25 Nov 2019

A Long Weekend..

Long-tailed Shrike

Well I’ve declared the weekend that just passed five days long, solely for blog purposes. Last weekend began on Wednesday, 20th November.

November in HK was known traditionally among expats as “Wrinkly Season” - the best weather of the year, when people’s aged relatives chose to make a pre-Christmas visit.

The birding was good too, with feathered winter visitors arriving in numbers.

Perhaps fewer expats and “wrinklies” now, and the climate seems milder than twenty years ago, but there are still many birds around in late November.

“ocularis” White Wagtail

Daurian Redstart (f)

Common Kingfisher

Red-rumped Swallow

An outgoing tide at Mai Po on Friday 22nd drew us out to the boardwalk, bright and early.

In the clearest of light, we watched the Cormorants pouring out of Nam Sang Wai and out over Deep Bay.

Great Cormorants - crossing Deep Bay

Western Osprey

Great Cormorant

....and the Wigeon came very close to the boardwalk hide. 

Eurasian Wigeon (f)

Eurasian Wigeon (m)

Musical notes ?

The tides weren’t looking so promising on Saturday 23rd, so we just strolled to the scrape at Mai Po Nature Reserve, along the casuarinas.

Common Kingfisher

Masked Laughingthrush

Typical winter view looking towards the Border Fence

Once numbered in HK in hundreds, Chinese Spotbills don’t reach double figures here now.
"Chinese Spot-billed Duck" 

Grey Heron

Black-faced Spoonbill

A "Grebe Day" on Sunday 24th..we ventured forth after casting our votes (For candidates, not Grebes).

The biggest Grebe, Great Crested, was at an overgrown Fung Lok Wai, near Yuen Long. 

Great Crested Grebe

Meanwhile the twice-a-decade* Black-necked Grebe near San Tin returned to the fishpond where it was originally found (by Geoff Carey) on Tuesday, 19th November.
Black-necked Grebe (Little Grebe in BG)

Black-necked Grebe - “Eared Grebe” in the USA

....and a bonus Rosy Starling, also at San Tin...

Rosy Starling

...a rarity here in HK. 

Perhaps the same bird as originally seen (by Chris Campion) at San Tin on 7th October. Or  perhaps not - this blog doesn’t do certainties.

* Last two BN Grebe records were 2018 (briefly, one observer) and 2010

21 Nov 2019

Mid-November at Nam Sang Wai, Hong Kong

Sunday, 17th November 2019

Normally I wouldn’t visit Nam Sang Wai on a Sunday, but these are not normal times.

My thinking was that the NT circular road might be congested on a weekday, so my NSW visit would be on a Sunday, or not at all.

I got there as the sun was breaking the horizon, and a picturesque mist hung over NSW’s reed beds.

Well, it seemed that ducks and gulls hadn’t found their way to Nam Sang Wai yet this winter, but Collared Crows (Corvus torquatus) were active in the area.

There were a few Black-faced Spoonbills (Platalea minor) around, one of which came close enough for a decent flight photo.

There was a spectacular fly-off of Great Cormorants at about 07:20.

Two identical videos !  When I work out how to get rid of one, I shall do so !

Bonus bird of the day was the Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) that hovered in the early morning sunshine.  

It dived into the water behind a stand of mangrove… 

...but came into view again with a fish in its’ clutches, which it subdued as it passed me.

I’ll try Nam Sang Wai again in December, to see if the duck are appearing then.

STILL haven’t mastered comment replies...sorry

16 Nov 2019

Chinese Grey Shrike - a “HK first"

Chinese Grey Shrike - Lanius sphenocercus

This very handsome HK “First” was found at fishponds near Mai Po Nature Reserve on November 5th.

Chinese Grey Shrike - Lanius sphenocercus

A steady procession of admirers went to see it over the ensuing few days - but the bird seems to have been spending more time on Pond 8 at Mai Po recently. 

Chinese Grey Shrike - Lanius sphenocercus

And at the Mai Po boardwalk on November 9th..

Black-headed Gulls - Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Saunders Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi

Dunlin - Calidris alpina

Dunlin - Calidris alpina

Common Redshank - Tringa totanus

It seemed inevitable that so many birds along the shoreline would attract a raptor of some sort. I had Eastern Marsh Harrier in mind, instead : -

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

Peregrine - Falco peregrinus

..the Peregrine swept past once, not trying to catch anything, probably looking for weaker or sicker birds among the disturbed waders.

Great Egret - Ardea alba

Earlier, (Nov 1st) I went to Tai Lam Country Park in an effort to see the Brown Wood Owls in the area. I hadn’t been birding that way for years, so was fortunate to bump into people who actually knew where the birds were. 

Brown Wood Owl - Strix leptogrammica

Brown Wood Owl - Strix leptogrammica

Brown Wood Owl - Strix leptogrammica

Brown Wood Owl - Strix leptogrammica

It’s not WHAT you know,  it’s HOOO you know.

I’ll get my coat.

28 Oct 2019

October in the Deep Bay area

White-shouldered Starling

Cooler weather means much nicer conditions to be out and about, with the added incentive of some migrating birds. White-shouldered Starlings (above) may have bred in Hong Kong and are about to leave.

October can be a month of rarities - but not so much this year after Long Valley’s Red-backed Shrike.

Sand Martins, Blue-tailed Bee-Eater and Chinese Grosbeak - not rare but welcome.

Red-billed Blue Magpies are now breeding at Mai Po. 

I made a couple of visits to the boardwalk at Mai Po Nature Reserve.  

Out in Deep Bay, duck, such as Garganey and Pintail are growing in number.

Whimbrel like to roost on top of the boardwalk hides, so can be easily photographed. 

Other waders are around, too...PG Plover, Marsh Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper below -

Black-faced Spoonbills had increased to about thirty the day I took this - HK's "peak count" has been over 400 in November.

Nearby, Whiskered Terns were over the fishponds at Tai Sang Wai, they are not as fine-looking as in spring, but beauty is only feather deep ! 

A single White-winged Tern (centre)....

The terns will move on, but Grey Heron numbers increase in winter. 

Birding in HK is not a "wilderness experience" - foreground: abandoned pig farm, bananas and scrub-covered hillside. In the background, the high-rise on the centre and right is much-needed public housing.

Amur Falcons…. this adult male is unusual, but typically distant….

there…at least this AF is closer !