Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Early Morning Dash - Malayan Night Heron

September had been extremely busy for me, I have not been able to do much birding since my return from South Africa. It's a shame really as the migration season is well underway and hearing all the birds zipping past us while I was stuck in office was a bit of a torture. I nearly fell off my office chair when I saw a photo of an Eurasian Eagle Owl spotted at the entrance of Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail a few days ago! Worst still, taken with a mobile phone! News of a juvenile Malayan Night Heron at Tai Tong also surfaced on the same day, which had me completely itching to just grab my camera and leave work behind. It was of course impossible in reality, so I accepted my fate that these birds will have to wait.

Malayan Night Heron - a rare breeder and migrant in Hong Kong

Monday night, my Father and I got around to talk about all the birds that's been around all over the place. We planned to go birding on Friday; the day after Mid-Autumn Festival which is a public holiday, however a typhoon is schedule to hit on Thursday night, which pretty much ruins our plan. We figured that our only chance this week was early Tuesday morning before work, and the only bird that seemed "birdable" with such short time seemed to be the juvenile Malayan Night Heron. Although I have seen this species in Taiwan before, I have yet to tick this off my Hong Kong list, therefore we decided to go for it!

I woke up at 5:45am and we soon headed out in the car. We arrived at Tai Tong car park just around 7am. I heard that it was active around the barbecue sites, so we spent 10 minutes strolling the lawns but without much luck.

Tai Tong Barbecue Area

I suggested that we head back up to the car park and try our luck there, just as we turned the corner we found the bird pecking away at a toad on the footpath! Merely a few metres away! The toad certainly put on a fight, bloating up it's lungs to stop the heron from swallowing it whole. The young heron however showed the toad where it belongs in the food chain, we heard a small "pop" as the heron punctured the toad's lungs with a few forceful peck and the poor toad laid there deflated and motionless, soon after swallowed whole by the heron.

Malayan Night Heron - a big breakfast

After the entertaining session of toad swallowing, the bird strolled around the lawns casually. This poor bird however was missing part of it's upper mandible, which was very apparent when seen from the side. The tear looks too far back for it to grow back, although the bird looked pretty healthy and judging by it's hunting abilities it seems to be doing fine. It's difficult to judge how the wound may affect the bird on a long run, but my main concern is that the wound may get infected, I just hope the wound will soon heal itself and it can live on as a happy heron with a slightly shorter upper mandible.

Broken upper mandible very obvious

As if to clear our worries, the bird even flew up a tree and roosted there for some time, it certainly had to trouble flying! It took little notice of the cleaners working below it, obviously afraid of people at all. It's behaviour is similar to the Malayan Night Herons I have seen in Taiwan, fearlessness is no doubt in their blood. We had one last look before leaving Tai Tong at approximately 7:30am.

All in all a fairly efficient outing, I even arrived at the office earlier then usual...maybe I should take up these types of early morning birding runs more often!

The bird up in the tree in relation to the cleaning lady

Malayan Night Heron - Bird of the month for me no doubt!

No comments:

Post a Comment