Tampines Butterfly Garden

Wow the last time I went to the Tampines Butterfly Garden was in 2012. Time really flies! So I wasn’t really sure whether the place was still around but yes it was still there. Same old place but just appear a bit unkempt and more wild.

A lot of butterflies flying around but most of them of the more common variety. Didn’t see any Mormons which was one butterfly I really wanted to have a picture of. ūüôĀ

Anyway here are some photos of the butterflies and caterpillars

Chocolate Pansy Butterfly

Chocolate Pansy Butterfly

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Plain Tiger Butterfly

Plain Tiger Butterfly

Mottled Emigrant Butterfly

Mottled Emigrant Butterfly

Lime Butterfly

Lime Butterfly

2 different specimen of caterpillar. Can’t identify this particular one though:TEG_1377-001

Mottled Emigrant Caterpillars

Mottled Emigrant Caterpillars

And last but not least, a Changeable Lizard managed to sneak in and had a Lime Butterfly for lunchTEG_1404

I think it really great that there is such a facility in Singapore and which is free and open to the public and lizards unlike the other butterfly park in Sentosa or the new one at the Science Centre. The Tampines Butterfly Garden is run by volunteers, mainly residents staying around the area. There is even a “Nature Centre” on the ground floor of a nearby flat although it was closed when I was there on Wednesday. ¬†Hopefully Nparks will set up more such collaboration in other neighbourhoods.

Kranji Marshes

Finally found some time to go take a look at the new Kranji Marshes. There was some excitement when it opened a few months ago especially as there was some birds like the Moorhen that can only be found there.

The place has been spruced up well with a  carpark, clean toilets and some small offices and rooms.

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Kranji Marshes is divided into 2 areas – the first is a single track road that is open to the public and the other is a conservation area that is only opened for guided tour. The first part of the public area is a long walk next to the canal. There are shelters like this along the way.3-DSC_1271

That leads to the Marsh Station where there is a watch tower and some viewing hides5-DSC_1278 02-KMW_0618

From here one can get a good view of the conservation area and the marshes6-DSC_1279

But I wasn’t really here to look at the marshes. I was more interested in something else. A little bird that has got the birding world abuzz and camped there. A Blue Earned Kingfisher. This is where it has been spotted the past weeks but fortunately today there were only a handful of photographers and not the usual hordes.2-DSC_1269

I didn’t spot the kingfisher on the way in but on the way out I was lucky enough to get a distant short of not just the Blue Earned Kingfisher but a Pied Fantail and a Baya Weaver!

Blue eared Kingfisher

Blue eared Kingfisher

Pied Fantail

Pied Fantail

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And some nice insects

Grey Pansy

Grey Pansy

Peacock Pansy

Peacock Pansy

Dragonfly 1

Butterfly Watch

A few weeks ago, we signed up for a volunteer to survey butterflies. We had no idea what it entails but what attracted me was the opportunity to learn how to identify butterfly. After a half morning lesson at the Singapore Botanic Garden and a demo walk, we were thrust into doing our own survey.

The survey has to be conducted using¬†a method called Pollard’s Walk. Each of us got a different site and which consist of 2 mini sites called transects. We were to walk 20 minutes over a 200 metres route. ¬†We roped in a friend to help us do this. ¬†It sound simple enough but it wasn’t easy to walk so slowly over such a short distance. But the idea was to count the butterflies along the route so definitely going fast wasn’t the right thing to do.

We first went to Bedok Town Park. There was a lot of butterflies at the 1st transects but most of which fortunately we can recognise including the Common Grass Yellow, the Chocolate Pansy and many many Grass Blue

Chocolate Pansy

Chocolate Pansy

There was less butterflies at the 2nd transects and which we attributed to there being no flower beds just trees and non flower bearing plants.

Common Grass Yellow Butterfly

Common Grass Yellow Butterfly

Our next stop was at Bedok Reservoir. The coordinates given to us was actually the Bedok Reservoir Road itself. At first we thought there must be a mistake but soon realised it was the pavement and what a beautiful pavement. There was a short stretch just after the car park which was planted with Heliconia, Ixora and other flowering plants.

Grass Blue Butterfly

Grass Blue Butterfly

An added bonus was a pair of Olive Backed Sunbird on one of the trees.

Olive Backed Sunbird

Olive Backed Sunbird

However, our last transect for the day was a big disappointment. It was up on the hill and there were no flowering shrubs except for a few very tall Yellow Flame trees. Consequently, this was the place where we spotted the least butterflies.

