Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lesser Wanderer

A Lesser Wanderer basks in the sun while perched on a low twig. 

I was out at The Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve beside West Wyalong, New South Wales, over the weekend (on a bird-banding trip) and there were several of these Lesser Wanderer Danaus chrysippus butterflies flitting about. They all flew low over the ground, landing on the tips of sedges and shrubs in open glades to bask in the sun.

This was a male - the lower wing spots are large and main one has a white centre.
The upper wing spots are also large (previous image).

The species is common and widespread over most of Australia, but not so common in the south-east, so these were just about on the edge of their main range. As they are migratory, perhaps these specimens were pushing south in the height of summer. Or they could have been the offspring of butterflies that had flown south earlier in the year, as the females can lay several sets of eggs per annum.

The head and thorax have a marvelous chequered pattern

As I stalked ever closer and closer to them I gradually realised how boldly the head and  thorax are marked. The black and white pattern is stunning, and out of our usual human scale of perception..

There was a light wind, so the butterflies had to constantly flip their wings wide open,
over-extending them to compensate for the tricky sun-basking conditions


  1. Nice one, Stuart. Haven't seen them at Charcoal Tank before. Only photos I have of the species are from Alice Springs and Bowra.

  2. Yes I was thinking of you Harvey as I was creeping about lining up shots. You would have been doing the same thing for sure.