27 Nov 2010

Nam Sang Wai - part II

Considering the muck and goo at the edge of the water at Nam Sang Wai, I was going to call this series of posts from NSW "The Dirty Dozen".

But actually it might be the "Dirty Two Dozen" OR the "Dirty Three Dozen" depending on how many different species I can record there this winter.

There are no access restrictions, and it is a popular place for people starting out in nature photography to get a taste of what the great HK outdoors can offer.  By 09:00 there were more than fifty people there today (a Saturday).

Here are some more birds....

Eurasian Spoonbill (with BFS foreground)

Pied Avocet

Black-capped Kingfisher

Great Egret

Great Cormorant

Common Sandpiper

That's the first Nam Sang Wai "Dozen" - and some of them aren't very dirty at all !

But standards of ornithological cleanliness, not to mention standards of photography may decline as I try to illustrate how many different birds can be seen at Nam Sang Wai.

25 Nov 2010

Speckled Piculet - Picumnus innominatus

Last Saturday (20th Nov 2010) we decided to get away from the madding crowds elsewhere and birded Shek Kong Water Catchment Road.

It is advanced secondary woodland - like Tai Po Kau - and many of TPK's resident birds are there too.

However we found one rarity - a Speckled Piculet. Hong Kong's first record was as long ago as 1996 near Ma On Shan, netted by Mike Leven when he was ringing birds for a survey. Since then this species has been seen in Tai Po Kau once or twice and Ng Tung Tsai (twice).

Saturday's individual would be HK's fifth or sixth.

It is not particularly rare in Guangdong Province, so it seems reasonable to expect them to become more common in our maturing woodlands. But unlike other species - Pygmy Wren Babbler, for example, it has been pretty slow "off the mark" !

20 Nov 2010

Early Winter from the Mai Po Boardwalk Hides

A Deep Bay tide height of around 2.1 metres brings the waterline up to the oldest Mai Po Boardwalk hides, which have been there since the late 1980s.

However siltation is continuously raising the levels of the mudflats and fewer and fewer daytime high tides reach the hides each winter. ( Not such a problem in spring, though; -tides are much higher in April and May, so migrant wader viewing is still very good most – but not all – days in those months.)

Two years ago a third boardwalk hide was finished. It is much further out into the bay and requires a tide height of about 1.8 metres for optimum viewing.

A tide height of 1.8 metres was predicted by the Hong Kong Observatory at around 09:00hrs yesterday. The prospect of very few “good” tides before next February was a strong incentive to go.

Eurasian Curlew

Eastern Marsh Harrier

Black-capped Kingfisher

Cormorants jostled Shoveler as the tide came in

The tide rose and fell as predicted, (due to atmospheric pressure, sometimes they don’t) and the mudskippers frolicked in small pools of water. Of course, this was noticed by the birds that feed on them.

Chinese Pond Heron

White-breasted Kingfisher – pursued by Black-headed Gull

Saunders’s Gull – newly arrived for the winter - "Endangered ? Moi ?"

11 Nov 2010

Nam Sang Wai, Hong Kong

Near the old police post at Nam Sang Wai the Kam Tin and Yuen Long River channels meet.

Three elements are required for good photo opportunities..

1) Low tide - between 0.5 and 1.0 metres is ideal;
2) Early morning sunshine;
3) Wintering birds present, such as duck, Black-faced Spoonbills, Herons and Waders


Spotted Redshank

Black-faced Spoonbill

Common Greenshank

Black-winged Stilt

Grey Heron

Oh, and a fourth requirement - "BE THERE"

Some examples taken this week.

4 Nov 2010

The Fab Four

The "Fab" here refers not to the Beatles, of course, but to Anser fabalis, - the Bean Goose.

Last Saturday three were sighted at some distance on the tidal mudflats of Deep Bay, but like most people, I missed them.

A Sunday report - more like a rumour - elsewhere in Deep Bay and then it went quiet. Geese can be very brief visitors to Hong Kong, I recall Greylags that lingered for just an afternoon in January 1997.

More recently, the habitat managed at Lok Ma Chau has held Whitefronts -singles of Greater and two Lesser - for most of the winter months.

Yesterday FOUR Bean Geese were photographed over Long Valley, and re-found a couple of hours later at sunset in front of the Tower Hide at Mai Po. Well sighted, Koel KO !

A HK-style "Twitch" ensued this morning, and the faithful were rewarded with views of four individuals..... they were disturbed by a Kite, but in due course returned to the pond in front of the Tower Hide, when these photos were taken.

Bean Geese

An appreciative audience

Anser fabalis

According to "The Avifauna of Hong Kong" Bean Geese used to be "abundant" up to the 1930s in Shantou, East Guangdong, which is slightly to the north - as well as east of HK.

And as a bonus, there is speculation at the moment that we may have two individuals eack of the races serrirostris "Tundra Bean Goose" and middendorffii "Taiga Bean Goose".

If this proves to be the case, Christmas has come early for Hong Kong listers !

2 Nov 2010

Long Valley Hallowe'en

There are a few pumpkins at Long Valley, but no witches that I've noticed.

Last Sunday (Oct. 31st) was a day of the finest autumnal Hong Kong weather, it was fine, clear and cool.

We ended our birding day at LV.

Pacific Golden Plover

Yellow Wagtail (taivana)

Olive-backed Pipit

Wood Sandpiper

After the sun had set, a few latestayers - including us - were treated to the sight of a Chestnut Bittern foraging in fairly light cover.... "bird of the day" !

Chestnut Bittern*

*but I prefer "Cinnamon" for this one, don't you ?