Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

As soon as my spinning wheel of work spat me out sideways, I grabbed my bags and lenses and ran away, by plane to the furthest reaches of the Earth where no mobile phone, marking or email could reach me.HeHuanShan1000

Recently, my love for the butterflies had gone with the hopping Harlequins, hopping and turning up every leaf towards Heaven, perhaps never to be seen again, as the great outdoors turned into yet another building, yet another expressway, yet another carpark for heavy vehicles.  Increasingly, all places seem to feel like yet another cubicle, with work waiting to be done.00-2

Thanks to Da Chang and Ah Quan, our newfound friends in Taiwan, we left the never-ending construction behind and fled to the mountains.

台灣玄灰蝶-(台灣黑燕蝶)-Tongeia-hainani

台灣玄灰蝶-(台灣黑燕蝶)-Tongeia-hainani

Our first destination was Gu Guan, a picturesque mountain with vegetation on either side of the wide mountain road, peppered with little Lycaenidae, with the occasional larger butterfly zooming over our heads down the mountainsides.

密點玄灰蝶-(霧社黑燕蝶)Tongeia-filicaudis-mushanus

密點玄灰蝶-(霧社黑燕蝶)Tongeia-filicaudis-mushanus

I enjoyed the breeze… and the lack of the sound of moving heavy vehicles gone to dig more holes in the ground, no depressing city skylines, and walked down the mountain roads, every corner a possibility for further exploration, whilst our friends posed with Hello Kitties on the ground.hello

The Taiwanese butterfly shooters place heavy bets when they pick up their gear and go on a butterfly photography road trip.  They travel 6 or 7 hours to reach a destination to face the possibility of fog, rain and other weathery impediments.  For us, we only face the possibility of facing a sign that says “Do not enter.  Construction in progress.” and the entire butterfly site cut out it seems with a giant cake knife leaving nothing but the orange mud flour of its insides gaping at the sky.

Tongeia-hainani-2

Tongeia-hainani-2

The better part of the first day was invested in Gu Guan, after which we began our long journey to La La Shan, Hua Lien.

Euploea-tulliolus-koxinga

Euploea-tulliolus-koxinga

Euploea-sylvester-swinhoei-(Double-Branded-Blue-Crow)

Euploea-sylvester-swinhoei-(Double-Branded-Blue-Crow)

Euploea-mulciber-barsine-(Striped-Blue-Crow)

Euploea-mulciber-barsine-(Striped-Blue-Crow)

We were at La La Shan in the hopes of spotting a Lycaenid which looked very similar to the Banded Royal in Singapore, the location of which however, had been replaced by a very important looking expressway.

拉拉山鑽灰蝶-(拉拉山三尾小灰蝶)-Horaga-rarasana-Sonan

拉拉山鑽灰蝶-(拉拉山三尾小灰蝶)-Horaga-rarasana-Sonan

We woke up early, and made the hour long drive to the gate of the Mountain, which opened at 7 sharp.  From 7a.m. we marched up the mountain 4 km to reach near the peak and waited beside a ubiquitous small tree for our winged friends to appear.拉拉山鑽灰蝶-(拉拉山三尾小灰蝶) Horaga rarasana (Formosan Onyx)拉拉山鑽灰蝶-(拉拉山三尾小灰蝶)-Horaga-rarasana-Sonan-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

And they did appear, putting up a fantastic aerial display, which I think would have been just like that at our National Day, which I never saw in my entire lifetime, as I never did own a Hello Kitty or Despicable Me Minion MacDonald’s toy, because queueing for days was required.

青斑蝶 Parantica sita niphonica (Chestnut Tiger)

青斑蝶 Parantica sita niphonica (Chestnut Tiger)

In my diseased, sleep-deprived state, steeped in the cancer of consumerism, I failed to recognise how important that moment was, while munching on a furry peach, watching my husband run around excitedly.  I might never see another Banded Royal again.  And here I was, not the least bit excited about a butterfly some Taiwanese shooters have never laid eyes on.

