Tuesday 26 February 2019

Birds of February

February had been fairly quiet throughout, not many rarities had been reported since the Fire-capped Tit in late January. However, a full day tour around New Territories before my trip to Northern Thailand yielded quite good results. We started at Tai Po Kau as usual and racked most of the usual suspects at Tai Po Kau Park before our walk up to the nature reserve. At picnic area 2, a Chinese Barbet was calling close by, with a little effort the bird was located near the tree top, allowing fairly good views. Chinese Barbet is still considered a rarity in Hong Kong, no one knows the exact numbers but I imagine only a few resides in Hong Kong at the moment.

Chinese Barbet - still fairly rare in Hong Kong

At picnic area 1, a Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Goodson's Leaf Warbler, Sulphur-breasted Warbler and Eastern Crowned Warbler were all located amongst the bird wave. Of which only the Chestnut-crowned allowed me to snapped a half decent record shot. Although we got fairly good views of the other species.

Chestnut-crowned Warbler - our colourful and rare winter visitor

Other usual species of Tai Po Kau were also seen, including White-bellied Epornis, Huet's Fulvettas and a few Yellow-cheeked Tits, which is always a crowd favourite!

White-bellied Epornis

Huet's Fulvetta

Yellow-cheeked Tit - male

A quick drop in to Shek Kong Airfield yielded two male Common Rosefinches and two female Chinese Grosbeaks, they made it easy on the day, feeding out in the open and providing excellent views. While a flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies flew in for us to get a better look.

Common Rosefinch - male

Chinese Grosbeak - female

At Mai Po, birding was excellent as usual, with plenty of shorebirds out at Deep Bay. I located a Long-billed Dowitcher, which was certainly the bird of the day for me personally, as I've been trying to locate it all winter! Saunder's Gull were still in fairly good numbers. An adult female Eastern Marsh Harrier came in and flushed all the waders up in the air, provided quite the spectacle.

Long-billed Dowitcher - digiscoped by phone

Saunder's Gull

Eastern Marsh Harrier - female

Birds flushed by the Harrier

The day ended at Long Valley, with fairly obscured views of a female Greater Painted Snipe, but best bird was no doubt an adult male Bluethroat that perched right out in the open allowing excellent views and even photos taken!

Bluethroat - male

On birds elsewhere in Hong Kong...as spring approaches, Rufous-tailed Robins had started to sing, as was the case of this individual found in Kowloon Park. It wasn't a particularly shy bird either, posing nicely for a photo. Around the same patch of scrub a Japanese Thrush was also seen, this was probably the best view I've had all winter. Pretty good results for urban Kowloon!

Rufous-tailed Robin

Japanese Thrush - male