06 March 2010

Butt Watching at the Leafmonkey Workshop

Last night, a bunch of butt watchers and watchers-wannabe's gathered for the monthly Leafmonkey Workshop.
We were very fortunate to have the Master Butt Watcher Khew Sin Khoon from Butterfly Circle to give us the low down on butts.

Before the workshop even started we were already having fun! Here's Jinwen sorting out the registrations, while Jun and Ley Kun are having cake.
Yes! Ley Kun baked a wonderful cake for us! Here's a photo before it was all eaten up.
It was also a chance for people to catch up and get to know one another. It was great to meet up with Dr Chua Ee Kiam and other friends.
There was a HUGE turn out last night! Here's November starting things off.
Before handing over to the Master.
Wow, I sure learnt a lot from the talk. Like why it is impossible to sneak up on a butterfly. It can see ALL around it!
And a close up look at what makes the glorious colours and patterns on these flying jewels. Khew has stunning photos!
It's tricky trying to distinguish butterflies from moths. As this little exercise showed us.
We also get an insight into the various behaviours of butterflies. I didn't know butterflies lurked!
Of course we all know butterflies end up doing one thing. It is after all, the final stage of their lifecycle. Emerging gorgeous and sexy, to attract a mate and get the whole cycle started all over again. And yet another little known fact, in some butterflies, the males and females look different!
Besides daintily sipping nectar from pretty flowers, butterflies also eat other stuff. Some of which turn out to be rather icky.
While butterflies are the most harmless of insects, as Khew says, lots of animals mean harm to butterflies. So these pretty fluttery insects have all kinds of ways to avoid premature death. Some are only brightly coloured on the inner wings. When they fold up their wings, they blend in with dead leaves or other vegetation.
Some are poisonous to eat, and advertise this with gaudy, eye-catching patterns and colours. While I know of how some harmless butterflies mimic evil-tasting butterflies, I didn't know there were so many different butterflies, all poisonous, that look like one another. This is called Mullerian Mimicry. In this way, the various species helped spread the message that black-and-white butterflies are not good to eat. Khew's gorgeous photos sure brought home this point!
Not everything about butterflies are beauty and grace. In fact, as Khew emphasised, if you love butterflies you must also love caterpillars!
So we musn't get upset when caterpillars eat up our favourite potted plant. Khew also shared some stories about various host plants and how some butterflies are threatened by the loss of host plants that are considered weeds. At the same time, new butterflies end up in Singapore with imported host plants.
Khew shared the status of our butterflies, and the different kinds of habitats and locations where we might enjoy viewing butterflies. These include some urban gardens, although many butterflies are only seen in our wild places.
Khew shared some of his work in developing butterfly gardens, such as at Alexandra Hospital and Ubin's Butterfly Hill. Butterfly parks and gardens are a great source of joy and learning for kids and grown ups too.
Khew and his volunteers also work hard to better understand our butterflies as well as to save them where they can. For example by relocating them to alternative habitats where their original site is threatened.
In addition, Khew also shared tips about how to photograph butterflies. It's important to understand butterfly behaviour to be able to pre-empt these flighty creatures. As well as some technical tips on taking photos of these nervous animals.
Wow, I sure learnt a lot from the talk!

Then it was time for the workshop! With lively discussions of how to share about butterflies with 'difficult' visitors.
The teams have to come up with a joke. And it's a serious business coming up with a good joke!
Then it was time to role play our approaches. Here's veteran Dr Chua showing how to share about butterflies to a three-generation group of visitors.
For the first time, team members role-played the animal as well as the visitors and guides! Here's a sporting pair of blue 'butterflies' flitting about. It turns out that it's hard work being a butterfly.
And another 'butterfly' sitting on a chair, putting on make up to look even prettier. I wonder why all the 'butterflies' are male?
Meanwhile, a bunch of screaming adolescent girls are distraught that a butterfly has landed on the head of one of the girls. "Is it gone yet?!!!"
What a great session we had! We learnt new jokes and analogies, as well as lots of interesting information about butterflies!

You can find out more about Singapore's butterflies from the Butterfly Circle's blog and fact sheets; with lots of photos, information and other fluttery happenings.

The very sporting participants posed for a group photo. With little butterflies fluttering in the front, and big flapping butterflies behind.
And thanks to the very generous donations of participants, November's pig is very well fed!
The next session will be on wildlife trade conducted by Louis Ng of ACRES. Check out the Leafmonkey Workshop blog or facebook page for more updates.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the excellent recounting of yesterday's workshop :) Feel like I'm reliving it all over again :P

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