The Skinks

How did I ever find the time to work?

We have turned the page from February to March. Nature was a day ahead of the calendar as there was a noticeable change in weather and activity on February 28th. Butterflies flew, ants scuttled, skinks darted around and the birds filled their tiny lungs and sang their cardiac muscles out.

I was especially pleased with the skinks. Blue-tailed. I had never seen one in Hong Kong before to my best recollection. The first taunted me. I saw the skink and the skink saw me. Gone with the wind and frankly my dear, I did give a damn. The head went down. Mine, not the skink’s. Forlornly I shuffled on. Better, I thought, than shuffling off.

Barely three paces along the path another Blue-tailed Skink was sunning itself on the fringe of the leaf litter. I paused and pressed the shutter button. I fiddled with the camera and clicked again. I held my breath and edged forward, Tonto on the trail of the bad guys. Click again. Bad angle though. I wanted to get low. I start to lean forward. I think my bones must have clicked or the skink heard my brain pulsating in my cranium. The crinkling sound of skink retreating through dry leaves. I peered into the undergrowth, hoping to pick out a glimpse of electric blue. No luck. After a while I remembered it was safe to breathe again. I move on.

Plestiodon quadrilineatus

In the next half hour I see three more Blue-tailed Skinks. None waited for its portrait to be taken. At least now I know roughly where to find them. I need a warm sunny day, a rock for them to bask on and some glucosamine to stop my knees waking the dead when I try to kneel.

Since then opportunities to walk have been restricted. People passing through Hong Kong I really want to meet. Family commitments. We have even ordered a car at long last. I have to wait until August or, heaven forfend, September to be mobile but Mrs. Ha has signed off on the expenses claim.

This hiatus has coincided with warmer, muggier weather. The Peak is shrouded in low cloud. Visibility is poor. Just what the insects like. Already the clowns are crawling up the Longan trees. Lantern Flies, crazy, gaudy, bizarre creatures that appear on the tree trunks, passed by and overlooked by most of the hikers and dog-walkers.

Lantern Fly - Pyrops candelaria

The frogs are croaking and the cicadas are doing whatever cicadas do to make such an infernal racket. The mozzies have started to remind me that I am the only free lunch. No snakes yet, which is odd because Hong Kong is full of snake-oil salesmen. Just look at Nathan Road or the stock exchange.

So much to see and so little time to see it all in. Today is another no-walk day but tomorrow I have a free schedule. Weather permitting I will see what has joined the rites of spring. Never mind Christmas, now ‘tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la and all that jazz. The future is bright, it may be orange.

Podontia lutea


22 thoughts on “The Skinks

  1. I thought the blue tailed skink was about the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and then I scrolled down. Wow! That beetle looks like a fantasy creature. I’m happy you are having such a fine time there 🙂

  2. So glad to see you back on the trail. I love your photos because they show me a world I would never otherwise see. The UK is not sure whether to side with the weather of Siberia or Timbuktu, but I did see a small bee covered in pollen having a ball in the crocus flowers before the big snow last week.

    • Hello Hilary. I hope things are better, weather aside. I have just finished the book you recommended – No is not enough. And I also have the HSBC expat tales to read soon. The walking is good for me. I am down 30lb in 14 months despite the odd bread & butter pudding at The HK Club. David Eldon comes in occasionally. I should blog more often but life is so busy.

  3. The future is bright
    But it maybe orange

    Well we have a carrot top living in a white house doesn’t know his strengths or potency
    So good to see Andrew
    And to hear your spirits
    Are high,still gives me hope
    That I too still have a chance of
    Christmas in March
    With bones,Mirganes,and all
    As Sheldon Unusally

  4. Very much enjoyed your nature watch and photos, it reminded me of the works of Gerald Durrell whose books I read avidly in my younger days .
    The 1960 ‘s weather has brought a number of migrants to the village including Fieldfares and Hawfinches, sadly no photos of same.
    Best wishes
    My favourite Skinks track Waterloo Sunset

  5. We’ve had such cold wintry weather in the UK and Ireland recently so it was wonderful to find this blogpost full of warmth and colour.

    • I read your blog on S. Ecuador yesterday – still can’t comment. Must be one of the best places anywhere to go birding, even if you leave out Galapagos.

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