15 Nov 2011

Black-capped Kingfisher at Mai Po, Hong Kong

Well, the cold front came and it chucked it down for a couple of days.

The less-than-ideal viewing conditions for waders didn't seem to matter when this Black-capped Kingfisher was patrolling the mudflats in front of the boardwalk hide.

Halcyon pileata - Black-capped Kingfisher

My much-thumbed 1954 edition of "Hong Kong Birds" by Geoffrey Herklots has a painting of this on the cover, a fine rendition by Commander A. M. Hughes.

Hong Kong's four commoner kingfishers - including this one - were a key factor in luring me into the world of birding.

8 Nov 2011

Long Valley's "Golden Harvest"

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola

Nobody plants rice in Hong Kong these days, apart from Green Groups in Long Valley.  

Long Valley - site of Hong Kong's only rice fields

So the harvest, which is turned into an event for Green Group members, results in an unusual habitat of cropped rice stumps and rice seeds and husks lying about.   In remoter corners of Guangdong Province, there are still plenty of fields like these.

Rice harvest specialty birds include Yellow-breasted Buntings, and Russet Sparrows, the latter species a "tick" for HK's newer birders.

Russet Sparrows - Passer rutilans

Some other Long Valley winter "regulars" have arrived too.

 Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Plaintive Cuckoo - Cacomantis merulinus

 Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus

White-rumped Munia - Lonchura striata

And meanwhile, in a corner patch of damp reeds… Black-browed Reed Warblers, formerly known as "Von Schrenck's" Reed Warblers.

Black-browed Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus bistrigiceps

We got a text message that an Amur Falcon was showing along the Mai Po access road and off we went..

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Others got there sooner ! 

Mai Po access road

It has been very mild in the last couple of weeks and there is some birding opinion going around that winter birds -as well as autumn migrants- are a bit "late" this year.

A cold front has arrived with rain today, so there could be some good birds around in the next few days......