Oman butterfly diary 6- Myrina silensus, Fig Blue…

The butterfly, Myrina silenus, (Fig Blue) is utterly striking once you catch a glimpse of it’s open wings.

My first and actually, only sighting of it was in late October 2019 when we were in butterfly heaven at Wadi Darbat, Dhofar, Southern Oman.

If you have read any of my preceding Oman butterfly diaries, you may have seen the beautiful waterfalls and scenery at Wadi Darbat, if not it’s worth a look at this post to see the landscape.

This small, vivid beauty was found in the lower level of Wadi Darbat on a single bush, which was full of these butterflies on that particular day, only. I returned several times during the week, but never saw them again. In retrospect, it was my lucky day!

Looking down from upper Wadi Darbat to the lower reaches. Note that the landscape looks quite burnt out, but once in the lower Wadi, it’s quite green.

I just had to include the biggest spider I have ever seen.

As I took the photo from the heights, my other half advised me to back off slowly and get my camera set up for a shot, without explaining what was hanging above my head… After a few seconds of a faster heart rate when I saw it, I calmed down to try to get the perfect shot!

After that “Oh my (insert expletive)” moment, we drove down to the lower reaches of the wadi and searched around, actually for dragonflies, but the bushes were full of butterflies and on one bush, right next to the water, I spotted a brown butterfly with an unusual shape…


I felt it was worth waiting for it to open its wings… I’m glad I waited, it was one of those “Ohhh, wow” moments…


Information on this butterfly is taken verbatim from the book “Butterflies of Oman” by Torben and Kiki Larsen.

This is a striking and absolutely unmistakable member of the Lycaenidae, which is found throughout Africa and Southern Arabia. Together with Coeliades anchises it is one of the most characteristic of the true African species which have managed to penetrate beyond Dhofar to Northern Oman. It has not been found in the Musandam peninsula, but may well occur since its food plants are plentiful there. Generally it is quite common except during the coldest part of the year in Northern Oman. As indicated by its vernacular name, the food plants are species of fig; experience in Africa shows that almost any species will do.

At least three species of Ficus are used in Dhofar. Adult butterflies are fond of sunning themselves on the leaves of the tree of their birth from where they fly off on brief sorties at great speed, often returning to the same perch. Flowers hold no strong attraction for silenus, but occasionally they will settle on ripe figs broken open by birds.

During my many Oman travels, I have only found this butterfly once in Wadi Darbat on a single bush, which doesn’t appear to be the case when the Larsens wrote their book in the 1980s. Maybe our world climate changes are affecting this species…


Oman butterfly diary 5- Colotis Danae, The Scarlet Tip…

Wadi Darbat is located in the Dhofar Governorate in Southern Oman.

It is a spectacular wadi which forms at Darbat lake where the water runs into the wadi from sinkholes, then wanders through the upper valley, then down a series of waterfalls and finally spills over the escarpment in a magnificent waterfall, cascading from a height of up to 30metres, which is at its best during the Khareef season (Monsoon).

In the lower wadi valley that runs to the sea at Khor Ruri, the river banks during and after the Khareef (monsoon) are green and resplendent with flowers and the whole area is a magnet for butterflies.

One, in particular, is striking for its Scarlet tips on the wings.

Colotis Danae, The Scarlet Tip is a beautifully marked butterfly but flies quite erratically and quite low, so it is easy to lose sight of them behind bushes and is hard to photograph.

One day, whilst were concentrating on these lower reaches of Wadi Darbat, I struck Scarlet Tip gold and came across several nectaring on plants very close to the edge of the water.

Butterflies of Oman, authors Torben and Kiki Larsen, for identification help.

Oman butterfly diary 4- Precis hierta, The Yellow Pansy…

My butterfly bible for Oman is “Butterflies of Oman” by Torben and Kiki Larsen, produced in 1980 in the Uk for the Office of the Adviser for Conservation of the Environment to the Government of Oman.

I haven’t found any recent updates, so possibly names have changed, there was a reprint in 1984, but I don’t have that version.

The binominal name is Junonia hierta, but Larsen uses the synonym Precis Hierta, and as I’m not up to the right level in the world of scientific classification, I’m following the Larsen’s identification!

This beautiful butterfly is described by the Larsens, as one of the most common butterflies in Dhofar (Southern Oman) on the coast and in the mountains. It had not been found in the North of Oman at the time of publishing and I have never seen in it during my forays into North Oman.

During my nature searching days in Dhofar, in October and November 2019, I only found two of these butterflies. They were up on the high escarpment above Mirbat.

We traveled the whole of the coastline, from the Yemen border to the north, and spent much time in areas where they should be prolific but, sadly only two sightings…

They are a beautiful species of butterfly.

