Tuesday, 3 October 2017

An Untickable Bird

Black-backed Swamphen - one untickable bird...

News of a Black-backed Swamphen at Long Valley travelled fast, this being a species I have yet to see in Hong Kong naturally caught my interest. I have missed the last two birds so I thought this was a good chance for me to catchup with one in Hong Kong. I walked into Long Valley under the midday heat, sun blazing down on me. I got to the supposed location and a few familiar faces were already there, all of whom seems rather relaxed and told me that the Swamphen did not fear people...hmmm...strange behaviour for a Swamphen.

I soon saw the bird feeding on the seeds of some grass right on the concrete footpath. It was strangely tamed and looking quite scruffy to be honest. Overall not in it's best shape. Later when it got into better view I realise it's primaries had been cut off...never a good sign! This was clearly an ex-captive individual.

Black-backed Swamphen - feeding on grass seeds

Soon, one of the land owner nearby came along and somehow wanted people out despite the fact that we were not standing on his land. An argument broke out between another man and the land owner and I certainly felt that something dodgy was going on. I was already on my way out when I look back to see that the land owner have the Swamphen in his hands! Apparently (as the story goes), a farmer in Long Valley picked up the bird in Long Valley and locked it up, only to be seen by someone (whom we do not know) and the person paid the farmer to release the bird, by then the bird's primaries had already been cut. But why did that particular land owner picked up the bird and stated he will let it go later...I have no idea, but certainly smells fishy. Either way, it's not a happy story, and it's certainly not the Long Valley I used to know. I am not going to include the photo of the bird in the farmer's hand...I will leave some room for you to imagine how it went down.

I walked around Long Valley briefly, not seeing much except some common birds. An immature Common Kingfisher made an appearance. Siberian Stonechats now increasing in numbers. Black-winged Stilts happily feeding along different ponds as usual. While a single Besra brought slight excitement.

Common Kingfisher

Siberian Stonechat

Black-winged Stilt


Certainly wish there is something tickable around the corner...

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