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!! 

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