Here is the second part of A Summer Flutter about my summer macro adventures! In case you have missed Part 1, you can view it here.
I spent the rest of the summer in Hong Kong, where I focused on photographing butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, trying to develop my macro photography skills and to learn more about the insects at home. With a tropical climate, Hong Kong is literally a paradise for insect lovers (minus the mosquitoes I guess…)! The humid and warm weather in Hong Kong means many insects thrive here. There are 260 species of butterflies (you can find the updated list of 2015 here), and 123 species of dragonflies and damselflies. I had a great summer observing, photographing and learning more about them.
Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve (大埔滘自然護理區) has 440 hectares of forest with streams and fresh water habitats, supporting many species of insects. It was originally called the Tai Po Kau plantation, and is considered as one of the most outstanding example of reforestation in Hong Kong. The woodland also has a high diversity of bird species and is one of the best places to see forest birds in Hong Kong.
I found many butterflies along the trail up the stream, including this Common Hedge Blue (see below), photograph just next to the car park! It is worth noting that because the reserve is so heavily wooded, it is a good idea to bring a fill-in flash for your macro photography, as light is quite limited especially in the early hours of morning.
A fill-in flash also highlights the vibrant colours – I used flash to reveal the beautiful blue eyes of this Large Faun (Faunis eumeus eumeus).
The photo below, taken on my first visit in late June, depicts a Common Blue Jewel (Rhinocypha perforata perforata) perching on a leaf at Tai Po Kau, Hong Kong. The metallic green and purple reflective rectangular windows in the blackish tip of its wings looked very attractive. I was quite happy with this photo as it required a lot of persistence and great luck – the damselfly perched high up, light was very limited, and the wind wasn’t co-operating at all!
On another visit in early September, the place has quietened down a bit with not so many butterflies around – possibly due to typhoons hitting the territory in August. However, many Black-banded Gossamerwing damselflies were around. It was particularly amusing to watch this damselfly (pictured below) – it mistook a white dust particle floating in the air for easy prey and took off from its perch, only to discover that it is not food (it was said that dragonflies and damselflies have excellent eyesight and can see 200 images per second!). While I was photographing it, it took off again, only to be fooled by yet another dust particle!
They were so comfortable with me getting close so I managed to be more creative with my composition and tried different camera angles with them, resulting in a high-key silhouette image and an unusual-angled image from behind the damselfly.
Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve (鳳園蝴蝶保育區) near Tai Po is a great place for butterfly lovers. The reserve is a precious habitat for more than 200 species of butterfly. You can find more information about Fung Yuen on their website or their Facebook page.
I found two mating pairs of Pale Grass Blue (Pseudozizeeria maha) on one visit. A third butterfly tried to butt in for the other pair, I was very fortunate to have these two sitting nicely and undisturbed on a pretty piece of grass!
You often find Nymph butterflies crowding around a hole on old citrus trees in the butterfly reserve. Tree sap leaks out as larvae of the long-horn beetle feed on the trunks, attracting butterflies, like the two in the photo below. A Tawny Rajah (Charaxes bernardus) and a Dark Evening Brown (Melanitis phedima) were sharing a sip of tree sap on a hot summer day.
Plains Cupid (Chilades pandava) are found in abundance in the reserve in early summer. The caterpillars feed on Cycas revolutea, a plant often seen in parks. I was fortunate to find this individual below against an uncluttered background, giving nice bokeh for the simple picture. I also thought it would nice to show the butterfly’s scale compared to the piece of grass.
Kei Ling Ha (企嶺下) is a new location I started exploring this summer. Kei Ling Ha is located in Sai Kung in eastern New Territories.
The Commander (Moduza procris), a rare species in Hong Kong, thrives here. They are extremely friendly butterflies, and perched on me and on my camera bag on numerous occasions, possibly attracted by the heat and the sweat.
The Long-banded Silverline (Cigaritis lohita), as indicated by its name, boasts shiny silver lines on its wings. This individual pictured below was early, photographed in early July. When I went back in early September, the place was absolutely filled with them – every flower had one perched on it! Its tails are believed to have the functions of fooling predators into thinking its tails are its head, giving it time to escape an attack.
Below is a Pale Awlet (Bibasis gomata), a skipper quite common at this location. I am struck by the little skipper’s colours – a yellow furry body matched with blue and white striped wings and abdomen, probably the prettiest skipper I’ve seen so far!
The experience I’ve got from this summer has certainly given me an idea to start my own small project. I will definitely be going back to photograph them again soon, probably exploring even more locations, using new techniques and creative compositions, and trying to document as many species as possible.
Thank you for looking and I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! 🙂
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