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Friday, 31 January 2014

Afternoon Walk At Venus Drive (30 Jan 2014)

It was the eve of the Chinese New Year and the weather was nice and dry, so I decided to drop by the Venus Drive for a short walk before all the busyness of the Chinese New Year visitations. I just DIY a soft box for the flash and was itching to give it a try. The monsoon was far behind us as evident from the dry ground which is usually muddy especially during the monsoon season.

There was another reason that I was at Venus Drive - Leaf Rolling Weevil. I have been wanting to photograph Leaf Rolling Weevil for a while but was not fortunate to come across any for the longest time. I recently came across a low tree that has leaves being rolled up and I am hoping that it is where I can finally find the Leaf Rolling Weevil.

Sadly after circling the tree several times I was not able to find any Leaf Rolling Weevil, instead I found this Net-winged Beetle resting from the hot afternoon sun under a leaf. Guessed that I am wrong, so back to the search again.

The trail was rather cool despite the hot afternoon sun and a Tumbling Flower Beetle was found resting on a leaf.

The next beetle that came along was a Leaf Beetle (Graphops curtipennis). Several of this type of beetle were seen on the same plant, all resting motionlessly on the plant.

Moving to a fallen log, my attention was drawn to some movements among the a pile of saw dust. It was an odd looking first-time-encountered beetle. It reminded my of Rudolf, the red nose reindeer. :)

Moving to another fallen log where there is a large brown fungus growing on it, I found a first-time-encountered Fungus Weevil  resting on it. It was so sensitive that I was only able to take one photograph it and it flew off.

Hiding under another log was a Handsome Fungus Beetle.

Looking for beetles in the afternoon is so much different from that in the morning or in the night. In the afternoon most of the beetles were found hiding under shade. Here was a commonly encountered beetle under branch, away from the hot sun.

While looking among a large patch of air potato plants, a Long Horned Beetle (Sclethrus amoenus) landed right in front of me.

Moving to a rotten tree stump, a Fungus Beetle (Eumorphus quadriguttatus) was seen clinging to the shaded side. It is interesting to still find Fungus Beetles in the day since they are nocturnal.

On a near by tree was a beetle larvae.

The highlight of the trip was this first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle, found on the shaded side of a tree. I initially thought that it is another of the commonly seen Fungus Beetle and I almost gave it a miss. As I was testing out my DIY soft box, I decided to take some photographs of it. To my pleasant surprise I saw two hooks at the back of its elytra and it turned out to be a first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle. Ever since I saw a photograph of this beetle on the internet, I have been looking for this beetle for a while and I am so glad that I finally found it.

Moving on I came to a pile of chopped down tree branches and on it I found a first-time-encountered Fungus Weevil.

Next beetle was a small 3 mm Leaf Beetle resting on a leaf under the shade of a tree.

On what remained of what I previously called the Snow Tree, several types of Fungus Beetle were found. The Snow Tree was previously about 5 meter talk but was cut down to 1.5 meter due to its rotting core.

This interestingly patterned Fungus Beetle was a first-time-encountered beetle. It is about 4 mm in size.

Two other first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle were found close to each other.

The next beetle was a surprise find - a first-time-encountered Long Horned Beetle (Chloridolum thomsoni) was resting on a leaf under a thick foliage. This is a lovely colored beetle with distinct colored stripes on its elytra but its beauty was lost to my poor photography.

Not too far from the exit of the trail, a Net-winged Beetle was found resting on a leaf.

At almost the end of the trail, I found this first-time-encountered this first-time-encountered Fungus Weevil at the base of a tall tree. The beetle was very confident of its camouflage as it did not move a single bit despite all the camera flashes.

The last beetle of the trip was a Ground Beetle (Pericalus tetrastigma). This particular one was very active despite the hot sun above.

This trip was surprisingly fruitful with a total of 9 first-time-encountered beetles. My only regret was that the photographs taken were not sharp, possibly due to the settings that I used. Nevertheless, this trip was wonderful and I am glad that I have made the right decision to come to Venus Drive.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Night Walk At Venus Drive (24 Jan 2014)

The weather was dry and it was perfect for a night walk at Venus Drive Nature Trail. The reason for going to Venus Drive was mainly because of its large number and variety of beetles, perfect for me to test out my extension tubes with my Tamron AF 70-300 mm lens.

