Friday, May 11, 2018

Some Critter Finds

As a regular morning habit when i am at home in the province, i have coffee and a little bread, lug the camera and my eye drops, and go find the butterflies. But in the course of looking for the butterflies i also see lots of unusual little entities. Sometimes i know them, and sometimes don't. Truth is, most of the time i don't! When this happens more time are devoted to scrutinizing and photographing them. In return, sometimes i miss the butterflies. Anyway, these finds are interesting too.

Cotton bug, Dysdercus cingulatus. It might look beautiful, but it devours the pedicels of my hoya buds. In the past i just allow them there, but when i saw the damage on my plants, i drive them away or make things difficult for them. However, i don't use insecticide so they are still around. 

Spiders are also common residents in my garden and surrounding environment. 
This could be a jumping spider, but i don't know its ID yet. 

Hawkmoths are regular pests of my caladium.  Sometimes i go home finding all the leaves gone. When i feel that they have already pupated, i look for the pupa beneath the plant and photograph them. Once, i reared the pupa to eclosion, so i know that the above is Pergesa acteus. 

Picture below is very dark, probably another hawkmoth. I do not have the time to rear it, so i am not sure of the ID. I just guess that it is Theretra oldenlandiae. It also has many hostplants. 

This is an exoskeleton of the pale green awlet, Bibasis gomata syn. Burara gomata
Its host plant is the green Schefflera. I have not seen their larvae nor the live pupa, and i have seen the adult only once. I wish to see them earlier next time to document the life cycle. 

a very thorny head of a moth catterpillar, later when i poked on it, i realized it is already dead

nymp of a stink bug

bag moth

  another bag moth

another kind of bag of a third bag moth

I realized this moths have different bags that house them which serve as their camouflage. They also pupate inside and later emerge at the bottom portion during eclosion as adult moth. Actually, i have not seen an adult moth coming from this bags. I just saw them in pictures. If i have enough time, which could be later, i will rear them in nearby vicinity so i can also document the adults emerging from them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Butterflies of Batanes II

I have long been attempting to post this second part of the Batanes Butterflies, but something seems to be more urgent always. I have uploaded the first few, and i have forgotten all about it. Now i am trying to fill the gap. This trip in Batanes is purposely to look for butterflies, exploratory, and we wouldn't have seen them if we did not courageously decided on a traverse hike from one seashore to another seashore of Sabtang Island through the mountain range. This hike was posted HERE earlier while the first post on butterflies is HERE.

We were almost disappointed at the residential areas near the seashores because it is too windy, the breeze has salt contents and we only saw the tiny blues. In the mountains, it is a different story.

 Top and Bottom: WHITE TIGER
Danaus melanippus edmondii Lesson 1837 
Nymphalidae; Danainae; Danaini

White Tigers are a bit common in that area of the mountain. We saw a few individuals although they are not very cooperative. At least we were able to get these shots.

Mycalesis igoleta igoleta C. & R. Felder 1863
Nymphalidae; Satyrinae

Mycalesis igoleta igoleta C. & R. Felder 1863 (extreme dry season form)
Nymphalidae; Satyrinae

We have lots of this in our area in the province. However, my first look here says it is a different species. Later confirmation by our butterfly expert says it is the same Bushbrown, although the very less discernible spots on both upper and lower wings say it is an extreme dry season form. I have seen Dry Season Forms in my area during this hot conditions, and there still are bigger spots compared to this one. 

Vindula dejone dejone Erichson 1834 
Nymphalidae; Nymphalinae; Heliconiini

This was so high up on trees and didn't give us more chances for pictures. This shot only give us a few details to identify it. It was a worn-out one though, but this is the only one we met on the way. 

