Enchanting Endau Rompin

Posted: May 19, 2009 in butterflies, holidays, macro photography
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Enchanting Endau Rompin

When we first got to Endau Rompin and got off the rented 4X4, the beautiful Rajah Brooke birdwing was the first to greet us.  It was the biggest butterfly I'd ever seen (shy of the Giant Saturn which cycloned through the mess hall like a gigantic fan…).  The red nape and the brilliant green of its wings was such a potent combination I found it hard to take my eyes off it.

It repeatedly visited a small area near the hut where sulphur had been sprinkled.  I kept sneaking back there everytime it flew away in the hope of getting a chance at catching it with those beautiful wings still.  And it did.  Unfortunately, some passers-by scared it away.  And that was the last I ever saw of it (so near the ground) for the rest of the trip. 

Note on photo above:  Everybody was really excited about the redspot sawtooth.  It was a real skittle and I walked away with only a record shot.  The top of the butterfly was whitish with dark borders and at a glance, it wouldn't occur to my inexperienced eye to be anything spectacular.  But the underside with that yolk yellow and perfect red spot, it was anything but spectacular.


















Butterfly Paradise…

Butterflies were everywhere.  They were on the sandy banks at the river, they were in the mess hall, an Autumn leaf perched under the plant just outside the lavatory where an interesting yellow bordered pretty moth also graced with its presence. 😛

Giant Saturns flew through the mess hall with its gigantic wings.  It was an awesome sight.  At night, a rare Koh-I-Noor perched upside down on the ceiling and we all took turns to try to get it down.  We tried throwing balled up paper towels at areas around it to scare it down but it merely flinched its pretty little tail as is to say… "you are all so pathetic… I am Koh-I-Noor.. I am higher than all of you… you are all beneath me… hmph!…"

Butterflies flew on either side of the 4X4 as we made our way to camp.  Butterflies congregated on the mud roads as if they had never known any fear of cars and men.  But that also resulted in a regular spotting of yellow butterflies crushed on the road by passing vehicles.

















The Rain

It rained.  It rained all the days that I was there.  But to be perfectly honest, we were very fortunate.  Because it rained at times where we were most likely too tired to venture another trail.  So we did manage to cover the beach, the trail and a little of the forest during the 3 days that we were there.

And then in a way it was perfectly arranged.  The rain tapped musically away on the rooftops while we were sleeping and allowed for a cool breeze to sweep along the river. 

Note on photo above: The yellow glassy tiger swooped down to greet me when I walked past it.  It landed on my trail pants, landed on my arms, landed on my backpack, landed on my hat.  I had to lightly wave it away.. "shoo shoo…so that I can photograph you, pretty!".  And it landed on my camera lens, as if to say: "You want just A PHOTO?! Take me home!!! I'm yours!"

Note on photo above: Besides butterflies, there were so many weird and pretty moths!

The Main Course Moth

There were lots of zampa moths flying around.  And then there was a pair of zampa wings on the trail.  So it seems zampa moths are on the main menu of something out there.  And it seems wings have no nutritional value to whatever it is out there. 

Note on photo above: This butterfly was like a pretty sparkling glittery ribbon flying through the air.  It was quite a flyer and didn't have the usual funny hopping gait of the butterflies with long tails such as the yamfly. 

Dance of the Green Dragon

Now everybody in the group seemed to be really keen on getting a photo of the green dragontail.  But everytime it was spotted and people started converging on it, it flew high up into the air and away and it took a while for it to come back down.  I decided to back track to the spot where they were found after everybody started making their way back because they seemed extremely shy and skittish.  And I was spot on because when I got to the site, there were about 4 or 5 of them flying around dazzlingly.  But it was difficult to get close to them.  I took a step forwards and they would take off into the air like dancing fairies with long glittery skirts.

First Close Encounter with the Red Helen

After looking at them longingly from the ground on my usual shooting trips, here at the camping grounds, they came down to the river banks and allowed me to pull off a few shots, fluttering their wings nervously.  Even the usually restless Great Mormon came to rest on the bank.  

Note on photo above: The Great Mormon comes to rest.

Note on photo above: We were walking along the trail and craning our necks for another butterfly flying around restlessly when this beauty came flopping down onto the leaf from above.  We gave a spontaneous whoop of awe at this opportunity.

 Note on photo above: I can't figure out why this butterfly looks like its laying eggs when typically butterflies descend onto mud roads to puddle (male butterflies)

















 Note on photo above of day flying moth: This moth must be the most brilliantly and uniquely shaped moth I have ever come across.  If you weren't careful, you might think it was a butterfly… were it not for those unclubbed feelers!