青斑蝶 Parantica sita niphonica (Chestnut Tiger) (2)

青斑蝶 Parantica sita niphonica (Chestnut Tiger) (2)

I must have left, within me, some small fire, yet to be extinguished, in my frustration and hopelessness, that I put down my peach and suspended myself from thinking about shopping, to pick up my camera and excitedly take a few shots of the pretty butterfly.

雙色帶蛺蝶(臺灣單帶蛺蝶)雄 Athyma cama zoroastres (Orange Staff Sergeant)

雙色帶蛺蝶(臺灣單帶蛺蝶)雄 Athyma cama zoroastres (Orange Staff Sergeant)

Looking back now, I feel like shooting myself.  I could have taken even better shots of the butterfly.  Now I might never get the chance to.  But I’ll always have Orchard Road.  How depressing.  I would throw myself off a mountain but there isn’t one high enough here.

黃斑蛺蝶 Sephisa chandra androdamas (Eastern Courtier)

黃斑蛺蝶 Sephisa chandra androdamas (Eastern Courtier)

To add salt to my injury, and everybody else’s that they don’t have a La La Shan in their backyard, La La Shan is more than rare butterflies as well.  Trees, the shape of bonsais, grow out of the sides of the mountain, like static ballerinas curving for the sky.  On a clear day, La La shan is a picture of how Heaven might have looked like, to a person who’s had nothing but HDB skylines.IMG_3220

A tip for the traveller though, you might want to venture further than just the area with the large trees because the scenery up there is worth it.  Really!  If the skies are clear and you’re early enough, the air up there is sweet enough to make you sing! (Hence the birds singing giddily!)

褐翅青灰蝶-(褐底青小灰蝶)-Tajuria-caeruela_

褐翅青灰蝶-(褐底青小灰蝶)-Tajuria-caeruela_

After La La Shan (I was a little sorry to leave even though my partner didn’t think I was) and a little chat with a yellow cab driver who mentioned rare sunbears in La La Shan, we made a stop at the butterfly garden where you can see a giant purple Nymphalidae statue.

紫俳蛺蝶(紫單帶蛺蝶) Parasarpa-dudu-jinamitra-(White-Commodore)

紫俳蛺蝶(紫單帶蛺蝶) Parasarpa-dudu-jinamitra-(White-Commodore)

It was here that we shot most of our Papilios and some Nymphalidaes.

紅斑脈蛺蝶 (紅星斑蛺蝶) Hestina assimilis formosana (Red Ring Skirt)

紅斑脈蛺蝶 (紅星斑蛺蝶) Hestina assimilis formosana (Red Ring Skirt)

台灣綠蛺蝶-Euthalia-formosana

台灣綠蛺蝶-Euthalia-formosana

台灣綠蛺蝶-Euthalia formosana (Formosan Duke)

台灣綠蛺蝶-Euthalia formosana (Formosan Duke)

After this stop, we travelled to Hui Tou Wan.XX-6

Papiliomemnon heronus (Great Mormon)

Papiliomemnon heronus (Great Mormon)

Hui Tou Wan is something out of a Chinese painting. Although I could not grab any photos of the scenery as Ah Quan weaved around and around the precarious sides sprouted over with small signs that have large rocks falling onto a running stick man (Beware landslides and falling rocks!), it was reminiscent of several movies rolled into one road trip.  The narrow road James Bond was on when he was racing several baddies in Quantum Solace overlooking cliffs falling away into nothing, the passing of Argonath in Lord of the Rings and vaguely Clash of the titans, as we looked with awe at some of the fallen sides of the mountain, the size of which you would thought was only possible with movie special effects.

Papilio nepheluschaonulus (Yellow Helen)

Papilio nepheluschaonulus (Yellow Helen)

Unfortunately, for all its great scenery, we did not have much fortune with the butterflies.  In spite of walking up and down the bends, all I could find were half-beaks and a straggly dog looking sad and wanting a friend.  We were in the path of an approaching Typhoon.

