18 Sept 2012

Tiger Shrike at Mai Po Nature Reserve

Thanks to John Allcock for getting out news of this one !   I got from my armchair to Mai Po in about twenty minutes, Andrew Hardacre was already there, having been at Mai Po when it was found.

Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus)

Clive Viney's text in "The BIRDS of HONG KONG and SOUTH CHINA"  says….."rare autumn passage migrant (first winter birds in September)...", which is spot-on for this one.

At the boardwalk the light has been variable but the waders fairly constant..

Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)  -  Hong Kong leg flags

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) - here for the next few months ?

Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limnicola falcinellus) - right

Some wagtails can be found around the nearby fishponds now, some here to spend the winter, some heading further south. 

M.a.leucopsis being our commonest White Wagtail.

M.f.tschutschensis (a Yellow Wagtail, obviously)

Collared Crow (Corvus torquatus)

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)  - sorry about the wires !

And last, but not least...

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)   - we can get thousands in midwinter, but they're usually even farther away than these were.

And with Hong Kong's autumn migration hotting up, we're away on a trip.  

Connections permitting, I'll post more on that in due course.

13 Sept 2012

Mai Po waders - "Here today..."

Andrew Hardacre and I arrived at Mai Po's boardwalk hide in bright sunshine to find the water just receding and a few waders circling about, looking for somewhere to land.

Neil Fifer was already there, and tipped us off that there was a Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) lurking in the thick grasses in front of the hide.  It wasn't long before the bittern came briefly out into the open. With some down on the head, this was obviously a juvenile, which might have bred in Hong Kong.

Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)

Great Egrets (Casmerodius albus) were, as usual, much more obvious.

We waited to see what else would drop in. Here are shots of a variety of southbound migrant waders seen today.

Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris)

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) - (Edited 18th Sept.  - Siberian race "baueri" has been proposed as a "split" in 2010.... but the suggestion doesn't seem to have much traction.)

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) - some moulting going on here !

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) - rear left

Grey-rumped Tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes)

So we were not disappointed.  But don't take my word for it - Andrew's blog post is here:-

A " Cold Front " arrived around six o'clock this evening. There should be a few birds behind it.

One cold front does not an autumn make, but by golly, it's a lurch in the right direction !

5 Sept 2012

Mai Po - Expect the Unexpected ?

You never know who – or what – you are going to bump into at Mai Po.  From last Saturday, here are a family of Asian Mongooses.  (Or should that be “Mongeese” ?). 

Meanwhile, on the tideline of Deep Bay, a daytime high tide today brought the birds to about forty metres from the hides in the early afternoon.

Most unseasonal was a Saunders’s Gull.  This is the earliest autumn record by several weeks…. They wouldn’t normally show up until the end of October.

A reasonable variety of waders were to be seen, including several with Hong Kong leg flags.

But if the birds aren’t gripping enough, then sorting out the leg flags on view can certainly keep birders entertained on a late summer afternoon.

One of the Greater Sandplovers on view today had an interesting combination of pale Yellow-over-Blue leg flags.   If the flag was originally white, now stained  yellow,  with the blue flag below, it will be a bird flagged in Taiwan.  A flag-sighting “First” for Hong Kong. We just don't see Taiwanese waders here in Hong Kong.... they must usually migrate well east of us.

Three views of the same bird. I'll update this post if the flagging location is clarified. 

The British Birdfair this year raised funds for projects along the “East-Asian Australasian Flyway”.  To have been selected from the dozen-or-so “flyways” in the world is, sadly, a sign that some of the birds here in East Asia are in deep trouble.

The “flyway” concept is a completely man-made one, but a great way of conveying the interconnected nature of the birds’ stopover and refuelling sites. And the presence in Hong Kong of birds from elsewhere in the flyway certainly reinforces the message, wherever they were originally flagged.

One Great Knot in my last posting, these were among 29 seen today.

Three species here (above) … Greater Sand Plover (7), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (3) and Broad-billed Sandpiper (2).

Whimbrel.....  common in Autumn, but relatively few HK-flagged birds are re-sighted here - a suggested reason is that individuals don't stay in Deep Bay for long.

And it's not just birds to look at ....

Fiddler Crabs on the mudflat.