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. 

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.