碧翠灰蝶 (江崎綠小灰蝶) Chrysozephyrus esakii (Esaki's Hairstreak)

碧翠灰蝶 (江崎綠小灰蝶) Chrysozephyrus esakii (Esaki’s Hairstreak)

Typhoons were common in Taiwan, sometimes mild, sometimes very destructive.  Butterfly activity was low.  Ah Quan took out his red jacket which he said the butterflies favoured but those butterflies were nought to be seen that day.

紫日灰蝶-(紅邊黃小灰蝶)-Heliophorus-ila-matsumurae-(Restricted-Purple-Sapphire-2

紫日灰蝶-(紅邊黃小灰蝶)-Heliophorus-ila-matsumurae-(Restricted-Purple-Sapphire-2

We left disappointedly for our next location closer to Bi Lui Shen Mu.  There we were enveloped in fog, and had the company of a Taiwanese couple cooking spaghetti on a portable stove, a lone Purple Sapphire butterfly perching on a yellow flower and a blue bug pretending to be part of the furniture.

白鐮紋蛺蝶-(白鉤蛺蝶)Polygonia-c-album-asakurai-(Comma-Butterfly)

白鐮紋蛺蝶-(白鉤蛺蝶)Polygonia-c-album-asakurai-(Comma-Butterfly)

白鐮紋蛺蝶 (白鉤蛺蝶)Polygonia c-album asakurai (Comma Butterfly)

白鐮紋蛺蝶 (白鉤蛺蝶)Polygonia c-album asakurai (Comma Butterfly)

We headed up to Guan Yun, a stone hostel with both rooms and dormitories for mountaineers and hikers alike.  The environment, reminds me of an old monastery, very simple and decorated with Chinese sayings.

琉璃蛺蝶-Kaniska-canace-drilon-

琉璃蛺蝶-Kaniska-canace-drilon-

 

琉璃蛺蝶Kaniska canace drilon (Blue Admiral)

琉璃蛺蝶Kaniska canace drilon (Blue Admiral)

Our next stop was Bi Lui Shen Mu. As this part of our journey was the most exciting, I will leave this for my next post.  Valley of the Kings Part 2 🙂

 

As promised, this is the second and third installment of Kaeng Krachang – combined!

Turns out, I did not have as many blog worthy photos of critters to make an entire post on its own, so everything other than butterflies will go in this post.

As you can see from this very simplistic map attached, all the intersections and trails we visited are along the bird watching trails.map

Here are some environmental photos to show you how popular the place is.

This is a photo taken at the first intersection.first intersection

This is Antonio and Nelson getting acquainted with the butterflies at the second intersection.puddling photographers

The second intersection sees the most visitors.  Look at the numbers of parked cars:plenty popular

These is one of the puddling butterfly groups we encountered at the third intersection.third intersection

I would say the second intersection is very popular.  It was also at the intersection that our own butterfly celebrity Les Day (and the rest of us less popular butterfly enthusiasts) bumped into a shirtless Dr Ian Redmond (below, right), whom I had mistaken for yet another Caucasian male who had decided to take on the Thai forest and its biting inhabitants without a shirt after visiting the beach.   As it turned out (Les explained), Dr Ian Redmond is a conservationist who has been in the field for 30 years, is a champion for gorillas and needs no introduction.  He has a wikipage here.  You can stalk his page on Facebook here.ian redmond

Unfortunately, out of the group, only Les managed to recognise him.  The rest of us spend too much time listening to David Attenborough’s soothing voice on DVD, reading C&P4 and had no access to BBC.  However, judging from Les’ reaction, we decided in our herd mentality that he must be famous and proceeded to take group photos with him like fanboys and girls. enjoying a nice chat

Dr Ian Redmond was travelling with a group who for all you know, might have done conservation work and were just as knowledgeable.  However, since Les didn’t recognise the others, we decided that we didn’t know better either and continued pursuing the relentless butterflies.  We lodged at Samarn Bird Camp while we were shooting at Kaeng Krachan.  Click here for more information.

