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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Butterflies of Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve (Hong Kong) in 2017

It was a yearly affair (last year) for many Hong Kong butterfly enthusiasts - to photograph the Papilio agestor (Tawny Mime) during the month of March and April on a hilltop at Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve.

My first visit this year (in late March this year)  with my usual butterfly-photography group was a disappointing one due to bad weather. However, my second visit on 1 April was rewarding.

I left home early as it was a long journey to Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. Strolling up to the hilltop leisurely and  after climbing the final 300 steep steps,  I reached the hilltop at noon.  

When the weather is good, this particular location is deeming with life. There were two individual Tawny Mime (Papilio agestor) on this hill top.
A slow-flying butterfly, Tawny Mime tends to perch high on foilage. So the blue sky and the red leaves of another tall tree make the background of this shot colourful.
It usually perched with wings open.  Occasionally, its closed wings posture enticed many of us to line up to photograph it. 
A pleasant surprise visitor greeted us on a fine and warm morning - the Constable (Dichorragia nesimachus). It was my first sighting in Hong Kong.
A different pose for some of us. Shooting it from I stood, unlike from the previous shot, the iridescent blue structural colour of the butterfly scales does not show at all.
The Constable was rather cooperative - it was oblivious to our presence for a long period of time before it decided to stay away from us on a high perch.
In the late afternoon, a Vanessa indica appeared but it preferred to looking at us from a high altitude.
Perhaps due to the hilltopping behaviour, most butterflies liked to perch on above our heads. This White Commodore (Parasarpa dudu) was no exception.
Shady hill slopes shielded us from the overhead scorching sun. While taking a break under shade, I noticed a skipper zipping around erractically. I watited patiently for it to stop and snapped a few quick shots. It looks like the Choaspes benjaminii.
There were a few lycaenids flitting around, the Nacaduba kurva seemed very common on this hilltop.
A mating pair belonging to the Udara species created some excitement amongst the photographers. After a few shots, they decided to stay away from our sights.
The Lethe confusa was abundant. This guy stayed a bit longer on a blade of grass, giving me time to take some shots.
Finally, let me conclude this post with a shot of Argyreus hyperbius - one of my favourite butterflies.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Butterflies at Yuen Tun Ha (元墩下), Hong Kong

After settling some work at the school on Jan 7 this year, I travelled  to meet up my Hong Kong butterfly enthusiasts at a new (for me) butterfly hunting location situated in the north of Tai Po District, called Yuen Tun Ha (元墩下). It is  quite an accessible - from the Tai Po Market MTR station, I  took mini-bus 23S to its terminal station.

The primary target was this Arhopala birmana birmana. We saw at least two individuals flitting around. But they were alert and elusive and most of the time preferred to perch on high leaves. 
I was lucky to snap a quick shot when one of them came to the ground for a couple of seconds.
On 21 Jan I decided to check out the place again, on my own this time. There were very few people at the location so I could take my own time to shoot and stalk any butterflies.

While walking up the slope towards the location where the Arhopala was, an Orange Punch (Dodona egeon ) was spotted puddling on a patch of sandy ground. 
Perhaps due to the low temperature, it had the tendency to open its wings the moment it landed on the ground.

A lonely small lycaenid  which looks like the Udara dilecta  was nearby.
This yellow skipper - likely to be the Potanthus confucius  was found on the ground along a shady trail. 

After a short moment, it would open its wingss partially.
With rather broad forewing white striae, this is another puddling lycaenid which looks like a female Jamides alecto identified by  Dr Seown (from the Butterflycircle Forum).
The Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa gisca) was puddling on a gravel path.

On my way back to the bus stop, a fast-flying Dercas verhuelli (Tailed Sulphur) suddently stopped and fed on some Bidens flowers along the roadside.
There were two Blue Admirals (Kaniska canace) fluttering around - changing perches at different locations frequently. Very alert to my momvent, they scooted off rapidly whenever I approached them closer. But after sometime, they seemed to get used to me and allowed me to snap a few shots.
Quite often they landed on sandy area to look for fluid on the ground.


They seemed to like to rest on this zinc plate as they landed on it a few times.

I feel that Yuen Tun Ha is a good site for butterfly-hunting so I should visit this place in summer. 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Butterflies of Lamma Island (南丫島), Hong Kong

The Y-shaped Lamma island, the third largest island of Hong Kong is siutatued in the southwest of Hong Kong island.  It is just a 30-mimute ferry ride from Aberdeen harbour. My first visit to the island was in March last year (2016). Since then  I have visited the island quite a number of times, usually accompanying my friends to hike there and at the same time looking for butterflies.

The Abisara echerius (Plum-Judy) is rather common. I usually saw them flitting from leaf to leaf and occasionally puddling on the ground.

Faunis eumeus is new to me. So I was determined to stalk this guy when I spotted it last March along the boardwalk at  the Sok Kwu Wan (索罟灣) jetty.
After awhile, I relised that this is a rather common butterfly. I could see quite a number of them feeding on the ground, usually in the shade. However, this mating pair was exceptional, they preferred to have their privacy high on the tree.
While taking a slow hike from the ferry terminal from Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan,  I encountered many common butterflies feeding on the Bidens flowers on a grass patch. This is a Common Blue Bottle (Graphium sarpedon) showing off its magnificent upper sides. 
The Ixias pyrene was never an easy target for photography - it was alert, highly sensitive to our movement and seldom remained on the flowers for long.
Another common butterfly, a female Papilio polytes (Common Mormon).
A Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe) was flitting around and visiting flowers along the road side.
A rather small and inconspicuous butterfly, this Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis) loved the Bidens flowers too.
I usually walked up to the peak of a mountain on the left side of the Sok Kwu Wan. I remember this Iroata timoleon was shot in July the moment I reached the peak.
There were a lot more butterfly species in the Summar in Lamma Island. A relatively rare Mahathala America was taken at a cemetery area.
A handsome male Argyreus hyperbius was found at the hilltop sunbathing.
His undersides are less colourful but the patterns of the markings are nice and pleasing to the eyes.
This is a male Colour Sergeant (Athyma nefte) at the foothill.
 A female was nearby too.
The Chilades lajus was quite abundant in summer. 
 At the same location as the C. lajus,  a lethargic dark and small skipper presented a nice perch on a blade of grass in front of me - this is a Astictopterus jama.
Not a very cooperative guy, the Athyma selenophora teased me a few times with a few perches on the foliage - but each time it didn't give me sufficient time to get a better shot.
This Ypthima lisandra rested on a wooden step - the steps were rather useful for hikers especially on wet  days.
Not sure what this moth is - but it is pristine enough for me to take a shot for any expert out there to identify it.
I remember I saw a large colony of  Obeidia tigrata (Orange Magpie Moth) in March and April but very few of them in other months.

There are some other areas in Lamma Island, especially the southern and the northern parts I have not explored. Hopefully there are other species of butterflies waiting for me to find out this year.