Monday, October 10, 2016

Skippers at Sheung Shui, Hong Kong

It was a overcast morning on 1st October - The National Day of PRC. However, the bad weather didn't dampen our enthusiasm of our weekly butterfly outing  - my friends and I still headed out to He Sheung Heung (河上乡) in the north-western part of  New Territory, Hong Kong to hunt for a relatively rare skipper, the Halpe porus.  

We took minibus (50K) from the Sheung Shui MTR station. The moment we  reached its termianl station, the sky openen up. Fortunately, we didn't have to wait very long before we walked towards the Sheung Yue Rive where our shooting location was.
However, as the sun was overpowered by the clouds and passing rains dominated almost the whole morning, we were just waiting patiently and roaming around until around noon.

Though no butterflies, I shot other things  - this wasp was drenched and it just felt too larthagic to fly.
It was doing "exercise" to warm itself.
Dragonflies seemed to be common here - I encountered quite a number of them; some were not awake. Without any reference guide, I cannot identify any of these dragonflies.
Another small and beautiful dragonfly.
An attractive damselfly resting on a blade of grass.
At last, I managed to see butterflies coming fluttering when the air was warmed up.  A Palm Bob (Suastus gremius) appeared and immediately attracted some attention as we had nothing else to photograph.
Pieris canidia is one of those butterflies that is common in HK but difficult to shoot. Anyway, I have not encountering it often since August.

I was stalking a very skittish Angled Castor (Ariadne ariadne) as I have not shot this species in Hong Kong.
 I could only get a long-distance record shot of  both its upper and underside shot.
When I was trying to get more shots, Ivy alerted me on the phone that the skipper, the Halpe porus that everyone aimed to photograph was found on the opposite side of the river - so I gave up chasing the Angle Castor. 

I noticed that two specimen were zipping around. As I have shot this species many times in Chiang Mai and Malaysia, so I decided to look for the more pristine one. Another guy and I were lucky to see it zipping close to the ground and landed on the Biden flowers. A burst of of shots were taken when it was feeding on the flowers.

We hung around the same area after we had our late lunch at a small eating place nearby. At a far end corner, I was presented with this rare opportunity of  taking some quick shots of  the uppersides. 
In the late afternoon, this guy became less active and it stayed and posed on the flowers for us.  Look at the number of people queing up to shot this guy.
There were a few other skippers zipping around us. This pristine orange skipper, a Telicota species was having a afternoon nap.
 I cannot be certain what Swift this is - all these brown skippers are really difficult to identify them by just looking at the underside shots. 
A slightly larger Swift.
The next two shots were from the same specimen - it looks like a Borbo species?

My last skipper shot of the day - thanks to Samuel's dad who spotted this very pristine Common Redeye (Matapa aria) at a  muddy place.  
To wrap up this post, I would like to seek your advice on this critter as I have not seen this before - is this a nymph of  a lantern bug? 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Rare Butterfly @ Yuan Long 元朗,朗屏丫髻山, Hong Kong

In late August, some pictures of a rather rare butterfly in Hong Kong, the Hypolimnas misippus (Danaid Eggfly) were posted on social media. On the following few weekends, many butterfly enthusiasts flocked around the peak of the 丫髻 mountain at Yuan Long where the butterfly was photographed  

I was no exception. On 4 Sept, together with my usual butterfly outing friends, we went up to the peak of the mountain - one of the toughest butterfly outings I have had.

Interestingly, there are quite a few beautiful rock paintings along the way to the peak.
When we reached the peak, there was already a big group of butterfly photographers waiting patiently for two male Danaid Eggflies to settle down. With some luck, I managed to take a few quick shots of  this species which I have not photographed before.
When the two males met, they had the tendency to chase and "fight with" each other. But once they were separated, they usually looked for a perch.
There was a couple of Common Seargent (Athyma perius) wandering around the peak too. However, most of the photographers didn't seem to be interested in them.
Occasionally, they may stay very still.
Look at this Common Sergeant carefully - it was balancing itself on a thin twig on the ground.
I spotted this Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) feeding on the wild flowers. Before I could reposition myself, it scooted off.
As there wasn't any other species to shoot, we took a slow walk down the mountain and headed towards Yuan Long town centre for lunch.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Quiet Day @ Fung Yuen and Sha Lung Tong

On a cloudy Saturday morning on 27 Aug, I decided to check out Fung Yuen at Tai Po with a low expectation due to the weather condition.

