Sunday, April 26, 2015

Butterflies @ Doi Pah Hom Pok, North Thailand

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On 17 March, five of us headed  further north in one car to Doi Pha Hom Pok, the second highest peak in Thailand. On the way, Antonio was exploring routes to Doi Lang, part of the Doi Pha Hom Pok mountain range. (Here is a rough sketch of the location provided by NTB)

About a two-hour drive from Nest2 at Chaing Dao, we arrived at our first hunting ground- a bridge. There were a few Green Commodore (Sumalia daraxa daraxa) flitting around and occasionally puddled on the cement ground. 
I had to be patient to snap a shot of the uppersides.
Some small flies and bees were sharing food on the ground with this Stately Nawab (Polyura dolon grandis).
At a stream below the bridge, Antonio spotted this a rather small and rare Chinese Straight-wing Blue (Orthomiella rantaizana rovorea) on a rock.
There were quite a number of Dark Jezebels (Delias berinda yedarnula) flying around. When they perched we quickly snapped a  few shots.
At the same vicinity, I realised that there was another look-alike Delias, the D. belladonna hedybia (The Hill Jezebel). 

A small stream further up in the mountain was our second location of shooting. I noticed a Burmese Straight-wing Blue (Orthomiella pontis pontis) a tiny lycaenid was puddling on one side of the stream.
There were a few Sailors at this location. The Common Sailor (Neptis hylas kamarupa) was rather active and it took me a while to get a shot.
In fact, the reddish brown undersides caught my attention first before I got interested in snapping its uppersides.
I could not get an underside shot of this Cream-spotted Sailor (Neptis soma shania).

The Veined Labyrinth (Neope pulaha putahoides) was spotted by Antonio. I was lucky to snap a couple of shots before it scooted off.  
A male Black-tip Archduke (Lexias dirtea bontouxi) just appeared in front of me. Just one quick shot it took off again. 

The Blue Peacock (Papilio arcturus arcturus) got us excited when it appeared flitting around. This was my first shot when it was looking for a spot to puddle on the sandy ground.
It finally found a sweet spot and stayed there for a long time. 

We went further up until we reached another stream. Perhaps due to the very dry season and a bush fire nearby, butterfly activity was poor at this location - in fact, LC helped to put out a small bush fire. So we headed back to the first stream again.

I was lucky that I was at the right place and the right time to snap two quick shots of this Orange Freak (Calinaga buddha sudassana). It was was another highlight of the day we were kept chasing it.
Two different Angled Sunbeam (Curetis acuta dentata) were photographed.
An uncooperative and  skittish Ananta Yellow Sailor (Neptis ananta learmondi) gave me only one chance of snapping a shot. 
There were at least two different Sapphire species flitting around. The Golden Sapphire (Heliophorus brahma mogoka) was one of them.
Another specimen was resting on a leaf.
Before we headed back to the bridge, I were chasing this Sapphire feeding on some wild flowers - it looks like the Common Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus epicles latimimbata). 
We headed  back to the bridge again in the late afternoon. This skittish Marble Flat (Lobocla liliana liliana) kept teasing us. At last, it got used to our presence and stayed a bit longer on the ground.
I had to take a bit of risk to photograph its undersides when it landed on the wall of the bridge.
The Spotted-Pierrot (Tarucus callinara) was a surprise to me when I spotted below the bridge.
My last shot of the day was this Blue Admirer (Kaniska canace canace).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Butterflies @ Mae Jo and Doi Suthep Part 3

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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

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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.