Fluttering around Jog Falls

I have always been fascinated with the butterfly biodiversity in Uttara Kannada. When ever I get a chance to venture into the wild for shooting butterflies with camera, I think about Halgeri, Siddapur, Karnataka, India.

Me along with my friend Dr Prashanth Bhatt had one such occasion to visit Netra’s Place at Halgri on 11th Oct 2015. After reaching to her place we decided to do a butterfly walk in the vicinity of famous Jog Falls 10km away from her village.

We were not disappointed this time. In two days of Butterfly walk near Jog Falls we witnessed 110 species of Butterflies and for me it was to witness the Silver Streaked Acacia Blue for the first time.

Silver Streak Acacia Blue

Silver Streak Acacia Blue

I also had a glimpse of the Tamil Tree Brown (Lethe drypetis)for the first time. However I could only take a record shot of the butterfly.

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We witnessed a mating pair of Tamil Catseye(Zipaetis saitis) on Ochalandra bush. The pair was taken to task by another Tamil Catseye.

On our trip we witnessed the early stages of Small Palm Bob and Lesser Gull. We were thrilled to see  a fluttering Blue Nawab but could not photograph it.

tamil-cats-eye-1-11-10-2015

I am presenting an album of some of the butterflies that we were able to click on those days.

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Munnar Butterfly Survey.. A dream came true

Documenting butterflies at higher elevations of Western Ghats in India has always been in my dreams. This dream came true when I got a golden opportunity to attend the Butterfly Survey at Munnar Wildlife division from 24th Sep 2015 to 27th Sep 2015. After getting an invitation to attend the same from Dr Kalesh Sadasivan, TNHS, Thiruvananthapuram,me along with my Bangalore Butterfly Club friends Rohit, Channa, Prashant and his wife boarded a bus from Bangalore to Munnar via Udumalpet on 23rd Sep evening. We reached Munnar in the morning of 24th Sep and were greeted by a group of friends whom we often meet during butterfly surveys.

butterfly-servey-24-09-2015-064 Me along with Rohit, Channa and Pradeep were posted at Anamudishola National Park where we conducted our Survey for two days. We documented 60 plus species of Butterflies out of which a few were lifers for me. These were the exclusive high altitude butterflies of Western Ghats.

teamThe Nilgiri Clouded Yellow (Colias nilagiriensis) is an high altitude endemic butterfly of Western Ghats. We saw them in plenty fluttering along the Grass lands of Anamudishola NP.

Nilgiri Clouded Yellow

Nilgiri Clouded Yellow

We witnessed many Red Disc Bush browns (Heteropsis oculus) in the sholas of the National parks. This too is an high altitude endemic in the Western Ghats.

Red-Disc Bush Brown

Red-Disc Bush Brown

White-Disc Hedge Blue (Celatoxia albidisca), a tiny high altitude endemic were greeting us in wet patches of our transact and they too were pretty common.

White-Disc Hedge Blue

White-Disc Hedge Blue

We also witnessed another high altitude endemic, the White Hedge Blue (Udara akasa). This beauty was not one but a mating pair.

White Hedge Blue

White Hedge Blue

Another very common butterfly in the higher altitudes of Nilgiri and Palni hills is the Dingy Scrub hopper (Aeromachus dubius dubius). We saw them in plenty. This was however another lifer for me.

Dingy Scrub Hopper

Dingy Scrub Hopper

The Red Admiral (Vanessa indica) greeted greeted us on our transact with a lot of images and one such prize image is this one, where it is enjoying  sweat on my finger tips.

Indian Red Admiral

Indian Red Admiral

We also encountered some Indian Cabbage whites (Pieris canidia canis) on our survey. This sub-species is also a high altitude endemic in Western Ghats.

Indian Cabbage White

Indian Cabbage White

I am posting some more images as album to showcase the success of the trip. I sincerely thank Kerala Forest Department, TNHS and KNS for conducting this survey and letting us to be a part of it. I also thank Channa, my friend, who contributed my personal photos for this blog.