Indeed, it was a very quiet morning in terms of  the number of butterfly photographers and butterfly activities. Outside Fung Yuan where some Bidens flowers were blooming, two Male Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber) were busy feeding on the flowers.
The Tirumala septentrionis (Dark Blue Tiger) came to join the Crow.
A look-alike Tirumala limniace (The Blue Tiger) seems to be more common in Hong Kong?

Getting a good shot of this Hummingbird moth (Macroglossum passalus) in flight while feeding was a huge challenge for me - the flapping of its wings was just too fast for the camera to freeze it without comprising the background brightness.
I decided walking towards Sha Lung Tong Village. After climbing a few hundred of steep steps and about another 30 minutes of walking on a road, I saw some houses from far - I guess this must be the village and it seemed that there were not many people living  in the village.  
When there was nothingelse to shoot, a common and dull butterfly like the Zieeria maha cuaght my attention.

Along the roadside, I spotted a Long-banded Silverline (Spindasis lohita) feeding on the flowers. 
It moved on the flower quite frequently - for a change, I snapped its "backside".
 I bumped into another one near the village - it looks like a female S. lohita.
Along the way back to Fung Yuen, a solidtary Sithusa chandrana greeted me from a high perch.

I could see some banners objecting the development of the Sha Lung Tong village.
Well, this may be my first and possibly my last time (hope not !) shooting butterflies around this village.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Many Butterflies at 企嶺下 (Kei Ling Ha) @ Sai Kung, Hong Kong

This blog has not been updated for some weeks as I was away for summer holidays in Singapore and Germany from mid July to early August.

企嶺下 (Kei Ling Ha) is located on the Sai Kung Pennisular in the eastern New Territories of Hong Kong. Based on the number of butterfly photos taken at Kei Ling Ha and posted on various social media platforms in June and early July,  it seemed that a stretch of mangrove habitat there was the butterfly hotspot.  

So, on 9 July I joined my usual group of butterfly enthusiasts to explore this rather remote site. After a long bus and train journey and a 15-minute of  walking, we were greeted with a big group of photographes.
Not so keen waiting there, I decided to explore other areas first. As I walked towards the end of the path, I encountered some nymphalids puddling on the ground. This Gaudy Baron (Euthalia lubentina) was hovering around before it settled down for me to snap some quick shots. 
The female seemed to be less common - this was another male specimen making a short perch on the foilage.
 This particular Common Sailer (Neptis hylas) preferred concrete cement surface.
The Common Jester (Symbrenthia lilea) was rather common in Hong Kong. Now I tended to ignore it  unless I was presented with a pristine specimen on a nice perch like this.
I almost missed  this Athyma selenophora when it quietly resting on a high perch,overlooking at me.
Another look-alike, I believe this was a Athyma nefte.
A solitary Peacock Royal (Tajuria cippus) was enjoying its morning breakfast when I spotted it high on the flowers.
Of course, I had fun shooting with the big group of people at the "hotspot"  where there was a large colony of  Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete) and Red-based Jezebel (D. pasothoe). 
Surprisingly most of the photographers were not interested in shooting  this female Delias pasithoe when she suddently opened her wings on the sandy ground. For me this was a rare opportunity to snap the uppersides !
The star butterflies the photographers were eyeing for were relatively rare skippers. There was a small colony of  quite of  Burara gomata - rather tame and all resting beneath the leaf.
The most skittish and alert guy - this Burara oedipodae disappeared for a long period of time before it appeared again in the late afernoon.
I spotted two Choaspes benjaminii -  again both hiding under the leaf.
This Rapala manea was found perching on a shady spot. 
There were quite a number of butterfly species along a long stretch of walking path parallel to the shore line. This  Euthalia aconthea perched in front of me.
The Blue Tiger (Tirumala limniace) seemed abundance too. Mating pairs always attracted our attention especially when a third party was trying to intrude the privacy of the mating pair.

Not a very big butterfly, the Sinthusa chandrana didn't attract much attention when it was taking its own time enjoying the nectar on the Bidens flowers.
Though a very dull moth,  I just could not resist taking a shot when it stayed at the same perch for a long time.
We spent a long time at Kei Ling Ha shooting, hunting and chatting with fellow photographers. This was one of my most satisfying and enjoyable butterfly-shooting trips I have experienced in HK.