Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blue Dragons

Traveled to India once again for a cousin's wedding in May 2010. Found this attractive blue dragonfly by a lake close to my cousin's home.

There were other little creatures too, like this forest damselfly.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

3 Snakes a Day!

We were pretty much done with hunting at Bukit Timah and were on our way back to the bus stop. I had already packed the camera, but I was forced to unpack it again in a few minutes. There, on the railings by the side of the road, was... a thread. Well that was what I thought it was. After taking a closer look I realized it was actually another snake, a species of Bronzeback.

You can see that it looks very much like any rope or vine that fell from any tree.

This snake was quite hard to shoot as he kept slithering away and even attempted to hop off the railing. But here are some shots I managed to take. I didn't care to keep my distance as I knew that this was a non-venomous species that couldn't be of much harm.

We later identified it as the Painted Bronzeback, a widespread and common species that can be found in a variety of habitats including scrub, secondary forest, back-beach habitats as well as parks and gardens. It is a diurnal species that searches for its prey, mainly frogs and lizards, during the day. What an interesting day! 3 snakes from one location, one highly venomous, one mildly venomous and one non-venomous!

Bright Blue, Bright Red

So we rushed up the hill, frantically searching, looking around for the snake we were told about. And then, from the corner of my eye, I saw a bright blue stripe. It was a Blue Malayan Coral Snake, a highly venomous front-fanged snake that you definitely wouldn't want to get really close to.

I started photographing the snake right away. It was the first time seeing this snake in the wild, and I didn't want to miss the chance.

This species is supposed to be a nocturnal hunter however. I'm not sure why it was lurking around during the day. But still, this is one snake you don't want to get bitten by, no matter what. I've read that these snakes, despite their highly neurotoxic venom, are unoffensive and gentle creatures that can easily die of fright. I've heard that there is no anti-venom for this species, so if you're bitten, you might just wanna say a final goodbye to all your loved ones. But as long as you don't provoke the snake and keep a good distance, you should be safe.

The snake was trying to get to the other side of the tarred path, so with the help of the reserve officers we helped it move away. Here's a shot of the snake crossing the path. It was definitely at least one and a half metres long.

Here's a shot of the bright, red tail. As you can see, this species has a bright red head and tail, and a bright blue body, which comprises of two different shades. Light blue by the sides and a strip of dark blue in the middle. The underside of the snake is also bright red, like the head and tail.

It slithered down into the undergrowth and vanished soon after.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Little Whippy's Still Home

After taking photographs of the spider, I turned to the other side of the big book to see if our friend, the Malayan Whip Snake was still there. And he still was! I am not sure why but this particular uncommon snake seems to like this spot very much; its the 4th or 5th time we're spotting him here!

Its tongue fully sticked out, as straight as a stick.

We knew, and so did the little snake, that we were going a bit too close. He got into striking position and even opened his mouth to reveal his hot pink mouth. I didn't get a shot of his opened mouth though. But here's a shot of him in striking position, looking straight at the camera.

We retreated and left him alone soon after. A few other visitors saw us photographing the snake and told us that they spotted another species of snake a few ten metres away. Was it our luck or what! We rushed up the hill to discover our next snake of the day. Coming up right away in the next post.

Spider Close-Ups

After the hike in MacRitchie, which didn't yield us any reptiles to shoot, we got off at bukit timah and decided to take a walk through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I spotted a number of spiders in the first few minutes and took a couple of shots, using a macro extension tube my friend brought along.

The extension ring sure was worth it as we were able to take pretty close-up shots of the spiders.

And here's another close-up shot of a different species on the big history book by the entrance.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Malayan Giant Terrapin

My friend and I were busying ourselves with a pair of tiny bugs when we heard a tiny splash of water. We looked nearby and noticed a stream with a bridge along the way. When we looked down, this was what we saw.

