Monday, July 6, 2015

Butterflies of Taiwan Part 1

On two separate flights , CH and I landed at the Taoyuan International airport in the evening of 10 June. Our host picked us up from the airport and headed to Taipei cty centre for a steamboat dinner before checking into hotel. Our first shooting location on 11 June was the 拉拉山. We had to leave our hotel at around 3:30 am to hunt for an endemic lycaenid - the 拉拉山鑽灰蝶 (Horaga rarasana)Many thanks to 晟智and 陳全 who drove us to 拉拉山 and bought breakfast for us. 
We arrived at the mountain park early and took our breakfast outside the gate while waiting for the park to be opened at 7 am. Another 3 km of trekking brought us to a sunlit spot where the rare lycaenid would show up. Anyway, a long distance shot was what I could get on our way back to the gate.

While waiting for our target to appear, I noticed this strange-looking fly hovering on a blade of grass.
I know there are many different species of ladybird  beetles but this one with a pair of  large white eyes was my first collection.
A small robber fly with a long and sharp abdomen.
While loitering around a small patch of open ground, I noticed this 大紅蛺蝶  (Vanessa indica) puddling on a piece of wooden prank. It must be a very common species that the local butterfly photographers ignored it completely.   
I waited for opportunities to snap its upperside shot - this was my only shot.
I am not sure if this is the Neptis soma tayalina (斷線環蛺蝶)- it kept flapping its wings while it was trying to settle on a leaf.
At last it stayed still for a short moment.
There were a  few 流星絹粉蝶 (Aporia agathon moltrechti) zooming around from tree to tree and feeding on flowers at the site.  

The 靛色琉灰蝶 is a different subspecies  from our Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepsis puspa lambi).
紫日灰蝶 is (Heliop ila matsumurae)  a common butterfly in Taiwan.

I managed to take an upperside shot of another individual.
After we left La La Mountain in the early afternoon, we headed back to Taoyuan city along a winding mountain road. Along the way,  晟智 parked the car at the roadside and let us took some shots of these beautiful nymphalidae butterflies which were feeding on the sap of a fallen tree trunk. 

There were a few 燦蛺蝶 (Sephisa chandra androdamas) feeding  the tree trunk. We could not get any closer to this  female as one step forward would land us in the ravine of the mountain.
 The male was more colourful.
I could see this male Chitoria chrysolara  金鎧蛺蝶) from where I stood and it seemed to be at the resting mode for a long period of time.
Apart from butterflies, different species of beetles were attracted to the tree sap too.

After taking some shots, 陳全 showed us other shooting locations nearby. He spotted a (Tongeia hainani台灣玄灰蝶.  
Before the above shot was taken, it was trying to mate but somehow they lacked the sexual instinct to get into the correct position - strange !
Take a good look at this beautiful  台灣翠蛺蝶 (Euthalia formosana), what was wrong with it? 

After this, 晟智 brought us to our last shooting location of the day. He suddenly parked his car at the roadside. Guess, what did you see? Yes, a snake was stuck inside a pipe in an embankment of the road. 陳全 was really brave - he pulled it out and I quickly took a few shots.

We finally reached a trail leading to the top of a mountain. Immediately, we noticed a Stichophthalma howqua formosana 箭環蝶-my first shot of a Jungle Queen. 
The undersides of this (大紫蛺蝶) Sasakia chadronda formosana are less attractive then the uppersides - but I could not get a proper shot. 
There were quite a few Symbrenthia hypselis scatinia (花豹盛蛺蝶)along this forest trail.
Its uppersides.
To be continued.

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