Sunday, 23 August 2015

Himalayan Swiftlet!

An afternoon free finally! Though it still feels like mid-summer, autumn migration  have started early this year with many migrants already recorded by various birders. I thought it would be good to check out Long Valley after a long summer without much birding. A Wryneck was supposedly seen yesterday, so I thought I should try my luck out.

A binocular-less Long Long joined me at Sheung Shui mid-afternoon, he came straight from work! We felt lazy and took a taxi. The sun was fierce, scorching everything in it's path; us included. It was comparatively quieter then Spring or Winter, not much have arrived yet. The usual residents were here, but they seems more skittish as usual, maybe a summer without much visitors have left them unfamiliar with birders.

Black-winged Stit and Wood Sandpipers

We glimpsed a single Painted Snipe in a densely planted water chestnut field, they are difficult to find this time of the year when everything is so overgrown. A fair numbers of Pintailed Snipe were flushed when we walked the footpaths, you can never really quite sneak up on these...The paddy-fields have attracted hundreds of Tree Sparrows, it's probably still too early for Buntings.

Tree Sparrows

A few Sooty-headed Bulbul hung out on a wire, a bird I have not seen all summer. This is the season for Dragonflies, large numbers of Globe Skimmers are present at Long Valley, they are in turn a great staple diet for birds like Black Drongos.

Globe Skimmers

Just when me and Long Long were about to leave, I spotted a single swift that flew low above a shallow pond. I first thought it was a House Swift, but close inspection reveal the bird have a greyish rump instead of white! Surprise~ A Swiftlet no doubt! I have looked for Swiftlets numerous times in huge flocks of swifts and usually fails, so to be able to identify a Swiftlet without having to scan through hundreds of swifts feels luxurious. The only Swiftlet species that have been recorded in Hong Kong so far is the Himalayan, however recent records of Germain's Swiftlet in Taiwan and China suggest it is also a probable candidate. I did suspect this one as Germain's due to the paler rump, but having looked at other photographs available I really can't tell whether this is a Pale Himalayan or a dark Germain's....So, at the mean time I will go for the safer option and call this a Himalayan, which is still the most likely species in our region. Either way, a great Hong Kong tick for me and Long Long. What a way to start off the Autumn birding season!

Himalayan Swiftlet

No comments:

Post a Comment