Piggy-backing neighbours

Filed in Hong Kong, Photo of the Day

This time last year, there was a spider population explosion. Hong Kong is host to a rather large black spider with a golden back. During this period known as 回南 'return of the southerly winds' last year, these black spiders could be seen everywhere.

This year, things are different. It might be that the weather hasn't been as wet for as long as it was last year. I remember last year and hope that we don't experience anything like it for a few years to come. It stayed wet here for almost two and a half months straight. Sunshine was rare. Water was plentiful, usually coming out of the tile floors and walls all around us. The dust mites had a great time which was unfortunate for my wife it turns out that she's quite allergic to them. She had hives for more than a month and they almost killed her; itchy red blotches all over her body and keeping her up at nights with the need to scratch.

Instead of spiders, this year we apparently have frogs. I've been hearing the ratchety sounds for a couple of weeks now but it was not until a few nights ago that I realised that the sounds belonged to frogs. We don't see many frogs here; Toads seem to be far more common; so it was surprising to realise that there were so many frogs around croaking away to each other throughout the night.

Last night, I walked out to the back garden area of our home to check on our rabbit Rose and suddenly saw one of those frogs. Actually, there were more than one frog. I couldn't resist the urge and immediately ran into the house to get my new high-powered torch (purchased in Australia) and my camera.

Here's what I saw ;-)

piggy-backing

One frog on top of the other. I remember my father telling me a few weeks ago while I was back in Australia that the female frogs are much larger than the male frogs so I suspect these frogs are mating, the male being the one on top.

For a 750x500 version, click here.

For the city dwellers, these are frogs, not toads. You can tell by looking at the feet which have suction cups on the end of the toes allowing them to climb surfaces like walls. My parents love frogs as do I.

The Chinese love to eat toad-legs, i.e., 田雞飯. I hope they know the difference between frogs and toads! If people who fancy 田雞飯 want to go hunting, I'd suggest they visit Australia. Some time ago, people introduced toads to Australia and without natural predators, their population exploded, so much so that many Australians now hate toads with a vengence. Some people even enjoy practising golf using toads instead of golf balls; not something that I personally would do.

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23 Responses to “Piggy-backing neighbours”
  1. dont says:

    heeeeeee, those 2 frogs, I believe they were mating! Maybe you'll see some little froggies some time later in your garden. Keep checking! :P
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amplexus

  2. Sharon says:

    Hello guy,i am interedted in your Blog,it is great fun to teach me about artist's life,but also i can learn english from your diary.cos i am so poor on english writing.

  3. Vince says:

    Hey Greg, anymore frogs around your place? I went to Lamma Island today and I couldn't find any of them! =P However, I've seen some interesting birds. Too bad I didn't take my camera with me (my parents and I were suddenly in the mood of heading there today). It's nice to see that you've got more free time now as evidenced by the number of blogs you have written in the past couple of days. Are you aware of any projects you will be taking in the near future?

  4. Rachel says:

    I started reading selected articles yesterday on your website and was fascinated by such a humane and kind person you are. There were a lot to catch up, if time allows. Thank you.
    Rachel

  5. Fran says:

    Hi! How are you? I just want to tell you some funny thing. My friends think my husband looks a bit like you, i think the similarity mostly are the figure, and the face shape also!

    PS: Wow you sure like to take pictures, I like your pictures those you posted on this site, they really look very nice!

  6. 河國榮 says:

    Vince,

    I don't have any large projects for the foreseeable future, but there are other things I need to work on ;-)

    Fran,

    I pity your husband if he looks like me ;-) I'm far from model material.

    You're right. I love to take pictures but I find it increasingly hard to take great photos. That's probably what attracts me to photographing wild life; the challenge of getting great photos with so many variables.

  7. Fanny CHAN says:

    Hello, it's the first time to read your blog and write a message to you. I am just one of the TVB audiences in HK, your performance always attracts me as I admire a foreigner who can speak perfect Cantonese. I have just read a computer-related magazine and in which I found this blog. Actually we think you are a Hong Kong citizen instead of a "foreigner". You may know HK better than us as you are a cultrally aware man.
    Recently I have taken a photo that was always the same as yours, let me send your an email afterwards. I took it in a estate in Tseung Kwan O.
    One more question, I am sure you can speak fluent Cantonese, but can you write or read Chinese? that's what i wonder.
    ^-^ best wishes~

  8. 河國榮 says:

    Fanny,

    I can read Chinese fairly well. Hong Kong newspapers are by large not difficult for me to read. I can write some Chinese but I prefer to use the computer and type the Chinese (using Mandarin Pinyin and sometimes cangjie) rather than write it by hand. I can't always remember the strokes.

  9. 蝦米 says:

    hello 國榮
    你拍出來的相片很美, 我特別喜歡你拍的動物相片, 顏色好靚, 剛剛這一幅兩隻"田雞"好可愛,牠們是田雞嗎? 雖然常常在街市看到牠們, 不過我不敢走近去看, 我怕殘忍,特別是牠們的過程, 我真的不明白為何要這樣? 但我更不明白怎可以當牠們是"golf balls" 他們是有害動物嗎? 就這樣一棍打下去, 牠們會死嗎? 是這樣殘忍嗎? 我知道在澳洲有些動物繁殖得多了點, 是否數目太多便要這樣對待牠們呢? eeeee....! 我意為中國人好多都不懂尊重動物, 而且中國人有句話"背脊向天的都食得" 其實我不太喜歡這句說話. 但也明白都是因為需要食物才取牠們性命, 但就絕對不會拿來玩吧, 除了一種"鬥蟋蟀"外 但係都是點到即止而且都甚少人玩這玩意了.

  10. Littlestream says:

    Oh, Greg......you are certainly too modest. The pic on your homepage is model material. You look great!

    But yikes......frogs!!! Eeewwwww......I rather watch nature from the Discovery Channels :P

    And oh, you put me to shame. My oral ability of the Chinese language, is alright but reading? Well, I am getting there. *blushing*

  11. Traria says:

    Hey dude, my first visit here......nice work on your website! I have to say I appreciated your work as an actor and a performer and also amaze how well you knew about the Chinese / Hong Kong culture and language. I truely admire someone who are so into a different culture / language and did so well that put some of the native to shame. As a Chinese, I used English all my life and still struggle with it everyday.

    BTW, heard your a veteran Mac user...I finally break away from the PC environment after I bought a used Mac G5...nice to be back. I think Hong Kong need a bigger Mac community......

    Anyway, Hope to see more of your work on TV...or moive. Take care and good luck

  12. Linda says:

    I'm from US and was linked to your article and pic from a Yahoo360 page. Found it very interesting. It seems the frogs have found their predator in the human. Are there a lot of poisonous frogs there?

    I admire anyone that can speak a second language at all! Most especially Chinese not to mention writing it. You've all got me beat! I've always thought Chinese writing looks more like art than writing. Even the Calligraphy we used to have doesn't even compare and that art seems to have been lost.

    And I also agree your pic is quite nice.

  13. Dylan Sung says:

    Last year, I went to HK with my mum, and she wanted to have frog. We got a one from the market, and the storeholder, a woman of around 40 with rubber gloves on and an apron walloped the frog over the head, made a slit with the huge sharp cleaver and then proceeded to skin it. I'm not normally squeamish, but it reminds me of when I had to do that when I made a trip back to the village about 20 years ago.

    BTW, came to your blog via Adam Sheik's Cantonese forum. You mentioned you like singing. This article by Prof. Marjorie Chan about tone and melody in Cantonese might interest you.

    http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/chan9/articles/bls13.htm

    Cheers,
    Dyl.

  14. 不留名 says:

    上文"田雞=Toad" 錯!錯!錯!
    田雞=虎紋蛙=Rana tigrina

  15. Kit says:

    Hi there,
    I suggest you should teach your friend to cook toads, instead of use toads for golf practise. At least it's more humanistic, as well as save money. Or they can make sun dry toad's leg (臘田雞腿) and trade it to China, it should be a good business.

    Your sincerely,

    Kit

  16. Christina says:

    Hi Greg, been a long time reader of your blog, but a first time commenter. Just wanted to say, cool picture of the frogs, how were you able to take the pic without startling them? And do they REALLY use toads as golf balls in Australia? I'm sure they can think of better ways to get rid of the toads or at least vent their anger towards them. Look foward to seeing you in another TVB series soon!

  17. Corona says:

    "people introduced toads to Australia and without natural predators, their population exploded, so much so that many Australians now hate toads with a vengence. Some people even enjoy practising golf using toads instead of golf balls"

    Greg,

    Really? I've never heard about it though? This only happens in Queensland?

