Friday, November 30, 2012

November - Summary of trips in and around Bangalore!

The first trip was to Lalbagh on 4th November. Nitin R and I added the 51st species to Lalbagh's list of Winged Jewels. The 50th one was a Commander (Moduza procris)!

The second weekend, 11/11/2012 was to J.P Nagar Reserve Forest. Time spent was about 3 hours. Here are the highlights of the trip!
Dark Brand Bushbrown (Mycalesis mineus). (Resident populations of both mineus and perseus are found in JP Nagar.)

Pointed Ciliate Blue (Ionolyce helicon) which was an addition to the species list of J.P Nagar RF:

The butterfly of the day, Karwar Swift (Caltoris canaraica) which was a new addition to the species list of Bangalore itself! 

Indian Skipper (Spialia galba):

Slate Flash (Rapala manea) an addition to JP Nagar RF's species list!

On 12/11/12, a 2 hour walk in Lalbagh.
Common Albatross (Appias albina), spotted for the third time over the past few months. Lalbagh definitely has a resident population. This one here is a male.

The upper side, intermediate seasonal form of a Plains Cupid (Chilades pandava):

Bevan's swift (Pseudoborbo bevani) feeding on bird droppings:

On 18/11/12, the Bangalore Butterfly Club made a trip to Valley School, spent about 4 hours. This place disappoints no one! Thanks to Kalesh S, we identified three varieties of swifts - Rice Swift, Straight Swift (which appeared to be very common there) and Bevan's Swift.
Angled Castor (Ariadne ariadne):

Forget-me-not (Catochrysops strabo):

Plumbeous Silverline (Spindasis schistacea):

Common Wanderer (Pareronia valeria):

A very special and unexpected sighting of a Common Guava Blue (Virachola isocrates) at Cunningham Road on 22/11/12! Photograph by Nitin R!

On 25/11/2012, a visit to J.P Nagar Reserve forest, time spent - 3 hours.
Made a stunning image of this Crimson Rose (Artrophaneura hector) which is now the wallpaper on my PC! What a fresh beauty!

We also saw a Double Branded Crow (Euploea core) female. Being a migratory species, it was quite unexpected at this time of the year.

A very strangely shaped individual of a Slate Flash (Rapala manea).

Small Branded Swift (Pelopidas mathias), the underside:

 Small Branded Swift (Pelopidas mathias), the upperside:

As an added bonus, we found caterpillars of Common Rose (Atrophaneura aristolochiae) and Crimson Rose (Atrophaneura hector) on Aristolochia.

Bangalore may be a busy city, but nevertheless, the butterflies thrive. So, a very special "happy butterflying!" shout-out to all the Bangaloreans reading this post!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ciao for now, dear Western Ghats!

The next day, at Dharmastala, I found the Madras Ace (Thoressa honorei), which is quite rare! And a Common Small Flat (Sarangesa dasahara)

Monkey Puzzle (Rathinda amor)

Common Banded Demon (Notocrypta paralysos):

I also came across a Colour Sergeant female, which was quite a sight to see! But luckily, my battery ran out and I had to return to Dharmastala main road, otherwise I'd have to miss my bus back to Bangalore.

As I stared out of the window of my bus to Bangalore, the marvellous landscapes gave me goosebumps. I looked at the dense patches, the thick and impenetrable parts of the woods. The sight of the unexplored evergreen forests enthralled me. A place without a single shoeprint! A place without a single trace of human existence! Not explored, not seen, not heard. Mysteriously beautiful, pure, and undisturbed in every sense of the word. A kingdom where nature reigns supreme. A world, an alternate realm which runs completely on its own, which does not need to be discovered.

