27 Feb 2011

First Nordmann's of Spring

Nordmann's Greenshank, that is, and the first for me last Friday, although I think three were sighted earlier in the week.

Nordmann's Greenshank (Tringa Guttifer)

Mai Po's newest hide - beyond a zillion Avocet

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) -two shots

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

A few breaths of warm air, and the Koels are calling everywhere.

19 Feb 2011

Asian House Martin (Delichon dasypus)

An "Uncommon passage migrant with a few winter records"  (Avifauna of  Hong Kong).

These may be early passage migrants.

Asian House Martin

Northern House Martin (D. urbicum) also occurs here.

But the smallish white rump, dark wing lining, sullied flanks and dark chin - shown above - are all characteristic of  Asian House Martin.  

17 Feb 2011

Tai Tong Country Park, Yuen Long

After a tip-off, we went to the fringes of Tai Tong Country Park - which is well away from where we would normally go birding.

But after two good days there I realize we should go there more often !

Rufous-gorgetted Flycatcher

Black Bulbul

 (Toad fans...  look away now !)

Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush

Olive-backed Pipit

Red-flanked Bluetail

Grey-backed Thrush (m)

Pale Thrush

Grey-backed Thrush (f)

A combination of cold weather, food scraps from picnickers, fallen fruit, - mainly from Persian lilac (Melia azerdarach) - has created a bird buffet.

Thrushes are usually very shy here in Hong Kong, but their hunger has made them bolder in the last few days.

13 Feb 2011

WWF Big Bird Race, Hong Kong 12th Feb 2011 06:30 to 18:30

On the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words - a thousand of mine, anyway - some Coolpix shots from yesterday.

Pre-dawn at Ho Chung


At Tai Po Kau

Gavin, Andrew and Tim

The "All-Stars" - l. to r. - Dave Stanton, Mike Turnbull, Chris Campion and Geoff Welch

WE were the "Wandering Tattlers"

Even though a cold front had just reached Hong Kong, mercifully, it didn't rain. It is raining today, though.

The "Eagles"

At Long Valley

Mai Po

Black-faced Spoonbills on a fishpond

l. to r. - John Allcock, Dylan Thomas, Paul Crow and Paul Leader

The "Professionals" tot up their winning score

Richard Lewthwaite and Mike Kilburn

At the post-race dinner

This year's Big Bird Race raised more than one million Hong Kong Dollars for WWF Hong Kong.

I'm pleased to report that my team - the "Wandering Tattlers" raised the most money.  With my having been out-of-town it was my fellow Tattlers who did all the good work in this respect:- Gavin Cooper (Recorder), Andrew Young, Tim Woodward and Roger Muscroft.  

10 Feb 2011

Nam Sang Wai - Part V

Yes, to the sound of dead horses being flogged and barrels being scraped, here it comes.

I popped down to NSW again on Tuesday, 8th February.  As I stood at the back of the car I saw (probably the same individual) White's Thrush in the same spot as last week.

But away to the right, a Grey-backed Thrush was being chased off the grassland by a Pale Thrush...

Pale Thrush (Turdus pallidus)

More of the usual species were viewable from the slipway.

Great Cormorants (P. carbo) 

And two birds I hadn't photographed there before this winter: -

Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Large-billed Crows (Corvus macrorhynchos)

When I was young, the presenters on children's TV shows used to show you how to make castles or dolls' houses from cardboard packets and tubes.

There would always be a stage where the presenter would say "Now here's one I made before the programme started"... and the viewer might feel a bit cheated.

Well, here are some pictures I took back in November but didn't post straightaway.

Black-crowned Night Heron (N. nycticorax)

Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus)

"Western" Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

And finally today - and, yes, it's miles away...

Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)

It WAS photographed from the slipway, but was in the trees across the Shan Pui River !

Parts I to IV totalled 31 species, and 7 more here (Part V) makes 38.  

Not bad for one spot, even if all the shots are not "frame-fillers" !)

4 Feb 2011

Nam Sang Wai - Part IV

I have been noting how many different birds I can photograph in a winter from one spot, in this case the slipway at Nam Sang Wai.  This is the fourth collection of images.

As I was getting the camera out of the back of the car yesterday morning, Jemi spotted this White's Thrush in the grass between the road and the old police post. 

A "bonus bird" for NSW.

White's Thrush (Zoothera aurea)

Zoothera dauma was "White's" Thrush in the 1980s when I first saw it here in Hong Kong - named after the Vicar of Selborne, Gilbert White, who wrote his famous nature diary over 200 years ago.   Later we called this bird "Scaly" Thrush, a more descriptive name.  However the Himalayan population has been split from the long-distance migratory one - and our  winter visitors are now Zoothera aurea and have gone back to being "White's" Thrush.

Why am I boring you with all this ?  In July 2010 the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society brought out a revised list of Kong Kong Birds, and I find I have to keep checking to make sure I'm using the current English and scientific names. Which I try to, usually.  When I remember the name has been revised.

But most nomenclature issues are small compared to the wonderful world of Large White-headed Gulls (LWHGs).  Not only are LWHGs hard to identify, but the taxonomic goalposts keep moving, too.

And to get the worst shot out of the way, here's a Masked Laughingthrush that was in one of the invasive mangrove trees  - sonneratia - just over the wall in front of the car.

Masked Laughingthrush (G. perspicillatus)

All the other photos in this post were taken from the Nam Sang Wai slipway yesterday.  ( I could increase the final "NSW" species tally by lugging the big lens and tripod around the fishponds in the area  but Spotted Dove and Common Myna, etc. won't count unless I can photograph them at the water's edge, where the egrets and spoonbills are. )

Black-headed Gull (C. ridibundus)

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

Tufted Duck (A. fuligula)

Eastern Buzzard (Buteo japonicus)

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Heuglin's Gull (Larus fuscus heuglini)

As you can see, a LWHG.  Don't panic !  I may have misidentified it anyway !

The slipway at Nam Sang Wai - small turnout due to the New Year festival

So, for number of species photographed in or nearby the slipway, it adds up to 24 (Parts I - III) plus 7 here - 

31 species to date in this series.