Sunday, April 24, 2016

Butterflies at Wu Kau Tang (烏蛟騰), Hong Kong

The weather on 14 April was much better than previous two weekends. So once again, Samuel, Mr To, Ivy and Shan invited me to join them "venturing " to a rather "remote"  butterfly-hunting ground  in the Tai Po district - a place called Wu Kau Tang (烏蛟騰).

It seems that the place is popular with hikers as the number of people queing up for the bus 20R (the only bus going to Wu Kau Tang)  at Tai Po Market Station was far more than a mini bus could take. After about a 30-minute non-stop journey, we reached the terminal station at Wu Kau Tang village. 

At the first shooting site along a small stream,  we saw a tiny lycaenid flitting around but it refused to stop. With a group of  photographers  crowding at this small area, we deciced to move to another location.  On the way, I took a quick  shot of this dry season form of the Dark Evening Brown (Melanitis phedima), perching high on a leaf.
This is a very beautiful damselfly - there were many of them. I could not resist photographing one of them when it  presented me with a nice perche like this.
The Lethe europa seemed to like us as it kept following us along the trail.
This is another Lethe species, the L. confusa  - it stopped in front of me and scooted off as fast as it appared.  A hasty shot  without composing it properly was what I could manage.

A Common Mapwing (Cyrestis thyodamas) flew past us a few times and occasionaly stayed on the ground. But it was too active for me to snap a better shot than this.

I rarely saw a "proper" Mycalesis species (I mean the wet season form) in the last few months. When I saw one, I quickly took a long distance shot. This may be the M. zonata when it perched high to "examine" what was below its view. 
We hiked deeper into the forested areas, always  looking out for a small lycaenid.
Finally, we met a  a solitary Pithecops corvus (Forest Quaker 黑丸灰蝶 ) - our primary tarket for this outing as I was told that this species is rather localised in HK..
While we had some fun stalking and shooting this guy, his two friends appeared - this was one of them.
We found a few more Forest Quakers at another location, about 100 metres ahead of the first site.
We followed them and snapped shots whenever they gave us good and nice perch - yes, now we were getting choosy.
I also looked out for other species. I think this is the dsf of the Ypthima baldus (Common Five-ring).
On our way back to the bus stop, we met this Ampittia dioscorides (Bush Hopper) again. This time I managed to get a shot of it.
I found it difficult to identify the dry season form of the Mycalesis species. I shall wait for the experts out there to help me.

Here is a mating pair too.

A butterfly on flowers is always pleasing to the eyes. Though this is a very ordinary and dull-looking skipper - the Chestnut Bob (Lambrix salsala), all of us queued up to snap a few shots.
A big bonus for us - thanks to Samuel for spotting this Gaudy Baron (Euthalia lubentina) puddling on a mudftat. We went closer and snapped a few shots.
However, getting an underside shot was not easy as it kept flapping its wings half-openly only.
I noticed some people didn't like the black-and-white butterflies like the Neptis species - but not for me. So when this skittish guy came down flitting around a particular plant, I quickly snap a shot - it looks like a N. clinia   which was trying to lay eggs.
I am not sure if this is always the case - this particular speice of cicade was abundant.  Their songs were loud and I could see many of them high on the tree trunks.
What a fruitful outing - many many thanks to my HK butterfly photographer friends.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Butterflies of Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, Hong Kong

Thanks to Ivy, Shan and Samuel for bringing me to the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve on a slightly hazy and cool Monday morning (28 March) - a public holiday in Hong Kong . We met at 10 am at  the Tai Po Market MTR station before heading to our first shooting location by a short taxi ride.

My first butterfly shot was this Plum Judy (Abisara echerius). It was taken while we walked along a well-paved hinking path. This must be a common species here as my HK friends were not very keen shooting it.
After 20 minutes of walking along a hiking trail and a  steep climb of 300 stairs, we reached  a hill top. There was already a sizable group of photographers waiting to shoot the Tawny Mime (Papilio agestor). Yes, there are many more butterfly photographers in HK. 

The colours of undersides are rather unique at certain angle of shooting. There was at least a couple of them hanging around the hilltop. As you can see from the shots here, they had a tendency to make  high perches.
In Hong Kong, this species appears between Feburary and early April only - I think that explains why there were so many butterfly photographers converging to this hilltop.
Butterfly activty was quite good compared with my last few outings. There were a few other species came to visit or rather "tease"  us  - some never stopped but  this White Commodore (Parasarpa dudu) was flitting around, presenting us with some shooting opportunities. 

It looked different to me when I first spotted a Palm Bob-like skipper.  It opened its wings quickly the moment it settled on a perch.
Someone spotted a mating pair which stayed there for a long period of time. We can't be certain if this is Suastus gremius or S minutus.
I am not sure when this Lethe chandica was discovered in HK as it wasn't featured in the book Hong Kong Butterfly (2nd Edition), published in 2005. This mating pair was spotted by Samuel in a bush at the hill top.
There were a few of them flitting at the ground level and occasionally we could find them taking a snap on a leaf at a quiet corner - the best chance for us to snap a few shots.