As humans, we want to know what the universe is made of. We send satellites, spaceships and what not into heaven. But this land, this little heaven, the western ghats - there might be a million unnamed species out here. There might be more to discover right here than what we might find in outer space. But this world does not need to be hampered, those unknown creatures don't have to be labelled and collected by taxonomists, and everything doesn't have to be conquered. This world needs to remain mysterious, it needs to live. It needs to be respected. I may not have seen even a fraction of this mysterious world, but there is beauty beyond what we can see. I admire the unseen beauty. I don't believe in god, I believe in the Western Ghats!

"Lifers day" at Belvai and Someshwara!

I shall not put up a list, add some images and call this a trip report, because this was more than any ordinary trip I have had so far! Will elaborate on it, even though a few may appreciate brief and scientific writeups over lengthy and literature-like ones.

"Its raining here..." said Nitin's text the day before I started to Belvai. I was worried that this trip may not be productive due to the weather, and tried to calm myself down every time I was reminded of how badly I have been wanting to see the Malabar Banded Peacock (Papilio buddha). This butterfly has been on top of my wish list for about three years now.

I reached Belvai at about 5 in the morning. It was too early for butterflies. But as there was a great gathering of butterfly enthusiasts (Milind Bhakare, Ashok Sengupta, Sammilan Shetty, Prashanth Bhat, Nitin Achari and myself) we kept talking and discussing about butterflies till the sun came up.
At Sammilan's farm by around 8am, I came across a bunch of Glassy Tigers (Parantica aglea), Common Crows (Euploea core) at first.

Two Glassy Tigers and a Common Crow

Then, Medus Brown (Orsotrioena medus), Grey Pansy (Junonia atlites), Red Pierrot (Talicada nyseus) and Tamil Grass Dart (Taractrocera ceramas) joined the list.

Peacock Pansy, Junonia almana:

Common Lascar (Pantoporia hordonia):

Grey Count (Tanaecia lepidea):

Afterwhich, we were stunned to see the Southern Birdwing (Triodes minos) nectaring on the Ixora flowers. He was a sight to see! The graceful flight, the large yellow hindwings marked with black veins, and the sheer size of this beauty. It was captivating! A large number of butterflies love to nectar on this flower, because it contains many small flowers in one single bunch, and the butterflies find it easy to shift from one flower to another. This way, they have a big meal at once.

It was joined by both mimic forms of Common Mime (Chilasa clytia), the form dissimilis which looks like the Blue Tiger and the form clytia which looks like the Common Crow. I was fortunate enough to get an image of the dissimilis:

10:30am was supposed to be the ideal time to sight a Malabar Banded Peacock at Sammilan's butterfly park, but our group had other plans. Even though I was a little disappointed to be leaving behind a sure chance of sighting one, I was filled with hopes of some great sightings at this waterfall in Someshwara WLS.
Our group was split into two, and we set off. We made countless stops in between. One one such stops, we found some Lycaenids fluttering on the road. Here, we found the Dark Pierrot (Tarucus ananda).

A pretty little butterfly that this is, it was joined by some Line blues, of which one was a Pointed Line Blue (Ionolyce helicon) which is a rarity. We clicked away, and after some time, it happened to sit on my index finger and enjoy a sip of sweat. We also saw Tamil Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais) and Monkey Puzzle (Rathinda amor).

As we walked on this path, we saw something that had everyone on their toes (Especially Milind sir), trying their level best to get a click at the very very rare Lycaenid. Ashok Sengupta sir confirmed it's identity as a Tamil Oakblue (Arhopala bazaloides). Luckily, I managed the one of the best shots clicked by the group:

We also saw a number of Common Nawabs (Polyura athamas) and an Anomalous Nawab (Polyura agraria). The Nawabs seemed to love human sweat more than any other butterfly. One of them was an injured individual, and it settled on my nose for about 20 minutes.
Here, we also saw another very beautiful and big butterfly endemic to the Western Ghats, the Tamil Lacewing (Cethosia nietneri).

Followed by this, we saw a Commander (Moduza procris), a Chestnut Streaked Sailer (Neptis jumbah) and a Clipper (Parthenos sylvia) of which Milind sir got an absolutely perfect shot!