Fireflies At Night

The camp runs on generator about 4 hours during the evening from about 7 to 11.  After that it's pitch darkness within and without the camp.  I brought along my red camping lantern but in the end, I had to switch it off because soon there were a collection of critters headbutting the lamp enthusiastically.

When I switched off the camping lantern, the collection of critters began headbutting me instead.  I sighed to myself in the darkness in a silent acknowledgment of defeat.

I closed my eyes tightly because the darkness seemed to swallow the entire room and I wasn't used to sleeping in the complete darkness.  But, a tiny speck of light appeared suddenly and the ceiling felt as it it had lifted itself up and away into the night sky.  

Firefly.  It slow danced across the ceiling like a floating Tinkerbell, a twinkling little star.  I laid there on my back watching it as it bobbed and floated around, a comforting presence.

Note on photo above: Thinking about this butterfly made me smile at work today.  I encountered this swift flyer on the way back from waiting for the green dragontail. 

Saving Royalty

This beautiful butterfly swooped out from the brush and landed on the mud road.  I held my breath and waited such a long time before I slowly made my way towards it.  It opened and closed its wings a few times and revealed its brilliant orangey topside.  I spent a considerable time lying on the ground next to it.

It didn't seem to mind.  After taking so many shots of it, I got up to leave.  And it didn't budge.  I thought… well, I wouldn't want it to be run over by a car… it being the pretty that it was.

So I walked away noisily.  But it didn't even seem to notice.

I turned back and walked back noisily.  Then I bent down with my shadow on it.  Then pressing my unbelievable fortune further, I knelt down behind it and put my face few inches away from its pretty wings.

There was no reaction.  I was so hypnotised by its perfection and so ecstatic with this opportunity, I reached out… and lightly, ever so lightly… brushed my finger against its pretty wing.

To my surprise, it didn't fly away. 

I put my finger gently under its upturned little royal face and it lightly flicked its proboscis to another spot on the road and continued feeding.  I was thoroughly amazed at its amazing nonchalence.  And couldn't help smiling to myself like an idiot at my great fortune.

I had to leave, even though I think… in that moment… maybe I wouldn't have minded staying with it for as long as it stayed there like that.  But the guide was waiting.


I put my fingers lightly under its body and attempted to lift it and put it on a leaf before I left.  Its legs felt robust and strong and stiff.  Just as I was about to lift it, it gave a good strong kick of its legs and opened its brilliant wings and flew so quickly away like a flash of orange that I didn't see where it went.

Note on photo above: This little butterfly appeared in the midst of giants like the Red Helen and the Great Mormon.  But don't underestimate it because when it flies, its like a zipping orange peel, flinging itself along faster than your eyeballs can follow.

Note on photo above and below: This is my very first encounter with a mapwing.  Never seen one before.





The Music Of The Wild

Contrary to what I expected, the forest is not quiet at night.  It's a full symphonic orchestra of beeps and boops and wails and howls and cheeps and bibbly dooby doobas.  Nights are noisy.  Not with the sounds of cars and buses and people but the full symphonic cacophony of Nature.

It's funny how I always thought the wild was so scary, so quiet, so isolated.  But the forest is full of life, just waiting for people to realise this and to re-embrace how evenings should be spent, listening to the tunes of the forest and watching the fireflies slow dance through the cool night air.

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  1. fatcat says:

    Fantastic pictures! Do you have any plans of publishing any of them? (Magazines, etzy, book, deviantart…?) They are certainly good enough!

  2. Emjay says:

    Beautiful photos as usual Ellen! I especially like the Striped Jay and the Swordtail.
    I did have a bit of a laugh at the image of these gorgeous creatures being "fought" over by people armed with expensive cameras! They must shake their little heads and wonder what all the fuss is!

  3. Hi Nikki!
    Sorry I hadn't come by so long… struggling with the flood of work that greeted me since I got back from Endau Rompin.
    Gotta have those DIY self-defense kits with you. Deoderant sprays helps temporarily so you can have a little headstart. Please do take care of yourself!

  4. Well… .. . . I have submitted my photos now and then within my own group to see if they make it to brochures and stuff but they haven't really been making the cut 🙂

  5. Yes.. I wouldn't blame the butterflies if they thought we were quite mad… but then most living creatures probably already know how terrible human beings are already so we're just maintaining our bad rep 😛

  6. Shucks, I am using roll-on deodorants. Not very efficient in an emergency.I have to get one of those defence spays, again. Had to throw the last one away, when I was flying to Dresden last year, for I had forgotten to take it off of my handbag.I always have a switch-blade on me, though. But I only know how to use it on herbs. 😀

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