5 January 2017

Shake your Booty .....




Booted Warbler - Iduna caligata
Thanks to Mike Kilburn for finding this in the scrubby margins beside some San Tin fishponds.  Hong Kong's fifth or sixth Booted Warbler - and the first for me in HK !
Booted Warbler - Iduna caligata

Booted Warbler - Iduna caligata
A reprise here of some of the birds wintering around Deep Bay in midwinter -

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

Oriental Turtle Dove - Streptopelia orientalis

Nordmann's Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

Long-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus scolopaceus

Long-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus scolopaceus

White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon smyrnensis

White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon smyrnensis


Dunlin - Calidris alpina

Saunders's Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi

Saunders's Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi

Saunders's Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi

Saunders's Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi

(mostly) Great Cormorants - Phalacrocorax carbo

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

Finally, a Common Kestrel ponders the year ahead.  
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
We're certainly affecting their habitat everywhere... 

And we're away on a trip - so posting will be light for a month or so.


26 December 2016

Mind your step - and some mid-winter birding, Deep Bay, Hong Kong

I'm grateful to Thomas Chan for spotting this Burmese Python on the southern boundary of Mai Po Nature Reserve.  Snakes are usually more frightened of people than we are of them, but still....that's a lot of fear to go round !

This shot of the head is a big crop with the 500mm lens - I wasn't getting close to it ...

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)

And why were we down the "bottom" end of MPNR last Sunday (Dec 18th) ?

Because the adult Siberian Crane was still showing at Mai Po. Reports have been less frequent recently, perhaps because the crane isn't "news" any more.  Just when I feared it had left us, there's a report from Mai Po this afternoon (Dec 26th).

Siberian Crane - Grus leucogeranus

Siberian Crane - Grus leucogeranus
The bird has been going over to Nam Sang Wai now and then, and lurking unseen in the middle of that area.

Despite the occasional presence of cranes Nam Sang Wai is "not as good as it used to be", they say.

We were away for a big chunk of last winter, but I'd have to concede that there are far fewer duck around the slipway at NSW than there were a few years ago.

Still just one or two fly-bys in good morning light can raise morale.

Eurasian Teal - Anas crecca

Eurasian Teal - Anas crecca

Nam Sang Wai's waders are still pretty confiding.

Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus

Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta

Reflected blue morning light light as a background for a Grey Heron can make it seem more picturesque.

Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea

Black-collared Starlings - Gracupica nigricollis

A lot of photographers may feel that they have "moved on" from NSW in terms of their art (sarcasm alert !), but I will keep going back if the tide, light and season are right. It must be still the best place on the planet to photograph Black-faced Spoonbills.


Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor


Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

"S21" radio-tagged in Korea in the summer of 2013 is passing its fourth winter in Deep Bay.
Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

Last - and literally not least - Great Cormorants are abundant at NSW. They can make a pretence at decorum, even land in heraldic, griffon-like poses.....

Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

But they'll always revert to type when there is a fish to be fought over.

Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

This one was chased onto the mudbank with his prize, and even there had to defend it.

"No, after YOU, Dear Boy"



I can't finish a year's blogging with a picture like this, so here's an Amur Falcon from mid-November.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

20 December 2016

Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Hong Kong's 2nd record)

HK’s second Buff-breasted Sandpiper was found this morning by a Birdwatching Society surveyor (whose name I don’t yet know), while monitoring a drained pond in San Tin.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis

HK’s first-ever B-BS was sighted briefly on Ponds 16/17 at Mai Po Nature Reserve last spring (2015). 

The 2015 bird was in view for less than an hour, and many people, - including me - missed it.

Naturally, this mornings bird flew away after being sighted.  However it was located on the pond next to where it was originally seen this afternoon by Graham Talbot. It wandered, feeding in the drained fishpond, until the light faded.

It was small, well-camouflaged and very easy to lose sight of, even in a flat, bare pond bottom.  

Here are some heavily-cropped record shots. 

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis


Fifteen minutes drive from home, a “Life Tick” and a “HK Tick” rolled into one.  This and the Siberian Cranes have made a spectacular end to 2016.

Boom !  Boom ! ( As Basil Brush used to say )...


16 December 2016

Winter visitors

Siberian Crane - Grus leucogeranus

Siberian Crane - Grus leucogeranus
As of this morning, the adult Siberian Crane has been here for two weeks, mostly findable by birders and photographers after a longish pilgrimage from the car park and Visitor Centre to the south end of Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Long may this most distinguished of visitors hang around.

Hazy sunrise - San Tin

Elsewhere, we've been having cool November weather in December, and flocks of starlings around fishpond edges are very seasonal.

"Red-billed" Starlings - formerly known as "Silky" are present in vigorous and noisy flocks...

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus
And one - band on tail - White-shouldered Starling, above.

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus

Red-billed Starlings - Spodiopsar sericeus

Red-rumped Swallows exert a strange fascination on me, and one sunny morning last week there were dozens of them over a particular pond. 

But first a Pale Martin - but is it ?  What we used to call Sand Martins became known as Pale Martins, but now could be going back to their previous classification.  They are difficult to differentiate, both physically and categorically.

Pale Martin - Riparia diluta

And the streaky eastern forms of Red-rumped Swallow may be heading for a "split" from the plainer, western European ones.

(Asian) Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

(Asian)Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

The streaking on every Red-rumped Swallow seems to be different, too.  Some of this may be age and gender-related, of course.
(Asian) Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

(Asian) Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropsis daurica

And egrets, egrets everywhere, especially around partially-drained ponds..

Border area fishpond, Shenzhen in background

There's no escape from the higher pollution levels brought by northerly winds, but every sunset is different.

Some may even pleasantly surprise.
Fishpond sunset, near Mai Po