Throughout the way, we saw plenty of Southern Rustic (Cupha erymanthis):

A few kilometres ahead, I spotted a bright orange butterfly move across the road and we halted the car. When we got down to see what it was, we found that it was the rare Curetis siva, Shiva's Sunbeam. Nothing beats the mega-lifer of a rare butterfly when you've spotted it yourself. If this excitement is coupled with the best shot you can ask for, the happiness flies overboard and creates euphoria!

When we reached the waterfall, we were greeted by the lovely sight of mudpuddling Common Jays (Graphium doson) and Bluebottles (Graphium sarpedon). Next to which there was another group of mudpuddling Common Albatrosses (Appias albina) and Mottled Emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe) This is a common sight in the Western Ghats after a rainy day. A little while later, these were joined by the Lesser Gull (Cepora nadina), the Painted Sawtooth (Prioneris sita), which are not as common as the rest of them in the group.

Mottled Emigrant and Common Albatross mudpuddling
Common Jay upper side. 
Lesser Gull (left), Painted Sawtooth (middle) and Common Albatross.
Common Jay, Bluebottle, Common Albatross and Painted Sawtooth mudpuddling!
We also came across a very strange looking Lycaenid which hasn't been identified yet. Looks like it has lost scales, or it might be a colour aberration.

We also saw a few small sized Pointed Ciliate Blues (Anthene lycaenina) and a Club Beak (Libythea myrrha).

Just when we thought we had seen all the beautiful butterflies here, a Tawny Rajah (Charaxes bernardus) made a grand guest appearance. He was gone before we knew it. Those who didn't get a picture frantically looked for it for a while, and we saw it once again on the trees even though none could succeed at clicking.

This place was an absolute butterfly treat for our group. Everyone was happy. We started off towards Belvai again and reached by about 6pm. We halted in between when we saw this Blue Mormon (Papilio polymnestor) resting after its day:

I didn't find the Malabar Banded Peacock after all this action, but I was overwhelmed by all that I had seen in one single day. It was way too many lifers to handle.

I had to hurry to Dharmastala because my plans differed slightly, so our group clicked a picture before I left. All of us had become "worn out specimens" by the end of the day, covered in dirt and mud, but we were still in the rejoicing mood of finding a rare new species - the Pointed Lineblue. None of us seemed to be tired, and this is definitely thanks to the passion we all share about the Winged Jewels!

From left - Sammilan Shetty, Ashok Sengupta, Abhijna Desai, Nitin R Achari, Milind Bhakare and Prashanth Bhat! 
The picture is clicked by Ganesh Desai, my brother, who also had a lot of fun on the trip. 

This was a very memorable trip, and I shall look forward to meeting these amazing people once again very soon. Heartfelt thanks to Sammilan for all the effort he has undertaken to provide this opportunity for us. His butterfly park is complete with host plants and nectar plants that attract a large number of butterflies from all the sub-families. He has also strategically placed rotten fruits and such other butterfly-bait in the right places, so as to get the butterflies' attention. Also, a special thank you to Sammilan's mom, Manimala aunty, for her care and hospitality. She cooked some really delicious Mangalorean food for us! It was an absolute pleasure to be there, and an even bigger pleasure to be with the people who I was with.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Butterfly counts at Lalbagh

As I have mentioned in my earlier post, a lot of good butterflies have been seen in Lalbagh over the past few consecutive trips. It has resident populations of certain species that are considered to be not so common in the city. Common Albatross, Common Palmfly, Plains Cupid are three butterfly species that have been seeing repeatedly.

