As a group of avid readers in the LRP team we are very happy to have recently expanded our book offering online and in the showroom. We knew you would be interested in finding out more about some of the wonderful authors and illustrators who have created the ones we've selected. All books have a Hong Kong theme whether it be written or illustrated by someone who lives here or is about the city, the stories and the history of the place so many of us call home. We have created a series of Ask The Author blog posts where we ask the same three questions (with an added bonus one at the end!) to find out more about their connection to the city, what their book is all about, what inspires them and their favourite things to see and do in the 852.
I am originally from the USA but have been in Asia for close to 20 years. From early childhood I had a fascination with the natural world, especially reptiles and amphibians, and though my professional life took me down the Financial Services path my love for nature never waned.
Six years ago I arrived in Hong Kong for work and managed to strike up a friendship with some like minded wildlife enthusiasts. After learning the ins and outs of photography, I began to document Hong Kong's local snake species. After several years of initial work leading to the creation of a website dedicated to helping hikers and rural residents identify snakes, I began the process of collecting additional photos and engaging field based research to aid in the writing of a printed field guide on Hong Kong snakes.
The book was designed with the reader in mind including high quality photos and a logical system to aid in quick identification of wild snakes. It was also created using materials that would ensure its robustness in the field with a waterproof cover, and made at a size perfect to fit in a pack or jacket pocket. It provides detailed information and visual reference for each of Hong Kong's 43 species of land snake and includes things like behavioral information, mistaken identity comparisons, basic taxonomy, photo galleries and even a reference for actual size of mature specimens. The book was also produced using first hand knowledge for almost every species included, ensuring accuracy and small details not accessible through desk research alone.
The book came about quite organically as a natural follow on to the website, which was itself an organic follow on to having collected so many photos of wild snake species in Hong Kong. I am currently working on a new field guide for another category of reptile, born from the same organic process. With this in mind it seems most honest to say that the inspiration really was my lifelong passion for the natural world, and it is my hope, that as a lifelong wildlife enthusiast, this book will ultimately represent a meaningful contribution to both the scientific record and public education.
Favourite thing to do or see in Hong Kong
It should be no surprise, but my favorite thing to do is take night hikes in search of interesting animals to observe and document in photo and video. As a father of two young children these forays are made all the more enjoyable now that they are able to join on occasion and indulge my unrelenting passion for sharing my knowledge about the natural world with others.
and finally - what are your three favourite Hong Kong snakes?
Probably the most difficult question you could ask! Every species really does have a lot to offer, but if I'm forced to answer I would have to say:
- 1. King Cobra
King's are different from any other snake I've ever encountered, and once you've had the pleasure of looking one in the eyes you can easily understand how they garnered their name. They are the only snakes that seem to actually be considering their situation and their surroundings in a way that makes them seem almost human, a feeling only amplified when you see one stare you down and ract to your every move. Add their immense size and speed to the mix and you've got the makings of a very impressive animal.
2. Mountain Pit Viper
Short, fat, secretive, elusive, and only found on misty nights on mountain tops, everything about these snakes screams mysteriousness. I am a fan of vipers in general but these are truly fascinating animals. They live most of their lives hiding in rock crevices and can only be found in very specific conditions. They also have beautiful markings including a unique bright white stripe on their tails. They are also egg layers which is less common in vipers, and are known to bite and constrict their prey, a behavior more commonly seen in snakes like pythons and boas than vipers. Truly one of Hong Kong's most enigmatic species.
3. Red Mountain Racer
One of the hardest snakes to target in Hong Kong, and one if it's most docile and visually stunning. These snakes are born bright yellow with jet black bands running the length of their body then gradually transition to bright red with black racing stripes and beautiful pearlescent white bellies. They almost never bite and turn up randomly in vastly different habitats and conditions which means finding one almost feels like a gift from the snake gods!
All three are unique in their own ways, but ask me again in a week and the list may change!
Adam has also just written the Field Guide to the Turtles of Hong Kong which is currently available on pre-order.