The Hat-trick Walk to Sihagad

26th January 2020

Time:
10:00 am to 03:00 pm

Walking members: Pavan Damoor, Savita Bharti, Himanshu Pandav, Mahesh Ghanekar, Prasad, Sourabh.

Yes, a hat trick walk! The first walk of 2020 for Pune Butterfly Group was 12th January to Sihagad Valley guided by Pavan Damoor. This was our first walk to Sihagad and having spotted butterflies not reported from the habitat before got us all excited! Pavanji visited the valley again on 19th Jan and got another big sighting not reported from Pune District before. Surely this was running on the backend when he posted on group for visiting on 26th hoping for a third record. So we called this a hat trick walk to Sihagad. Plan was posted on group and those who were interested and could make it decided to meet at location.

I met Pavanji right at the bus stop the moment I got off from bus. We both had a filling breakfast of missal pav and started the walk. Himanshuji was to join us at the spot little later, Mahesh ji to was attending a republic day parade confirmed joining after 11. We started the walk, saw Prasad on the birding spot at stream, we were meeting first time. Called and waved at him. He waved back saying he will join us in a while.

The first butterfly photograph we took was a common tree brown. This was a new addition to our list from previous visit. Somewhere around here, Prasad joined in along with his friend Sourabh. As we were walking a beautiful wanderer in all its hues of blue flew by. It was nectaring on flowers by the stream. We got down to photograph it. Prasad got some lovely frames. He promised to share the same on group.

We went to location number one, that still had wild growth. Sun was shining bright and butterflies have started warming up. We had tough time deciding which butterfly to follow, painted lady, common sailer, danaid eggfly, great eggfly, chocolate pansy, grey pansy, evening brown etc like last visit were around. Plenty of common sailers, evening browns and chocolate pansies mostly in DSFs were observed. Few individuals of sailers were double the size we photographed last time.

Pavanji had mentioned on last visit about spotting commander here and this visit it flew right infront of him. I was constrained with a macro lens, am sure other got the photograph! We must have spent about half an hour here, Himanshuji joined in along with a birder friend. A great eggfly female was in a mood to bask out on the soil. Commander was competing with her for the spot. Pavanji also spotted a DSF of a bush brown here. We guess it’s a common bush brown. No upper side could be photographed.

Himanshuji’s friend who knows quite a bit of habitat here with birding trips was helping us spot butterflies. (I must have counted like 20 chocolate pansies he showed me) Few moth activities were also observed. One in particular interest was the salt and pepper moth. I wanted a photograph of it for some time, managed it now. We saw the pretty looking DSF for common pierrot here. It gave us a nice studio pose for photography.

The scenery had changed a bit from last time, I thought the lantana clumps (good source of nectaring) we spotted butterflies on were cut down, but Pavanji assured its little ahead. We moved ahead. We were crossing dry stream with few trees on the sides. A trinket snake got into a little hole right infront of my foot. I could not manage a photograph but realised wearing a shoe in field is so important. Little ahead were spotted quite a few common tree browns and evening brown under a tree trunk (part of its root was exposed due to water erosion). A great eggfly female was seen resting on the leaf of the same tree trunk giving us beautiful photographs. As we moved up from the dry stream the field was tilled and I completely forgot visiting the place when I spotted the loranthus on mango we saw last time, the tiny flowers were now big and were in bloom. I knew we were heading in right direction. In a hope to spot some caterpillar we scanned the plant. It was flowering and sunbirds were coming on it for nectar. An empty chrysalis of a baron was spotted on the loranthus. It must have been around when we visited last but such a camouflage that we did not spot it then. While we were looking at it, something flew fast like a flash to another mango tree ahead. We are sure it was a royal but could not get a good glimpse to confirm which one.

