Sunday, 16 March 2014

In Search of The Grand

The dry spell has been broken! We had thundery showers of blessing
islandwide today. yesterday, there were a few drizzles here and there
but it was hardly anything. In fact, I was out with six others in a less-
visited forest. We were after the Grand ImperialIt was a tiring 
hunt, walking up and down through the thicket for hours. Here are 
some of the species I saw while searching for the grand imperial. 
First up is the forget-me-not.

The large snow flat. This male kept on returning to the same few
perches to bask in the morning sun. Flats usually have the habit of
sunbathing for a few hours in the morning (or afternoon for some)
and then hiding under leaves for the rest of the day.

The Malay tailed judy. I had a hard time tracking it as it hopped
through the undergrowth, turning a few rounds each time it landed
and always keeping its wings half-open.

The yellow flash. This is my first encounter of this rare species.
They fly rapidly and are known to be notoriously sensitive to camera 
flashes. This one was too alert for me and stayed well away, high
up in the treetops. These pictures are heavily cropped.

The great helen - a species usually seen weaving through the forest
canopy with its swooping flight. Lucky for me, this one had landed
low down.

The common hedge blue - a common forest butterfly. It isn't rare to 
see this electric-blue butterfly flying erratically along forest trails,
keeping close to the ground. This male had been puddling and flew
off to a nearby shrub to rest and give me a peek of his upperside.

The elbowed pierrot. This is yet another familiar sight of the forest.
There were quite a few puddling on the damp ground. Their markings
are so bold and obscure - like abstract art on a butterfly's wing.

The Cruiser - another Singapore-forest-staple. These large and 
showy butterflies are almost always seen at damp patches on the
ground. The females, much rarer, are more often seen at flowers.

The tree flitter. I found this lone female enjoying herself at a 
flowering tree at the forest edge. This small and interestingly 
patterned skipper is only occasionally seen. 

Now for the Grand Imperial itself. It was really thrilling for me to 
see it for the first time, in the distance and high up, barely visible in
the dim forest light. Here it is.

Would you look at the length of those tails! There were a few males 
very high up in the canopy. I soon found out that a disturbed grand
imperial will only fly up higher. They were very skittish and difficult 
to find in the dense growth. This is another male hiding under a leaf.

A beautiful and pristine female fluttered by too and made my heart
stop. She flitted about, looking for the host plant to lay eggs on but
flew further in the forest. The weight of their tails makes them fly
in a near upright position. Such regal looking creatures.

While I did not get any good pictures of it, I'm glad to have seen it
with my own eyes. Now that the rains are finally here, the forests
will be able to recover and the browns will bloom back into vibrant
greens. Change is a good thing.


  1. Nice shots Jon, and congrats on seeing the Grand Imperial. I couldn't shoot this weekend because of camp. :(

  2. Fantastic pictures Jonny. They just got better and better through the post! Great to hear that the rain has arrived at last, and good to hear that the butterflies have come through it OK.

  3. Such great news that you got some rain! You had a really good day shooting! It's still too cold here, all I've seen is a few whites one day this past week.

    The Yellow Flash is lovely! I've never seen one quite like it. I hope you find more this year. And I can certainly see why you were keep to get the Grand Imperial! Wow. You really got some great shots in this batch!

  4. Brian, there's next weekend! Now is the season for the GI.

  5. Nick: Now the rain won't stop! We've had downpour after downpour. At least the trees by the road are looking better and the grasses are turning green again. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the pictures.

  6. Sylvia: Thank you so much for coming by!!! I absolutely adore your blog.

    I'm sure it'll warm up soon. I heard there are some pretty interesting species in China!

    I beleive the yellow flash is distributed from Singapore to Thailand and Sumatra. I'll be back in hopes of seeing it again but nature is unpredictable!

    I hope you'll be able to visit Singapore too. You'll find lot's of butterflies!