28 Apr 2017

"A week is a long time..."

"...in politics..." (Harold Wilson)

"... in April bird migration...."  (me)

I had a couple of mornings (24th and 25th April) at the Mai Po boardwalk hides, and here's a selection of what I saw.

At the peak of the tide

The Black-tailed Godwit got away..

Curlew Sandpipers - Calidris ferruginea

Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Grey-tailed Tattler - Tringa brevipes

mostly Curlew Sandpipers - Calidris ferruginea

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea

Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus

Asian Dowitchers - Limnodromus semipalmatus

Asian Dowitcher and Blackwits

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus

Bar-tailed Godwits - Limosa lapponica (menzbieri)

Long-toed Stint - Calidris subminuta
In one or two photos the sun almost came out, but the others I have designated as "atmospheric", as I'm sure all the true artistes reading this blog will appreciate.

24 Apr 2017

Late April - grey days mean good birding

Friday, 21st April 2017 

I cycled out for a couple of hours in the boardwalk hides at Mai Po.  The tides were pretty low, but I wanted to see whether there were many birds on the moss in front of the outermost hides.

The answer, obviously, is "Yes" - but the birds were distant.  The first three comprise the pick of the bunch...

Citrine Wagtail - Motacilla citreola

Little Stint - Calidris minuta

Little Stint - Calidris minuta (right) - with Red-necked

Chinese Egret - Egretta eulophotes
Fifty-or-more Black faced Spoonbills still around...

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

Kentish Plover (f) - Charadrius alexandrinus

Red-necked Stint - Calidris ruficollis

Terek Sandpiper - Xenus cinereus

Saturday 22nd April 2017

A nice grey day for a trip to Po Toi Island

Po Toi is a flycatcher magnet....

Blue-and-white Flycatcher - Cyanoptila cyanomelana

Grey-streaked Flycatcher - Muscicapa griseisticta

Comparing pretty well with April 13th on Po Toi, which was also a "two flycatcher" day.....

Ferruginous Flycatcher - Muscicapa ferruginea

Asian Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa dauurica

Back at Aberdeen Promenade, a migrant Blue Rock Thrush greeted us from one of the parked (Sorry "moored") boats.

Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
23rd April 2017

Back in the New Territories, a bash around San Tin Fishponds turned up a very nice male Yellow-breasted Bunting.  They have been upgraded to Endangered and are difficult to find these days...well, I find them difficult, anyway.

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola

And, - always a morale raiser on a grey day - a group of exactly TEN Blue-tailed Bee-eaters nearby.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater - Merops philippinus

Blue-tailed Bee-eater - Merops philippinus

April - the month when anything might turn up.

17 Apr 2017

Gull-billed Terns

The Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) is a spring passage migrant, with sometimes flocks of several hundred in Hong Kong in spring.

When viewing noisy and quarrelsome flocks like this, it's easy to forget what a bold and elegant hunter of mudflat crabs it can be....

All these photos were taken in April 2017 at Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hong Kong.

11 Apr 2017

“Po Toi and HK Southern Waters”

Long-tailed Skua - Stercorarius longicaudus

“Po Toi and HK Southern Waters” is the usual billing for Hong Kong Bird Watching Society boat outings that aim to find seabirds.

These spring boat trips usually stop over for a hour or two on Po Toi Island itself, where there can be some migrant landbirds.

Two examples here: the Ashy Minvet  is a regular bird of passage on Po Toi, 

Ashy Minvet (Pericrocotus divaricus)

But the status of HK’s first Maroon Oriole, found on March 30 and snapped by me on Saturday April 1st 

Maroon Oriole - Oriolus trailii

- will require the deliberations of the records committee as to genuine vagrant/“escape” status.

HKBWS had such an outing (Po Toi and Southern Waters) on April 9th, but we dithered about going and it got fully-booked.  Fortunately, TONG Mengxiu had boat trips on 8th and 9th April, and we were able to join these trips on both days.

Thanks to Carrie MA for the local arrangements.

So, a full “Double Header” of sea-birding - Saturday was quite quiet but on Sunday, we  started well with a two-hundred plus flock of migrant Chinese Bulbuls, a sign that migrant birds were around.

Chinese Bulbuls - Pycnonotus sinensis

A steady trickle of Red-necked Phalarope on the water was also a good sign. (Yes, I know Phalarope are waders...)

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

By late morning, we had hit the skua jackpot, recording all three HK Skuas (Arctic, Long-tailed and Pomarine).
Readers who prefer “Jaeger” can look away now. Some Long-tailed Skuas... 

Long-tailed Skua - Stercorarius longicaudus

Long-tailed Skua - Stercorarius longicaudus

Long-tailed Skua - Stercorarius longicaudus

And here are some "Pom" shots....

Pomarine Skuas - Stercorarius pomarinus

Pomarine Skuas - Stercorarius pomarinus

Pomarine Skuas - Stercorarius pomarinus

Actually a lot of seabird IDs were confirmed using camera images… Was that really an Arctic Skua out there….(I chimp my photos) “Yes, it was…"

Arctic Skua - Stercorarius parasiticus

All the Skuas are out there to prey on migrating terns, but we didn't see terns well on the day.  Here is the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society boat, ready for some seabird action....

Here, prior to a distant take-off, are both Great Crested Terns and Eastern Common Terns sitting on floating jetsam south of Po Toi Island.

A few shots from the boat that I hope convey some of the atmosphere of the trips.  Even seabirding does not escape the presence of man near HK, with many cargo vessels at anchor between Po Toi and the Dangan Islands.These are mostly Pomarine Skuas in the top shot, with mainly Long-tailed Skuas below.

The trip ended at Shaukeiwan, Lion Rock is visible in this shot from Hong Kong Harbour’s south-eastern approaches.

A couple of fine - if tiring - days on the waves.