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Shendurney WLS Kerala, one of the best bio-diversity zones in Western Ghats.

In the process of coming out from my agonizing life, I often look for the opportunity to go into the wild in search for solace.  One such opportunity came to me when Dr Kalesh Sadasivan invited me to attend the three day long Butterfly and Bird Survey at Shendurney Wild Life Sanctuary, Kerala.

umayar

The majestic view of the catchment area of Thenmala dam from Umaiyar

I happily agreed to attend the survey and boarded a bus from Bangalore to Thenkasi, Tamilnadu in the evening of 26-02-2015. With me there were three more participants, viz. Nitin, Rama and Firoz, who also were invited for the survey. We reached Thenkasi in the early morning of 27-02-2015 and hired a cab to Thenmala Dam, kerala, 35km away and reach there by 10:00am.

I was too excited to accompany Dr Kalesh in the team of for members including Kiran and Firoz. We boarded a Kerala forest department jeep and headed for Umaiyar, deep into the wilderness of Shendurney WLS. The jeep left us about 3km away from our camp and we trekked upto the camp negotiating narrow forest path and river streams.

The camp was beautifully placed on the extreme tip of the catchment area of Thenmala Dam giving some eye-catching scenes  to the viewers. I was fortunate to click  many photographs depicting  the various moods of nature.

We stayed there for two nights and trekked the area during day time. We recorded about 60 species of birds and 104 species of butterflies. My encounter to the legendary Travancore Evening brown early stages was amazing. We found many caterpillars of the butterfly in the Ochlandra leaves and photographed them. Dr Kalesh also showed the leaf cut patterns of the caterpillar.

I was fortune to see the Hump nosed pit viper in the wild for the first time in my life. There is a saying that they are often found in pairs and for us that held true.

We also encountered few caterpillars of Orange Awlet and Wax dart on Thottea siliquosa and Combretum albidum leaves.

Some butterflies photographed by me are displayed below.

We returned back to Thenmala on 1st Mar 2015 where we gave a brief description about our findings. The team returned to Bangalore on 2nd Mar 2015. I sincerely thank Kerala Forest department and TNHS to give me this opportunity after quite a few years.

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Peryiar Tiger Reserve – Here I came to search you


Dear friends I am narrating my most memorable and emotionally difficult journey in the wild. It was here at Thekkady, I came with my wife on 23rd Oct 2014 after I was invited by TNHS to attend a butterfly survey at PTR. That was my last my first and last butterfly trip with my beloved.

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I see you everywhere my love

It was becoming difficult to lead this lonely and confined life at Bangalore after I lost her on 9th Dec 2014. one fine morning I got a call from Dr Kalesh of TNHS to attend a follow-up Butterfly survey at PTR from 13th Feb to 15th Feb 2015. I initially hesitated but ultimately agreed to attend the survey.

 

I took a bus to Kumily from Bangalore in the evening of 12th Feb 2015 and reported the base camp at Bamboo Grooves, Kumily in the early morning of 13th Feb. There I was deputed to a high elevation location situated at Mangaladevi in the border of Tamilnadu and Kerala. I was fortunate to have the company of Vinay Krishan, who was my team mate for the survey.

We spent two memorable nights at Mangaladevi and documented over 90 species of Butterflies along with mammals like Stripped Necked Mongoose, Gaur, Barking Deer andMouse Dear.   We witnessed the ancient heritage of India at the ruins of Mangaladevi Temple.

During this trip I had the opportunity to click a few butterflies that were first timers for me. The Palni Four Ring, Brown King Crow, Baby Five Ring and White Four Ring are now added to my list. Here I clicked my first ever Indian Red Admiral from South India. I also had better images of Blue Admiral, Red Helen and White Hedge Blue.

I sincerely thank PTR foundation and TNHS to include me in the survey and allowed me to live some time in the memory lane.

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The Flying Jewels of Halgeri and the Girl with Camera

It was not  long ago, that a young lady from Halgeri village of Siddapur (North Kanara), started posting some amazing shots of rare butterflies on the Facebook Group Butterflies of India . Her images included the rare Brown Onyx (Horaga viola).

