Monday, May 13, 2013

The Rajah Brooke's Birdwing, Trogonoptera brookiana albescens (Rothschild)

This is by far the most impressive of the Malayan birdwings and the showiest - icon of postcards and butterfly parks for all tourists to see but in reality, this is not a common butterfly by any standard except for some distinct locations in primary forests along the Main Range. It is a very swift and lofty flyer and can be seen sometimes on tall flowering bushes like Bauhinias on the forest's edge as well as on moist spots on very dry and hot days at mid-elevation.

Habitat indicator
RSP
WV
PG
VF
FTR
SC
LWDF
LWPF
LMEF
UMN
MN







 x
 x


Frequency observation chart: (S marks the usual occurences, H marks an unusually high occurence, F for first record)
2013
Mac
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct


S1S3
S3S5
S3
S3
S3
S3

2013
2014
Nov
Dec
Jan
Feb
Mac
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
S3
S3S3S3S3S3S3S3S3S3S3S3
2014
2015
Nov
Dec
Jan
Feb
Mac
Apr
May
June
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
S3
S3
S3

S1


S1S3
S3(H)
S1S3
S3
S1S3
S3
S3

2016
Jan
Feb
Mac
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec












2017
Jan
Feb
Mac
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec













2018
Jan
Feb
Mac
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec














Last Sunday, on a hot afternoon, I chanced upon it puddling but still moving erratically and nervously, with a group of Papilio memnon. Bad shots are still better than no shots...I was actually distracted by a very large female Zeuxidia amethysthus on the fruit bait that I left on a boulder...The choice was either to snap the birdwing or the Saturn...the worse part was the fact that my camera was fixed with a 90mm macro lense which will do no good if the subject is far away and moving (and I was too overwhelmed to risk taking the time to change lenses...)! Above shows the series of photos of a very nervous and sole male Rajah Brooke's Birdwing. May 2013

This is an accidental shot with the Rajah Brooke at the background. As the flowering bush was on a roadside, it was very difficult working with nervous insects constantly disturbed by the passing traffic (and huge lorries too on such a narrow and winding road!) The butterfly did not settle on any flowers to enable any shots. What was disappointing was the fact that a female came and got "chased" away by the arrival of a truck that actually slowed down to see what was happening, prolonging their disturbance...


These two photos were taken back in September 2010 at the Gunung Brinchang Mossy Jungle trail. I rescued the butterfly as it was settled on the tarmac and I didn't want to run over it. When the sun returns, it took flight...

***

Where I frequent is not a known Rajah Brooke's Birdwing's country but I have seen one today while trekking in the interior (29 May 2013) but it was swift and was doing its rounds along the jungle path. When I came out at about 15:30 to have a meal at the canteen, I talked to the proprietor of the shop and she just point out that butterflies come to puddle behind the recently bulldozed land behind the public toilet. Then, a huge female Papilio memnon flew pass and I went chasing after it only to discover a huge black butterfly puddling with a group of Bluebottles in the distant. Look at what greeted me...







*     *     *
The previously observed non-puddling males have recently taken on the habits of puddling together with Papilio helenus and Papilio memnon. The most I have seen was 3 males on the same spot on 31 May 2013.



All photos from 31 May 2013 @ 12:37

*    *    *    *    *
On 12 June 2013, I managed to photograph a female visiting flowers of the Day Lily around the Telekom Loop in Fraser's Hills at 11:30.








*     *     *     *     *

25 Oct 2014 @ 13:53



Above photos 11 June 2015 @ 12:26

*     *     *     *     *

31 May 2017 @ 11:31

A group of puddlers at Kuala Woh, Tapah: 30 May 2017

And some at Ulu Geroh, Gopeng. 30 May 2017

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