I previously bought a set of extension tubes for my Sony SLT A58 (18-55mm lens) but found it not as useful compared to the Raynox DCR250 lens. Anyway I chanced upon a book on photographing insects and was intrigued by the book's claim that all the beautifully taken photographs were taken mainly using extension tube with a 100-200 mm lens. To quench my curiosity, I decided to use the extension tubes for the night walk, with my good old Raynox DCR250 in the camera bag as a backup.

The first beetle was a commonly encountered Chafer Beetle (Apogonia expeditionis). It took me a while to adjust the flash, LED ring-light,  my DIY diffuser and the lens (with the extension tubes) all at the same time. Nevertheless, after a while of tweaking, I managed to get the photographing going.

[oops, the same "speckled-effect" (which happened to the next photograph when I first posted) crept into this photograph after I corrected some typo and updated the post. :( ]

The second beetle was a hyperactive 4 mm Leaf Beetle that finally gave up moving around the plant that it was on and let me took some closeup photographs of it.  [Pardon the speckled photograph as I still do not know what happened after I uploaded the photograph. The original photograph looks perfectly alright on my computer.]

Moving closer to the entrance of the trail, a sleepy Leaf Beetle was found resting on a blade of grass.

Near to the Leaf Beetle was another Leaf Beetle (Lema diversa) which I hardly find in the night.

On a  red young leaf of a tree next to the entrance was this large 12 mm first-time-encountered beetle.

On a rotting log along the trail was this commonly encountered Fungus Beetle. Many of this type of beetle were seen on the log.

On another log was this small 3 mm Fungus Beetle. It was very active and was trying to get out of my lighting.

On the same log was this tiny 1 mm beetle (possibly a Fungus Beetle).  I didn't notice it initially but was attracted by the movement of a juvenile millipede which led me to notice it through the view finder.

Moving on, a first-time-encountered 2 mm Fungus Beetle was seen on a tree. At this point in time I was still trying to get use to taking macros with the extension tube, photographing this small moving beetle was a great learning experience indeed.

On another tree was this curious looking first-time-encountered beetle.  Not sure which family it belongs to.

On the same tree were a number of this Fungus Weevil.

Moving actively on the same tree was this shiny small 3 mm beetle.

A surprised find was this beetle which I only encountered it at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Not sure the ID of this beetle but it was identified to belong to the Darkling Beetle family. This beetle looked like a Fungus Beetle to me though.

On another tree trunk was a number of this shiny Ground Beetle (Catascopus dalbertisi).

Hiding on the underside of a fallen tree were several of this Fungus Weevil (Anthribus wallacei). A fierce looking beetle I must add.

Nearby to the Anthribus wallacei Fungus Weevil was another Fungus Weevil (Stiboderes impressus). This Fungus Weevil was infested with mites.

Resting motionlessly on the same log was this first-time-encountered Long Horned Beetle (Eoporis elagans). The markings on this Long Horned Beetle made its identification easy.

Like the previous time that I was here at Venus Drive, the wind was very strong. The weatherman said that the wind was coming from the North (from far away China) and is blowing at a speed of 70 km/h. It was pretty unnerving as there were loud squeaking sounds coming from the tree foliage above each time the wind blew. Trying hard to stay focused, I managed to find this small 4 mm Ground Beetle (Pericalus tetrastigma).

Braving the mosquitoes at the place, I found another of this commonly encountered Fungus Beetle feasting on a patch of fungus. Notice the dent the beetle made in the fungus.

This Fungus Weevil looked like the previous Fungus Weevil except for the eye catching red spot on its elytra. Not sure if this is a different type of beetle or just a sexual dimorphorism.

It was interesting to note that this trip I was not able to find any of the usually encountered  Fungus Beetle such as the Eumorphus politus or Eumorphus tetraspilotus. Sadly the only Eumorphus assamensis Fungus Beetle that I encountered was the dinner for this Assassin Bug.

Moving on to another fallen log, a small 2 mm Fungus Beetle was feeding on an upturned  fungus mushroom.