Horaga viola

Horaga viola

Yes Netra Bhatt, a young PUC Lecturer in Chemistry at Sirsi, was getting herself initiated netrain the amazing world of butterflies. Popularly known as the “Girl with Camera” in her village, her passion for wildlife and specially butterflies was getting noticed by many wildlife enthusiasts including me and was desperate to visit that place. Till date she has recorded 127 Species of butterflies from her area and the count is increasing daily.

 

On 13-Jan-2013 night  I boarded a bus from Jalahalli Cross, Bangalore to Siddapur and reached there by 7:00am in the morning. Netra was there in the bus-stand to receive me and together we hired an auto to proceed for her home at Halgeri village, 8km away from Siddapur on the way to famous Jog falls. It took us about 25minutes to reach there and I was really amazed by the location of her home surrounded by nothing but famous forests of Western Ghats.

After a warm welcome by her parents and a delicious breakfast both of us went out for our butterflying adventure in the vicinity of her house. No wonder why she insisted us to visit her place, we encountered some amazing butterflies, some of them were lifers for me. Meanwhile we were joined by three of our fellow Butterfly enthusiasts,viz,  Sammilan Shetty, Prashant Bhatt and Nagraj Shastry. With 5 pairs of trained eyes we found out some treasures of Halgeri. I am now going present below some images of these winged jewels and also their early stages that we photographed there for the next two days.

 

Rosy Oakblue (Arhopala alea):

This is a rare butterfly of Western Ghats. We not only photographed the butterfly but also documented its early stages on Hopea ponga plants.

We searched our level best to locate the caterpillars of Common Onyx but our searches were not successful. We got early stages of Monkey Puzzle and Common Imperial on Ixora species. These caterpillars are very much similar to the illusive onyx caterpillars and probably share the same larval host plant.

Our luck never ran-out on the second day as we witnessed the egg-laying of Common tinsel (Catapaecilma major) on Hopea ponga, possibly a new LHP for the butterfly.

We not only looked for butterflies, but had a night out for an hour to search the hidden world of amphibians. We got some amazing frogs and Spiders at night and could not ID a few of them.

Our two days stay at Halgeri was quite memorable. The hospitality of Netra and her parents made me to believe that I have a family there. I shall surely be visiting that place and nearby areas quite often in near future and shall try to unveil some more secrets of nature. I sign-off with my best shot of the trip, a Green vine snake posing for us.

vine

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Butterfly Watching at Peppara WLS near Trivandrum

I was fortunate to witness the marvel of untouched and unpolluted beauty of the Peppera WLS near Thiruvananthpuram in Kerala, India. We got an invitation from Dr Kalesh Sadasivan, Secretary TNHS Thiruvananthapuram to be a part of the annual Butterfly Survey at Nayaar and Peppara WLS in Kerala. Me, Rohit Girotra and Nitin Ravikanth escorted by two FD officials trekked into the wilderness of the elephant country of Kerala and recorded more than 100 species of Butterflies. For me this trip was memorable since I met a few lifers during the trip. I am presenting some unforgettable moments during the trip.

The Pandipath Range on our left.

The Pandipath Range on our left.

We started our trek to Attayar River in Peppara WLS on 14th Dec 2012 in the early morning and on our way witnessed the mesmerizing beauty of the western ghats. Our trek was nearly 4km before we reached the camping site beside a river stream and you know that site was a protected cave.

Me and Rohit in cave

Me and Rohit in cave

We witnessed the magic moments with beautiful waterfalls on our way and clicked them at every place.

Water fall at Peppara WLS

Water fall at Peppara WLS

The butterfly density was not very promising due to very dry weather in the southern parts of Kerala. However we were fortunate to click a few rare beauties:

Orchid Tit (Chliaria othona)

Orchid Tit (Chliaria othona)

A rather un-common butterfly in the Southern India, the Orchid Tit (Chliaria othona) is a small but strikingly beautiful butterfly of the lycaenidae family.

