Sunday, January 27, 2013

My First Outing in Year 2013

My first outing to the nature reserve this year was on 5 Jan. I had a short trip to the Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park  in the morning. The forest trails were rather wet and exceptionally quiet. I had no chance of taking any shot until this mating Common Five-Ring (Ypthima baldus newboldi) presented their intimate moment for me to take a few shots.
Perhaps a breezy and cold morning made the critters more lethargic and kept them in the comfort of their overnight shelters - that might explain why I could hardly see any movement of fauna for a long period of time. At last, I stumbled upon a Dark Blue Jungle Glory (Thaumantis klugius lucipor) resting on the ground along the first trail.      
A very skittish female Cruise (Vindula dejone erotella) was attracted by the Ixora flowers. She loved coming back to visit different flowers. But getting a good shot was difficult as she kept flapping her wings and moving around on the flowers while feeding.
In fact, a male Cruiser also came down to feed. But it preferred the moist on the ground to the flowers.
The Hoary Palmer (Unkana ambasa batara) seemed to be a regular visitor to these Ixora flowers. This male Hoary Palmer was first sighted zipping around the shelters before it settled on the flowers but lasted just a short while. 
Another common skipper that we often encountered at USR is the Tree Flitter (Hyarotis adrastus praba). I was amazed by the accuracy and precision that these skippers know exactly where to insert their long proboscis into the corolla tubes of the flowers for nectar.    

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Skippers of Langkawi

Continue from my previous post.

Awls belong to the subfamily Coeliadinae of the larger Hesperiidae (skippers) family. They usually like to flit and feed on  concrete surfaces in the early morning. True enough, this Orange Tailed Awl (Bibasis sena uniformis)  kept teasing me near a hunt. It finally settled on a stone looking for something nice to feed on.
It is not difficult to identify this skipper when it was performing a leaping flight in response to the camera flash light.
A pristine Yellow Banded Awl (Hasora schoenherr chuza) was zipping around the toilet at the Seven Well Waterfall in the early morning. Thus fellow never gave me a good chance to take a proper shot.
A small white spot on the hindwing of this Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita) puzzled me a bit.
Here is another different specimen.
This light brown small skipper with a pair of short antennae is likely to be Parnara bada.  
Here is another similar skipper which was shot in a shady part of a forest trail in Lubuk Semilang - I guess they are the same species.
A Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos varians) perched at a sunlit spot along a forest trail.
We didn't get to see many skippers in this trip but seeing and taking a few shots of this most beautiful and spectacular skipper, a female Pirdana  hyela  at Datai really made this trip to Langkawi very worthwhile.
Once again, many thanks to CH for booking the flight and the hotel for us early. Thanks Mr Teo for your selfless sharing of your knowledge of butterflies with us - also, a big thank you for saving me from getting into a big trouble on the day when we were at the Seven Well Waterfall. I hope I have the privilege and honour to travel with you guys to Langkawi again this year.         

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Butterflies of Langkawi Part 3

Continue from the previous  post

Many adult butterflies do not restrict their food source to just the nectar from flowers. Mud puddles, bird droppings, secretions from animals, plant saps, fermented fruits, moist soils and salt solutions are some other common sources of diet for adult butterflies. Butterfly photographers therefore always look for possibilities to make butterflies engaging themselves in puddling activities as puddling-butterflies offer good shooting opportunities for us to capture their beauty and elegance in their natural behaviour.  

Over the years, I often noticed  butterflies from the  Papilionidae family had a strong tendency to puddle on moist ground. Let me begin with a series of three Common Jay (Graphium doson evemonides) pictures as shown below.
What did you see in the above three pictures? I didn't notice that there was a spider on the ground when I took the first shot. I was puzzled when and how the spidert had landed on the forewing tip the next moment shown in the next two photos. The fate of this Common Jay was unknown to me when it took off.

This is Papilio nephelus annulus. I misidentified this to be the Blue Helen (Papilio prexaspes prexaspes) initially - thanks Dr Seow from the ButterflyCircle forum for correcting me.
This pristine Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon agamemnon) stayed away from a group of puddling butterflies - that was good for me to take an unobstructed shot of its posture.
It was a great pity that this upperside shot of another Tail Jay late in the afternoon when it was sunbathing  at the entrance to a forest trail at Lubuk Semilang did not reveal the green spots fully.  
Among the puddling Papilionidae butterflies, we often find the Blue Jay (Graphium evemon eventus). In fact, I wasn't keen to take this shot until another Blue Jay presented me a rare occasion of displaying its uppersides infront of me under the hot afternoon sun.   
The Green Jay (Graphium arycles arycles) was rather uncommon as we saw only one individual throughout the trip.
Only one male Great Mormon (Papilio memnon agenor) joined a few other puddling butterflies. Occasionally he took a short rest on a leaf near by. 
This is how it looked like when he was on the ground
This Wizard (Rhinopalpa polynice) came down to puddle at CH's location when I was at another place prowling along a forest trail. Fortunately, I came back on on time to snap two shots before it was chased away by an ant. 
The Little Banded Yeoman (Paduca fasciata fasciata) was a small skittish  fellow that made me putting in lots of effort in snapping a few shots. 
It kept flapping its wings while it was feeding on the ground.  I had to go down low on the ground to "fire" rapidly just to capture the moment when its wings were folded. .