We reached the spot where lantana bushes were in plenty. The same spot where Pavanji had his lifer of abnormal silverline last week. Pavanji was ahead and I was walking with Prasad and Himanshuji. Something flew in air, a deep blue and I mentioned it is a blue pansy. Keeping a track saw it rest on ground. It did not look like a pansy now in closed wing. It was like seeing stars in daylight. Here was the silver streak blue again. Resting on grass, infront of us. All three laid flat on ground and got good macros of it. On the lantana bushes the stripped tiger, common crow, leopard, painted lady were doing their routine rounds. A seasoned bulbul was on its perch deciding which butterfly to catch. This lantana bush is little higher to ground level. We have to climb a bund to be at eye level of flowers. Below we had a medley of forget me nots. Males were flashing up the lavender blue while females were more interested in nectar of alternanthera. Gram blue, tailless line blue, psyche, chocolate pansy, common pierrot, angled pierrot etc were giving company in the medley.

We even managed to locate the small castor plant that had eggs by castor on our visit two weeks back. The caterpillars have grown in size maybe in their third instar. We could see two caterpillars. I was trying to photograph them when Pavanji called out, 6 pansies! We rushed to see them, spotted a peacock pansy. This was addition to our list of 5 pansies already spotted here, so this was no 6 actually!!!

Since the sighting was good, we thought could explore a bit more to see if stream is wet somewhere and we get to see puddling activity. A little further, a suffused double banded judy with a broken wing was spotted. No wet patch or butterfly activity so we decided to move back. We had this stinging nettle plants around (Girardinia diversifolia), a while ago Pavanji had accidently rubbed his hand on one and he immediately developed itch. Luckily, he was wearing a full sleeve T shirt and after first hint of itch he immediately washed his hand with water, not much harm was done. Second reminder that in field we need to be fully covered to avoid bites and accidental touching of harmful/allergic wild plants.

While heading down for stream, a nawab came and settled on animal excreta right in middle of walking path. We decided to wait for it to come back on excreta. Little water was poured on the shit that smelt just too bad; however, the same stinking smell invited the nawab again. We got our first photographic record from Sihagad. This was on my wish list for years. The first time I read about nawab, found where I can photograph it in Pune, Sihagad visit was must on my hit list. The birders were gone by now and we wanted to check the puddling spot right at beginning. We bid goodbye to the nawab and headed ahead. Another nawab flew over our heads and we quickly spotted where it was to photograph it. The stream has open defecation, the nawab was headed to that. Sensing our presence, it stayed on a dry twig high up for long. After a while we lost interest and moved further.

A nice cold lemonade awaited us. Gutting it down in a breath we rushed to the puddling spot. Met Mahesh Ghanekar ji waiting for us here. As luck would be, a very fresh nawab visited to absorb nutrients from soil. A female paradise flycatcher was waiting for eating it. Our presence deterred her a bit. We also met Manas (the new addition on group yesterday). Another nawab visited. While Pavanji and Maheshji went to photograph it, we focused on the first individual.

The bird attached the second nawab and in a little while both of them just vanished from the spot. Luckily the bird did not catch it infront of us! Two cerulean were moving up and down in air, in a while both perched on the Karanj plant (Pongamia pinnata), instinctively I went around and spotted two single egg. When I blew the pic to see close up, it looked like that of sunbeam. The one on top was of cerulean. After coming home saw all my pics and realised there were more eggs, we did not see them easily on first glance. Just as we were taking the pics, Himanshuji showed me a skipper photograph. I had never seen that before and immediately went looking for it. As he had described I found it on stream taking in water. It did not even bother much to fly away. Was perhaps hungry. We got ample time to photograph it. Another lady joined us here, joined us as in she asked me to step aside so she could also photograph the butterfly. Her name was Savita as well. I though she is friends to members on group and so joined us. Later realised she has come for birding and got interested in our activity. Asked me to add her to group but sadly that was not the moment to take her no or add her. Perhaps another meeting is needed with her for this. Later Pavanji confirmed id of the butterfly as Vindyan bob, another lifer from Sihagad. I had photographed it only once in Rajmachi, a single frame then to plentiful today, my quota got full.

We explored a bit more, found nothing more interesting and the hunger pangs were growing louder so decided to call it a day. It was around 3 pm. Went to same shop for pithla bhakri, this time also ordered batata vada. A hearty meal, going over our list of butterflies we decided to call it a day.

