Friday, November 22, 2013

Butterflies @ Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand Part 2

Continue from previous post.

Butterflies in the Lycaenidae family are usually small to medium-sized. The Common Punchinello (Zemeros flegyas allica) from the subfamily Riodininae was rather common in northern Thailand.
There were a few Curetis puddling on the ground. This pristined Angled Sunbeam (Curetis acuta dentata) was one of them.
The subfamily Polyommatinnae consists of  a few genera whose species are closely similar. There were many small and cute black-and-white inconspicuous butterflies puddling on the wet ground - these lycaenids are generally given a common game ending with Peirrot. This is Straight Pierrot (Caleta roxus roxana).
Another Straight Pierrot on a leaf  - a more appealing pose to the eyes, in my opinion.
The hindwing marginal markings of the Elbowed Pierrot (Caleta elna noliteia) in northern Thailand looks quite differently from the subspecies elvira that we have in Singapore. 
The Common Peirrot (Castalius rosimon rosimon) appeared to be quite common also.
The White-banded Pierrot (Niphanda asialis) was so hard to spot as the colours match very well with the soil.
In the late evening of 7 Nov, we were at a grass patch besides a rubbish-dumping ground. Amongst many small puddling small lycaenids, Anotonio's sharp eyes singled out an odd one - the Dark Cupid (Tongeia potanini potanini).
After taking some shots of the Dark Cupid, I found this small Quaker (Neopithecops zalmora zalmora) standing on a clump of soil just a few meters away from the Cupid.
I was deliberately avoiding taking shots of the Hedge Blue-type lycaenids. But I found this rather different so I snapped two haesty shots. Dr Seow suggested that it may be the Udara rona catius .
The straies of the subspecies albida of the White Fourline Blue (Nacaduba angusta) shown here looks paler and more whitish than the subspecies kerriana
It was love of first sight - I don't know why Zebra Blue (Leptotes plinius) is attractive to me - the ground colour of the wings and the markings make this lycaenid easily identifiable and attractive.
We tend to ignore the small lycaenids and focused more on the showy and larger butterflies first. I didn't take a shot of this dull and small Prosotas pia marginata (The Margined Lineblue) until the late afternoon on 7 Nov.  
When it was in flight, the intense iridescent blue exposed  on the upperside wings was magnificent. This is the Dark Caeurelean (Jamides bochus bochus).
At the "rubbish dump' area, I was lucky to encounter a Long-banded Silverline (Cigaritis lohita himalayanus) perching on a plastic bag.
Two Yellow Tinsel (Catapaecilma subochrea) came to the site in the early afternoon on 7 Nov. This was the more pristine fellow but also a lot more skittish. It never stayed still on the soil while looking for a puddling spot. 
The Chocolate Royal (Remelana jangala ravata) teased me a few times before it finally settled on a damp and smelly ground.
I was rather lucky when it suddently opened its wings in the late afternoon on 7 Nov - this is definitely a timely and valuable shot for me.
The Ancema ctesia ctesia (The Bi-spot Royal) was among a group of puddling-lycaenids when it was spotted by Les. 
The Hypolycaena othona othona (Orchid Tit) was quite common in the area.
This is likely to be an upperside shot of an Orchid Tit though I could not see the undersides clearly.
The Blue Imperial (Ticherra acte acte ) appeared like a phantom to me - it perched in front of me but  scooted off in the next moment.
Skippers are a special group of butterflies displaying rapid and darting flight pattern, usually with a thick body, short and narrow wings. They beong to the family Hesperiidae. This small and cute skipper with distinctive markings and the ground colour of the wings is the Ochus subvittatus subvittatus (Tiger Hopper). 
Skippers do puddle at times. This small and yellowish skipper is the Golden Ace (Thoressa masoni). 
The genus Halpe consists of  quite a number species, some are very similar. This fellow looks like a Halpe zola zola (The Long - banded Ace).
This is another Halpe species the  Halpe porus (The Moore's Ace) which was found flitting around behind a worker's room.
Thanks Dr Seow from the ButterflyCircle Forum who helped me to identify this as the Pithauria straminiepennis straminiepennis (Light Straw Ace) - what a long name and confusing species for many of us to remember it.
I saw one and only one Telicota species in this trip - not sure if this genus becomes less common as we go further north of  Thailand. Thanks to Dr Seow who suggested this could be the T. bambusae with some uncertainty.
The Psolos fuligo subfasciatus  (Pale Spotted Coon) was feeding on some Bidens flowers along the road outside the puddling ground.
Last but not least, I wanted to conclude this post by a shot appeared to be the Caltoris sirius (?).