Small Palm-Bob (Suastes minuta)

Small Palm-Bob (Suastes minuta)

The Small Palm-Bob (Suastes minuta) is a rare butterfly of the Hespiiradae family. We were extremely lucky to click this one near a stream.

Pale Four-line Blue (Nacaduba hermus)

Pale Four-line Blue (Nacaduba hermus)

The Pale Four-line Blue (Nacaduba hermus) is another un-common butterfly that we clicked near a stream along with many other butterflies.

Nilgiri Tiger (Parantica nilgiriensis)

Nilgiri Tiger (Parantica nilgiriensis)

The Nilgiri tiger (Parantica nilgiriensis) was spotted on 15-12-12 on our way to the base camp at Bonnacord Tea Estate. It was another lifer for me.

I personally thank TNHS to provide me this golden opportunity to be a part of this annual survey.

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Someshwara National Park – Butterfly Paradise in Western Ghats

I visited the Someshwara National Park, Udupi distt with my friends to photograph butterflies and got some great lifers for me. The trip for two days on 12th Nov 12 and 13th Nov 12 was a memorable one and I am now sharing my butterfly observations:

Total species count: 110   

My lifers: Malabar Banded Peacock (Papilio buddha), Common Mime (Papilio clytia), Tamil Lacewing (Cethosia nietneri), Banded Royal (Rachana jalindra), Dark Pierrot (Tarucus ananda), Pointed Lineblue (Nacaduba helicon)..We narrowly missed to click the Common Onyx (Horaga onyx). I personally failed to click the Plane (Bindahara phocides)

Malabar Banded Peacock (Papilio buddha)

The Malabar Banded Peacock was clicked by me at the Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park at Belvae near Mangalore. Sammilan is really doing a commendable job by dedicating his private land to the cause of conservation of butterflies of Western Ghats. He has already recorded more than 100 species in his park and is continuously putting his best efforts to provide conducive environment to the winged jewels with LHPs and nectar plants.

Five-bar Swordtail (Graphium antiphates)

This beauty was the sole star in the midst of odd season mud-puddling of several hundred Common albatrosses (Appias albina), Common Blue Bottols (Graphium sarpedon) and Common Jays (Graphium doson).

Common Mime (Papilio clytia)

This Common Mime form clytia was another lifer for me at the river bed. It was also the sole butterfly of the species that joined the huge congregation of mud-puddlers.

Black Rajah (Charaxes solon)

This beauty of a fresh Black Rajah was attracted to the crab bait that was deliberately placed on the river bed to attract them. He gave us enough time and poses to click him to our satisfaction.

Tawny Rajah (Charaxes bernardus)

My joy knew no bound when me and Abhijna (our team member) saw this beauty posing solely for us in the absence of my other team mates. At-last we had a chance to tease our friends with this one.

Black Prince (Rohana parisatis)

This male was available to us for quite sometime and most of us got the open-wing shot of the beauty. This was another lifer for me. We did saw the female but failed to click it. Hope to get that next time.

Common Sergeant (Athyma perius)

This butterfly shared the space with other two commonly viewed Sergeant species available in that area (The Black vein Sergeant and  the Color Sergeant).

Common Nawab (Polyura athamas)

We saw quite a few Common Nawabs on our trail along the upstream and photographed them on our wish. They, as we know, are fond of things that we excrete.

Tamil Lacewing (Cethosia nietneri)

The Tamil Lacewing is an endemic butterfly in the western ghats and was another lifer for me.

Lesser Gull (Cepora nadina)

The Lesser Gull is known to show a wide variety of wet season forms and we saw this common form of all mud puddling with the other butterflies.

Dark Pierrot (Tarucus ananda)

This little beauty was know to be rare a few years from now. However its quite common there and can be seen on the water logged roads. we saw quite a few of them.

Banded Royal (Charana jalindra)

This was a real lifer for all of us and I still feel sad that I could not click a better shot than this. This female was posing for us at about 10m above on a branch and just managed the get a few shots.

