08 July 2011

HKLS Report of Singapore Field Trip

Hong Kong Lepidopterists Society
Report of Singapore Field Trip by Dr Lee Ping Chung

Brown Awl (Badamia exclamationis) a moderately rare Hesperiidae for Dr Lee's 'collection'!

ButterflyCircle members had earlier played host to a group of members of the Hong Kong Lepidopterists Society who were here in Singapore in early Jun 2011 for a field trip. The blog article by ButterflyCircle member Anthony Wong related his experience of hosting our visitors in Singapore.

This is a reciprocal post is HKLS Council member Dr Lee Ping Chung's first-person account of the group's experiences and additional shots of the Singapore butterflies shot during their trip here. This is an edited and summarised version of Dr Lee's full post with all the members' photos at the new HKLS website! Despite the uncooperative weather in Singapore, the members managed to shoot quite an array of butterflies, include several rare Hesperiidae and Lycaenidae.

A rare Chocolate Sailor (Neptis harita harita) that Dr Lee shot during the trip

Date : 3rd June to 7th June 201
Participants : Dr Lee Ping Chung, Mr Arex Li Siu Hong, Miss Rachel Chan Hoi Sze, Mr Manson Chan Pak Fun, Ms Gigi Lai Yuen Che, Mr Lai Kwai Yin
Prepared by : Dr Lee Ping Chung


After we saw the new book written by Mr Khew Sin Khoon about Butterflies of Singapore, we were all mesmerized by the content. Mr James Young, our Chairman, contacted Mr. Khew and got a prompt reply. Many thanks to both of them; we started to plan our trip. Though Mr Khew was not available at the time we planned to visit Singapore, he was kind enough to organise the members from the Butterfly Circle to lend a helping hand thus we decided to go ahead and went as planned.

A Tree Yellow (Gandaca harina distanti) puddling. Though common in Singapore, this species does not occur in Hong Kong

The Trip

Day 1 (3rd June)

Manson and Gigi took the afternoon flight to Singapore while the rest of us took the late flight. To stay close to our targeted butterfly spots, we lodged at Sloane Court Hotel, a boutique hotel close to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. As the butterfly spots are not located at a great distance, we didn’t rent a car but instead took a taxi to get around. There were no activities on the first day.

Day 2 (4th June)

Our hosts, Mark and Anthony Wong of ButterflyCircle had come to meet us early in the morning though the weather forecast was gloomy. We had breakfast at a nearby Food Court. It was still raining after breakfast but we anyway started our trip. We went to Dairy Farm Nature Reserve near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve where we were joined by another two members from ButterflyCircle, Ben Yam and Yao Yang. There was a bicycle trail and many walking trails inside the Reserve. We started by walking along a piece of grassland beside the bicycle trail.

A Peacock Pansy (Junonia almana javana) was the first butterfly to greet us

The first butterfly to greet us was a Peacock Pansy. It looks similar to the one we have in HK though it is another subspecies. With the help of Mr Khew’s book, we identified the species and found that we shot all the Mycalesis in that day except the Malayan Bush Brown which we shot 2 days later. After a short burst of sunshine, it started to rain again. We went back to the entrance for shelter and waited till the rain stopped. Then we started to walk along the Wallace Trail. We were lucky to see a Flos apidanus saturatus in a distance, but no one was able to take a good shot before it flew away. Actually only Arex and I saw it. We did not see any Flos in the rest of our journey. We left after the sky went dark. We had our dinner at Lao Pasat for local delicacies.

Day 3 (5 June)

Since It was raining cats and dogs, we had no idea where to go when our friends from ButterflyCircle came to pick us up. After we had our breakfast in the hotel, we played a board game whilst waiting for better weather. Finally, we decided to go to Oh Chin Huat Hydroponics Butterfly lodge when the rain was not so heavy. This Butterfly Lodge is a private farm set up for educational purpose by Mr Ore Yeok Keong with professional advice from the experienced members of ButterflyCircle. We were glad to meet two more members of ButterflyCircle, Chung Pheng and Ben Yam, there.

After taking some photos at the farm, we went to Upper Seletar Reservoir, North East of the Central Catchment. The weather was still gloomy. We walked around the trails. The first thing I met was a Royal Assyrian, fresh and at eye level but we didn’t got a chance to raise our camera before it flew away. We saw a Common Tree Nymph flying high on the canopy thus we couldn’t take a good photo.

A "lifer" for Dr Lee - the Black Tipped Archduke (Lexias dirtea merguia)

In the forest, we saw the Black Tipped Archduke (Lexias dirtea merguia), an uncommon sight for me. We always see L.pardalis if both are found in the same place. I considered we were very lucky. However, the female did not behave normally, we found them staying on the trees. The most common butterflies we saw there were the Common Caerulean and the Chocolate Pansy.

The Pale Mottle (Logania marmorata damis) a species on the "hit list" of the HKLS members

At the end of the day, we were convinced that we could find the Pale Mottle, so we looked for ants. Finally we were rewarded by our effort, we found three. The only draw back was that they stopped high up on the branches and we did not get a very good shot. We left quite late and had dinner in the famous Rangoon Road Bak Kut Teh, 肉骨茶.

Day 4 (6 June)

It was still raining in the morning of Day 4. After we had breakfast and played board games in the hotel same as the day before, we went to the Botanical Garden when the rain began to lessen. We saw a Common Snow Flat despite the rain. It seems that it was not bothered at all therefore we all got very good shots. We then bet our luck in the Tanglin Core near the Ginger Garden but in vain. We met Horace of ButterflyCircle there and had lunch in a nearby food court.

After lunch, we went to MacRitchie Reservoir Park near the Central Catchment. The weather was still not good thus we did not see many species. The most number of individual species we saw here were the Common Disc Oakblue and the Branded Imperial. We were joined by Mr.Khew who hurried back from Malaysia for dinner in a place call Samy’s Curry@ Dampsy Road which is famous for its Curry Fish Head.

Day 5 (7 June)

The sun finally came out on the last day of our trip. As we had to catch the afternoon flight, we can only revisit a nearby butterfly spot thus we went to the Dairy Farm Nature Reserve again. We saw a Burara sp. perching on the railing once we were at the entrance. The weather was still cool and the railing was too slippery. It flew away before we got ready to shot. Nevertheless, it was a good start. We walked along the way we went on Day 2. It fared better when the sun was out. We got some good shots and went up the Summit track. We did not see many butterflies there. As time was running out, we stayed along the Wallace Trail as long as possible until we had to leave. There is a new Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3 of the Singapore Airport. We shot some more butterflies there and ended our journey with loads of photos

Special Thanks and Conclusion

The hospitality of our ButterflyCircle friends impressed us very much. We were being treated like VIPs! Though the weather was not good during the trip, we enjoyed butterflying and sharing our field trip experience. We have to thank Mr Khew and members of the ButterflyCircle, especially Anthony and Mark who must have been exhausted guiding us around, as well as Yeok Keong of Oh' Farms. We all brought home loads of photos and the book “A field guide to the Butterflies of Singapore” personally signed by Mr Khew. As a conclusion, it was amazing that Singapore got nearly 300 species in such a relative small area and most of the places are easy to reach by public transportation. Moreover, quite a number of the common species and sub-species in Singapore were not found in Hong Kong. Despite the bad weather, the trip was rewarding and memorable. We look forward to go butterflying with our friends of Singapore in Hong Kong and other parts of the world.

Text by Dr Lee Ping Chung ; Photos by Dr Lee Ping Chung, Gigi Lai & Manson Chan

Further Resources :
  • HKLS Website - http://home.hkbutterfly.org/