Tuesday, 31 December 2013


The past year has been a crazy roller coaster. It's flung me in every 
direction and now that I'm getting off and walking to a new ride, it 
seems as though it came and went quicker than I could have ever 

In butterflies, it has been amazing year. The Singapore check-list has
once again expanded due to numerous new discoveries and now 
stands at 310 species. That's an awful lot of butterflies for a tiny 
island of only 710 square kilometres. I got to fully appreciate the 
diversity we indulge in here when I flew to Adelaide, where the 
number of species iminuscule in comparison. I've also had so many 
first encounters this year, with the Courtesan and the flos family 
being definite highlights.

There has also been plenty of activity in the butterfly scene here. In 
January, the priceless Fleming Collection of butterflies landed in 
Singapore. It's really an honour that our humble country was chosen 
to house the collection, a valuable reflection of the butterflies of the
region, compiled from 1963 to 1978. June saw ButterflyCircle doing
a survey of the butterflies of Gardens by The Bay, unearthing 
another rediscovery and even earning a newspaper article

It's great to see that Singapore's wildlife is getting a bigger voice. 
This year's Festival of Biodversity, while not as big an event as last 
year's, being situated in a major mall, caught the attention of the 
general public and brought the wilderness to them.The Singapore 
Butterflies Facebook group is another example of how more and 
more people are beginning to open their  eyes to the delicate 
world around them. 

My only regret is that I missed out on a fair chunk of the excitement.
I was caught up school work most of the time. This year I sat for my
streaming examinations to determine what subjects I would take 
next year. Surprise surprise, I came down with a terrible bug the day 
before my first paper, with nasty hives and fevers attacking 
throughout the exams. Of course everything turned out well. Also, I 
have now ventured into the magic circle. I was invited by a teacher 
of mine who brought me into this new form of art.

I was oh so lucky to take part in the amazing Project Phoenix
community magic renewal programme that started in March 
when a group of us taught weekly magic lessons at a Community 
Centre and the volunteers, or 'students', ended up performing to 
the Children of Club Rainbow. Club Rainbow is a charity that supports
children with chronic illnesses and their families. I was really moved 
during our visit to the children in April; they were all fighters. To
see them laughing and smiling through what many of us would 
crumble under was one of the most beautiful experiences I've had 
this year.

The three month long project finished in a huge magic show held at
the centre's theatre. I went on my first stage performance that night 
and I loved it. Another big event I was part of was the 10th Splash 
Awards, an IT competition that looks into the development of mobile 
applications. It brought Secondary school students from all over the 
island together. I was leading the team representing my school. Yeah 
we won. It wasn't easy work though; I spent close to two months on 
photoshop designing our app, the Kindred Knowledge Konnector.

I also took part in the annual StrITwise competition, revolving 
around game development. My team stood second amongst the over 
sixty participants. We didn't win the big name but it's the journey 
that matters more. If you haven't figured out by now, I'm the painter 
who chases butterflies with a huge camera, performs magic and is in 
the IT field. It's not easy to do all that while still having to be a 
student but I guess that's why I've had such an wonderful time.

2013 has been quite an amazing year. I am aware that for almost 
half of the year there were no posts here at all. I want to say sorry 
for not doing the housekeeping required of a good blogger. I cannot 
guarantee that my posts will arrive every weekend but I will certainly 
try to make that happen. To all of my readers, thanks for being such
a great audience of my babbling. The past year has been a crazy 
roller coaster and I can't wait for what 2014 will bring.

pictures from top to bottom: common bluebottle, commander, blue pansy, branded 
imperial, banded swallowtail, long banded silverline, large snow flat, common hedge 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

To all of my faithful readers and the rest of the world. I think
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year - everyone just
drops all negativity and lets love shine through. It's beautiful to see 
people so happy. Even our miserable December weather gave 
way to the sun today. While we celebrate, let us also remember
all those who can't. Let us do our bit to make a difference in their 
lives around and may they always stay strong. To the world and all
of my faithful readers, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Adelaide and Kangaroo Island Butterflies

I have finally walked on Aussie ground and I must say that I loved
every bit of it! We visited Adelaide since we have cousins living 
there, and even took a ferry to the beautiful  Kangaroo Island. It
was an amazing experience; the weather, the people and the 
nature. I'll get on with the butterflies first. Here we have the near
abundant Australian Painted Lady. They were everywhere but were
ever so lovely. Plus, there are none back in the sunny island.

There were painted ladies on almost every flower patch in the
Adelaide Botanic Garden. They would hop from flower to flower
then fly off to bask on the ground or a rock.

Cabbage Whites were also in good supply but they hardly stopped
to rest. This butterfly was actually accidentally introduced into
Australia along with many other foreign species during the eighteenth
century when the first European settlers arrived in the continent. 

In the woodlands, the most dominant butterfly was the Common
Brown. It is more orange than brown, and makes Singapore's 
delicate mycalesis browns look dull! They belong to a genus of
butterflies endemic to the Australia. Here is the male. I was not 
able to get a shot of the larger and more spectacular female.

The most exciting encounter was my first Monarch Butterfly. It
is probably the best known butterfly around the world. Very often
the species that flutters by in the mind once the word 'butterfly' 
is mentioned would be this species! Its amazing migration is one of 
nature's wonders and has earned it its Aussie name: the Wanderer. 

The size of the monarch caught me by surprise; it was quite a bit 
larger than its Singaporean counterpart, the Common Tiger. Lastly, 
we have the diminutive Common Grass Blue. Being very similar to 
the blues I see along the roadsides in Singapore, they did not excite 
me quite as much as the Monarch but were a lovely sight nonetheless.

That's all for the butterflies. I saw far more birds during the trip
though. The place was like an enormous bird park. Anyway that
would be my material for next week's post. On a side note, Christmas
is only three days away. I'm finishing up all my gifts for my family,
one being the waxwing painting. I can't wait for the holiday!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Away to Down Under

I'm off! My sister recently completed her GCE O levels and
we're going abroad to celebrate! I'm so proud and happy for
her. So I won't be posting any butterfly sightings here for a 
while. When I come back, however, I will most definitely put
up a hurricane of pictures. 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

A Little Bit of Scandinavia

I am back in the business!! The first painting I have done in
an entire year has been completed. This time, instead of 
having a local subject, I decided to paint a Scandinavian bird:
the Bohemian Waxwing, on a twig of Eurasian Rowan.

The waxwing has the most magnificent soft and nearly
un-feather like plumage, coloured by muted greys and orange.
The bird is actually named after the red waxy protruding 
feather shafts on each wing. This is my painting set up - no 
nonsense, just paint, brushes, a canvas and a palette (usually 
half of a styrofoam box that used to contain chicken rice).

Here are some progress shots. I often do the plant or perch the first.
Then I'll tackle the bird. The snow was done more than a week later 
when everything underneath is completely dry.

Before any of that went onto the canvas, I painted a background
in acrylics with a sponge roller. I also did a rough painting in 
Photoshop to set a blueprint of how the composition and colours 
would turn out in the actual artwork.

There you have it - the Bohemian Waxwing on Eurasian Rowan,
and a peek into my painting process. ;)