Friday, 8 December 2017

Ultramarine Flycatcher & Other Goodies

Ultramarine Flycatcher - 1st winter male

December started off with a loud bang, with a 1st winter male Ultramarine Flycatcher found by John Allcock at Shek Kong Catchment. This species had been recorded in the past, but all the previous records had been rejected as suspected escapes, we won't know what the status will be for this bird, but it looks to be in pretty good shape, it was also behaving rather normally - which means it was difficult to photograph. It was lightning fast, plus tiny! It also stayed up near the canopy half the time, so I was glad with just around an hour of effort I got a respectable record shot...Either way, a great bird to begin the month with! A Bull-headed Shrike passed through while we were waiting for the flycatcher.

Ultramarine Flycatcher - great start to December!

Bull-headed Shrike

I got yet another female Mugimaki Flycatcher at Wonderland Villas, this will be my 4th here this season. Although things seems to have quietened down slightly, most Thrushes were not as easy to see, although we did have a large influx of Pallas's Leaf Warblers. The local Blue Whistling Thrush is as friendly as ever, gave a great pose for a photo.

Mugimaki Flycatcher - female

Blue Whistling Thrush

I visited Bride's Pool where I have not been for a while. Things started off really well despite my late start, I got a good look at the pair of Indochinese Green Magpies early on, although they remained in dense foliages and did not allow any photos to be taken. This species seems to have taken root in the area in recent years, and slowly increasing in numbers, but by no means an easy bird to see...I include a shot I took in Hainan back in 2010, was just a little bit better then the views I got today.

Indochinese Green Magpie - from Hainan in 2010

A very confiding Goodson's Leaf Warbler gave eye level views as it foraged in a nuthatch like fashion. A very distant male Verditer Flycatcher is a first for me this winter. I was very happy that this one showed so well, a photo opportunity not to miss!


Goodson's Leaf Warbler

Verditer Flycatcher - male

At the main barbecue site I came across a very confiding Rufous-tailed Robin, although it had a bit of a strange looking cross bill. It looked healthy otherwise, foraging constantly and looking quite plump. If a Crossbill ever wants to crossbreed with a Rufous-tailed Robin, I am sure this won't be far off.


Rufous-tailed Robin - crossbill robin more like...

Keeping with the strange bill shape theme, I spotted an Asian Stubtail not far off, it looked normal when seen from the side, but once I got a head's on view it was clear that it's got a wonky bill, very much like the Wrybill from New Zealand! Not sure whether these deformities will affects it's ability to hunt, but by the looks of it the Stubtail was fine as well.


Asian Stubtail - wrybill warbler perhaps?

The reported 1st winter male Plumbeous Redstart was absent for the morning for some reason, so I tried my luck at the nearby Chung Mei where I got a confiding female. These water loving little birds are always a delight to see, although they are very common up in China, they have remained to be an uncommon winter visitor in Hong Kong, why that is I am not sure, as we have plenty of suitable breeding habitats for them. There were supposed to be a male around, but I couldn't be bothered to wait around and was happy to get the female as it was.

Plumbeous Redstart - female

I drove past Luk Keng afterwards just to check for any Divers...I ended up counting up to 18 Great Crested Grebes, a good number for this uncommon wintering species, I often see them at Deep Bay where they will be miles away, so I was glad to found a few of them not too far offshore. I do miss those days in the UK where you can get them really up close in the reservoir...



Great Crested Grebe

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