I hope when I finally am able to return I will have more success in finding the numbers previously indicated…


Oman Butterfly diary 3-Charaxes varanes bertrami (Riley, 1931), Pearl Charaxes…

This is a butterfly that has eluded my camera on previous visits to Dhofar, Southern Oman, or so I thought.

The presence of this butterfly in Oman is limited to the Dhofar region. It is common in Africa, but there are no current records from Southwestern Arabia and Yemen, however, any investigation is not easily possible in Yemen.

As it stands the population in Dhofar seems to be quite isolated and the subspecies found locally is named in honour of explorer Bertram Thomas who caught the species in Dhofar, whilst preparing for his Rub Al Khali expedition in 1930. The butterfly seems to be relatively common in open parts of the scarp. Both sexes are fond of fermenting fruit, rotting crab or shrimp and patches of urine.

We had seen them, fluttering past on scarp tracks, stopped the jeep, but I chased in vain as they tauntingly settled, then flew away fast whenever I thought I had one in focus for THE shot. They are fast on the wing and often fly high. Fairly frustrating, but then sometimes an unexpected opportunity arises.

In October 2019, we decided to have a day visiting the various Ayn’s (valleys) which form at the base of the Dhofar escarpment.

Usually, there are spectacular waterfalls during the Khareef (monsoon) season and the Ayn’s are lush and emerald green, home to a variety of endemic and migratory birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and flora.

Khareef had finished a month previously but owing to some unusual weather in the region, the drying out of the environment hadn’t quite reached its usual barren state.

In one of the Ayn’s we started to climb up towards the escarpment and I spotted the Pearl fluttering from branch to branch. We noticed there were two, but only one settled on branches.

Sadly, it was torn and ragged, probably at the end of its flying season, but I managed to catch some shots.

Whilst looking through photos from 2018 from a location 20 km away, I found I had photographed this butterfly before and in much better condition. Only one photograph, but a good catch. It was fairly gratifying to stumble across the photograph, two years later!


Habitat Information from the “The Butterflies of Oman” by Torben and Kiki Larsen.

Oman Butterfly diary 2-Byblia ilithyia, Joker…

Oman diary, October 2019: We had decided to travel along the coast from Salalah to the Yemen border, retracing steps from previous years, but it’s a fantastic drive with many unexpected sights, so it’s always a pleasure to retrace, but that’s for another post.

One deep wadi, Wadi Sayq is the last major road construction hurdle before you get to Sarfayt, the town before the Yemen border.

Quite how this road was constructed amazes me, carved down the sides of the towering cliffs, hairpin bends, horrifying drops and, with the effects of the previous year’s cyclone and the rains just before we arrived, landslides and road cave-ins littered the route down.

The wadi is inaccessible from the coast, towering heights plummet down to the shore on either side and unless you are fully equipped and ready for some serious boulder climbing, there are few places you are able to access the wadi where the road crosses it.

But it is worth trying to find those few places. Wadi Sayq is remote, inaccessible and home to a huge variety of flora and fauna, not least the Arabian leopard, according to papers from many different biodiversity expeditions to this Wadi.

It’s where I found my first and so far, my only find of a Joker butterfly.

Byblia ilithyia is unmistakable. The underside, a honey color crisscrossed with pattern and the upperside a deep orange with black bars, it’s a strikingly, beautiful butterfly.

The distribution of ilithyia stretches from Niger/Burkina Faso to Ethiopia, Southwestern Arabia and Dhofar; it reappears in dry Southern India and Sri Lanka.

In Dhofar, this butterfly is quite common in the dense vegetation of the scarp and in the valleys of the coast

it was an unexpected sight to stumble across, but I had my camera to hand!

It didn’t stay around too long, but I took my shots… very gratifying to stumble across this beauty!



Habitat Information from the “The Butterflies of Oman” by Torben and Kiki Larsen.


Oman travels, October 2019…Up on the heights of Jebel Samham …

You are able to drive to a viewpoint on the edge of the reserve to gaze over the coastal plain and surrounding wadis.

On arriving we were alone in this remote place. There is a small path, with barriers to a certain point, the drop is sheer and I didn’t go to the certain point, my head for heights has gone with my youth.

The views are magnificent…

Suddenly we heard voices and were surrounded by tourists. Unexpected, and overwhelmed on this narrow path with teetering drops, we headed back to the car to be greeted by a long row of 4-wheel drives and their drivers, taking a rest.

Our invading tourists were on a tour, time to speed off and hope we didn’t bump into them again..


Passing through a small village, which I ( obviously) renamed One-Cow town.

We headed back down off the plateau to the coast. As we turned a corner, we screeched to a stop.

