BTW are there some Delias sp. which are both lowland and mountainous species in the same country ? Like Aglais urticae in Europe.
I am trying to find one example, but cannot find any.
In Thailand D.hyparete commonly seen at sea level and also in mountains around 1500m. Also I would say D.descombesi and pasithoe I have seen many times in Chiang Mai City around 300m and in the mountains at 1500m.
And if it was, it would be common in collection like schoenbergi.
I thought Delias schoenbergi choiseuli was very rare in collections. I remember Laurie took a pair and he was very pleased. I think you would have to look at the geography of where Meek collected on the northern coast of Choiseul, he mentions no contact with the natives there, due to them being hostile. His series of Delias alberti are in fine condition and I believe were taken by his collecting crew.
Map of Choiseul with Tambatamba (Tambotambo) Island, south of the Black dot on the northern coast, where according to Shane Parker (1967) Meek had his Island Base between 5-31 December 1903 when the Delias alberti were taken. Parker states he collected on the opposite coast and up a river, the Tarapa? a mile from the base camp.
Specimens of Ornithoptera urvillianus Guérin-Méneville, 1830 from collections made by Charles Morris Woodford.
Woodford in a Naturalist among headhunters (1890) wrote of Ornithoptera urvillianus" It is found throughout the western islands of the Solomon group, and I have taken it on Ysabel, Savo, Gela or Florida and Guadalcanar. I never met with it on Malaita. It does not, so far as I can ascertain, extend to San Christoval. The wings of the male, with their deep purplish blue upper and greenish under side, contrast vividly with its bright yellow body. It is a most beautiful object at rest of flying.
The female, although not so bright in colour, being only a sombre greyish-brown with lighter markings, exceeds the male in size. I have met with individuals measuring close upom nine inches across the open wings. The sight of half a dozern of these insects hovering over the sweet white flowers of the Cerbera Odollam is one to be remembered. While living at Alu I reared several of these insects from larvae.
Specimens of Ornithoptera urvillianus from the OUMNH collections.
Aola, Guadalcanar,Solomon Islands. Captured March 30-September 25, 1887. C.M. Woodford. Ex Godman & Salvin collection.
Alu Island-Shortland Island, Solomon Islands. Captured June 23 to mid-August 1886 by C.M. Woodford. Ex Godman & Salvin collection.
With specimens set in this fashion the wingspan is quite a bit bigger than the specimens set nowadays, probably explains why we don't see the sizes of specimens they used to collect back then, a 9" female set today would be an inch smaller.
Albert Stewart Meek in search of Papilio toboroi Ribbe, 1907.
Albert Stewart Meek's collecting expedition to the Solomon Archipelago during 1907-1908 was to be last visit to those South Sea Islands. Meek had proposed an expedition to the mountains of Guadalcanal but Rothschild & Jordan were not keen on the idea. In A Naturalist in Cannibal Land (1913), Meek wrote, " I am sorry you have no faith in Guadalcanar, perhaps I can explain it. Where all the collecting has been done there on Aola on the north coast, where the country is very flat with the exception of a few crags and ridges close to the coast ".
" If I made a mountain trip on Guadalcanar, as I intended, I should go through the low-lying country and get into the "true" mountains, where my experience always has been that collecting can be carried out under conditions very much more favourable for success than where the hills come down to the sea. The reason I collected at Aola was partly owing to want of knowledge on my part and partly because at that time the natives were to bad elsewhere. I have every faith in Guadalcanar, if only for the fact of its being the only island in the Solomons where it is practicable to get to any height, with the exception of Bougainville. I am not quite mad enough to attempt a mountain trip there - at least not without knowing a great deal more than I know at present".
Meek sailed from the island of Samarai in a Ketch, the Shamrock, on the September 30, 1907 ; on board were his younger brother-in-law Albert Eichhorn, the ship's master and his New Guinea and New Hebrides native crew.
Meek reached Gizo Island in the New Georgia group on October 10, 1907 ; here Meek found a letter waiting for him from Karl Jordan, the curator of Walter Rothschild's Tring Museum. Jordan requested that Meek proceed to Bougainville to obtain specimens of the new Papilio laglaizei toboroi Ribbe, 1907, that had been collected on that island by a Catholic Father of the Sacred Heart Mission.
According to Parry (1967), Meek sailed to the south-east coast of Bougainville in November 1907 and landed at the mission station in the Buin District to meet with the collector of the new Papilio. Father Francois Allotte and Father Jean Rausch had established the mission station there a few years earlier. At some point during 1907, Father Rausch would leave the Buin district to take charge of his own mission station at Koromira bay in North Bougainville. (Kronenburg H. & Hendry). Either Father Allotte or Father Rausch had discovered P. toboroi when they collected a female specimen in the Toboroi district of Northern New Guinea in 1906 or 1907, which was sent to Carl Ribbe, the German entomologist. Papilio toboroi is now known to be found throughout Bougainville.
