Sunday, 22 April 2018

Passage Migrants : Narcissus Flycatcher

Narcissus Flycatcher - one of our colourful migrating flycatcher

Last Saturday was the annual WWF Big Bird Race, and the Sparrows got together again for another year of run around. It's all good fun, most of all it's for a good cause, to raise money for the management of Mai Po Nature Reserve. Unlike previous years, the tide on race day was very early, so we had to rush through Tai Po Kau at dawn and went straight to the boardwalk hide. 

We worked our way through the waders, and number of species certainly picked up from my last visit. One of my favourite bird was also on show, a Chinese Egret in breeding plumage, this beautiful creature is listed as vulnerable, there are probably no more than a few thousands in the wild. The egret came in quite close to the bird hide, as I left my camera in the car, Peter Wong who was in the bird hide with us let me took a few photos with his camera.

Chinese Egret

Scanning for waders through the scope.

I wasn't feeling all that well throughout the remaining day, by afternoon I was pretty sure I caught the flu. We actually saw very little birds of interest throughout the race, we kept looking for more migrants but many locations failed us. The Little Buntings at San Tin stayed on for us. While near the end of the day we found a few newly fledged Chinese Bulbuls near Fung Yuen.

Little Bunting

Chinese Bulbul - fledglings

I hung on till the end, where the race ended at Island House at Tai Po; a historical building now managed by WWF. I managed to stayed on for the award ceremony, probably due to all the adrenaline...In the end we tallied 156 species, which just managed to get us into first place by two species margin! The very same night I went to bed with a fever...

Island House

After a few days of rest, I was finally better again to venture out. The long awaited rain came while I was ill, and that certainly brought in more migrants. I heard that some flycatchers had been spotted at Ho Man Tin, so after some work on Wednesday I went there in the afternoon, hoping to glimpse those much anticipated flycatchers. I wasn't disappointed as I soon saw a male Narcissus Flycatcher, a 2cy male due to it's brownish coverts and primaries. It also doesn't have very thick eyebrows and overall quite shy. At the same location there was a female Hainan Blue Flycatcher, which seemed happily hawking around for insects. Fellow birders had Blue-and-White Flycatchers and Grey-streaked Flycatchers earlier that day, but they were probably gone before I arrived.

Narcissus Flycatcher - 2cy male

Hainan Blue Flycatcher - female

Other species worthy of note were at least two Pale-legged Leaf Warblers, their greyish crown contrasting with the olive greenish back can be seen clearly, although both birds did not make their diagnostic metallic 'tink' much.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler

Common birds in the area includes the permanent casts of Red-whiskered Bulbuls, interestingly the team from Taiwan during the Big Bird Race chose them as their bird of the day, apparently they are very uncommon man's trash is another man's treasure, surely we should appreciate them a bit more. Asian Koels are of course busy creating havoc at this time of the year, there's already been reports of several victims feeding their unrelated chicks.

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Asian Koel - female

I walked around the hill once without spotting much, so I went back to the spot where I saw the flycatchers. The female Hainan Blue was not shy and came fairly close. I again spotted a Narcissus Flycatcher, but I noticed a very prominent eyebrow on this individual, surely was another male! It's tertiaries and primaries were completely dark, making this an adult male.

Hainan Blue Flycatcher - certainly wasn't a shy  bird.

Narcissus Flycatcher - adult male

With two species of flycatchers in the same area, I was expecting some kind of fight between them, as flycatchers are known to be quite territorial. Weirdly enough, the two birds never fought and seemed quite peaceful together, at one point they were even sharing the same branch together, perched just a foot away from one another!

Unlikely friendship?

For pretty much the rest of the afternoon, I spent most of the time just marvelling at this beautiful bird. It certainly wasn't shy for a Narcissus, and it regularly came out into the open. A very nice treat after the flu, of which I had completely forgotten about! That's why we always say, birdwatching is the best medicine for birders...

Narcissus Flycatcher - a good reason why we look forward to spring time...

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