Forgive the childish photo-combo design.  It looked good on my phone and seemed like a good idea at the time

Forgive the childish photo-combo design. It looked good on my phone and seemed like a good idea at the time

Samarn birdcamp has hot showers, acceptable food and airconditioning.  If you didn’t go anywhere you wouldn’t think you were here to rough it out in the Thai National Park.  Our hosts were really friendly and accommodating and their dogs were super friendly and ‘adopted’ us with so much as a pat on the head.

Hoffe, the dog with only three paws, zonking out near the kitchen

Hoffe, the dog with only three paws, zonking out near the kitchen

Samarn Bird Camp is very popular with birders (of course) and they make trips out daily early in the morning.

On to the non-butterfly critters… the below is one of the creatures on LC’s and Nelson’s agenda:

Lantern Bug

Lantern Bug

This Lantern Bug was spotted on the same tree where I found my Blue Begum discreetly perched just behind.  The bug maintained a good height throughout the day (the time that we were there) which we thought was odd because some of the ones we had encountered tended to come down lower during the early morning hours.  We tried several means to photograph this Lantern Bug, including piling up dead logs to climb up on and once, even sitting on Nelson’s shoulders just to get closer to the critter.jumpin spidey2

jumpin spideyWe also encountered a very shiny tiny jumping spider (Salticidae).pompom2

We also came across this very slow moving colourful bug with what looked like Chinese pom-poms on its feelers.  Like the horned beetle, this bug took a long time to get ready to take off, gradually opening its wings intermittently and psyching itself to fly away.  And when it did, it mustered nothing more than a metre’s distance!pompom

The most intriguing creature we encountered was this clear winged moth.  The moth came by on two occasions at the second intersection.  It had a habit of perching its front legs on an object and while hovering, wave its hairy back legs rhythmically like it was riding an invisible bicycle.strange moth

We had the good fortune of managing to photograph some interaction between butterfly and some of these interesting characters:Face-off

Unfortunately when butterflies are in such numbers, most of such encounters are of the macabre type:macabre

I did see several skinks make off with some of the smaller butterflies.  Ants did the same and some bees were not spared either (as above).Elbow Conference

Tiny butterflies especially were easy pickings but they were in such huge numbers too.cookies

Kaeng Krachan is one of the places you have to visit if you’re a butterfly enthusiast! 🙂  So what are you waiting for?butterflyfields4 (2)

Nestled just after the gate leading into the Nanyang Technological University, is a little herb garden tended to by Mr Ng and a few helpers.  Previously overlooked, the site was suggested by Gandalf after he spotted and photographed several Green Barons flying around the small garden patch.community herb garden

community herb garden2

Some of these small paths lead to huge clusterings of butterflies feeding on ripe fruit and flowers

Normally, I would not write much about the locations I visit in Singapore.  Usually, because these locations are already well documented within the community and other times, it’s because they usually need no introduction.  However, on this special occasion, after visiting the herb garden, I was touched by Mr Ng’s dreams of hoping to set up a butterfly garden one day and hopes of more people coming by to share with him ideas of how to do so.

Euthalia adonia pinwilli female

Euthalia adonia pinwilli female

What was remarkable about this site was that there was a lot of activity centred in a very small patch of garden.  The garden is little more than the size of a few carparks with many butterflies hanging around at the strangest nooks and crannies.  The garden typically sees more activities during Buddhist festivals where many Buddhists gather at the garden for the observance of rites.

Euthalia adonia pinwilli - female Green Baron

Euthalia adonia pinwilli – female Green Baron

Mr Ng is always very hospitable and ready to offer a stranger a drink.

Euthalia adonia pinwilli - male

Euthalia adonia pinwilli – male

While we were there, he pointed to us leaves which when boiled can help to get rid of coughs, and some fruits which can be eaten raw to help with backache.

