Saturday, December 31, 2016

Butterflies of Lantau Island, Hong Kong Part 1

Lantau Island (大嶼山) is the largest offshore island of Hong Kong. Covered with hilly and mountainous tarrain, the island has an area of about 150 km square.
There are a few butterfly-hunting grounds in Lantau Island. An open grassland behind the North Lantau Hospital seems to be a hotspot in the month of November and December. My friends brought me there in early November and subsequently  I visited the place again in early December.

It was a beautiful scene when many Common Tiger (Danaus genutia genutia) were fluttering graciously and feeding on the wild flowers. But they were generally alert and sensitive to human movment.
There were quite a number of lycadnids flitting around in this open grassland too. The Catochrysops strabo strabo seemed to be another common butterfly - we could easily find them feeding on different wild flowers.
I spotted only one Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) with a very coperative perch in  the late afternoon during my first visit.
When there were not many butterflies to shoot, small and "boring" Grass Blues attracted my attention. A Zizula hylax was having a quiet and peaceful moment on a blade of grass.
There are a few look-alikes Grass Blues - this is  Zizeeria maha.
Another Zizeeria maha presented a nice perch for me to shoot.
The Brown Awl  (Badmia exclamationis) was a surprise to me. It came down to feed on the Bidens flowers for  split seconds before disappeared completely. 
This Tagiades menaka menka was feeding on the Bidens flowers when I accidentaly bumped into it near the edge of this open grass land.
I rarely encountered the Blue Pansy (Junonia orithya) in Hong Kong. So when this male specimen landed in front of me, I didn't hesistate to snap a quick shot - as usual, it was skittish and took off as soon as I snap a shot. 
When this female Argyreus hyperbius hyperbius appeared in the late afternoon, some of us were chasing after her. I was particularly interested in getting a good shot of the female as I didn't get to see a female often.  
This male Hypolimnas bolina opened its winds fully to absorb heat from the sun on a breezy and cold winter morning during my second visit in early December.

Perhaps due to the a lower temperature (about 20 C), this Cabbage White (Pieris rapae  ) was feeding with wings wide open too.
Perhaps it was "colourless" and also skittish , black-and-white butterflies generally don't get the attention of many photograpers. However, I was the only person chasing after this guy - a Common Sailer (Neptis hylas).

Monday, October 10, 2016

Skippers at Sheung Shui, Hong Kong

It was a overcast morning on 1st October - The National Day of PRC. However, the bad weather didn't dampen our enthusiasm of our weekly butterfly outing  - my friends and I still headed out to He Sheung Heung (河上乡) in the north-western part of  New Territory, Hong Kong to hunt for a relatively rare skipper, the Halpe porus.  

We took minibus (51K) from the Sheung Shui MTR station. The moment we  reached the mini-bus terminal station, the sky opened up - we had to wait in a shelter nearby. Fortunately, we didn't have to wait very long before the rain subsided. We walked towards the Sheung Yue Rive where our shooting location was.
However, as the sun was overpowered by the clouds and passing rains dominated almost the whole morning, we were just waiting patiently and roaming around until around noon.

Though no butterflies, I shot other things  - this wasp was drenched and it just felt too larthagic to fly.
It was doing "exercise" to warm itself.
Dragonflies seemed to be common here - I encountered quite a number of them; some were not awake. Without any reference guide, I cannot identify any of these dragonflies.
Another small and beautiful dragonfly.
An attractive damselfly resting on a blade of grass.
At last, I managed to see butterflies coming fluttering when the air was warmed up.  A Palm Bob (Suastus gremius) appeared and immediately attracted some attention as we had nothing else to photograph.
Pieris canidia is one of those butterflies that is common in HK but difficult to shoot. Anyway, I have not encountering it often since August.

I was stalking a very skittish Angled Castor (Ariadne ariadne) as I have not shot this species in Hong Kong.
 I could only get a long-distance record shot of  both its upper and underside shot.
When I was trying to get more shots, Ivy alerted me on the phone that the skipper, the Halpe porus that everyone aimed to photograph was found on the opposite side of the river - so I gave up chasing the Angle Castor. 

