Saturday, 21 February 2015

Hello Kitty and the Psychedelic Katydid

I have seen and photographed quite a number of Katydids but never this Psychedelic-looking! To be fair, it was in a fresh state of post-moult so it means it could only turn out brighter once hemolymph is fully pumped throughout its tiny body. Katydids are generally shy and skittish in nature, and would flee when approached so the presented circumstances was somewhat to our advantage as it gave us a rare opportunity to come real close to this beautiful creature.

*Click image for better quality photos*

1. Possibly the Nymph of Lipotactes maculates. ID suggested by Ming Kai Tan.

1) Oh, did I say I met Ultraman too that night? Thank you, Manoj, for the find.  ;)

2) What a handsome fungus weevil (Anthribidae).

3) Record shot in its natural environment.

4) Hurray for lightweight mirrorless system! I was bending like a contortionist and cannot imagine holding that pose with anything heavier around my neck.

5) Oh, I almost forgot! Meet Hello Kitty, the Cat(erpillar).

6) I am not too sure of the ID. Any experts who can provide assistance?

7) The caterpillar attempting to look like a twig in order to fool me.

8) Look away, avoid eye-contact!

Meet my macro family - Manoj (centre), Raz (right). Interested to join us in our future sessions? Leave me a msg! :)

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentine's Day Special.

The Mandai Forest is one of the last remaining pockets of nature that is relatively left unexplored, a rare commodity in a tiny City-State such as Singapore.  It holds a very rich, albeit "under-surveyed" biodiversity, which means they could very well be dozens (I am being very conservative here) of new species waiting to be discovered and described. Naturally, a place like this is a rare gem for macro photographers and nature-lovers alike.

During our previous visit, we only managed to spend roughly 2 hours in the trail. Seeing the potential of that place, we decide to return once more, but this time at night.

For yesterday's session, we took a bit more time, roughly 4 hours and we are glad we did! In total there were 32 different species from different Animal Classes documented that night. Here are some of our more interesting finds. Will post the rest when I have the time - Been really busy preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year Celebrations. :)

*Pls click on image to enlarge for a better quality photo*

1. As it name suggests, this Black-Eyed Litter Frog (Leptobrachium cf. nigrops) was spotted by my friend, Raz, on the forest floor.

2. It was about 25mm in length and has a striking blue-coloration on parts of its body.

3. Based on my own readings, females appear to be larger than their male counterparts, and are less blue in coloration. Can any experts confirm this?

4. It appeared lethargic so we decided to limit the number of shots taken.

5. Side-lighting with diffused flash.

6. We sprinkled it with some water, before returning it to where we found it.

7. Anyone knows what caterpillar this is?

8. It was about 10mm in length.

9. Very sinister-looking, as if plotting its next evil move. :)

10. A first for me!

11. Introducing the "handsome" Heteropoda cf. davidbowie. Not sure the sex, though.

12. Check out the beautiful patterning and coloration on its carapace.

13. A very beautiful spider, and I am extremely thrilled to be able to document it. :)

14. I was staring at an egg suspended from a silk when I noticed a tiny fly sitting on it! To give you an  idea of just how small it is, the egg is no larger than 3mm in diameter. EDITED: Thank to Mindy Tuan from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, this is actually a parasitoid wasp and not a fly!

15. I am not very familiar with the infraorder Fulgoromorpha - Is this an Issid Planthopper Nymph?

16. Argyrodes sp.? Very tiny, less than 10mm in total length. It appeared to be eating a Salticid. Edited: It is most likely to be from the Theridiidae family. Thanks to the ever-so-helpful Nicky Bay for pointing me to the right direction.

17. Another Theridiid? Much smaller than the first one.

18. When it was finally my turn to photograph this velvet ant, it somehow had other plans and decided to start darting all over the place. I only managed a record shot.

19. What is that?

20. Some say this Katydid (Phisidini) has got legs to die for! 

21. Check them out!

22. This Sac Spider (Clubionid) was pretty high up on the tree so I had to use the swivel LCD on my EM1 to compose the shot.

22. When it turned towards the camera, I noticed that it had an ant prey in its chelicerae.

23. A slight change in perspective.

24. Lacewing larva (Chrysopidae) casually strolling on a leaf. I wasn't quite sure of its diet but thanks to the good people at the Entomology Facebook Page, I was told that it feeds on Aphids, amongst other things.

25. Thanks to their insights, I kept a special lookout for Aphids during my last field trip. Who knows, right? I might just get lucky. And I was! I found this tiny larva (<5mm) checking out some aphids (?) before deciding to have one for supper.

26. Here you can see it stabbing an aphid with its fearsome mandible.

27. Another interesting habit of the lacewing larva is that it lives a hoarder's life. It is known to stack random debris items on its back, presumably for camouflage purposes (Or maybe, it is just a vain pot). 

Thanks for reading the whole thing and please stay tuned for my next post where I will be sharing more on the different equipments I carry in my bag during my weekly outings.

  To all my chinese friends - GONG XI FA CAI!! 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Killing Time with Macro

The great thing about going Mirrorless is that it gives me the freedom to shoot as and when I feel like it, without having to worry about weight and portability issues. A perfect example would be last night, while waiting for my wife - I was in the car listening to some rock classics, when I decided to go out to find some bugs to photograph. I almost always carry my set-up everywhere I go anyway, since it is so lightweight!

These are some of the shots that I managed to capture in just under an hour and 15 minutes, at a park right next to the car lot.

*Click on Image to Enlarge*

1. This Kidney Garden Spider (Araneus mitificus), probably a sub-adult (due to its size and coloration), was found hiding under a leaf. Its abdomen reminded me of the Pringles logo.

2. It was 'cooperative' and did not move much so it gave me a lot of close-up opportunities!

3. Larger specimens seem to have a yellowish tinge on parts of its legs especially the tarsus and metatarsus region.

4. Another point of view.

5. Almost a frontal shot. Almost.

6. Almost a side profile. Almost.

7. What a beautiful arse! Can't believe i actually said that!

8. This wasn't cropped much. I added extension tubes for greater magnification and cranked up the exposure compensation!

9. A male Telamonia diminiata, commonly known as the Two-Striped Jumper that was too huge to go unnoticed.

10. A mandatory butt shot. ;P

11. I wasn't kidding when I said I did not put down my camera. Just recompose and shoot!

12. Another mandatory side-shot.

13. Okay now, he is getting tired. Time to move on to another find!

14. A record shot, so you know what it really looks like.

15. And came along this monster.

16. I am suspecting that it is a Pancorius sp., but pls do not quote me on this.

17. What a handsome/pretty little spider!

18. It is probably about 15mm in length and it could not stop jumping, for the life of me.

19. Record shot of this magnificent jumper.

20. I found this larva (?) by accident while looking at some ants. It was probably less than 5 mm in length. Really tiny.

21. It appeared to be 'cutting' some parts of the plant (a dried-up flower bud?). Probably to add to its camouflage?

22. It is really amazing to see up-close how some animals, regardless of size, use their environment as a resource.

So the next time you have some time to kill, ask yourself : What interesting bugs can I find today? :)