16 November 2015

Amur Falcons - slightly off-course in Hong Kong

Amur Falcon is a bird that has only been known in Hong Kong for the past umpteen years.

It's possible that some were overlooked as Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) in the past.  They are autumn migrants, and they turn up in Hong Kong between leaving their breeding areas in northern China and Russia and their wintering grounds in southern Africa.

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Don't take my word for it - Wikipedia has a lot on this species: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amur_falcon






In Hong Kong on passage they will sit on wires over fishponds and bare hillsides, - similar to the sort of habitat they may have known where they bred perhaps...




A couple of years ago, Amur Falcon was in the news recently for the wrong reasons, when it was revealed in 2013 that they were being trapped by the hundreds in the Indian State of Nagaland and sold for food. However, a big effort by Indian and overseas conservation groups seems to have turned this around by creating a festival for tourism and birders, as outlined here : http://www.easternmirrornagaland.com/the-story-of-amur-falcon-its-conservation-and-safe-passage/


Birdlife South Africa has been satellite-tracking Amur Falcons, too.  The progress of individuals can be monitored and posted on the internet within hours.


@copyright Birdlife South Africa



On leaving India, bound southwest, they'll fly across the Indian Ocean, feeding on migrating dragonflies over the sea.




Very confiding for a small raptor, they can be a photographers' favourite....they are certainly one of mine, anyway.







They can scratch their heads and wonder how they are going to get to where they need to be...but sooner or later they just need to "get on with it"...




They have a long way to go.

12 November 2015

November ! - autumn passage migrants, with a few residents too


There - the post title has given it all away.

October began with a Typhoon called "Mujigae".  


As often happens when it is rough at sea, more terns turn up on Mai Po's tideline. 

Gull-billed and White-winged Terns

(mostly) White-winged Terns - Chlidonias leucoptera

(mostly) White-winged Terns - Chlidonias leucoptera

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucoptera

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucoptera

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucoptera

White-winged Terns - Chlidonias leucoptera

White-winged Terns - Chlidonias leucoptera

White-winged Terns - Chlidonias leucoptera

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Red Turtle Dove is getting harder to find, generally, but on Oct 5th a few individuals pottered about a track in front of the car, giving decent views. Again, the effect of the typhoon.

They looked lost and wet. Well, they were "lost and wet"
Red Turtle Dove - Streptopelia tanquebarica

As was this Black Drongo
Black Drongo - Dicrurus macrocercus

Black Drongo - Dicrurus macrocercus

Now, a sunny resident black-and-white interlude, before we return to full colour migrants....

Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Collared Crow - Corvus torquatus


"Passage migrants" again.....
Asian Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa dauurica


Oriental Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus orientalis

The local bird-ringers have been busy. (Seen here outside the Ringers Hut in Mai Po Nature Reserve). Their bird of the morning when I took these photos was a Japanese-ringed Dusky Warbler - already released.




A good variety of migrant and resident birds is not to be sniffed at...

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

And finally, one of those sunrise-and-silhouette shots....


At Mai Po, where else ?

23 October 2015

It's October ! - some autumn passage migrants


They're big, they're gaudy, and their modelling career probably peaked with the publication of  "Hong Kong Birds" by Geoffrey Herklots in 1954 - but I still find Black-capped Kingfishers irresistible. Some may stay in HK for the winter, but most are heading further south.

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata
October is a good month to see Blue-tailed Bee Eaters, and at the start of October I was keenly scanning every power line looking for them, but only found Bulbuls or Black Drongoes.  

However on October 11th, at Tsim Bei Tsui there were over thirty; - here are twelve to start with.
Blue-tailed Bee Eater - Merops philippinus
The Bee Eaters, many of them juveniles, are strictly "fly-throughs".  The scientific name provides a clue to where many will spend the winter.
Blue-tailed Bee Eater - Merops philippinus

Blue-tailed Bee Eater - Merops philippinus

Blue-tailed Bee Eater - Merops philippinus

Blue-tailed Bee Eater - Merops philippinus

Blue-tailed Bee Eater - Merops philippinus

And finally, here are four passing autumnal raptor species.  Raptors, especially juveniles,  usually provide hours of  ID fun for young and old alike.  

Pied Harrier - Circus melanoleucos


Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Eurasian Hobby - Falco subbuteo
The Kestrel may hang around for Hong Kong's winter, but the others are likely to be long gone by November.....

10 October 2015

Tai Po Kau regulars

The other day I pottered around Tai Po Kau, doing the Red Walk and bits of the Blue Walk.

Huet's Fulvetta - Alcippe hueti

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler - Pomatorhinus ruficollis

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler - Pomatorhinus ruficollis


So far, so quiet.  After viewing the Scimitar Babbler trying to demolish the rotten tree stump, it got very quiet.

But back at the main road, at the foot of the hill, it suddenly got very busy.

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Parus spilonotus

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Parus spilonotus

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Parus spilonotus

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Parus spilonotus

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Parus spilonotus

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Parus spilonotus

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch - Sitta frontalis


Velvet-fronted Nuthatch - Sitta frontalis


Grey-throated Minivet - Pericrocrotus solaris

Blue-winged Minla - Minla cyanouroptera

"The usual suspects" are always in Tai Po Kau; - finding them is another matter !