A bounty of butterflies

Rainy season is definitely in full swing here and we have been having torrential rain everyday which is only ever broken up by gaps of murky wet spells. We haven’t able to venture out much and our drive to and from work has looked almost apocalyptic some days.

Drive to work at 7:35am (sunrise its at 6:20am)

Our drive home at 4:30 (sunset 6:30pm)

After a week of heavy rain we were really hoping that the weather would improve by Friday as it was a public holiday. Sadly this didn’t happen and we kicked off the long weekend with two days of relentless rain. Finally on Sunday the weather cleared up a little, and when I woke up the sun was shining, albeit in short intervals through some ominous looking clouds.

We decided that a little sun was better than none at all and we headed out to a national park close by. When we arrived it still looked pretty ominous but as we drove through the forest on the dirt road towards the car park (the start of the hiking trails) the sun began to shine more and more brightly. Once we got out of the car we soon discovered that we weren’t the only things making the most of the sun; hundreds of butterflies were also out enjoying its warmth for what must have been the first time in quite a while. There were a myriad of butterflies around the car park.

There were groups of butterflies taking advantage of some discarded fruit peels near the rangers station

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand butterflies on the bins.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After a while we decided to head away from the car park towards the river that runs away from the largest waterfall in the park. As we walked down towards the river we came across an amazing gathering of butterflies all clustered around a step in one of the seating areas.

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The diversity of butterflies was amazing, and the closer you looked the more species of butterflies you saw; we counted at least 8. They were gathered into distinct groups.

There was the Swallotail (Papilionidae) Group:

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The Swallowtails:

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Great Mormon(Papilio memnon):

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Red Helen (Papilio helenus)

A couple of Common Bluebottles that seemed to keep themselves separated from the groups:

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The Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) Group that huddled closely together, which made it hard to get photos of the individual species.

whites

White2

Plain Puffin (Appias Indra)

Tree Yellow

Tree Yellow (Gandaca Harina)

common grass yellow

Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe)

Chocolate Grass Yellow

Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari)

We also noticed this little skipper next to the swallowtails, if you look closely at the first photo (of all the butterflies together) you can just about see it to the right of the first butterfly

skip2

Branded Straw Ace(Pithauria marsena)

After quite a while and a few hundred photos later we tore ourselves away from our little butterfly haven and decided to explore what else the park had to offer.

We agreed that we’d head through the forest to our favourite waterfall for a change of scenery and maybe even a swim but all of the rain had swelled the river and we couldn’t even make the first river crossing. We decided that we we’re going to make the most of the sun and head back to the car park for a second look. After walking around for a while we decided to head down the road away from the car park towards a puddle we’d driven through on the way in to see if any butterflies were mud-puddling (gathering around a wet area like a puddle to suck up the moisture). When we got to the puddle it looked baron, just a wet brown sandy patch on the otherwise rapidly drying road. As we got closer to the puddle though we began to notice small flashes of metallic blue dancing enchantingly above the mud, it was, the always beautiful, dragon-tail butterflies.

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Green Dragontail (Lamproptera meges)

As we watched the butterfly we noticed some bizarre behavior. It was squirting water out of it’s backside at a rapid rate. I later found out that this is a normal behavior when  butterflies mud puddle. They drink a large quantity of water to extract the trace amounts of minerals like sodium that it holds; and well; the excess water has to go somewhere!

After watching the Dragon-tail for a while, we headed up the road to a new spot. I spotted a flash of white on a tree trunk and I couldn’t believe  what it was; a species I’d never seen before! It had landed so perfectly for a photograph, I couldn’t believe my luck. It was a White Dragon-tail and it was just as beautiful as its blue relatives.

White dragontail

White Dragontail (Lamproptera curius)

We had seen so many butterflies, some i’d never seen before and a lot that I had but needed photos/ better photos of. In total we found 12 species (in that one afternoon) to add to my collection taking my grand total so far to 140 species.

There were too many butterflies to discuss all of them individually so here are some of the other butterflies that we saw.

There were some Skippers:

some Brushfoots:

and a couple of Blues:

It wasn’t all butterflies that day though, one of the coolest things that we experienced was when a group of gibbons began to call out from somewhere in the forest. The call was so loud that after a while another group began to call back from the other side of the valley quite some distance away. I only managed to capture a snippet of their bizarre calls but you can get a sense of how loud…….and weird it was!

Below are some of the other cool creatures we spotted that day:

Some moths:

A couple of lizards:

…..and lastly, these guys:

Another lovely day at Sri Phang-nga National Park. It never fails to amaze me with it’s majesty and hidden gems.

Finally, a very special thank you to my lovely partner,  Carly,  who indulges my passion for the natural world with her incredible patience and support.

 

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