Saturday, 26 December 2015

From South East to North West

Upon getting news from Koel Ko that the pair of Japanese Cormorants were still at Shek O, my Father and I got up before dawn to get there at first light to try our luck. Arriving at Tai Tau Chau, we walked up to the headland where we can see the small island Ng Fan Chau, supposedly where the Cormorants have been staying. However, when we got there and scanned with our scope we can surely confirm no Cormorants were insight. My guess was that the pair went behind the island out of view.

Ng Fan Chau - the Cormorants were reported on the far left.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, a single Cormorant flew out from the rocks out towards the sea and then flew back behind the island! My father having studied about the identification for this particular species of Cormorant the night before stated that the wings were situated much further back then normal Cormorants, which I agree upon seeing that bird in flight. Since he needed to go off to work soon after, we couldn't afford to wait for the pair to reappear on the correct side of the island, so drastic measures were taken and we headed off to Cape D'Aguilar where we can view the island from the other side...Problem being the other side is a whooping 1.4km away from the island! But upon arrival we soon got the pair in "view" on our scope, two tiny little specs just sitting on the rocks. So, fate accepted...there was our view of this pair of rarity. Black Kits however were much more common here.

Japanese Cormorant - a spec from Cape D'Aguilar...

Black Kite

Cape D'Aguilar being at the most South Easterly point on Hong Kong Island, we drove all the way back to New Territories where I dropped my Dad at Kam Sheung Road Station then headed over to Mai Po. A single Black-necked Grebe was recorded the day before, so I thought it was worth a shot. Upon arriving at the supposed location, the bird was nowhere to be seen. Only Little Grebes swam and dived in the surrounding ponds. Seeing the initial location of the Grebe was actually quite unsuitable habitat, it was concluded that the Grebe was probably just passing through...

Seeing that all hope was lost...I decided to give Shek Kong Catchment a try. All was quiet while I was there, however I found a tree where a flock of Hair-crested Drongos were stationing, hawking insects from the perches. This species is not exactly rare, but I have never had the chance to observe them closely, as this is a species that requires decent views for you to appreciate it's most iconic feature; it's hair!

Hair-crested Drongo - appreciating the fine hair-style!

One individual perched on a lower branch, I am guessing by the slightly greyish belly that it's an immature bird? But it's got nearly all of the adult's features already, including the hair-crest. It preened and scratched all the while, giving wonderful views and kept me well entertained...

Hair-crested Drongo - a young bird? Fine looking none the less.

Upon heading back up to the catchment, I glimpsed a male Grey Bush Chat flicking it's tail not too far off. My photos from my last visit really didn't do this species justice, and I felt these were much better. Their smart looking brows contrast very nicely with their black mask. Soon after I got another male, surely two of the three long staying Grey Bush Chats that have been around the area for quite some time.

Grey Bush Chat - much better photos this time

Quite a few maples have turned yellow, but I am guessing it's simply not cold enough for the leafs to turn bright red. It's really been a very warm Christmas, and that reflects on the fact that I soon heard a few calls of the Large Hawk Cuckoo? Although there are possibilities that it was a Black-throated Laughingthrush mimicking a cuckoo call, but it sounded quite genuine for me. Would have fooled me that Spring is upon us! Finally, a Grey-chinned Minivet to end my boxing day.

Winter Maple Trees.

Grey-chinned Minivet - a substitution to the Christmas Robin!

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