Posts Tagged ‘butterfly photography’

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 🙂

 

All these years, Madame Butterfly has eluded me, flying perhaps under the similar looking guise of a Colour Sergeant male (cos that’s what she looks like from afar).

The Courtesan

The Courtesan – Euripus nyctelius euploeoides

I went with my partner to look for this particularly elusive butterfly and although she flew by me a few times, I kept thinking she was one of the Sailor butterflies until my partner looked closer and realised she was a Courtesan!mount faber1

Well actually he did much more than that.  He scaled several 60 degree slopes around the site.  No points for guessing which site (hint: Singapore Cable Cars).mount faber 2

And then he slid down an almost 90 degree slope because the Courtesan kept perching out of reach.  He scored himself a tourist photo with one of the tourists at the bottom of the slope looking up in amusement.  Yes this location sees a ton of tourists and yet nobody seems to have noticed one of Singapore’s rarest butterfly!The Courtesan3

Here’s a photo to help you have an idea of exactly how small the butterfly is.The Courtesan2

Yes.  Any man or woman who realises how rare this butterfly is WILL do just about anything to get close to her!