Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Shaking Off The Rust

Amur Paradise Flycatcher

An extremely busy schedule for the last few months had pretty much filled up my entire timetable, with work and exhibitions all too overwhelming. My binoculars and cameras were simply gathering dust in my dry cabinet, I simply did not have any spare time left for any birding, so it certainly felt my eyes were getting a bit rusty.

With the last of the exhibitions done and everything packed on Monday, I took a day off on Tuesday to take a walk at Tai Po Kau. I have not visited Tai Po Kau during the day for well over a month, so I didn't have much expectations in terms of what species I may find, a large flock of 40 Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets were a very good start. The birds were looking a bit scruffy at this time of the year, likely to be moulting after breeding season.

Scarlet Minivet - male

Grey-chinned Minivet - female

I found myself in the middle of a huge bird wave, birds were busy feeding all around me. A supporting cast of common forest birds were here as usual, Velvet-fronted Nuthatches were showing well today, with a few coming down to eye-level, a few Yellow-cheeked Tits were also around. In the flock there were also plenty of Blue-winged Minlas, Cinerous Tits, Japanese White-eyes and a single Black-winged Cuckooshrike.

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

Yellow-cheeked Tit

Within the flock I saw a reddish bird that dived down to hawk for insects, a classic Amur Paradise Flycatcher move, and soon I got my bins on the bird. A great sign that the Autumn migration season had begun. As I tried to follow the flycatcher, a green bird foraging in the tree next to me caught my eyes, turned out it was the long staying Blue-winged Leafbird that had been here for over two years. A species outside it's natural range and most likely an escaped caged bird, this male had made himself comfortable and seems to be fitting in well. It is a pretty bird to look at so I am not complaining.

Amur Paradise Flycatcher

Blue-winged Leafbird

Down below a flock of three Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers came along, they gave excellent views and kept me entertained for a good five minutes. All these birds were seen even before I got to the red walk's entrance!


Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler

Things were calmer in the trail, but by no means quiet. I soon found another bird wave and amongst the birds were two more Amur Paradise Flycatchers! I think this is the highest day count for me personally, they are exciting to look at no matter where you see them. An interesting thing to note is that Amur Paradise Flycatcher were split from the Asian Paradise Flycatcher complex a few years back into three species, the Blyth's (Oriental), Amur and Indian. I've longed found Indian Paradise to look very different from the rest of it's cousin, so no trouble there, but separating Amur and Blyth's takes a bit more care, where Blyth's usually show very little contrast between it's throat and breast, Amur have much darker throats, in good views and adequate lighting this should not be too much a problem. It is said that Blyth's are usually sedentary, while Amur are migratory.


Amur Paradise Flycatcher

Hainan Blue Flycatchers were still in good numbers, I saw two pairs in total. The males are now much shyer though after the breeding season, only a female perched long enough for me to get a photo. I also saw a few Mountain Bulbuls, gave away their location by their easily recognisable call.

Hainan Blue Flycatcher - female

Mountain Bulbul

A flock of Black-throated Laughingthrush made an appearance, most were the normal form with white cheeks. There was one single monachus race in the flock, this is the Hainan subspecies and a few seems to have made their way into Hong Kong through the bird trade. By appearance they look very different, more rusty and less bluish, they also lack the distinctive white cheeks, but this one I found had a few strands of white cheek feathers, I wonder if this could be due to hybridisation?

Black-throated Laughingthrush

Black-throated Laughingthrush - monachus

Finally, a young Pygmy Wren Babbler which showed well for me briefly, allowing me to get a shot through a small gap in the undergrowth.

Pygmy Wren Babbler

Hopefully I will get to update my blog regularly again!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the Scimitar-babblers were lining up to get their photos taken !

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