Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

Chiang Mai – 3/8 November 2013

Posted on: February 13th, 2014 by lesday | No Comments

In early November, 5 of us took the long trip up to Chiang Mai Province, spending a couple of days to the East of the City near Doi Mot and then travelling further north to stay in the mountains at Doi Ang Kang (1900m), which was very beautiful.

The mountains at Doi Ang Kang

The mountains at Doi Ang Kang

The first part went well, but we had forgotten that in the mountains, up north, it gets rather cold, 8C (this is what comes when you live in a place where the coldest night time temperature is a freezing 25C! I had not needed socks, long trousers or sweaters for 7 years.) and there were few butterflies at altitude at the time. Accordingly, we spent most of our time at the bottom of the mountain at Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, which was brilliant.

DOI MOT – This area does not reach the altitudes were to find later on, but we did come across some interesting species. The highlight here, for me, was Delias acalas pyramus. The subspecies is only found in the northern part of Thailand.

Delias acalis pyramus

Delias acalis pyramus

The other real find was the very rare skipper, the Nonsuch Palmer (Creteus cyrina cyrina).

Creteus cyrina cyrina

Creteus cyrina cyrina

DOI ANG KANG – This is where we stayed, in the mountains, and, as previously mentioned was poor in butterflies, no doubt owing to the time of year we visited. Nevertheless, there were a couple of new species for me, including the local subspecies of a species I had come across commonly when living in the UK, the Green-Veined White, Pieris napi montana.

Artogeia canidia canidia

Artogeia canidia canidia

Another Pierid we saw was the Indian Cabbage White (Artogeia canidia canidia). The other interesting species for me there was the very aptly named Dull Forrester (Lethe gulnihal peguana).

Lethe gulnihal peguana

Lethe gulnihal peguana

 

CHIANG DAO WILDERNERSS SANCTUARY – This was, by far, the most productive area we visited. Many new species were seen, and it was not the best season. I am travelling there again at the end of February. Just some of the species found can be seen below.

Athyma cama cama

Athyma cama cama

Kallima inachus siamensis

Kallima inachus siamensis

Hestina nama nama

Hestina nama nama

Hestina persimilis persimilis

Hestina persimilis persimilis

Niphanda asialis

Niphanda asialis

Catapaecilma subochrea

Catapaecilma subochrea

Gerosis sinica narada

Gerosis sinica narada

Delias agostina agostina

Delias agostina agostina

Papilio alcmenor alcmenor

Papilio alcmenor alcmenor

Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo – 21/27 July 2013

Posted on: November 16th, 2013 by lesday | No Comments

In July 2013, I made my second visit to Danum Valley, a well known Reserve in the Malaysian Province of Sabah. I had previously visited the place in 2010, and that had been a very successful and enjoyable one, so I was really looking forward to visiting the area again.

As before, our group stayed at the Scientists Research Centre, which is on the opposite side of the reserve to the exclusive tourist hotel. The accomodation is more than satisfactory, and the presence of researchers there, who are always happy to give their expertise, is an added bonus.

Unfortunately, Borneo appears to be suffering from the same butterfly drought as Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia, and numbers seen were less than during my previous visit. However, we did see enough to keep ouselves pleasantly occupied throughout our visit.

Our first butterfly was one that allowed me to correct an omission from my previous trips to Sabah, we came across a reasonably willing model of the nominate form of Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing, Trogonoptera brookiana brookiana. However, even though this species regularly rested, it was always several metres up, so the angle of shot is not a good as I would have hoped.

Trogonoptera brookiana brookiana - Rajah Brooke's Birdwing

Trogonoptera brookiana brookiana – Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing

Flying around the same tree was a new species for me, Atrophaneura nox noctis (Blue Batwing), a female, which is considerbly larger than the male.

Atrophaneura nox noctis - Blue Batwing

Atrophaneura nox noctis – Blue Batwing

There are a large number of forest trails to walk along, and last time they had proved to be a wealth of species. This time, however, they were rather disappointing.

Charaxwes solon echo - Black Rajah

Charaxwes solon echo – Black Rajah

Polyure schreiber malayicus - Blue Nawab

Polyure schreiber malayicus – Blue Nawab

Pandita sinope sinope - The Colonel

Pandita sinope sinope – The Colonel

Arhopala similis - Druce's Oakblue

Arhopala similis – Druce’s Oakblue

With a paucity of butterflies, two of us went searching for Dragonflies, and in this we were not disappointed, finding many species, some of which are still to be described scientifically.

