Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dec Fraser's Hill trip - Part 2

One of the reasons we go to Fraser's Hill is for the moths. Moths are so abundant there that even though Decemeber is not a good time for mothing, the condition was not ideal and the place we stayed did not have a clear view of the forest, we still get very decent catch.

On the first night, the air was dry and windy and we did not get many moths.

As you can see in the photo above, there were very few moths on the screen. However, we did get a few big ones - the beautiful Owl Moth -Brahmaea hearseyi which Vilma was admiring and stealth bomber like Acosmeryx shervillii which Celine was trying to photograph.

While we were looking at the moths, Gloria and Tim came over and showed us photo of a moth they shot at Sri Peninjau. From the photo, it looks like an Erebus but not something I have seen before.
Vilma and I went over to Sri Peninjau and we found this moth perching high up on the wall along the stairs. I had to stand on the handrail to get a good shot of the moth.

and this is the mystery moth !

Later I found out this is Erebus albicinctus Kollar, occurring in India, Nepal, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Sumatra but not Malaysia, according to the Kononenko & Pinratana book on Noctuids of Thailand. As such this would be a new record for Malaysia ! This explains why I can't find this moth in my Malaysian and Borneo moth references.
Later in the night, we got another VIP, an Eupterote which we have seen in our prvious trips but which I had not been able to ID.

As it turns out, this is an undescribed Eupterote species which is not uncommon at Fraser's Hill.

The 2nd and 3rd night were better as it rained in the evening and the wind was not as strong.

We had a female Antheraea lampei (f)
A few sphingidaes. Clockwise from top right : Theretra nessus, Amplypterus panopus, Cechenena subangustata and Acherontia lachesis.

and many colourful and interesting moths. Clockwise from top right : Pachynoa purpuralis, Teldenia specca, Mixochlora vittata and Callidrepana gelidata .

All in all we have 1 new Erebus record for Malaysia, 1 undescribed Eupterote species, 1 saturnid, 14 sphingids !

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dec Fraser's Hill trip - Part 1

I just came back from our year-end retreat at Fraser's Hill. It is another fantastic trip - nice accommodation, good food, great companion and better than expected butterfly and moth sightings.

This time we stayed at the Buona Vista Bungalow, which is located at Girdle Road, more widely known as the Telecom Loop.

The bungalow has a lovely garden. I could see sunrise right from my room on the 2nd floor.

Even though this is the raining season, the weather was pretty good, it drizzles only in the evening so we get to do birding and look for butterfly during the day and moth during the night. Not bad considering this is the monsoon season !
We managed to spot some rare butterflies just from the road around Fraser's Hill !

1. Enispe intermedia - The Red Caliph

This is a lifer for me ! We were walking towards a bungalow when I spotted this butterfly. It is the size and shape of a Saturn (Zuexidia amethystus) but with dull reddish brown on the underside. I knew immediately I have a gem ! According to C&P4, this species is confined to heavy forest and has been taken on fruit bait at altitudes up to 4500 ft (~1370m). This one is spotted at 1500m.

2. Elymnias patna - The Blue Striped Palmfly

All Elymnias other than E. hypermnestra and E. panthera are rare and confined to heavy forest. E. patna is usually confined to the hills and can be mistaken for a Euploea. The only give away is the typical Elymnias striations at the tornal area of the hindwings. In fact it was Celine and Bee Choo who alerted me to this 'Crow' resting below a bridge along the new road leading to Fraser's Hill. It was exactly 1 year ago when I first came across this butterfly also at Fraser's Hill !

3. Kaniska canace - The Blue Admiral

We were very fortunate to chance upon this friendly Admiral along the Richmond road. The Blue Admiral is usually a very shy and skittish butterfly and rarely stays long enough to be photographed. This individual was flying up and down the Richmond road and allowed me to get close with my 105mm lens for a few shots.

3. Taneacia godartii - The Malay Count

We were at walking towards the Jeriau waterfall when Jasmine spotted a bunch of red berries. I noticed a butterfly with a broad bright blue marginal border on the hindwing feeding on the berries. If this were in Singapore, it will be the Horsfield Baron. In Malaysia however, there are at least 4 butterflies with similar blue border ! Fortunately, we were able to see the underside which shows it is the male of The Malay Count.

4. Cyrestis maenalis

This is the mapwing that you will see at Frase's Hill (1500m). It can be seen along roads, at Jeriau waterfall and even in the garden of bungalows at Fraser's Hill ! This one is photographed at the garden of the Sri Intan apartment (using the LiveView of my D90). According to C&P4, 'C. nivea may be taken at moderate elevations, and probably does not occur much above 2000ft (~600m). Above this altitude it is replaced by C. maenalis."