Sunday, October 26, 2014

Butterfly Paradise at Chiang Dao (Northern Thailand) Part 1

Many thanks to Antonio who planned, arranged and made  this butterfly outing and photography trip to Chiang Mai possible for three of us from Singapore and Les from Koh Samui. We checked into the Dome Residences at Chiang Mai city upon our arrival in the evening of 13 Oct by SilkAir.

The weather was not too bad in the morning of 14 Oct. After our breakfast at the hotel, we were heading towards the north - our destination is about 75 km away. About 10 am, we arrived at Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary - in fact, a butterfly paradise to me. We immediately sprang into actions, looking closely at the butterflies puddling on the wet gravel ground.

Behind a hut,  there was a cluster of puddling butterflies. The moment I saw an isolated individual, I quickly snapped a few shots but unsure of what I had actually shot. After checking my reference book, I think this is a Adamson's Rose (Atrophaneura adamsoni) which I didn't encounter during my last trip in early November last year. It was a pity that I could not get a clear shot due to the space constraint and the messy sandy ground.
On our second day at Chiang Dao, I managed to take another shot, perhaps of a different specimen.
I saw more large Papilionids puddling compared to my last visit. This is a male Redbreast (Papilio alcmenor alcmenor  f-leucocelis
 Here is another specimen exhibiting a similar pose.
My first shot of the morning on 16 Oct was this Burmese Batwing (Atrophaneura varuna zaleucus).
There were at least a couple of the Great Windmills (Atrophaneura dasarada barata) fluttering around and feeding on the ground.
A common, large and beautiful papilionid in Thailand, the Paris Peacocks (Papilio paris paris) is a magnificent butterfly, especially when it is in flights. They stayed on the ground for a long period of time for us to compose our shots.
I feel that the undersides are not as attractive as the uppersides.
There were many Dragontail butterflies on 16 Oct but not on 14 Oct. They usually congregated and puddled together on wet sandy ground.
It seemed that there was only one White Dragontail (Lamprotera curius curius) that morning so I was particularly interested in taking a shot of it.
I considered this was a luck shot for me when a Green Dragontail (Lamproptera meges virescens) opened its wings side-by-side with the White Dragontail.

To be continued.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Butterflies at Mandai Track 15

I went to Mandai Track 15 on 4 Oct in the afternoon instead of  my usual morning outing due to a stormy weather.

For a long period of time, there were no cyclists and no critters coming along to greet me while I was heading towards the direction of the highway,  along the forest trail. However cicada songs did accompany me at times and broke the dreadful silence of the forest.

Almost an hour later, I noticed a small lycaenid, Logania marmorata damis resting rather tamely on a leaf surface which was not its usual behaviour. Though it is not a pretty butterfly in terms of colour variations, its wing patterns look rather intricate and artistic to me.
Being rather lethargic on a cool afternoon, it  provided me with more time to compose my shots with different camera settings of this usually active lycaenid always fluttering with erratic flights.
I decided to turn back and walked along a tarred road when I reached the end of the forest trail. At one open patch where some Mikania micrantha  flowers were abundant, another lycaenid was waiting for me. It was believed to be a male Nacaduba berenice icena. Not cooperative as the above Logania, it didn't stay still for me to take some properly-composed shots.
Wild grasses and Bidens flowers along the road and at the shelter had been cleared. I am not sure if this had greatly reduced the number of  skippers and other critters in the area.?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Quiet Morning at USR

On a fine Saturday morning on On 27 September, I dropped by Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park.  At the entrance to the second trail, a Starry Bob (Iambrix stellifer) was flitting around. 
A small orange skipper, the Common Dartlet (Oriens gola pseudolus ) preferred to hang around sunlit forest fringes. 
A female Common Posy (Drupadia ravindra moorei) changed her perches a few times hastily before I could snap a record shot. 
Something extra on this rather tattered Arhopala major caught my attention. It was rather skittish initially but after a while it succumbed to my persistence. A red parasitic mite was sticking on to its head. More information on mites on butterflies :
http://butterflycircle.blogspot.sg/2009/10/parasitic-mites-on-butterflies.html
http://benthebutterflyguy.blogspot.sg/2009/10/trombidiums-dicrocheles-mites-and-their.html

Interestingly, when I returned to the same location, I noticed the mite had occupied the whole eye.  What a poor butterfly - its vision might have been affected.
There weren't many critters for me to photograph. So when this Dark Brand Bush Brown (Mycalesis mineus macromalayana) perched at a nice position, I could not resist taking some shots of it.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Butterflies Around Ulu Sembawang Park Connector

The Ulu Sembawang Park Connector was open to the public again after it was closed for maintenance work for a few months. On a nice Saturday morning (20 September), I decided to find out what has been done to the park connector.

Before crossing the road and heading to the park connector, I usually walked to the reservoir edge. There were a few butterflies flitting around. But only this Purple Duke (Eulaceura osteria kumana) was kind to let me take a few shots while it was resting underneath a leaf, albeit at an awkward position.
The park connector was very quiet and devoid of insect activity until this Starry Bob (Iambrix stellifer) appeared at the entrance of a forest trail.
I used to find skippers along this shady trail but not this time. The shrubs at the end of this trail have grown so tall and dense that I had difficulties looking for walking space and hunting for critters. I decided to wander around a large plot of "no man's" land on side of the park connector.
Some orange skippers were sunbathing on a grass patch. I believe this is a Potanthus species resting on a blade of grass.
Very soon it opened up its wings - a characteristic of certain Potanthus species.
Strolling along a stretch of tarred road, at least a couple of "hopping" skippers caught my attention. The Grass Demon (Udaspes folus) seemed to be common as its host plants - from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) were rather abundant in the area.
When it changed its perch, I managed to get a quick shot of its undersides.
I always had difficulties shooting a Horsfield's Baron (Tanaecia iapis puseda). After chasing this male for a long time, it finally settled on a tip of a leaf just below my eye level.
There were many Gram Blues (Euchrysops cnejus cnejus)  at one particular spot where its larval host plants Vigna reflexophilosa - a creeper with yellow flowers were growing wild.
This is another shot of a different specimen. While searching for pristine specimen for my shots the weather changed rather rapidly - soon dark clouds gathering and rain drops falling. I had to leave hastily.
I didn't notice any changes to the stretch of the park connector before the shelter. I guessed the soil has been strengthen to prevent further landslide at one particular spot further down.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Rare Encounter @ USR

