Thursday, 9 February 2017

Recent Happenings

It was the annual Big Bird Race last weekend, and that was probably one of the most tiring one I've been on. Mainly because birds were far and few between, and we really tried hard to squeeze out all there is from Tai Po Kau, Long Valley and Mai Po, which as our three IBA go had completely failed us...There really weren't that much around to see. We managed to get 3rd overall with 148 species in the end, which I thought was respectable given the fact that Deep Bay delivered one of the most boring tide I've ever seen! Tai Po Kau and Long Valley were literally empty, meaning we missed a few common species. But, it was all good fun! And good laugh with our mates and most of all to raise a bit of money for WWF to manage what is already a great Mai Po to hopefully better.

The only note worthy find at Tai Po Kau was this female Japanese Thrush that simply showed no fear of men, it simply was not bothered and continued feeding while we observed at close range! The closest I've been to a Japanese Thrush, good thing Captain got his camera with him which I borrowed for the two shots below.

Japanese Thrush - female

Also a Thrush, there's been a lot of Chinese Blackbirds around but I've never found them to be easy to photograph. I went pass this football field the other day and saw a few of these feeding on the grass, good thing I had my camera with me at the time, although I didn't manage to get much closer, I at least got a respectable shot now...Sometimes it's the common birds that give you a real hard time! This species had been split with it's European cousin, with apparently longer tail, larger overall, scales on the back (or so they say), brownish tones on back and underside...I suppose it's not a bad thing that we gained yet another species on our world list, it makes people happy if you're into these kind of things.

Chinese Blackbird

Going past Kowloon Bay where the Baikal Bush Warbler and Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler had been during lunch time one day, I've found that someone had been placing bread crumbs all over the flower bed to attract birds, by who I was not sure but it seems some of the local residents had been doing this, this attracted a lot of different birds including numerous Spotted Doves, Tree Sparrows and most of all a lot of Red-whiskered Bulbuls....

Red-whiskered Bulbul

To my surprise, even the Baikal Bush Warbler took some of the bread crumbs offered! Although I think this can't be healthy for this rarity...let's just hope it won't die of a heart attack on it's way back north. Otherwise, the warbler showed pretty normal behaviour, skulking about in the flowerbed and sometimes making it's distinctive trilling calls. With much less birders and photographers around I finally managed to get some better shots that I was satisfy with.

Baikal Bush Warbler -'re not a Sparrow you know?

Baikal Bush Warbler

A bit further afield in Hong Kong Island, I went past Victoria Park after work the other day and caught up with the residents Yellow-crested Cockatoos. These noisy and exotic parrots are of course not native to Hong Kong, but they have established themselves well and for many years had became a common sight on Hong Kong Island, where you may see flocks of up to fifteen or twenty flying around. Interestingly this species is actually now critically endangered due to over collection for pet trade and continued habitat lost in it's native range, with an estimated population of less then a few thousand birds left in the wild. So, in a way our feral population in Hong Kong is somewhat of international importance! Besides, they are so lovely to look at that I think most people in Hong Kong had grown quite fond of them.

Yellow-crested Cockatoo

I will be off to Sabah on Saturday, travelling to Mount Kinabalu and Sepilok once again! Hopefully will find the few species I've missed the last time round. More of that when I return on the 18th!

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