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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Malaysia’s Butterflies – The Glassy Tigers

An attractive butterfly with black bars segmenting bright yellow or light blue with shades of white on sections of the wings, depending on the species, makes it delightful to watch and photograph. I believe it is also frequently used in advertisement material due to its attractive markings, pay attention next time if a butterfly is featured, chances are it is a Glassy Tiger.
Frequently sighted in forested areas, it flies slowly and glides gracefully. I have read there are three species of the Glassy Tigers in Malaysia, the less common being the Dark Glassy Tiger, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to come across a specimen of the Dark Glassy Tiger.

Yellow Glassy Tiger - (Parantica aspasia)

This species of butterfly is toxic and distasteful to predators, which explains the colors, markings and other species mimicking them. The photos shown here are taken from a cemetery that is often deserted in a well forested area. I have often observed that if you spot a Yellow Glassy Tiger, the chance of sighting a Blue Glassy Tiger nearby is very high, it appears to share the same habitat and most probably the same preferred food.

Blue Glassy Tiger – (Ideopsis vulgaris macrina)

Capturing a photo with its wing opened is a challenge as it normally hangs upside down with the wings folded shut when at rest. An excellent time on catching these Glassy Tigers fluttering around seem to be just before noon in a lightly shaded area with lush vegetation on a dry sunny day.

Dark Glassy Tiger – (Parantica agleoides agleoides)

The most uncommon of Glassy Tigers, the black segments on the wings are really prominent and dark. Surprisingly, I find this particular species have a higher tendency to open up its wing during perching.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Malaysia’s Butterflies – The Eggfly (Hypolimnas)

The Great Eggfly (Hypolimnas Bolina Bolina)

One of the species I find particularly attractive with its bright blue and white spot markings on the wing, like most Eggfly species it is aggressive and territorial not hesitating to chase away any intruders that fly past. There are two subspecies, the other subspecies being the Jacintha Eggfly (H. bolina jacintha). This species of butterflies are also sometimes referred to as brush footed butterflies due to their brush like appendages on their first pair of legs, and only the other two pairs of legs at the back are used for walking.

It’s behavior is not unlike the Jacintha Eggfly, highly territorial, and often has a favorite place to perch. This species is reported to have strong wings, and is capable of migratory flights.

The Malayan Eggfly (Hypolimnas Anomala Anomala)

I observed the Malayan Eggfly to be territorial and often chase away other butterflies nearby and have the behavior of always returning to its favorite perch, there are times where I will find the same specimen flying and perching in the same location even after a week. It gave me the opportunity to test out what was documented by other butterfly enthusiast that it will even try to chase away a small piece of paper if you threw it at their direction. I have confirmed that they do react that way.

An excellent subject to photograph as it will remain stationary for long periods of time once it finds its favorite spot, even disturbing the surroundings will not chase it away for long. It is a fairly common butterfly from where I live as I encounter this species quite often.

There are also some specimens I observe, that does not have the blue metallic hue on the upper parts of the forewing.

The Jacintha Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina jacintha)
The blue sheen on the forewings reflecting the sun on a sunny day does make it looks attractive.
Not to be confused with the blue spotted crow (Euploea midamus chloe) the markings are almost similar. Do note that there are articles I read that identifies this as a female Great Eggfly, as I am not an entomologist by training I am not sure who is correct.

With some female species having mimicking abilities of other species, it does get difficult to positively identify some of them. On why mimicking of another species is done, it is to fool predators that they belong to species that are toxic and therefore are less likely to be attack or seen as a potential meal.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My nature walks musing.

There is nothing more relaxing for me than to be close to nature, it rejuvenates me after a week of working in fast moving Kuala Lumpur. The weekly drive home of 3 hours every weekend is well worth it just to spend time with my family and surroundings that I like.
I am lucky to live near a jungle fringes, it offers a sort of sanctuary for me to recuperate before having a go again at making a living in the city on the following week.
Most of the time, I encounter all sorts of creatures in my walks and I wonder what they are thinking. Take for example this macaque, eating a coconut rather boringly. Is he thinking, “oh no, coconut again”?

Occasionally I am accompanied with a friend on my walks, who has I supposed nothing better to do. As I was passing this coconut eating alpha male monkey, I said “Wow, look at that alpha male macaque” and his reply was “What? Alpha Romeo cat?”

