Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Butterflies @ Mae Jo and Doi Suthep Part 3

Continue from previous post.
On 19 March, we went to Mae Jo - about 40-minute drive from the hotel. Once we parked the cars at an open area, we went around a pond to look for butterflies, in particular, the Yellow Pansy. 

There were quite a number tattered  Arhopala lycaenids which I was not keen photographing them. Simon spotted this Copper Flash (Rapala pheretima petosiris) feeding on the Bidens flowers under the morning sun. 
At the same vicinity, I saw an open-winged lycaenid - its striking blue uppersides attracted my attention.
It turned out to be a Slate Flash (Rapala manea schistacea).
This skittish and small light brown skipper identified by Dr Seow as the Grass Bob (Suada swerga) was zipping around on a small patch of grassland full of Bidens flowers.
While some of us went further to search for the Yellow Pansy, a  few of us decided to follow Antonio's car back to the waterfall at Doi Suthep again. 

It wasn't a busy morning for us. While waiting for any surprises to come by, I noticed this Sailor hanging around a shrub. It looks like the Plain Sailor (Neptis cartica burmana).
Taking the underside shot will be useful for us to identify the species.
A skipper flying past me and hiding beneath a leaf. I approached it slowly and took a couple of shots from an awakard angle - it is a Yellow Flat (Mooreana trichoneura pralaya).
A Blue Tit (Hypolycaena kina kina) was puddling at a shady spot near the small waterfall.
When there was nothing special to shoot, an ordinary-looking Telicota skipper could become my model.
The Common Plum Judy (Abisara echerius paionea) was seen at a shady spot when I wandered around  
The "Duchess" that we were waiting for showed up at last but she refused to stay on the ground. Instead, the highlight of the day was this Hariy Angle (Darpa hanria). It had a tendency to feed on the same puddling spot whenever I walked away from that spot. In fact, it was nice to me as it perched (might be a different specimen) right in front of me when I was alone near the entrance of the trail.
This Red-tailed Forester (Lethe sinorix sinorix) was my last shot of the day at about 3 pm. It was skittish at first but it got used to our presence after a while. 
In my next post, I will feature some shots taken at Doi Pha Hom Pok.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Butterflies @ Doi Suthep Part 2

Continue from the previous post.

On 15 March, after spending sometime at the rocky site, we drove higher up the mountain. A few of us in Antonio's car decided to hang around at a waterfall area whereas LC's car headed further up. 

The moment we entered a small muddy path leading to the waterfall, two Blue Imperials (Ticherra acte acte) were there to welcome us.
While we were waiting patiently for our primary target - a  "Duchess" to appear, I stumbled upon an Orange Punch (Dodona egeon egeon) resting on a leaf - but it noticed my presence and scooted off after this shot.
I spotted this Himalayan Swift (Polytremis discreta discreta) resting on a leaf - decided to snap a shot as I got nothing else to chase and shoot.
A look-alike brown skipper but with a pair of shorter antennae, this Parnara ganga (Continental Swift) identified by Dr Seow from BC loved sandy ground.
The Nonsuch Palmer (Creteus cyrina cyrina) is a dark skipper with hairy forelegs. It came down to puddle on a patch of sandy ground on both occasions when we were at this waterfall.
We sensed that the number of people (5 of us only) might be too "threatening" for the Duchess to feel at ease, we decided to leave the waterfall and drove further up.

While LC's and others were waiting patiently under a big tree for a rather uniquely-named lycaenid, I checked out the surroundings and found this active Tagiades cohaerens cynthia (Evans Snow Flat) feeding on some wild flowers.
I believe this is the Common Small Flat (Sarangesa dasahara dasahara) - it landed on a dry leaf on the ground. But it gave me no chance for a closer shot.
The patience of and time spent on waiting for this uniquely-looking and named Truncate Imperial (Cheritrella truncipennis) finally rewarded  all of us with some shots. It came down to the eye level - but I was too far from it to get a better shot.
There were at least two of them chasing and "fighting" with each other at times. Again I could not position myself to get a parallel shot.
There was a solitary Horaga species not far away from the Imperial.
Antonio was keen to meet up with the Duchess at the waterfall, so some of us made our way out early. When I was about to reach the car, I spotted  the Watson's Wight (Iton watsonii). It showed its violent objections to my camera flash whenever I snapped a shot. Luckily one of the two shots turned out to be quite fine for me.
In the afternoon, we saw some different butterflies at the waterfall - but still there was no sign of the Duchess. This looks like a Restricted Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus ila nolus)
I believe this was its uppersides.
An active Plain Brownie (Miletus croton croton) was fluttering for a long time before it made a short perch on a leaf.
To be continued.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Butterflies of Doi Suthep Pui Part 1

I must thank Antonio (his FB page here) who initiated and organised a Butterfly Expedition trip to Chiang Mai (14 - 21 March) for ButterflyCircle members.  BC blog's article has more details about the trip.

Doi Suthep-pui  National Park is one of the nearest locations for butterfly-watching and photographing around Chiang Mai city.

