Monday 19 February 2024

February - Generally Quiet

Its been one of the quieter winters in Hong Kong, with fewer wintering birds in general. One of the very few wintering species we've had quite a few this year is the Gould's Sunbird, they seems to be popping up in several different locations. Including these two I bumped into, one adult male and the other a juvenile male. Both were found on a blooming Rhodoleia tree, obviously attracted to the sweet nectar of this wonderful native species.


Gould's Sunbird - adult male

Gould's Sunbird - juvenile male

Our local Fork-tailed Sunbirds were also attracted to these flowers, there were quite a few of them dancing around the trees. Mountain Bulbuls are also frequent visitors to these flowers, this one looked on from another treetop before coming down to feed on the flowers.

Fork-tailed Sunbird - male

Fork-tailed Sunbird - female

Mountain Bulbul

Over at Pak Tam Chung, I had a female Mugimaki Flycatcher near the visitor centre. I've also been seeing a pair of extremely confiding Asian Emerald Doves, an adult leading the way and a juvenile following closely behind. The pair allowed close viewings and was not at all bothered by my presence, lovely to see this usually shy species at close proximity.


Mugimaki Flycatcher - female



Asian Emerald Dove - adult

Asian Emerald Dove - juvenile

Tai Po Kau's been a bit more quiet in general, there were very few interesting winter visitors, most of the time it was down to the local residents to keep us entertained, such as close views of Grey-chinned Minivets and the odd Speckled Piculets. There were still a few wintering birds around, such as Black-winged Cuckooshrikes and Verditer Flycatchers.


Grey-chinned Minivet - male

Speckled Piculet

Black-winged Cuckooshrike

Verditer Flycatcher - male

Some slight improvements at Shek Kong Airfield Road, other than the numerous wintering Yellow-browed Warblers, I had a small flock of Yellow-billed Grosbeaks, but otherwise still relatively quiet compare to previous years.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-billed Grosbeak - male

I caught up with the Oriental Greenfinch at Long Valley again, but to my surprise I found some more at Ping Yeung the very same day! To my delight, I even found a few Common Rosefinch nearby! The tall grass was of course, home to a few Golden-headed Cisticolas, one of which showed exceptionally well.


Oriental Greenfinch

Common Rosefinch - male

Golden-headed Cisticola

At Nam Chung, the long staying Black-capped Kingfisher stays on, although not showing particularly well, its still a nice species to see any day! A Pacific Reef Egret's been frequenting the same area, allowing close views and often very photogenic.

Black-capped Kingfisher



Pacific Reef Egret

Earlier in the month, hundreds of House Swifts came down low onto the fish ponds, giving close views as they zoomed past your head in high speed. Amongst all the other swallows I had a few Asian House Martins.



House Swift

Asian House Martin

After a long absent of Little Buntings everywhere, we saw an influx of these in the beginning of the month in many fish pond areas. Black-winged Kite at Tai Sang Wai still patrols the area sometimes, although not as frequently as before. An adult male Bluethroat was spotted at Ma Tso Lung, although it was not particularly photogenic.


Little Bunting

Black-winged Kite

Bluethroat - adult male

There are far fewer Daurian Redstarts than usual, Mai Po seems to be one of the stronghold for this species this winter, with several birds seen, including this fine looking adult male. The 14 Oriental Storks have stayed on around Mai Po area, I had them sitting on the edge of pond 24 one day. Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles are still regularly seen during this time of the year, quite often you will find one drifting past above you. With temperature rising again, Burmese Pythons are becoming even more active, here's one sunbathing near the footpath at Mai Po.

Daurian Redstart - male

Oriental Stork

Imperial Eagle

Burmese Python

Not too bad, but still generally very quiet. I am already looking forward to spring migrants arriving...

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Oriental & Black Storks Plus Our Local Forest Birds

A flock of 14 Oriental Storks have been going around Mai Po Nature Reserve, flying back and forth and creating quite the spectacle for those lucky enough to see them. I was lucky on two occasions that the flock flew very close to me, giving phenomenal views! These endangered waterbirds while seems to have become a staple for the last two years, we should by no means take them for granted. Increased numbers of wintering birds this far south may be a result of habitat destruction further north, in which case may not be favourable for the survival of this species.





Oriental Storks

I was also lucky to find a single Black Stork amongst the flock of Oriental Storks on one occasion at Mai Po, I was very happy to be able to connect with this rarer stork in Hong Kong. This one flew quite close and gave good views for me and my guests.

Black Stork - probably one of my best bird this month!

Other than the storks, Mai Po's been quite productive in terms of raptors, I had both Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Eurasian Goshawk on a single day, both were too far for any meaningful photos, but otherwise seen quite well. The Eurasian Goshawk was actually much closer to begin with, but it soon flew out of sight behind the trees, only to reappear later on much further away, being harrased by a Large-billed Crow.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Eurasian Goshawk - with Large-billed Crow

Mai Po is of course also the home of our wintering eagles, Greater Spotted and Imperial can both be seen on a regular basis, only Greater Spotted Eagle gave close enough views of a decent photo though.
Greater Spotted Eagle

Imperial Eagle

Other birds at Mai Po includes quite a few Chinese Penduline Tits, although their numbers are lower than usual, they are still not that difficult to find at the right habitat inside the nature reserve. A few Gadwalls were also seen, although quite far away.


Chinese Penduline Tit

Gadwall

The long staying Common Gull at San Tin was still present last time I visited, it seems to be pretty comfortable sticking with all the Black-headed Gulls there. Other notable birds at San Tin were a few Temminck's Stints, as well as a few Buff-bellied Pipits.

Common Gull

Temminck's Stint

Buff-bellied Pipit

Daurian Redstarts are much harder to find this winter compare to most winters here, here is a nice male at Tai Sang Wai. The long staying Citrine Wagtail at Lok Ma Chau was still present last time I visited, I do wonder how long it will stay in that area!

Daurian Redstart - male

Citrine Wagtail

At Lion's Nature Education Centre which was immensely entertaining last winter with lots of wintering thrushes, things were generally very quiet. A Taiga and an Asian Brown Flycatcher were the only two notable wintering birds I found. Over at Pak Tam Chung, things were also very quiet, the only friendly bird there was a very bold Eastern Cattle Egret. I saw a few Chestnut-flanked White-eyes with numerous Swinhoe's White-eyes, but none were photographable.

Taiga Flycatcher

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Eastern Cattle Egret

Swinhoe's White-eye

Blooming Rhodoleia continues to attracts lots of nectar feeders, Orange-bellied Leafbirds are of course the most eye-catching of them all. Blue-winged Minlas as well as Fork-tailed Sunbirds are both regular visitors to these flowering trees.

Orange-bellied Leafbird - male

Orange-bellied Leafbird - female

Blue-winged Minla

Fork-tailed Sunbird - male

In the forests of Tai Po Kau, I didn't find too many interesting wintering birds, I did have lots of photo opportunity with many of our local species though, which is also fun, although I would prefer if we get some more decent wintering birds here...

Rufous-capped Babbler

White-bellied Erpornis


Huet's Fulvetta

Chestnut Bulbul

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch