24 Apr 2015

Red-necked Stints

 A bright sunny day in mid-April.

The tide is a lot lower than predicted, but the sun is shining and some of the the waders are close to the boardwalk hides at Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus

Black-capped Kingfisher shows what "air supremacy" means
A group of umpteen Red-necked Stints have decided that the spot right in front of the hide is exactly where they want to be.

Halfway from Australia to Siberia, they are spending a few days on the Deep Bay mudflats, feeding as much as they can.

Red-necked Stint - Calidris ruficollis
And we're off on a trip - so this blog will be "Off Air" until the end of May.

Enjoy your birding, wherever you are !

18 Apr 2015

Making a splash...Mai Po in the third week of April

 Yesterday, the sun shone and the waders came close to the boardwalk hides at Mai Po

 This tangle of Curlew Sandpipers were disturbed by a Peregrine.  Not "disturbed" really; - more like "terrified".

Curlew Sandpipers - Calidris ferruginea
I went out to the "New" hide and the rising tide was pushing the waders towards us.  Actually, though, most birds veer off to the left as viewed from the hide.

Advancing waders viewed form the "New" hide, Mai Po
There was a record high spring count of Bar-tailed Godwits over the weekend of April 11th/12th and many of these were still around yesterday (April 17th)

Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica (menzbieri)

Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica (menzbieri)
There were many Terek Sandpipers on the tideline, too.

Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus

Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus

Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus
It's one of those things that you can be looking at waders on a tideline and thinking that you've got them covered, but there are always odd birds coming and going.  Such a bonus bird was this close Nordmann's that I didn't see arrive and it chose to depart about thirty seconds after I found it...

Nordmann's Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

Nordmann's Greenshank - Tringa guttifer
We're seeing a few Whimbrel now...

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
 Some non-waders showing themselves...

Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava (macronyx)

Collared Crow - Corvus torquatus
At the risk of belabouring a point, there really are a LOT of Curlew Sandpipers on the mudflats at Mai Po right now.

Curlew Sandpipers - Calidris ferruginea

Curlew Sandpipers - Calidris ferruginea

This a wider angle (less of a crop) - identical to the first shot on this post.
The Spoon-billed Sandpiper (first seen Sunday 12th) has been seen on-and-off over the past few days, although only once by me personally. How long will it stay ?..... Watch this space !

14 Apr 2015

A wet weekend in April - Mai Po

Oriental Plover-Charadrius veredus

It’s been very dry this year, with hill fires in many places in Hong Kong over the first weekend in April. 

For migrating birds the fine weather must have been a welcome phenomenon, for they can hurry faster northwards on their epic journeys to their breeding areas.  For we humans who like to look at migrating birds, the dry conditions have been disappointing. 

But last Saturday (April 11th) the weather changed and Hong Kong was drenched in a substantial quantity of rain.  

From the boardwalk hides at Mai Po it was clear that there had been a “fall” of waders, with many shapes on the distant tideline.

Looking west from the newest boardwalk hide

Yellow Wagtail - race tschutschensis

Terek Sandpiper-Xenus cinereus

And there was variety too.

Far Eastern Curlew-Numenius madagascariensis

Great Knot- Calidris tenuirostris

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor - competing for fish with Little Egrets

Later on Saturday afternoon I looked around some fishpond areas and bumped into some photographer friends who told me where they had seen two Oriental Plovers.

A close-up photo opportunity of a species that is rare in HK made these two individuals my birds of the weekend.

Oriental Plover-Charadrius veredus

Oriental Plover-Charadrius veredus
The buffy feather fringes should indicate juveniles, but it’s a strange place and time to see juveniles of a species that should be heading north to breed.  Juvenile Oriental Plovers are more often seen here in HK than adults, so "Go Figure" as they say.

The rain was so steady, even Barn Swallows weren't all flying, with many sitting on clods of earth.
Barn Swallow-Hirundo rustica

The rain eased off overnight and by first light on Sunday it became evident that there had been a bit of a migrant bird “clear out”.

But there was still plenty to look at.

Bar-tailed Godwit- Limosa lapponica (menzbieri)

Curlew Sandpiper- Calidris ferruginea

Nordmann's Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
A Chinese Egret appeared - as if from nowhere - on the mudflats for my first view of this species this year.

Chinese Egret- Egretta eulophotes
A nice-looking adult (almost ?) Eastern Marsh Harrier was another fine-looking bird.
Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

On the scrape, many waders in the early evening sun.  There was a good crowd in Hide "No.7” because John Allcock had found a (quite distant) Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

View from Hide 7

"Mr Spoony" is in here somewhere

A “Tick” for several people who saw it, both locals and overseas visitors alike. Here's a "miles away" record shot....

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Eurynorhynchus pygmaeus (back, centre)

To round off an enjoyable weekend, there were two Blue-tailed Bee-Eaters in the trees near the north end of Mai Po Nature Reserve at last light.

1 Apr 2015

Ijima's Warbler - a "First" for Hong Kong

Ijima's Warbler - P. ijimae

Found by YAM Wing-yiu when he examined his photos of an unidentified phylloscopus warbler from a day out on Po Toi on Sunday 29th March.

He thought it was "Ijima's.." and it looks like the tide of opinion is with him on this one, see photos on the HKBWS website:-

The news broke on Monday, so various "Twitchers" hired boats to get to Po Toi early on Tuesday.  Your faithful correspondent got the public ferry and arrived around 10:45hrs.  Very late in the day, really, but - perhaps with mist preventing the bird from moving on, the warbler was still there, in the same line of trees Ah Yiu had seen it two days earlier.
Po Toi Island, Hong Kong

Ijima's Warbler has been considered a "possible" addition to the HK list for a while, so I think formal acceptance will be swift.
Ijima's Warbler - P. ijimae

Ijima's Warbler - P. ijimae

Ijima's Warbler - P. ijimae

Po Toi Island, Hong Kong
Ijima's Warbler breeds on small islands to the south of Japan, and is believed to winter in the Philippines, migrating through Taiwan.  The few Taiwanese records are also end March/Early April.

On the subject of Taiwan, here's a Marsh Sandpiper (at Mai Po last week) , with Taiwan leg flags...  This individual was also noted in Hong Kong in spring 2014 and autumn 2013.

The Mai Po mudflat waders are starting to show some variety now.

Curlew Sandpipers, Great Knot

The gulls, all winter visitors, will be gone soon.

As will this Northern Shoveller...

Greater Sand Plovers are passing through now, and one or two are being decidedly "frisky" with each other...

And just room for another Black-capped Kingfisher...

Because I like them !