Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing day birding


I remember waking up very early for boxing day when I was a kid, to open up all the presents before the sun even risen was so exciting. I woke up at 5am this morning, not to open presents however, but to get dressed for a day's birding with Long.

Picked Long up at Shatin at around 6:30am, we got a quick Macdonalds breakfast and headed to Tai Po Kau. It was drizzling and very foggy; not the ideal weather for woodland birding.

We kept going and stationed ourselves at picnic area 2, we got tipped off by Kwan that the Bay Woodpeckers have been active around this area, they are apparently more active after rain. We waited only to see Chestnut Bulbuls. Suddenly, we heard the distinct call of the Bay Woodpecker from afar, I did a quick playback and got a good response. After some waiting a bird flew over our heads in the trees, soon the other bird followed. In the next 10 minutes or so we got some flight views and very very distant standing view of the birds. I didn't even bother with my cameras.

The rest of the walk was very quiet. A pair of Orange-bellied Leafbirds at picnic area 3 made our trip slightly bearable. The Rhodoleia trees have just began to flower, so we should see the Leafbirds around there for the next month or so.

Orange-bellied Leafbirds

We headed to Long Valley next. Sky have cleared slightly and now much brighter. The Citrine Wagtail was not at it's usual roost, but at the opposite side of the path at a shallow pond, we later saw another individual with a "half" breeding plumage at another location, we don't usually get Citrine Wagtails with such yellow head in the winter but you get lucky sometimes.

Citrine Wagtail

Other birds of interest includes a single Bull-headed Shrike, it's been there for quite some time but it never showed for me until today. Bull-headed is one of the rarer shrike species in Hong Kong, a very scarce winter visitor. This will only be my 4th bird, got a good shot of it perching on-top of a bamboo pillar, a fine bird indeed!

Bull-headed Shrike

The Ruddy-breasted Crake was still at it's usual roost. Two Yellow-breasted Bunting remains amongst hundreds of Sparrows and Munias. We got a very confiding Little Bunting perched on a bamboo stick. Two Kestrels, a male and a female gave good arial views. Other common birds observed were Black-winged Stilts (mating pair, I missed the BIG moment but got them grooming each other afterwards), Avocets (plenty), Little-ringed Plovers (plenty), Siberian Stonechats (plenty), a very tamed Yellow Wagtail was very entertaining to watch. The Painted Snipes were still at the same location as last time.

Ruddy-breasted Crake

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Little Bunting


Black-winged Stilt (mating pair)


Little-ringed Plover

Siberian Stonechat

Yellow Wagtail (very tamed)

Olive-backed Pipit

Plain Prinia

A short trip to Mai Po Access Road follows with the usual birds. A very showy Common Kingfisher kept the photographers happy. I gave flying shots a try at a pond where Egrets dive for fishes, got a few good flying shots. Red-rumped Swallows were plentiful but they were way too quick for me...

Common Kingfisher

Little Egret

Richard's Pipit

We thought it was still early and we just thought a trip to Chau Tau might get us some day views of Nightjars. We were wrong. We never found any, the only birds we saw were Masked Laughingthrushes...a man can dream!

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