Sunday, 9 March 2014

Two Surprises from Today

The haze is upon us and the drought isn't getting any better. Today I 
took a walk in upper seletar reservoir only to find a hopelessly dry 
and sparse forest. The health of our forests has been deteriorating 
over the past few years for one reason or the other but it is sad to 
see the extent of the damage. The first surprise was a new species 
for me; the lesser harlequin. 

The lesser harlequin is a small little butterfly from the Riodinidae
family; the metalmarks. This family is very well represented in
Central and South America, where they have a huge diversity of
fantastical metalmarks. The five species we have in Singapore 
are no less beautiful. The lesser harlequin is brick red underneath,
adorned with black and metallic blue spots. This is a female. 
Males are all black on top.

It stayed close to the ground and had a weak hopping flight. Each 
time it landed, it would pivot around a few times before hopping on
to the next leaf. I followed it in the undergrowth for a good half an
hour to get these pictures. I was not expecting to see it in such a
degraded part of the forest as it is supposed to live in much denser

I walked by the second surprise many times so I was shocked to 
find out it was actually there. Singapore does not have many
native mammals roaming our forests. One of them is the ever 
common wild boar and another is the Colugo. The Flying Lemur.

I only noticed the colugo hanging on to the tree on the umpteenth
time I walked past it. It was very well camouflaged in the dappled
vegetation. Colugos grow to about 40cm in length. They are the 
most capable mammal gliders on the planet and their membrane of
skin that joins the tip of the fingers to the tip of the toes allows
them to glide for great distances (up to 70m) between trees. They
are herbivores and eat largly leaves. This is my second time seeing 
one wild. Despite the depressed forest, today wasn't all that bad.


  1. Glad to know that USR still sustains some rare species! Nice shot of the Lesser Harlequin bro!!! ;)

  2. Lovely butterfly. I hope that you get some rain soon to refresh your forests.

  3. They are in there. I think many butterflies have moved further in the forest though. The lesser harlequin really is a beauty. I wish it'd pop up more often! The forests will have to wait a bit more for any rain. It's still dry as ever. We get clouds in the afternoon but they just blow over.

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  5. Sorry to hear about the drought. But this little Harlequin is spectacular. You got some great shots of her.

  6. Isn't she? I really was not expecting her to hop right in front of me. It's these moments that make the hobby so worthwhile. ;)