Monday 28 May 2018

Last of Spring & Owls in the City

May was extremely busy for me and I literally had no time for birding, at all! I enjoyed the last of my free weekdays at the beginning of the month, including a nice productive morning at Tai Po Kau with two friends from the US, goodies includes a rather shy but very loud Speckled Piculet which gave us a short glimpse but drummed for over ten minutes, a very handsome Crested Serpent Eagle perched at close range, distant views of a singing Great Barbet and plenty of views of singing Hainan Blue Flycatchers. We also had a singing Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo which didn't want to show itself and a Lesser Cuckoo which gave a brief flight view.

Plain Flowerpeckers were singing loudly, one of which gave good views. They are so tiny and quick that even at close range they are tough targets to photograph.

Plain Flowerpecker - plain but charismatic as always

Black-throated Laughingthrush gave fairly good views, as well as several other resident species. Two species of Minivets were seen, and a very photogenic Blue Whistling Thrush to end the morning.

Black-throated Laughingthrush

Grey-chinned Minivet - male

Blue Whistling Thrush

Earlier last month, a Collared Scops Owl nest was found at an urban park in Kowloon. It was actually first exposed when SPCA decided to make a video of their "rescue" of a baby owl which fell out of the tree hole. Naturally, it didn't take very long for people to figure out where the location was, and soon a huge crowd of photographers congregated at the park. It got slightly out of hand when people stayed throughout the night, using high intensity lighting to light up the nest for photographs...It wasn't until AFCD put someone on duty there that people stopped using artificial lighting.

I visited the pair just as the owlets started fledging, one of the adult was perched nearby, while two chicks were still visible in the tree hole. The authority had fenced off the area below the nest so no one get too close to the nest. The park itself was pretty noisy as it was without the birders and photographers, as residents with loud speakers play music as they danced during early morning. I don't think it was so much a problem to view or photograph the owls during the day, it's a shame that some people had to act selfishly and shine bright lights on the nest throughout the night, this certainly disturbs the owls and is not ethical.

It's also a shame that this perfect opportunity of public education on these wonderful birds was overshadowed by the incidents with the photographers. I saw parents with their children and elderly people casually strolling the park, it could have been such a good opportunity for some public education work to be done on how to handle with issues of nesting birds and how we should respect nature in our city. These owls could have been perfect ambassadors for such a task. I also think the LCSD (Leisure and Cultural Services Department) who is in charge of the park could have done a little more, simply by locking up the park at night and reopening it during the day for people to visit. Anyway, I truly hope these wonderful owls will grow up and prosper.

Collared Scops Owl - adult

Collared Scops Owl - owlets in the nest hole

I should be able to resume with some birding in the coming months, although it's a shame that the best of spring had already gone. I strangely dry spring this year, the draught certainly is not good for wildlife, especially amphibians...