10 de septiembre de 2022

Urocissa erythroryncha

At 13.54 on Friday September 9th 2022 I was walking down Pik Shan Path on Lung Fu Shan when I heard a call I recognised as Urocissa erythroryncha, Red-billed Blue Magpie. I photographed a single young bird but was aware of more than one. This is not uncommon. They move around in groups. But then I noticed what appeared to be a carcass hanging in the branches nearby. I checked through 8x30 binoculars and sure enough it was the remnants of a Urocissa erythroryncha. At that point I realised the birds were taking turns to fly in and rip pieces off the carcass. I documented this with still images using a Canon R5 and an RF 100-500mm lens for a period of 5 minutes. At that point the carcass fell to the ground out of sight. This appears to be evidence of cannibalism in the species.

The carcass was already mostly consumed when I saw it. I have no idea how long it had been there but it did not look badly decayed. Just 4 minutes later I spotted an Accipiter trivirgatus, Crested Goshawk perched on a branch above the path and I took quite a few frames of this bird at close quarters. I know this raptor breeds on the hillside and I speculate that the magpie had been predated by a goshawk and the other magpies were simply 'cleaning up'. I have seen feathers of Urocissa erythroryncha on a nearby path before so I am sure they are a prey species of Accipiter trivirgatus. I can't think of any other local bird species that would take a magpie.

Publicado el septiembre 10, 2022 10:03 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Return to Lung Fu Shan

After 2 years away we have moved back to Mid Levels and once again LFS is going to be my closest patch, that and The Peak itself. A couple of people have suggested to me that nearby construction work is reducing the bird life down on Pik Shan Path. We shall see. I have seen a few migrants this week - Amur Paradise Flycatcher and Arctic Warbler x3. I have already started to find some interesting things including an example of what appears to be cannibalism in Red-billed Blue Magpies. I may write a separate note on that. Any information on unusual findings would be appreciated. If I have time I will try to do the odd evening session for moths. Even if the absolute number of sightings won't be high I will try to document diversity.

Publicado el septiembre 10, 2022 09:48 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de junio de 2022

The Magic Marsh

A while ago somebody told me about a small marsh quite close to a very densely populated area on Hong Kong Island. I made a few cursory visits and found some dragonflies and the odd good butterfly but it didn't seem very birdy. Roll forward maybe a year and it is now watched regularly by 5 people including me. One of the 5 is a very devoted visitor and is turning up some remarkable records. His main interest is birds and his main virtue is patience. He spends a couple of hours patrolling the small area and stands in the same spot for ages. Waiting. And so now I am keeping the records from the magic marsh on iNaturalist. Only mine I'm afraid. Despite encouragement the others have not yet committed theirs to the database.

The marsh seems to be fed by natural streams and possibly rainwater run-offs from Mount Parker. Adjacent is a privately owned (garden) nursery but through their place there is no access. We enter from Kornhill / Quarry Bay and climb the steps that I think were and maybe are part of the water board maintenance sites. The climb up is short and not difficult - a quick scramble followed by concrete steps. The only risk is in the wet. I have fallen so I know the problem. The steps are flanked by trees and bush and are worth checking for insects. A recent Owlfly was a little gem. But it is the top that holds the magic. The elevated path forms a curved walkway overlooking the marsh itself. it is not possible to go down. I have photographed Indo-Chinese Rat Snake there and I saw a photo today of a Red-necked Keelback taking a frog. We have seen two species of Bittern. Shrikes, Flycatchers, Dragon- and Damselflies and plenty of other insects. Spiders are good too.

I sincerely hope nobody will ever try to drain the marsh and divert the streams and run-offs so that the site can be developed. It links to Mount Parker itself so there are connecting ecological corridors that must be preserved. This is why HK has such rich biodiversity. Pockets of superb and scarce habitat hang on. I am glad so few people know about "our" marsh. I don't want it to attract attention too much. But I am happy to take or direct people there if I know they will respect it. It really is magical.

Publicado el junio 7, 2022 10:49 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de diciembre de 2018

The year turns

I suppose I ought to start with an apology as the last 2 months have been very poor observation-wise. I was asked to come out of retirement to help out a friend in need. Two months will become 4 and then I have promised myself I will forego the filthy lucre and go back to nature.

It has been an odd year with much of the spring migration period lost to recovering from a fall. In summer I discovered the wealth of life around the Peak itself. I stopped my long walks as the humidity was too much for me. At least now I have a full twelve months behind me to compare year on year. That will be a goal for the next 12 months. Perhaps more mothing too.

If I had to pick a highlight it would be the Masked Palm Civet I found lost and distressed. It went to KFBG but sadly did not survive into adulthood.

