Showing posts with label HK Long Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HK Long Valley. Show all posts

2 April 2019

Last week of March 2019 - unsettled weather and some migrants at last

Grey-capped Greenfinch - Chloris sinica
More unsettled weather around 23rd/24th March brought a few interesting birds into view.

These usually seem to be high and distant, maybe often overlooked by birders looking closer to hand, including me.

Grey-faced Buzzard - Bustatur indicus

A spring passage regular…

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis (taivana)

At Long Valley there were two different Water Rails about, I missed one but got the second !
Eastern Water Rail - Rallus indicus

When seagoing passage migrants such as phalarope turn up on inland patches of water, like the ponds at LV, you know it must be rough at sea. 

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

On March 28th the diligence of the fishpond surveyors paid off again with the finding of this unusual wagtail, which may be a Western Yellow Wagtail.  Richard Lewthwaite and I arrived at the same time for a twitch of this potential HK first, feeding on a fishpond bund at Lut Chau.




Western Yellow Wagtail ?- Motacilla flava leucocephala (rear)

Western Yellow Wagtail ? - Motacilla flava leucocephala

Wagtail and admirers

At the boardwalk hides of Mai Po Nature Reserve, on the final day of March, it felt like winter was turning to spring. The wintering gulls were fewer in number and the terns were coming through.  Here’s one -

Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

And the Black-faced Spoonbills were colouring up for their return to their Korean breeding grounds.

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

The commoner passage migrants had increased in number and were also adopting some breeding plumage…

Greater Sand Plover - Charadrius leschenaultii

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea

There are fewer than ten records per year of Oriental Plover -and, actually, I haven't seen one in such good plumage for several years, - so it was great when this was pointed out to me on the Deep Bay mudflats :

Oriental Plover - Charadrius veredus

Oriental Plover - Charadrius veredus
And April is just getting started… 

21 March 2019

Distinguished Visitors

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

There was a flurry of activity yesterday afternoon on various “Whats App” birding groups - two Glossy Ibis had been briefly seen and photographed on the scrape (Ponds 16/17) Mai Po Nature Reserve. 

There are only two previous Hong Kong records - single birds (also at Mai Po) in May 1994 and April 1978.

Immature Glossy Ibis are described as “wanderers” in the bird books, and these two seemed to have wandered on.

However, this afternoon - 21st March 2019 - the very same person who had seen them at Mai Po, found them again, this time in Long Valley, where they lingered through the afternoon and were the subject of many mobile phone messages.

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

Long Valley is ten minutes from where I live, but first I had to collect Jemi, who was returning from downtown on the 978 bus. I scrambled into the car with bins and camera, and arrived at Choi Po Court just in time to pick her up.  Someone had kindly “dropped a pin” on the phone message group thread and the birds and attendant admirers were easy to find.

Long Valley's vegetable fields seemed to suit the rare visitors well, and they were actively foraging around the bases of the vegetation.

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

Both individuals are in non-breeding plumage, having light-streaked heads and necks, and actually, as can be seen here, look very similar.

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

Here's hoping they hand around a bit longer than the previous ones, which were one or two-day "wonders".

Today’s warm sunshine also served as a reminder that the main spring migration is coming....

Postscript (Sunday, 31st March)

These birds disappeared from Long Valley after Friday 22nd March, so weekend-only "twitchers" felt they had missed out.

However, there followed rumours of Glossy Ibis out at Nam Sang Wai from Wednesday 27th March.  It was true.

The Ibis pair have been present in the NSW area for the past four days, so previously frustrated twitchers have enjoyed a second chance to add Glossy Ibis to their HK lists.

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

Glossy Ibis - Pelegadis falcinellus

These photos were taken at sunset on 28th March

21 November 2018

Oh, what a grey day...for Long Valley "regulars"

November 20th, 2018

A late-autumn wander about Long Valley with Andrew Hardacre.  LV is an area of freshwater vegetable fields, and traditional crops like rice planted by Green Groups, including the HK Birdwatching Society.

Sheung Shui Town in the distance

Many of the usual avian suspects were in view. Photos in the order taken, then.

Masked Laughingthrush - Garrulax perspicillatus


Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola

Common (Fantail) Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Common (Fantail) Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus

"Chinese" Magpie - Pica serica

"Chinese" Magpie - Pica serica

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis (taivana)



The overcast weather made for nice pastelly backgrounds.

Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus

Chinese Pond Heron - Ardeola bacchus

By the time we got to San Tin, the sun had come out…. 

Chinese Spot-billed Duck - Anas zonorhyncha

A fine way to start the day...

1 November 2018

End of October

Blue-and-White Flycatcher - Cyanoptila cyanomelana
A stroll around Mai Po on “World Migratory Bird Day” (Oct 13th) revealed a variety of migrants, from a female blue and White Flycatcher in a grove of banyan trees to six or seven Purple Herons that popped out of reedbeds here and there.


Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea

Dusky Warbler - Phylloscopus fuscatus
But it was Dusky Warblers that stood out, their "tuck-tucking" call seemed to be coming from every pile of brushwood brought down by Typhoon Mangkhut four weeks earlier.


The bird ringers caught 83 Duskies in just a couple of hours. This, though, is Oriental Reed Warbler.



At Long Valley more recently I bumped into Matt KWAN and he showed me where LV’s star Wryneck has been appearing.

Eurasian Wryneck - Jynx torquilla
A pleasant surprise was an influx of Russet Sparrows, still a rarity here.

Russet Sparrow - Passer rutilans
There was other stuff, too, such as this “Swintail” (Swinhoe’s or Pintail) Snipe that flew by. This one is showing the “pot belly” as described in “The Birds of East Asia” (by Mark Brazil).

"Swintail" Snipe - Gallinago sp.

Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus

And another Himalayan Swiftlet appeared - in better weather conditions that the one I posted here earlier.

Himalayan Swiftlet - Collocalia brevirostris

Himalayan Swiftlet - Collocalia brevirostris
After the sun had actually set I found a male and female Yellow-breasted Bunting sitting quietly feeding about ten metres inside a rice paddy.  The HK Birdwatching Society - with other “Green Groups” has grown this rice specially to attract and nurture this Critically Endangered species.

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola (f)

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola (m)
It was nice to sit quietly with them for a few minutes.  

We’ve had a run of wetter autumns than there were, say, twenty or thirty years ago.  (It’s Climate Change, sports fans !) The Chung Yeung Grave-Sweeping Festival was on Oct 17th this year, but rain in the days before kept hillside fires to a minimum.

Some Ancestor-worshippers clean the family graves a week or two later, which this year meant that the hills had dried just enough to become flammable, as was so common in years past.


Hillfires can be frightening sights.




HK Government Flying Services uses big buckets, strung from helicopters to fight hill fires. Expensive, but it seems to work.  The GFS crews were flying until sunset, though.


The hillfire shots were were taken Sunday 28th October.