Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Butterfly Hunting on the Ninepin Group Islands (果洲群島), Hong Kong

Many thanks to a "last minute" invitation by Evengeline I was very fortunate to be able to join the annual outing to the Ninepin Group Islands (Kwo Chau Islands) on 2 July, organised by her and her husband (I overheard that people called him KK).

After attendance-taking outside the Sai Kung GeoPark, we boarded a relatively "luxurious" charted boat at the public pier as there is no public transport going to the island - about 15km in the southeast direction from Sai Kung town.

Slightly more than an hour of boat ride, we began to see a group of islands popping up from the waters.   There are no big trees on these islands - the surfaces are either barren or covered  by grasses or short coastal shrubs.

As there is no proper jetty on any of these islands, the boatman has to anchor the boat at deeper water and use a smaller speedboat to transfer us to the shore.
Shortly after the first batch (I was in) of people was transferred to the shore, the weather turned bad - heavy passing rain started to fall. 

Our main target of today's outing is to shoot the Common Grass Dart (Taractrocera maevius). A rather common species in India, but it is very rare in Hong Kong and can only be found in Ninepin Island in certain months of the year.

A rather small skipper, The Common Grass Dart blends very well with its habitat; especially so when it stays at the ground level. Thanks to KK who had spotted it twice at the small grass patch shown in the following photo.
I wasn't near the area when it was spotted by the sharp eyes of KK. So when I rushed to the location, a big group of people already surrounded it.  I could only snap one and only one record shot from a difficult angle.
After having our buffet lunch on the boat, we went o the North Island and continued hunting for the Grass Dart.
Despite so many pairs of eyes hunting for the little Grass Dart, we could not find it again. However, there were some other common butterflies we could shoot such as the Chilades lajus leucofasciatus.  .
I think this small light-house must be the only landmark on the North Island because I could not find any other prominent object on this island. 
While looking out for the Grass Dart, I came across a few small leaf beetles, either resting or foraging on plant foliage.

A slightly large beetle tried to shy away from my camera. 
Some insects were found on flowers too.
Here is another beetle feeding on flowers.
 A pair of day-flying moths
There are altogether 20 odd big and small islands in the Ninepin group - they are formed by volcanic rocks with hexagonal horizontal cross-sections.

  This Mycalesis mineus was hopping around before it settled down briefly.
Due to a warmer weather in the afternoon at the North Island, there were more butterflies flying around. A small Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis otis) was found resting on a dry leaf.
The Chilasa clytia is not uncommon in HK however, this female form clytia is not common. I could manage a long-distance record shot.  
A 2nd and possibly a 4th instar larvae of the Common Mime (Papilio clytia clytia) were found on its host plant which is unknown to me.

There were some interesting wild flowers on the islands. Let me share two shots to conclude this post.