We only put up at Phanom Bencha Mountain Resort for a day and a half worth of shooting time.  But the location did not disappoint in terms  of common butterfly species.

View from mountain resort bungalow

View from mountain resort bungalow

One of the best features about the resort is its breathtaking view.  From the bungalow, if you have requested for a bungalow at the top of the steep climb, you can enjoy a view like this from your bedroom window.  However, prepare for a steep climb up a rocky path and try not to bring too heavy a luggage because this would be unwieldly up the slopes.

Romantic room in mountain resort

Romantic room in mountain resort

Another nice touch to the room is the availability of mosquito nets.  If you are up late and leave your light on, you can spend a good few hours poking at the denizens of the night who have decided to get stuck on the mosquito net. Another amazing feature of this place is the availability of HOT SHOWERS.  YES!  HOT SHOWERS! I just can’t caps that enough.

mountain resort path

Typical mountain resort trail

Because the garden and surroundings of the bungalows are not treated with insecticide and chemicals, you can find a whole lot of critters in the night.  But we’ll leave that for part 3.  To find out more about this popular resort, click here.

field outside mountain resort

field outside mountain resort

There are some trails and plenty of puddling grounds around the Mountain Resort.  If you follow the path along the resort to the back where Mr Son (the owner of the resort) lives in a house watched over by a red cheeked bulbul (Mr Son is an avid breeder of singing birds), you’ll come to the field above.

Psolos fuligo

Psolos fuligo

Halpe porus

Halpe porus

If you walk in the other direction, however, all you get are rubber plantations.  However, Mr Son says these paths and the waterbodies around the resort are home to King Cobras and other snakes for those interested in snakes and other amphibians.

Zographetus satwa (The Purple and Gold Flitter)

Zographetus satwa (The Purple and Gold Flitter)

It was along the trail past the fields above where we came across the skippers.  Unlike the fuligo which was large enough to be spotted sunning its brown wings, the other two were zipping around in a frenzy across the trail.

Tagiades japetus atticus (Common Snow Flat)

Tagiades japetus atticus (Common Snow Flat)

Thankfully the sun is behind you when you walk this trail in the morning.  Note however, that the sun disappears behind the mountain after noon, which means not much sun on this trail past lunch.  If you want lots of activity, be sure to go early!

Rapala pheretima sequeira

Rapala pheretima sequeira

Besides the large number of skippers and flats, there are also a huge number of different Lycaenidae flying around and driving the photographer with poor tracing skills mad.  One would like to think they were all common Caeruleans.  But how can one be sure of that?

Rapala iarbus iarbus (Common Red Flash)

Rapala iarbus iarbus (Common Red Flash)

Having to wait and photograph each frenzily flying tiny butterfly with more or less the same topside colour and same flying pattern will probably ensure that you will still be standing there 3 hours later and past prime butterfly shooting window.

Polyura athamas athamas (Common Nawab)

Polyura athamas athamas (Common Nawab)

We had been hoping to catch a glimpse (and hopefully photograph) the Chestnut Rajah (a very rare and beautiful large butterfly) and the Blue Yam (a very tiny rare butterfly that looks very much like a common Blue where far away).

Pathysa-antiphates-itamputi-(Five-Bar-Swordtail)

Pathysa-antiphates-itamputi-(Five-Bar-Swordtail)

However, we had no such fortune.  But this did make us attempt to investigate every tiny butterfly.  Something we don’t usually bother to do.

Parantica aglea melanoides (Glassy Tiger)

Parantica aglea melanoides (Glassy Tiger)

On this trail, be prepared to cross two streams which will be too deep and stepping stones too far for the average photographer to leap across.  Taller, more athletic photographers can probably leap his way across.  Shorter, less inclined to play basketball photographers will have to wade across the waters while keeping the camera high.  This I did, much to the unhappiness of my already peeling toes.

Parantica aglea melanoides (Glassy Tiger) (2)

Parantica aglea melanoides (Glassy Tiger) (2)

There are opportunities to shoot puddlers at the banks of each of these streams.

Jamides virgulatus nisanca (Dusky Cerulean)

Jamides virgulatus nisanca (Dusky Cerulean)

Be sure to check each tiny butterfly sipping away happily because they may turn out to be something you’ve never seen before.

Everes lacturnus lacturnus (Indian Cupid) - If you're not careful, you might miss the Indian Cupid, a butterfly we don't get to see very often in Singapore

Everes lacturnus lacturnus (Indian Cupid) – If you’re not careful, you might miss the Indian Cupid, a butterfly we don’t get to see very often in Singapore

The above two butterflies look the same from far but are actually very different.

Caleta roxus pothus (Straight Pierrot)

Caleta roxus pothus (Straight Pierrot)

Caleta roxus aberrant

Caleta roxus aberrant – look carefully for the difference

Or they may actually be the same but look different (as with the Caleta roxus above).  Ah! The confusing and amazing world of butterflies!!

Hypolimnas bolina jacintha

Hypolimnas bolina jacintha

Hypolimnas bolina jacintha (Great Eggfly)

Hypolimnas bolina jacintha (Great Eggfly)

If you go past the second stream, there is an immediate path to your left.  If you take this instead of the one leading up the hill, you may come across the Great Eggfly above.  Of all the eggflies I have had the priviledge of sighting and photographing, this would be the largest I have ever seen.

Elymnias hypermnestra tinctoria (Common Palmfly)

Elymnias hypermnestra tinctoria (Common Palmfly)

Elymnias hypermnestra tinctoria (Common Palmfly) topside

Elymnias hypermnestra tinctoria (Common Palmfly) topside

Along this path you will come across a small dam.  Within the dam amazingly, is a great puddling patch for butterflies.

puddling grounds

puddling grounds

It looks shallow from the picture.  But in order to get to the shallow parts, you do need to plunge down knee deep into snake infested waters at the edge (yes we beat away two snakes at least in trying to get into the water).

view from the puddling grounds

view from the puddling grounds

The puddling ground has got some interesting nooks and crannies to investigate and some pretty scenery to boot.

Cigaritis syama terana

Cigaritis syama terana

Charaxes bernadus crepax (Tawny Rajah)

Charaxes bernadus crepax (Tawny Rajah)

Past the dam and the puddling grounds, you will start seeing larger and larger rocks.

Arhopala aedias

Arhopala aedias – There are a good number of these flying around

We encountered a large group of cavers heading to Tiger Cave which is in the vicinity, but after walking along the trail and even passing a hut which looks like a ranger station, we didn’t see the opening to the cave.

hut outside trail around tiger cave

hut outside trail around tiger cave

We encountered the Commodore here and a few other flitting butterflies we didn’t manage to identify or photograph.  If you have more time, this would be a place you would want to spend more time exploring.

Castalius rosimon rosimon (Common Pierrot)

Castalius rosimon rosimon (Common Pierrot)

If you do decide to climb the hill leading along from the path past the second stream, expect to find a whole plantation of rubber trees waiting to welcome you.  Don’t say you’ve not been warned!

up the hill slopes past the second stream

up the hill slopes past the second stream

rubber treees

rubber treees was all I found after the steep climb

Next up: What creature has the legendary nose of Pinocchio, is more colourful than some butterflies and likes to sit on a tree trunk with its nose pointing to the sky?  And what slithery creature comes into your house at night, is as large as the width of your roof beam and says hello in the most animated voice ever?

Comments
  1. cynt5525 says:

    Thank you for liking my blog!!! Visit anytime !!! *Cynthia

  2. Great shooting, Nelson, and quite informative. Delighted I found this site!

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