Commander

Posted: February 8, 2009 in butterflies, macro photography
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I had the fortunate.. or unfortunate opportunity *again* today to chase down the one butterfly that kept getting away.

Typically, it would go 1.flap lift off, 2.flap up somemore, 3.long blast away, then from far… 1. flap up, 2.flap up, 3. long blast… and then that's the last you've seen of it.

Today, it decided to go 1.flap, 2.flap, 3. blast up and circle down…. 1. flap, 2. flap. 3. some more flaps, 4. blast up and circle down.  Everytime it blasted, I expected it to disappear but it kept circling down.  It was almost like how the crows would fly when they were chasing other butterflies away except it was driving at a higher gear.  It didn't help that it was so skittish and so scared and yet it refused to break away and fly so far away so that I would be forced to give up.

After 1.5 hours breaking into the face high brush and running back out, breaking back in and tracing the circular flying motion back out and then running down the path to break into a new set of brush and then tracing it back out, I was so exhausted!

I think it was newly eclosed because its wings were bent at a certain odd angle (see the pic above… the wings are curved ..as if they had been clipped together and bent in the same direction).  And mostly because it didn't fly away so quickly.  I've never encountered a Commander who kept circling back for more than an hour.

And then when it finally rested, the situation was all wrong.  The leaf was in the way, I was standing on unstable logs, my flash couldn't get a clear blast, a twig was preventing me from putting my lens in front of the commander.  Many times it was sitting at a wrong angle or sitting facing me or sitting with its butt facing me while a leaf prevented me from taking a topside shot or just sitting like that below which required me to move myself into an entire bush in order to be aligned to its side.

Try tracing and tracking a fast flying butterfly while getting branches in your face.  The Commander is officially the most frustrating butterfly I've ever photographed even when it concedes to flying around for close to 2 hours, encouraging you to keep going after it.  And even when it finally conceded to staying put, it decides to sit at an angle which makes the shot far from perfect but dang it, after 2 hours, you'd be glad to have even gotten that close. 

I thought it might come back since it had already hung around for 2 hours.  But it disappeared for the rest of the day.   I had just about spent the good part of the morning on it and had no energy left except to sit and wait for other butterflies to turn up.  When a plain nawab came into view, I couldn't be bothered to chase it because I was so tired.  I took a pot shot at it just as it was flying away.  The nawab flies in short fast blasts, not much flaps.  Blasts aren't very long either…so it just looks like a rocket gone mad. 

I got a first shot of a flat (below) while waiting for things to turn up.  I'm sorry to say that it must be one of the ugliest butterflies I've ever seen.  And furry too… wooo…

On Saturday, I went to my old haunt and found something new there.  I was chasing a bamboo tree brown when it cut into my view and I was excited when I saw the unfamiliar size and flashy topside purple.  I was even more excited when I realised later I saw the unfamiliar underside through my viewfinder.  So besides the first shot of the Commander and Flat, this butterfly makes it a plus 3 record shot.

The Great Mormon turned up again at the same place where it had been chased away by a bicycle while trying to puddle.  Though it wasn't flying very fast, it turned a corner and then I couldn't find it anymore…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some record shots…. that are not worth blowing up…

 

Shot taken while waiting for more Flos…

Shot taken while hunting for bamboo tree browns.

The dry season has taken its toll on my favourite haunt.  The grass was all dried and dead and most of the plants looked like they were dying.  The yellow plant in the picture on the left seemed to be one of the few species which seemed to have retained some moisture…

I took shots of bees and wasps even though I'm not too interested in them… unless they look cute (carpenter)… and furry (blue banded bee)…erm… something like that.  Don't really like those with the barb-wire look to them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It must be me… but the sight of insects burrowing into holes makes my skin crawl.  And that's why I've never liked ants… eeky eeky eeky…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ropalidia sumatrae has a metallic look to it. 

Before the chase-commander activity started, I visited the small stream to see if the devadatta was still there.  And it was… like a permanent resident. 

I think my birding lens and birds are now officially in the neglected hobbies section…. for an unforeseebly long period of time.

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Comments
  1. Emjay says:

    It sounds as though you certainly got your exercise running after that butterfly!! The mormon is a very pretty thing and I love the photos of the wasps!

  2. I sure did… I looked at the time and was shocked to find that it was nearly noon… shesh… at one point I smacked into a leaf covered with ants… I'm glad I didn't see it because then I would have been too freaked out to even get out of the brush. But later I was covered with ants… ants all over the lens and camera body… very interesting experience.. 😛
    The great mormon is a rare sight (in my experience)… 🙂 Glad you liked the wasp photos 😛
    I hope the icing problem in the US has eased off a bit for you (and your neighbours) 🙂

  3. Emjay says:

    It was 62 F here today – so wonderful!! I even put some of my pot plants outside to enjoy the sun.

  4. That's great to know! 😀

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