Indigo Flash (Rapala varuna)

The Indigo Flash female was seen laying eggs on a Fern species of plant. This behaviour  was a real find for us.

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Low Cost Leech Socks

I prepared this leech socks using my old pajamas. The cloth was tough and I am still using it.

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Silent Valley National Park Trip

forest

Evergreen Forest

I had the opportunity to vist the Silent Valley National Park situated in the Palakkad district of Kerala. This protected and un-disturbed tropical evergreen forest is the last habitat for a few of India’s engendered species of fauna and flora.

silentvalley

Silent Valley Peak

I was accompanied by my friend Mr Jitendra Sharma in this trip. We reached Coimbatore in the morning of 14th Feb 2011 and were picked up by a cab arranged and sponsored by prof Sekar Keerthi, Dept of Bio Science, Coimbatore Arts College. We reached Mukkali Forest Office, the gateway to Silent Valley National Park after one and half hour drive. Prof. Sekar had already arranged our stay in the IB at Mukkali, where we dumped our baggage and got ready to explore the beauty of Silent Valley. Here is a brief of my experiences at Silent Valley National Park.

Day one:

On 14th morning we trekked about 14km across the Atpadi buffer zone and clicked a few butterfly shot. We could not see any wild animals except pug marks and dung of elephants. I clicked a few butterflies from areas near forest streams.

commander

Commander (Moduza procris)

The Commander (Moduza procris) is beautiful butterfly of the Nymphalidae family. The males are territorial. It loves to come and settle down at damp patches as well as flowers. Both sexes are similar tawny in colour with prominent white spots on both wings.

commonmap

Common Map (Cyrestis thyodamas)

Common Map (Cyrestis thyodamas)The Common Map (Cyrestis thyodamas) is another beautiful Nyphalid found in the hilly reagions of evergreen forests. Flight is slow and jerky. Comes down to streams and damp patches.

gladeyebushbrown

Gladeye Bushbrown (Mycalesis patnia)

The Gladeye Bushbrown (Mycalesis patnia) is another Nymphalid found in wooded regions with bamboo growths. Weak flier and remains close to ground. Attracted towards tree sap and overripe fruit.
blackveinsergeant

Blackvein Sergeant (Athyma ranga)

The Blackvein Sergeant (Athyma ranga) is another Nymphalid that prefers evergreen forest. It is a strong flier and prefers forest clearings, paths and stream sides.
Day two:

 

gate

Entry Gate to Silent Valley National Park

The next day we entered the Silent Valley National park in a chartered Jeep and witnessed the beauty and might of this beautiful piece of land on earth. Apart from butterflies we witnessed the Nilgiri Languor (Trachypithecus johnii) and the Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica). The 22 km journey was filled with thrill of possible witness to wildlife which was not seen. Several species of birds including Malabar Trogan (Harpactes fasciatus) and Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi).

gate2

Gate to Silent Valley National Park core area

We reached a spot bubbling with butterflies mudpuddling near a mountain stream and clicked many species. The following butterflies were clicked there.

canaraoakblue

Sayhadri Rosy Oakblue (Arhopala alea)

Canara Oakblue (Arhopala alea) is an uncommon and endemic butterfly of the Lycaenidae family of butterflies found only in the Western ghats. It was clicked drinking water near the bank of a mountain stream on the way to Silent Valley.
clubbeak

Club Beak (Libythea myrrha) sub-species carma

Club Beak (Libythea myrrha) is a butterfly of Nymphalidae family found in the hilly regions. Frequently settles on damp patches.
clipper

Clipper (Parthenos sylvia)

Clipper (Parthenos sylvia) is large Nymphalidae butterfly found in heavily wooded regions. Flies gracefully over the canopy.

indigoflash

Indigo Flash (Rapala varuna)

Indigo Flash (Rapala varuna) is small butterfly of the Lycaenidae family. It is seen on flowers and damp patches in the wooded regions.

transparent6lineblue

Transparent six line Blue (Nacaduba kurava)

Transparent 6-line Blue (Nacaduba kurava) is small butterfly of the Lycaenidae family. It is a strong flier and settles down on dry twigs.  Prefers evergreen forests and loves bird droppings.

redhelen

Red Helen (Papilio helenus)

Red Helen (Papilio helenus) is a Swallowtail butterfly found in the forested hilly regions. Visits often to nearby gardens and loves moist patches.

