Not a creature one expects to come across
while hiking on Hong Kong Island! :O
A Chinese water dragon in the wilds of Hong Kong!
Two days after spotting five skinks (and two pairs of randy insects) on Section 7 of the Hong Kong Trail, I went hiking with another friend from Victoria Gap down to Aberdeen. As I was applying sunscreen by the entrance to Pok Fu Lam Country Park, I noticed something moving about quickly from the corner of my eye and managed to catch sight -- though not snap a picture -- of a blue-tailed skink hanging out in a section of The Peak where I previously had spotted another member of the same species before it vanished from sight.
A couple of summers back, it seemed like every other hike would yield glimpses of at least one stick insect. And I'm now wondering whether the summer of 2017 (and yes, it's starting to feel like summer has arrived or will do so very soon) will go down in my memory as the skink summer; though, actually, based on today's hike, it may well be a banner season for lizard spotting -- as the beautiful blue-tailed skink ended up being the least exciting of the lizards that today's hiking buddy and I managed to catch sight of this afternoon!
By far the most astounding of the creatures we spotted on today's hike has to be the first ever Chinese water dragon I've seen in the wild. (I had seen a representative member of the species on display behind glass at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden some time back but I truly never ever imagined that I'd come across this large green lizard living wild in Hong Kong. And, of course, my managing to snap photos of the critter (pictured at the top of this blog post) pretty much made my day right there and then!)
While I wish I had spotted it first, I have to give credit to my hiking buddy with having done that and then generously calling me over to get a good look of the Chinese water dragon for myself. As luck would have it, as we were admiring the critter, a knowledgeable Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officer happened to ride up the path on his motorcycle and identify the creature for us, and also tell me, almost unbelievably, that the large lizard in front of us was actually a baby and could grow considerably larger!
As if all this wasn't enough, we came across yet another lizard towards the end of our hike. And yes, I've seen changeable lizards before but I got another first in that this was the first representative of the species that my friend and I both saw changing color -- or rather shades -- in front of our very eyes; with its neck region going from a bright to noticeably paler orange within a matter of seconds! As my friend remarked: nature really is pretty incredible. And it really can seem like we get proof and reconfirmation of this fact again and again while out hiking in Hong Kong! :)