Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

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Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby moloch » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:19 pm

Greetings everyone,

I am back from a wonderful trip to Malaysia. I spent six weeks in June and July at several sites including Taman Negara in west Malaysia, the Maliau Basin in Sabah (east Malaysia, Borneo) and then Fraser's Hill (west Malaysia). My trip was prompted by an invitation to participate on a butterfly survey of the Maliau Basin. This reserve was largely unknown with regards to butterflies and a group of avid photographers from Singapore and Malaysia were able to organize the survey. I, of course, looked for reptiles, birds and mammmals while there. I did the same at all sites although I spent much of the time in pursuit of butterflies.

I will have three posts from this trip. Reptiles were hard going so unfortuantely I won't have many shots of these creatures. I will have many other natural history photos along with numerous shots of the butterflies. Malaysia is one of the top locations in the world for butterflies. The total list is on the order of 1400 species so the diversity and sheer numbers of butterflies at most sites was staggering. I had lots of fun searching for these and the other animals that live in the Malaysian rainforests.

Fraser's Hill is a lovely hill station located about 100 km northeast of Kuala Lumpur. The temperature in the mountains is much lower than in the hot, steamy lowlands so this is a popular retreat on the weekends. Weekdays were quiet and I usually had the roads and trails to myself. My wife and I stayed at the Pekan Bungalow as we did on our last visit.
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Not far away was the town centre with this often photographed clock:
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... and the restaurants where we ate. Food was cheap and my wife and I could usually buy a tasty, spicy dinner for less than $10 AUD for the two of us.
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Here are shots of the rainforest near the little town of Fraser's hill or along the 8 km road down to the Gap.
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Mornings and evenings were often misty although not really all that cool. Temperatures usually hovered between 18C and 24C.
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I visited the Jeriau Falls area a few kms from the hill on several afternoons. The sandy area along the creek above the falls was a great place for butterflies. I learned how to bait for butterflies with the butterfly photographers in Borneo. Shrimp paste (belachan) dissolved in water worked very well. The Malaysians use this smelly stuff in many of their dishes and the butterflies love it as well.
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Snakes were hard to come by and I only found two live and one dead on the hill. The most impressive was the Malayan Rat Snake (Elaphe flavolineata). Wow, what a creature! I blocked it from crawling off the road one morning and it immediately flattened its neck, lifted into coils and attacked. I stood still expecting this to be a bluff. I was wrong and it shot up to me and bit my leg. I caught it and then moved it to a more open location for photos. Unfortunately, it settled fast so most of my shots were when it was only in a "half-hostile" emotional state.
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I found this injured White-spotted Cat Snake (Boiga drapiezii) a little below the Gap. It was still alive but it had been hit by a car and was mortally injured. Its form was so much like Imantodes in the neotropics. I did not recognize it as a Boiga at all until I looked through the photo guide.
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The third snake that I found was a flattened Malayan Banded Wolf Snake (Lycodon subcinctus). It was too damaged for photos. I would have been very wary about touching it at night since it looked much like a krait.



Geckos included what I think to be a Banded Slender-toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus pulchellus). These were large, fast-running geckos that usually would race off the road before I could get back to them for photos.
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During the day, I saw several species of skinks but I don't have photos this year.


This is the burrow of one of the primitive trapdoor spiders, Liphistius sp. I passed a small stick across the door of the burrow and the spider absolutely exploded out of its burrow and hit the stick with considerable force. I involuntarily jumped back and this unfortunately flicked the girl onto the ground. She was highly defensive at first with front legs and fangs lifted but then after awhile, appeared frightened to be so exposed. I used a stick to lift her and place her next to her burrow. Hopefully, she found her way home.
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This one popped out of its burrow when I was working with the spider above. It seemed to be watching to see the source of the commotion.
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I found a few tarantula burrows along road cuts. These tarantulas were large with red legs and a navy blue body ... quite colourful. I was able to tempt this one to the edge of its burrow but it would not come all the way into the open.
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Primates were numerous around Fraser's Hill. Long-tailed Macaques were the most common but this year, for the first time, I saw several troops of Pig-tailed Macaques. Here are a couple that I photographed along the road. I had to shot from inside the car since they always ran if I poked the camera out the window.
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Dusky Leaf Monkeys were also fairly common.
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Here are shots of the butterflies. I will start with the Pierids and then others in subsequent updates to this post. Some of the pierids were so beautiful. Many of these were quite strange with colourful outer wings but rather dull black and white inner wings.

Here was one of the prettiest known as a Painted Jezebel (Delias kyparete):
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This is the beautiful Red-base Jezebel (Delias descombesi), a species that is the most numerous in the hills.
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The most common Jezebel by far was the Malayan Jezebel (Delias ninus). Unfortunately, all of those that I saw remained high overhead.
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Here is one of the Gulls (Cepora nadina):
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Spotted Sawtooth (Prioneris thestylis): I saw one of these on most days. What a beauty!
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... a sawtooth mixed with Chocolate Albatross.
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Redspot Sawtooth (Prioneris philonome)
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an Albatross (Appias cardena)
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White Albatross (Appias indra)
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Orange Albatross (Appias nero): one of the few entirely orange butterflies. The upperwings were brightly coloured so this was a lovely butterfly in flight.
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Chocolate Albatross (Appias lyncida)
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Banded Puffin (Appias pandione): These had both white and yellow forms.
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Dercas verhuelli
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Grass Yellow (Eurema simulatrix)
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Grass Yellow (Eurema sp.)
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... more to come
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Wolf777 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:28 pm

Was waiting for your posts to start again. It seems like absolute paradise! Great series of pics, especially the ones with the rat snake. Keep them coming!
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Mitton » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:38 pm

I love your reports on amazing trips, you are very fortunate.
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Sico » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:25 pm

Thank you once again David for another fascinating view of the other side of the world, I'm looking forward to more on this trip!
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby moloch » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:48 am

Thanks very much, guys.

