Saturday, 7 February 2015

Identifying Pipits

Decided to go somewhere a bit different this morning and headed to Ng Tung Chai, a valley near Lam Tsuen. The area was quite popular a few years back, but have since been a bit quieter and gotten less attention. However, this place have turned up many rarities in the past and certainly worth the steep hike up. Habitat is typical of Hong Kong's woodlands, but the steep valley makes it something different to Tai Po Kau.

Picked up Long Long at 6am and started the walk at 7am, walk up was pleasant but birds were not particularly cooperative, mostly hid behind dense foliage, most identification were made with sounds.

Overlooking the valley

Steep walk up

We encountered a few bird waves including the usual Silver-eared Mesia, Chestnut Bulbul, Rufous-capped Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Japanese White-eye and Scarlet Minivet. Two large flocks of Striated Yuhinas made things interesting, allowing good prolonged views. A beautiful Emerald Dove popped in for a visit, but never stay long enough for a photograph, as of most case with this species.

Rufous-capped Babbler

Chestnut Bulbul

Yellow-cheeked Tit

Japanese White-eye

Striated Yuhina

We reached the waterfalls around 9:30am and enjoyed a cup of tea with the view. Bird nest ferns are very common here, not that I have noticed them being too common else where in Hong Kong, I guess the humidity from the waterfall makes the environment perfect for them.

Lower falls

Middle falls

Bird Nest Ferns

On the way down we encountered a bird wave, I noticed a bird pecking away at a branch, I look through my bins and noticed the spots on it's belly and a short tail. A Speckled Piculet! It was however gone after 5 seconds and we could not locate it again. This species have been recorded here in the past and I am glad we can still find them here.

A short trip past Shek Kong generated nothing except numerous common species, Pallas's Warbler being one of them.

Pallas's Leaf Warbler

After lunch we visited Tam Kon Chau, the fishponds outside Mai Po. There, we found a flock of Pipits feeding along some burnt pond banks. Most of them were Red-throated, I scanned the group for Buff-bellied Pipits and sure enough found a few within the flock. They were all a little skittish but we managed a few shots before they all flew off.

Red-throated Pipit

Buff-bellied Pipit

It's a lot easier to identify them when you can see them side by side. You notice the mantle of the Buff-bellied Pipit have much less markings and the head is a lot paler, lacking that rufous tint. In the field, look for more dull-coloured individuals within Red-throated Pipits. Also present was a Ocularis White Wagtail.

Ocularis White Wagtail


  1. Ng Tung Chai is looking good, I'll have to get up there soon.

    Great to see to Buff-bellied Pipits so well.

  2. Yes, Ng Tung Chai seems to have became the "forgotten" corner, well at least it was the case for me!