The Little Yeoman displayed the same behaviour as the Little Banded Yeoman -flapping its wings constantly.
However, it did become docile after it had enough fluid-intake. Now it rested on a wooden step of a bridge at the Seven Well Waterfall.
It was quite abundant as we could see a few of them at another location. This fellow was quite "drunk:" which stayed rather still, giving me a bit more time to take this underside shot.
A lonely Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber mulciber) appeared for a while before it went into hiding.  I noticed that  different butterfly species came down to feed on the damp soils at different times.
Some species from the Pieridae family were also keen puddlers. This prominent butterfly is the Orange Albatross (Appias nero figulina).
In contract, the Common Albatross (Appias albina darada) is less appealing to the eyes.
This is another specimen taken at the same location as the above shot.
A lonely Tree Yellow (Gandaca harina distanti) was photographed along a river bank.
Some lycaenid butterflies like to puddle also. For example, at least half a dozen of  Sumbeams (Curetis bulis) were found at two different locations.
Another shot of a C. bulis at a different location  Lubuk Semilang.

This upperside shoe should be useful to confirm the identification of the species.
This Ciliate Blue (Anthene emolus) was smaller than a typical specimen found in Singapore.
At the end of each long day of butterfly-hunting and photographing in the wild, we would browse and process some of the photos in the comfort of the hotel room,  enjoy the scenic sew views afar before we went for dinner.  I would never forget such a spectacular sunset in Langkawi.         

Next post : Skippers of Langkawi

Friday, January 11, 2013

Butterflies of Langkawi Part 2

Continue from Part 1

The area of  the main island of Langkawi is about 32 thousand hectares and about 2/3 of the main island is covered by forests, mountains and natural vegetation. The weather wasn't too bad on most of the days but towards the late afternoon it usually turned cloudy. Let me begin with some perching butterfly shots taken on the first day. 

A Pointed Ciliate Blue (Anthene lycaenina miya) welcomed me when we reached Lubuk Semilang on the first day afternoon.

A very similar species, Ciliate Blue (Anthene emolus) can be identified easily by a a black spot on the base of the  hindwing but this one looked rather small to me.

This Yellow butterfly, a Eurema species  is not the same as what I usually saw in Singapore When it  fluttered, a "black bar" on the upperside wings across the abdomen could be seen clearly. This is  Eurema nicevillei - the identification was confirmed when I had a chance to look at the uppersides. 

I spotted a few Fluffy Tit (Zeltus amasa) at Lubuk Semilang and the Seven Wells area.
Another specimen perching high on a leaf.
We went to the Seven Wells (Telega Tujuh) waterfall area on our second day (14 Dec). It wasn't a good day for me as I had problem getting the correct focusing settings on my new D7000 camera. 
Worst still, an important document dropped off from my pocket when I was shooting a puddling butterfly on the ground. Very luckily it was picked up by Mr Teo later (thanks again, Mr Teo) 

There weren't many puddling butterflies along a river bank. This Yellow looks like the Erema simulatrix but it looked larger than the usual size.

This is a Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus teatus) sucking the moisture on a rock along a river bank.
Enough of puddling butts, let us go back to the forest trails. A female Simiskina pharyge deolina was found along a shady forest trail leading to the the waterfall at Lubuk Semilang.
The left hindwing of this Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias lemonias) was slightly deformed. Just like other Pansy, it is a sun-loving species that like to flit around on a open patch of grassland.
The female Magpie Crow (Euploea radamanthus ramanthus) is rarer than the male. I could only get a long distance shot as she was just too shy to come down.
However, there were a few rather alert males teasing us.
There were a few Crow butterflies fluttering along the shady trail leading to the Lubuk Semilang waterfall. I could only id it as Euploea sylvester harrisii after checking my reference book.
This beautiful Clubtail with a yellow abdomen female Pachliopta neptunus neptunus raised my excitement a few times - but getting a decent shot was extremely difficult as she kept fluttering without stopping while looking for the host plant to lay eggs. I was rather lucky to spot this female high on the tree on the last day - I supposed she was trying to lay eggs. 
The colour of the Knight (Lebadea martha martha) is slightly different from what we usually see in the southern part of the Malayan peninsular and Singapore.
Let me change the focus here, showing a rather small lycaenid resting on a leaf at one shady corner in the breeze - this is the Quaker (Neopithecops zalmora zalmora).
This mating pair of Coelites epiminthia epiminthia was spotted by CH early in the morning on the last day when two of us were at Lubuk Semilang again - very skittish pair and we had no chance for a close-up shot.
A different sub-species of the Common Palmfly, this one should be a Elymnias hypermnestra tinctoria as it showed a clear orange patch on the upperside forewing.
A Dark Glassy Tiger (Parantica agleoides agleoides) was resting on a twig high on a tree - that gave me good chance to get a blue sky shot.

To be continued.