Friday, 31 March 2017

Spring Rhapsody - More Night Adventures

Romer's Tree Frog - True Hong Kong endemic

I haven't had much time during the day lately, a lot of work and things had been very busy in general. My weekends are also now pretty much occupied, leading two art in nature workshops on Saturday for HKBWS. Plus side is that they are held in Long Valley and San Tin respectively, so I do get to see some birds, but not many. Last week at Long Valley things were pretty quiet except for three Oriental Pratincoles and a few fly-by Painted Snipes.

Oriental Pratincole - catching a fly

So, with day time gone, I had to turn to night time! Went up to Tai Po Kau yet again with Hoi Ling, David and Bee Yu for a night walk on Thursday night. Things started off well and we were seeing quite a lot of fireflies, including this juvenile by the road side. Things were pretty good on the insect department, with plenty of beetles to see.

Firefly sp.

Mimela testaceoviridis

Chlaenius bioculatus

Paracalais larvatus

There were also a lot stick-insects, including these Neohirasea stick-insects, I am not very good with their species though...Also an unknown Moth that look quite nice. Plenty of spiders around, including this Heteropoda venatoria.

Neohirasea sp.

Unknown Moth

Heteropoda venatoria

We spotted two species of Geckos, including the Bowring's Gecko which is suppose to be the most common species in Hong Kong (although I disagree and think Chinese Gecko is way more common), and also the Chinese Gecko which can be found in good numbers around the public toilet.

Bowring's Gecko

Chinese Gecko

We did OK on the reptiles department, first Hoi Ling spotted a juvenile Mock Viper sitting on some leafs just beside the footpath. This one was pretty small, it's colours are still quite dark, whereas adults usually have quite washed out colours. Hoi Ling didn't take any chance with this little fella this time....Even further ahead, David found us a beautiful Many-banded Krait! This highly venomous snake are usually quite slow moving and not very aggressive, but being related to the cobras they have one of the deadliest bites in Hong Kong, their neurotoxins can cause death if left untreated...Not a snake you want to cuddle with.

Mock Viper - a juvenile with a lot of character

Many-banded Krait -
 it was very timid and tried to hide

These were all dandily, but our main objective of the night were not snakes nor insects, but a tiny amphibian species known as the Romer's Tree Frog. This is a species of great interest, in that it is our only true Hong Kong endemic amphibian to date! (Hong Kong Newts, Hong Kong Cascade Frogs and the Short-legged Toads are all just near endemics) Spotting these frogs that are just as big as my thumbnails weren't easy on the forest floor, but luckily their breeding season had just begun, and we found them at suitable spawning sites with no trouble at all! 

This species was discovered on Lamma Island back in 1952 near a cave by John D. Romer, but when the cave collapsed in 1953 the only known population at the time disappeared, leading some to fear that the only population might have died out. It wasn't until 1984 that these tiny frogs were rediscovered again on Lamma Island, and later on Lantau and Po Toi Island.

Romer's Tree Frog - diagnostic back patterns

They gained a lot of attention back in 1990 when the new airport at Chek Lap Kok was going to destroy part of a known site for this rare amphibian, actions were taken and the population were reintroduced to various sites thought suitable for them in New Territories. It was extremely fortunate that the reintroduction were successful and these amazing frogs can live on! Here at Tai Po Kau we counted at least 10 frogs in a small area, with more calling males heard around us, we even got the chance to witness a pair spawning in a small pool! An absolutely amazing encounter!

A calling male

Spawning pair, notice how much bigger the female is compare to the male!

We went back down to the car park feeling contented and happy, and what better way to end this with a good old Brown Tree Frog?

Brown Tree Frog


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