Any sightings of civets, mongooses, ferret badgers, leopard cats, barking deer, pangolins and porcupines – live or dead – should be reported. Rare birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, or unusual behaviour by common species, are also of interest, as are rare or interesting invertebrates and plants. If you think it is interesting, our readers probably will! Please give dates, times and localities as accurately as possible.
A 2.1 metre long False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens) was beached in Sai Kung East Country Park on 19 August. The whale, which belongs to the dolphin family, weighed approximately 90 kg. (SCMP, August 20, 2002)
Kylie Chung caught a 60 cm long adult Javan Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) in a cage trap placed under tall grass and shrubs on Tai Mo Shan. The mongoose was caught about 9 am. on 28 August at the edge of the forest patch next to grassland. It was very aggressive when she tried to get close to it.
Antonia and James Middleton saw two Porcupines (Hystrix brachyura) on Shatin Heights Road in early August crossing the road and then going down the valley hillside.
A Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) was disturbed from the undergrowth by a stream at Lai Chi Wo by Michael Lau on 26 June 2002.
Three young Wild Boars (Sus scrofa) were seen near the Lin Au section of the Wilson Trail (Tai Po) on 10 June by Jacqui Weir. They were moving through undergrowth and ran off when disturbed. No adults were seen with them.
Alvin Tang saw a Seven-banded Civet (Viverricula indica) on Harlech Road, Victoria Peak, at around 1 pm on 15 May. It foraged on the road for around a minute before disappearing into some shrubs near the road.
Robin and Jacqui Weir had a good view of a Barking Deer (Muntiacus sp.) on the Lin Au section of the Wilson Trail (Tai Po), on 7 July. It was seen on an open hillside from where it ran downwards into a forest patch. It then barked three or four times.
Cytochrome B DNA sequences from tail tips of two typical "upland Rattus" Rats caught by Kylie Chung on Lantau Island have been analyzed by Ken Aplin of the CSIRO Rodent Research Group. He confirms that they are very close to samples from northern Vietnam and Laos, which, in turn, agree morphologically with Rattus sikkimensis from the type locality in Sikkim. This is the species previously - and confusingly - known as "Sladen's Rat" in Hong Kong and must make up at least half of our upland mammalian biomass. (Porcupine! 23)
Captain Wong saw 1 male and 3 female Fork-tailed Sunbirds (Aethopyga christinae) and a flock of about 5 Japanese White-Eyes (Zosterops japonica) visiting flowers of Cleistocalyx operculata on 29 June in Shing Mun Country Park. Although the flowers of this species are white and not very large, the protruding stamens and style are typical of bird-pollinated plants.
Kwok Hon Kai saw a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) perched on a powerline above a fishpond in Lok Ma Chau on 19 July. This species is more frequently recorded in winter or during migration seasons.
Karin Chan saw one Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) in Magazine Gap on 14 July. It was attacked several times by black kites that were flying with it. The Lesser Frigatebird was probably a sub-adult or a female as it had a pale head and a big patch of white feathers on its chest.
Karin Chan saw five Caspian Terns (Sterna caspia) heading east above the sea about 1 km north of Lung Kwu Chau on 10 July at about 7.30 am. They are usually are not seen in mid summer.
Jacqui Weir watched a juvenile Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) being fed by an adult Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) at around mid-day on 19 May. The birds were in a longan tree in Kam Shan village, Tai Po. It was difficult to see what was being eaten.
Mike Kilburn has come across numerous amphibians and reptiles near Ng Tung Chai village, New Territories. These have included:
A 25 cm Large-spotted Cat Snake (Boiga multomaculata) on 10 April in Ng Tung Chai village. The snake was alive but partially paralysed, and was later euthanised.
A Spotted Narrow-mouthed Frog (Kalophrynus interlineatus) on 10 August in Ng Tung Chai village. The frog was seen at night, alive, on a raised concrete path.
A 30 cm road-killed Coral Snake (Calliophis macclellandi) on 23 August, on the Ng Tung Chai access road.
A live Chinese Mountain Snake (Sibynophis chinensis chinensis), around 15 cm long, on 24 August. It was found on the approach to Man Duk Yuen temple from Tai Mo Shan.
