Saturday, 20 June 2015

Escaping the Heat - Parrotbills on Tai Mo Shan

The summer heat have been quite unbearable, with temperature soaring up to 36°C these few days. The city with it's high-rise skyscrapers and concrete roads is the ideal habitat for a heat wave, only when you retreat to somewhere with more greenery can you be spared from the scorching sun and boiling tarmac.

Grassy slopes of Tai Mo Shan

Tai Mo Shan, our tallest mountain offers a slightly cooler retreat, where temperature can be 5-6°C lower then the rest of the city. My parents and I drove up there this morning for a short walk. The temperature was much more pleasant and the summit sheltered us from the morning sun. Brown-flanked Bush Warblers were calling everywhere, we found a pair of juveniles hopping about in the undergrowth, they came out into view with a little pishing but stayed quite far away.

Brown-flanked Bush Warbler juv.

I heard a few Russet Bush Warbler calling from higher up the slope, I tried calling one in with my recording but it didn't get any closer. They have a very distinctive cricket like call, going "zee-bit, zee-bit". We got to the patch of tall grass where I saw the Chinese Grassbird a few months ago but I heard none (, only a few Plain Prinia fluttered about in the grass. Chinese Francolins called constantly, at one point a male was very close to us and we caught a glimpse of it behind a tree, however the bird sneaked off as I attempt to get a better view, they are very sneaky birds...we waited for another 15 minutes but it never came back out.

On our way back I heard the call of the Vinous-throated Parrotbill, and just up ahead a flock of small birds flew out from some short bamboos. We snuck up towards the bamboos and played the recording, soon a few of these little birds came to check us out! They were a bit curious but remained well in cover, I only managed to snap a few shots before this one hopped off back into the undergrowth. The Vinous-throated Parrotbill is the only Parrotbill species in Hong Kong, where they are restricted to the summit of Tai Mo Shan. Curiously, they are not rare in Mainland China or Taiwan, where they can be seen in the lowlands, which makes you wonder why this species is restricted to one summit in Hong Kong...Though not the best photograph of this species, it's the first photo I ever got, so I am still quite pleased with this one.

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

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