Sunday, October 25, 2015

Butterflies of Chiang Mai Province, Thailand (Blues) Part 2

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Lycaenidae is the second-largest family of butterflies. Though there were not many lycaenids and no surprises this time at areas around Doi Chiang Dao, we did encounter quite a number of them.  Let me begin with two species that we can find in Singapore.  

A lonely Quaker (Neopithecops zalmora zalmora), a rather small butterfly, was having a quiet moment on the ground. 
The Forget-me-not (Catochrysops strabo strabo) was puddling in front of a hut.
The White Fourline Blue (Nacaduba angusta albida) was paler than the subspecies kerriana which we have seen in Singapore.
This pristine Barred Lineblue (Prosotas aluta coelestis) was wandering on the ground before it settled down tamely on a sweet spot.
The Orchid Tit (Hypolycaena othona othona)  was having a private time on a moist and shady ground behind Antonio's car.
Long-tailed lycaenids are always attractive to photographers especially if the tails are intact. This Common Imperial (Cheritra freja) found its favourite spot and stayed there for a while.
Perhaps this was another specimen appeared behind the hut on 1 Oct.

We have not seen the Silver Royal (Ancema blanka) for a very long time in Singapore. But it seemed to be common here as we have countered it in our previous trips too.

There were many  black-and-white Pierrots this time at Chiang Dao Square puddling on the ground. Occasionally, when they perched on leaves, I usually took some shots - butterflies and flowers or leaves make great compositions. This is a Straight Pierrot (Caleta roxus)

This is an Elbowed Pierrot (Caleta elna noliteia) - a different subspecies from what we can see in Singapore.
This is another Pierrot, the Banded Blue Pierrot (Discolampa ethion ethion).
We went to Chiang Dao Square the 3rd time on 1 Oct. A couple of Sunbeams were puddling on the ground. This may be the Curetis bulis.
There are too many look-alike Arhopala species in Thailand - I am not sure what this is.
At the grassy wasteland behind the Chiang Dao Square, the Blue Leaf Blue (Amblypodia narada taooana) came down to puddle in the afternoon.
I was lucky to see its uppersides when it open its wings partially under the afternoon sun.
We went to Doi Suthep on our 2nd last day in Chiang Mai - it was a cloudy morning - a quiet morning we spent our time walking around at the usual locations, this tiny Singleton (Una usta usta) was feeding on some salt solution on the ground. 
When the sun was up in the afternoon, there were more butterflies fluttering around in the forested area. After stalking it for a while, this skittish Three-spot Yamfly (Yasoda tripunctata) finally allowed me  to take just one shot of it.
From the way it fluttering around, I guessed it was a Miletus species. Indeed, it was but I could not identify it with confidence.
Again, I have no idea what Arhopala this is perching on the tip of a leaf (note :  this is Arhopala silhetensis silhetensis) 
There were a few Aberrant Oakblue (Arhopala abseus) flitting around. This was a more pristine one which appeared to oviposit underneath a leaf - but I could not find any egg.
In the late afternoon, we had a better chance of seeing lycaenids opening its wings fully. Can you guess what this species is ?
To be continued

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Butterflies of Chiang Mai Province, Thailand - Part 1 (Skippers)

Four of us, Khew, Simon, CJ and I once again booked on a SilkAir flight to Chiang Mai for yet another butterfly-photography trip from 26 Sept - 3 Oct, as usual led by Antonio. This time, we had another butterfly enthusiast - Hiro joining us from UK. After meeting Antonio at the airport, we headed to Doi Chiang Dao for our first 3 nights of stay at Nest.

