Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hiking From Wun Yiu (碗窰路) to Shing Mun Reservoir (城門水塘), Hong Kong

Though a rather hot Saturday morning on 10 June, I decided to go for a long hike on my own. After having a heavy breakfast at  Tai Po Market MTR station, I boarded a 23K mini-bus bringing me to its terminal station at Wun Yiu Road 碗窰路.  

Before heading towards  the Wilson Trail Section 7, I detoured to Yuen Tun Ha (元墩下), a popular butterfly-hunting ground. Except for a colony of the Euploea midamus midamus (Blue Spotted Crow) and Ideopsis similis similis , I could not find any other less common butterflies.
While going further into the foresed area, I encountered a solidary Tree Flitter (Hyarotis adrastus praba)
Realising that the butterfly activities were rather disappointing, I decided to head towards to Shing Mun Reservoir(城門水塘), via Wilson Trail Setion 7  towards the direction of the Lead Mine Pass.
 The trail begins with cement steps going up hill gradually.
     
After climbing a few hundreds of steps, the terrain becomes rather rocky.
I spotted a few small lycaenids flitting erractically amongst  a clump of  tall and shady bamboos at the beginning part of the Wilson Trail.
I waited patiently and was rewarded with a few shots of  this Taraka Hamada .

Continued walking leisurelly, I encountered a few damselflies.
A few meters before reaching the Lead Mine Pass, I stumbled upon a green and slender snake slithering across the dirt track.  
 The Lead Mine Pass is not only a nice and serene campsite area.
It is also an ideal and a necessary resting point for hikers before they start their final ascent to conquer the  highest mountain of Hong Kong, the Tai Mo Shan via the  Maclehose trail stage 8.
Apart from heading north to the highest mountain, there are three other different routes leading to three different places.
I followed  my original plan, heading towards Tsuen Wan and  Shing Mum Reservoir.
I could not help but spending some time to savour this beautiful scene of tranquility.
At the Shing Mun Reservoir, there was a group of Graphiums puddling on the moist sandy ground. I only managed to take a hasty shot of a very skittish Graphium cloanthus clymenus.

There were some Tigers congreting on the ground and on flowers too. This is a Blue Tiger (Tirumala limiace)
It was an easy and pleasant walk along the paved road towards the reservoir -  the shade provided by the gigantic trees help to shield off the afternoon sun.
This Rapala manea had a short perch - it scooted off when I was adjusting myself to compose a different shot. 
Cypha erymanthis erymanthis is a very common butterfly in Hong Kong but getting a good shot of it is difficult - because it is an extremely alert species and never stay still on the ground.
On the contrary, this Chestnut Angle (Odonatoptilum angulata angulatum ) was rather tame and it rested on a fern for a while.
Though the butterfly garden is not very big,  the wild flowers there did attract some Blue Spotted Crows (Euploea midamus midamus).
I like the infornation board on the life cycle of the White Dragontail (Lamproptera curius walkeri).
Nearer to the entrance, there is another butterfly garden. 
The upperside of a Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa gisca) was my only shot in this garden.
Opposite this garden is the entrance to the Lung Mun Country Trail  where I spotted a puddling Paris Peacock (Papilio paris).

I am not sure what this small creature is - may be a nymp of  a bug?
This planthopper, a Ricania species seems to be very common in the past few weeks.
It was a long but a very enjoyable and fruitful hike for me.

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.