Monday, 4 January 2016

2015 Species Highlights

2015 had just moved into history, so it's a good time to review it, and what a year it was for me! Hong Kong still surprises us each year with new species and countless rarities. Many of which I missed, but also a few that I didn't plus a few surprises! My year list stands only at a modest 273 species, but with 11 new additions to my Hong Kong list. There were a lot to choose from, but here are my top 15 picks and personal favourite highlights. Not all of them were lifers or Hong Kong ticks, some of them were not even rare! But all of these made my year very exciting!

1. Fairy Pitta 29/4/2015 - my most surprising find of 2015, and no doubt THE highlight of the year was this mind blowing beauty at Tai Po Kau. I am sure this is very high on every Hong Kong birder's list, I was fortunate enough to be at the right place right time! It was really one of those special moments in your life that you can never forget.

2. Chinese Grassbird 7/4/2015 - a globally rare skulker that gave me such amazing views! Landing me my first cover photo for the HKBWS bulletin. Global warming may threaten this species breeding ground in Hong Kong, where the tree lines are climbing much higher then before, therefore less suitable habitat for this amazing species to breed in.

3. Ijima's Warbler 3/4/2015 - the 1st record of this species in Hong Kong, an active warbler that preferred the thick vines as cover, getting a clear shot was so challenging, but at the same time fun...

4. Himalayan Swiftlet 23/8/2015 - a long awaited tick for me, although not a lifer, I have wanted to see one in Hong Kong for a while. Seeing it unsuspectedly at Long Valley felt particularly good!

5. Cotton Pygmy Goose 13/10/2015 - the one at Mai Po was one of the many rarities that turned up there this year, this tiny little duck is always a crowd favourite.

6. Grey-backed Shrike 28/9/2015 - another exciting Hong Kong 1st that lingered around for over a week, although my photographs weren't that great, seeing it was exciting enough!

7. Amur Falcon (at last!) 2/11/2015 - a very very long awaited Hong Kong tick! I had been looking for these beautiful raptors for years but have never came upon them until this year, where I saw more then what I bargained for in one day!

8. Greater White-fronted Goose 28/11/2015 - no doubt another highlight of the year for many birders in Hong Kong. A very cooperative Goose that stayed only two days at Mai Po. Maybe a Swan Goose will turn up this year...

9. Booted Warbler 13/12/2015 - a very nice addition to my Hong Kong list, very subtle and not the easiest to pick out from the reed bed at Mai Po. Was fortunate enough that it posed shortly for a photo.

10. Franklin's Gull 29/11/2015 - another extremely exciting Hong Kong 1st in 2015, the rare yankee to our region had everyone scratching their heads! It certainly had no clue on how it ended up here either.

11. Thick-billed Warbler 13/10/2015 - my best ever view of this big skulking warbler, getting good views was good enough, getting a decent photo just made the encounter even better!

12. Japanese Cormorant 27/12/2015 - having missed this species the first few times, was glad to connect with these two at the scenic headland of Shek O right before the year ends.

13. Common Rosefinch 31/1/2015 - although not a new tick, seeing a beautiful male was a first for me, let alone a flock of them!

14. Eastern Water Rail 28/2/2015 - not particularly rare, but one of my photographic highlight this year, seeing this usually highly elusive rail out in the open was not an everyday thing!

15. Black-headed Bunting 29/10/2015 - seeing one so close was almost unfair! It had to be a highlight for me. I saw the bird flew into the trees and followed, only to find it was just a few feet above my head that I had to move backwards for this rare Bunting.

Special mention: Yellow-breasted Bunting (male) 20/10/2015 - not a rarity, but an increasingly rare winter visitor to Hong Kong. This male in particular gave really close prolonged views that it was hard not to admire the details and beauty of this globally threatened species. The decreasing population trend is alarming...

No comments:

Post a Comment