Prodasineura flamella

Prodasineura flamella

Euphaea subcostalis

Euphaea subcostalis

Unlike Maliau Basin, larger animals can be found here, and we were lucky that several wild Orang-Utans were present this time. These are not  rescued individuals released back into the wild, but truly wild ones. Also, pygmy elephants were also in the area, but not in the same numbers as seen previously, they were elsewhere. This is a highly endangered subspecies of the Asian Elephant, which some scientists consider may be a seperate species entirely.

Orang-Utan

Orang-Utan

Pygmy Elephant

Pygmy Elephant

We came across other fauna, and overall, had a great time in a truly beautiful area. I strongly recommend a stay at the Centre, the rooms are comfortable and the food is good, and you do not have to ‘rough it’!

Lantern Bug - Pyrops whiteheadi

Lantern Bug – Pyrops whiteheadi

Huge 'Bird-Eating Spider' - Phoringochilus everetti

Huge ‘Bird-Eating Spider’ – Phoringochilus everetti

 

N-E Sulawesi, Indonesia, 13-19 May 2012

Posted on: June 29th, 2012 by lesday | No Comments

I spent a week with some friends in May in the area around Manado, which is towards the end of the North-Eastern arm of this wierd shaped Island.

Things got off to a bad start when our plane from Singapore to Manado was delayed for 2 1/2 hours. To make matters worse, whilst going through immigration at Manado, I could see my things going round waiting to be collected. When I say my things, I mean my suitcase contents! My suitcase had been ripped in two some time between check-in and arrival. I have still to be recompensed, as I had to buy an emergency ruck-sack to keep everything in. SILK AIR, YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE IS CRAP!!!!!

Now to the better part, we had a seven hour ‘road’ trip to make from the airport to our first location, Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, and we arrived just after midnight. I will never complain about the roads on Samui again! Our accomodation, just outside the park was described as basic, and it was…..very. However, the charming lady of the house proved to be a wonderful cook, and I had glorious local food there.

Our first morning saw us taken to the Park, which, apparently does not get many visitors, the last being at least one month beforehand.  Our arrival gave us our first view of a species which can only be found on Sulawesi (endemic), Papilio gigon gigon . This is part of the demolion group of swallowtails and was quite similar to that found on Samui, but much larger.

Papilio gigon gigon

Our path into the forest involved us taking a very short ferry trip acorss a river. This ferry was made of few bamboo trunks, tied together, with a board on top to kneel down on. Having safely made our way across, we entered the jungle. The path was narrow, and we had to keep to it and follow our park ranger, who really did not know what we were looking for, or how to react when seeing a butterfly, he is more used to leading bird-watching expeditions.

The walk was rather disappointing, in that we did not see as many species as we had expected, but there were still enough new ones, usualy endemic species, for us to photograph.

Lohora opthalmicus

Faunis menado menado

The afternoon was also scheduled to be in the Park, but we asked our guide for the first 1/2 of the trip if he knew of any areas which might have been more profitable for us. After a couple of tries, we finaly arrived at an area, outside the park, that was eminently suitable, with a small stream, open areas and forest all in a small area and we spent a very enjoyable afternoon, and the next morning there. Marcus, our  dragonfly fan, in particular, had a great time there, finding many species, most of which we are still having difficulty in identifying.

 

Charaxes affinis affinis

Polyura cognatus cognatus

A damselfly - Libellago daviesi

An unusual Phasmid - Orthomeris sp. unknown

 

 

The afternoon was to be spent driving to a non-descript city where we were to stay the night before completing our return to Manado, where we were to change guide and drivers. We asked if it would be possible to change the schedule so that we would go all the way to Manado that afternoon and evening, allowing us an extra morning looking for butterflies, suggesting the nearby Kali waterfall. To our guide’s credit, he agreed, and he hastily rearranged our night’s accomodation.

The next morning, after a long-awaited, and much-needed hot shower, we set off to Kali. It is not far from the City, and, looking at the websites is considered a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the local authorities are not maintining this facility, and the walk down to the waterfall is steep and dangerous owing to the slippery path. Owing to this, I decided to stay on a more level area of the path, whilst the others carried on. They confirmed the danger, though admitted that the waterfall is very pretty.

Cyrestis strigata strigata

Tiger Beetle - Wallacedela sp. nr. eximia

On returning to Manado, we changed our drivers and guide for the remaining visits to Tangkoko Nature Reserve and Minahasa Highlands. At this point I must thank both Roy, our guide and Albert, my driver, who both did their utmost to ensure the first part of our trip was as successful as possible.

