08 January 2008

Butterfly Photography at Our Local Parks

Butterfly Watching & Photography at Local Parks
Featuring : Toa Payoh Town Park

Occupying an area of about 4.8 hectares, Toa Payoh Town Park (TPTP) is situated opposite the HDB Hub and the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange, bounded by the Pan-island Express Way, Lor 6 and Lor 2 Toa Payoh. The entrances to the park are located along Lor 6 and Lor 2.

Butterfly activities are usually sighted on the section of the park towards the Lor 2 direction. Here are the popular spots for watching and shooting butterflies at TPTP.

Ixora bushes (probably javanica) below the pedestrian overhead bridge connecting the park and the bus interchange (adjacent to Lor 6) is a must-visit spot, especially when the flowers are in full bloom.

On a sunny morning, you could be thrilled and entertained by many fluttering butterflies such as the Common Mime, Common Grass Yellow, different skippers such as the Palm Bob and the Grass Demon zipping past you at high speeds, or the sun-bathing male Peacock Royal showing off his spectacular upper sides, or the impeccable gliding and sailing in the air demonstrated by the Short Banded Sailor.

A beautiful hairstreak butterfly, the Peacock Royal must be the ‘gem” of the park. The desire of getting good and nice shots of this elegant and relatively rare flying gem always entices many macro photography enthusiasts to visit the park. On a sunny morning when this species is in season , you would see at least a couple of them feeding and staying quite tame on the Ixora flowers.

Other species such as the Common Palmfly, Chocolate Pansy, the Autumn Leaf and Slate Flash are regular visitors to the park.

The Ixora flowers also attract some surprise visitors such as the Green Baron, Plain Banded Awl and the Common Bluebottle at times.

Look out for the tower at the park which stands tall opposite the pedestrian overhead bridge. You will never fail to spot the Common Grass Yellow, a permanent resident in the park, fluttering around the attractive Peacock Flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) flowers in front of the tower.

Usually on a sunny day before noon, you could also spot other common species such as Lemon Emigrant and Lime Butterfly. These butterflies are usually skittish and alert but when they decide to feed on the nectar of the flowers, you can nail them quite easily.

A prominent sheltered open space near the Lor 2 entrance that you will not miss is the multi-function pavilion. Strolling leisurely on the boardwalk next to the pavilion, you will be charmed by the pink and red flowers of the Jatropha shrubs and the purple Cat’s Whiskers on both sides of the boardwalk. If you are observant, you are likely to sight some small butterflies such as the Lesser Grass Blue, Pale Grass Blue, Pygmy Grass Blue or Ciliate Blue fluttering and feeding on these flowers.

If you visit the park early in the morning, chances are good that you would find some butterflies resting in the comfort of the morning cool. They are so tame and lethargic that you can set up a tripod or monopod to get your perfect shots at your own time.Sometimes you may be able to spot a large colony of Tailless Line Blue congregating around the yellow Dieffenbachia bushes along the jogging path next to the boardwalk.

Last but not least, look out for butterflies puddling on the damp soil or in front of the toilet. The picture below shows a male Striped Albatross getting “drunk” in front of the toilet.

TPTP is a convenient neighbourhood park that offers everyone good opportunities to watch, appreciate and take pictures of many beautiful butterflies. ButterflyCircle members have sighted and recorded over 30 species of butterflies at the park.

So next time when you visit the park, spend a bit more time at the favourite spots to observe and enjoy these “flying jewels” in action.

Text by Federick Ho ; Edited by Khew SK ; Photos by Federick Ho, Khew SK, Simon Sng, Sum CM, Sunny Chir and Tan BJ

Toa Payoh Town Park Map

The Toa Payoh Town Park is one of about 300 parks in Singapore which is designed and managed by the National Parks Board (NParks). As the custodian of Singapore's world-renown lush greenery, NParks maintains and enhances public green spaces which includes parks, gardens, green connectors and nature reserves, all of which are part of Singapore's aspirations of being a City in a Garden.