Fairy Pitta - Pitta nympha
Flashback - the Tai Po Kau Pitta from April 2015
I received texts that a Fairy Pitta was spotted by John Chow at Ho Man Tin, the hills of Ho Man Tin had been his local patch for last few years, and thanks to John this spot is now known as one of the best places for migrants in Kowloon Peninsular. The exact location is Ma Tau Wai Service Reservoir Playground, the best spot for birds there is a small platform on the hillside next to the pumping station. Bang on time, as most Pittas should be passing through Hong Kong mainly from mid April to early May.
My dad and I got there just before 8am, there were already more then a dozen birders looking at the bird. This is my dad's lifer and I presume it is for many other birders present. The bird kept out of view for several minutes but finally showed itself briefly, foraging actively on the ground. At one point it was on the feeding with a few Tree Sparrows! Certainly a sight you don't see everyday. We spent just around fifteen minutes there and left the place as more birders arrived to pay a visit to this rarity.
Fairy Pitta - quite a good show for just under fifteen minutes!
As a birder, I think it is important to keep the public educated about the birds around us, theoretically the more bird lovers there are, the easier it is to protect the birds in our city. So, hushing up bird news in a way stops people from enjoying or getting into this hobby as pure birders, instead those interested will turn towards the community that they can gain most access, in this case bird photographers circles. This seems to have been the case in recent years, where most new 'birders' were introduced to photography first and birding second, where they might not have the basic conservation knowledge of a naturalist and becomes objective orientated bird photographers, where their prime concern became whether they can take good photographs or not and not the well being of the birds.
I can't say I blame those people entirely, as they were never introduced to those concepts of conservation, sure a lot of their actions probably won't benefit the birds, but isn't it a better way in educating those just starting in the hobby about the correct way of birding instead of barring half the people from the excitement of birding? There will always be 'bad blood' in any hobby, but the current method in hushing up bird news seems to have created more trouble then good in my opinion with both parties growing further and further apart, even more conflict amongst birders, while the photographers continue with their own way...a vicious cycle looping continuously.
Rome wasn't built in one day, and these kind of problems certainly can't be fixed overnight, I believe birders needs to take on a more active role, not just simply condemning those who doesn't follow proper birding codes, but to educate more new comers on the correct way of birding. And ultimately, the birds will benefit from more controlled birders who put the well being of the birds above getting good photographs.
Just my two cents on this subject, although much is debatable and I am sure there are tons of different opinions out there. Either way, I wish this Pitta will find it's way to it's breeding ground safely, unharmed. Hopefully, it will visit us again sometime in the near future!