24 November 2018

Mai Po Boardwalk Hide, 22nd Nov 2018

A 2.1 metre tide was predicted at Mai Po, possibly one of the last of the year that would get anywhere near the boardwalk hides.

It was still overcast early on, but there was a large group of roosting gulls on the tideline.  From this group Saunders’ Gulls were taking to the air, and foraging over the mudflat, searching for mudskippers.

Saunders' Gull - Chroicocecephalus saundersi

Saunders' Gull - Chroicocecephalus saundersi

Saunders' Gull - Chroicocecephalus saundersi

Saunders' Gull - Chroicocecephalus saundersi

Also present, Dunlin.  For me, the “What’s that calidrid?” calidrid.

Dunlin - Calidris alpina

Dunlin - Calidris alpina

Dunlin - Calidris alpina

A few other birds came obligingly close to the hide.

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus

Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola

The sun came out..... 

Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta

(Mostly) Black-headed Gulls on the mudflat
- and on the way back to the Reserve entrance, this female Daurian Redstart posed for me in the shade of a pathside mangrove.

Daurian Redstart - Phoenicurus auroreus

Looking back towards the Border Security Fence, I saw a distant Eastern Imperial Eagle, interacting with a relatively puny-looking Black Kite. 




The eagle must have gone in a loop around the top of Mai Po because a few minutes later, it passed right over me.

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Plenty of winter birds for an eagle to prey on now.....

Pond 7, Mai Po Nature Reserve

21 November 2018

Oh, what a grey day...for Long Valley "regulars"

November 20th, 2018

A late-autumn wander about Long Valley with Andrew Hardacre.  LV is an area of freshwater vegetable fields, and traditional crops like rice planted by Green Groups, including the HK Birdwatching Society.

Sheung Shui Town in the distance

Many of the usual avian suspects were in view. Photos in the order taken, then.

Masked Laughingthrush - Garrulax perspicillatus


Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola

Common (Fantail) Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Common (Fantail) Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus

"Chinese" Magpie - Pica serica

"Chinese" Magpie - Pica serica

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis (taivana)



The overcast weather made for nice pastelly backgrounds.

Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus

Chinese Pond Heron - Ardeola bacchus

By the time we got to San Tin, the sun had come out…. 

Chinese Spot-billed Duck - Anas zonorhyncha

A fine way to start the day...

11 November 2018

Here today.....gone tomorrow ?

Eastern Buzzard - Buteo japonicus

Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Out and about, it seems like autumn passage birds are giving way to winter visitors.

But even the winter birds may not linger, and it seems like we can’t take seeing them two days in a row for granted.

Chestnut-eared Bunting - Emberiza fucata

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Mai Po boardwalk hide, with Shenzhen high rise behind
Buff-bellied Pipit - Anthus rubescens

Yellowknib - Anas poecilorhyncha
Yellowknib - Anas poecilorhyncha

The woodland stuff, like minlas and minivets are mostly resident, but the Ashy Drongo is distinctly seasonal. 
Grey-chinned Minivet - Pericrocotus solaris

Blue-winged Minla - Minla cyanouroptera

Blue-winged Minla - Minla cyanouroptera

Ashy Drongo - Dicrurus leucophaeus

Grey-chinned Minivet - Pericrocotus solaris

Finally, thanks to Mike Kilburn for this season’s probably one-and-only Pallas’s Reed Bunting !
Pallas's Bunting - Emberiza pallasi

Pallas's Bunting - Emberiza pallasi

Pallas's Bunting - Emberiza pallasi

And I finally got one of these in the open...... 

Dusky Warbler - Phylloscopus fuscatus

I shall ignore them for the rest of the winter now.

1 November 2018

End of October

Blue-and-White Flycatcher - Cyanoptila cyanomelana
A stroll around Mai Po on “World Migratory Bird Day” (Oct 13th) revealed a variety of migrants, from a female blue and White Flycatcher in a grove of banyan trees to six or seven Purple Herons that popped out of reedbeds here and there.


Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea

Dusky Warbler - Phylloscopus fuscatus
But it was Dusky Warblers that stood out, their "tuck-tucking" call seemed to be coming from every pile of brushwood brought down by Typhoon Mangkhut four weeks earlier.


The bird ringers caught 83 Duskies in just a couple of hours. This, though, is Oriental Reed Warbler.



At Long Valley more recently I bumped into Matt KWAN and he showed me where LV’s star Wryneck has been appearing.

Eurasian Wryneck - Jynx torquilla
A pleasant surprise was an influx of Russet Sparrows, still a rarity here.

Russet Sparrow - Passer rutilans
There was other stuff, too, such as this “Swintail” (Swinhoe’s or Pintail) Snipe that flew by. This one is showing the “pot belly” as described in “The Birds of East Asia” (by Mark Brazil).

"Swintail" Snipe - Gallinago sp.

Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus

And another Himalayan Swiftlet appeared - in better weather conditions that the one I posted here earlier.

Himalayan Swiftlet - Collocalia brevirostris

Himalayan Swiftlet - Collocalia brevirostris
After the sun had actually set I found a male and female Yellow-breasted Bunting sitting quietly feeding about ten metres inside a rice paddy.  The HK Birdwatching Society - with other “Green Groups” has grown this rice specially to attract and nurture this Critically Endangered species.

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola (f)

Yellow-breasted Bunting - Emberiza aureola (m)
It was nice to sit quietly with them for a few minutes.  

We’ve had a run of wetter autumns than there were, say, twenty or thirty years ago.  (It’s Climate Change, sports fans !) The Chung Yeung Grave-Sweeping Festival was on Oct 17th this year, but rain in the days before kept hillside fires to a minimum.

Some Ancestor-worshippers clean the family graves a week or two later, which this year meant that the hills had dried just enough to become flammable, as was so common in years past.


Hillfires can be frightening sights.




HK Government Flying Services uses big buckets, strung from helicopters to fight hill fires. Expensive, but it seems to work.  The GFS crews were flying until sunset, though.


The hillfire shots were were taken Sunday 28th October.