In front of me, a Dhofar Chameleon was just starting to make it’s pausing, balletic walk across a very large road.

Time to make sure it made it across. Luckily it started to run as I got out of the car, then spent a few minutes on the other side of the road contemplating this large human with a camera, Lucky me! I love to see a chameleon and also watch them change colour to match their surroundings and mood. If they start to turn black, they are stressed, this one just blended it with all the different backgrounds.

My saved-from-the road Chameleon posed perfectly for me, but then it decided it head back across the lethal road.

I had to save it, stop it somehow, so I leant in to enfold it within in my hand so I could move it away from the terror of the road corner, but it didn’t really like my saviour role.

It bit me very hard, tore into my skin, and I couldn’t get it off my hand and it started to bite my hand deeply, the OH had to prise it away, it had its teeth in deeply and ripped off a load of skin…lesson to self…Do not pick up a chameleon, however nature-kind you are…

As we were travelling remotely, had health insurance, but limited resources in that area and little availability for health care , I did a quick google on Chameleon bites when we got back to the room. Luckily a disinfectant wash seemed to be all that was required, they do not seem to carry bacteria…. Anyhow, I’m here to tell the tale, with no missing digits!



Cyprus Dragonfly Diaries-1-Calopteryx splendens

2019 saw me joining into Dragonfly recording in my area of Cyprus.

I know…it seems like a random thing to do, but, you know I like to take photographs and, why not ? Fresh air and enjoying nature is something that I have discovered is beneficial to my mind, so this is a double benefit.

There is a Dragonfly study group in Cyprus and a chance photograph of mine of a dragonfly into a local biodiversity Facebook group, led to a very old friend of mine contacting me to ask if I would be interested in accompanying her for her monthly recording for said study group.

As she lives in the next village and completes records for our local river valleys, I jumped at it.

In the company of a knowledgeable person, nature is that much more interesting.

So 4 times a month, we head off out to 2 river valley sites which are diverse in nature, searching for damselflies and dragonflies. At this stage, as there is diversity in nature and searching for one thing leads to another, I discovered how beautiful butterflies are too, especially for photography…( the butterfly posts are yet to come…)

To be quite honest, I didn’t have a clue what a Damselfly was, what it looked like and how you need to to have acute awareness to spot the tiny ones.

Once I blundered around for a while, marvelling at my friend’s ability to spot the tiniest of creatures, I was thrilled to start spotting them myself.

Damselflies are insects of the suborder Zygoptera in the order Odonata. They are similar to dragonflies, which constitute the other odonatan suborder, Anisoptera, but are smaller, have slimmer bodies, and most species fold the wings along the body when at rest, unlike dragonflies which hold the wings flat and away from the body. An ancient group, damselflies have existed since at least the Lower Permian, and are found on every continent except Antarctica.

One of the most obvious and to me, quite beautiful and easily spotted, owing to its shining body, is Calopteryx splendens ssp. amasina ( Bartenef, 1911). The Common name is Banded Demoiselle.

Below is a typical site for finding Calopteryx in the river areas. Wading is required. I have just bought wellingtons for the winter wading, beautiful wellingtons, black with red roses and a smart little tie thingy at the top…how wellingtons have changed! I want to wear them everyday! However, I digress, the wading environment is always beautiful…

A selection of photographs of the exquisite Calopteryx from locations in the Esouza and Diarizos areas in the Paphos district of Cyprus.







I’ve been spammed….

It’s been a long time, too long a time since I logged into my WordPress account…

It’s time to put 2019 ( butterflies, dragonflies, strange insects, shells, fossils, travel) into posts, but I have been busy with being supportive and stern with Younger Child over his degree ambitions and the continuous saga of maintenance required on my old and crumbling, but well-loved home.

(Younger child, previously referred to as Darling boy in earlier posts, but I think during the year of being stern, we all had to become more adult, well, not me, I’m nearly past being adult, but DB had to grow up, so, YC is now a more appropriate, anonymous name for my blog references to said child)

Crumbling home is a feeling a bit better now. It has required much TLC throughout the year, a lifetime project that my partner has done wonders with so far… thank god for Google, his skill set is now such that I will be advertising his skills when times are hard… building skills, that is!

With my mind on other worries, to organise the blog, decide on and edit the photos, plan, write, well… along the 2019 way, I lost my blogging mojo.

But, Younger child now has his degree, Yay!

I no longer need to be a good mummy… well, I do, I know I will be, but I can start to step back now and let him flee my nest (again) and in my adult mind, I’ve earned some me-time now….time to return to my WordPress world…

So I took the first step back in tonight, the familiar side menus, the “Add new post”… all within reach, but then my eye caught sight of the spam folder.

