Monday, February 1, 2016

Fung Yuan @ Hong Kong - After 7 Years

My last visit to Fung Yuan Butterfly Reserve at Tai Po,  Hong Kong was 7 years  ago (see here). As the weather was relatively good on 30 Jan 2016 (not too cold and have a few hours of intermittent sunlight), I decided to visit Fung Yuan again.

I set off quite early at about 8:40 am as the weatherman predicted that the sunshine was shortlive. After about 1 hour plus of bus and MTR journeys from South Horizons in Ap Lei Chau where I have been living since late December 2015, I reached Fung Yuan. The surroundings of Fung Yuan has changed so much that I almost could not recognise the place - high rise private apartments are just next to Butterfly Garden. Following the signage, I found my destination and I  was very surprised to see  some  butterfly photographers were already there.

Knowing that there would not be many butterflies in winter, I didn't have high expectation. So, I just walked around to find out how big the area is.  At a sunlit spot, I bumped into a Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus epicles) flitting around.  Perhaps due to the low temperature, it always perched with its wings wide open to absorb heat from the sunlight.
A few Common Grass Yellows  (Eurema hecabe) were frolicking under the intermitent sunshine. As usual, they were skittish and alert even when they were foraging on flowers. My only shot was this  instinctive shot.
This brown Restricted Demon (Notocrypta curvifascia) kept zipping around me but when it landed, it always at a distance away from me and again with wings open.
There were a few Mycalesis species hopping in and out of the bushes - this may be the dry form.
A Chocolate Pansy (Junonia iphita) was resting on aleaf surface before it scooted off shortly after this shot.
The catch of the day must be this lantern bug - it flew past me and landed in front of me on a bamboo stick.
These small flowers actually were nice and attracted insects, mainly small bees and flies like this one.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Butterflies of Chiang Mai Province Part 4 (Nymphalid)

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My first sighting of a Black Spotted Labyrinth (Neopa muirheadi bhima) was along the roadside high up in Doi Chiang Dao. A rather skittish fellow,  once it decided to stay on the ground a bit longer, I quickly snap a quick shot of it. 
Take a closer look, you should see the difference between this Veined Labyrinth (Neopa pulaha pulahoides) and the previous Neopa species.  It was found along a mountain trail at Doi Pha Hom Pok.
I remembered we were exploring a forest trail at Doi Chiang Dao on our second day (28 Sept 2015) where I met this rather skittish Common Tree Brown (Lethe rohria rohria) puddling on the dirt trail. 
While driving, Antonio's sharp eyes spotted this relatively rare Naga Treebrown (Lethe naga) puddling in the middle of the road with a Black Spotted Labyrinth.
It scooted off when we approached them closer. We managed to take a few more record shots when the Naga Treebrown was hopping around in the vicinity.
There were quite a number of Charaxes species at Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. These two shots look like the Common Tawny Rajah (Charaxes bemardus hierax) shot on two different days.

Another Charaxes with a rather different forewing shape.
As usual, there were a few Nawabs puddling at different spots on ground. This is the Shan Nawab (Polyura nepenthes nepenthes).
Butterflies in a pair can be interesting.

Behind the worker's quarter, a Blue Nawab (Polyura schreiber assamensis) was enjoying its food on the wet sandy ground. 
The Yellow Coster (Acraea issoria sordice) seemed to be abundant at higher altitude. They flew slowly and graciously. They had a tendency to perch with wings folded. 
But we might be lucky to see them opening their wings for a while.

To be continued

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Butterflies of Chiang Mai Province, Part 3 (Nymphalid)

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There were not many different species butterflies from the Nymphalidae family at the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. Let me begin with those species that we can find in Singapore.

The Rustic (Cupha erymanthis lotis) is a very sensitive and skittish butterfly that I usually could not get a decent shot.  I got a good chance to take some shots when this guy was wandering and feeding on the ground.
Of course, when it presented its uppersides to me, I would not hesitate to take some shots.
A very well-spread species, the Indian Red Admiral (Vanessa indica indica) is quite a beautiful nymphalid. We did encounter it a few times some years ago in Singapore.
 It had a tendency to open its wings while it was on the ground - so I had to wait patiently to take this underside shot.
The iridescence of the blue upper sides of the Indian Purple Emperor (Mimathyma ambica miranda) was beautiful if we shot it from a certain angle.   
I noticed that it was abundant in September and October in Chiang Mai.
The Jezebel Palmfly (Elymnias vasudeva burmensis) appeared on the first two days when we were at the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. My first sighting of this species, so I was chasing it for a while before I could get some shots. 
This  Red Lacewing (Cethosia biblis biblis) was quite skittish, flitting around along a tarred road at a higher altitude of  Doi Chiang Dao.
I was lucky to capture its undersides.
I have never seen a Black Rajah (Charaxes solon) in Singapore. Here in Chiang Dao, a different subspecies, sulphurues seemed to be quite common.
There was a couple of Common Map (Cyrestis thyodamas thyodamas) in the late afternoon at Chiang Dao.
Getting its underside shot was more challenging as it kept flapping its wings.
I found that Maplet is notoriously skittish and difficult to shoot, especially the undersides. This Intermediate Maplet (Chersonesia intermedia intermedia) was teasing me on the ground for a while before I could manage some instinctive shots.