Jamides bochus pulchrior Grose-Smith 1895
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

 Top and Bottom 2: LIME BLUE
Chilades lajus athena C. & R. Felder 1865
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

Lime Blue is a lifer for me. My buddy went ahead to the nook as it was already very hot outside, we are bathing in sweat. When this butterfly arrives giving me some difficulty. But despite the heat and itchy feelings from the weeds, i was able to take some photos. It is my first time to see this, a lifer, ; eventually, the Philippine Lepidoptera Group administrator said Batanes is a new location for this find. I am glad i persisted on it and ignored the heat.

 Top and Bottom:  GREAT ORANGE TIP
Hebomoia glaucippe philippensis Wallace 1863
Pieridae; Pierinae

This Orange Tip also gave me a difficult time. It flips and leaves so quickly from a perch that a lot of photos did not give me much descent ones. Moreover, the 2nd perch is so far from the previous spot that it was difficult to follow. I even wonder if the flitting seconds already gave it the chance to get some nectar!

Hebomoia glaucippe philippensis Wallace 1863
Pieridae; Pierinae

Menelaides polytes ledebouria
Papilionidae, Papilioninae, Papilionini

One funny thing about our traverse climb is the presence of this Common Mormon all throughout our hike. It has been there from the beginning and didn't leave us till we were back to where we started. Actually, there are a few of them, and they exchange roles in being on our path. They just fly low and alight low on the weeds. They just seem to be always on our line of sight, and that gave it the title "Guide", our little pet on the way. Sometimes it was gone for a few minutes, then when it appeared again we both said "hi guide".  We even kiddingly said goodbye to it as we leave the mountain and approach the area of humans. 

 Idea leuconoe larva

We also saw lots of paperkites, Idea leuconoe. But they are mostly on top of trees or flying high on areas on the cliffs. They always have the characteristic-dainty-flying white butterflies, but they are mostly in too difficult places for us to photograph. We just content ourselves watching them, and at least we knew they are found in Sabtang, Batanes. 

Autumn Leaf larvae on Pseuderanthemum reticulatum
Doleschallia bisaltide philippensis Fruhstorfer 1899
Nymphalidae; Nymphalinae; Nymphaliini

Butterflies of Batanes

I have visited Batanes for different reasons. The first trip that was eight years ago was an exploratory adventure type. The 3 of us just let anything go, to wherever seems to be the place at that very moment, and it was fun. The second was when i joined a hobbyist photography group, where i know only of a very few people from a previous photowalk. This third and latest travel was with a travel buddy who went there for the first time. And of course, our purpose is to look for butterflies. This is also the reason i experienced a traverse hike to the other side of the mountains, walking through mountain invisible paths that only my travel buddy's feet know where to go. It seems like just a joke now, but for me that hike was endowed with a lot of good luck! To be back home without any incident but some aching legs and mucles is mainly good luck.

So it is but a necessity to be posting here what we were there for: the BUTTERFLIES. In the beginning we felt like maybe we will not see much. It is windy, air is salty, and the islands are really not big. We started first with some spotting in street sidewalks and in church yards where there are some nectar plants.

Part I. 
Many of our first finds are the very small lycaenids exemplified by the Lesser Grass Blue, Zizina otis oriens. They mostly occupy the grasses and weeds  lower than a foot tall, basically just on the ground. Throughout many areas in the 2 islands this Lesser Grass Blue predominates in number. I just wonder if it is a characteristics of the subspecies in Batanes, but they seem to be more grayish and the design not of a very clear detail, as what we have in our area in the mainland Luzon. 

  Clockwise L-R top and bottom: Taractrocera luzonensis, Borbo cinnara, Oriens californica. Skippers are not plenty in Batanes, both in Batan and Sabtang. 

Mimeusemia sp. 
Noctuidae; Agaristinae

 On our last free afternoon in Batan Island, we walked the street to find any clearing where there might be some possible insects, whatever they are. And in a clump of lantana camara luxuriously growing in an open grassland, we found this moth. 

There are many more butterflies we documented, especially from our traverse hike to the other side of the mountain range. But that will be posted in the 2nd part of this topic, as the pictures are already so heavy for just one topic. 

