Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Easy Route - Shek Kong Catchment

One of the main reason why I love to visit Shek Kong Catchment (Also known as Pat Heung Catchwater on ebird) is it's accessibility, as well as how easy going the path is compare to other forest sites such as Tai Po Kau, the forest is also much more open which is good for photography. September through to May is a good time to visit, as the site is known to attracts all sorts of migrants. I decided to try my luck there this morning. Encountered a small feeding flock right where I parked my car, immediately locking onto a handsome Yellow-cheeked Tit and a few Velvet-fronted Nuthatches feeding along the tree trunks.

Yellow-cheeked Tit - as entertaining as always

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

A good supply of Scarlet Minivets is always welcoming. Both males and females showed well, occasionally coming down low to feed. Grey-chinned Minivets were also present but seemed to prefer the higher branches this morning. While I saw a single female Orange-bellied Leafbird chasing away a flock of Blue-winged Minlas and Silver-eared Mesia near a fruiting tree aggressively.

Scarlet Minivet - one of the main staple of bird waves (male above & female below)

Orange-bellied Leafbird - female

A dark shadow swooped in from my left towards a flock of Silver-eared Mesias, the Mesias sounded the alarm quickly and seemed to dispersed quickly enough to avoid becoming lunch for a juvenile Crested Goshawk. The Goshawk flew back up to a perch close to me after it's failed attempt, as if to catch a breather, it's hunting skills better improve if it wants to grow bigger!

Crested Goshawk - juvenile

I wasn't doing very well with the migrants until I saw a pair of Arctic Warblers. A common autumn migrant, we are now getting a large influx of them, where they will literally turn up everywhere. I was expecting Flycatchers, and Flycatcher I got! First off a single male Blue-and-White Flycatcher that showed only briefly and not to be seen again. Then, I flushed a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher from a water hole, I was just about to raise my camera up to photograph it when it was spooked by a also did not reappear. The only Flycatcher that went slightly easy on me was a male Hainan Blue Flycatcher, which could be a remaining individual or a newly arrived migrant, either way they are nice birds to see in September.

Arctic Warbler

Hainan Blue Flycatcher

However, the species that really stood out today was Grey Treepie. I encountered a total of three flocks, a few individuals decided to let me take a good and close look. Interesting thing about this species is that outside Hong Kong they seem to be very common and not as difficult to see, but those in Hong Kong are certainly far shyer, making them a "heard only" species half the time. So, I consider myself very lucky to get a good look at them today.

Grey Treepie - a "good" look, note the uniform tail 
feather different from the Taiwan subspecies.

I walked all the way to Tsing Tam Reservoir and back, deciding to take in the scenery on this fine morning. It certainly weren't a bad morning considering I total 37 species just on a single stretch of concrete road. Taking it easy sometimes is not a bad thing at all.

Tsing Tam Reservoir in glorious morning sun


  1. It's a great spot - we managed 32 species on Saturday 16th, but the Treepies stayed out of sight !

    1. Yup, and it delivers a surprise or two every so often!

  2. I remember a very pleasant time birding here with John Holmes, just part of a whole suite of vivid and delightful memories of my visit to Hong Kong earlier this year.

    1. It is a great place to bird David, delightful surprises almost everytime and even when there aren't much birds around the walk itself is pleasant!

  3. Appreciate the info! This weekend I'm heading to Hong Kong for the first time and will definitely check out Pat Heung.