A look-alike species, this looks like a Common Maplet (Chersonesia risa risa) had a short perch on a leaf surface.
The Eastern Courtier (Sephisa chandra chandra) is a beautiful butterfly and it was quite common during the month of October. This was shot on a bridge at Doi Pha Hom Pok.
At the entrance to a forest trail at Doi Pha Hom Pok, a Blue-striped Palmfly (Elymnias patna patnoides) was on the ground for a long time, giving us some time to take a few shots.l
This Lavender Count (Cynitia cocytus cocytus) greeted me when we just arrived at the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary in the morning of 28 Sept.
Butterflies feeding on flowers always drew the attention of a photographer. Here, a Common Jester (Symbrenthia lilaea lilaea) was seen visiting some Bidens flowers.

To be continued. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Butterflies of Chiang Mai Province, Thailand (Blues) Part 2

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Lycaenidae is the second-largest family of butterflies. Though there were not many lycaenids and no surprises this time at areas around Doi Chiang Dao, we did encounter quite a number of them.  Let me begin with two species that we can find in Singapore.  

A lonely Quaker (Neopithecops zalmora zalmora), a rather small butterfly, was having a quiet moment on the ground. 
The Forget-me-not (Catochrysops strabo strabo) was puddling in front of a hut.
The White Fourline Blue (Nacaduba angusta albida) was paler than the subspecies kerriana which we have seen in Singapore.
This pristine Barred Lineblue (Prosotas aluta coelestis) was wandering on the ground before it settled down tamely on a sweet spot.
The Orchid Tit (Hypolycaena othona othona)  was having a private time on a moist and shady ground behind Antonio's car.
Long-tailed lycaenids are always attractive to photographers especially if the tails are intact. This Common Imperial (Cheritra freja) found its favourite spot and stayed there for a while.
Perhaps this was another specimen appeared behind the hut on 1 Oct.

We have not seen the Silver Royal (Ancema blanka) for a very long time in Singapore. But it seemed to be common here as we have countered it in our previous trips too.






There were many  black-and-white Pierrots this time at Chiang Dao Square puddling on the ground. Occasionally, when they perched on leaves, I usually took some shots - butterflies and flowers or leaves make great compositions. This is a Straight Pierrot (Caleta roxus)
























This is an Elbowed Pierrot (Caleta elna noliteia) - a different subspecies from what we can see in Singapore.
This is another Pierrot, the Banded Blue Pierrot (Discolampa ethion ethion).
We went to Chiang Dao Square the 3rd time on 1 Oct. A couple of Sunbeams were puddling on the ground. This may be the Curetis bulis.
There are too many look-alike Arhopala species in Thailand - I am not sure what this is.
At the grassy wasteland behind the Chiang Dao Square, the Blue Leaf Blue (Amblypodia narada taooana) came down to puddle in the afternoon.
I was lucky to see its uppersides when it open its wings partially under the afternoon sun.
We went to Doi Suthep on our 2nd last day in Chiang Mai - it was a cloudy morning - a quiet morning we spent our time walking around at the usual locations, this tiny Singleton (Una usta usta) was feeding on some salt solution on the ground. 
When the sun was up in the afternoon, there were more butterflies fluttering around in the forested area. After stalking it for a while, this skittish Three-spot Yamfly (Yasoda tripunctata) finally allowed me  to take just one shot of it.
From the way it fluttering around, I guessed it was a Miletus species. Indeed, it was but I could not identify it with confidence.
Again, I have no idea what Arhopala this is perching on the tip of a leaf (note :  this is Arhopala silhetensis silhetensis) 
There were a few Aberrant Oakblue (Arhopala abseus) flitting around. This was a more pristine one which appeared to oviposit underneath a leaf - but I could not find any egg.
In the late afternoon, we had a better chance of seeing lycaenids opening its wings fully. Can you guess what this species is ?
To be continued