Sunday, 13 December 2015

Same Old Story at Long Valley

Long Valley have long been a favourite birding spot for me, and rarities had indeed popped up every so often there. This year was a little different however, with limited species count throughout the autumn migration and relatively less rare finds. There just wasn't an exciting vibe to the place at the moment! After getting news of a Smew showing at Mai Po, I didn't fancy the crowd so much, so I thought I would try Long Valley for a more quiet afternoon. I was not disappointed in the quiet section, as there were only a handful of birders and photographers there, compared to sometimes over 100 people! However, while it was quiet in terms of people, it was equally quiet in the bird department. I first got a few ducks, a flock of Teals with a few drakes. Amongst them was a single female Garganey.

Teal - drake

Garganey - female

For the next hour or so, I didn't see anything remotely interesting. Mainly common birds. Long-tailed Shrikes, hundreds of Tree Sparrows and Munias feeding on the ripening paddies (White-rumped & Scaly-breasted), Siberian Stonechats, and other usual waders like Avocets, Stilts, Snipes and Wood Sandpipers...I took some photos none the less, still nice to appreciate these birds and try to get some decent photos.

Long-tailed Shrike

Scaly-breasted Munia - huge flocks feeding on the paddies

Siberian Stonechat - note the stink bug underneath!

Pied Avocet

At the Chinese Arrowroot pond, I counted at least 14 Painted Snipes amongst the thick vegetation. All very sneaky as usual. It's always funny to see them shuffling around the plants to hide from my vision, they will slowly observe your movement and start to sneak off to somewhere with more cover, if you move forward they will move again...But, they will ALWAYS have their eyes on you!

Greater Painted Snipe - really blending in well

Finally, at a paddy field near the far end towards the river, there were a few Buntings around. A Little Bunting which I didn't manage to photograph, and a very tamed Yellow-breasted Bunting that perched for a good five minutes in full view for everyone to look at. Bunting numbers had not look good at Long Valley this year, but with increase of paddy fields you would expect numbers to be higher, my other theory is that having so many different fields to go to the birds are less concentrated to one particular paddy as it was before...This is only a possible guess, and one that I hope is the case, decrease in species and numbers is never a good sign. With such heavy trapping still continuing up in China, the pressure to protect these Buntings in their wintering ground is even more pressing.

Paddy with a few Buntings

Yellow-breasted Bunting - one Bunting is better then none

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