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Friday, 21 April 2017

Night Walk At Venus Drive (21 Apr 2017)

It has been raining since last weekend and I was hoping for the best that it will not rain again this weekend night. Thankfully it only rained a day before and in the morning, so my friend HW and I were able to proceed with our plans to have our night macro-photography  session at Venus Drive.

When I reached the place, I was surprised to see that the place was buzzing with activities in preparation for the opening of the Windsor Nature Park. With the opening of the Windsor Nature Park also means that there will be toilet facilities. This is one of the key bane of the Venus Drive trail as the nearest toilet facility is at the Ranger Station near to the Tree Top Walk. Just hoped that with the opening of the park, the car parking will remain free and not start charging like the rest of the parks in Singapore.

Here's a shot of the place with the opening ceremony tent all set up.

I received my order of a 40 mm flash diffuser two weeks back and was looking forward to test it out in the field, but sadly it has been raining on the various occasions that I were planning to go for the macro photography session. Fortunately, I am able to test this out this week.

The first critter we encountered at the place was this lovely caterpillar. After searching the internet, I believed this should be the 5th-instar caterpillar of the Malay Viscount butterfly (Tanaecia pelea pelea).

It could possibly because of the rain over the past few days as there were hundreds of flying termites at the place. This turned out to be super irritating as they will form swarms around our torchlight and focusing light. The most irritating part is when they kamikaze into your face, arms and neck, and crawl all over your body!

The first beetle for the trip was a small 3 mm Darkling Beetle. It was a challenge to photograph this constantly moving beetle when there were swarms of flying termite surrounding your face and camera.

Coming to some Giant Elephant Ear plants, I am glad to find one Ant-like Flower Beetle (Anthelephila cyanea). Yet again it was a challenge photographing this moving beetle with flying termite swarming your face.

There was a small wood pile and on it was a lone Darkling Beetle.

On a nearby dead log was another Darkling Beetle (Ceropria induta).

I was pleasantly surprised to come across a colony of Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurulenta). We could have easily encountered 30 to 40 of them during this trip.

On a small tree was a small beetle larvae.

Near to the beetle larvae was a pair of 1 mm Fungus Beetle. Even though at this point, the number of flying termite tapered off a little, it was still very irritating to keep the camera still to photograph these constantly moving beetles.

There are scattered patches of Singapore  Rhododendron plant (Melastoma malabathricum) along the trail and on one of the plants was this Leaf Beetle (Argopus brevis).

Thankfully by now the number of flying termite had dropped down to a handful, making photographing this small 3 mm Darkling Beetle more pleasurable.

Surprisingly, I was not able to find any of the commonly encountered Chafer Beetles such as the Adoretus Compressus or the Apogonia expeditionis. Instead I found a number of this slightly larger bronze colored Chafer Beetle.

Tucked away on a fallen tree was a 12 mm Darkling Beetle, feeding on a thin layer of fungus..

A stone's throw away was this small 2 mm Darkling Beetle.

On a different tree near by was another 10 mm Darkling Beetle.

A surprised find was this Ground Beetle on a large leaf. I am surprised that it didn't move a bit when I took photographs after photographs of it. This was rather odd as this type of Ground Beetle tends to be rather skittish and sensitive, especially to light.

It could possibly be due to the flying termites, we walked much further than we would usually walk at the place. It was a blessing in disguise as we came across a rotten standing tree where several beetles were found. Thankfully, no more flying termites when we reached this part of the trail.

The first beetle I found on the standing tree log was this Checkered Beetle.

A small 1 mm Darkling Beetle just centimeters away.

A long-time-no-encounter Fungus Beetle (Eumorphus assamensis). It feels good to be able to find this beetle at the place, as they almost got wiped out during the exceptionally dry weather in 2014.

While I was photographing the various beetle at the rotten standing tree, HW called out to me that he found a Fungus Beetle on a dead tree nearby. At a glance it looked like the commonly encountered yellow spotted Fungus Beetle, but as I zoomed in for a closer shot, I was thrilled to find extra spots on it, signifying that it is a less common Fungus Beetle.

Getting back to the rotten standing tree, I was happy to find this lone Ground Beetle (Catascopus dalbertisi).

Centimeters from the Ground Beetle were a number of this small 3 mm Darkling Beetle.

Well camouflaged with its background, I was surprised to find several mating pairs of this 2 mm Weevil Beetle.

The highlight of the trip was the encounter with this 20 mm Long Horned Beetle (Thranius bimaculatus) at the base of the rotten standing tree.

Interestingly there were a few tens of this Sap Beetle, many of them were found foraging on the underside of some fungus mushroom growing from the side of the rotten standing tree.

As I search carefully through every inch of the rotten standing tree, I was pleasantly surprised to find this 3 mm Long Horned Beetle (Eoporis elegans) well camouflaged with its background.

High up on the rotten standing tree was a pair of Fungus Beetle (Episcapha quadrimacula).

I was really enjoying finding so many different beetles at the tree and this Flat Bark Beetle topped the chart for the night. This type of beetle is usually very hyperactive and it was always a challenge photographing it as it tends to move about rather quickly. This was a surprised find as this particular specimen remained very still throughout two rounds of photographing - mine and HW's. Amazing!

It was time to turn back and on the way out, I was so glad to encounter this really long-time-no-encounter Fungus Beetle (Eumorphus politus). This type of beetle used to be common at Venus Drive until the dry weather in 2014. Glad to see it again.

The last beetle of the trip was a 10 mm Fungus Beetle that was hiding on thin vine of a Air Potato plant.

Although the trip started off being extremely irritating because of the flying termites, it got better subsequently. Overall this is a good trip and I am glad that my new flash diffuser worked well. At the same time, I also sincerely hoped that the opening of the Windsor Nature Park would not drive away all this lovely beetles at the place due to higher human traffic.

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