Saturday, December 2, 2017

Butterflies Along Tung O Ancient Trail (東澳古道) (up to San Tau Village)

I went to San Tau Village at Yat Tung Estate in Lantau Island on two consecutive Saturday afternoons (29 Sept and 6 Oct) on my way back from and to the airport. Bus 38 from Tung Chung bus station brought me to a public housing estate, Yat Tung (逸東邨) with about 40 thousands residents, where I began my walk. 

I strolled along the Tung O Ancient Trail (東澳古道) which runs along the northern coastline of  the Lantau Island 
The Hau Wong Temple (侯王宮) which was built during the Qing Dynasty period was one of the historical sites along the 15-km long Tung O Ancient Trail - a favorite trail among hikers. 
The Quaker (Neopithecops zalmora zalmora) is a permannent resident at a location near the Hau Wong Temple (侯王宮) -  there were a few of them fluttering around some small flower buds.
A pair of Quaker each took care of its own food source.
There was a row of pea plants near an open grass patch outside a playground  A Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus) was resting on a blade of grass.
Zizeeria maha (Pale Grass Blue) is a common lycaenid in Hong Kong. If we pay attention to those small butterflies fluttering around wild flowers on the ground, we should be able to find them easily.
Continued walking along the trail for a couple of minutes, I came to a concrete bridge - the mangrove vegetation covers almost the whole river banks.
Butterfly activities were generally low on both occasions. Apart from a few skippers, there were very few other species crossing my path. This rather pristine Bush Hopper ( Ampittia dioscorides etura ) was kind enough for me to snap a few shots.
Two other brown skippers presented their pose for me too  - they look like the Borbo cinnara.
 Another specimen was found nearby on a leaf.
A fast-flying skipper which looks like a Parnara ganga was seen looking for its host plant - it did find the type of grass to lay its egg.
Chilades lajus is another common lycaenid along the coastal area
Apart from butterflies, other insects appeared in front of me would be my targets too. This  colourful beetle caught my attention when it perched above my head - thus making it rather hard a well- composed shot.
An on-coming passer-by alerted me that there was a snake about 50m ahead of me. Indeed, a rather slender green snake with some red tint on the skin was crawling along the kerb. I have no idea if it is poisonous.
Soon, I reached one of the many old villages along this ancient trail -  the San Tau  (䃟頭) village - I noticed that there were quite a number of vacant houses and some of them were in a dilapidated state.

A Snow Flat, the Tagiades litigiousus came out to welcome me to the village.
The Blue-spotted Crow (Euploea midamus midamus) was found feeding on some wild Lantan flowers beside a village house.
Due to time constraint on both occassions, I had to return to Tung Chung. Indeed, this long ancent trial has a lot to offer to the hikers and photographers as it runs through many old villages such as I hope to complete the whole trail in the near future.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Second Visit to 企嶺下 (Kei Ling Ha) @ Sai Kung, Hong Kong

What a chaotic and abnormal weather in Hong Kong this week (21 - 27 Aug). We started the week with two extremely hot days but a drastic change of weather on Wednesday due to the  devastating T10 typhoon Hato inflicted severe damages and inconveniences to some places. Three days later on 27 Aug, while some places are still grappling  with repair and maintenance work,  we had to face with another T8 typhoon Pakhar - moving towards south China coast and about 150 - 200 km at its closest distance away from HK. Again, the path of Pakhar brought strong winds and heavy thunderstorms, turning a normally vibrant Sunday morning in this activity-filled city into a standstill.    
No outing with my usual hiking group so I  could complete this blogpost on a butterfly-hunting trip to Kei Ling Ha last month (1 July) with my usual group of butterfly enthusiasts.

After a long bus journey from Shatin MTR station (Bus 299), we alighted at the Kei Ling Ha San Wai  and walked towards a coastal village. My first shot of the morning was a mating shield bug - what a difference between the size of a male and a female.

Unlike my last visit last year, Kei Ling Ha was rather quiet this year. For a long  period of time we were actually just strolling along a coastal track without seeing any "worthwhile" species. 

We decided to walk twoards Kei Ling Ha Lo Wei. Along the way near a public toilet,  a Yellow Rajah (Charaxes marmax marmax) was seen puddling on the ground. 
While focusing on shooting this guy, I received a call from my friend  asking me to go forward to a bridge area. Indeed there were a lot more butterfly activities there. 

