Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Butterflies of Northen Thailand (Oct 2018) Part 1 (Skippers)

I am going to share mainly butterfly species that I have encountered from 9 - 16 Oct when I was with  Antonio. Our main butterfly-hunting grounds were in Chiang Dao, Mount Suthep, Mount Inthanon and Mae Kampong. 

I was very fortunate to meet up with Andy Ho from Hong Kong in Chaing Mai and we had a good time shooting together at Doi Suthep on 16 Oct.

I will begin with skippers - most of them were photographed at Chiang Dao foothill puddling ground where a parking area is. I hope and appeal to the authority there that they will not cover it up with concrete cement! 

Skippers belong to the butterfly family Hesperiidae.  They usually dart at high speeds and many of them are quite small and don't usually attract our attention. However, there are many cute-looking and interesting skippers. For examples, the Common Orange Awlet (Burara harissa) looks chubby -  a rather common species as it was spotted at a few different locations.
Awlet and Awl skippers have the habit of coming out early in the morning or late in the evening. This Green-streaked Awlet (Burara amara) was shot in a late evening at a dark corner at Chiang Dao.

This specimen was taken early in the morning outside our accommodation at Bhupha Garden, a short distance away from our main hunting ground in Chiang Dao.
Many macro-photographers love Choaspes species because their 'outfits' are attractive. They are  usually alert and  it is challenging to photograph them as well as identify them with confidence. This guy looks like The Formosa Awlking (Choaspes benjaminii) which was super alert and active when   feeding on flowers.
Here is another interesting skipper. This is the Tiger Hopper (Ochus subvittatus) - though a tiny skipper, the black spots on both the yellowish  upper wings make it quite prominent.  
There are quite a number of skippers having yellowish or orangey 'outfits' - The Golden Ace (Thoressa masoni ) is rather common.
Skippers in the Pothanthus genus looks similar - this mating pair is likely to be the P. mingo - female is on the left.
Next set of skippers blend very well with the ground - to spot them puddling needs our full focus and good eyesight. This is the Light Straw Ace (Pithauria stramineipennis stramineipennis).
The head section of the Arnetta atkinsoni is a lot more triangular in shape.
The Halpe species can be quite difficult to identify with certainty. This looks like the Halpe filda.
Another common skipper the Pale Marked Ace (Halpe hauxwelli).
You can notice that the close resemblance of the dotty markings on different skippers -   this is The Silver-breast Ace (Sovia albipectus).
The Grass Dart (Taractrocera maevius) surely looks very similar to the above Silver-breast Ace.
If we are not careful enough, we can easily mix up the next three Ace's. The Northen Ace (Thoressa cerata) has a prominent white spot near the base of the hindwing.
The Banded Ace (Halpe zema) looks very similar to the Long-banded Ace (Halpe zola) and it is rarer.    
The Moore's Ace (Halpe porus) is quite common instead.
Some skippers tend to perch on foliage more often then to puddle on the ground.This is a Koruthaialos species.
This dark brown and relatively large skipper is the Restricted Demon (Notocrypta curvifascia) - it was spotted at a few locations.  
The Starry Bob (Iambrix stellifer) presented a nice perch on a leaf that I could not resist taking a few shots.
Two White Palmers (Acerbas anthea) appeared in the morning outside our accommodation. Both were very active and  uncooperative  for me to get better shots.

We can find skippers that tend to perch flat on or beneath the leaf surface. This is the Water Snow Flat (Tagiades litigiosa). Can you spot the difference between the Spotted Snow Flat (Tagiades menaka menaka) ?   
 Both Flats were shot at Doi Suthep.
The Large Snow Flat (Tagiades gana meetana) came out for sunbathing at Doi Suthep.
We have a different subspecies of the Yellow Snow Flat (Mooreana trichoneura) in  Malaysia and Singapore. The pralaya subspecies here seems to have a larger yellow patch on the hindwings.
Another unattractive and 'boring' Common Snow Flat (Tagiades japectus).
The Yellow-Banded Flat ( Celaenorrhinus aurivittatus) loved feeding on wild flowers,  making it easier for us to snap a few shots.
Among the spread-winged skippers in Singapore, we have only two Gerosis species but they are very rare. In Thailand, they are rather common. This is the Common White Flat (Gerosis bhagava bhagava ) - unsettled  at first but it decided to sunbathe when the sun was up. 
The Variable White Flat (Gerosis phisara phisara ) was quite active while feeding, changing perch very frequently.
A long distance shot this time, the Hairy Angle (Darpa hanria) preferred to stay far away from us.
The Fulvous Pied Flat (Pseudocoladenia dan fabia) was spotted a few times at different locations in Chiang Mai. The underside shot was taken late in the afternoon.

 To be continued

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Hike From Mandai Track 15 to Bukit Panjang

It is the north-east monsoon season during this time of the year.  We are expecting more rainy days and fewer opportunities for outings.

After a very heavy downpour yesterday morning (17 Nov), I could feel the air was fresher; the weather was cool and nice - so I went for a long hike. I decided to have a quick lunch at Bah Soon Pah Road before grabbing my shooting gears and heading to Mandai Track 15.

During the first half an hour, there was nothing interesting for me to shoot except for a diligent carpenter bee.
I just kept walking towards the direction of the expressway (BKE). Finally, I saw something worth taking some shots - a rather uncommon large dragonfly, a male Camacinia gigantean presenting a balanced and elegant perch on a climber.

Walking past underneath a flyover, I came to a shady water-logged spot  where I noticed another dragonfly. This is male Dark-tipped Forest-skimmer (Cratilla  metallica) - the distinctive blue metallic thorax and the black segments on the abdomen make it quite easy for us to identify it.
  A side-view shot.
A common shrub we can easily find along forest fringes is The Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum). I was waiting beside this shrub with many dry and ripen fruits, hopping some butterflies would visit them. Instead, a few wasps came and fed on them. 
When I was about to move on, a fast-flying lycaenid perched and open its wings immediately. Two instinctive shots were what this female Common Imperial (Cheritra freja Frigga) offered to me.
The highlight of  my hike was the encounter with this Common Red Flash (Rapala iarbus iarbus ). It was zipping around and rather skittish at first. Once it got used to my presence, it stayed on a leaf surface for a while.
Turning left into a small short-cut path, I found myself walking on a slippery and long stretch of grass patch running parallel to the highway. I am glad to mention here that a group of foreign workers were clearing the debris of a few fallen trees.

This small blue Halictid bee (Anthophora zonata) was buzzing around and feeding on the flowers.
It was accompanied by a wasp.
A surprise to me, I could see all the four Junonia butterflies at this particular spot. The ground was wet and muddy so I wasn't keen to chase after them. However, I could not resist taking a record shot of this intimate pair of Grey Pansy (J. atlites atlites).
It was almost 4 pm when I reached Zhenghua Nature Park and bumped into a skipper - I believe this is the Lesser Dart (Potanthus omaha Omaha) - my last shot from a long hike -  well, it wasn't  a   disappointing hike.