18 Oct 2010

Po Toi Boat Trip

An under-subscribed Hong Kong Birdwatching Society boat trip to Po Toi Island … “and HK’s southern waters”.

Bus, train and tunnel bus (170 Hung Hom to Wah Kwai) got me to Aberdeen Public Pier in good time for the 07:30 sailing. The public ferry at 10:00hrs to Po Toi would have been rather cheaper, but the society’s hired boat had a good head start.

Choppy weather, but it looked like experienced sailors weren’t worried.

Grey-headed Lapwing is a long-distance migrant and winter visitor to HK. Still, it came as a surprise to find this group flying over the sea near Repulse Bay.

Grey-headed Lapwing

Tin Hau Temple, mouth of Po Toi Harbour

Eastern Reef Egret

Ashy Drongo

More migrants were in the woods of Po Toi itself. Bird of the day – and a “First” for Po Toi - was a White-throated Rock Thrush. This was missed by me, but there are photos on the HKBWS website here: -


Some other migrants below.

Lime Butterfly - Papilio demoleus

Red-throated Flycatcher

Er... small raptor - working on this ID

DEBATE here :


But the return boat trip (13:00 to 16:00) to Victoria Harbour via the West Lamma Channel was seabird-free.

7 Oct 2010

Pied Kingfishers at Mai Po Nature Reserve

This time yesterday I was in Hide No.8 at MPNR.

Some rarities have been seen there in the last few days, mainly netted by the bird ringers.

Nothing exotic for me, but fine views of a pair of Pied Kingfishers close to the hide were more than adequate compensation.

Like a lot of people, it was the charisma of kingfishers that lured me into birding.

Pied Kingfishers

A "First" for Hong Kong - European Roller

Out of Africa

The autumn, southerly migration of birds is going on right now. What the Hong Kong Observatory called “a replenishment of the winter monsoon” brought cold grey weather last Tuesday (Oct 5th) and with it lots of birds.

John Allcock kindly phoned me around mid-day with news of a European Roller sighted (by Dave Stanton) near Black Point Power Station, which is about as far west as you can drive in the New Territories. Having worked nearby a few years ago, I didn’t need any clarification of the directions.

We bashed down the highway to Tuen Mun nearly as fast as the green Public Light Buses that ply the route, and arrived to find that the earlier Roller viewers had all left. But the bird itself was sitting in plain view on a support cable for a power line (top right of the first photo).

In the northern summer European Rollers may be found between southern Europe, central Asia and as far east as China’s Xinjiang Province. They should all spend winter in sub-saharan Africa. This first-winter bird seems to have set off in entirely the wrong direction.

European Roller

This bad fortune for a young European Roller has provided much excitement for HK birders.

Sadly for the bird itself, it seems likely that it will fly out over the Pacific Ocean until it drops exhausted, still wondering where it took a wrong turn.

3 Oct 2010

Introduction to Belgium - Bruges and Ghent

Belgium - what's not to like ?

We travelled by train to Brussels from St Pancras in London in less than two hours - Channel Tunnel - Tick - and Bruges, where these pics were taken was just an hour further on...

Sadly, we missed Percy

Leffe beer

Three hundred and-a-lot steps to the top

Three-litre beer glass for the very brave

We settled on "the finest beer in the world" - a lot of them claim that, don't they ?

but "Delerium Tremens" (8.5%) must be close

We weren't birding in Belgium, so more off-topic stuff from there later.

The wild west midlands (of England)

Ah, there you are !

Yes, I confess it's been a while - I was back in the United Kingdom, seeing family and friends, and probably eating far too much.

Well, you have to, to keep out that european cold weather.

A couple of "wildlife highlights" from my mother's back garden...

Suburban Fox

Garden Frog

Upton Warren Nature Reserve is nearby, and we went a couple of times, being members of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.

Here are a couple of shots from there:-


Great Bittern