On our first day (27 Oct) of shooting, I saw a few small orange skippers puddling on the ground of the"mysterious" Chiang Dao "Square"where the gantry to the sanctuary is. However, I chose to photograph one which stayed on a leaf - it is a  Golden Ace (Thoressa masoni).
This brown Light Straw Ace (Pithauria stramineipennis stramineipennis) was rather co-operative, staying on the wet gravel ground for quite sometime.
Another Light Straw Ace was shot on 1 Oct - our third visit Chiang Dao "Square" 
A look-alike but smaller brown skipper, so I am not what this is, perhaps a Helpe species.  
A rather alert and active Helpe porus (Moore's Ace) was spotted on a table top. But it was too shy for me to take a proper shot. 
Another similar-looking skipper which looked like a Pale Marked Ace (Halpe hauxwelli) was attracted to a rock. 
I believe this is a Northen Ace (Thoressa cerata) puddling and looking at a dead ant on the ground.
Another individual had an elegant perch on a leaf at a quiet corner.
A solitary Long-banded Ace (Halpe zola zola) appeared on our third day at Chaing Dao (1 Oct).
A very cute and small skipper, the Tiger Hopper (Ochus subvittatus) was found  walking on a twig
Antonio usually drove up the mountain in the early afternoon, hoping to see some surprises. However, the mountain was rather quiet this time. 

We bumped into a Large Snow Flat (Tagiades gana meetana) feeding on some wild flowers before settling down. 
A Water Snow Flat (Tagiades litigiosa litigiosa) was feeding on the blue flowers at the same vicinity as the Large Snow Flat. 

On 30 Sept, we went to Doi Pha Hom Pok in the Fang District of the Chiang Mai Province.  Due to road improvement work, we were prevented from heading upwards to the two streams where we spotted quite a number of butterflies in our previous trips. However, with his familiarity of the hunting ground, Antonio could always find an alternative location. 

We spent sometime exploring a forest trail on foot as a barricade prevented all vehicles from going into the trail. Butterfly activity was low. However, we did have some excitement shooting this rather pristine Green-based Redeye (Matapa sasivarna) resting on a leaf.
An Extensive White Flat (Gerosis sinica narada) was zipping around us at the same location as the Redeye. It finally settled down for a long time when t found a sweet spot on the ground.
A different sub-species from we have in Singapore and Malaysia, this Yellow Snow Flat (Mooreana trichoneura pralaya) was having a long afternoon nap underneath a leaf. 
Before we moved towards the entrance of trail where our car was parked , a Spotted Snow Flat (Tagiades menaka menaka) appeared on a sunlit spot.

To be continued.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Critters at USR and Mandai Areas

The number of  critters and butterflies that I encountered during my weekly outings to nature reserve, in particular at  Upper Seletar Reservoir (USR) Park and Mandai areas have been extremely low since mid August. 

During the past few months, the Plain Lacewing (Cethosia penthesilea methypsea) was sighted more frequently then the Malay Lacewing (C. hypsea) at USR.  On 15 August, a couple of Plain Lacewings were frolicking in the morning sun and feeding on the Leea indica flowers.
While feeding or perching, it had the tendency to flap ts wings to display its uppersides.
About a month later on 12 September at USR, I once again, bumped into a Plain Lacewing feeding and resting on a leaf.
On a cool Saturday morning at a park connector along Mandai road, an orange skipper stood out rather prominently amongst the green vegetation. It was a male Besta Palm Dart (Telicota besta bina) with a nice perch for me to take some shots.
Occasionally, when the morning sunshine pierced through the clouds, it began to spread out its wings.
 The uppersides of the hindwings can be useful for  us to identify which Telicota species it should be.
Feeding furiously on some small white flowers of the Leea indica shrub at USR, this Yellow Vein Lancer (Pyroneura latonia latonia) allowed me to snap a few quick shots.
When there was nothing to photograph, common butterflies such as this Common Five-ring (Ypthima baldus newboldi) became my model when it was cooperative enough. 
It wasn't an in-flight shot - the Peacock Pansy (Junonia almana javana) was in fact feeding on a Biden flower in the hot sun at Mandai.
There were a few critters crossed my path at USR. This looks like a kind of beetle to me.
Is this a plant hopper? I have not seen one which looked like this before.
A large moth larva crawling on a twig at USR.