Parry (1967) an Ornithologist, largely based his account of Meek's three expeditions to the Solomon Islands from the letters sent by the Rothschild collector to the Tring Museum ; Parry states that from the Buin mission Station, the father who had collected the new Papilio joined Meek on board the Shamrock, when it sailed for Kieta on the northern coast of Bougainville. It is surprising that Ribbe who described P. toboroi or Meek who met and travelled with the collector, did not feel it important enough to name him. If Father Jean Rausch was already at Koromira bay, then it may have been Father Allotte who discovered P. toboroi ; if not, then it could have been Jean Rausch who travelled with Meek to Kieta, the home of the German Government station and a Sacred Heart Mission. If Rausch was indeed the collector of P. toboroi, he may have been travelling with Meek to Kieta to proceed to Koromira bay to take charge of the newly built mission station, close to the Toboroi district, the type locality of the Papilio.
Father Francois Allotte is well known among Lepidopterists for discovering the male of Ornithoptera allottei Rothschild, 1914, a natural hybrid between O. victoriae and O. priamus urvillianus. Rothschild who received the male specimen of new Ornithoptera, described it as a new species, even though at the time of the capture of the specimen, Allotte suggested correctly that it must be a hybrid.
Meek set up camp north of Kieta in the Arawa district near Ameo. During this period he and his collecting party sailed up one of the rivers towards the mountains of Bougainville, but they only succeeded in reaching 3000 feet, where Meek was disappointed to find there was no virgin forest due to the dense native population of that area.
Parker (1967) writes, "Meek's collections was formed in the Arawa district near Ameo from about the 3rd to 28th December. He was not impressed by the birds collected but obtained forty specimens of the new Papilio, possibly from the type-locality in the Toboroi district “. According to Meek's account in his book, A Naturalist in Cannibal land, his specimens of P. toboroi were taken at Buin near the mission station, in south-eastern Bougainville, on his return there.
Meek states in Naturalist in Cannibal Land " No notable new discovery was made, and I did not get specimens of the new butterfly I was hunting after. After staying about a month at this spot on the north coast of Boungainville, I went to the south coast, still in search of my particular butterfly". He reached the German Mission Station in the Buin district in January 1908. Soon after arriving Meek became ill with fever and an outbreak of painful abscesses, and was confined to a native hut. Albert Eichhorn must have supervised the collecting boys that were being directed by their incapacitated leader.
Meek wrote "Though I was ill and could not move most of the time, my boys, assisted by the local natives, did some collecting under my direction and I got specimens of the butterfly that I wanted, not very many, but sufficient for my purpose. I was able to collect nothing but what I had got on a previous trip to the Solomons, excepting the Papilio of which I obtained about forty bred specimens".
A female specimen of Papilio toboroi from Buin from the Joicey & Talbot collection (OUMNH) shown below with the data, January 1908, is almost certainly a Meek specimen
Leaving Bougainville, Meek returned to Gizo Island on February 14, 1908, before going on to collect on the north-east coast of Vella Lavella until the end of March. Returning to Gizo Island Meek found a letter waiting from him from Dr Karl Jordan explaining that the Tring Museum wanted no more collections from the Western Solomons but advised him to collect on Malaita, San Cristobal, Rennell, and in the highlands of Guadalcanal. Meek's New Guinea boys time had expired and they left the expedition along with the ship's master to return to their homes. Meek hired a new crew of Solomon Island natives leaving only Albert Eichhorn of the original ship's company.
The Shamrock sailed for Gavuta in the Florida Group where Meek met with Charles Woodford who asked the Rothschild collector not to visit Malaita because the natives had recently committed a number of murders there. Meek also visited San Cristobal but found the collecting on that Island disappointing. By this time, Meek, although he visited Guadalcanal, had abandoned all hope of an inland journey to the mountains. It was one thing for the District Commissioner Woodford to have previously made an expedition to the mountains of Guadalcanal but Meek and Eichhorn decided that it would have been an impossible venture for independent collectors. Meek went onto Santa Isabel but did little collecting and he considered Rennell, a low lying coral Island not worth the effort of visiting.
Meek was disappointed with his 1907-1908 Solomon Islands expedition, even though he had collected 4000 Lepidoptera specimens on Boungainville alone, he stated that he made no really exciting discoveries and he was "growing weary of the South Sea Island life". During the expedition, a trader named Oliver Burns who Meek had previously sold the small schooner the Hekla, was anchored in the Marovo laggon in the New Georgia Group, when he was attacked and killed along with his native crew. It seems that Burns was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a local tribal chiefs' brother had been shut up in a gaol and had committed suicide; the warlord then swore to kill a white man in revenge. The Shamrock was just outside the Marovo laggon at the time of the murders but Meek were quite unaware of the tragedy taking place nearby. Together with his illness, the senseless killing of a friend, Meek decided not mount another major expedition until two year later, when he visited Dutch New Guinea.
Note. According to John Tennent who has stated several times in various papers, Meek may have had little input in writing his book, the editor Frank Fox may have written it from Meek's letters. However, Lord Walter Rothschild wrote the introduction and both Karl Jordan and Ernst Hartert wrote footnotes throughout the book, so it is certainly in a sense a factual account, although Meek himself was often vague in his letters and books in giving details of where he actually collected.
Kronenburg H. & Hendry S. Catechists and Church Workers in Bougainville Pdf.
Meek A. S. 1913. A Naturalist in Cannibal Land.
Parker S. 1967. A. S. Meek's three expeditions to the Solomon Islands. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club.