For those who wish to look for butterflies in Lalbagh, here are a few patches where you may surely find some! It is observed that, certain types of butterflies exist in different patches that suit their own needs (of nectar/ soil/ oozing sap/ grasses/ mimosa.. etc.,).
* The patch of grasses and tridax flowers next to the Kempegowda statue behind the glasshouse. Enclosed in a fence. (All the Pansies and some Pierids) As this patch is abundant in grasses and mimosa, all the pansies are a sure sighting here. Mimosa is the host plant of some pansies and nymphalids.
* Around the big White Silk Cotton tree (Sailers and some nymphalids) Reason being, it is the larval host of the Sailer.
* Patch of ornamental flowers westwards from the fountain/ band stand.
* Patch of small white ornamental flower bushes next to the White Silk Cotton tree, attracts a lot of Swift species and Palmflies.

A list of butterflies found in Lalbagh, updated 10th November:

Sub family Papilionidae:
1. Common Mormon (males, females form Romulus and Stichius) Papilio polytes
2. Crimson Rose Atrophaneura hector
3. Common Rose Atrophaneura aristolochiae
4. Tailed Jay Graphium agamemnon
5. Common Jay Graphium doson
6. Common Lime Papilio demoleus

Sub-family Pieridae:
1. Common Emigrant Catopsilia pomona
2. Mottled Emigrant Catopsilia pyranthe
3. Yellow Orange Tip Ixias pyrene
4. Common Wanderer Pareronia valeria
5. Common Grass Yellow Eurema hecabe
6. Common Albatross Appias albina
7. Great Orange Tip Hebomoia glaucippe 
8. Three Spot Grass Yellow Eurema blanda
9. Pioneer Belenois aurota
10. Common Gull Cepora nerissa

Sub-family Lycaenidae:
1. Common Cerulean Jamides celeno
2. Common Line Blue Prosotas nora
3. Dark Grass Blue Zizeeria karsandra
4. Pale Grass Blue Pseudozizeeria maha
5. Lesser Grass Blue Zizina otis
6. Plains Cupid Chilades pandava
7. Small Cupid Chilades parrhasius
8. Slate Flash Rapala manea
9. Zebra Blue Leptotes plinius
10. Tailess line blue Prosotas dubiosa
11. Gram Blue Euchrysops cnejus

Sub-family Nymphalidae:
1. Common Castor Ariadne merione
2. Common Crow Euploea core
3. Leopard Phalanta phalantha
4. Chocolate Pansy Junonia iphita
5. Yellow Pansy Junonia hierta
6. Lemon Pansy Junonia lemonias
7. Blue Pansy Junonia orithiya
8. Tailed Palmfly Elymnias caudata
9. Danaid Eggfly Hypolimnas misippus
10. Great Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina
11. Common Sailer Neptis hylas
12. Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus
13. Striped Tiger Danaus genutia 
14. Tawny Coster Acraea violae
15. Blue Tiger Tirumala limniace
16. Dark Blue Tiger Tirumala septentrionis
17. Common Evening Brown Melanitis leda
18. Common Bushbrown Mycalesis perseus

Sub-family Hesperiidae:
1. Common Grass Dart Taractrocera maevius
2. Bevan's swift Pseudoborbo bevani

Bevan's Swift:

Bevan's Swift:

Blue Pansy:

Small Cupid:

Small Cupid:

Common Lineblue. A pair of them were endlessly chasing each other on top of a bush. Had to wait forever for them to settle down before I could click this picture.

A couple of Plain Tigers mating, on 4th November:

Blue Pansy, on 4th November:

Slate Flash:

Danaid Eggfly, male. In the patch of tridax next to the famous Kempegowda statue:

Zebra Blue, upper side, on 10th November:

Zebra Blue underside, on 10th November:

Plains Cupid nectaring on Tridax:

An overall species count of 47.
Since the past three trips, the individual counts have been very high, 46 + 96 + 43. First two days being sunny days with few clouds and good sunshine, and the third being partly cloudy.
The individual count and species list is always dominated by the Nymphalids.

So, for those who are looking for a great spot within the city to go on butterfly watching trips, Lalbagh is the place for you. Happy butterflying!