Apart from butterflies I also clicked the two mammals endemic to the Western Ghats and Nilgiries.

langaur

Nilgiri Langaur (\(Trachypithecus johnii)

Nilgiri Langur (Trachypithecus johnii) is a lutung type monkey found in the Nilgiri Hills.

Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica)

Malabar Giant Squirel

Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) is a large squirrel found in the upper canopy of of forests. he Giant Squirrel is mostly active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening, resting in the midday. It is a shy, wary animal and not easy to discover.


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Thommonkuthu Trip

I came to know about this cute little paradise on earth from one of my friend, Mr Rajesh Nair who is a resident of Thodupuza, Idduki district of Kerala. On his invitation I visited Thodupuza and from there to Thommonkuthu three times. Here is a diary of my visit to that butterfly hot spot.

Thodupuza is located in the Idduki district of Kerala about 50Km from the nearest Railway station Aluva, just before Ernakulam. From Aluva there are in-frequent bus service to Thodupuza. How ever there are frequent buses to a nearby place Muvattupuza from Aluva.

Thommankuthu is a real butterfly hot spot with over 200 species of Butterflies to see. I am posting a few prize catches from this place.

Paris_peacock
Paris Peacock (Papilio paris)

Paris Peacock (papilio paris) is large swallow tail butterfly found in India. This strong flier comes close to ground for mud puddling during early afternoon. This species is of course not an uncommon species. Both the sexes are know to mud-puddle. These are often seen along forest streams.

shivasunbeam
Shiva Sunbeam (Curetis siva)

The Shiva Sunbeam (Curetis siva) is a fairly large butterfly and uncommon in the Lycaenidae(blues) family. This butterfly is endemic to the Western Ghats of India. The males are know to mud-puddle and are quite territorial. My learned friend Dr Krishnamegh Kunte has however genuinely raised a doubt for the identification of this butterfly to be a Toothed Sunbeam (Curetis dentata) as it is difficult to identify this species only with its UN (close wing) snap.


Large 4-line Blue (Nacaduba pactolus)

The Large 4-line Blue (Nacaduba pactolus) is one of the rare butterflies found in India. This strong flier is seen on damp patches and flowers. This butterfly prefers thick, moist forest.

malayan

Malayan (Megisba malaya)

Malayan (Megisba malaya) is a small butterfly of the Lycaenidae (Blues) family. This butterfly loves evergreen forests. The adults are seen flying low close to ground. Males are seen mudpuddle in damp patches and cow dung.

wcoakblue

Western Centaur Oak blue (Nilasera centaurus)

The Western Centaur Oakblue (Nilasera centaurus) is a Western Ghat  endemic butterfly of the Lycaenidae (blues) family. The adult male butterfly has a brilliant metallic purple colouration of the Upper wing while the female has a brilliant blue upper wing. The adult butterfly has a tail. The males are occasionally seen  mudpuddling near clear streams in wooded regions.

largeoakblue

Large Oakblue (Arhopala amantes)

The Large Oakblue (Arhopala amantes)  is one of the largest among the Lycaenidae (blue) family. It has a characteristic bright metallic blue on the upper side of the wing . This butterfly loves canopy of small trees and occasionally comes down to the bushes. It flies a great deal in the day and rests on leaves exposed to the sun.

redspot

Redspot (Zesius chrysomallus)

The Redspot (Zesius chrysomallus) is an un-common butterfly that I clicked at Thommankuthu.

fluffytit

Fluffy Tit (Zeltus etolus)

Fluffy Tit (Zeltus etolus) is another beautiful Lycaenidae (blue) butterfly found in India.

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