Chocolate Albatross

Chocolate Albatross
Chocolate Albatross

Monsoon had just begun. It was late evening. Through the incessant drizzle I noticed a small yellow brown butterfly sheltering on the bi-lobed leaves of Malabar Bauhinia(Bauhinia malabarica). On closer inspection it turned out to be a male Chocolate Albatross butterfly (Appias lyncida).

I wanted to take a closeup photo but it was impossible with my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM as butterfly was around 12 feet from the ground and all I could get using that lens would have been a tiny image. So I took my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM fitted it with Canon EF 2X II Extender on my Canon EOS 7D thus increasing the focal length to 960mm (in 35mm terms). Now with this magnification I could reach up to the butterfly without disturbing it.

With rain clouds all over the evening sky, Light was fading fast. I used my new Manfrotto 0055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber tripod to setup the rig. Covered it with Storm jacket to prevent rain damaging the camera and lens. Used my Canon Speedlite 580EX II flash as fill light to get this beautiful shot. Even at full power 580EX was good enough to get f/9.5 at that distance. The depth of field at that distance was razor thin. you can see the eyes are sharp but wingtips are not.

Chocolate Albatross , Appias lyncida is a butterfly of the Family Pieridae. It is found in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Indochina, Taiwan, Hainan and possibly South China.

In India, the butterfly ranges across South India, peninsular India, Nicobar islands, Sikkim to Assam, and onto Myanmar. In South India, the Chocolate Albatross is to be found along the foot of the Western Ghats. It is found throughout the year in the Nilgiris where it is locally common. In the northern parts of peninsular India it extends into Orissa and North up to Lucknow.

The Chocolate Albatross has a wingspan of 55 to 70mm. The male is white above with chocolate-brown or black margins, and, bright lemon-yellow below with chocolate-colored markings. The female is white and densely clouded with dark-brown.

The butterfly shows seasonal dimorphism and is very variable wet and dry season forms exist.

The Chocolate Albatross is a forest butterfly and prefers rainy highlands, up to a level of 3000 ft. Flying strongly and swiftly close to the ground, the Albatross is frequently found in jungle clearings and along stream banks. The males are often found circling around trees and bushes. The Chocolate Albatross often mudpuddles, sometimes in large numbers. The butterfly occasionally visits flowers and has been recorded to visit Verbena flowers in Kodagu.

The larvae have been recorded on Crataeva religiosa, Capparis roxburghii and Capparis heyneana.

EXIF info - Aperture : ƒ/9.5 | Camera : Canon EOS 7D | Taken : 6 June, 2010 | Flash fired : yes | Focal length : 600mm | ISO : 200 | Location : 13° 4′ 1.7997600119994″ N 74° 59′ 44.314800313234″ E | Shutter speed : 1/250s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.

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