Monday, 13 November 2017

Long Valley - Buntings and A bit More

I've always found November quite a good time to visit Long Valley, with late autumn migrants still passing through as well as arriving winter visitors, it is usually teaming with life. This year it's no exception, with a good variety of interesting birds on show. One of which was the Black-headed Bunting which had been around, I finally caught up with one last week. Funny thing was that a few days later when I visited again the same bird had already been ringed by the bird ringing group of HKBWS, number A13. This species used to be much rarer in Hong Kong, but seems to have became a regular winter visitor ever since they replanted rice.

Black-headed Bunting - before and after ringing

Other buntings were in good numbers, I missed the Yellow-browed Bunting that a few birders saw, but there were plenty of Black-faced Buntings and Chestnut-eared Buntings around the paddies.

Black-faced Bunting

Chestnut-eared Bunting

Of course, you can't leave out the Yellow-breasted Buntings which had been in fairly good numbers, although nothing like what we used to have...I counted a flock of 9 birds flying together, but considering there were probably more in the paddies, my estimated count will be around 15 - 20 birds. I saw plenty enjoying a good meal in the paddies, a clear demonstration why they are called the "rice birds" in China. The other birds also enjoying the extra food at the harvested paddies were a few Oriental Turtle Dove, all of which were pretty confiding as they munched on the left over rice.

Yellow-breasted Bunting - male and female

Oriental Turtle Dove

House Sparrows attracted a few birders to "twitch", a male soon appeared not long after the reported female, they foraged together with the Tree Sparrows. I personally don't find them very exciting, but a nice rarity to have around anyway (yes I guess I can be very ungrateful sometimes). The other rarity on site being the Black Redstart, but since I had already seen it a few times plus taken good photographs I didn't bother too much looking for it.

House Sparrow - male

The Ruddy-breasted Crake had been showing well. It even came out to the open to preen and stretch it's wings for me one afternoon! It was a weekday and no one was around, I guess it feels much safer with less disturbance. Oriental Reed Warblers are also in good numbers, they occasionally showed well like this one, which perched long enough for me to get a good photo. The other species that often attracts a lot of attention from birders are the Chinese Penduline Tits, I think it's because their "panda eyes" are just so cute, a few of them were visiting the same patch of paddies as the crake, one of which gave cracking views.

Ruddy-breasted Crake

Oriental Reed Warbler

Chinese Penduline Tit

Finally, a single Northern House Martin within a flock of Barn and Red-rumped Swallows. Another species that seems to have increased in numbers slightly, something to do with a shift in their migration route perhaps?

Northern House Martin

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