Euthalia adonia pinwilli - male Green Baron

Euthalia adonia pinwilli – male Green Baron

I was amazed by the number of Green Barons at the site.  There were several males and several females, more than the number I’d seen altogether in the past five years.  We attempted to locate the hostplant but didn’t manage to find it.

butterfly cluster

butterfly cluster

butterfly cluster

butterfly cluster

On top of that, there were also other not so commonly found species such as the Dark Veined Tiger and the Malay Staff Sergeant below:

Athyma reta moorei - Malay Staff Sergeant

Athyma reta moorei – Malay Staff Sergeant

Danaus melanippus hegesippus - Dark Veined Tiger

Danaus melanippus hegesippus – Dark Veined Tiger

Besides these. there were the more common species such as the Leopard:

Phalantha phalantha phalantha - leopard

Phalantha phalantha phalantha – leopard

We also have the good fortune of seeing a Painted Jezebel lay eggs on a parasitic plant:

Delias hyparete metarete - Painted Jezebel laying eggs

Delias hyparete metarete – Painted Jezebel laying eggs

Delias hyparete metarete - Painted Jezebel eggs

Delias hyparete metarete – Painted Jezebel eggs

There were also a good number of bees and wasps available.  I’ve included a photo of some of them and the fruit that is said to cure backache:

cure for backache

cure for backache

these three have backaches

these three have backaches perhaps

To top off even all of that, is a photograph of the not so commonly encountered (at least not for me) golden immature male of the Camacinia gigantea dragonfly, one of Singapore’s larger dragonflies:unid dragonfly

If you want to visit, here’s a location map:

location of community herb garden

location of community herb garden

I hope you get to visit soon. 🙂

 

Lethe chandica ratnacri – This butterfly shows its true colours under the flash.  Reminiscent of the Singaporean Bamboo Tree Brown, this butterfly flies close to the ground but however, does not fly straight into the thick foliage.  It hops short distances away, hoping that you’d eventually lose interest.

Now onto the second Taiwan chapter of Taiwanese butterflies.  On the last few days of the butterfly hunting adventure, we decided to try out Da Keng Camping Grounds.  We were initially told by our driver that it would not be a good idea as he didn’t remember any butterflies hanging around there.  Perhaps he hadn’t been to the camping grounds.  But it was a great gamble.  There were so many butterflies we couldn’t finish photographing every single one of them.

Da Keng Camping Grounds (大坑露營場)

Horaga-onyx-moltrechti

Da Keng is not a small area.  There are many treks to explore (whee!) and there are several camping grounds in the area.  One of these has a butterfly enclosure but it was locked and didn’t allow us access when we visited.  Around and behind this enclosure was a pretty plot of garden where it seems just about every Papilio species in Taiwan was hanging out.  You can spend the entire morning in this area and not get bored.

Papilio thaiwana

Papilio memnon heronus – These butterflies were trying to get it on.

Papilio dialis tatsuta

Papilio dialis tatsuta – upperside

Papilio bianor kotoensis -upperside… just a glimpse of that ethereal green.

Papilio bianor kotoensis

To add to the excitement of seeing these butterflies, you also had the screams and cheers of the Taiwanese youth coming from the camping ground to egg you on! Don’t give up!  And keep dancing!

Burara jaina formosana – This awl made it very difficult for anyone to photograph. Not that it was skittish. It couldn’t the least bit be bothered with us, having to make sure every single purple and white flower had been sat on in turn with its hairy legs and rightly probed with its long proboscis. It didn’t rest more than a few seconds on each flower!

Neptis hylas lulculenta

Heliophorus ila matsumurae

Cupha erymanthis

Celatoxia marginata

Graphium agamemnon

Of notable mention was this pair of mating Delias butterflies.  It’s on one of these rare occasions that one actually gets to see a somewhat stationery open-winged Delias.

Delias pasithoe curasena

Delias pasithoe curasena – the male open winged in flight

Delias pasithoe curasena – all by itself in its typical close winged pose

Also of notable mention were this pair of very territorial butterflies.  I’d seen this butterfly vehemently chase down a falling leaf… to ensure that it would indeed make its way down to the ground and not fight with it for its lofty perch.  Other butterflies, regardless of size, would also be chased down or away.  No, there are no exceptions for anyone.

