Monday, July 11, 2016

A Solo Trip to Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve @ Tai Po

On 18 June, I dropped by at  Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve again. This time there were not many butterfly photographers around.

The abundacne ofTree Flitter ( Hyarotis adrastus) provided me with many shooting opportunities.  

I saw this bevaiour before - this guy went in and out of  a Morning Glory flower a few times.
We can see some drawings on the white spots of this Notocrypta curvifascia - how did this happern ?
The Melanitis phedima (Dark Evening Brown) were abundent. They were hooked on to the moisture on the tree trunk or perhaps tree sap for a long period of time.   
A rather skittish Tanaecia niepelti was looking for food on the ground. It moved around so frequently that I had to stalk it for sometime before snapping some quick shots.
It perched on a leaf for a while
There is a steep flight of stairs at one side of Fung Yuen - these steps leading us to the Cloudy Hill and Sha Lo Tung Village. There wasn't good butterfly activity wereat at higher altitude.

On my way going down,  I noticed an Athyma ranga keeping an eye on me from a high perch.  
There were a lot more butterflies at the foothill instead. One of my favourite butterflies, the Hestina assimilis seemed to be quite common - but I have not had the luck to photograph a pristine specimen yet.
Just a few meters ahead of the Hestina, the  Polyura athamas was enjoying something smelly for us - some animal faeces.
I saw it scooting off and landing on the ground. Approaching it slowly, I noticed that if flapped its wings a few times before showing off its uppersides - a rather rare behaviour.
This is the Lethe europa, a species that we can find in Singpore.
Many small to medium-sized butteflies love the Biden flowers. Feeding on flowers is the best moment to take a shot of a Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe).
Not sure what this small brown skipper is. But one thing is sure - it likes the Bidens flower too.
I might have taken this bug before in Singapore. But I have no idea what it is now.
It gave me a different pose before it went underneath the fern.
A nymph of a bug? An interesting and nice critter.  
Finally, my last shot of the day at a shady place before exiting the Fung Yuen's back gate was this purple water droplet appearing at the tip of a stem.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Chasing Two Skippers @ 元朗牛潭尾, Hong Kong

The Dumpling (Tuen Ng) Festival on 9 June is a gazatted public holiday in Hong Kong.  As usual my shooting "kakis" brought me to another remote place at Yuan Lang 牛潭尾  in New Territory to hunt for two skippers.

Five of us met at Yuan Lang MTR station before boarding a five-seated taxi to the foothill of a mountain. The weather was cloudy with intermittent passing rain, yet there were many butterfly photographers looking for their targets - One of the targets was the Caprona alida 白彩弄蝶, commonly known as Spotted Angle.
At my shooting position, I could not get parallel to the butterfly when it moved slightly - but this shot reveals more spots on the upperside of the forewing.
Now I went lower using  the cloudy sky as the background. With a bit of research on the internet, I realised that the distribution of Caprona alida is rather wide - from southern China up  to Thailand. It seemed that it  had a tendency to perch with wings partially folded. Getting a decent shot was a fuflilment for me especially when there was a big group of people crowding around it.


Later in the morning, I got a chance to snap a few quick record shots of  the uppersides of another specimen.
About 100 metres away from the Spotted Angle, there was another group of photographers queing up to take a small skipper, the Taractrocera ceramas 草黃弄蝶. I decided to join the queue. But it decided to change perch when I was second in the queue. I managed to snap  a long distance shot when I chased after it on a hill slope.
The dark clouds were congregting overhead rapidly, signalling us that the sky would open up anytime. When I noticed a "Ring" butterfly on the ground, I quickly took a few shots. It  looks lik theYpthima imitans (擬四眼矍眼蝶). Shortly after this shot, I had to rush for "tree shelter".  
This Chilades pavada caught my attention while I was hiding under a tree. It was quite comical and challenging  when I had to shoot and hold an umbrella at the same time.
From far, I thought I had seen a T. ceramas  perching on a fern in the drizzle. But when I approached it nearer, I noticed it was  a Potanthus confucius (孔子黃室弄蝶).
We decided to call it a day when we assessed that the rain was not going to become lighter. When we reached a tarred road at the base of the mountain, someone shoted 三斑趾弄蝶 in Cantonese. It landed on my sweaty shirt for awhile before it was "reset" and I had a chance to take this shot.

On my way home, I made a detour to the Aberdeen promenade to meet up with an ex-colleague and  immersed myself in a fun-filled and electrifying atmosphere of dragonboat races. It was my first upclose "participation" as a spectator of  a dragonboat race carnival.  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Wet Day of Butterfly Outing at 上水古洞, Hong Kong

On 28 May, I met up with my usual butterfly-photogaphy enthusiasts at Sheuang Shui (上水) MTR station before hopping onto the green mini bus 50K to 上水古洞 to look for the Polygonia c-aureum (黃鉤蛺蝶 ). After about 20 minutes, we alighted at The Hong Kong Girl Guides Association - Jockey Club Beas River Lodge.