There were at least two pristine Commanders (Moduza procris procris) loitering around the area. Once they settling down, we quickly queued up  to snap some shots.
This guy also liked to perch on a metal railing - it did that a few times otherwise I would not have a chance to snap this shot. 
Common Hedge Blue (Acytolepis puspa gisca) is a very common lycaenid which is often ignored by many of us if we have another species to go after. 
The Bamboo Tree Brown (Lethe europa beroe) is another common butterfly that I have started to leave it alone unless it looks "suspicious" to me.
散紋盛蛺蝶 (Symbrenthia lilaea lunica ) is also a very common butterfly in Hong Kong.  Though a beautiful butterfly, I don't see many butterfly photographers here chasing after it.  
I have seen the Courtesan (Euripus nyctelius) a few times in HK. I broke away from the group which was perfecting their shots on the Commander, I found this guy on a roadside about 100m away. 
I had an instinctive shot of its uppersides when it puddled on the ground.
I was alerted to this critter hiding underneath a big leaf - I guess it is a nymph of a katydid.
A praying mantis was nearby looking out for its preys. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Critters at the Aberdeen Country Park in Hong Kong (Part 1)

Abderdeen Country Park is the nearest country park from where I am putting up in the southern part of Hong Kong island.  I visited the park quite a number of times. 

The Parantica aglea is a permannet resident of the park. The purplish blue Ageratum conyzoides flowers near the entrance to the park always provide photographers good shooting opportunities.

Ideopsis similis is another common species in the park.
The Common Tiger (Danus genutia) visited the park occasionally.
The Common Jester (Symbrenthia lilaea lunica) is common during late spring and summer times. The best occasion to photograph them is when they were feeding on wild flowers.
Last year (2016), this shade-loving butterfly Faunis eumeus was abundant in the months between March and May. However, it wasn't the case this year - yes, the number has been quite pathetic so far.
The skipper Tagiades litigiosus likes to zip around before it settled on a bird-droppings.
You could see that the wing shape of  Asticopterusm jama  is rather different from many other butterflies. It is a common skipper that could be found in many country parks. 
There is a trail designed mainly for students. Along this trail, we could find quite a number of critters. The Palm Bob (Suastus gremius gremius) is a skipper.
A dry-season form of a Mycalesis species.
Apart from butterflies, I encountered some other cirtters. This orange robber fly was found resting on a dustbin along the Lower Reserver Trail.
I will continue to feature other flora and fauna found in Aberdeen Country Park.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Waiting for an Ace at Tung A (東丫), Hong Kong

I must thank  my butterfly-outing group for initiating a trip to a rather remote location in Sai Kung - Tung A (東丫) on 20 May. From Hang Hau MTR station,  we took a 101M mini-bus to Sai Kung pier before boarding a taxi for Tung A via  the MacLehose Stage 1 trail which winds round the High Island Reservoir and leads us to a famous geopark in Hong Kong.

We walked down a long flight of stairs towards the Tung A village. Along the way, we didn't get to see any activity at all, perhaps due to cool and  cloudy morning.

Feeling bored, I snapped a few quick shots of this Grass Blue - likely to be the Zizeeria maha.
At the same vicinity, another common species, the Chilades lajus.  
As the weather in the morning was cloudy and drizzling intermitantly, not even a glimpse of any skipper was seen.

The Thoressa monastyrskyi (Monastyrsky's Ace) was our target - it was first discovered in Hong Kong in 2002.

We patienly waited and very often walking to-and-fro on a boardwalk to look out for it.  Thanks to a short spell of  sunny weather at noon, we spotted a T. monastyrskyi zipping past us and landed on its favoruite food source - bird droppings.
This species was first discovered by Alexey Devyatkin in North Vietnam (see this paper).  
It seems that the distribution of this particular Thoressa species is confined between southern China and northen Vietnam.
A record shot of the uppersides from afar.
Strangely, I spotted more caterpillars than butterflies in this trip. A fascianting and acrobatic pose by a moth larva on a row of metal railings.
Two differnt colourful moth larvae.
A very colourful moth larva for sure.
An early instar of  a Graphium larva was resting on its host plant.
Though a very long journey and "expensive" to come to this place, it was a fulfilling experience for me - knowing where Tung A is and more about this relatively rare Ace.

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.