On the same log was this Fungus Beetle.

While photographing the Fungus Beetle above, I noticed some movement on the log nearby and found this pair of small 3 mm Fungus Beetle.

Time flew past quickly and it was time for me to leave and just then I encountered the last beetle for the trip - a small 4 mm Ladybird (Chilocorus circumdatus).

It was an interesting trip as I managed to get a good feel of how to use the extension tube for taking macro photographs, plus the few first-time-encountered beetles which as a bonus.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

A Quick Morning Walk At Venus Drive (18 Jan 2014)

I had about 1.5 hours of in-between time before the next appointment in the morning so I decided to drop by Venus Drive since I made a last minute change to explore the Yio Chu Kang Road last night. When I reached the place there was already a group of 5-6 people doing macro photography at my usual spot for Leaf Beetles, so I moved on to another spot in order not to disturb the group.

The first beetle that came into view was this tiny 2 mm Ladybird Beetle. It was a bit of a challenge to photograph this beetle as the wind was very strong and the beetle was pretty sensitive to my presence also. Battling the strong wind and the constant movement of the beetle, I only managed to take a few shots and all turned out to be poorly taken. Nevertheless, I have included it here as a record of the trip.

On the same plant was another Ladybird Beetle (Cryptogonus orbiculus). This photograph was also poorly taken and on top of it, I didn't notice that there was a thread of spider web right in front of the beetle, hence the streak of blurriness across the photo. Also included this photograph as a record of the trip.

Moving in a slightly more sheltered place where the wind is not as strong as before, I found this commonly encountered 3 mm beetle clinging onto a stem.

Moving into the trail itself, a Fungus Beetle was found feasting on a bracket fungus growing on a rotting log.

While looking for more Fungus Beetle, I accidentally startled a Net-winged Beetle and it flew from its hiding and landed on a leaf. It is about 10-12 mm and looked like the  Dictyoptera aurora Net-winged Beetle except that its pronotum is not fully colored. This could be a different type of Net-winged Beetle. Please pardon the quality of this photograph as I do not know why occasionally the photographs uploaded became "speckled" even though the original photograph looked perfectly normal.

The wind was exceptionally strong and even when I am in the trail, the tree canopy above were being blown wildly about and occasionally let out some loud creaking sounds, that kept me looking up in case that a branch would fall from above. Just then I found this small 3 mm Weevil Beetle eating its breakfast. I find the posture of the beetle interesting. It was also a challenge to photograph this beetle due to the strong wind. I only managed to snap a few photograph of this beetle during the brief calmness in between bout of strong wind.

Moving onto the clearance, I was surprised to find this lone Handsome Fungus Beetle out in the "open" on a rotting log.

Near to the Fungus Beetle was a beetle larvae.

Moving along the trail, a Net-winged Beetle was resting on a leaf. Although the shape of this beetle looked like a Net-winged Beetle, I am beginning to wonder if it is truly a Net-winged Beetle as the texture of its elytra is not like the other Net-winged Beetle (i.e. netting pattern). I am still searching around to identify this beetle. The same problem for this photograph - not sure why the image became "speckled" just like the photograph of the Net-winged Beetle above.

Moving along quickly as my time at the place was about to be up, a slightly less than 2 mm black speck was found on a leave. Not wanting to miss any opportunities of finding a first-time-encountered beetle, I decided to check it out. To my surprise, it is a first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle with some interesting patterns on it.

It was time to turn back and as I was casually scanning the bushes along the side of the trail, this 3 mm Weevil Beetle was found resting on a new small leave. This is a first-time-encountered Weevil Beetle.

When I was almost out of the trail, a Fungus Beetle (Eumorphus quadriguttatus) was found on a patch of black fungus.

Near to the Fungus Beetle, I noticed a slight difference in color and texture at the base of a tree and found this well camouflaged Checkered Beetle.

Just moments when I stepped out of the trail, I was thrilled to find this reddish-brown first-time-encountered Leaf Beetle on a leaf of a tree. It looked like a well polished car, reflecting the sky above it.

Although today I spent half the time that I would usually spent, the trip was fruitful with 3 first-time-encountered beetles photographed.