More next time folks. I promise, they are the bigger butterflies!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sunset Sky Mean Something

Our temperatures from the middle of February this year just soared as if it is already the end of April. For the past years those conditions made us impatiently wait for the coming heavy rains because we cannot seem to tolerate anymore the HEAT we were experiencing. It was a total surprise for us that we already experience it in mid-February! Can you imagine a Heat Index of 39°C! And in the province in the north which had it at 42°C there are a few individuals who suffered strokes and high blood pressures. Climate change is very real, and the effects are so quick with us.

But the truth is we are not yet officially in the Dry Season, as it is forecasted that there will still be easterlies coming to us. Easterlies bring us here the slightly "colder" temperatures, or someone from the "real"cold country want me to call it "slightly less hot temperatures". Of course, our temperatures no matter which you pick from the range is always hot for those living away from the equator. Our coldest in our temperature range is still higher than their summer. Being here all my life, i don't know how to live there.  But now, i tell you it is really hot as in HOT!

At least i get lovely sunsets!

the widest angle i can get didn't have any cloud except those near the sun at the lowest horizon , (10mm lens)

 From the previous series of photos as the sun sets, you will see the vast cloudless sky, only a little clouds near the horizon. It was a great expanse of clear blue as seen by naked eyes. Although i don't have the capacity to capture it well by camera.

 the next day it was this

 again another day after that, still with very vast clear sky

somehow a few strips of clouds appeared the other day

Skywatch Friday

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Early Morning at Sabtang Lighthouse

We stayed for 3 nights on my third visit to Sabtang, Batanes. We even used 2 homestays on those 3 nights, 1st is at the Sabtang Lighthouse near the port. It was awesomely located on a promontory and the homestay is literally at the foot of the Lighthouse. Apparently, the lighthouse is on a private land and since the location is very idyllic the landowner decided to utilize this unique location for a homestay. At present there are 3 small cottages there with a few rooms each, me and my buddy stayed with a mother and son team. They were at the room and we at the livingroom, which was fun. There is a common bathroom and a kitchen. We all left to roam around in the morning and we transfered to another homestay in Chavayan on our 2nd and 3rd night. Of course our days seem to be very short to roam around the island.

We were literally forced by the sunrise to come out early and experience its effects on the landscape. Unfortunately, due to the urgency of the moment i was not able to bring with me the better camera in recording the sunrise. So i just have these photos to at least show you a semblance of the truth.

 This promontory is on an almost vertical ridge from the sea level. We explored every nooks and crannies to get most angles of the landscape. 

 To our right is the Sabtang port and the business center, where houses and some government offices are located, together with the school and the church. It actually is a very small community.

 At the lower left are stairway steps to an almost secret cove where visitors can privately swim or have picnic near the water. 

 It is windy and a bit cold to our standards in the tropics. By this time the sun is already up, we just cannot get in yet for breakfast as there still are some subjects to photograph, like ourselves. 

 My travel buddy, unlike me, is not afraid of heights nor depths. She prefers going to scary places. That area she was on is already a very steep vertical ridge, a slip will bring you down to the very sharp rocks below! By the way, that island at the horizon is Batan Island, where the airport is, and concentration of commerce and people are located. 

 It is nice to watch big waves breaking on the boulders. This just looks small because our location on the top gives us an angle that projects shorter sizes. 

 A nicer designed stone cottage is at the back, i surely prefer that cottages here should have been designed like that. However, the cottage at the right is already a modern structure, almost like a temporary makeshift cottage in the area. 

The view to the mountains, where cattles and goats roam freely to graze. 

Again, that is my extreme adventurer travel buddy looking for more difficult areas to explore. Despite my already softening knees, trembling while looking at her location, i still have to get this picture to document what she has been through. I actually don't know how she was able to get there! And with all my summoned courage i immediately press the shutter to be done with and already go to safer grounds. Her passions even made this trip more memorable.