Dravira chrysolora – your typical “I’m looking down at you” territorial pose

Dravira chrysolora – a different sex (I think this is the male). This was marking the entire tree as its territory. Mine. All mine.

Dravira chrysolora – an upperside view. How intimidating.

And then we hit the grand prize by shooting this special butterfly we’d been searching for a year now…

Polyura narcaea meghaduta – I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Unfortunately as with most great encounters, the butterfly did not stay long… or return… no matter how long we waited.

It was a perfect way to end the day at Da Keng….with one more flat thrown in:

Aimio tethys niitakana

Butterfly Waterfall (彩蝶瀑布)

I should say that this was the hardest trek of all the sites.  In order to access this site, one had to climb up steep slopes with the aid of a rope, scale jaggedy rocks and teeter on flat slippery stones to traipse to and fro the stream which was not shallow either.

I can’t seem to get an identification for this pretty little thing. I’ve searched in butterfly books from Taiwan and on online photo id lists. So if anyone comes across this photo and knows what butterfly this is, please tell me!

The weather was not very cooperative that morning when we were at this site.  I knew it cos I didn’t feel the hot sun and cold air blistering my lips and face (somehow these are perfect conditions for the butterflies.  Any less heat and you can sit down and read a book).  Instead it was just nice and cool, just like it would be before a good rain.  Thankfully though, it didn’t rain.  The sun came out after we’d been clambering about the rocks for close to 2 hours and we didn’t see many butterflies.  I was just about to give up, sit down on a rock and call it a hard day when the sun poked out of the clouds and sent many butterflies our way.

Deudorix epijarbas menesicles

Zizeeria karsandra

Timelaea albescens formosana – This skittish little fellow is not uncommon in Taiwan. You can find it on hills, in the grass brushes… but it just wouldn’t stop for you… that is… until it feeds on dead matter!

We found a snake that had expired on the rocks.  And on it, the very skittish butterfly we did not have much opportunity to photograph earlier on during the trip.  To our surprise, the greedy little butterfly didn’t move when we danced around it or shuffled our knees in the rocks right next to it.  It was concentrating SO HARD on probing the dead snake.

Timelaea albescens formosana – This butterfly has a beautiful upperside

Neptis soma tayalina

Neptis soma tayalina – upperside

Symbrenthia lilaea formosanus – this jester looking butterfly was also equally skittish. And just as greedy. When settled to puddle, nothing much can distract him!

Euthalia formosana

Euthalia formosana – another individual with much lighter or more obvious white spots on the forewing

Athyma selenophora laela – Another butterfly that’s into dead snake meat.

Heliophorus ila matsumurae – open winged Purple Sapphire

Heliophorus ila matsumurae

Cepora nandina eunama – There were schools of this butterfly fluttering around when the sun came out

One of the most beautiful butterflies we encountered in Butterfly Waterfall is the male and female of this pair:

Sephisa chandra androdamas – female

Sephisa chandra androdamas

Sephisa chandra androdamas-Male

Sephisa chandra androdamas-Male

This trip to Taiwan has been unforgettable.  We were happy we had more than enough shooting days to make two posts instead of just one.  And Taiwan, being Taiwan, probably a lifetime may not be enough to write about the wonderful things it has to offer.  If you like what you see, get a plane ticket to Taiwan and experience the wonderful country for yourself! 🙂

Finally, after some very irrelevant posts about overrated kitty cafes and some unforgettable Taiwanese food (just finished dinner… thinking about smelly tofu makes me hungry again), it’s time to come back to the main subject: Taiwanese butterflies.

We were not expecting to photograph many butterflies.  The best time to visit Taiwan to photograph butterflies is in Summer (June, July) where the weather is warm and balmy.  Nonetheless, we got ourselves a bigger haul than expected.  Grab your pillows this is going to be a long post.