Not far behind was the trip to Fraser's Hill with Roger Kendrick, Hoi Ling Cheng and Matthew Kwan. And the same group did some fascinating survey work at a site that shall not be named - with guest appearances from Jonathan Yang and Colin Chiu - all fine naturalists and happily for them a fraction of my age. Well, 4 of them anyway!

The year ends on a chilly but sunny day and I look forward to a good start to 2019.

Publicado el diciembre 31, 2018 09:06 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de junio de 2018

LNEC revisited

After a long gap I went to the Lions Nature Education Centre yesterday. Not much has changed - some tidying up, a few trees removed but essentially just as it was when I had to stop going due to poor heath.

I found many of my 'old friends' including, to my immense satisfaction, Polycanthagyna erythromelas. Still at the same pond after 5 years, even on the same tree. If it had not been for the fact that it flew a lot (always returning to the same place to hang out) I would have thought it was plastic.

The mosquitoes were as aggressive as ever as I photographed a beautiful stick insect, just a few feet off a main path. I suspect that is where a larva of Kunugia divaricata found its way into my hat. I kept hearing something near my left ear and it would not go away. Eventually I took off my hat and inside was the caterpillar. I restored it to a more suitable environment.

My saddest moment was meeting a local guy, photographing a butterfly. He showed me a photo folder full of pictures of all sorts of creatures, from bugs to birds. Many were clearly taken in the aviary but most were in the wild. I asked him what he did with all his records - did he put them on iNat? He looked shocked. Absolutely not. He then patted my side pocket and pretended to be taking something out. After a little puzzlement I understood. He is afraid people will steal his photos. So I asked if he did it for a living but not so. It is just a hobby. All these records and they don't get captured anywhere. He also dismissed me photographing a changeable lizard, Calotes versicolor, because they are common. Sad!.

For the record all my images are protected by a creative commons licence. You can download any of my Flickr photos and use them providing it is 1) not for profit 2) attributed to me and 3) not manipulated in any way. I am not even sure images on iNat can be downloaded.

I will pay occasional visits to LNEC but from Central it took me longer to get there than it does to Mai Po. It was reassuring to see that people still signal left and turn right (or visa versa) at the Hang Hau roundabout and maintain a spectacularly poor driving ability. and my special award goes to the idiot Audi driver who cut in causing 4 vehicles behind to brake rather too sharply. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Publicado el junio 28, 2018 12:22 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 3 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de junio de 2018

The rains

The long hot dry and sunny month of May left HK with depleted reservoirs and a need for rain. Happily we are now enjoying a decent spell of wet weather.

May has been an active moth-ing month and the sessions I managed to attend plus more walks have edged my observation tally over the 1,000 mark. It is just a number but mildly satisfying nonetheless. Most of these observations have been made within a few miles of home and using only shank's pony.

My Fuji camera gear is proving to be frustrating. The flash unit is overheating and the battery grip is jammed so both have gone back for repair. Happily carrying the old Canon rig allowed me to do better with butterflies and diurnal moths. The Fuji autofocus is a bit slow for small fast moving creatures.

My best find on June 4th was a scarce hawkmoth Hayesiana triopus. I managed some inflight images of the moth nectaring on Pavetta hongkongensis. This plant is in full flower now and hosting a good range of insects, especially lepidoptera. I had tried to photograph Hebomoia glaucippe, Great Orange Tip, for some time. It flies high, fast and erratically. When it finally settled it was only briefly but long enough to grab a few frames. I spent well over an hour just watching this plant.

The walk around The Peak, Harlech and Lugard Road, is a gentle circuit but very rich in rewards at this time. I have walked it before breakfast and throughout the morning and invariably find a number of interesting species. Part of the reason for using this journal is to remind myself next year where and when I should focus my efforts as the year unfolds. Late May, early June is certainly good for this walk.

On Monday three ladies stopped to watch me photographing a caterpillar. One said she was a school teacher and asked if I would be willing to talk to her class about the wildlife of HK. I am one of the least qualified to educate on the matter but can provide a generous dollop of enthusiasm and some photos if that is all they want!

From next week I will finally have a car to get around more but I will try not to neglect my local patch. Fingers crossed that Fuji fix my camera gear before then.

Publicado el junio 6, 2018 06:08 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 2 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de mayo de 2018

Filling in the gaps.

I have had about 7 weeks of enforced rest or at least very restricted activity after my fall. Happily I am now fit again, just in time for the heat to take its toll. I continue to focus on Lung Fu Shan although Harlech Road was very productive for larvae last week.

