18 March 2014

Lepidoptera walk at 'The Fragment', REGUA, Brazil: 18 March

Another post from REGUA. Today, Helen, Rachel, Andrew 'Hhhi' Proudfoot, Pete and I teamed up with REGUA's Research Co-ordinator Jorge Bizarro for a butterfly walk along the Onofre Cunha Trail. This trail runs through an area of good quality flat lowland Atlantic Forest, a very rare habitat indeed in the Atlantic Forest nowadays, located a couple of kilometres outside of the main part of the Reserve, and known at REGUA as simply 'The Fragment'.

Jorge's knowledge of Neotropical butterflies and their lifecycles is second to none, and he found many interesting species for us during the morning, both as adults and caterpillars. For anyone visiting REGUA I highly recommend a butterfly walk with him.

Highlights include a first for Rio de Janeiro state - a Little Banner Nica flavilla flavilla - a widespread Neotropical metalmark (Riodinidae) found from Mexico south to Bolivia, and apparently rather scarce in the south-east corner of the continent, and a second for Rio de Janeiro state - a Shining Groundstreak Calycopis demonassa (Jorge photographed the first for the state only yesterday on the Forest Trail), and a new species of butterfly for REGUA.

Little Banner Nica flavilla flavilla at Onofre Cunha today - a new butterfly for REGUA and Rio de Janeiro state!

A terrible out of focus photo of today's Shining Groundstreak Calycopis demonassa, grabbed before it flew off. This is the second
record for Rio de Janeiro state, after one on the Forest Trail yesterday also found by Jorge!

Another highlight was a very fresh White Witch Moth Thysania agrippina discovered resting characteristically side-on on the side of tree. This huge Noctuid has the largest wing-span of any moth or insect in the world, with a record wing-span of 280 mm! In flight they're even more bonkers!

White Witch Moth Thysania agrippina today

Other butterflies seen include Smooth-banded Sister Adelpha cytherea, Hemon Hairstreak Theritas hemon, and several Many-banded Daggerwing Marpesia chiron marius. Many thanks to Jorge for his help with the identifications.

Smooth-banded Sister Adelpha cytherea

Hemon Hairstreak Theritas hemon - a fairly common species at REGUA

The Fragment is also an excellent site for odonata. We didn't look specifically for them today but still managed to photograph a few Argia lilacina (apparently scarce at the Fragment) and a superb male Band-winged Dragonlet Erythrodiplax umbrata (many thanks to Tom Kompier for the identifications).

Male Band-winged Dragonlet Erythrodiplax umbrata

Female Argia lilacina

Birds took a back seat this morning, but without even trying I managed to see 1 Southern Caracara, 2m and 1f White-flanked Antwren, 1 Plain-winged Woodcreeper, 1 Streaked Xenops, 2m Flame-crested Tanager, 1 Fawn-breasted Tanager, 1m and 1f Blue Dacnis, 1m Yellow-backed Tanager and 1f Violaceous Euphonia along the trail.

This morning before the walk, 3 Scaly-headed Parrot flew over the conservation centre, and I spent some time photographing more moths at the moth wall, as well as this tiny, and unusually co-operative, young Tropical House Gecko Hemidactylus mabouia that even rested on my hand while I snapped it with the macro.

This Tropical House Gecko Hemidactylus mabouia resting on my finger, has no doubt also been enjoying the recent moth trapping

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