The São José Trail wanders inside secondary forest at least 50 years old, where bananas used to grow. It has many sunlit spots and small clearings along the main trail, which really favours the presence on nice perching spots of a plethora of both forest and canopy dwellers like butterflies, shield-bugs, robber flies, moths, and dragonflies, etc.
Last year I was privileged to accompany a couple of two excellent amateur nature photographers, Arnold Wijker and Sandra Lamberts, with a keen interest in butterflies and birds, for a walk on São José Trail. We spent a lovely morning walking the trail, butterfly watching and photographing from its beginning on the Brown Trail, all the way to the Rio do Gato and the water filter that belongs to the Kirin brewery and soft drink plant.
The highlight were the metalmarks (Riodinidae) seen. This family had its origin in South America, then expanded to the Old World Tropics and recolonised South America, where around 90% of existing species occur today. The metalmark family has seen the most new species records for REGUA since the first survey which finished in 2009, and this time we came back with some amazing records:
- Calospila parthaon, a species officially known from the Amazon basin only, so this is a new state record! Seen on multiple days in the main trail.
- Theope pedias, a new Três Picos State Park and REGUA record, and might also be a new state record. We found a small population near the water filter, with plenty of individuals flying lazily around the wet patches.
- Mesosemia meeda, very rare, second ever record, and an unidentified female that tentatively belongs to this species, also bluish.
- Catocyclotis aemulius, rare and at its southernmost distribution area here.
Other more common species seen were Juditha azan azan, Melanis unxia, Eurybia molochina and Leucochimona icare matatha.
More images can be found at https://Observation.org, and a paper about the Paleo-Biogeography and Phylogny of the Riodinidae butterfly family can be downloaded at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2015.08.006.