Friday, 1 November 2019

Tai Lam Revisited

The area of Tai Lam Country Park had received much attention since the Brown Wood Owl sightings, I returned again to try for other birds with fairly good results. I had at least three Eurasian Woodcocks along the trail in the morning, one of which stayed still long enough for a record shot. I see them often every winter but never seem to be able to grab a photo, this is actually my first photo ever!

Eurasian Woodcock - record shot

Speckled Piculets are now heard fairly regularly in more mature forests in Hong Kong, but due to their small size they can be tricky to track down in a bird wave. I was fortunate enough to get this bird coming low down for some photos. They are brilliant little birds and a very good addition to our Hong Kong forest!

Speckled Piculet - a wonderful encounter

The Sulphur-breasted Warbler was still present, along with Eastern Crowned Warbler, Goodson's Leaf Warblers, numerous Yellow-browed and a few Pallas's Leaf Warblers. Getting good photos of the Sulphur-breasted Warbler is extremely tricky, I had a few respectable record shots...

Sulphur-breasted Warbler

A single White-bellied Epornis made an appearance. We used to call them White-bellied Yuhina, but it was an obvious mistake, as their solitary behaviour itself is very un-yuhina like. They are now rightfully placed in the family Vireonidae, alongside with the Shrike-babblers they make up the interesting group of old world Vireos.

White-bellied Epornis

There were at least two Japanese Paradise Flycatchers in the bird wave, one an adult female with a complete tail, the other I am guessing a juvenile, with a very short tail that is still growing out. This species is currently in decline, likely due to habitat loss in it's wintering range, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Sumatra.

Japanese Paradise Flycatcher

A very shy female Black-naped Monarch also made an appearance briefly, they often fan their tail out like Fantails. There were also no short supply of Grey-chinned Minivets, many were feeding low down and provided excellent views.

Black-naped Monarch - female

Grey-chinned Minivet - male

My dad haven't seen the Brown Wood Owls, so I went back with him in early morning. We got there just before dawn, and managed to see the owl before it roosted. It is truly a magnificent bird and I hope their population will continue to grow in Hong Kong. The subspecies ticehursti in Hong Kong might soon become part of Mountain Wood Owl, a proposed split with Brown Wood Owl leptogrammica described in Borneo, they differs in vocalisation, size and preferred habitat.

Brown Wood Owl - as majestic as always

Birds elsewhere, I was leading a HKBWS group at Wetland Park, it was a fairly productive outing with numerous Black-faced Spoonbills, Red-necked Phalarope, Pied Kingfisher, Red Collared Dove and numerous ducks and waders...There was also an interesting looking Snipe which caught my eye. It was much larger than the Common Snipe feeding next to it and looked fairly big-headed. It was also quite pale of the face, which had Latham's crossed my mind...although after careful look when I got home it is revealed that it's tail is too short and bill probably not long enough for Latham's. In the end it is most likely to be a Swinhoe's Snipe due to it's much larger size, although field identification remains inconclusive. It is certainly a good thing to look out for any Latham's Snipes heading the wrong way during migration though.

"Swinhoe's" Snipe - most likely

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