13 December 2013

If you go down to the woods today…

You might see a female Grey-chinned Minivet, widespread winter visitor to Hong Kong's woodlands, and scarce breeder.   I photographed this along the water catchment road near Shek Kong, which runs along the boundary of Tai Lam Country Park.



Every mixed flock has a few Japanese White-eyes, a common resident from Hong Kong's highest scrublands to the mangrove edges of Deep Bay.  It's positively ubiquitous !



And here's a pre-Christmas bonus non-bird - a Great Eggfly Butterfly (Hypolimnas bolina), there seem to be a few around at the moment...


But back to birds, because this is a blog that "Does what it says on the Tin"...

Some of the most conspicuous woodland birds in Shek Kong are from feral populations of escaped or released birds which have found their own environmental niche. 

Since World War II, Hong Kong's almost entirely secondary wooded areas have been maturing so that more than a few ecological opportunities have been created. Below are three introduced species that have sprung (metaphorically) from cages to take advantage of those niches.

Silver-eared Mesias are very common in southwest China, where their forebears were probably trapped before arriving in Hong Kong in crates.  Now we have the yellow-throated variety argentauris and - pictured here - a red-throated race, ricketti.





Blue-winged Minla (also descended from escaped or released birds) can take inexperienced birders by surprise. Many are not as obviously "Blue-winged" as this one and can add an element of mystery to a mornings' birding.



Our only Nuthatch is Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, which has been enjoying the run of HK's Country Park woodland for the last twenty years or so.



Still, self-sustaining populations of these three species mean they are "tickable" !

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Genuinely wild and genuinely seasonal is this winter visitor - Verditer Flycatcher….


….and another - Red-flanked Bluetail.


In some barbecue areas, it seems that "baiting" for photography is not necessary when the weekend merrymakers have left so much in the way of food scraps behind.  Both these Grey-backed Thrushes were out and about bright and early, before the cleaning workers arrived for the day.




It looks like it might be a "Thrushy" winter !  We live in hope.....


11 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos. The passerines of Hong Kong are especially interesting to me. Please never hesitate to feature non-bird wildlife like the butterfly.

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    1. John, when the butterflies pause long enough for a photo I'll certainly add more into the mix !

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  2. An interesting lot of birds and photos. The pose on the Grey-chinned Minivet reminds me of our Yellow Robins.

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    1. I see what you mean, I've seen Eastern Yellow Robin in Queensland...they perch prominently

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  3. Great Thrush shots John. The white-eyes and bluetails are only summer visitors here in Hokkaido.

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    1. Hi Stu, I suppose the white-eye and bluetail breed up there ?

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  4. I love your style of going somewhere and coming back with a basket full of birds. Amazing bird luck!

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  5. Ah Kei, This is a combined "best of" from three trips, so I'm coming back with only "1/3 of a basketful" each time !

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  6. Great pictures. I changed planes in Hong Kong in February on the way to Vietnam and I had toyed with the idea of adding a day to my trip and birding there. Now I wish that I had!

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    1. Thanks David.... In terms of birds, Hong Kong can be a pleasant surprise !

      Nice stuff on your blog, too...FAR colder than here !

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  7. Interesting to see another race of Silver-eared Mesia!

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