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Butterflies @ Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand Part 1

Continue from my previous post.

After an early breakfast on 5 Nov, we bid farewell to Tharnthong Lodges. We travelled west initially, heading towards Highway 107. After about an hour journey, we reached Chiang Dao District. The entrance ticket to Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary for a foreigner is 200 Thai Baht, but  it valids for 3 days.
Before reaching the above destination, we saw quite a number of the Red-spot Jezebel (Delias descombesi descombesi) fluttering and feeding high on a flowering tree on a slip road. However, we had a hard time getting a good shot.  
As there were very few butterflies at higher altitude, we visited this place on three days 5, 7 and 8 Nov. I would showcase the butterfly species that I have photographed according to Family. Let me begin with the Pieridae.

There were a few Red-based Jezebels (Delias pasithoe pasithoe) puddling on the ground under the hot late morning sun.
Two different individuals of  the Hill Jezebel (Delias belladonna hedybia) were nearby. 
This shot was taken in the afternoon around 3 pm - they could stay on the ground for a long time. I wonder what was on the ground that had "intoxicated" them.
I didn't see this Yellow Jezebel (Delias agostina agostina) in the morning. But it was such a prominent butterfly that I could see it from far when it came down to join a large group of puddling butterflies in the afternoon.

This is the Painted Jezebel (Delias hyperate indica). The northern subspecies looks larger than those that we would see in Singapore and Malay peninsular. 
Take a closer look, you should be able to see the subtle differences between the D. pasithoe (3rd picture in this post) and this Red-breast Jezebel (Delias acalis pyramus). 
I managed to isolate this Yellow Orange Tip (Ixias pyrene yunnanensis) from a group of Yellows congregating on the wet gravel ground. 
This upperside shot was taken on the 8 Nov in the late afternoon.
This particular Burmese Puffin (Appias lalassis lalassis) was exceptionally large as compared to another one nearby. 
In fact this Great Windmill (Atrophaneura dasarada barata) was the first butterfly I went down on the wet ground to shoot on 5 Nov at moment we entered the barricade "gate". It is such a pretty and large papilionid that every photographer would love to snap more shots.
Another papilionid, The Redbreast (Papilio alcmenor alcmenor) was puddling on the ground for a long time in the early afternoon on 8 Nov.   
A short while later, a Red Helen (Papilio helenus helenus) came to accompany the Redbreast and had fun puddling together.
The Common Windmill (Atrophaneura polyeuctes polyeuctes) is less common then the Great Windmill. None of us had the luck of getting a proper shot of this highly alert and active surprised visitor in the late afternoon on 8 Nov. 
The Lamproptera species can be considered as one of the smallest as well as most unique papilionids. This Green Dragontail (Lamproptera meges virescens) was flapping its wings constantly while it came down to puddle in the early afternoon. Interestingly, while siphoning liquid from the ground it also kept ejecting water out from its abdomen.
When the time is right (usually in the late afternoon) they will open their wings for sunbathing.
The journey from Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary to our next accommodation site at Doi Angkhang is about 1.5-hour drive so we had to leave early otherwise Antonio would have to manoeuvre the meandering and narrow mountain roads in the dark. 

Look out for my next two posts as I will be featuring butterflies from other families. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Butterflies @ Mae Takhrai National Park, Thailand Part 2

Continue from the last post.