Some weeks ago, CH from the ButterflyCircle sighted and posted a shot of a very rare (in Singapore) butterfly, the Plain Lacewing (Cethosia methypsea methypsea). With great excitement, I decided to drop by Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park on a late Saturday morning (13 Sept) to hunt for this rarity which I have not encountered since 2004 when I started butterfly photography.

There are three different species from the genus Cethosia in Singapore,  C hypsea ,  C. cyane and  C. methypsea being the rarest. We were excited to encounter this beautiful butterfly again since its last appearance at USR was more than a decade ago.  

With some luck, a rather pristine specimen appeared and started to feed on some tiny flowers on the ground. We managed to have a few shots when it perched on a leaf for a short while.
The presence of a row of small sub-marginal white spots on the forewing distinguish it  from one its closest look-alikes, the C. hypsea .
I was waiting to snap a shot of its uppersides. Unfortunately, it didn't offer me a good opportunity for a better shot. Like the other two Lacewing species, it is believed that its larval host plant is from the Passifloraceae family. 
At a sunlit spot along a hedge of shrubs, a male Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina bolina) kept changing its perches, testing my patience. At last, he gave in to my persistence of stalking him and stayed on the leaf for several seconds, long enough for me to compose my shots.
Outside the toilet, this brilliantly coloured  reddish pink dragonfly was sunbathing on a dry leaf - it looks like the Orthetrum testaceum

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Some Dragonflies @ Lornie Trail

I dropped by Lornie Trail in a late Saturday afternoon (6 Sept). Taking a leisure walk on the forest trail, I stopped at the reservoir edge where I used to find butterflies feeding on the Leea indica flowers but not this time. However, this small but attractive long-legged fly kept me busy for a while as it reacted to the flashlight  faster than the shutter speed.  So I decided to take some shots without the camera flashlight.                   
When butterflies came along, I would go after them. This is a female Knight (Lebadea martha parkeri) looking for food on the ground. But it didn't stay too long for me to get a better shot.
There were at least three individual Arhopala lycaenids but they all looked haggard,  flitting around  a shady spot along the Lornie Trail.
This is a rather worn-out skipper that looks like a Telicota species but I could not identify with certainty.
I decided to look for dragonflies when the butterflies all went hiding. You won't miss this common red dragonfly, Neurothemis fluctuans when you walk along the forest trail.
I was glad to find the Aethriamanta brevipennis again -  one of the smallest dragonflies in the world. As usual, the female was nowhere to be seen. When some hikers stopped by to look at what I was photographing, they were amazed that I could spot such a small creature. Well, when we know what to look out for, we can find it if it is there.  
The size of a damselfly is smaller and it was much harder to spot. Taking a good look at the aquatic plants surrounding the reservoir edge, I spotted this lovely damselfly Ceriagrion cerinorubellum perching on a twig.
There were a few blue damselflies showing different perches along the reservoir edge. I hope I have identified it correctly as  Pseudagrion microcephalum.

When the number of butterflies getting fewer, the number of dragonflies at this particular spot seemed to be as good as before.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Skippers @ Mandai

I decided to check out the forested areas outside the Mandai Zoo on 31 Aug. Strolling along the Mandai Lake Road, I ventured into a few forest trails before ending my outing  at Mandai Track 15.
My first instinctive shot of the morning was this skittish lycaenid which was identified by Dr Seow (from BC) as a male Nacaduba calauria malayica. Very active and demonstrating a zigzag and random flight pattern, it didn't stay still for me to take more shots.
There were quite a number of Bush Browns flitting along the reservoir edge. This is likely to be a Mycalesis perseoides perseoides.
A Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos varians) was zipping around from flower to flower. When it rested momentarily, I approached closer and snapped a few shots.
A rather dark skipper was resting at one shady corner along a forest trail . With its unmarked dark hindwing, it appeared to be a male Caltoris cormasa.
Not far away from the main road, some Bidens flowers attracted quite a number skippers. This Grass Demon (Udaspes folus) was one of them foraging for nectar and occasionally taking a short break on a leaf surface.
The Detached Dart  (Potanthus trachala tytleri) tends to open its wings while feeding.
I had to squeeze off a shot rapidly whenever it landed on a new flower so as to capture its underside wings.
Here is another shot.
The Silver-Forget-Me-Not (Catochrysops panormus exiguus) seems to be a permanent resident in this area.
This small orange skipper is Oriens gola pseudolus, a rather common fast flying skipper in forested areas.
This is likely to be a Parnara species, a small brown skipper which didn't open its wings as frequent as some of the Pelopidas species that I have known of.   
This is a female Telicota colon stinga according to Dr Seow. Identifying a Telicota species has always been a nightmare for me.
Here is another shot.

On my way back to the main gate, I tumbled over a puddling Melanitis leda leda. It took off from the ground and perched on a leaf. I approached it closer and took this shot.
Thanks Dr Seow for identifying many of the species featured here.