The Tale of Sebastian Civet

Beatrix Potter wrote many Tales of but none as sad as that of Sebastian Civet. I confess it may have been Stephanie but suffice it to say the Civet was a mere babe in arms.

In September 2018 Hong Kong was struck by Typhoon Mangkhut. The most damaging storm to strike us in my memory was violent to the extent of bringing down an estimated 60,000 trees. The HK Observatory recorded winds of 250 kph. Old Peak Road was blocked by fallen trees and officially closed. Of course I ignored that and went up as usual. Shortly after the typhoon I heard a strange noise like a crying baby. I hunted around but could not find the source. On my way down later on I heard the same noise and this time I spotted a young man standing below me off the path. I walked down and with him was a baby Masked Palm Civet, Paguma larvata. The young man was just watching so I phoned for advice from the SPCA. They promised to pick up the deserted baby civet and take it to Kadoorie for rehab. It transpired the civet had lost its mum, who was found dead the following day. I stayed with Sebastian / Stephanie for 90 minutes until the rescuer arrived. I gave it water but no food as it had no teeth. The sad end to this is that after doing well at Kadoorie FBG for several weeks the baby had a heart attack and died one night. Spending that 90 minutes with a wild animal in distress moved me profoundly and it took me some time  to get over the death. Here then are some images of perhaps the most beautiful creature I have met (Mrs. Ha excepted of course).

Masked Palm Civet

Paguma larvata - Masked Palm Civet

Paguma larvata - Masked Palm Civet

The top picture was taken with an iPhone. The kit rubbed against my legs and called constantly, lapping at my mineral water. These creatures are usually nocturnal and hard to see so you can tell what a privilege this was. I just wish it had survived.





Malayan Moth Madness

I seem to have neglected to post anything about my second foray to Fraser’s Hill in Peninsular Malaysia. That must be remedied.

I went without Mrs Ha because a) she doesn’t like moths, b) she likes sleeping and c) the road up to Fraser’s Hill makes her car sick. She went shopping somewhere, Seoul I think. Fraser’s Hill is a wonderful place for mothing but I should have realised that the weather would be rather inclement by night. Sadly, that’s when moths get up to most of their mischief. I think it is fair to say that I spent 4 nights dodging downpours. The white sheet turned a soggy grey colour. The lawn was muddy underfoot favouring leeches more than humans. On the 4th night the wind ripped through the moth sheet and put an early end to the mothing. Was the trip worth it? You decide. Let’s start with Loepa siamensis ssp. malayensis and a host of hangers on.

Loepa siamensis ssp. malayensis

Very similar to Loepa lampei!

Loepa lampei

Don’t shoot Aspara radians, he’s only the piano player.

Apsarasa radians

Glanycus coendersi is a very scarce and sought after moth at Fraser’s Hill

Glanycus coendersi

Brahmaea hearseyi – my 3rd in 20 years

Brahmaea hearseyi

Sarcinodes vultuaria on a stick – lovely

Sarcinodes vultuaria

And let’s finish with a lesser atlas moth, Samia kohlli,

Samia kohlli

These are the some of the larger and more exotic moths but I can easily see 300+ species in 4 nights. I am due to go back at Easter and I sincerely hope it will be possible as the coronavirus is starting to restrict travel in and out of Hong Kong.

All photos shot with a Canon 5D3, a Tamron 90mm macro lens and a Canon dual-headed flash with tailor-made diffusers. Huge thanks to Stephen Hogg and family for their wonderful B&B hospitality,

Painting by camera

It is not uncommon in photography to create your own frame. Here are two examples.

The first is a statue of a Buddhist figure set back in a niche at Angkor Wat. The top half was almost invisible in the dark but I have used the magic of Lightroom to solve that problem. The stone surround and the top of a fence formed a natural frame when I looked through the viewfinder.

Angkor Wat

This is the old ‘through the window’ trick. A little Lightroom trickery was used here too. I exposed for the distant steps and used software to lift the deep shadows and enhance the natural frame. The dynamic range of a modern sensor is remarkable.

Through the window

I’m back at work for a while and my evenings are spent reading an 800 page biography of Van Gogh. Until anon.