27 Apr 2010

Waders at Mai Po

A good variety of late spring waders around at Mai Po Nature Reserve in the last few days.

Far Eastern Curlew

Red-necked Stint with Western Australian leg flag

Curlew Sandpiper with Victoria or South Australia leg flag

Lesser Sandplover

f Greater Sandplover - already reported via the AWSG website

A variety of "the usual suspects" including Pacific Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocets etc.

This late in the Mai Po "season" there are fewer waders around, but this year's breeders are already well into their breeding plumage. Using the East Asian "flyway", the birds that wintered in, for example, Australia, have mostly passed through Hong Kong, heading northwards to breed on the tundra of the Siberian Arctic. However, some laggards are still passing through.

22 Apr 2010

Terns at Mai Po Access Road, 20th and 21st April

On the principle that if you take enough photos, SOME will look fairly decent, I weeded my way through seven hundred shots of Whiskered Tern taken in the late afternoon of 20th April....

Whiskered Tern

And, as if vying for attention, the Little Terns performed pretty well the following morning (on the 21st).

Little Terns

Both these species of Tern are passage migrants in Hong Kong. Usually we just get a narrow window of opportunity to see them as they head north in spring. This year, strong easterly winds have kept them inland and over the fishponds surrounding Deep Bay more than usual.

Later on 21st April, we sauntered out to the Mai Po boardwalk to catch our first high tide since March 30th.

More about THAT later...

19 Apr 2010

Pale Martin at Mai Po Access road

Lots of Barn Swallows over the fishonds, and, among them, a few of the south China race - fohkinensis - of Pale Martin

Pale Martins

18 Apr 2010

Citrine Wagtails at Long Valley

Well, to be more precise, ONE Citrine Wagtail, from three different angles.

I didn't see the two or three others in the area.

Citrine Wagtail, Long Valley, Hong Kong

16 Apr 2010

A convocation of Pratincoles

On Mai Po Access Road today the Oriental Pratincoles favoured one particular fishpond bund.

I thought they looked very solemn and serious, like a group of academics.... so "convocation" is my new collective noun for them.

I hope it catches on.

Oriental Pratincoles

15 Apr 2010

Swiftlets on Mt. Kinabalu - some "dodgei" records ?

In early March we spent some time at Mt Kinabalu, Sabah.

There we saw quite a few swiftlets, a family we don't get much practice with in Hong Kong.

Mt. Kinabalu is a site for the very local and newly-split "Bornean Swiftlet" - Collocalia dodgei. And, as it was in both the new field guides, like most birders, we thought we'd go and look for it. On two different mornings at the Timpohon Gate (1866m) I banged off many, many digital photos at the swiftlets passing by.

"Bornean Swiftlet" is described as being " like Glossy Swiftlet, but with a greenish (not a blueish) gloss on the feathers.... smaller and no white below.." (Phillipps). With both the Phillipps and Susan Myers guide to hand, we still couldn't figure them out.

(Which is our failing, not that of either of the new Birds of Borneo fieldguide authors.)

As can readily be seen, many of the Glossy Swiflets depicted at Oriental Bird Images are as green as "our" swiflets :-


However, most of the birds shown below lack a white belly, so they may not be Glossy OR "Bornean" :-










Unidentified Swiftlets at Mt Kinabalu, March 2010

Any comments on identification would be most welcome !

14 Apr 2010

13 Apr 2010

Terns over Mai Po access road

Last monday (April 5th), strong winds stopped a good few migrants, and - as is often the case - terns were blown inland.

Here some views from Mai Po Access Road

Gull-billed Terns

Gull-billed Tern (with charming construction site sand silo as backdrop)

Gull-billed Tern

Little Tern

Different days, different terns.

Still shut out of Mai Po. Disappointed !

10 Apr 2010

Mai Po still "closed"

... and, - I hear you say - " Glenn Miller is STILL missing !"

Well, it has seemed like a long time since March 31st.

Here are two shots from a day before the "closure" of Great Knots with leg flags

Black-over-white - flagged at Chongming Island, near Shanghai

"KDB" on a yellow flag - flagged last autumn near Broome, Western Australia

This afternoon I was birding on the access road to Mai Po - like some sort of outcast - and I met some bird ringers - dedicated scientists, all of them, who had been allowed into Mai Po Nature Reserve after signing some sort of disclaimer.

So, we can't even view Mai Po birds, most of us, but people like ringers, who actually HANDLE them, can get in.

I mean no criticism of the ringers, whose dedication I admire, but the inconsistent attitude of AFCD and the rest of Government makes no sense to me at all.

If we're willing to sign disclaimers - why can't the rest of us go in ?

Watch this space.

6 Apr 2010

The promise of youth - Part One

David Ifon Gower (Leics and England)

I'm talking about cricket here.

In 1976, when I was a student, I went to see Middlesex vs Leicestershire play at Lord's in the English County Championship. There were few spectators at the ground.

I used to bat (badly) left-handed myself, so I was interested to see a stylish young left-handed batsman called David Gower make his first First-class hundred in that game.

He was a few months younger than me, but, after seeing his performance that day, I projected my "England batting megastar" fantasies onto him. Like anyone with a real talent for anything, he made batting look so easy. Indeed, there were times later in his career when he could have made the effort to look like he was trying a little bit harder.

David Gower

This picture was taken at another county game (in 1978), shortly before he made his England debut. (The fielder is David Steele of Northants.)

David Gower played for England between 1978 and 1992 . He scored over eight thousand runs (18 centuries) and became a household name. He is now one of the Sky Sports cricket commentators.

Back at Lord's in 1976 I became a David Gower admirer from his earliest county cricket playing days.

He was fifty-three last week.

Happy Birthday, Sir !

5 Apr 2010

PoToi Boat Trip - 4th April 2010

Paul Leader organised a boat trip to mainly look for seabirds, but we called in at Po Toi Island too.

There were a few migrant landbirds in the nooks and crannies of the island, sheltering from the foggy eastery winds.

Narcissus Flycatcher

Fantail Snipe

Grey-faced Buzzard

Grey-faced Buzzard

And in fairly choppy seas afterwards, a few seabirds, including the three species of skuas (jaegers) known to occur in HK waters. The ones that flew closest to the boat were: -

Pomarine Skua

Great Crested Tern

2 Apr 2010

Mai Po Nature Reserve "closed" for 21 days...

A dead Barn Swallow with H5N1 was found on 26th March near Castle Peak road, and reported to AFCD.

The positive 'flu test gave the Government a chance to leap into action.... so they've closed Mai Po Nature Reserve for 21 days from the evening of March 31st. This despite the fact that no-one in the world is known to have caught avian 'flu from a wild bird !

Here are some Black-tailed Godwit shot taken at the boardwalk hide on 30th March.

Black-tailed Godwits

Yellow Throated Buntings on Po Toi

Saw at least four birds on April 1st.