Wednesday 31 December 2014

Double Ticks!!!


Last day of 2014, might as well make the best of my holidays. I decided to try my luck again with the Brown-chested Jungle Flycathcer at Wo Chai Shan in the morning, it turns out I was looking for it at the WRONG side of the was closer to Tai Hang Recreational Grounds. Arrived at the scene and already a hoard of photographers were stationed at a platform over looking an area of scrubs and woods.

The one and a half hour I waited there was not pleasant...I dare say my worst birding experience ever. With photographers constantly talking so loudly that I am sure people from the sports field could hear them! And the things they talk about, surely you would think a person interested enough to take photographs of birds would have a bit more environmental awareness. Its so sad to see people with so little respect and love for nature, while themselves is "enjoying" nature. It's difficult to say whether they actually enjoy it but its clear they were only there for the thrill of bird photography, not for the actual birds and least for the welfare of the birds.

The Flycatcher did not appear until a very long wait; which I suspect have something to do with a few of those photographers talking extremely loudly while constantly tried to clear the few branches that was blocking their shot. Anyhow, the photographers did get some pretty good shots. I left the spot after a while and waited below the platform where the view was terrible but at least I was away from the noise. In the end the bird did appear and I took my record shot, took a good look through my bins and off I went. I did not want to stay any longer then I need. All in all, a traumatising birding experience for me.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher (record shot)

Received a text from Michelle in the morning stating that the Smew in Mai Po was there again yesterday back at Pond 7! I know this will be the best chance for me to finally nail this bogie bird.

Hurried to Pond 7 along the fenced road; it was not there. My heart sank slightly, knowing this again maybe a missed chance for me. I quickly scanned the Tufted Ducks on Pond 8, and suddenly it surfaced! Paddling along with the Tufties! I got my scopes on the bird and enjoyed the bird for a good 20 minutes. It later flew back to Pond 7, again hanging close to the Tufties.


After satisfied scope views of the Smew, I moved on to bird house 5 where the Northern Lapwing's been hanging out. I was not disappointed, a quick scan revealed the bird's location. I remember seeing hundreds of them in the UK, here in Hong Kong it's a scarce winter visitor.

Northern Lapwing

Hopefully 2015 will be an even better year.

Deep Bay Spectacle


It's been a while since I encountered a good tide at Deep Bay, where the birds come right up close to the hide and thousands of birds take flight right in front of you. I miss that.

Mai Po was rather quiet today, a Pale Martin was seen at Access Road but as I was getting out of the car to take a photo the bird flew! Only a Red-rumped Swallow remains...a good winter record none the less.

Red-rumped Swallow

A co-operative Common Kingfisher outside AFCD office.

Common Kingfisher

The unusual sighting was a single Grey Treepie that was on the pine trees near tower hide! I didn't expect that here.

Grey Treepie

Saw quite a few Imperial Eagles today, the hot air current must be good for them to soar. This juvenile tried to mingle with some Black Kites but was soon chased away.

Imperial Eagle

An Eastern Marsh Harrier was active around pond 20.

Eastern Marsh Harrier

Cormorants were numerous as usual...

Great Cormorant

A pair of White-cheeked Starlings made an appearance on a bare tree around pond 20.

White-cheeked Starling

The tide was not particularly high today, but with very strong NW winds the water was literally blown ashore. So, the birds were a bit closer today. Mainly Curlews and Grey Plovers. The Curlews gave some good opportunity for some flight shots.


Grey Plover

A Chinese Pond Heron was right up by the hide.

Chinese Pond Heron

The birds gave a spectacle as the sun sets! Always nice to see.

Monday 29 December 2014

A Little Haven in Shek Kip Mei


A Birder from HKBWS been reporting a location call "Wo Chai Shan". It's a small patch of woodlands on a small hill located between Shek Kip Mei and Prince Edward, in other words right in the middle of the city. It's just about 10 minutes walk from Shek Kip Mei MTR station, and is a great little place to bird if you need a break from the bustling city.

The woodlands weren't particularly very high quality, but it was bigger then I expected, and the trees seems to be holding up fairly well with some pretty mature trees up there. A rarity have been spotted in the form of a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, I was trying to look for that today but it never showed. However, a walk around the hills was very much enjoyable. The trail system seems to have been created by walkers themselves and are fairly well maintained! It's not an official park created by the government, but you see benches, picnic tables, even swings!

There seems to be some local speciality, too. The hill was filled with Greater-necklaced Laughingthrushes, possibly the easiest place in Hong Kong to see. Great place to observe these sociable birds, I had a great time just looking at them preening each other. At one point I saw 6 on the same branch!

Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush

The other local speciality should be the Crested Goshawk, they only showed briefly but other people have seen them here as well. I saw a pair. I am sure with all the laughingthrushes, that translate to a lot of food for the Goshawks.

Crested Goshawk

Hill was teaming with Pallas's Leaf Warblers and Yellow-browed Warblers, too.

Pallas's Leaf Warbler

Sunday 28 December 2014

Good to know the way


I was having trouble finding the area of fishponds near Mai Po, we call it "Wing Ba", you go in from a small road going into the cargo holding garages. I have been there a few times during Bird Races however for some reason I could not locate that little road again...I went into the right junction but I just couldn't find the little road leading into the fishponds.

Good thing my Dad was with me today, and he pointed out that little road to me. It was literally right next to the main entrance to the garages, hidden amongst tall grass it was not the easiest of little roads to spot...Once you gone past the garages the area opens up to a whole different world.

World of Starlings and Doves. The main attraction here will be Red Turtle Doves, a bird not easy to find in Hong Kong but is relatively easy to find here. You normally find them sitting amongst few dozens of Oriental Turtle Doves. Here we got a few sitting on a tree amongst White-shouldered Starlings and a Common Myna.

Red Turtle Doves, White-shouldered Starlings and a Common Myna

Another "good" sighting was a Black Drongo. Mainly a common summer visitor in Hong Kong, it's scarce in the winter. A few do winter in Hong Kong.

Black Drongo

Well, at least I know where to look next time.

Friday 26 December 2014

Boxing day birding


I remember waking up very early for boxing day when I was a kid, to open up all the presents before the sun even risen was so exciting. I woke up at 5am this morning, not to open presents however, but to get dressed for a day's birding with Long.

Picked Long up at Shatin at around 6:30am, we got a quick Macdonalds breakfast and headed to Tai Po Kau. It was drizzling and very foggy; not the ideal weather for woodland birding.

We kept going and stationed ourselves at picnic area 2, we got tipped off by Kwan that the Bay Woodpeckers have been active around this area, they are apparently more active after rain. We waited only to see Chestnut Bulbuls. Suddenly, we heard the distinct call of the Bay Woodpecker from afar, I did a quick playback and got a good response. After some waiting a bird flew over our heads in the trees, soon the other bird followed. In the next 10 minutes or so we got some flight views and very very distant standing view of the birds. I didn't even bother with my cameras.

The rest of the walk was very quiet. A pair of Orange-bellied Leafbirds at picnic area 3 made our trip slightly bearable. The Rhodoleia trees have just began to flower, so we should see the Leafbirds around there for the next month or so.

Orange-bellied Leafbirds

We headed to Long Valley next. Sky have cleared slightly and now much brighter. The Citrine Wagtail was not at it's usual roost, but at the opposite side of the path at a shallow pond, we later saw another individual with a "half" breeding plumage at another location, we don't usually get Citrine Wagtails with such yellow head in the winter but you get lucky sometimes.

Citrine Wagtail

Other birds of interest includes a single Bull-headed Shrike, it's been there for quite some time but it never showed for me until today. Bull-headed is one of the rarer shrike species in Hong Kong, a very scarce winter visitor. This will only be my 4th bird, got a good shot of it perching on-top of a bamboo pillar, a fine bird indeed!

Bull-headed Shrike

The Ruddy-breasted Crake was still at it's usual roost. Two Yellow-breasted Bunting remains amongst hundreds of Sparrows and Munias. We got a very confiding Little Bunting perched on a bamboo stick. Two Kestrels, a male and a female gave good arial views. Other common birds observed were Black-winged Stilts (mating pair, I missed the BIG moment but got them grooming each other afterwards), Avocets (plenty), Little-ringed Plovers (plenty), Siberian Stonechats (plenty), a very tamed Yellow Wagtail was very entertaining to watch. The Painted Snipes were still at the same location as last time.

Ruddy-breasted Crake

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Little Bunting


Black-winged Stilt (mating pair)


Little-ringed Plover

Siberian Stonechat

Yellow Wagtail (very tamed)

Olive-backed Pipit

Plain Prinia

A short trip to Mai Po Access Road follows with the usual birds. A very showy Common Kingfisher kept the photographers happy. I gave flying shots a try at a pond where Egrets dive for fishes, got a few good flying shots. Red-rumped Swallows were plentiful but they were way too quick for me...

Common Kingfisher

Little Egret

Richard's Pipit

We thought it was still early and we just thought a trip to Chau Tau might get us some day views of Nightjars. We were wrong. We never found any, the only birds we saw were Masked Laughingthrushes...a man can dream!