The weather in July was still hot but it was a relieve to have occasional showers here and there. I joined an intertidal outing in the east, visited a new macro site at Sultan Trail, explored Dairy Farm Nature Park twice and led a night cum day macro photography outing at Zhenghua Forest.
We didn’t take a lot of pictures during the intertidal outing on 4 July as the rain poured heavily earlier than expected. Here is a candid shot of us in action.
Sadly, this transparent shrimp living on a beautiful carpet anemone is the only presentable shot that I have from this outing.
The rain stopped at about 10 am and we decided to drop by Pasir Ris Park for a 2nd round macro shoot. We were fortunate to find a delicated parent of Olive-backed Sunbirds taking turns feeding their two chicks.
A week later, we explored an abandoned mansion once belonging to a Sultan of Johor. It was hidden in the mass of vegetation between Holland Road and Tyersall Avenue. The mansion was built in the late 19th century and it was subsequently used as General’s headquarters and a military hospital. In 1942, about 700 medics and patients were killed by the bombing of the Japanese.
There were stories about the eerie mansion but with a big group of nature photographers, what was there to be afraid of.
Many spiders were spotted in this deserted place but I was most delighted when Teck Leong shared with me a tiny lynx spider having a brightly coloured red hopper as breakfast.
I had to leave early for work and here are a few images that I managed to photograph:
Citron Bug, scientifically known as Leptoglossus gonagra, is a member of the Leaf-footed bug family. I was fortunate to find an adult with two nymphs at Dairy Farm Nature Park.
They would use their strawlike beak to suck a plant’s internal juices. They seem to like feasting on wild bitter gourds.
Other subjects spotted include a planthopper and a relatively rare Grass Demon.
And it was nice to see a praying mantis covered with morning dew.
But I was most excited to witness a busy scene involving a female crab spider having a bee as breakfast, 2 male spiders fighting for the right to mate with the female, while many busybody flies wanted to have a share of the breakfast. Certainly quite a behaviour shot that is hard to duplicate, my favourite image taken this month.
July 18 was my turn to lead macro photography outing for Nature Photography Society of Singapore and I chose my favourite macro site at Zhenghua Forest. A day before the outing, Allan, Sharon & I decided to meet earlier to do night macro. We invited those who signed for the day shoot to join us. Rajesh, Sia, Loh, Henry & Dion gamely took on the challenge. Eight of us met at the 24-hr Jin Shan (JSL) coffee shop at 3.30 am for some hot drinks before we commenced our night photography at 4.00 am.
With the aid of a good UV LED touch light, we found more than 20 Lesser brown Scorpions! Most of them were lying motionlessly on tree trunks or dried leaves. We were lucky to find a mother having many young babies on its back.
Another interesting subject that caught our attention was a rare House Centipede (Thereuopoda longicornis). They are usually found in the forest in Singapore. They have a pair of long antennae, 15 pairs of very long legs, and are the only group of centipedes with large compound eyes. Looking at the way it ran from one place to another, they must be very fast hunters. Not an easy subject to photograph and I could only manage this record shot.
All of us were so busy shooting that we forgot about our originally plan was to stop the night macro by 6.30 am. Like small children, we played until forgot to eat! Suddenly it rained at 6.35 am. I like the way Loh’s put it: “The guy in heaven decided to sprinkled some waters to chase us to take breakfast”. So here we were back at JSL for a well deserved breakfast before we got ready for Part II’s day shoot.
As we entered the green vegetation of Zhenghua Forest, we found a lovely pair of orange leaf beetles enjoying their most intimate moment. We discovered later that there were more than 5 pairs doing the same thing around the vicinity! July could be a mating season for these adorable little creatures.
Not too far away, a pair of grasshoppers were also having a good time!
A good number of Leaf-footed bugs were sighted in the early morning with their exoskeletons next to them. They must had moulted only a short while ago.
At about 9.30 am when the sun was getting too hot, we moved into the forested area where we spotted a giant black scorpion crossing the walking path. This should be a Asian Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus longimanus) measuring about 12 – 15 cm. It is uncommon in Singapore where it is restricted to the nature reserves. We were extremely lucky to see this one under the broad daylight!
There were a handful of wild mushrooms on the forest floor. Most were spotted on fallen logs but these 3 little ones were found on a dead leaf. A LED light was placed on top to give them a glowing effect.
These tiny ones are equally eye-catching.
Here are some images showing our photographers in action to conclude this fruitful and fun outing!