day. One of the workers there was photographing this female Great Mormon and was kind enough to alert me. He seems to know his butterflies. Later he showed me hundreds of photos of butterflies and insects taken with his hand phone at the park. He even had a photo of the rare Plane. I was impressed!

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The male Great Mormon had to be the luckiest butterfly around. It had so many forms of females to choose from. This beautiful female is of the esperi form.

The find of the day had to be this 20 cm uncommon Variable Reed Snake. Serin Subaraj told me that reed snakes are like warblers, all of them are very similiar. He identified this by the black bands at the underside near its head, which is absent on the Pink-headed Reed Snake.

Pink-headed Reed Snake USR

The young Variable Reed Snake has a orangy red head which makes it looks like a Blue Coral Snake. According to Ecology Asia it lives in mature forests and is confined to the Central Catchment. It is nocturnal and not known to be venomous. 

Sapphire Flutterer USR

A treehugger hugging a wall, thanks to Lena Chow for the ID. Looks like the Sapphire Flutterer except that it does not have the bright blue on the base of the hind wings. 

USR

Singapore during the time of Raffles was a great place to collect beetles. It is not so easy to find them now unless you know where to look. I don’t and was happy to see this Bess Beetle out in the open. Their pair of antennae has many more smaller antennae. They lives in groups inside rotting logs and stumps. 

Brown Awl USR

Not the most spectacular butterfly this Brown Awl is still a good find as they stay still in the undergrowth.

Clouded Monitor. USR

Ended the day with a lazy Clouded Monitor Lizard out sauntering and sniffing around with its long tongue. These are forest lizards can be separated from the water monitor lizards by the snort position. 

So the next time you visit a forest park in Singapore, take your time to look around. You will never know what is lurking around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

Rifle Range Link Ramble.

 

Went down to Rifle Range Link this morning trying to get some photos of the Chestnut-winged Babbler, one of the more elusive forest babblers.  It was calling and came close but moved too fast for any shots. Well just have to try again some other mornings.

RRL

Don’t know why the False Tapioca plants and the Leea indicas that used to cover the stretch of the Rifle Range Link were cleared. This spot was the most reliable place to find the Van Hasselts Sunbirds and Lancers and Skippers.

Walking down this trail is never a waste of time if you keep your eye peeled for the slightest movements. This was how I came across this Black Scorpion out foraging by the track. It belongs to the genus heterometres, spending much of its time hiding under dead logs and crevices. We have two very similiar species in our forest, the Malaysian Black Scorpion and the Asian Wood Scorpion, the largest of scorpions found here.

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This Black Scorpion was about 10 cm long. Not usual for it to be out in the open like this.

Further down the trail, an Emerald Moth was resting quietly on a green leaf, which makes difficult to find. This is part of their survival strategy to bend in to the habitat. This is another first green moth for me.

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But the female Arch Duke is more conspicuous with its speckled brown wings.  It used its fast flight to evade its predators. Most of my photos of this butterfly is from the top as they are normally seen feeding on the ground. Happy to get a shot of the underside.

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The recent hot weather also affected the Bat Lilies in the forest. Just about every plant is blooming. The flowers are unique in their shape and color, with two petals pointing up and long whiskers flowing down. The flowers are in between. This one even has a double flower, which is rather unusual as they do not bloom so easily. Do go down in the next few days to witness this mass blooming.

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Among the leaf litter on the ground, this purple fungi stands out. It is quite large for a mushroom but the head is not the usual dome shaped.

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The Mangrove Dwellers of Sungei Buloh.

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.

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Out door nature workshops for the students during the school holidays. All lined up on the bridge waiting for the crocodiles to appear.

 

 

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.

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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.

Mangrove Dwarf at SB

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.

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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.

Ashy Tailorbird at SB

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.

Mangrove Pit Viper at SBWR

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.