Friday, July 7, 2017

Waiting for an Ace at Tung A (東丫), Hong Kong

I must thank  my butterfly-outing group for initiating a trip to a rather remote location in Sai Kung - Tung A (東丫) on 20 May. From Hang Hau MTR station,  we took a 101M mini-bus to Sai Kung pier before boarding a taxi for Tung A via  the MacLehose Stage 1 trail which winds round the High Island Reservoir and leads us to a famous geopark in Hong Kong.

We walked down a long flight of stairs towards the Tung A village. Along the way, we didn't get to see any activity at all, perhaps due to cool and  cloudy morning.

Feeling bored, I snapped a few quick shots of this Grass Blue - likely to be the Zizeeria maha.
At the same vicinity, another common species, the Chilades lajus.  
As the weather in the morning was cloudy and drizzling intermitantly, not even a glimpse of any skipper was seen.

The Thoressa monastyrskyi (Monastyrsky's Ace) was our target - it was first discovered in Hong Kong in 2002.

We patienly waited and very often walking to-and-fro on a boardwalk to look out for it.  Thanks to a short spell of  sunny weather at noon, we spotted a T. monastyrskyi zipping past us and landed on its favoruite food source - bird droppings.
This species was first discovered by Alexey Devyatkin in North Vietnam (see this paper).  
It seems that the distribution of this particular Thoressa species is confined between southern China and northen Vietnam.
A record shot of the uppersides from afar.
Strangely, I spotted more caterpillars than butterflies in this trip. A fascianting and acrobatic pose by a moth larva on a row of metal railings.
Two differnt colourful moth larvae.
A very colourful moth larva for sure.
An early instar of  a Graphium larva was resting on its host plant.
Though a very long journey and "expensive" to come to this place, it was a fulfilling experience for me - knowing where Tung A is and more about this relatively rare Ace.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hiking From Wun Yiu (碗窰路) to Shing Mun Reservoir (城門水塘), Hong Kong

Though a rather hot Saturday morning on 10 June, I decided to go for a long hike on my own. After having a heavy breakfast at  Tai Po Market MTR station, I boarded a 23K mini-bus bringing me to its terminal station at Wun Yiu Road 碗窰路.  

Before heading towards  the Wilson Trail Section 7, I detoured to Yuen Tun Ha (元墩下), a popular butterfly-hunting ground. Except for a colony of the Euploea midamus midamus (Blue Spotted Crow) and Ideopsis similis similis , I could not find any other less common butterflies.
While going further into the foresed area, I encountered a solidary Tree Flitter (Hyarotis adrastus praba)
Realising that the butterfly activities were rather disappointing, I decided to head towards to Shing Mun Reservoir(城門水塘), via Wilson Trail Setion 7  towards the direction of the Lead Mine Pass.
 The trail begins with cement steps going up hill gradually.
     
After climbing a few hundreds of steps, the terrain becomes rather rocky.
I spotted a few small lycaenids flitting erractically amongst  a clump of  tall and shady bamboos at the beginning part of the Wilson Trail.
I waited patiently and was rewarded with a few shots of  this Taraka Hamada .

Continued walking leisurelly, I encountered a few damselflies.
A few meters before reaching the Lead Mine Pass, I stumbled upon a green and slender snake slithering across the dirt track.  
 The Lead Mine Pass is not only a nice and serene campsite area.
It is also an ideal and a necessary resting point for hikers before they start their final ascent to conquer the  highest mountain of Hong Kong, the Tai Mo Shan via the  Maclehose trail stage 8.
Apart from heading north to the highest mountain, there are three other different routes leading to three different places.
I followed  my original plan, heading towards Tsuen Wan and  Shing Mum Reservoir.
I could not help but spending some time to savour this beautiful scene of tranquility.
At the Shing Mun Reservoir, there was a group of Graphiums puddling on the moist sandy ground. I only managed to take a hasty shot of a very skittish Graphium cloanthus clymenus.

There were some Tigers congreting on the ground and on flowers too. This is a Blue Tiger (Tirumala limiace)
It was an easy and pleasant walk along the paved road towards the reservoir -  the shade provided by the gigantic trees help to shield off the afternoon sun.
This Rapala manea had a short perch - it scooted off when I was adjusting myself to compose a different shot. 
Cypha erymanthis erymanthis is a very common butterfly in Hong Kong but getting a good shot of it is difficult - because it is an extremely alert species and never stay still on the ground.
On the contrary, this Chestnut Angle (Odonatoptilum angulata angulatum ) was rather tame and it rested on a fern for a while.
Though the butterfly garden is not very big,  the wild flowers there did attract some Blue Spotted Crows (Euploea midamus midamus).
I like the infornation board on the life cycle of the White Dragontail (Lamproptera curius walkeri).
Nearer to the entrance, there is another butterfly garden. 
The upperside of a Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa gisca) was my only shot in this garden.
Opposite this garden is the entrance to the Lung Mun Country Trail  where I spotted a puddling Paris Peacock (Papilio paris).

I am not sure what this small creature is - may be a nymp of  a bug?
This planthopper, a Ricania species seems to be very common in the past few weeks.
It was a long but a very enjoyable and fruitful hike for me.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Hok Tau (鶴藪) to Fung Yuen, Hong Kong

It was a beautiful Saturday morning on April 8, I ventured to Hok Tau (鶴藪) located at the north- estern part of New Territories, Hong Kong (HK). Mini Bus 52B from Fanling MTR Station took me to the terminal station at Hok Tau village where I began my slow hike to the Hok Tau Reservoir. After that I  continued my hike heading towards Sha Lo Tung and Fung Yuen at Tai Po.

The Papilio paris is a very common butterfly in HK. We can find them visiting wild Lantana flowers along roadsides. But most of the time, they were hyper acctive and flapping its wings at a high speed. 

Shooting into the sky.
I could see some butterfly activities along the service road that leads us to the Hok Tau Reservoir. While taking a short break at the barbecue and picnic site,  I noticed some Grass Blues were flitting around me - one of thme was a Zizeeria maha.
When I reached the reservoir dam, I was delighted to see some different butterflies feeding on a row of Bidens flowers.  The Neptis hylas is a common butterfly that we can find in many wild places and country parks in HK.
I cound sense that a skipper with  some white patches was zipping past me a few times. I patiently waited for it to land. Yes, it turned out to be the Gerosis phisara - my first sighting of this rather uncommon skipper in Hong Kong.
When this brown skipper - a Baoris farri, perched closer to me,  I quickly snap a few instinctive shots.
A dry season form of Ypthima baldus looks so different from the wet season form.
This loving pair of Hypolimnas bolina made me busy for a while as they were quite sensitive to my presence. After changing their perch a few times, they settled down on a cement wall.
At a T-junction, I walked left towards Sha Lou Tung. It was an easy hike on a level and well-paved forest trail with good shade. However, for a long period of time, I didn't have a clear chance to take any shot.

There were very few shooting opportunies at Sha Lou Tung and Fung Yuen too. When I was about to call it a day, this pristine Water Snow Flat (Tagiades litigiosus) made me go round the flowers to compose some shots.
I don't get to see Lemon Pansy (Junonia lemonias) often at Fung Yuen. Though it was not a perfect specimen for photography, I decided to snap a few shots for my own record.
A spider on a leaf suerface was motionless for quite a duration - I guess it was waiting for its prey to come nearer.