Sunday, 26 May 2019

Birding & Herping in May

Although things had been relatively quiet the past week, there are still plenty of waders at Mai Po, including a Pectoral Sandpiper reported earlier. I tried for that but was not able to locate it amongst the waders, either not present at the scrape or moved on already. Numbers of waders had gone down significantly, but species count were still pretty good, this photo shows at least 13 species together, including a single Asian Dowitcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Great Knot, Terek Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Pied Avocet, Red-necked Stint, Grey Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Whiskered Tern and Gull-billed Tern...Other interesting birds not in view includes Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Little Tern, White-winged Tern, Caspian Tern and Oriental Pratincole.

13 species of water birds here

A fairly good count of Great Knots and Red Knots were present, most of the Great Knots were non-breeding birds but some Red Knots were in breeding plumage. Black-winged Stilts were again nesting on the scrape, they are particularly aggressive at this time of the year, defending their territory fiercely, here an Intermediate Egret being harassed by one of the many Stilts present.

Great Knots with Red Knots and Grey Plovers

Intermediate Egret harassed Black-winged Stilt

Two other species of particular interest within the reserve includes a single Tufted Duck that had stayed on and a very distant Black-winged Kite.

Tufted Duck

Black-winged Stilt

With mornings getting warmer, night walks can be a good way to stay connected with nature in the hottest months of the year. May had been relatively cool, but many animals are actively breeding including most of the frogs. I finally caught up with the Taipei Frog Hylarana taipensis, a rather uncommon and local species in Hong Kong, they can be found breeding along grassy banks of reservoirs.

Taipei Frog

There are three species of frogs belonging to Microhyla in Hong Kong, Ornate Pygmy Frog probably being the most widespread of the three species, you can find them in both forested areas as well as cultivated fields. The beautifully marked Marbled Pygmy Frog is also widespread, but I usually find them at lower elevations of scrubland or cultivated areas, although they are known to inhabits a wide range of habitats as well.

Ornate Pygmy Frog

Marbled Pygmy Frog

Paddy Frogs are very common in Hong Kong, you get a striped morph and a non-striped morph, but there also seems to be individuals with wonky stripes, such as this one...Another very common and widespread frog species in Hong Kong is the Brown Tree Frog Polypedates megacephalus, they are often found far away from water bodies within wooded areas.

Paddy Frog

Brown Tree Frog

Three species of frogs are common in hill streams, including the colourful Green Cascade Frog, the Lesser Spiny Frog and the Hong Kong Cascade Frog. Lung Fu Shan is a great place to see all three species together.

Green Cascade Frog

Lesser Spiny Frog

Hong Kong Cascade Frog

Short-legged Toad is an endangered species that was once thought to be endemic to Hong Kong, but now known from southern China and Vietnam. They are still wonderful to see in the wild, their horned eyes always gives them a grumpy look...

Short-legged Toad

Tokay Geckos are amongst the largest geckos in the world, this particular one found on a wooden pole was probably the largest individual I've seen in Hong Kong. Snakes are always one of the highlights during night walks, and Bamboo Pit Vipers never fail to impress despite being so common.

Tokay Gecko

Bamboo Pit Viper

Nothing quite beat seeing a nocturnal mammal in action during night walks, a very confiding Masked Palm Civet the other night gave wonderful views. It was raining and I put my camera in my bag, only to bump into this guy two minutes later...I would have been able to get a better shot if I had my camera ready, but it was still an exhilarating encounter.

Masked Palm Civet

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