We crossed a river and walked towards  a village. Though it was dirzzling, many of us just continued to hunt for our primary target -  thge Polygonia c-aureum. There was quite a number of them, flitting amongst the wild vegetation, along the river banks.
Without sunshine, they had the tendency to fold up their wings. So getting an upperside shot was not  easy.
I noticed an interesting moment. I guess a male was trying to mate with a female. But appearently, the female was not keen.

The male gave up and  rested with open wings for a few seconds.
The weather was overcast with intermitten rains throughout the whole morning. When the passing rain became heavy, we had to look for "shelters" under big trees. While waiting for the rain to stop under a big banana leaf, I spotted this Banana Skipper (Erionota torus) .
This Discophora sondaica  (鳳眼方環蝶)was also waiting for the rain to stop - it was just a few meters away from me.
 
When there was intermitten sunshine, I could see more butterflies feeding on the Bidens flowers along the roadside. A familiar butterfly to me, the Ypthima baldus (矍眼蝶 ) was busy feeding on the flower,  allowing me to compose some shots.

Usually I have uncertainty identifying an orange skipper - this shot looks like the Telicota bambusae according to Dr Seow from ButterflyCircle .
I got one underside shot before it scooted off  the moment the flashlight was fired.
Another yellow skipper which looks like the T.  bambusae again but it preferred  the yellow wild daisy  flowers instead.
Identifying a brown skipper is very challenging too.  This small guy  could be the Parnara bada.
Many wild flowers, especaially the white Bidens flowers blooming along the Shueng Yue River attracted some butterflies. 
I noticed that this Catopsilia pomona taking a short nap after it had enough nectar from the flowers.
Many photographers were waiting at infront of some rows of Bidens flowers to nail the  Papilio xuthus. This fellow was fair to everyone as it visited different flowers, giving everyone a fair chance to snap a few shots.
In every outing, apart from butterflies, if we look around carefully, it is not difficult to find other critters also. A beetle was foraging on a flower.  
 A planthopper.  
 A beautiful  but common day-flying moth which I have not identified it


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fung Yuan Butterfly Reserve, Hong Kong

Fung Yuan is one of the best and  most accessible butterfly-watching and photography sites in Hong Kong. On two Saturdays (14 and 21 May), though the wheather was not ideal  for butterfly-hunting, I could still see some insect life at Fung Yuan. 

The Acytolepis puspa (鈕灰蝶) wasn't a target for most of the photographers. However, when it presented a good perch for me, I just sanpped a few shots.
My friends spotted a few Neopithecops zalmora  (一點灰蝶) along a foot path outside Fung Yuan. There were flitting around and feeding on flowers at times. We were lucky to  see one of them releasing water dropplets from its abdomen.  .
We had some fun shooting this little fellow when it was addicted to the nectar of the flower.
These two Cyrestis thyodamas  (網絲蛺蝶)  feasted on the damp ground for a long period of time. They were drunk on the ground, oblivious to passersby walking  just beside them.
  
Fung Yuan is full of  the White Dragontail butterflies (Lamprotera curius ) (燕鳳蝶). Altough they appear like dragonflies, they are the smallest Papilionids. Usually they flap their wings at very high speeds while feeding.  However, I notice that at certian time of the day, they may rest on flowers with wings fully open. 
This attractive female Indian Fritilliary (Argyreus hyperbius) 斐豹蛺蝶 appeared late in the afternoon but she was  just too skittish and uncooperative for me to take a better shot.
The Lethe confusa 白帶黛眼蝶 seems to be very common here. On a rather cool and cloudy day, this guy was less active.
This looks more like a Neptis hylas (中環蛺蝶) - it took me awhile to get just one shot of this  extremely alert fellow.
A phone call from my friend alerted me to go to the "magic tree' where  butterflies liked to feed on the tree sap.  This is a Polyura nepenthes 忘憂尾蛺蝶  - it stayed at this position high on the tree trunk until I left for home. 
I saw a few Birdwing larvae feeding on the host plants.  
Apart from butterflies,  these two day-flying moths with similar body shape captured my attention too. Thanks Dr  Kendrick for identifying it as Amata polymita.
I have no idea what they are - Ok. Dr Kendrick identified this as the Syntomoides imaon. Both moths belong to Erebidae and Arctinae.   
Apart from butterflies, the dragonflies and other insects became my subjects especially when they were cooperative. This is a kind of wasp feeding voraciously on the Bidens flowers.
  There were quite a number of beetles. This

This black beetle loved the flower.
 I began to see more damselflies in my last two visits to Fung Yuan.


Another species found inside the Fung Yuan - thanks to Shan who spotted this for me to shoot.
This was taken outside the Fung Yuan - many of them were resting in the late afternoon.
Lastly, a long-legged fly that I may not have seen it before.