Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Brown Fish Owl Revisited

Brown Fish Owl - Ketupa zeylonensis

Since Hoiling didn't get to see the Brown Fish Owl the other night, I went with her again two nights later. Kennth Lam joined us as well, and the three of us made our way once again to the supposed location. Another local Cheung Chau resident birder was already there and pointed out the Owl on top of a ship far away, it's eye-shine clearly visible when it look towards the bright lights from the seafood restaurants. I soon noticed a large shadow flying in towards a closer boat, and once again the Brown Fish Owl perched on it's favourite perch to look for fishes below.

We were given some wonderful views of the Owl before we noticed that there were actually another individual perched further away on another ship! Two Brown Fish Owls at the same location was simply amazing! Soon, they settled on a boat further away and didn't move for a while, so we decided to have dinner.

Perched on top of a fishing boat.

When we returned from dinner, Fai along with Wing Tung were still observing the pair. Soon enough a large fishing vessel came into the harbour to dock, which got closer and closer to the owls until they were finally spooked! The two flew towards the shore and I thought it might have landed on a tree, so we all rushed to that direction to relocate it. I was on the right track but way off target...luckily Wing Tung was there to point us all to the right direction and we were able to observe one of the owl much closer. Thanks to her's and Hoiling's expertise with the hand torches, we were able to get some good shots of the owl.

Naturally our setup attracted a crowd of local residents asking us what exactly we were photographing. Many of them had never seen an owl before, and many children were able to get good looks of the owl. Sharing is still the ultimate joy of birdwatching, and there's nothing like being able to share this magical moment with nature with all these locals. There were of course a few residents which seems also familiar with the owls here, and stated that they had regularly seen them around the harbour before. A man also stated he had seen an large owl near the football field before, with wingspan near 6ft! While it is possible that he over exaggerated, I also wondered if it could have been an Eagle Owl...

And that wrapped up for a wonderful night out. As I heard, a lot more photographers had flocked into Cheung Chau to seek for the owl, so good thing we went early, I am sure the harbour front is packed.
Relocated on a tree on the waterfront.

Brown Fish Owl - simply a majestic creature to behold!

I was asked another question the other day about the identification of larger owls in Hong Kong, this usually consists of the Eurasian Eagle Owl and Brown Fish Owl (Although we also now have the Brown Wood Owl, but it looks very much different). One key feature is their eye colour, BFO being yellow and EEO being orange. BFO also lack any prominent "face-disk" while the EEO is much paler around the bill. EEO have much thicker dark striation along it's breast and belly compare to the thin striations on BFO.

On a very different note, I picked up a baby Pallas's Squirrel last week. I couldn't see any obvious injuries on it, but it certainly weren't behaving as a squirrel should be, wandering around on the ground slowly. I managed to put it into a wooden box and called KFBG (Kadorie Farm & Botanical Garden) whether I could send it over to them, but it was already 5pm by then and they are closing. So, I had to call up RSPCA to pick up the poor fella, and they should help transfer it to KFBG the next day...I was hoping to hear from KFBG about it, but turned out it never made it to KFBG...

Pallas's Squirrel


  1. Great experience - and a fine final BFO shot !

    1. Cheers John, it certainly was at ease considering all the "ooos" and "ahhs" it was getting from below.