Himanshuji had carried his calendar for us, was lucky to have a copy. It looks more lovely in print, esp with the butterflies on it.

With two visits, I observe there is a lot of variation in species diversity and number. Being more on greener side on a hill this habitat has lot more promises for us. A detailed, periodic survey here will yield good results for us, the butterflying community. I hope the efforts are continued further that helps in documenting the diversity rather than getting lifer shots or tick on lists.

We saw at least one representative member of all 6 families found in the country. The count for first time reached half a century in couple of hours. This gives a good boost to do more and more walks, in different habitats. Here is the list

Sl no Scientific Name Common Name

Hesperiidae/Skipper

  1. Arnetta vindhiana / Vindhyan Bob
  2. Parnara/ Pelopidas Species

    Lycaenidae/Blues

  3. Castalius rosimon / Continental Common Pierrot
  4. Caleta decidia / Indian Angled Pierrot
  5. Leptotes plinius / Asian Zebra Blue
  6. Pseudozizeeria maha/ Grass Blue (Pale/Dark/Lesser)
  7. Zizula hylax / Indian Tiny Grass Blue
  8. Euchrysops cnejus/ Oriental Gram Blue
  9. Catochrysops strabo / Oriental Forget-me-not
  10. Lampides boeticus/ Pea Blue
  11. Jamides celeno / Oriental Common Cerulean
  12. Prosotas dubiosa/ Indian Tailless Lineblue
  13. Prosotas nora/ Indian Common Lineblue
  14. Rapala manea / Bengal Slate Flash
  15. Curetis thetis/ Indian Sunbeam

    Nymphalidae/Brushfooted

  16. Melantis leda/ Oriental Common Evening Brown
  17. Lethe rohria / Dakhan Common Treebrown
  18. Mycalesis perseus / Dakhan Common Bushbrown
  19. Ypthima baldus/ Sahyadri Common Five-ring
  20. Charaxes athamas / Oriental Common Nawab
  21. Phalanta phalantha / Oriental Common Leopard
  22. Neptis hylas / Indian Common Sailer
  23. Ariadne merione / Dakhan Common Castor
  24. Junonia almana / Oriental Peacock Pansy
  25. Junonia atlites / Oriental Grey Pansy
  26. Junonia iphita / Oriental Chocolate Pansy
  27. Junonia lemonias/ Chinese Lemon Pansy
  28. Junonia orithya / Pale Blue Pansy
  29. Vanessa cardui/ Painted Lady
  30. Hypolimnas bolina/ Oriental Great Eggfly male + female
  31. Hypolimnas misippus/ Danaid Eggfly male + female
  32. Parantica aglea aglea/ Coromandel Glassy Tiger
  33. Tirumala limniace/ Oriental Blue Tiger
  34. Danaus chrysippus/ Oriental Plain Tiger
  35. Danaus genutia / Oriental Stripped Tiger
  36. Euploea core / Indian Common Crow
  37. Moduza Procris/ Sahyadri Commander

    Papilionidae/Swallowtail

  38. Pachliopta aristolochiae/ Indian Common Rose
  39. Papilio demoleus / Northern Lime Butterfly
  40. Papilio polytes Romulus/ Indian Common Mormon (male)

    Pieridae/Whites and Yellows

  41. Catopsilia Pomona/ Common Emigrant
  42. Catopsilia pyranthe/ Mottled Emigrant
  43. Eurema hecabe / Oriental Common Grass Yellow
  44. Eurema laeta / Indian Spotless Grass Yellow
  45. Delias eucharis/ Indian Jezebel
  46. Leptosia nina / Oriental Psyche
  47. Cepora nerissa / Dakhan Common Gull
  48. Belenois aurota / Indian Pioneer
  49. Pareronia hippie/ Indian Wanderer male + female

    Riodinidae/Metal Marks

  50. Abisara bifasciata/ Suffused Double Banded Judy

Posted by savita savita, January 27, 2020 19:47

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