Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Summer Birding & Herping

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

Finally able to get back on the field for some birding. We have been experiencing a draught throughout spring and some of the reservoirs had already gone dry, the Hong Kong Observatory predicted rain this week, and sure enough we started getting some rain on Monday. I visited Tai Po Kau on Monday morning, hoping to catch up with the Brown-breasted Flycatcher that had been seen there by other birders. Things started extremely quietly, the sound of cicadas drowned out most bird calls and I saw very little on the way up. Surprisingly, a Dollarbird was perched on top of a dead tree, I have never seen one in June before, so this one must be quite late.

Dollarbird - a very late record

Little else showed up, I heard a Lesser Cuckoo calling in the distance, while Great Barbets called constantly. A Pygmy Wren Babbler sang loudly right next to the footpath revealed itself quickly and I had brilliant views for up to five minutes. I crossed the stream on the red walk and saw plenty of Damselflies there, including this beautiful male Indochinese Copperwing.

Pygmy Wren Babbler

Indochinese Copperwing - Mnais mneme 

It wasn't long until i spotted the bird I was looking for, a rather large headed and billed flycatcher with pale legs. Brown-breasted Flycatcher was only first recorded in Hong Kong in 2001, but had since became a regular migrant and in recent years a summer breeder. They are still rather scarce in Hong Kong, so it's always nice to see.

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

The rest of the way remained pretty quiet, two large groups of Rhesus Macaques were spotted foraging.

Rhesus Macaque

Kenneth, Bee and I gave Tai Mo Shan a try in the evening. We were hoping for Coral Snake, and the long awaited rain should help with the wildlife. Things were pretty active, we saw plenty of Hong Kong Warty Newts strolling about, Lesser Spiny Frogs were in good numbers, while there were quite a few Hong Kong Cascade Frogs at the waterfall.

Hong Kong Warty Newt

Lesser Spiny Frog

Hong Kong Cascade Frog

A Nanhaipotamon hongkongense was spotted by the road, a female carrying eggs on her underside. I guess it was trying to find a safe place to put them? This peculiar looking species is endemic to Hong Kong, often found around mountain streams.

Nanhaipotamon hongkongense

Another interesting find was a Lau's Leaf Litter Toad, a small toad species that is only found in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Kenneth so nearly stepped onto it without knowing as it was so well camouflaged! It's a funny looking little toad and you can compare it to Bee's fingertips.

Lau's Leaf Litter Toad

Although we didn't find any Coral Snakes, we found a total of three Anderson's Stream Snake. This is the most widespread Opisthotropis species in Hong Kong, where they can be found in mountain streams with leaf litter. Outside of Hong Kong they are also recorded in Vietnam. They are very docile and gentle, never attempting to bite when handled.

Anderson's Stream Snake

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