We know that "Awlet" and "Awl" skippers usually roam around early in the morning when sunshine begins to warm the earth. Walking around the surrounding areas of our lodge, we noticed a Common Orange Awlet (Burara harisa harisa) was enjoying its early breakfast at the river bank.
Surprisingly, another small skipper, the Silver-breast Ace (Sovia albipecta) was also an early visitor, feeding on a large stone.
A stretch of this beautiful river bank provides a good spot for puddling-butterflies to rest and feed on the moist sandy ground.
Our common interest and the BC forums brought four of us each from a different country together - thanks to the modern technology. This is where we had our breakfast before our 2nd day of butterfly-hunting and photographing.  
After breakfast, we continued exploring the compounds within the lodge. At least two different individual Common Nawabs (Polyura athamas athamas) came down to puddle.
Soon, a Scarce Tawny Rajah (Charaxes aristogiton aristogiton) accompanied the Nawab.
A more pristine female Plain Earl (Tanaecia jahnu) was spotted by Les on a leaf above us. She was rather shy to get closer to us but the high perch gave us a chance to shoot her underside wings.
The compound of the lodge is quite big. Antonio spotted this Black Rajah (Charaxes solon sulphureus) puddling singly and quietly on a cement floor across the river.

Not far away from the Black Rajah, I found this Common Pierrot (Castalius rosimon rosimon) perching on a grass blade.
An uncooperative male Colour Sergeant (Athyma nefte asita) was flitting around to-and-fro along the river but getting a good shot was a huge challenge for us.
The arrival of a large and magnificent Papilionid, The Redbreast (Papilio alcmenor alcmenor) was the highlight of our 2nd day at Tharnthong Lodges.
It kept fluttering its wings and moving around while feeding on the moist ground. Occasionally, it opened its wings - but we must really react fast and need some luck to snap a decent shot of the uppersides.
I spotted two Singletons (Una usta usta) - a rather small lycaenid at two different locations - obviously, this was shot at a sandy area along the river.
There was another small and dark lycaenid nearby. A slight change of my camera angle gave me this shot- I guess this is The Dingy Line Blue (Petrelaea dana dana) with a variation in the third marginal spot being darken.
There were quite a number of Yellows but I didn't really pay much attention to them. I just snapped a few shots of this cooperative Eurema simulatrix sarinoides.
We decided to move up to the waterfall area again. But as we went higher up the weather appeared to be more cloudy. Next to the waterfall, I spotted an Extensive White Flat (Gerosis sinica narada) feeding on bird droppings initially.
I managed to take an underside shot of this Flat skipper.
At the same location, a beautiful lycaenid gave me a surprise. The Indian Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus indicus) is such an attractive butterfly that I could not resist taking more shots.
I only managed to have two instinctive shots of  this Delias acalis pyramus (Red-breast Jezebel) when it puddled along the roadside next to a stream.
We didn't get to see many interesting species for us to be excited about so we went back to the Lodge early and continued hunting for butterflies within the Lodge. This Common Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra meridionalis) was more whitish compared to the subspecies agina  that we can see here in Singapore.
This Spotted Palmfly (Elymnias malelas malelas) found something smelly on a rock to puddle on in front of our lodge.
A solitary Mycalesis adamsoni (The Watson's Bushbrown) was rather skittish. A slight movement would agitate him to hop away from. A few minutes later I found it was attracted to the animal dung. 
Another attractive Brown, the Lethe confusa confusa (The Banded Treebrown) created some excitement for us just in front of our lodge.
I guess this is The Metallic caerulean (Jamides alecto alocina)  (blue iridescence on the uppersides) which was oblivious to my presence.
Butterfly on flowers is always appealing to our eyes. I could not resist shooting this Restricted Demon (Notocrypta curvifascia curvifascia) again.
While we were browsing through our shots on the camera outside our lodge a Harlequin species flitting past us. We kept chasing and accidentally bumped into this Tufted Jungle King (Thauria aliris intermedia).
After a good dinner at the Lodge we set around outside our rooms, chatting and relaxing in a cool starry nigh, accompanied by natural and soothing sound of flowing-water in the river - a wonderful place to immerse ourselves in nature and relax. 

Reference : Butterflies of Thailand, Pisuth Ek-Amnuay, 2nd Edition, 2012