Yes, a really large turtle. It was later identified as a Malayan Giant Terrapin. It was huge, in fact, more than a metre long. Here's a photograph to illustrate its size.

This was the first time I was seeing a turtle/terrapin in these reserves. And yet this was such a large one. We continued snapping more pictures so as to help ourselves with identification. Thank you tHE tiDE cHAsER ( for the help with identification!

There was another turtle too, a smaller one. However, it was too far away for us to get a clear shot.

The Flower, The Spider and The Bee

I spotted this attractive flower in MacRitchie, so I decided to take a photograph. Here's the flower.

Just after my first shot, a small fly, looking like a bee flew onto the flower. I tried taking a few shots of the macro insect with manual focus. It was gripping on really tightly onto the flower's part.

And right then, a spider jumped out to try to catch and prey on the bee. I didn't wait to see if he was successful; I had to move on.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Damselflies from MacRitchie

I just posted on the dragonflies I spotted in MacRitchie, well now here are the Damselflies. They are as common as dragonflies, except that it is quite tough for an amateur like me to differentiate one species from another.

A mating pair, species which I suppose is the Blue Sprite.

This is one of the most common species of damselflies seen in the area.

A view from the back.

Dragonflies from MacRitchie

MacRitchie Reservoir is home to a large variety of Dragonflies, due to tha large reservoir and many swamps surrounding the area. Here are a few species of dragonfly I managed to spot and shoot during the walk through the forest. A common species, orange in colour.

Another species, the Shaded Basker. I used to see this species commonly in Bukit Timah.

Here's a large dragonfly, no idea which species though. It was hanging onto a twig silently for a long time. And my, I do love its blue eyes caused by the camera flash.

Leafless Tree, Still Alive

I spotted a leafless tree somewhere close to the reservoir at MacRitchie. Before I left, I took a closer look and realized that the tree wasn't really dead, since it was occupied by a large number of birds, probably a species of pigeon or dove. Found this rather interesting, so decided to post it anyway.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Minute Residents of MacRitchie

So I was back in Singapore and as the March Holidays came closer, I got ready to go for more hunting, this time in MacRitchie Reservoir. Once again, I borrowed my friend's 450D, Well of course, we came across more than a hundred different species of invertebrates, most of which are insects. Here are some of the interesting ones. A species of Pansy butterfly.

A colourful fly with large red eyes.

Snails... they were everywhere since it had rained just a few hours ago.

A tiny leafhopper along the boardwalk.

Termites crawling off in large numbers.

A mating pair of Micropezid Flies.

Colourful forest crickets, they were everywhere as well.

A tiny Flower Mantis, brown in colour. This one was particularly hard to shoot due to its size.

A Giant Millipede perched onto a tree. It's the first time I'm seeing such a big one in Singapore. These are common in India.

Last but not least a hairy caterpillar with a smiley face :).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flying Dragon

As I had mentioned earlier, we had to climb a really steep mountain, one that was covered with dense forest. I got to spot a number of critters but didn't get the chance to shoot all of them as I had to keep up with the others. Most of them were insects. At one moment during the hike, I spotted a small gliding lizard (or flying dragon) perched upon a tall tree. However, the tiny creature scurried up high into the tree before I could photograph it. I was pretty devastated as I never really got to shoot a flying dragon well. But that wasn't to be! I managed to spot another one near the base of the hill, close to the car park. This one was big, and I immediately identified it as the Common Flying Dragon or Sumatran Flying Dragon. Here are some shots.

Notice the small path of yellow under its throat. That's his flag that he spreads when he sees a mate.

Close up of the head.

Remarkable camouflage!

So I was delighted with this chance to shoot the lizard properly, but it wasn't over with this. The lizard climbed up the tree and when I looked up, I realized that he was closing to another lizard, a female! I immediately took some shots. However, I was using a basic 18-55mm lens on my friend's 450D and it couldn't reach the pair well even at full zoom. But still, here's a fair shot. Look closely and you'll see both of them.


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