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.....

8 comments:

  1. Hopefully, the Falcon and the Hobby will find their way to my home land this season. Another nice collection of images.

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  2. Envy inducing species as always. Great Kingfisher BIFs..............

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  3. Great birds, great photos. I especially love the photo of the BC Kingfisher flying past the Great Egret. I myself have a tough time photographing birds in flight. I am not fast enough on the draw.

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  4. I am still waiting to get Amur Falcon onto my HK list...Great job!

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  5. Incredible flight pictures, John. Beautiful and clear. That kingfisher is stunning and I'd be excited to see those raptors too. You did well to get so close.

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  6. Yet more wonderful photos, especially love the BIFs, stunning! Black-capped is still one of my favorite HK kingfishers.

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  7. Thanks for all the comments - you can't go wrong with photos of Black-capped Kingfishers

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  8. Hi John

    I've just received my Winter 2015 edition of the HKBWS Bulletin and have enjoyed browsing, as always. A sterling effort! The last photo on the inside back page caught my attention - the one labelled 'Pied Harrier', and I see that what is presumably the same individual appears in this blog post. It's a fascinating individual. Despite its superficial similarity to an adult female Pied Harrier, I believe it is actually a young male Eastern Marsh. The thing which sets alarm bells ringing for me is the largely unmarked white underwing, notably the coverts and primaries. An adult female Pied should show a barring in these areas, whereas a male Eastern Marsh has unmarked white underwing coverts and practically unbarred under-primaries. The extensively grey tail is another clue that this cannot be a Pied, but is in fact a male EMH, as is the overall rather bulky body shape and heavy-looking head. We see a few of these in Malaysia, and without photographs they would no doubt be passed off as Pieds.

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