Saturday, May 14, 2016

Butterflies at Lung Kwu Tan (龍鼓灘), Hong Kong

Situated at the western coast of Hong Kong's New Territories, Lung Kwu Tan is one of the hotspots for butterfly-watching and photograpy.

Leaving home early on a warm Saturday morning (7 May), I took the West Rail MTR Line from Hung Hom to Tung Man. After having a heavy breakfast, I met my  friends at Exit C. Another 45-minute bus ride on a MTR K52 bus finally brought us to Lung Kwu Tan village. My total travelling time from my home at Ap Lei Chau to this place was almost 2 hours.

The hunting-ground is in fact a patch of wasteland (abandoned farm land?) at the foothill of a mountain.

The site was quite crowded with photographers when we arrived. I decided to follow the Lung Man Trail and walk up the stairs leading to the Emperor's Cave (but I didn't reach). Along the way, I was lucky to bump into a Mahathala ameria (Falcate Oakblue).
There were many Rustics (Cupha erymanthis) along the trail. As usual, all of them were extremely skittish and alert to movement. With a lot of patience and luck, I finally got some record shots. 
  The undersides.
There were two female Cethosia bibles working diligently to look for the correct plant to lay eggs.
The other female decided to take a short break after a long search for the correc host plant.
Some males were fluttering around and feeding  on flowers , occasionally they landed on the ground.
There were many Bidens flowers at the wasteland. Getting tired of walking up and down the stairs, I stood next to the flowers waiting for butterflies. A very fast flyer, this Common Gall (Cepora nerissa) loved to feed on the flowers.    
A mating pair of Pieris canidia caught my attention when I was resting under a tree.
I noticed there were quite a number of butterfly species  at this place. Feeding on the Bidens flowers with wings wide open,    the Chestnut Angle (Odontoptilum angulatum) presented a nice composition for me to take a few shots before it scooted off to a treetop.
The sighting of this samll Purple and Gold Flitter skipper (Zographetus satwa) in the late afternoon got everyone excicted.  Scooting around with high speeds but  perching on the same leaf surface or nearby, it  gave everyone a chance to snap some shots though from far.  
A glimpse of its markings on the forewings.

A forest denizen I believe, the Graphium doson (Common Jay) was takiing a nap.
It looks like the intermediate form of a Mycalesis species
A Neptis speceies perhaps the N. clinia was hanging around a tree in the afternoon.  
Geeting an upperside shot was a challenge for me as it kept flapping its wings -  this was the best I could get.
Due to its five distinctive five black spots on the hindwing underside, it is quite easy to identify this bbutterfly - the Parathyma sulpitia. 
I managed to get just one upperside shot.
It was late in the afternoon when this Tajuria cippus landed again on flowers but it took off a few seconds later.
The insect diversity at Lung Kwu Tan is good. Apart from  butterflies, I saw quite a number of other insects. I have not shot a Tiger beetle for a long time  When this guy landed on a cement step just infront of me, I instinctively squatted down to snap a shot. 
A small but colourful and interesting bug - not sure what this is.
It seems that this particular species of the  Lantern bug is common in HK as I have seen it at a few trails.
Finally, let me conclude this post with a mating pair of moth. Many of us queued up to take some shots of this beautiful moth.
Though this place is very far away from my home,  the number of fauna species we can find here is worth spending the time to come here again.

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.