14 October 2014

Eastern Marsh Harriers at Mai Po, Hong Kong

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus
Both EMH and Pied Harriers have been around Mai Po in the last few days. Pied is usually a passage migrant here in Hong Kong, Eastern Marsh Harriers may be arriving for the whole winter.

I detect a "speciesist" tendency among the Hong Kong bird-photographing fraternity, who seem biased in favor of Pied Harrier, - especially if an adult male comes into view.

So far this autumn, no adult males, but perhaps it's only a question of time.

Meanwhile the only Pied Harriers this autumn I've seen were: -

                        1) Juvenile
                        2) Against the light
                        3) Miles away.

So you'll have to settle for these; two different first-winter Eastern Marsh Harriers.

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

And the second, rather cooler-toned individual; -

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus
Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus
Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

Finally: - "John's Photo Masterclass"

The feature you've all been waiting for, no doubt.  (To give myself more gravitas, I'm going to refer to myself in the third person from here on.)

Eastern Marsh Harriers - Circus spilonotus
John says :

"If you can get both Harriers in the same frame, don't cut off the wing of one of them, like I just did !"




7 October 2014

Mostly Autumn Migrants

Mostly in the order they were taken, mostly passage migrants, mostly at Mai Po...

Purple Heron

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit - race "menzbieri"

Whimbrel

Eurasian Curlew
Eurasian Curlew

Garganey (female)

Pacific Golden Plovers


Pheasant-tailed Jacana

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

(Western) Osprey

Common Redshank

Common Greenshank

Grey Plover
"Th - Th - That's All, folks !"

Dollarbird

24 September 2014

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - again

Yesterday morning, I went to Mai Po with visiting birder and former colleague John Burton.

Earlier, I  had received a message to the effect that Hong Kong's Autumn migrant Spoon-billed Sandpiper was gracing Ponds 16/17 in Mai Po Nature Reserve for the third day in a row. This seemed to augur well for a good morning's birding.

We stopped along the Access Road to the Nature Reserve to look at the waders on a drained fishpond….

and there IT was, quite close, pottering around with other small waders including Long-toed Stints and Little Ringed Plovers.

Although I hadn't heard, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper had flown off Pond 16/17 about twenty minutes earlier.

And there it was, only about 25 metres away.  I had the 500mm lens and 1.4 converter in the car.

Thanks to digital and lots of cropping, here are some shots to show you.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper


Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper
So there you have it, pure luck.

But, as Gary Player (the golfer) once said; - "The harder I practice, the luckier I get.."


21 September 2014

Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Mai Po - a September surprise

Found by Ivan TSE of the HK Birdwatching Society this morning on Ponds 16/17 Mai Po Nature Reserve.  This Critically Endangered Species is "difficult" to find here in spring, and even rarer in Autumn.

A few record shots:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Eurynorhynchus pygmeus
Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Eurynorhynchus pygmeus

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Eurynorhynchus pygmeus


Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Eurynorhynchus pygmeus

Yesterday (Sept. 20th) there were about sixty Great Knot on the outgoing tide.

Great Knot - Calidris tenuirostris


Great Knot - Calidris tenuirostris

Great Knot - Calidris tenuirostris

Great Knot - Calidris tenuirostris

And - as a useful comparison - three Red Knot were close to the hide, here is one of them

Red Knot - Calidris canutus


In the bay, though, the most noticeable Great Knot was struggling for it's life in the retreating tidal waters while a Peregrine tried to pluck it out of the sea.






The Great Knot moved closer to one of the old marker poles and this disturbed the rhythm of the swooping raptor.



And, to our surprise, eventually the Peregrine gave up and flew away.

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus


Unfortunately for the Great Knot, though, it had a gash on it's chest and probably won't get much further.


15 September 2014

Eurasian Wild Boar

HK-Shenzhen
I've done this before but this is a "HK-border-with-Shenzhen" photo…  where the foreground is Hong Kong, and the city in the distance is Shenzhen, our nearest mainland neighbours.

The main reason for lack of development on the HK side was the "Frontier Closed Area" - a restricted Zone that was created in the early 1960s and lasted until well after the handover.

Even though there are development plans now for the HK side, there are still a few wild corners, and a few wild occupants, such as this Wild Boar, photographed earlier this month. 

Wild Boar Sus scrofa


Wild Boar Sus scrofa


Wild Boar Sus scrofa

Further east along the land border, Kong Shan Police Post towers on a hilltop near the village of Lin Ma Hang.  These posts are informally know as "Mackintosh Cathedrals" after a Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police in the early 1950s.

Kong Shan Police Post

But, the post, in turn, now seems to be overlooked by luxury flats on the Shenzhen side of the border. 

Kong Shan Police Post
Once upon a time, would-be illegal immigrants used to sit on the Chinese mountainside opposite this post (and the six others like it) and wait for darkness to fall before making their bid to cross the Hong Kong Border Security Fence.

Anyway, that's enough travelogue. As this is supposed to be a blog about birds, a couple of shots of Grey Treepie.  Like most corvids, they are clever and alert.

Grey Treepie

Grey Treepie

These are the best shots I've managed so far of this species, but, obviously, there is plenty of room for improvement !