Good grief! Azimet has done a fine job and stopped over 3,000 spam messages, but there were still over 1,000 slipped through.

Viagra appeared to be the dominant message….

I have resisted all offers and didn’t bother to look after page 1, but now I am exhausted by the thought that somewhere out there, there are people-bots or whatever does it nowadays, generating random messages, sending them all over the world to flog pharmaceuticals and does anyone actually look at these messages and think…Oh, yeah, I’ll just pop in an order for a drug to that genuine looking worldwide site ?

Instead of being creative with words and photos, I’m now feeling a bit like Victor(ia) Meldrew (of a certain age and you’ll get that one) after the spam-fest, so I’ll restart my mojo briefly with a picture I took two days ago of the beautiful, tiny and fragile Narcissus obsoletus , currently flowering in Cyprus at the moment and come back soon!

Narcissus obsoletus is a species of the genus Narcissus (daffodils) in the family Amaryllidaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean littoral from north Africa and the Iberian peninsula, east to Israel.


Gefiri tou Roudia… Finding the Venetian bridges in Cyprus.

Oh, well, ok… I have been so lax this winter with my little WordPress blog.

Apologies to any followers, I hit a blog slump…Committing to being a good mummy whilst darling boy entered his final furlong for his degree, meant that I vowed to stay at home to be a mummy support and not travelling. Hmm, it’s been very hard, I love to be a traveller, but this year I’ve been trying to be such a good mummy ( my opinion, DB may have a different view)  but, well, I’ve been missing my freedom more than a tad!

Dire weather this winter led to a kind of personal fug and, apart from the good mummy business, I just retreated under a blanket, read a lot and watched TV rubbish and looked at the rain ruining my house. This problem still needs to be addressed, probably at a large cost, sadly. I’m happy to be in a drying out mode right now… a lottery win would help though! Also a dire internet connection left me irritated and impatient, this is a bit on-going, but whittling down the fault to my provider has been tedious as they don’t want to be responsible, even if they are..little by little, I’m nearly on the winning streak with them!

I did do trips but the thought of photo organisation and editing to blog was anathema, but, suddenly I think I’ve got my mojo back! The sun is shining and I feel inspired. Out of the fug … I hope!

So, to get to the post point, there are so many places to visit in Cyprus and I tend to enjoy the awkward ones.. I miss my Gulf off-roading and if there is a difficult drive, I’ll go for it.

Luckily there is much history in Cyprus, part of which are the Venetian bridges, scattered around the island and standing well, after many years.This is an interesting link to the history of the Venetian occupation in Cyprus via Wiki…

One of my favourite bridges, deep down on the edge of Paphos Forest is Gefiras tou Roudia, (Roudias Venetian bridge). Access this year is currently limited to one route via Koilineia, via Vretsia, an old Turkish village, now abandoned and then down an interminable forest track winding to to the valley base.

Cyprus has been so green this winter, but the heat is now starting to burn off the vegetation and the hillsides are fading fast to the summer brown, but down in the river valley, dappled shade and greenery shields you from the heat. The water is flowing fast, evidence at this time of year of the momentous amount of rain Cyprus experienced this winter.

It was a time to relax in depths of the shade, search out some flora and fauna and just recognise that I live on a beautiful, unique island. I had forgotten that I am very lucky to live here, during this miserable winter…

Almond blossom on a grey day….

According to the news, it has so far been the wettest five months since 1901 in Cyprus. I can vouch for the fact it has been very wet!

A planned day out today was deemed prudent to cancel, as the little cloud with raindrops on the weather app seemed to be rain-dropping all day at the destination.

But the rain was intermittent and I needed bread so went out, with my camera (just in case). I decided to turn right up the hill as there was a hint of blue between the clouds.

Bread be damned, but the grey clouds closed over the bit of blue just as I turned the corner to find an almond field in full blossom.

Oh well, too beautiful to be missed, even on a grey day.

I did buy bread, by the way. A handy little kiosk on the way down the hill had some. Not too sure it was fresh today, but it did well for toast with blue cheese snacks…

Finding anemones…

Cyprus has had a wet winter this year, but the island needs the water and the dams have reached record levels so I hope there will no water shortages during the summer.

Amidst all the rain, nature has been taking its course and one of my great pleasures is to head off to the hillsides and search for wildflowers that start to pop up in late January.

One of these is Anemone Coronaria  (Crown Anemone), family: Ranunculaceae, native to the Mediterranean region.

I’ve always seen them over the years, but now I’m actively looking, the profusion of these beautiful flowers amazes me. Popping up in moist meadows, in a range of colours, it’s a delight to find them.