24 Sept 2015

A morning at Mai Po (Sept 10th, 2015)

It's already a fortnight since I took these shots at Mai Po Nature Reserve, but my excuse is that I was distracted by a Fairy Pitta (see previous post) in between then and now.

In the fig trees behind the Tower Hide...

Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike - Coracina melascistos

Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike - Coracina melascistos

Asian Paradise Flycatcher - Terpsiphone paradisi

Asian Paradise Flycatcher - Terpsiphone paradisi
Skulking on the ground beneath -
Pale-flegged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler  - Phylloscopus tenellipes/borealoides

In front of the Tower Hide, a vocal and conspicuous resident...
Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

...and a shyer passage migrant, doing what this species always seems to do - dive for cover !
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea

Here, a bird that Clements calls "Nutmeg Mannikin" in his checklist -
Scaly-breasted Munia - Lonchura punctulata

At the boardwalk, the "Barwits" are heading south.  The race here is menzbieri - restricted to the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) it is now considered endangered, with populations of this form falling rapidly.
Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica

Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica

Finally, a passage migrant duck - Garganey.   I always get "Garganey" and "Gadwall" mixed up - so now I think of the name written along the bird's eyebrow - "Gar-GA-ney"....

Garganey - Anas querquedula

Garganey - Anas querquedula

Garganey - Anas querquedula
Well, it works for me.

17 Sept 2015

Away with the Fairies

Fairy Pitta is a scarce passage migrant here in Hong Kong.

Fairy Pitta - Pitta nympha

One or two are seen each year by a lucky few birders.  As it happens, I've only seen one once before, a spring bird at Tai Po Kau in 2006.

On Monday, 14th September, David Diskin was birding near Lau Sui Heung Reservoir when he discovered a Fairy Pitta near post 2207 of the Maclehose Trail.

I was out birding when I saw Dave's message on a Bird News "Whats App" group.  Ah, technology ! - birding information in real-time.

I got to the site named by Dave in 45 minutes, and spent a while staring into the woods to no avail.

Then, there was another message from Dave to say that the Pitta ( or another individual) had been found by him near Lau Shui Heung Reservoir, a kilometre down the track I was on.

I told him where I was and Dave kindly agreed to meet me and show me exactly where he'd last seen the bird.   At the reservoir we had the briefest glimpse of the pitta again, but Dave had to leave.

Fairy Pitta - Pitta nympha

I decided to hang about and see if the bird would come back to the footpath, which is exactly what it did after about half an hour.

It was suitably alert but not too shy, and I kept seeing it on-and-off in the waterside vegetation.

Fairy Pitta - Pitta nympha

Handholding a 500mm f4 lens I did my best to line up angles to get a clear view. I used no tape or bait - but if I had thought a pitta would eat crumbled oatmeal biscuits I would have offered it some !

Fairy Pitta - Pitta nympha
I left at about 11:45 and I know the bird was seen at the same place later in the afternoon.  But as a typical passage bird, it moved off overnight and was not seen on the Tuesday or Wednesday.

Fairy Pitta - Pitta nympha

Anyway, I was very pleased to make its acquaintance.

1 Sept 2015


Yellow Bittern - Ixobrychus sinensis

It seems to have been a good breeding season for Yellow Bitterns, there are a lot around right now.  Of course, like this juvenile, many of the birds on view could be passage migrants.

As are some of the waders we are seeing..

Greater Sand Plover - Charadrius leschenaultii (juv)
Grey-tailed Tattlers are a good "East Asian" species and there are a few about, including this Australian-flagged one that was first sighted on Aug 21st - and snapped again by me on Aug 30th.  "Stay an extra day" says the HK Tourist Board.

Grey-tailed Tattler - Heteroscelus brevipes
Grey-tailed Tattler - Heteroscelus brevipes
Nine juvenile Great Knot, also on 30th August (seven in view here) - no older birds seen with these.

Great Knot - Calidris tenuirostris (juvs.)

Great Knot - Calidris tenuirostris (juv.)
Ponds 16/17 "The Scrape" - Mai Po Nature Reserve
Once the birds have left the tideline, in the past few days they have settled on "The Scrape" in good numbers.