Friday, 3 April 2015

New Tick: Ijima's Leaf Warbler

Big news were out last weekend of an Ijima's Leaf Warbler spotted on Po Toi Island! The bird was first spotted by Yam Wing Yiu, whom thought it could be an Ijima's Leaf Warbler base on the features such as greyish head, weak supercilium and lack of central crown stripe clearly separates this from the similar Eastern-crowned Warbler. A great find indeed, as this will not only be Hong Kong's first record, but also the first for South East China!

Though recorded in Taiwan as winter visitor, this now vulnerable warbler species only breeds on a few offshore islands East of Japan, mainly Izu Island. They have also been reported in Philippines as a winter visitor. Only an estimated of 15,000 or less individuals survives in the wild, where it's limited range of breeding and wintering grounds makes this species trend likely to be in decline.

Ijima's Leaf Warbler

A brief introduction of Po Toi Island for those not knowing where it is. It's a small offshore island located South of Tai Tam Bay and is the Southern tip of Hong Kong. Therefore, this island have became a hotspot for any passage migrant passing through, basically any birds coming in from the South or East during migration will likely find this island a safe refuge for refuelling. The more sheltered West side have some woodlands which many migrating birds find welcoming, the size of the woodland is limited, therefore birds are relatively easy to locate once grounded. Po Toi have produced the highest numbers of Hong Kong first in the past decade, and the list is still growing annually.

The island only have a handful of residents living here full time now. Dried seaweed is a local delicacy and is a must try for any visitors.

Back to the birds! Got up early and met with Long Long at Admiralty where we took a taxi to Aberdeen pier for the 8:15am boat, we arrived on Po Toi at around 9:00am. Birding was relatively slow throughout the day, with very little migrant action. The good weather was probably to be blamed...Birds usually just fly right through if the weather was too good, as they could find much better habitat on the mainland. The first proper Spring migrant I encountered were a pair of Ashy Minivets! A very welcoming sight, the female was particularly cooperative. They were however chased away by a few Red-whiskered Bulbul...unfortunately we could not relocate them. I believe me, Long Long and two other birders were the only people to see the pair today.

Female, with pale head pattern.

Male with black head pattern, very smart looking.

The island was teaming with micro life, with many insects emerging again now the weather is much warmer. Lantern flies were about, as well as numerous of butterflies, I only got a good shot of this rather shabby looking Red Lacewing.

Lantern Bug

Red Lacewing

By noon we were all very bored of walking around seeing nothing, so we decided to head for lunch early. Just as we finished lunch we saw a commotion of birders near the staircase just past the beach, we quickly paid and rush to the scene and were not disappointed, the birders have relocated the Ijima's Leaf Warbler, though very much deep in the maze of vines and branches, I caught the glimpse of a pale bellied warbler with a longish bill...

Unsatisfied with this view, we waited for the next couple of hours. After numerous of frustrating attempts, the bird finally came out briefly to an area open enough for good views. Giving me just enough time to focus and take a decent photograph, it's not the best but I was pleased to be able to get a photograph of the whole bird.

Ijima's Leaf Warbler

The "twitching" crowd congregated to catch a glimpse of this rare find. A very much twitchable species, many birders were certainly pleased to get this onto their life list, me included!

Twitching crowd!

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