Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Long Valley's Hot Streak - not for me...

Long Valley had been on a hot streak lately and getting quite a lot of attention, partly because of an increase of Bunting species and numbers, and a Bailon's Crake had taken up resident at one of the pond, but also because a good numbers of raptors had been passing through...namely Amur Falcons. I finally ticked them off my Hong Kong list last year, but they are still very exciting birds to see when given the chance, and I haven't got one yet so far.

Bailon's Crake - a regular but not a common sight at Long Valley

The afternoon started with a falcon, but unfortunately not an Amur, but a male Eurasian Kestrel, which glided along the hot air current. The mid-day sun surely gave the raptors a good lift. There were also quite a few Eastern Buzzards around, few of them circling low and gave good views. I counted a total of at least 15 on the day.

Eurasian Kestrel - male

Eastern Buzzard - one of the many seen on the day

A few dabbling ducks were present, mainly Eurasian Teals, but also a few Northern Shovelers, here showing an eclipse male.

Eurasian Teal

Northern Shoveler - eclipse male

A familiar buzzing sound had me turning my attention towards a small bird perched on the wire, surely a Taiga Flycatcher, many of them had just arrived not too long ago and will stay for the winter.

Taiga Flycatcher

I got to the Bailon's Crake site where a few photographers and birders were already watching the small bird sneaking around the edge of the pond. It was not a particularly showy bird, but not particularly shy either, coming in and out of the cover and occasionally showing out in the open, it was however a little far for cameras to get any proper good photo, I did managed a few good record shots of this one. A nice species to see as usual anyway.

Bailon's Crake

On a pond nearby an Intermediate Egret was foraging amongst the flooded water spinach field, a smart looking one, showing all of it's diagnostic features including the sometime subtle black bill tip. White Wagtails were in good numbers, one I thought looked a bit weird, somehow looked like the subspecies baicalensis, but after consulting with other birders it seems likely its just a first winter leucopus. Plenty of Siberian Stonechats now, many of them quite confiding.

Intermediate Egret

White Wagtail - leucopus

Siberian Stonechat

I failed to spot any Buff-bellied Pipits, but got a few Red-throated Pipits and Richard's Pipit. The Richard's Pipit in particular gave close views. Even allowing me to observe it's elongated hind claws which are usually out of sight. Dusky Warblers were in extremely good numbers, you would be lucky not to flush a few on every corner that you turn, but as usual they were quite camera shy, I found only one that was willing to stop long enough for a photo.

Red-throated Pipit

Richard's Pipit

Dusky Warbler

I kept looking upwards to scan the sky for any raptors, at one point I saw a few House Martin type birds, but they were way too high to be positively identified as to which species, so I would go for the more common Asian House. A falcon soaring above caught my eye, but the tail looked too short for Amur, turned out it was an Eurasian Hobby, not a bad record but not the one I was hoping for...Later a Besra also came into view, and so did a Japanese Sparrowhawk, but the later too quick for me to get any photo.

Eurasian Hobby - not quite the falcon I was looking for...


There were supposed to be a pair of Black-headed Buntings around but they didn't show for me despite much effort. There were plenty of Yellow-breasted Buntings though, but only one allowed relatively good views. A pleasant sight to see them in quite good numbers anyway, and one that will hopefully last. Let's hope the killing and hunting of this species can stop in China.

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Finally, a single female Daurian Redstart at the end of the day tells me that winter is indeed among us. Indeed, temperature is scheduled to drop these few days, and I wonder what that will bring us in the coming week...

Daurian Redstart - our winter robin


  1. Great job, Matt. Wonderful array of interesting species.

    1. Thanks David, it's an interesting time of year birding in HK, many new arrivals coming and going!

  2. Nice to see many of LV's specialties in one post...I never connected with this Baillon's though, despite several visits. Fine record pics...