Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentine's Day Birding

Parks are romantic, or so they are in movies. Parks are also good for birds, so they seem in real life. Spent most of today in different parks in Hong Kong, experiencing some of Hong Kong's finest city bird species.

Started my day off at Fa Sam Hang, a hill side village in Shatin, main reason for visiting was for a Verditer Flycatcher that's been frequenting the area. However, waited for over 2 hours with little luck. Saw only common birds including this Magpie Robin and two Crested Serpent Eagle. An interesting species to note were two Little Buntings.

Magpie Robin (female)

Crested Serpent Eagle

Decided to move on to Central Kwai Chung Park, a park right next to the industrial estates of Kwai Chung. This place was made known few years back by the local speciality; Emerald Doves. There are some nice trees in the park which manages to hold quite a few species.

Looking towards Kwai Chung industrial estates

As soon as I entered the park entrance I saw a pair of Scarlet Minivets, a male and a female. They gave great views, but not so great for photographing.

Scarlet Minivets male & female

Further up in the park I encountered common species such as Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Japanese White-eyes, Yellow-browed Warblers, Pallas's Leaf Warblers...a few Grey-backed Thrush were seen but in very dense foliage, a good species was an Ashy Drongo amongst a few bulbuls. This is a regular winter species in Hong Kong, not especially rare but can be quite local.

Ashy Drongo

Yet even further up the hill towards Castle Peak Road, a little bird wave with a bunch of White-eyes brought along a female Black-naped Monarch! A very pleasant surprise indeed to see this wintering species in such urban landscape. Just as the Monarch flew away, a great shadow flew past me and landed right in front of me on a branch. A Crested Goshawk. It was way too close to me, so I couldn't manage a full body shot, but to see such magnificent bird so up close is always a treat.

Black-naped Monarch

Crested Goshawk

Near to the children's playground, a small bird hopped in the low hedges. I looked through my bins and saw a reddish cocked up tail, and what else could it be but a Rufous-tailed Robin. Another pleasant little surprise, this species are more regularly seen in forested areas like Tai Po Kau, I think this was the first time I have seen one in a park. I did saw two Emerald Doves, but they were quite shy and didn't manage to get a shot. Other birds of interest were a pair of Black-throated Laughingthrush, a flock of Silver-eared Mesia and an Asian Stubtail Warbler; which I heard only.

Rufous-tailed Robin

The afternoon I spent a few hours taking a few kids from the Project Care Small Group Home to visit Woh Chai Shan. The main objective was to show them that urban parks such as this can hold quite a few birds too. We wanted to show them birds such as Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush and Brown-chested Jungle-flycatcher; which we saw both with great success, the Flycatcher was particularly cooperative today and perched for nearly 10 minutes allowing amazing scope views. They also enjoyed a bit of free time running about the grassy parkland at the top of the hill.

Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush

Brown-chested Jungle-flycatcher

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