Our World Tuesday
Nature Notes

Monday, February 19, 2018

Traverse Hike from Chavayan to Sumnanga Batanes

The Batanes group of islands is the northernmost part of the Philippines. But the waters in between the mainland Luzon and Batanes is wide and not very friendly for travelers, so the only option for tourists is by plane. There is even a joke that Batanes is even nearer Taiwan than the mainland Luzon. Not many Filipinos reach Batanes because of the difficulty going there and the cost of travel. The main island is Batan whose capital is Basco, where the airport is located, Sabtang is the 2nd most inhabited island and often visited by tourists aside from Basco. Sabtang is 30-40 min boat ride from Basco depending on the conditions of the waters.

Our stay in Chavayan, Sabtang, Batanes would not have been very significant if not for the trek we did to Sumnanga, a residential area at the other side of the mountains. We decided to do a traverse to look for butterflies, so we left our Homestay at 8:00am after breakfast. The path was the old Procession Route considered short cut because there was a longer path starting from the other end of Chavayan. The start was laden with medium sized stones, i assumed put there because it was so muddy during rainy days. The farmers also use the path going to their farms in the mountains, bringing their cattles or goats to pasture, and people in Sumnanga said they passed that road to attend fiesta in Chavayan.
This is just maybe a few hundred meters uphill from Chavayan, the road is still 
clear and we still see some farmers going to their farms.

We climbed inclines, crossed creeks, scrutinized vegetation to discern the real path, 
and as we get higher we get better views of the mountain ranges. We only stopped 
when we see some butterflies, of course we will take all possibilities just
 to take their pictures.  . 

we stop if there are some interesting something even not butterflies

it is easier if there are trees like this, with signs of being trimmed in the past

It is amazing to have a travel buddy who has GPS in her feet, because they seem to know where to go in cases like the above! We encountered lots of these chaos throughout this hike.  I didn't put on rash guards on my arms, so i had some itchy markings that are still with me even after 2 weeks.

There are crossings where we spent a few minutes looking for the real original path and not just another path to individual farms. As we go higher the vegetation becomes denser and the real path got lost to weeds and bushes. Of course we were walking slow specially if there are butterflies, and we saw some though most are on top of the trees, sunning themselves there to dry. At the summit we had a little dilemma as the paths really got lost, aggravated by a fire consuming the cogon grasses. We were lucky most of the grasses are still green, so we were able to cross it, downward at the mountain side. In these parts there really was no path anymore. We passed by a fern-landscaped area, a cogonal area, and some tree-tunneled areas delineating the old route. It is easier if those trees are still there, showing the signs of trimming creating the tunnel effect. We joked that there was the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel".

OMG, there is fire! How can we cross that?

downward now to wherever our feet will lead us

at last we saw Vuhus Island at the horizon, we are on the right track, just down there is Sumnanga

We walked relentlessly, and we reached Sumnanga after 5 hrs. After a few minutes of looking for tricycles to bring us to Chavayan, we learned that there are only 2 there and the owners are at the other island tending cattles. We had no choice but to go back to the path where we just came by. OMG! My travel buddy was worried for me, so she took all the contents of my backpack leaving only my small camera on my neck. At 2 pm we left Sumnanga for the return hike, this time we did it faster for 2 hours, already forgetting the butterflies. Or else we might really get lost if it gets dark. 
That really brought me some sore muscles!

can you imagine this as a path?!!!

that is my backpack clinging now at my buddy's backpack

i can now appreciate the quality of the paths and i documented them on our return

At last that is already Chavayan beach, and in a little while we can rest. A few 
hundred meters and we are already home for dinner and sleep. 

Below are some butterflies we saw, and some other interesting finds. 

 a wasp moth

 a white tiger butterfly, Danaus melanipus edmondii

  an extremely dry season form of Bush Brown, Mycalesis igoleta

lovely mushrooms on decaying trunk

(Post Script: This would not have been possible if not for my very responsible, effcient, caring, very good mountaineer buddy Linda Alisto, whose intuition in finding the path is very concise.)

Related Posts with Thumbnails