Perhaps I should also wonder what he thinks about in times like these.
For those readers wondering what an alpha male is in the animal kingdom, do find out yourself but I can assure you it is not an Italian car or cat.
Or how about this hyperactive squirrel I saw, jumping all over the place, is he thinking “nope, not here, not there either, maybe over there”?

Nothing beats this juvenile snake I nearly step onto, until then I never knew snakes can jump, this baby I swear jumped almost two feet in the air when he saw one of my foot approaching head on. It’s a case of camouflage working against its advantage, accident do happen when you are not seen easily.
Even butterflies do at times find me attractive or is it tasty? This particular butterfly finds it comforting to land and take a rest on my feet.

The presence of dragonflies is always a good sign. It indicates how clean and unpolluted the environment is as their nymphs needs clean unpolluted water to develop into adults.

Than there is this look alike pair of butterfiles of a different sub species together. I suppose that is how hybrids come about.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The coastal town of Kuala Sepatang, formerly known as Port Weld.

Kuala Sepetang formerly known as Port Weld is a coastal town located near Taiping, it was originally named after a former British Governor, Frederick Weld.
This coastal town which appears to be like any other coastal town in the country differs from the rest in that it has a rich history that goes back to the late 1800’s.

The first railway track in the country was laid here, although it was only a mere 12.8km linking Taiping and Port Weld. It played a very significant role at the time for the tin mining trade.
Taiping was the capital of Perak and centre of the lucrative Larut tin mining area, while Port Weld (now Kuala Sepetang) was an important port for steamers and trade vessels from Penang. The railway line was to become an important link for the export of tin to Europe and the United States.Construction of the line began in 1882 with two divisions of Pioneer Corps from Ceylon, the legacy of the Pioneer Corps from Ceylon can still be seen today with the Ceylonese Association building still present in Taiping town.
The line was opened to traffic on June 1 1882, apparently 60 years after the first railway line was opened between Stockton and Darlington in England.
Another interesting event I found during my search for more information on this historic railway line is that during the Japanese occupation, the rails was dug up to be used for the construction of the infamous Death Railway in Siam by prisoners of war.

Sadly today, there is little evidence the line ever existed, the only prominent visible evidence that a train line ever existed here is an old stone sign written in four languages.

Excellent fresh seafood can be gotten here and it has a seafood restaurant situated on the upper floor of a building overlooking the estuary where fishing boats disembarked and the day’s catch is unloaded and traded.

Seafood fresh from the sea.

The village is also very popular with its Curry Mee stall where the railway line used to run right beneath its concrete floor.

My brother in law and family having the popular Port Weld curry mee.

Kuala Sepetang currently has a thriving fishing community with charcoal making being the next
active economic activity.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Butterfly Photos II.

As my interest in taking butterfly photos increases, I became more and more adventurous, wondering deeper into the jungles to get that elusive photo of butterflies that seem to always challenge me to follow.

Ignoring the normal danger a person would face in our tropical rain forest, infested with snakes, poisonous frogs and the ever present irritating leech. But I find it fun!

Some of the butterfly photos I manage to take this time around.

Junonia Hedonia Ida (Chocolate Pansy)

Terinos Terpander Robertsia - Royal Assyrian

Hypolimnas bolina bolina (Great Eggfly)
Tagiades Gana Gana (Large Snow Flat)

Pathysa antiphates itamputi (Five bar sword tail)

Common Three Ring (Ypthimus pandocus corticaria)
Tanaecia iapis puseda (Horsfield's Baron)
And lastly, a lone gibbon keeping an eye on me, not a usual sight as they normally travel in groups.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cicada – Tacus Speciosa

A cicada photo taken during my wife’s holiday in Kota Kinabalu recently, a species of cicada called Tacus Speciosa, not often seen in mainland Malaysia.
A cicada has large eyes wide apart on the head and usually transparent with well-veined wings. Around the world there are about 2,500 species of cicada, and many species have yet to be identified. Cicadas are found in temperate to tropical climates and are well known for their many varying sizes and acoustic talents.

Cicadas do not bite or sting and are benign to humans and plants as such they are not considered as pests, although the loud clicking sound make by the male cicada to attract mates and while under threat can be quite deafening.