Posted tagged ‘Butterfly Conservatory of Goa’

An encounter with Forest Glories

25 January 2011

It was already well past noon when we started trekking across the path near the stream in the Tambdi Surla forest. The jungle appeared to be dry deciduous. Shady trees with well-spaced chest-high jungli Tagar trees. The path was fairly good with few rocks, uneven-ness or thorny branches to stop us proceeding. Alas the forest is being completely encroached by Eupatorium which has correctly been named as “raaNmoDi” in Marathi. (Capitals indicate hard consonants.) As we proceeded we found bushes lining a hundred yard stretch on both sides.

On the leaves of a bush about 4 feet away, a large damselfly three inches or more in length with wings held high at an angle from the body was seated. The body was velvet shining green – it was a male; the female being a duller brown in place of the green.  The damselfly was extremely alert not allowing us to approach closer than six to eight feet but it would flitter away and come back over and over again. On each side we could see eight to ten such damselfies at any one time. I judge that that they held their wings between 40 and 70 degrees – but most were around 60 degrees from the line of the body.

As I lined up to photograph it, it darted away and repositioned it self a few feet away.  It led me a merry-go-round chase while others enticed me in their turn. I know, it sounds strange but the species appeared to my anthropomorphic eyes to have a mischievous personality. It had a very graceful flight – this is reflected in its name – Vestalis gracilis, or, the Clear-winged Forest Glory.

We didn’t quite get very good images but Miss Aboli Kulkarni immediately identified it for me as the Clear-winged Forest Glory. It is termed as clear-winged as it lacks the spots on the wingtips characteristic of the Glories.

There is no doubt – the damselfly is graceful and beautiful and found in the forest. From now on, its also my favourite damselfly.

I’m attaching an image better than mine by Jeevan Jose from Kadavoor in Kerala, who writes:

This damselfly has brilliant metallic shining green colours. The wings look transparent but at particular angle you can see a bluish shade on the wings.

Different from Black-tipped forest glory (Vestalis apicalis).

Most of the species of damselflies are found along the perennial stream inside the swamp. But Clear-Winged Forest glory is found in the undergrowth of interior forest areas. But there are á few in my backyard. (Dont envy me.:)”

The Clear-winged Forest Glory (Vestalis gracilis) (Image: Jeevan Jose)




This encounter took place during a trip to Tambdi Surla arranged for me by Yashodhan Heblekar  during my visit to his Butterfly Conservatory of Goa ( Thanks to Prasad Patil of Mystic Woods who took us to this spot with beautiful damselflies.

Meet the Monkey-Puzzle (Rathinda amor)

3 January 2011

Visited the beautiful Butterfly Conservatory of Goa (Yashodhan Heblekar’s place) just after Christmas. It’s a very nice setup, great hospitality and good food. I spotted some very nice butterflies there.

Bait placed at the verdant Butterfly Conservatory of Goa!

Here is one which made a great impression on me – the Monkey-puzzle (Rathinda amor).

Monkey-puzzle (Scientific name - Rathinda amor) (Image:Vijay Barve on Wikimedia Commons)

The BCGoa is located on the hill-slope of the Bhootkhamb plateau which has wet deciduous forest. The Monkey-puzzle was the most prominent lycaenid (blues family-member). It is quite small, not very much larger than the grass-blues. At that time of the day, noon, it was active in the shade under the trees. We saw at least twenty. The butterfly would land on a leaf, shuffle and waggle its tails.

The Monkey-puzzle has three tails on each hindwing, white-tipped and linear. There is a tornal spot on the hindwings near the tail. The tail complex can be considered to resemble the head and antennaes and are thought to confuse predators.

Moist deciduous forest at Bhootkhamb plateau

Moist deciduous forest at Bhootkhamb plateau

Often, butterfly-lovers are familiar with the vividly patterned underside of the Monkey-puzzle which is characteristic and unmistakeable. Strangely, above it is quite plain brown except for a few undistinguished spots. I attach an image of the upperside of Monkey-puzzle.

The Wikipedia article on the Monkey-puzzle ( read about the butterfly here :  ) describes the butterfly above as :

“Upperside – The butterfly is dark brown. It has a white-spot end cell. It has narrow white spots on 2 and 3 which form a short band on the forewing. On the UPH it has two black tornal spots and narrow dark reddish spot above them.”

Markings of upperside of the Monkey-puzzle butterfly (Rathinda amor). Bhootkhamb plateau, Pisgal, Ponda district, Goa, India.

Notice : This is an excerpt of an email sent to ButterflyIndia email group which you must surely join if you are interested in Indian Butterflies.