Monday, 24 October 2016

Wet afternoon at Long Valley

Eurasian Skylark - mission accomplished in a way.

After Typhoon Haima, a rare visitor in mid October visited us on Friday, weather was in fact quite fine the day after. Although I did have work to do on the Saturday, so I thought it was best that I can at least free up a Sunday afternoon to do some birding. Seeing that many have had some good birds at Long Valley including a group of Eurasian Skylarks which I have yet to photograph in Hong Kong.

I invited Yuen whom gladly joined me for a short visit to Long Valley even though he already went the day before. We met up at Sheung Shui and took the minibus to Yin Kong Village. The weather didn't look good however, radar image from Hong Kong Observatory showed a rain cloud forming over Sheung Shui; right on top of where we were. Just as we got off and thought we could just make it before the rain sets in, it chucked down hard on us, completely soaking us...We rushed to the rain shelter at Yin Kong entrance and waited for nearly an hour before it cleared up.

First birds up were a few Pacific Golden Plover on a half flooded field, quite a nice change to see them at Long Valley, I usually see most in Mai Po. Zitting Cisticolas had gained in numbers and is now everywhere, one of them posed nicely in a paddy for a well composed photo.

Pacific Golden Plover

Zitting Cisticola

We saw a few Yellow-breasted Buntings but they were all very skittish. A pair of Turtle Doves on the wire was a pleasant sight, the Oriental Turtle Dove on the left and Red Turtle Dove on the right, giving a very nice size comparison between the two species, shame the Spotted Dove to the far right did not want to join in the group photo. Near Ho Sheung Heung side Yuen spotted a Flycatcher, a quick look revealed a Grey-streaked Flycatcher, busy hawking for insects after the heavy rain. Nearby we saw a Pheasant-tailed Jacana but this one did not want to show and flew off the moment it saw us.

Oriental Turtle Dove & Red Turtle Dove

Grey-streaked Flycatcher

At the field that the Eurasian Skylarks had been reported we found three remaining, all looking rather shabby after the rain. They were not as confiding as they were a few days ago, I guess had become less so after filling up their bellies! But they gave some rather distant but decent views. We do get Oriental Skylarks in Hong Kong, but rarer. Main feature to separate the two seems to be primary projection, with Oriental's being shorter. Oriental's tail should be shorter in flight as well as rounder wings. Bill size is another feature that many seems to have talked about, Oriental's being slightly larger and thicker. But, Lark identification have never been an easy task, without direct comparison in the field it can get quite confusing...But looking at the primary projection on these birds I think it's safe to call them Eurasian.

Eurasian Skylark - this one was clearly as wet as we were after the rain.

Eurasian Skylark - primary projection quite clear on this photo.

The Black-headed Bunting flew away before we got a good look, at least we spotted it...A pair of Oriental Reed Warblers were shy but gave us a full view after some persuasion. We both waited until quite late, hoping for any Amur Falcons dropping luck on the day! Will have to try again later. We did however got a fly-by Cinnamon Bittern, this time I was able to snap a few shots before it disappeared into another field...really not a cooperative bird at all.

Oriental Reed Warbler

Cinnamon Bittern - when will you stop?

1 comment:

  1. Cinnamon Bitterns NEVER stop within view of photographers - it must be programmed into their DNA !