After the long flight from England, our first day
was spent relaxing in the high altitude capital Quito, where we
visited a local park where we saw a Hesperiine skipper, a
Catasticta species, and theNeotropical Painted Lady
The following morning
we caught a domestic flight to Coca, and then enjoyed a relaxing 3
hour cruise down the Rio Napo by motorised longboat. We disembarked on
a sandy beach and hiked for about a kilometre along a boardwalk which
took us through secondary forest and palm swamp. Upon reaching a
narrow stream we boarded dugout canoes and were rowed upstream,
emerging after a few minutes onto a serene lagoon.
constructed from timber and palm thatch, was set on the opposite side
of the lagoon. The lodge had its own large butterfly enclosure, behind
which was primary forest, where Satyrines including
Pierella astyoche and
Haetera piera sat motionless until we
approached, and then disappeared into the undergrowth. The narrow
trails and dense forest made butterfly observation and photography
difficult, so much of our time was spent in the more open secondary
forest, or on the sandbanks of the Napo river.
Lantana bushes in a
glade by the bungalows
butterflies including Dryas iulia, Junonia
evarete, Arawacus aetolus and other common species. Far more
productive however was the board-walk route through secondary forest
to a nearby village. Along the track were several transparent
Ithomiines, 4 species of Mesosemia
Metalmarks, and many Nymphalids including the amazing dead-leaf
butterfly Coenophlebia archidona, and the
gaudily marked Nessaea hewitsonii.
Representatives of several families, especially Nymphalidae,
Pieridae, and Hesperiidae were also found in abundance puddling at
urine-soaked sand along the shore. Callicore
hystaspes< was particularly common, and was joined by
singletons of Marpesia berania, Philaethria
dido, Lasaia agesilas and Eurytides
Our next destination was Cuyabeno River Lodge,
where unfortunately the weather was overcast and often rainy.
Butterfly photography was confined to snatched moments between
showers, but there was an excellent fauna including several stunning
skippers - Haemalacta sanguinalis,
Jemadia gnetus and
Paches loxus. Other exciting finds included the tailed
metalmarks Rhetus periander and
Ancyluris meliboeus, and the beautiful
green striped day flying moth Urania leilus
which was often seen puddling in groups of 3 or more.
I spent several minutes one day photographing a little transparent
butterfly deep in the forest. At first glance I thought it was an
Ithomiine, but close examination showed it to be a Pierid - the mimic
Dismorphia theucharila. It was quite
approachable and returned several times to the same perch.
Unfortunately, whenever I tried to focus on the butterfly an extremely
irritating mosquito landed on my ear and give me a painful bite !
Doubtless the beautifully marked 'dead-leaf' lizard which sat nearby
found it quite amusing......
After another night in
Quito, we then drove to Tinalandia in the western Andes.
The weather during our 4 night stay was mostly cloudy but there was
sufficient sunshineto enable regular close views of several very
beautiful Heliconiines including Heliconius
erato cyrbia, H. cydno, H. sapho and H.
sara. We also saw several fresh Monarchs
Danaus plexippus, some interesting
Dismorphia species, and the lovely
pink-flushed transparent Satyrine Cithaerias
pireta which proved as beautiful and elusive as ever. From
Tinalandia we took day trips to Rio Palenque, which produced an
immaculate Owl butterfly Caligo bellepheron
and an Eryphanis polyxena; and to La
Perla, where we saw< Catonephele nyctimus and
the attractive and very common Coolie Anartia
Next we drove to Maquipucuna, a rustic lodge
set in cloudforest at an altitude of 1700 metres in the western Andes.
Our time at Maquipucuna was blessed by beautiful sunny weather,
and many splendid butterflies were seen along the access road and by
the streams, including Necyria duellona,
Arawacus sito, Hypanartia godmannii, Jemadia
gnetus, Heraclides thoas,
Altinote ozomene, Cithaerias
an enormous and beautifully patterned skipper
forest trails were easy to walk and produced many interesting
Ithomiines, plus an interesting selection of cloudforest Satyrines
which included several
Euptychia species, a Corades
and an Oxeoschistus. An amusing finale
came when an immaculate Owl butterfly
Caligo illioneus flew out
from the undergrowth and landed on my nose!
site we visited was Pululuhua Crater, a misty but fairly dry
forest-clad inner caldera, with a dirt road winding to the bottom. The
road was an excellent site for strange and unfamiliar high altitude
Satyrines including Pedaliodes,
Lymanopoda and the splendid Junea doraete,
all of which were attracted to the corpse of a snake which had been
run over by a vehicle.