    Talking about wildlife photos, did you have a chance to see the Wildlife photography exhibition in the Australian Museum in Sydney when you were in Australia last time? It is really stunning!

  18. hydie says:

    Hello Gregory,

    This is the first time I visited your site. I'm from the U.S. (well, I was born in Hong Kong) and I must say I really enjoy looking at the pictures of nature you took! The frogs and the birds... they are just wonderful. I am an amateur photographer myself so I am very interested in looking at other people's works. What camera did you use?

    I really enjoy reading some of your past entries. I've been a fan of TVB since I was very young, and I always remember seeing you on screen and I used to think you were the only white person who knew how to speak Cantonese! Haha... those were the days. I really thought you were the only Chinese-speaking non-Chinese. :) Thank you very much for your performances, with my particular favorite one as the one you played the first ex-husband of Ms. 陳秀珠 in >. Hope to see more of you on TV and of course, your wonderful photographs!

    - hydie

  19. Toni says:

    nice pic!

    that's a breeding pair of White-lipped tree frogs, or some call em Brown tree frog, 斑腿泛樹蛙, Polypedates megacephalus as scientific name.

    this species starts breeding in april till august. so now these guys are calling loud outside my house.. some even broke in and stole my crickets.. LOL

    hope that helps.

  20. Duku says:

    Dust mites? Sounds like a mattress infested with them. You may consider getting dust mite covers for the mattress and the pillows. It helps a lot as I had the same problem many years ago. Still using the same covers and I hadn't face any problems since.

    Not too sure if HK has the covers but we have it in Singapore. Most importantly, clean the room often!

  21. 河國榮 says:

    蝦米,

    I agree with you with regard to the frog shops. unfortunately, the Chinese only eat the legs. the rest of the frog is thrown away, a situation very similar to that of the sharks where only the fins are kept for food. very sad.

    unfortunately, many of the Chinese don't eat every animal because they need to eat. they eat the many varieties because the food is either 'special' or has mythical medicinal affects. in the search for 'special' food, the Chinese even go as far as slicing muscle from living awake animals, believing that the meat will be fresher, better and tastier. extremely extremely cruel.

    in China, a lot of animal species will soon be extinct, never to be seen again. that will be a big loss for us all.

    Traria,

    if you'd like to meet more Mac people, there are two groups in Hong Kong. one of them is the Hong Kong Mac User Group which I attended for many years. the other is MACitizen.

    Linda,

    most frogs are not poisonous although some people claim that the skin of toads contains venom. it's never worried me though. if I have to handle toads; eg to move them out of the house; I just wash my hands afterward.

    Chinese calligraphy; any type of calligraphy; is dying. people are so busy trying to survive these days that there is no time for the arts.

    Dylan,

    Prof. Chan's article is pretty basic by our (Hong Kong people) standards. the fact that the notes in the song have to parallel the Cantonese lyrics is something that we all know and accept. for that reason, Mandarin songs are easier to sing and are also easier to sing melodically.

    不留名,

    "田雞=虎紋蛙=Rana tigrinaÆ"

    is that one specific kind of toad? the Chinese don't eat other varieties of toad?

    Kit,

    trading toad legs to China sounds like a good idea. my only reservation is the same as with other animals that we eat. they should be killed humanely and painlessly. unfortunately, many of the animals we eat today are killed painfully and without mercy. the large corporations that run the slaughter houses want to make as much money as possible and the pain of animals mean nothing to them.

    Corona,

    I missed that. I'll have to take a look the next time I visit Sydney.

    Hydie,

    I use the Canon EOS 350D camera.

    "first ex-husband of Ms. 陳秀珠" -- that was fun! I really enjoyed that series.

    Toni,

    'broke in and stole my crickets' -- really? hah hah hah...

    I've only seen these frogs once. every other 'frog' that I've seen since has been a toad; i.e., no suction cups on the toes.

    Duku,

    we've heard of the dust mite covers. we haven't bought any yet but will have to if the allergy problem reoccurs this year.

    regards,
    Ho Kwok Wing

  22. martin says:

    I have assorted of insects and frogs fro sale . please let me have your reqirements ...
    Martin

  23. Karen says:

    I have been reading your blog for over a year now, and can't help looking again and again of the photos you had taken thru the years. Like you, I am also nature and animal lover. Simply love the pictures you shot especially on insects and animals. You are an amazing photographer.