18 October 2018

Just passing through

I imagine that big raindrops must be quite a hazard for insects, they are no fun for humans generally, either.
Sand Martin - Riparia riparia

But when the rain is hard enough, the insects are beaten down and make a flying feast for  swifts and swallows.  There was a high proportion of Sand Martins with a group of mostly Barn Swallows, and I mused on the various names we humans have for these. “Sand Martin” in HK became “Pale Martin” and has now become “Sand Martin” again.  If you record your birding using E-bird, they are “Bank Swallows”. It all keeps the researchers busy.

Himalayan Swiftlet - Aerodroma brevirostris


Himalayan Swiftlet - Aerodroma brevirostris

Himalayan Swiftlet - Aerodroma brevirostris

I met Koel KO by chance in Tai Sang Wai and it was he who alerted me to a single Himalayan Swiftlet among the dozens of hirundines. The swiftlet appeared and disappeared from sight as if by magic.

Himalayan Swiftlet - Aerodroma brevirostris

Himalayan Swiftlet - Aerodroma brevirostris

Himalayan Swiftlet - Aerodroma brevirostris

There are usually ten or fewer records of Himalayan Swiftlet in HK annually, and they are difficult to see well, so  I made an effort to get a few shots, hoping it might be something even more exotic….but it wasn’t.

Due to the rain and clouds, it seemed like “Bee-eater weather” and so it proved on Mai Po Access Road, where about 35 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters caught bees (mostly) and ate them !

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

Blue-tailed Bee-eater - Merops philippinus


Raindrops in almost every shot, it was that kind of day......


12 October 2018

Po Toi Island, Hong Kong - 11th October 2018


Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica
Po Toi Island is Hong Kong’s southernmost island, and a migration hotspot. Nine or ten birders/photographers, including ourselves, caught the 10:00 ferry from the Aberdeen promenade.

Tin Hau Temple, Po Toi

Migrant birds have limited pockets of habitat on Po Toi, and even fewer places to hide there since Typhoon “Mangkhut” in mid-September.

Areas of brown vegetation, hillside scrub killed off by the typhoon’s salt spray, could be seen everywhere above the shoreline along our ferry journey from Aberdeen. 

White-bellied Sea Eagles - Haliaeetus leucogaster

On Stanley peninsula a pair of resident White-bellied Sea Eagles surveyed us as we passed. 

Here are a few shots of some of the birds seen, as usual, some birds are seen by some birders and not others. A mid-week ferry gives only a three-hour window for birding.

Red Turtle-Dove - Streptopelia tranquebarica

Black Drongo - Dicrurus macrocercus

Yellow-browed Warbler - Phylloscopus inornatus
Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica

Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica

(Asian) Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa latirostris

(Asian) Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa latirostris


Bird of the Po Toi day was probably a Spectacled Warbler (Seicercus sp.) - photographed by someone else and not seen by yours truly at all !

10 October 2018

"Reed Warbler Week"




Manchurian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus tangorum

But first...

Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus

Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus

Ma Cho Lung Police Post
The Hong Observatory prediction of mostly clear, cool and sunny weather for early October came true.

I spent a few hours in Ma Cho Lung, an area of fishponds between the old (1950s) Police Post and the high rise of Shenzhen, north of the Border Security Fence.

Shenzhen Highrise

Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Chestnut-eared Bunting - Emberiza fucata

Von Schrencks Bittern - Ixobrychus eurhythmus

Seeing a nightjar-like raptor after sunset, I was fairly sure I had an Amur Falcon, but the photos (iso 5000) reveal a Hobby, probably hunting bats.


Eurasian Hobby - Falco subbuteo

The first week of October is peak migration time for Acrocephalus warblers, Dave Diskin found this Manchurian Reed Warbler at Mai Po Access Road.

Manchurian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus tangorum
Manchurian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus tangorum
Manchurian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus tangorum

Manchurian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus tangorum



There was a supporting “Acro” cast around, too.  
Oriental Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus orientalis

Black-browed Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus bistrigiceps

Fortunately I’ve got the book. It is co-authored by Peter Kennerley, who lived in HK in the 1980s.  In person he has a great knack of explaining advanced bird topics without talking down to his audience. This comes through in his written work too. 



Manchurian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus tangorum


Finally, a resident species "far more often heard than seen"...
Chinese Francolin - Francolinus pintadeanus

Chinese Francolin - Francolinus pintadeanus

3 October 2018

Late September birding, Mai Po and Long Valley, Hong Kong


Pied Kingfisher - Ceryl rudis

Yellow-bellied Prinia - Prinia flaviventris

Here we are - umpteen pictures in search of a theme. Some migrant and some resident birds at Mai Po.

(Asian) Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa dauurica

Collared Crow - Corvus torquatus

On Sept 27th I spent some time at Mai Po Nature Reserve where the mostly migrating waders were disturbed by a Black Kite and swirled around near Hide 1 for some (heavily-cropped) in-flight photos.  Hide I is intact after Typhoon Mangkhut, not so roofless Hide 3. 
Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica

Pacific Golden Plovers - Pluvialis squatarola


Pacific Golden Plovers - Pluvialis fulva


Pacific Golden Plover - Pluvialis fulva

Pacific Golden Plovers - Pluvialis fulva

Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover (in flight), Broad-billed Sandpiper, Dunlin, and Dunlin


I was reminded of that World War Two-era story about shops damaged by bombing in London.  The first had a sign at the door : “Open as usual”.  The second had a sign “More open than usual…”

After Typhoon Mangkut - a damaged hide, Pond 16/17 Mai Po

Yellow-billed (Chinese) Grosbeak - Eophona migratoria
Trees on the reserve have had some damage, but the boardwalk outside the Border Fence is okay.

Re-profiling Pond 7, Mai Po

Black Drongo - Dicrurus macrocercus

On Sept 30th I visited Long Valley, where four or five Red-necked Phalarope have been delighting admirers since Typhoon Mangkhut. Putting up a snipe I hoped for "Swintail" at least but this is a Common (Fantail) Snipe, perhaps returning for the winter, or heading further south later on. 

Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus


Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

I thought the Phalarope were very admirable, too.