Thursday, 3 September 2015

Rainy day at Tai Po Kau

3rd of September is a new public holiday for us in Hong Kong, I made good use of the morning to do some birding at Tai Po Kau with my Dad. Work's been very busy, so I started early on the day so I can leave the afternoon for work. It was drizzling when we arrived, but we decided to go ahead anyway.

Thing with Tai Po Kau is that you never know which mix of birds you may get, it is different everytime you visit. The number of birds can also vary on different visits, some days will be brilliant with everything you can wish for, on other days it can be so bad that you wished you hadn't have came in the first place. Today was pretty much the latter, the first two hours was practically birdless, with the exception of a Black-throated Laughingthrush that made a brief appearance on our way up. A few Velvet-fronted Nuthatch were seen, too.

Black-throated Laughingthrush

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

We went past halfway of the Red walk and barely saw a bird, I was already cursing our rotten luck under my breath as we walked. It wasn't until I heard some movement and calls of some Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers that I stopped and waited, soon a few birds came in, Grey-chinned Minivets, Red-billed Leiothrix, Silver-eared Mesia, Blue-winged Minla, Rufous-capped Babbler and a very distant Black-winged Cuckooshrike that flew through. Conditions were not favourable for photography, it was very dark and drizzled every so often while we were there.

Red-billed Leiothrix

Blue-winged Minla

A few Huet's Fulvettas (Formerly Grey-cheeked Fulvetta) were also amongst the feeding flock; a quite recent coloniser into Hong Kong's forests, their origin have been much debated, some regards them most likely originated from escaped caged birds, but some think there are possibilities that they arrived on their own. Either way, this common South China forest species was most likely a former indigenous resident in Hong Kong, and no doubt have been very successful in breeding here in recent years, where they have became one of the dominant species at Tai Po Kau.

Huet's Fulvetta

We heard a Speckled Piculet drummed in a distant, but only once. A few Great Barbet called nearby, a short burst of play-back have a pair came quite close. These canopy dwellers are so difficult to see well, and it took us a long while before we finally spotted one, perched near the top of a tall tree. Views weren't great, but it's the best I've had of this species in Hong Kong in a long time. A little further up, we heard the Bay Woodpecker called a few times, but it never came close even with playback.

Great Barbet

Little else was seen the rest of the way, a small mixed flock near the exit of the trails consists of common birds, with the exception of an Eastern-crowned Warbler, our only migrant of the day. It was way high up in the tree, so the photographs are not even worth posting. On the way out, a Chinese Bulbul perched on the railings, it posed well for a photograph. Sometimes you find the greatest comfort in getting a good view of a common bird after such a tough outing.

Chinese Bulbul


  1. Well written as usual. Your birding luck improves as day goes by.

    1. Cheers Nigel, birding can be frustrating at times, but it is the infinite possibilities of surprises that keep us looking!

  2. Hard to get photos in a wet TPK...but the Great Barbet is usually very, "Result! "