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)  with my usual butterfly-photography group was a disappointing one due to bad weather. However, my second visit this year 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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Butterflies of Lantau Island, Hong Kong Part 2

Another hunting ground is the San Tau village. From Tung Chung bus terminal , I took Bus 34 to Yat Tung Estate and walked leisurely on a foot path towards a coastal village.

The Neopithecops zalmora was taken last September during my first visit to this coastal village - there was a small colony there. I could still see them flying around during my subsequent visits in November and December. 
A female was trying to lay eggs on its host plant

White Dragontail (Lamprotera curius walkeri) is the only Dragontail butterfly we can find in Hong Kong - it is quite common. It was puddling on the footpath before settling down on a leaf for sunbathing.  
This Black Prince (Rohana parisatis) was extremely skittish and sensitive to movement. Whenever I approach closer it would take off - a quick shot was taken when it perched high on a tree. 
This is the dry-season form of the Chilades lajus - it was quite abundant in December.
An upper side shot of a male when it was exposed to the sunshine in a cool weather.
It was a pity that I scared this large fellow away when it was puddling on the ground behind a house. It lnaded on the flowers instead. A long-distance record shot of a female  (Euthalia phemius seitzi) was what I could do.
There were some wild Bidens flowers near a small temple. Here we could see some common butterflies busy feeding on the flowers on a sunny day.

This form catilla of the Catopsilia pomona pomona is rather rare in Singapore. However, I have encountered a number of times in Hong Kong.
A solitary Blue Spotted Crow (Euploea midamus) was feeding voraciously from flower to flower in a cool and breezy day.
Delias parsithoe was everywhere but it was not that easy to compose a good shot.
 At times she opened its wings to enjoy the heat from the sunshine
A large praying mantis was crawling on the handrail when we were heading out to the bus terminal at the Yat Tung Estate.
My friends and I also went to Tai O fishing village area in last November but the butterfly activities were rather low. A lycaenid flew past us and landed on a leaf - it looks like a Jamindes alecto.
This is a Dark Cerulean (Jamides bochus)