Tangkoko Nature Reserve is an estuarine forest, next to the world famous Lembeh Strait, known for its exceptional diving possibilites. The reserve is most famous for its Spectral Tarsiers, which are endemic to this part of the Island. They are very strictly protected, but dusk visits to their ‘nests’ are available if accompanied by a ranger. They were sooooooo cute!

Spectral Tarsier

Spectral Tarsier

The reserve and our nearby lodge proved to be excellent hunting grounds for us, with many species seen there which we had not come across before.

Bibasis iluska iluska

Cepora celebensis celebensis

Moduza lymire lymire

Damselfly - Libellago xanthocyana

Lantern Bug (Fulgoridae) - Scamandra tethis

The final part of our trip was to the Minahasa Highlands, which stand at arround 1000km above sea level. We were looking forward to this for two reasons. Firstly, we hoped to see some more montane species, and secondly, the Highlands  are Volcano territory, and one, Mt. Lokon, had erupted only a couple of weeks before our visit, though it does this on average 10 times a year and is not considered one of the more dangerous ones in the region.  It was only about 5km away from the resort where we stayed, but unfortunately, or should it be fortunately, it only spouted small plumes of smoke whilst we were there.

At the resort, the most prominent species visible were 2 Delias species, which I, as a Delias fanatic, was delighted to see. Unfortunately, both species, Delias rosenbergi rosenbergi and D. zebuda, proved to be very difficult to photograph as they never stayed still, only stopping to feed for abour 1 0r 2 seconds, and also they tended to stay up at the tops of the flowering bushes.

Delias zebuda (pair) - the male is on the left

Our guide took us up a mountain where we ,again, saw many species, none of which we had found at lower elevations.

Euthalia amanda

Hestinalis divorna

Sulawesi has proved itself to be a fascinating island, and despite the various inconveniences we suffered, we will definitely be returning, but perhaps trying the southern arm of the Island.

To see all the species I photographed on my trip please visit the ‘Expeditions’ section of the website and click on ‘Sulawesi’.

 

 

 

Khao Sok National Park, Thailand – March 2012

Posted on: April 3rd, 2012 by lesday | No Comments

I have just been lucky to visit Khao Sok Nation Park in Surat Thani Province, S. Thailand, with my good friend Antonio Giudici.

The entrance to the park is at the end of a short road off the main highway between Phanom and Takuapa, about 5Km before the roadside  Mai Yai waterfall, which, incedentally, I do not recommend during the dry season. The short road to the park entrance is lined with small resorts for Park visitors, and it is only a short walk to the entrance itself. Entry fees are 100Baht for foreigners.

Because Khao Sok is directly connected to 2 other Parks, this is a huge area of undisturbed rainforest, and has almost the full compliment of major mammals, including Elephants, Tigers, Tapirs and Sun Bears. In fact, the only large animal missing is the Sumatran Rhino, though with such a large area remaining unexplored, it is still possible that a few may be hiding deep inside the rainforest, I certainly hope so.

The weather was generally good during the day, the morning mist clearing by 10:00 each morning. Clouds started to appear at arround 13:30, with thunder sounding at 14:30. Ususally, it was raining by 15:00 which brought our butterfly hunting to an end. We concentrated on one main path which runs close to the Sok River. The first 3.5KM is an old road, but after that, the path becomes only wide enough for single file walking.

National Park Entrance

 

It appears that we were there at the start of the main butterfly season, there not being a huge amount, numbers wise. However, the species we did come across were interesting in the extreme, including some great rarities. On our first day in the park, we almost immediately came a cross a new species for me, the Yellow Tailed Owl (Neorina crishna archaica), which proved to be a very good model, and stayed on the path for a long time.

Neorina crishna archaica (Yellow Tailed Owl)

We felt this to be a good sign for future discoveries, and, indeed, I saw 19 species completely new to me on this trip, which, since I live in the Province, and have also visited the mainland on several occasions, was a good haul. On our last day there, we came across a Hesperid, which on review, appears that it could be an unknown species. I have been informed that this is The Palin Yellow Lancer (Xanthoneura corissa indrasana)

Xanthoneura corissa indrasana

These were undoubtedly the highlights, but other species worthy of note are shown below:

Ethope diademoides hislopi

Amathusia ochraceofusca ochraceofusca

Drupadia scaeva scaeva

Arhopala anthelus grahami

Halpe aurifera

Zela onara solex (A bad photo of a VERY rare species)

Poritia sumatrae sumatrae

Scobura phiditia

 

 

I thoroughly recommend a visit to this wonderful Park. Most resorts have a number of excursions available to residents, including a trip on the dammed lake, which, I understand, is extremely beautiful, whough we never had time to undertake this one. I can assure you, I will be going back, hopefully, later on this year.