It has been a fun time looking out for butterflies and the birds around the areas. There were many Blue collared Kingfisher at Bedok Town Park. We also saw a Common Iora, an Oriental Magpie Robin and Changeable Lizard and Squirrel.

Oriental Magpie Robin

Oriental Magpie Robin

Blue Collared Kingfisher

Blue Collared Kingfisher

Plantain Squirrel

Plantain Squirrel

Changeable Lizard

Changeable Lizard

Maybe next round we will volunteer to do Bird Watch too.

Butterflies at Pasir Ris Park

Can’t remember the last time I managed to take photo of butterflies. Was at the vegetable plot at Pasir Ris Park and there were many butterflies flying around and managed to take a few photos of those that were willing to pose for me

This is either a Common Mime or a Glassy TigerButterfly 1

This is a Plain TigerButterfly 2

This should be a Spotted Black CrowButterfly 3

Think this is a Tawny PalmflyButterfly 4Also saw this beautiful big spider.Spider 2 Spider 1

 

Macro Photographers

I always go wow whenever I see those beautiful macro shots of spiders and little critters. But I have never has much success with my own photographs. One thing of course is my lack of equipment. My setup is simply not good enough to take that type of close up.

One of the things I always wonder is how do they get the insect in the seemingly perfect front facing position facing the camera. As far as my ramble through the forest have shown me, the insects are rarely in a head to head position. They can be on the wrong side of the leaves; partially blocked by leaves, branches or in such an impossible position to reach. So how do these macro photographers who show case their wonderful and beautiful shots do it?

And the other day, I finally have my eureka moment. I was at Pasir Ris Park and I saw 2 separate person doing their thing. One guy was in a shelter and another was photographing something on the mangrove broadwalk railing. Curiosity got the better of me and so I kapo and went to take a closer look. And at last I realised that I am doing it all wrong.

You see all the while I work on the basic principle that I photograph as is. I do not move the leaves aside, I do not move the insects and if the insects are in a difficult to shoot position, too bad. So naive of me right?

See this is how these “professional macro photographers” get their shots.¬†In these 2 cases, they were taking photographs of spiders.¬†1-PRP_3153The first one had laid out a nice piece of paper, place a leaf (he later added a flower) and shoot happily to his contend. No block, no wind, nothing to block his shot except maybe for the spider trying to get away and he keep catching it and putting it back on the leaf.3-PRP_3167This second one was a little bit better. She had the spider on a leaf on the railing of the broadwalk. So she is subject to the weather and the spider escaping into the swamp below.

But in these 2 cases, I am sure the spiders did not voluntarily jumped onto their leaves for themselves to be photographed. The photographers must have caught them and placed them there so that they can get their nice perfect shot.

So now I know how these photographs came to be. And I wonder what happen to the spiders at the end of the shoot. But if this is the only way to get a nice shot of a critter, I think I rather stick to my running shots. At least the humans are willing models and I don’t have to catch them and make them pose for me!

Street Food in Beijing

I enjoyed eating street food whenever I travel overseas. And one of my favourite place for street food is Bangkok which has almost everything. And then what I saw in Beijing blew me away. There at Wangfujing was streets after streets of food. And according to the local, this is not the best. There is apparently another place which has better food. But what was available at Wangfujing was more than enough.

Here are some pictures. First up, the nice looking stuff and desserts

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This is some sort of pastries

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Rice ball with yam, banana and coconut filling

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Fried durian!

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Fruits and the famous pintanhulu

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This is supposed to be an imperial delicacy eaten by the Empress

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Not ice cream but some sort of rice cake

Next up is all the more mundane looking stuff:

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Grilled pigeon I think

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All sort of fried fish

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Fried crab claw

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Pancake

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Mantou. But not too sure what meat are those though

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Whole crab. How to eat?

Last but not least, the yucky stuff

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The white thingy is snake and the round thingy are cocoon

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Meal worms and grasshoppers

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Seahorses and lizards

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Crickets

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Giant scorpions

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Centipedes and those black things are spiders!

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Star fish! How could they possibly eat this?

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And last something more normal looking. All sort of meats and crustaceans

Contrary to my usual self, I did not try any of the yucky stuff. Firstly wasn’t too sure how hygienic it was and secondly, some of the creepy crawlies were still alive although pierce on the stick! No way I am going to eat such cruel food!