First Post – The One that troubled me!

Some butterflies you can never forget. Here is one that made my life quite difficult while trying to photograph it just outside Dikchu, on the Singtam – Mangan road in Sikkim in the late afternoon of 19 Apr 07.
Common Map 002

I first spotted it as a pale Pierid-like butterfly flying smoothly but not powerfully towards the steep hillside covered with bushes, creepers and trees. It vanished overhead under a leaf with wings protruding over the edge. Pale see-through wings, they appeared to me with some jumbled markings on them. The narrow road does not provide a berm or sidewalk, so I squirmed across the steep slope trying to contort my body into a position to photograph it. The butterfly was lying with wings flattened under the leaf; I had to squint against the bright sky. The insect was just far enough for me to not be able to see the finer details. The ominous spines on the leaves of Bichhoo booti (Urtica dioica) (or the Stinging Nettle) successfully dampened any aspirations I had about climbing for a better shooting angle. So I took a shot.

I sensed that this was a butterfly which I had never seen before. It didn’t behave like any Pierid either. Absolutely unhappy with this, I threw a stick at the bush in frustration. This disturbed the creature and it did exactly the same thing. This time it perched higher but I could view it from below with my binoculars. It showed the tell-tale transverse bars against pale white wings of …..should I tell you so soon. Disturbing it again and again it did the same thing every time. It flew under a leaf and perched with its wings flattened. It even closed and opened its wings there. Try as I might I could’nt get a decent photograph over half-an-hour. I had to walk back to the Gypsy where my family waited impatient and hungry. I dared not delay their lunch for fear of being eaten alive in lieu.
Common Map 002

Back in my room, I opened my copy of Meena Haribal’s Butterflies of Sikkim I found that this was the typical behaviour of a Nymphalid…wait for it, here it comes, of the…

….Common Map
Cyrestis thyodamas.

Explore posts in the same categories: North Sikkim, Nymphalidae, plants

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11 Comments on “First Post – The One that troubled me!”

  1. Vikram Gupchup Says:

    very nicely written. reminds me of my expierience trying to photograph the Map 🙂 It was nearer to home but this insect made us run round in circles in a deserted field for at least a dozen times before it settled down. fortunately it forgot to go under the leaf and we managed a few snaps.

  2. Sayandeep Says:

    Nice pics, but suffered shake 🙂

  3. Viren Vaz Says:

    Aare Baindurji, lovely anecdote. Didnt know abt this Common Map behaviour.
    So keep teaching me.
    Acha one thing in your images na… add the attribute hspace=”10″ and vspace=”10″ Then the text wont stick to the image and it will easer to read

  4. thebutterflydiaries Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Viren. It really improves the look of the blog. Ashwin

  5. Naina Says:

    Loved yuur blog Ashwin dada

  6. johnny Says:

    Thanks for good post

  7. Arun Baindur Says:

    Brilliant stuff! Start publishing this in magazines please. 🙂

  8. Smita Sahay Says:

    The best part of being in the services is the fact that we get to be stationed in remote, beautiful scenic places. That you are using this as an advantage, and enjoying it is very pleasing to know.
    I would like to know whether you became a naturalist, specifically a lepidopterist, first and then joined the army or vice versa?
    Am adding you to my bl;ogroll,

    • Hi Smita,

      Nice to see you on The Butterfly Diaries. I was a naturalist since a child; was brought up on Salim Ali and Gerald Durrell. Became interested in butterflies when I joined NDA.

      Glad you liked the posts. Seems like your father was in the Corps of Engineers also, like me. Interesting perceptive posts on ‘Indian-ness’.

      • Smita Sahay Says:

        Hi Ashwin,
        Thanks about the comment on my posts.

        You’re partially right. My father was a non technical officer in the Border Roads, which used to be a part of the Engineers.

        I have a friend married to the brother of a leading lepidopterist in Bhimtal. I’m sure you would know of the Smetacek family.

        Btw, I chose to comment on your first post as I wanted to go through all of them one by one!

  9. My knowledge of butterflies is near zero. Once, during my daily morning Yewoor Hill (SGNP) climb, I saw a large number of butterflies! Next day with my camera I tried shooting pictures of them. After a tiring and frustrating 1 hour, I realised butterflies are extremely camera-shy! Still managed a few ok pictures that are in this Set:


    Don’t ask me their names though …. You tell me.

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