Thursday, 5 January 2017

2016 Birding Review

Another year gone, time for yet another annual review! 2016 been an interesting year for birds, probably the most American species I have seen here in a year, plus we received quite a few species that had been extremely high on my HK wish list! Many of them I've missed years ago, and finally ticking them off this year was truly amazing. Here is a list of some of my most memorable birds from 2016.

1. Siberian Crane - lifer & HK tick

This one is a no brainer, THE most exciting and indeed most spectacular bird of the year. This was especially special for me because I missed the bird in 2002 whereas my dad was one of the lucky few who saw the bird flew off into the distant and never return! The adult was with the juvenile for the first few days before the juvenile disappearing somewhere, the adult though had stayed on till the day of writing!

2. Red-throated Diver - HK tick

Another one that my dad had and I haven't, a long awaited tick for Hong Kong, this one at Lamma Island created quite a buzz in the birding community and a big twitch for everyone. The bird stayed for quite a while and was even later spotted near Aberdeen pier.

3. Chinese Barbet - HK tick

This increasingly common bird from Guangdong is making their first baby step in colonising Hong Kong, one that I will welcome with both arms stretched out! Stunning view of this calling barbet in spring had me feeling extremely sorry for this lonesome bird, being the first in Hong Kong you will have to work extra hard to find a mate.

4. Japanese Yellow Bunting

An incredible streak with this rare species, where I saw a pair at Long Valley on 25th of March and later on 28th of March at Mai Po! Usually seeing one was unusual enough, but seeing this many in a few days time was just over the top crazy.

5. Northern House Martin - HK tick

A new tick for me at the beginning of the year and I saw some more near the end of the year. Seems their numbers had increased significantly in recent years, wonder why...

6. American Wigeon - Lifer & HK tick

Quite an exciting dabbling duck to find in Hong Kong! This drake was well away out of it's natural range. A new tick for me and I hope it enjoyed it's vacation at Mai Po.

7. Franklin's Gulls

A strange year with this species, we first received our first one in November 2015, then suddenly two bird turned up at Deep Bay in April! Had some incredibly good views of the pair of American gulls one afternoon. Maybe next year they will come in flocks...

8. Plain Flowerpecker

Quite an interesting find for me, as according to many they have not been recorded in Hong Kong for many years. I heard their song in Taiwan during my January 2016 trip and recognised the call in Tai Po Kau, later I found that you can hear their calls throughout the forest! Clearly they have been under recorded as many birders were simply not familiar with their songs and calls. They became a bit of a local twitch for a while!

9. Russet Bush Warbler

Not exactly a rarity, but this species had been a bit elusive to me until this year. I could never get any decent view of this species before, you could be less then 3m away from the bird and you still won't see it! This year though I got more views then I could ever dream of, resulting in some pretty good photos as well!

10. Malayan Night Heron - HK tick

Another species I needed on my Hong Kong list badly, my dad had got this bird years ago already while they eluded. Finally, a juvenile was spotted at Yuen Long back in September and gave me this much needed tick.

11. Greater White-fronted Geese

We have been getting a lot of geese in recent years, and four Greater White-fronted Geese in one day were simply more then we asked for! Three of them stayed on and are still around San Tin!

12. Slender-billed Gull

This rare gull was not a lifer for me, but one that I've always wanted to see again as I never had the chance to get any record photos of it. This one at Deep Bay exceeded all expectations!

13. Amur Falcon - male

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Amur Falcons, simply my favourite raptor in Hong Kong! I've never seen one perched until this fine male! Simply breathtaking!

14. Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Lifer & HK tick

My last lifer of 2016, a great Christmas present for all birders in Hong Kong, this amazing vagrant was only the second Hong Kong record. The bird had stuck around until 2017!

15. Lesser Cuckoo - HK tick

A new tick for me this year, this was one of my better findings on Tai Mo Shan this year. This scarce cuckoo was not easy to see and I was lucky to find one perched on a distant tree, not the best of views but I am not complaining!

Honorable Mention:

Great Barbet

A commonly heard species in Hong Kong but very seldom seen, I've only seen them on a few occasions in the past. So, discovering a fruiting ficus tree that managed to attract seven at the same time was simply mind blowing for me. This finding had again led to a local twitch by many birders, seems like the mysterious air of this species had finally lifted!

Looking forward to more exciting birds this coming year!

1 comment:

  1. Great reprise of the year, Matt. Hong Kong appears to be a great spot for rarities.