17 May 2020

“Marsh” Terns on northbound migration

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucopterus

“Chlidonias…” Marsh Terns migrate through Hong Kong in spring and autumn.  In spring they are much easier to identify at a distance, because they are in breeding plumage.

Hong Kong birding - NOT a “Wilderness Experience” !

At the end of April I saw a couple of dozen marsh terns circling over a particular partially-refilled fishpond in Tai Sang Wai.  They seemed to be feeding on prawns.

Chlidonias Terns on passage, Hong Kong

Exactly two weeks later, blustery conditions led me to go and check the same pond again in the late afternoon.

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucopterus

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucopterus

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucopterus

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucopterus

Kai Kung Shan ("Cock’s Comb Mountain") * is to the east of Tai Sang Wai. With the terns circling more or less at eye height the hill can make a good background for these black-and-white birds, especially as the sun gets lower. 

* a hill called “Nameless” by the British Army, pre-handover !

White-winged Tern - Chlidonias leucopterus

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

And there were Whiskered Terns in close-up, too.

1 May 2020

Hong Kong Spring Migration 2020 - End of April

I was under compulsory quarantine for 14 days on my March 19th return from Chile/Australia, and could only go out from April 4th. Still, that makes me more fortunate than everyone else stuck indoors.

So far, HK has avoided the worst of the “Wu Flu” (Covid-19) outbreaks, due mainly to having quarantine requirements for arrivals by air, sea and land.  And HK residents - after SARS in 2003 - have been diligent when it comes to  masks and hand/face hygiene. We’ve got to hope it stays that way.

We had a gentle stroll up to the (former HK Governor) Sir Edward Youde Pagoda above Nam Chung, NE New Territories on April 9th.

A Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) circled below eye-level.  Two noteworthy things - it was carrying a Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) prey and (I only spotted this later) it had a ring on its’ leg. A mystery.

In Deep Bay, Black-faced Spoonbills (Platalea minor) were assuming breeding plumage prior to heading back to Korea to breed.

Visits to Mai Po Nature Reserve showed up Curlew Sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea)... 

and Asian Dowitchers (Limnodromus semipalmatus) in their finest breeding plumages.  

Elsewhere, a female Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) passes a fish to her mate.  They must have young to feed locally.

A Little Curlew (Numenius minutus) at Long Valley on 19th...

and White-throated Needletails (Hirundapus caudacutus) on 24th were "bonus birds.

The last week of April seems to be peak migration period for Grey-streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa griseiticta) so here’s one from the 28th.

I’m participating in a Nightbird Survey - it’s been a chance to reaquaint myself with some old friends like Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis).

Finally, here are two long-distance migrant Chlidonias Terns over the fishponds of Tai Sang Wai, Whiskered Tern (C. hybrida) and White-winged Tern (C. leucopterus).

And now its May...