Saturday, 31 March 2018

Fish Ponds and Mountains

I have been visiting fish ponds at Tai Sang Wai regularly of late, although I haven't been able to find anything of huge interest, it's still a nice area to visit for migrants and resident birds alike. One of the better bird I managed to get good views of was a female Chinese Penduline Tit, it was oblivious to my presence as it fed on the insects hidden within the stem of the reed. Although a fairly common species in Hong Kong during winter months, you don't get to see them up close like this often as they usually hide out of sight within large reed beds.

Chinese Penduline Tit - female

Yellow-bellied Prinias were singing like crazy, often right out in the open. You can often hear them making wing beating sounds as well, a sign of territorial display I presume?

Yellow-bellied Prinia

The fish ponds had hosted a large congregation of Black-headed Gulls during winter, they were still present but many adults are already moulting into their breeding plumage.

Black-headed Gull - 1st winter bird and adult in breeding plumage

Red-throated Pipits now found in fairly good numbers in this area. I scanned for Buff-bellied Pipits but found none, this year had not been a particularly good year for them. A few ocularis White Wagtails had been around, always nice to see and a pleasant change from our resident race leucopsis.

Red-throated Pipit

White Wagtail - race ocularis
Stejneger's Stonechats are still around, most of them should be heading north by end of April. Many of the males had moulted into their handsome breeding plumage.

Stejneger's Stonechat - male

Little Ringed Plovers have already started breeding, at one of the fish pond I saw a pair acting slightly nervous, on closer inspection I noticed a fluffy little chick following them around. The chick was amazingly well camouflaged and I could barely see it when it kneeled down.

Little Ringed Plover - adult and chick

I also visited the fish ponds at night, as some fellow birders had been seeing a Savanna Nightjar perched on the ground of late. The nightjar never showed for me but a few Oriental Pratincoles feeding on mosquitoes in the middle of the road was quite interesting.

Oriental Pratincole

Spring is also a good time to start visiting Tai Mo Shan as breeding season begins. I was surprised by a flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies near the summit car park as I have never seen them venture up this high. Songs of Russet Bush Warblers filled the hills as I walked up towards the grassy area.

Red-billed Blue Magpie

I managed to spot a Chinese Grassbird in the usual area, but it didn't stay long enough for me to photograph. A Brown-flanked Bush Warbler was quite the opposite, they can be quite curious when pished. Vinous-throated Parrotbills were seen in good numbers, I noticed a pair coming back and forth towards one area of short bamboos which I presume as a possible nest site, I managed to grab a half decent shot of one.

Brown-flanked Bush Warbler

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

Still a pretty quiet spring for me, April will hopefully be better!

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