To help myself and to make this post more informative for photographers heading to Taiwan, I will be organising my butterflies according to location.  Here we go…

Sun Moon Lake (Ri Yue Tan/日月滩)

When we arrived in Taiwan, it was raining heavily and we were not expecting to see any butterflies since we were leaving Sun Moon Lake early the next morning.  For this trip, we stayed at Itta Thao Pier.  Along the pier, there is a trail which leads past some small shops and some inns, along which you can find flower gardens and small weeds along the roads.  The sun came out the next day and we managed to photograph these few butterflies during the short window before being shuttled off to our next location.

Badamia exclamationis

Papilio helenus fortunius

Papilio helenus fortunius

Peacock Garden (孔雀园)

Our next location is Peacock Garden.  This is someway along the way to Pu Li.  Peacock Garden is really… a nice where they keep several peacocks behind some short stone fences and the peacocks strut around nonchalantly.  Round and about this garden are thick foliage on the paths leading to enclosures where … I supposed… young peacocks are kept (anyway, there are some peacocks wandering inside the enclosures draped with dark cloth.  Amongst the thick foliage are a good number of butterflies, mostly small Lycaenids, lots of skippers, some crows and one precious Delias.

Delias pasithoe curasena – We found this butterfly fluttering restlessly over the road next to the carpark.

Euploea mulciber barsine – This crow refused to grace us with its presence on a lower branch

Nacaduba berenice leei – This butterfly has a bright blue upperside and is a fast flier

I couldn’t ID this butterfly. It wouldn’t give me a shot of its rich chocolate underside.

Hasora-chromus

Telicota ohara formosana

Caltoris cahira austeni

Small Town Community Around Peacock Garden

There is a little park that stretches around a community area within a small neighbourhood close to the Peacock Garden which has several small farms.  Here I was charged by a shaggy dog as I had unwittingly (could I say unwittingly…. it did occur to me after that that I had trespassed onto private property) crawled over a farmer’s stone fence barrier in an attempt to photograph a large tiger butterfly.  I hadn’t noticed the dog was there.  But after it gave me a few warning barks, I was stuck in a dilemma of whether to let the butterfly go its merry way and back off or attempt to risk confronting Shaggy.  After a small cautious step, Shaggy charged forward growling and barking, something which I had not anticipated, having never really been charged at by a large fluffy dog.  I was stunned and I suppose, halted in my tracks to welcome Shaggy’s I-thought-I-told-you-to-GO-AWAY bite.  When the farmer returned just in time in his car and told the dog to back off!  I apologised for my intrusion and explained that I wanted to photograph the butterfly in his… front porch.  He said: “Go ahead! Don’t worry about the dog! He won’t bite!”

Tirumala limniace limniace – not an uncommon butterfly. There were many individuals around but at the point of confronting Fluffy this still had not occurred to me.

Shaggy, at being severely denigrated in front of an outsider from charging fearsome guard dog to a fluffy one with no bite, slunk away unhappily into the shadows of the large house, watching me with disdain as I crawled closer to my subject.  Minutes later, he emerged from the house with a small toddler clutching onto his fur, further reinforcing his image as the Cuddly One.

Tirumala limniace limniace – This individual was dying, which was why it was staying so still. The one in Fluffy’s front porch would not stay within 3 metres of my presence.

Danaus genutia – Another common butterfly in Taiwan. They can be found in the waysides and amongst grasses and weeds

Danaus chrysippus – Another common butterfly flying in close company to the butterfly above.

Catochrysops panormus exiguus – This small fast flying individual was hanging around outside Fluffy’s front porch. Not sure if it’s very common. Did not encounter it again (but did not investigate every similar sized Lycaenid that came our way)

Neng Gao Bridge (能高桥) and Neng Gao Waterfall (能高瀑布) (Literal Translation: Can Be Tall Bridge and Can Be Tall Waterfall)

Our next destination is a location we had also visited the last round.  However, I don’t remember encountering the seemingly mosquito like flock of small Lycaenids that flocked the area in droves.

