It has taken me a while to sit down and write about our recent trip to Kaeng Krachang.  Firstly there were way too many photos and too much to write about.  Secondly, I hardly knew most of the species that I had photographed as I’m not familiar with Thai butterflies.  It is with the kind help of Dr Seow and the kind community at Butterflycircle that many of the butterflies could be indentified.

One more Space

One more Space

This trip was only possible with the great companionship of Antonio Giudici and Les Day, two butterfly enthusiasts who have currently made Thailand their home.

Butterfly fields

Butterfly fields

Due to the photograph intensive nature of this trip, I will be breaking the write up into 3 parts: the butterflies, location and other interesting critters.

Papilio protenor Cramer (Spangle)

Papilio protenor Cramer (Spangle)

Papilio protenor Cramer (Spangle) underside

Papilio protenor Cramer (Spangle) underside

First off, I have to say through my 7 years on the pursuit of butterflies, I have never seen so many butterflies.  They amassed in such huge numbers that they literally covered an entire bank with their fluttering wingtips.

Papilio polytes romulus

Papilio polytes romulus

Papilio polytes romulus f cyrus

Papilio polytes romulus f cyrus

They were so secure in their numbers that if you were slow and gentle enough, you could gently sweep your hand across their wing tips and they would not move.

Papilio paris paris (Paris Peacock)

Papilio paris paris (Paris Peacock)

Papilio nephalus chaon (Black and White Helen)

Papilio nephalus chaon (Black and White Helen)

This location is by no means the butterfly world’s biggest secret.  Lots of people come by these spots on a regular basis.

Papilio nephalus chaon (Black and White Helen)

Papilio nephalus chaon (Black and White Helen)

Birders, entomologists, geologists and even conservationists frequent these roads.

Papilio memnon agenor f distantianus

Papilio memnon agenor f distantianus

And these are literally roads.  Not a secret enclave deep within the forests, or a quiet spot eyed by the sun amongst tall trees.

Atrophaneura adamsoni

Atrophaneura adamsoni

The butterflies gather at the sides of the mud roads which cross several sections of streams through which cars trundle over everyday.

Vindola erota erota

Vindola erota erota

Terinos clarissa falcata

Terinos clarissa falcata

It really is the most unglamorous spot you can imagine.

Pereronia anais anais

Pereronia anais anais

Paratica melaneus

Paratica melaneus

There are three stream-road intersections on the trails of Kraeng Krachang which we visited that have these huge masses of butterflies, the first, second and third intersection.

Parantica agleoides agleoides

Parantica agleoides agleoides

Papilio castor mehala (Burmese Raven)

Papilio castor mehala (Burmese Raven)

The first intersection is where many of these butterflies below will perch on the leaves open-winged in the morning sun.  By noon, they will be puddling in their masses on the ground.

Graphium aristeus (Striped Swordtail)

Graphium aristeus (Striped Swordtail)

Graphium aristeus (Striped Swordtail)1Graphium aristeus (Striped Swordtail)At this intersection, there are clear paths or trails leading from this intersection into the forest.

Bindahara phocides

Bindahara phocides

It is on one of these trails (the trail leading uphill next to the intersection) that we encountered a very small Plane.  Nearly half the size of the Singapore species, we were stunned to find such a small version of the Plane.butterflyfields4

Along the way to the second intersection, which is less than a few hundred metres away from the first intersection, I saw many large butterflies fluttering around the roadside flowers.

Prothoe franck uniformis

Prothoe franck uniformis

The second stream-road intersection is by far the most exciting.  It is on the trail leading from the intersection on the right hand side (if you’re coming from the first intersection) that I encountered my second Blue Begum perched facing downwards behind a tree.

Polyura eudamippus

Polyura eudamippus

Polyura eudamippus (3)

This Great Nawab was so drunk it had fallen face forward into the mud.

I had been looking for Lantern Bugs and was surprised to see this well camouflaged individual quietly sitting behind a large tree.  The second stream also gave me my first puddling Great Nawab.  Everybody was so excited to be graced by the presence of this especially rare butterfly, that we got to see Les running at top speed when we called out “Great Nawab!!!”LC

The Great Nawab was such a celebrity butterfly that everybody took turns to have their photos taken with it.  Like most of the Polyura butterflies, once they are hooked on whatever they are drinking, these butterflies turn from flitty frightened swift flying rarities into drunken friendly blokes.nelson n nawab

Indeed, I was so happy to see it I was beside myself.

Libythea narina rohini

Libythea narina rohini

Euthalia recta (Red Spot Marquis)

Euthalia recta (Red Spot Marquis)

The second intersection also saw three different kinds of half-beak butterflies as well as my greatest number of first-time butterflies such as the Red Spot Marquis and the Black Veined Sergeant.

Discophora sondaica zal

Discophora sondaica zal

Athyma ranga obsolescens (Black Veined Sergeant) 3

Athyma ranga obsolescens (Black Veined Sergeant) 3

Athyma ranga obsolescens (Black Veined Sergeant)

Athyma ranga obsolescens (Black Veined Sergeant)

Besides the usual pretty butterflies, the second intersection also had a great number of interesting members of the Hesperidae.

Seseria strigata

Seseria strigata

Odontoptilum angulatum angulatum

Odontoptilum angulatum angulatum

Ctenoptilum vasava vasava (Tawny Angle)

Ctenoptilum vasava vasava (Tawny Angle)

Thoressa masoni

Thoressa masoni

It also had a good number of different crows which I did not get all the photographs of.

Euploea modesta (Plain Blue Crow)

Euploea modesta (Plain Blue Crow)

The third intersection did not have as huge masses of butterflies but the butterflies that did visit are no less interesting.

Kalima limborgi

Kalima limborgi

The leaf butterfly is well liked in butterfly enclosures and parks but this is the first Leaf Butterfly that I have encountered in the wild and managed to photograph.

Kalima limborgi

Kalima limborgi

The butterfly’s likeness to the dead leaves on the ground is astounding.

Neorina crishna

Neorina crishna

Neorina chrishnaIt is also here that we encountered the beautiful Neorina crishna.  This beautiful large butterfly is really difficult to spot amongst the bamboo and palm vegetation, a distinct feature of the third intersection.

Charaxes bernadus crepax (Common Tawny Rajah)

Charaxes bernadus crepax (Common Tawny Rajah)

Charaxes bernadus crepax (Common Tawny Rajah) (2)

Charaxes bernadus crepax (Common Tawny Rajah) (2)

We also encountered two very different looking specimens of the Common Tawny Rajah above.

Other notable mentions are:

Jacoona anasuja

Jacoona anasuja

The Great Imperial which was encountered on the bush on the left side of the second intersection.

Neptis miah nolana

Neptis miah nolana

This little lascar, the only lascar I shot the entire trip, feeding on what looked like bird waste on a rock at the first intersection.

Graphium antiphates

Graphium antiphates

This Five Bar Swordtail puddling at the first intersection.

bouncing off the wallsNext up… the deeper darker denizens of Kaeng Krachang 🙂

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Comments
  1. Lauri says:

    Absolutely incredible! The most wonderful feeling in the world is spotting a new species for the first time. I do birding when I can. I want to do cartwheels and backflips when I see something new. The Great Nawab is stunning.

    • Wow you’re into birding? It’s a really expensive hobby!! Thank you for the kind comments. After shooting the Great Nawab, I spent about half a day waiting for that fact to sink in. It was really that hard to imagine that I’ve finally come face to face with it! 😀

  2. cynt5525 says:

    These are beautiful !!! *Cynthia

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