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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Long Walk At Central Catchment Park Connectors (25 Jul 2014)

My friend and I decided to take a day leave and explore the Central Catchment Park Connector or better known as Mandai Track 15. This trip will take us from the entrance at Mandai Road, passing along Gangsa Track, passing by Zheng Hua Park and  all the way to Dairy Farm Nature Park.

The first beetle found was a commonly seen Leaf Beetle (Lema diversa). The morning temperature was already pretty high so the beetles were pretty active even though we are at the place pretty early.

Near to the Lema diversa Leaf Beetle was another Leaf Beetle (Hoplasoma unicolor). This is one of the hardest Leaf Beetle to photograph as it is super sensitive to movements and would fly off at the slightest movement. It took me a while to get some proper shots of this beetle.

The starting part of the trail seemed disappointing as there were not many insects around, let alone beetles. I was so glad to have found this 3 mm Fungus Beetle (Triplax rufipes) on a fungus invested leaf.

Moving further down the trail, another Leaf Beetle was found hiding in the groove of a plant stem.

Another Leaf Beetle was found after another 10 of minutes walking. This is one of my favorite Leaf Beetle as it looks like agar-agar.

The walk was pretty slow as we were trying to be thorough in finding beetles since the place was a bit "sterile".  I spotted a 5 mm Leaf Beetle hiding at the base of a dead plant. Due to the odd angle, I was not able to get a good shot of the beetle, but nevertheless I have included it here as a record of the trip.

The walk was getting a little boring as there were not many beetles or insects along the trail. I was so glad to photograph this Leaf Beetle (Aulacophora frontalis) when my friend spotted it on a small plant.

On a leaf was a small 3 mm Tumbling Flower Beetle. This beetle was interestingly still despite me photographing it for a while. Pardon the slightly blur image as I am still trying to get use to the manual focusing with the DIY diffuser.

Moving into a patch of tall grass, a Spiny Leaf Beetle (Dicladispa armigera) was spotted on a blade of grass.

Passing near an open area, we found a piece of tree branch with some white fungus growing on it, and on the fungus were several of this lovely Fungus Beetle.

The walk was getting boring as the number of beetles found so far was miserable. I started to wonder if we should do this trail again. Anyway, the next beetle encountered was another of my favorite Leaf Beetle.

We later came to an area where there were several dead coconut trees, with their trunks overgrown with bracket fungus. On one of the tree trunk was this first-time-encountered Fungus Weevil.

The encounter with the first-time-encountered Fungus Weevil brought some enthusiasm back to the walk and we continued with trip. Just as we were walking along the trail, a large beetle flew across our path and we tracked it to a large leaf on a tree. It turned out to be a Long Horned Beetle (Anancylus griseatus).

Passing along a patch of heliconia plants, I was surprised to find a beetle larvae on one of the leaves. It is odd to find beetle larvae among heliconia as the plant is not the usual food plant for this type of beetle larvae.

While walking along a shaded area, a big beetle flew by and we trailed it to some dead litters in the bushes. The beetle was so well camouflaged that we were not able to find it, instead we found a small 5 mm Fungus Weevil on a branch nearby.

After the not so fruitful walk along Track 15, we finally reached the Gangsa Track entrance where we decided to break for lunch. Just at the location that we were having our lunch, a 5 mm Darkling Beetle was crawling up and down the tree trunk behind us.

The walk was getting really boring as we were not able to find any beetles for a while along the Gangsa Track. We reached a stretch of the trail that has huge Simpoh Air plants on both sides of the path. It was not a good sign as I seldom find any beetles among Simpoh Air plants, nevertheless we still try hard to look out for beetles. Our hard work paid off with the finding of these first-time-encountered Leaf Beetles.

We were still in the Simpoh Air stretch of the trail and we found a rotting tree stump. On it were a number of bracket fungus and a first-time-encountered Rove Beetle.

On another side of the tree stump was a Fungus Beetle (Eumorphus tetraspilotus)  hiding under a bracket fungus.

Heading towards the Bukit Panjang exit, I found a Flea Beetle hiding in the fold of a leaf.

Just as we about to reach the Bukit Panjang exit,  we found a rotten tree trunk with a Darkling Beetle with a damaged elytra on it.

Not wanting to miss out any beetles, we checked out everything that looked like a beetle. Here on some palm leaves was what looked like an insect poo, but it turned out to be a Weevil Beetle.

As we reached the Bukit Panjang exit, we decided to take a break and go towards "civilisation" of the Bukit Panjang Town for some much needed cold drinks. We continued with our journey at the Dairy Farm Nature Park. As we were moving towards the Dairy Farm Nature Park, I decided to tweak my DIY diffuser since the results of the earlier shooting was not very satisfying.

Upon reaching the Dairy Farm Nature Farm, the first beetle encountered was a small Ladybird Beetle (Cryptogonus orbiculus). The tweaked DIY diffuser seemed to work better.

We journeyed into the Wallace Trail but it was a disappointing move as the trail was in bad need of repairs. Several huge fallen trees blocked the walking path and some parts were almost not passable. Not sure why NParks didn't do anything to clear the path of fallen trees as they are accidents waiting to happen.

It is sad to see such a nice park that was officially opened in September 2009, deteriorated so badly in less than 5 years. Sadly, a large section of the trail was closed for a while already without any signs of repair works being done. The only works that I saw was a NO-ENTRY sign erected at the closed section and the removal of a collapsed bridge over a ravine.

Anyway, back to the trip. Just when I was about to clear a fallen tree "obstacle course", a Tiger Beetle (Cicindela chrysippe) appeared right in front of me on a leaf. The tweaked diffuser seemed to work really well given that the pattern on this highly reflective beetle can still be seen.

Even after clearing all the fallen tree obstacles, we were not able to find any more beetles on the Wallace Trail (or what remained of it). All were not lost as from my past experience of this place, there is one place that I would find at least one or two beetles - the Wallace Education Centre. Here's a lovely colored Long Horned Beetle (Coptops annulipes) found at the Wallace Education Centre.

As our trip at the Dairy Farm Nature Park was shorter than expected, we decided to take a short trail walk to the MOE Dairy Farm Adventure Centre. Just before we set off, we found a Ant-like Flower Beetle under a big leaf. Pardon the slightly out of focus photograph as I was holding the big leaf with my left hand and trying to photograph the beetle with manual focus.

The walk to MOE Dairy Farm Adventure Centre was not very fruitful, with only a few beetles found. The last beetle for the trip was a Ladybird Beetle (Henosepilachna implicata).

Even though there were a number of beetles encountered in the trip, it was not particularly fruitful given the long hours that we put in. Reflecting on this trip and the last full-day trip, we came to the conclusion that we will not do such full-day trips any more as the afternoon of both trips were not fruitful at all.