Papilio hermosanus

Celatoxia marginata – one of the Lycaenids flocking the area

Junonia iphita – this territorial butterfly attempted to chase me away by swooping down on my head repeatedly. Go away… or I’ll… I’ll mess up your hair! – cried the butterfly.

Ixias pyrene insignis – This pretty butterfly is common in Taiwan and can be found in almost all of the sites we visited.

Athyma cama zoroastes – This butterfly flies in similar fashion to the Singaporean Commander butterfly. Fast in flight and extremely skittish, it takes a long while to approach the butterfly. It is, however, not so alert when feeding on … dog shit.

Nan Shan Xi Pu Bu (南山溪瀑布) (Literal Translation: South Hill Stream Waterfall)

At Nan Shan Xi, we visited two sections of the area… one upstream and one further downstream.  Photographing the butterflies here was difficult.  We had to climb down steep rocks and the butterflies, as with most of the butterflies in Taiwan, were extremely hard to approach.  They did not seem to tolerate the presence of photographers well and tended to fly away even at 3 metres distance away from the butterfly.  I don’t know whether this is attributed to the fact that there is considerable hunting of butterflies that they don’t take well to human presence or whether it’s due to the fact that there was a blistering sun going on that day and the butterflies were on an energy high.

Delias hyparete luzonensis – we encountered this other beautiful Delias very very early in the morning beside my roadside flowers

Discophora sondaica tulliana – This cleverly camouflaged butterfly was sitting quietly hoping that we wouldn’t notice it.

Junonia lemonias aenaria – The Lemon Pansy is common.

Zizeeria karsandra

Papilio memnon heronis

Papilio nephelus chaonulus

Papilio nephelus chaonulus

Neptis taiwana

Tirula septentrionis – the only cooperative butterfly in the entire Nan Shan Xi Waterfall area.

This is getting to be too big a post.  Next up in my next post: Cai Die Pu Bu (Butterfly Waterfall) and Da Keng Butterfly Garden.

A beautiful Dark Posy perching under a dark thunderous sky

During these days bereft of the Singapore Dream, many great things came flooding in to fill the large void.  Unpatterned dreams, untidy happiness, a kind of grimy vindication and purposeful days took the place of sleepless nights and tremulous fear.  These days I’ve been learning to stand up and say no.  Louder.  Angrier.  Unpolitically correct.  Un-nice.

Every dawn is a break of a smile, a hop in my step.  Today and just today, I’ll live for myself and for my petty little big dreams.  The work of my hands once meaningless, now are doubtless and unquestionably delightful.  All the nights spent bleary eyed are worth it.  All the days spent shuffling busily about are joyful industry, a return in itself.

I had the great fortune of coming across an Orange Tailed Awl (Bibasis sena uniformis) in Singapore after having never sighted or photographed it here before during any of my hikes.  The Awl had been muddying itself in the very kind of habitat Awls are famous for frequenting… a dank putrid toilet.  And so there we were lying belly down on the toilet floor trying to get a good shot of it.  After having had enough of all that… stuff …coming out of the toilet, the Awl was full and sleepy enough to be grimy-finger held.

Orange Tailed Awl (Bibasis sena uniformis)

Funnily enough, this rare treasure of a butterfly was flitting around smelly bodies coming in out of the rain and landing on dirty footprints.  In flight, to the inexperienced eye, it was moth-like.  And to many a passers-by, when they curiously asked what we were soiling our clothes for, this was probably as far from a pretty butterfly as they could have imagined.

Another not so commonly photographed although occasionally commonly encountered is the Yellow Flash (Rapala domitia domitia).  Congregating in clusters of several individuals, the lambourghini of the butterfly kingdom makes its getaway almost unlike any other, by zipping away upwards into the trees, almost never offering a second chance at a better shot.

Rapala domitia domitia (Yellow Flash)

However, it seems that when you do chance upon a cluster then you would get to enjoy their company for a short while, before they seem to disappear for a long spell, during which many visits thereafter reveal no reason for this strange phenomenon except to assume that they seem to be seasonal in a country with only one season.  This would be only the second encounter of a cluster in 5 years.