Various road-killed snakes have been found by Jacqui Weir on the road up Tai Mo Shan. Among them have been:
A Many-banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus multicinctus) showing its stomach contents. The snake had consumed a small rodent with smooth, brown-grey fur. It was found on the approach to the top public car park on 5 June.
Two Large-spotted Cat Snakes (Boiga multomaculata) found close to the uppermost public car park. These were seen in approximately the same place, one around 11 August and one on 2 September. Both were small, measuring around 30 cm and 20 cm respectively.
A Chinese Slug Snake (Pareas chinensis), approximately 25 cm, found on the road between the bottom car park and the visitor’s centre on 17 August. The specimen was collected.
Mike Kilburn found the sloughed skin (nearly 3 m) of a large King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) in June in Ngong Ping, Lantau.
A 1.5 metre Common Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) weighing 30 kg was found hiding under a van in Ma On Shan. It was captured and taken away by AFCD officers. (SCMP, 25 July 2002)
A 1.2 metre long, road-killed Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) was seen by Graham Reels at Nam Chung, Starling Inlet on 7 August.
Jacqui Weir saw a young Big-headed Terrapin (Platysternon megacephalum) in a stream near the top public car park on Tai Mo Shan at around 6.30 pm on 3 July.
Kwok Hon Kai saw a road-killed juvenile Mock Viper (Psammodynastes pulverulentus) at Shek Pik on 8 August. A wasp was crawling on its dead body, presumably eating the flesh. Thirty minutes later, the wasp was dead!
On 25 May at around mid-day, workers in the native tree nursery in KFBG came across a Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) in the scrub/grass near their work site. The python was in the process of capturing and consuming a young barking deer and was scared off by their arrival, although unfortunately it was too later for the deer. The dead barking deer was probably between 6 months to 1 year old. The following day a deer was heard barking continuously near the site, presumably the mother seeking her lost fawn. This continued for the best part of one day before she gave up. (Reported by Paul Crow)
A 3 metre long Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) was seen stretched out in a long straight line on the road past the entrance gate in Shing Mun Country Park on June 20 at around 6 pm. It had rained earlier during the day, so the dry road surface may have been warmer than the wet forested area, although the road was not warm to human touch. Michael Lau affirms that probably the python was warming itself, as the road surface might have been relatively warmer than the python. (Reported by Sukh Mantel)
In November 2001, Robert Davison saw several Common Rat Snakes (Pytas mucosus) on the City University campus, among a section of wooded hillside: a pair of ~1.8 m long Common Rat Snakes mating on 16 April, and a third specimen nearby; a 2.4 – 2.7 m long adult. There seems to be healthy population around. White-spotted Slug Snakes (Pareas margaritophorus) and their skins, as well as many empty snail shells, have also been seen on the same hillside.
On 21 April, Robert Davison found four road-killed snakes on the Country Park Access Road just south of Nam Chung Lo Uk (near Starling Inlet) within about 10 minutes walk of each other. (1) was seen at about 80 m; (2-4) were seen close to sea level.
1. A Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis suminiatus helleri; approx 60 cm)
2. A Banded Wolf Snake (Lycodon subcinctus; approx 55 cm)
3. A Large-spotted Cat Snake (Boiga multomaculata; approx 50 cm)
4. A Chinese Slug Snake (Pareas chinensis; juvenile, about 18-20 cm)
On the morning of 24 April, Robert Davison saw a dead, 75 cm Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) on the Lau Shui Heung Road near its junction with Sha Tau Kok Road
Michael Lau found a population of Bog Orchids (Liparis ferruginea) in a marsh near Tai Ho on 14 June. This orchid is considered to be very rare locally (Siu, 2000) and this appears to be the first record from Lantau Island.
Wild Corner Bibliography
Siu, G.L. (2000). Orchidaceae of Hong Kong. Memoirs of the Hong Kong Natural History Society 23: 137-147.
The KFBG website (www.kfbg.org) shows some recent photos of interesting wildlife sightings including Pangolin, Taiwan slug snake, Python and Leopard cat.