16 Feb 2010

Bull-headed Shrike

The third day of the Year of the Tiger, and also the coldest day of the winter in HK so far, 7 degrees centigrade.

We went to Lam Tsuen Valley this morning, to search the flower gardens and terraces for a Bull-headed Shrike.

It was either too early or too cold for the "Wishing Tree" crowds and we sailed through the bottom end of the valley, eventually arriving at Tai Om Tsuen.

At the river's edge opposite the Chan Shum Kee Store we found some birding friends who told us the bird had been favouring the fields behind a rise a hundred metres or so distant. Beyond a stream the ground rose slightly and we found some older houses and a small temple overlooking some market gardens. The temple and some of the houses were bedecked with Lunar New Year papers. Pots of flowers and "gat chai" (miniature tangerine trees) were prominently displayed.

The gardens - with most of the flowers sold off - looked strangely empty.

As if to remind us what year it was (and is), a child's balloon drifted past.

Almost immediately Jemi spotted the Bull-headed Shrike, which
flew to the top of a wooden telegraph pole before disappearing. Twenty minutes later it reappeared on a pole above some unsold peach trees. I got a few photos from beside an empty greenhouse.

The bird vanished again and we drifted up to the front of Tai Yeung Che village. A number of villagers seemed to be back from the UK for the New Year holidays, and were interested to know what we were looking for. The joy of digital photography was being able to show to people exactly what the object of our attention was.

Meanwhile, almost stealthily, the Bull-headed Shrike appeared in front of us at eye height.

Grey weather, great bird - BULL-HEADED SHRIKE

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