I noticed that two specimen were zipping around. As I have shot this species many times in Chiang Mai and Malaysia, so I decided to look for the more pristine one. Another guy and I were lucky to see it zipping close to the ground and landed on the Biden flowers. A burst of of shots were taken when it was feeding on the flowers.

We hung around the same area after we had our late lunch at a small eating place nearby. At a far end corner, I was presented with this rare opportunity of  taking some quick shots of  the uppersides. 
In the late afternoon, this guy became less active and it stayed and posed on the flowers for us.  Look at the number of people queing up to shot this guy.
There were a few other skippers zipping around us. This pristine orange skipper, a Telicota species was having a afternoon nap.
 I cannot be certain what Swift this is - all these brown skippers are really difficult to identify them by just looking at the underside shots. 
A slightly larger Swift.
The next two shots were from the same specimen - it looks like a Borbo species?

My last skipper shot of the day - thanks to Samuel's dad who spotted this very pristine Common Redeye (Matapa aria) at a  muddy place.  
To wrap up this post, I would like to seek your advice on this critter as I have not seen this before - is this a nymph of  a lantern bug? 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Rare Butterfly @ Yuan Long 元朗,朗屏丫髻山, Hong Kong

In late August, some pictures of a rather rare butterfly in Hong Kong, the Hypolimnas misippus (Danaid Eggfly) were posted on social media. On the following few weekends, many butterfly enthusiasts flocked around the peak of the 丫髻 mountain at Yuan Long where the butterfly was photographed  

I was no exception. On 4 Sept, together with my usual butterfly outing friends, we went up to the peak of the mountain - one of the toughest butterfly outings I have had.

Interestingly, there are quite a few beautiful rock paintings along the way to the peak.
When we reached the peak, there was already a big group of butterfly photographers waiting patiently for two male Danaid Eggflies to settle down. With some luck, I managed to take a few quick shots of  this species which I have not photographed before.
When the two males met, they had the tendency to chase and "fight with" each other. But once they were separated, they usually looked for a perch.
There was a couple of Common Seargent (Athyma perius) wandering around the peak too. However, most of the photographers didn't seem to be interested in them.
Occasionally, they may stay very still.
Look at this Common Sergeant carefully - it was balancing itself on a thin twig on the ground.
I spotted this Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) feeding on the wild flowers. Before I could reposition myself, it scooted off.
As there wasn't any other species to shoot, we took a slow walk down the mountain and headed towards Yuan Long town centre for lunch.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Quiet Day @ Fung Yuen and Sha Lung Tong

On a cloudy Saturday morning on 27 Aug, I decided to check out Fung Yuen at Tai Po with a low expectation due to the weather condition.

Indeed, it was a very quiet morning in terms of  the number of butterfly photographers and butterfly activities. Outside Fung Yuan where some Bidens flowers were blooming, two Male Striped Blue Crow (Euploea mulciber) were busy feeding on the flowers.
The Tirumala septentrionis (Dark Blue Tiger) came to join the Crow.
A look-alike Tirumala limniace (The Blue Tiger) seems to be more common in Hong Kong?

Getting a good shot of this Hummingbird moth (Macroglossum passalus) in flight while feeding was a huge challenge for me - the flapping of its wings was just too fast for the camera to freeze it without comprising the background brightness.
I decided walking towards Sha Lung Tong Village. After climbing a few hundred of steep steps and about another 30 minutes of walking on a road, I saw some houses from far - I guess this must be the village and it seemed that there were not many people living  in the village.  
When there was nothingelse to shoot, a common and dull butterfly like the Zieeria maha cuaght my attention.

Along the roadside, I spotted a Long-banded Silverline (Spindasis lohita) feeding on the flowers. 
It moved on the flower quite frequently - for a change, I snapped its "backside".
 I bumped into another one near the village - it looks like a female S. lohita.
Along the way back to Fung Yuen, a solidtary Sithusa chandrana greeted me from a high perch.

I could see some banners objecting the development of the Sha Lung Tong village.
Well, this may be my first and possibly my last time (hope not !) shooting butterflies around this village.