... for another fascinating view of the other side of the world ...

Sico, that is exactly how I view your reports. I love to see those from different parts of Africa.
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby moloch » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:16 pm

Here are a few Nymphalids.

Black and white striped butterflies like this are fairly common. There are many species that look like this but with subtle variations. This one is Athyma cama
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Athyma selenophora
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Map (Cyrestis maenalis)
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Map (Cyrestis nivea)
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... one of the Casters (Ariadne merione)
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Small Leopard (Philanta alcippe)
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Malay Yeoman (Cirrochroa malaya)
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Banded Yeoman (Cirrochroa orissa)
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Cirrochroa tyche
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Jester (Symbrenthia hypatia)
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Autumn Leafwing (Doleschallia bisaltide)
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Asian Leaf Butterfly (Kallima limborgii): What an amazing butterfly! This one was attracted to fermenting bananas. It allowed me to closely approach it for photos.
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Tawny Rajah (Charaxes bernardus): This is a member of the genus that is so big in Africa. There are a fair number of species in Malaysia as well.
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Related to the Charaxes are these Polyura butterflies known as Nawabs.

Common Nawab (Polyura athamas)
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Similar but much less common. Polyura moori
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Similar but common. Plain Nawab (Polyura hebe):
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Yellow Indian Nawab
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Wizzard (Rhinopalpa polynice)
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Stibochiona nicea
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Black-tipped Archduke (Lexias pardalis)
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Blue Admiral (Kaniska canace)
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I saw two of these gorgeous Constables (Dichorragia nesimachus). They both were attracted to shrimp paste bait. I think that they closely resemble in colour and behaviour the Hamadryas of the neotropics.
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Royal Assyrian (Terinos terpander): these can be stunning in good light. This one was unfortunately quite worn.
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This butterfly is not colourful but it is a member of a rare species (Euthalia eriphylae)
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Paduca fasciata
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby moloch » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:16 pm

Shrimp paste was an effective bait for attracting butterflies. There weren't any butterflies sitting along the creek in the following photo until I poured out a little of the shrimp paste mixture.
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Common Three Ring (Ypthima pandocus)
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Here are photos of a few swallowtails. Graphium is the abundant genus of swallowtails in the Asian tropics.

Graphium bathycles:
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Graphium evamon
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Common Bluebottle ("Blue Triangle" in Australia) (Graphium sarpedon): This was the most common Graphium at the sites that I visited.
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Red Helen (Papilio helenus): big and common
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Great Mormom (Papilio memnon): even bigger than Red Helen and also common.
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Four-bar Swallowtail (Pathysa agetes)
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Green Dragontail (Lamproptera meges): This swallowtail looks much like a long-tailed skipper.
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Relatives of Monachs (Danainae subfamily of Nymphs) were abundant and some of the most conspicuous butterflies at Fraser's Hill. Most were brown with iridescent patches of blue or purple on the upper wings.

Malayan Crow (Euploea camaralzeman): this was one of the largest crows that I observed.
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Blue-striped Crow (Euploea mulciber)
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Purple-brand King Crow (Euploea eunice): another large species of crow
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Magpie Crow (Euploea radamanthus): common near water.
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Yellow Glassy Tiger (Parantica aspasia)
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Chocolate Tiger (Parantica melaneus)
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Dark Blue Tiger (Tirumala septentrionis)
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Common Tiger (Danaus genutia): looks much like a Monarch but not quite as large.
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LYCAENIDAE

Blues were abundant and included butterflies with a range of colours and patterns.

Leaf Blue Leaf (Amblypodia narada)
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Elbowed Pierrot (Caleta elna)
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Malayan Sunbeam (Curetis santana)
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Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa)
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Fluffy Tit (Zeltus amasa)
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RHIODINIDAE (Metalmarks)

Punchinello (Zemeros flegyas)
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HESPERIIDAE (skippers)

Geographic Map (Odina hieroglyphica)
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Potanthus ganda
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Telicota colon
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Pithauria marsena
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Wolf777 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:17 pm

I always learn loads of new things on your posts, very informative with some really good photographs too! Do you know why the butterflies are attracted to the shrimp paste?
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Pieter89 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:07 pm

Wow, awesome post, thanks!!!
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Smeegle » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:20 am

Stunning post! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share with us :)
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Reptiles Unlimited » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:04 am

Wow, who needs the Discovery channel.

Awesome pics and details, thank you for sharing with us.
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Rob Macmillan » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:01 pm

Its not often im left speechles, but right now i am flawed!! Excellent pics and these are an absolute pleasure to look at over and over again.
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby moloch » Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:15 am

Thanks very much, guys.

Here are a final few shots before I begin a post of Taman Negara photos.


Tailed Judy (Abisara neophron): a Rhiodinid
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Common Faun (Faunis canens): Morphinae
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Lyssa Moth:
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Sphyinx:
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Cerambycid:
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Rhionceros Beetle: Not nearly as impressive as those at from Maliau Basin.
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Orchid:
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... that is it!
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Sico » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:11 pm

Moloch, I love seeing how similar a lot of our African lepidoptera are to the ones found in the Indo-Pacific region. The last Sphyngid that you posted looks strikingly like the ones I have collected up in East and West Africa. Thanks for another stunning post!
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Re: Fraser's Hill, Malaysia. July 2011

Postby Qball » Sun Aug 14, 2011 11:15 pm

Just another day in paradise... Thanks mate! Great to see people sharing their experiences.
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