It is quite noticeable that the Lung Fu Shan catchment area has a large section with very few observations. This is the section that leads down Harlech Road from the Peak circuit, (as opposed to heading down Hatton Road) and then right along the section of the Hong Kong Trail (1) that joins the resting point above planting area number 1. Below that the section of Pik Shan Path from the big water course (below planting area 1 ) that goes left towards Queen Mary Hospital is also pretty much unrecorded. This was blocked off for a long time so that may account for it.

It looks good for butterflies, beetles and bees/wasps based on today's rather tired exploration. I walked 13.6km in the heat today and felt it. The birds seem to have deserted LFS for now.

My other task is to get used to using the Fuji off a tripod. Macro or close up shots need a lot of DoF and in anything but the best light that means high ISOs or low shutter speeds (or flash). I find the Fuji body a little too small and fiddly for my hands so I have to keep reminding myself that I use it to save weight. As you age you learn to make compromises.

Publicado el mayo 14, 2018 11:15 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de marzo de 2018

Migrant time?

Although LFS and Po Shan Road seems to be a better site for migrants in Autumn there are also good records in Spring. The first 2 weeks in April seem to be good and on April 7th 2011 BrendanK noted a flock of 31 Black Bulbuls on Po Shan Road. I hope a few people will find time to walk the area over the next few weeks.

My best sighting this week was Zoothera aurea. I almost trod on it as it fed beside Pik Shan Path and neither of us registered the other until I was almost upon it. It seemed to fly up into the trees but over 90 minutes I failed to relocate it and sadly had no photo. Stephen Matthews saw the same species in the same location on March 26th 2015.

There was a female Black-naped Monarch near the LFS Education Centre this week seen by at least 2 observers. I saw only an Asian Brown Flycatcher. However this week there has been a significant increase in diversity with the first dragonflies spotted, many more bees and wasps, 2 more species of lizard, the first cicada seen (Gaeana maculata) and more butterflies active.

The weather continues to be extremely dry but not yet too humid. Ideal for wildlife watching walks. Most of the water courses are dry or reduced to a trickle. Only the nullah near the education centre and the rocky stream at the far end of Pik Shan Path hold a decent flow.

The highlight since my last entry was a moth trapping session held off Hatton Road. It will be interesting to see what the final tally is but it produced plenty of extra records including Collared Scops Owl photographed by Matthew Kwan. Actias ningpoana was arguably the most charismatic species. The moon moth circled the trap for several minutes, long enough for most of the attendees to see it well.

Finally, it was good to meet Robert Ferguson again at Lung Fu Shan. His "Wildcreatures Hong Kong" Facebook page is a daily offering of useful information and excellent photography. Here is a link https://www.facebook.com/wildcreatureshongkong/

Publicado el marzo 24, 2018 12:50 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de marzo de 2018


For some reason Orthoptera seem poorly dealt with in Hong Kong. I can not find a good reference source that covers the various life stages. It is not too difficult to find images of the adult forms. The nymphs however are not well documented. If someone has a good source please share!

So I have started uploading some of my older images of grasshoppers and crickets that may find identifications from experts further afield. They ought to be a good project for someone at HKU - they are active, diurnal and don't need a microscope or (to my knowledge) chopping to identify them. I also find them fairly cooperative as photographic subjects.

Publicado el marzo 13, 2018 03:03 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de febrero de 2018

The first day of spring?

The calendar says February 28th but the wildlife says it is springtime on HK Island. I must have seen more than a dozen species of butterfly today. Several were 'high flyers' that never gave me a chance of a photo. Many seemed to be Dysphania militaris.

My highlight today was not one but 5 Blue-tailed Skinks, Plestiodon quadrilineatus. I honestly don't recall having seen them before in Hong Kong. We used to have Long-tailed Skinks on our patio in Sai Kung but never this attractive blue-tail. The first one I saw disappeared before I could even lift my camera. I thought I was destined to be frustrated by this brief sighting but I had gone no more than 3 or 4 paces before I saw another. This allowed me 3 frames before it slid off into the leaf litter. Two more on Harlech Road and a fifth on a wall on Old Peak Road left me somewhat bemused. You wait twenty years to see one then five come along in an hour.

Birdlife is quiet. Or rather low profile. There is an abundance of birdsong but few sightings. Once again I watched a Blue Whistling Thrush giving a quiet sub-song, which I don't find mentioned in my reference texts. A gentle, low burbling noise.

I failed to find any drangonflies today but the stream at the end of Pik Shan Path showed some signs of life with the water skaters I added to my observations.

It is amazing what a little warm sunshine can do!

Publicado el febrero 28, 2018 10:46 MAÑANA por andrewhardacre andrewhardacre | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario