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Saturday, 31 May 2014

Long Walk At MacRitchie Trails (30 May 2014)

My friend and I have always wanted to try going for a full day macro-photography walk and so we took leave and headed to the MacRitchie Trails. The day started not too well as it was raining very heavily but we decided to stick to our plan and wait out the rain. Fortunately the rain stopped just when we were done with our breakfast together and we headed to the start of the MacRitchie Trails. The trail we intended to take is listed to be about 9.5 km, it was much longer for us since we would make detours in between the trail.

The start of the trail is at the familiar Venus Drive trail that leads towards the Tree Top Walk.

The first beetle that we came across was this Leaf Beetle (Lema diversa). Glad to be able to see this type of beetle despite the earlier heavy rain.

Coming to a tree badly infested with mealy bugs, I found the usual tiny 2 mm Fungus Beetle on the trunk.

On another tree nearby was this lovely beetle larvae.

On the same tree was a rare sight of a newly formed beetle pupa.

Moving on, we found a small 4 mm first-time-encountered Leaf Beetle. I initially thought that it is the Colasposoma auripenne Leaf Beetle but upon closer look it has metallic-red elytra and a metallic-green thorax. Sad to say my camera was not able to capture the true color of this beautiful beetle.

On a nearby leaf was a small 5 mm roundish Leaf Beetle with exceptionally long antennae.

On a tree trunk was a scary looking beetle larvae. I think it is a Ground Beetle larvae.

As expected there were a number of this hairy beetle as this type of beetle can usually be seen after rain.

Further down the trail was a Fungus Beetle (Triplax rufipes).

The next beetle was a Net-winged Beetle that we found near to a rotting tree log.

Moving closer to the Ranger Station, a skittish Leaf Beetle (Hoplasoma unicolor) was flying restlessly from one leaf to another, stopping occasionally in between flights.

After a quick lunch-cum-rest stop at the Ranger Station, we continued with our journey on the Rifle Range Link which will take us to the Rifle Range Road.

The trail leading to the Rifle Range Link was not particularly fruitful, possibly due to the heavy rain earlier. Interestingly the trail was full of different types of butterfly and so the sighting of this first-time-encountered Leaf Beetle the moment we entered the Rifle Range Link raised the prospect of a fruitful trip a little.

The Rifle Range Link was full of this type of Leaf Beetle (Argopus brevis) which we found through out the trail.

Moving down the trail, a Leaf Beetle was seen feasting on a partially eaten leaf.

Next to the Leaf Beetle on the same plant was this tiny 2 mm Fungus Beetle.

As we moved along the trail, dark cloud began to gather overhead and threaten to rain. As we picked up our paces, we found this hairy Leaf Beetle hiding under a leaf, possibly preparing for the impending rain.

While looking under the leaves for beetles, I almost missed this Spiny Leaf Beetle (Dicladispa armigera) which was resting on the top of a leaf.

There were many Straits Rhododendron plant (Melastoma malabathricum) along the side of the trail and on some of them, we found a number of this tiny 2 mm Jewel Beetles which could easily be missed if you are not looking carefully.

We came to this interesting part of the Rifle Range Link where we decided to make a short detour. I didn't find any beetles here but there are were a large number of dragonflies flying around the small streams.

This was the first time that I took this trail and we almost got lost when we moved onto another trail that ran parallel to a reservoir drainage system. Thanks to the modern technology of GPS and Google Map, we were able to get back on track. Trekkers usually starts the trail at the Rifle Range Road and ends at the Venus Drive or MacRitchie Reservoir, so for first timer on this trail (taking the "reverse" route), make sure you turn left and up a small flight of steps when you come to a T-junction along this Rifle Range Link. Anyway, after getting back to the correct path, we found this Leaf Beetle hiding under a leaf. We were so glad that it didn't rain even though sky was cloudy earlier on.

While moving up a small slope, a Tiger Beetle (Cicindela chrysippe) flew into our path. Please pardon the slight blur of the photo as it was a rush shot and the beetle flew off quickly.

The last beetle that we came across on the Rifle Range Link was this Flea Beetle, which has a pair of powerful looking hind-legs.

The Rifle Range Road was a very long tarmac road with vegetation on both side of the road. It was not very fruitful as we didn't really find many insects on them. Although we didn't find any insects, we did had a good conversation walking this road.

As we moved along this not so busy road, we spotted a foot path along side the road and so we decided to make a detour since the journey was getting a little disappointing. Just at the entrance of the foot path was a plant full of this small 4 mm first-time-encountered Leaf Beetle. Sadly this was the only beetle that we found as we traveled on this foot path. Later the path linked us back to the Rifle Range Road.

The highlight of the trip was the encountering of a first-time-encountered Tiger Beetle. I initially thought that it was a flightless Tiger Beetle but was wrong as it started to fly short distances as we fired off our camera flashes at it.

After a long walk along the Rifle Range Road without any actions, we finally reached the trail leading into the Durian Loop at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The first beetle that greeted us there was this Ladybird Beetle (Epilachna indica).

A stone's throw away from the Ladybird Beetle was this Leaf Beetle (Aulacophora frontalis).

Further down the track was this Spiny Leaf Beetle.

The last beetle for the trip was this Leaf Beetle. While photographing it, the sky turned dark and started to drizzle. It was our exit cue and we hurriedly move out of the track and possibly missing out of some beetles in our hurry to get out of the rain.

Although the trip was not as fruitful as expected, especially given the much longer distance and time that we spent, the number of beetles found was pretty good especially given the morning heavy rain.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Night Walk At Old Upper Thomson Road (23 May 2014)

For some strange reasons that I have not walked the Old Upper Thomson Road for more than a year already ( ). I decided to give the place a try despite the heavy downpour in the early afternoon. The interesting thing I found at the place was this large patch of fungus growing on a fallen log. They looked very much like the Montipora Plate Coral  (Montipora foliosa) that I used keep in my marine aquarium.

The first beetle was a first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle (about 6 mm in size) found on the base of a tree beside the main road (Upper Thomson Road).

About 30 cm away from the Fungus Beetle was another black beetle. I have seen this type of beetle several times but I still have not found its identity as yet.

Moving on to another tree I found this small (3 mm) Darkling Beetle. With its reddish-brown legs, it looked slightly different from the commonly encountered fully black Darkling Beetle.

After walking for almost 15 minute with spotting any beetles, I decided to move into the forest when I came across a small opening in the low vegetation that lined both sides of the road. The place was dry with very little undergrowth. On the side of a fallen tree was this large (10 mm) commonly encountered Darkling Beetle.

On a tree nearby was this small beetle larvae.

Moving to another fallen tree, a lone Fungus Weevil was found resting on the side of this tree.

While looking for some other beetles on the log, I found these two tiny beetles moving actively on the log. They are 2 mm and 1 mm respectively.

Just when I was almost out of the forest, a lovely colored beetle larvae was found on the trunk of a moss laden tree.

After walking for another while without spotting any beetles, I decided to call it a day. Just when I was about to turn back, this lovely Fungus Beetle (Encaustes praenobilis) was found on a blade of grass under some bushes. Its been a while I last encountered this beetle.

Turning back, I cross over to the other side of the Old Upper Thomson Road. On a fallen free by the road side, a few of this Darkling Beetles were found on the side. This reminded me of the large numbers of such beetles that I encountered when I was at the Lower Pierce Reservoir, which is probably about 1-2 KM away.

On the same log was this entirely brown Darkling Beetle.

Coming to a patch of Heliconia plants, I was surprised to find a first-time-encountered Ground Beetle. It is about 5 mm in size.

Leaving the Heliconia patch and I came to a few low branches of a rubber tree and on a leaf was this Fungus Beetle. This was a surprise as they are usually found on rotting logs and not in tree.

For those who are not familiar with the place, you must be wondering why the vegetation is so odd - Heliconia and rubber tree (plus some other 'exotic' plants) together in one area. The main reason is that this area used to be rubber tree plantations and were inhabited by people who also planted Heliconia and other ornamental plants at the place. By the way, the Old Upper Thomas Road is also a race track for racing cars in the old days.

Just a few centimeters away was this first-time-encountered 8 mm Weevil Beetle. This poor specimen has a truck load of mites on it.

Near to the rubber tree was a pile of chopped tree branches and on it was this small 4 mm Weevil Beetle (Cerobates sexsulcatus).

On the same "wood pile" was a first-time-encountered Long Horned Beetle (Pterolophia subtincta) which perch on a thin branch, oblivious to me stepping on the small branches around the "wood pile". I always like to check out "wood piles" as I would usually find interesting beetles in them.

At the tip of the same branch where the Pterolophia subtincta Long Horned Beetle rested, was another first-time-encountered Long Horned Beetle. I have yet to identify this 5 mm beetle.

Hiding deep in the "wood pile" was this 4 mm first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle.

Moving further to a broken tree branch, a less commonly seen Fungus Beetle was feeding on the stripped part of the branch.

I was running a little late and so I picked up my pace of walking until I encountered one of my favorite Leaf Beetle, sleeping on a leaf.

The highlight of the trip was found on some tall bushes. It was a first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle resting on a leaf. Initially I thought that it was the Platydema monoceros Fungus Beetle, but when I zoomed in for a better shot, I noticed that it has two "horns" on the head, instead of one (as in the case of Platydema monoceros Fungus Beetle) .

Just about 50 meters away from where I started the trip, I came across a fallen tree with the sawed end facing the road. The sawed end was criss-crossed with termite tracks and on it I found this tiny 1 mm Fungus Beetle. The beetle was so small that even the tiny mite looked relatively big on the back of the beetle.

On the same end of log was this Fungus Weevil which blended well into the background. I only noticed it when it moved a little.

Although the location was not as fruitful compared to other places such as the Venus Drive, the number of first-time-encountered beetles found was good. I would probably go back to the place in the future.