Our very first stop on a warm morning (15 March) is a rocky spot where the locals like to come here to relax. I was greeted with a tame Common Gem (Poritia hewitsoni tavoyana) resting on the ground.
This skittish Doi Suthep's Ace (Sebastonyma suthepiana) was zipping around the rocks. It took me a great deal of patience and some luck to snap two shots.
There were a few Curetis flitting around the area. This  Bright Sunbeam (C. bulis ) was a more co-operative one.
There were groups of  Hedge Blues puddling on the wet surfaces of the rocks but I didn't bother with them. When this guy, a  Udara dilecta  broke away from the group, I quickly snapped a shot.
Just before we were about to leave the place to head upwards, I noticed this Purple Leaf Blue (Amblypodia anita anita).
The Veined Jay (Graphium chironides chironides) appeared on our second visit to Doi Suthep on 19 March. A skittish fellow which didn't stay long enough for us to take more shots.
The Glassy Tiger (Parantica aglea melanoides ) also liked the to puddle on the rocks.
We saw many Archdukes on all the three occasions. This is a male Common Archduke (Lexias pardalis jadeitina
This is a different subspecies from what we can find in the south - his undersides were
I am not sure if this is a female Black-tip Archduke (Lexias diratea).
Her undersides.
There are many look-alike Neptis species - I can't be sure what this is for the time being.
Before we left Chiang Mai on an evening flight on 21 March, we went to Doi Suthep again in the early morning. It was quiet at first but once the air was warmed up, surprises were awaiting for us. A large Thauria aliris intermedia  (The Jungle King) created some excitement among us. 
A Silverline, perhaps the Cigaritis lohita , was quietly enjoyed its "breakfast" on a dry leaf.
This pristine White Punch (Dodona deodata deodata) was on a leaf when I first spotted it not far away from the Silverline.
It came down to puddle and stayed on the ground for a long period of time.
While others were shooting the Punch, I walked towards one end of this rocky terrain. Instinctively, I stopped in front of a rock, looking at Blues were puddlingand scanned  the surrounding. The moment I turned around and I saw a green butterfly on some dry leaves. After taking a long-distance shot, I moved in and snapped a few shots of this rather pristine three-starred female Green Flash (Artipe eryx eryx).
I took a while to get a few shots of  the undersides of the Grey Count (Cynitia lepidea).  
There were a few very alert Grey Counts flitting around and they seemed to like shady places. I managed to take a instinctive shot when it landed in front of me.
I will showcase more shots taken at Doi Suthep in my next blog post.

Monday, March 30, 2015

From Mandai to Bukit Panjang

Singapore's first Prime Minister and the founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1923 - 2015)passed away peacefully in the hospital in the early morning on 23 March. The whole nation was deeply sadden by the loss of a great man and a national treasure.  During the week-long national mourning, more than a million Singaporeans had paid respects and tributes to him.  

Thank you Mr Lee for what you had done for Singapore - your lifelong love for the country, your far-sighted visions for Singapore and the no-nonsense ways of doing the right things right had transformed this city state from a poor nation to an affluent first-world country within a decade.  In particular, thank you Mr Lee for masterminding and making Singapore a nation in a garden - the beauty of the greenery and nature, the clean and sparkling waterways in many parts of the island have made our living environments to be one of the best in the world.  

No words can express the amount of my family's gratitude to Mr Lee. Born in a poor migrant's family, my siblings and I will not be what we are today without the HDB home-ownership scheme,  the education polices and the meritocracy principle that Mr Lee  upheld steadfastly.  

Thank you Mr Lee, we will always remember you. 安息吧,李光耀先生, 我们敬爱的国父。

Let me continue with my account of an outing to Mandai Track 15 on a fine Saturday morning (7 March). Strolling slowly along the quiet biking trail, I could sense that many critters seemed to be still asleep and hiding somewhere out of my sight.

My first shot of the morning was this young male Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum luzonicum) dragonfly perching on a blade of lalang grass. 
I had hiked from Bukit Panjang to Mandai several times without getting lost. However, this was my first time strolling in the opposite direction. Without referring to the GPS location, I made a wrong choice at one of the Y-junctions and ended up at a very peaceful and beautiful reservoir edge - a fruitful wrong turn however. Here, I was presented with a chance to snap some shots of a pristine small lycaenid - the Malayan (Megisba malaya sikkima).
Along a stretch of concrete path running parallel to the expressway, there was a row of blooming Snakeweed (Stachytarpheta indica). A few skippers and butterflies were actively feeding on the flowers. I managed to snap a quick shot of a Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita maura).
Another skipper, a Detached Dart (Potanthus trachala tytleri) was zipping around and feeding on the flowers. Never remaining still for a little longer, it tested my determination of getting a decent shot. 
There were a lot of Painted Jezebels (Delias hyparete metarete) fluttering at treetop levels at a few locations along the trail. I decided to hang around there, hoping to get a chance shooting this pretty pierid. I was lucky to spot a male resting at a shady corner off the trail. 
I will be featuring most of  my butterflies that I have photographed during the 7-day (15 - 21 March) Butterfly Expedition to Chiang Mai in the next couple of blog posts here.