The weather in HK is getting warmer since last week. Let's hope we will get to see more flying jewels durin our outings in spring and summer times. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Fung Yuen Again on 27 Feb 2016

The weather on 27 Feb was good enough for a butterfly-shooting outing for me. So I met up with Ivy and Shan in the late morning at Fung Yuen, Tai Po.

The queue at the 16-seater mini-bus 20P stop at Tai Po was so long  that I had to wait for the third bus. Arriving at Fung Yuen at 11 plus, I was shock to see a big group of photographers was already there - I was told that they were waiting to shoot a relatively rare Awl.

There were two Common Jester (Symbrenthia lilaea) frolicking and feeding amongst the Bidens flowers.
I guess the Papilio paris must be a common species as very few photographers showed an interest in shooting this guy - or was it too difficult to shoot as it kept changing perches and fluttering its wings at high speeds.

The highlight of the day must be the Indian Awl King (Choaspes benjaminii). It loved the white flowers of  the citrus shrubs. This was one of my shots while I was standing  in a big group of photographers.
I think Shan and I were very lucky to notice the Awl was feeding on the same kind  of citric shrub flowers, just a few meters away from where we were standing. As usual,  it was rather alert and skittish,  giving us  just a few seconds to snap some instinctive shots.  
Walking towards the location where the Awl seemed to like to visit, I bumped into this brown skipper - it is the Notocrypta curvifascia. 

From far, I saw someone shooting a Yellow butterfly. When I approached closer, I noticed this Eurema blanda was taking its afternoon nap.
It seemed that at the moment Fung Yuen offers the best chance to spot shots for butterfly photographers. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Butterflies of Chiang Mai Part 5 (Papilionids and Pierids)

It was a long overdue since I last posted my butterfly pictures taken in Chiang Mai. Let me concluce the series of shots with this post.

We didn't encounter many butterflies from the Papilionidae and Pieridae families during the trip.  This  Great Windmill (Atrophaneura dasarada barata) was one my first few shots at the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary on 27 Sept 2015.
This looks like a Common Windmill (Atrophaneura polyeuctes polyeuctes) which was foraging on the ground under the hot sun.
A male Redbreast (Papilio alcmenor  alcmenor) appeared on our first day of shooting at our favourite spot - I call it the  Chiang Dao Square.
Not far away, there was this male Great Mormon (Papilio memnon agenor) approaching towards the Redbreast.
Finally, they met up with each other.
In the late afternoon on 1 Oct, a male Great Mormon decided to take an afternoon nap and sunbathed right in front of me.
A Red Helen (Papilio helenus helenus) was puddling on a pacth of sandy ground behind a worker's' quarter.  
I noticed that the number of  Paris Peacock (Papilio paris paris) was a lot lesser than my previous trips. I managed to capture the undersides of a rather pristine Paris Peacock.
It is interesting to note that he Dragontail butterflies do not have the usual body and wing-shaped of a Papilionid.  There were a few White Dragontails (Lamproptera curius curius) congregating and puddling on the wet ground. But I managed to spot one isolated specimen and took some shots.
The Tailed Jay (Graphium agamemnon agamenon) is one of the Graphium species that we can find in Singapore. Just like other Graphiums, it usually puddled with both wings folded and remained very alert most of the time.
I think this is the Veined Jay (Graphium chironides) which was puddling and moving gradually on the gravel ground.
Finally, it found a friend , a Common Jay (Graphium doson) that it could talk to.
Compared with my last two trips to Chiang Mai, we didn't get to see many Pierids  this time. Let me being with a shot of a very docile Red Bese Jezebel (Delias pasithoe).
The female of the Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona) has quite a number of different forms - this is form-pomona.

However, this is form-catilla. It was a great pity that I could not isolate this guy from other Yellows appearing in the foreground.
When there was nothing interesting to shoot, even a common species such as the Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe hecabe) became our model if it presented us with a  nice pose on flowers.
I remembered in the late afternoon, while the butterflies slowerly disappeared from the puddling ground at Chiang Dao, some Pierids such as the Chocolate Albatross (Appias lyncida)  were still actively feeding on wild Bidens flowers growing along the roadside. I was lucky to photograph both the female and male even though they were quite alert and active. 
Lastly,  let me showcase some non-butterfly shots that were taken at Doi Suthep. Here are some colourful beetles.
This mating pair and an "intruder" provided some excitement and interesting shooting opportunities for some of us when the butterfly activities were low.

Finally the mating pair shaked off their "intruder" and had an intimate time for themselves.
Apart from beetles,  I noticed a good number damselflies along the stream at Doi Suthep - sorry I cannot identify them.
Today is the second day of the Year of the Monkey on the Lunar calender.
Wishing every reader a happy and fulfilling year ahead.