|Scarlet Minivet - female|
During and after the Second World War (in the 1940s) the hills of Hong Kong became very bare, with mass influxes of immigrants, wartime conditions and people gleaning the hillsides for firewood.
In the seventy years since, Hong Kong has become a more high-rise urbanised place and even the poorer residents live in the kind of flats that you can't burn an open fire in.
So the woodland has recovered. The increasing maturation of Hong Kong's woods has helped create viable habitat for colourful forest birds.
Some "new to HK" woodland species may have spread here naturally, but others have not - birds like Blue-winged Minla and Silver-eared Mesia are well "out of range" here.
Spring is here, and birds are doing what birds do in spring, - singing, mating and carrying nesting materials. Scarlet Minivets
- a long-term resident seem to be everywhere.
|Scarlet Minivet - female|
Tai Po Kau (our most-birded woodland site) is noticeably livelier - certainly more noisy - than it was a month ago. Conditions there got me thinking about the status of TPK's avian residents. For reference, I have been flipping through "The Avifauna of Hong Kong" which covers the records of the HK Birdwatching Society from 1958 to 2000. During that period - and since then - new species have been colonising Hong Kong's maturing woodlands.
Over the past thirty years or so, Chestnut Bulbuls
appear to have colonised Hong Kong - or recolonised it - from adjacent parts of Guangdong Province, where they are a common woodland bird. In the 1980s, it was an irruptive winter visitor, but now it is resident year-round and breeding.
But with many woodland species, releases of caged birds have been clouding the picture of which species got here naturally and which did not.
|Chestnut-flanked White Eye|
It seems you'd have to look through a thousand Japanese White Eyes
before spotting a Chestnut-flanked White Eye
here. But how did they get here ? Before the 1980s, again, there were only a couple of records, but since then it is recognised as a bona fide winter visitor. Both White eyes are popular cage birds.
|Japanese White Eye|
New kids on the block, Mountain Bulbuls
slipped onto the HK list in around 2002. They are not even mentioned in the "Avifauna". Expanded range or cage release ?
Perhaps a bit of both. Anyway, firmly resident and "Tickable", they brighten up a morning's birding, as do all the other species mentioned here.
are well-established now, but the first post-war record was in 1984 and there was an "apparent influx" in the winter of 1985/6. According to the Avifauna "...by the 1990s, Orange-bellied Leafbird consolidated it's position."
|Orange-bellied Leafbird - female|
|Orange-bellied Leafbird - male|
There's no doubting the bona fides of a Fork-tailed Sunbird
. Really, it's our only local sunbird species. (Ignoring the occasional appearances of Gould's). But it's easy to forget that the first Hong Kong record of this species was in 1959, and it ceased to be considered a rarity in the 1970s.
|Forktailed Sunbird - (f)|
The sunbird above the other day was sharing Tai Po Kau's "Red-hot Poker" trees with THIS
A handsome individual that has been around for more than a year, but, undeniably "plastic", as British Birders would say. Blue-winged Leafbirds barely get into Yunnan Province, so we can't put this down to expanding it's range. But if there was a female Blue-winged Leafbird out there, anything could happen.
"Grey-cheeked Fulvetta" (now split into four species) was first seen in Tai Po Kau in 1984, but for umpteen years there were few sightings, and all seemed to be escaped or released birds. But it's common enough here now, and the HK birds have been determined to be the same as those in nearby Guangdong, that is: - Huet's Fulvetta
was first noted in 1984 but not until 1991 was there a second record. It is described in the Avifauna as "a scarce resident of captive origin". But in the past fifteen years they've become much more common and widespread.
Hong Kong's woodland birds are "Doing Nicely, Thank You" !