Sunday, 22 December 2019

Forest Wagtail - A Close Encounter

I haven't visited Tai Po Kau as often lately, mainly due to the fact that Tai Lam Country Park had been getting more attention. I visited last week and was very lucky to encounter an extremely confiding Forest Wagtail, a species I've not had much luck encountering in recent years. It was so confiding that many joggers and hikers walked right past it and it hardly flinched! Forest Wagtails are regular but scarce passage migrant and rare winter visitor, this one being still present in December likely means it will overwinter in Hong Kong.

Forest Wagtail - Certainly one of the most intriguing Wagtail species on earth

Except for a calling Collared Owlet I saw nothing worthy of note at Tai Po Kau, other people had been getting good waves of warblers, but I somehow have missed. An Ashy Drongo during early morning and many flocks of Indochinese Yuhinas were about the only birds I managed to photograph.

Ashy Drongo - race leucogensis

Indochinese Yuhina

On 12th I guided Keoni Chong from Canada on a full day tour, we first visited Tai Lam where we saw one Brown Wood Owl at first light. Along the trail we added several Tristram's Buntings, as well as other common forest species.

Brown Wood Owl

Tristram's Bunting

Best species there were again Japanese Robins, which we saw up to two males at different locations! This had been an incredible year for this rare winter visitor. We enjoyed fairly good views of one of the male, at one point it perched out on an open log where it was feeding on termites! We also added a few Black Bulbuls on our way back.

Japanese Robin - male

Black Bulbul

Tai Sang Wai was not particularly interesting, but we did get good views of a few Black-faced Spoonbill feeding with a Eurasian Spoonbill.

Eurasian Spoonbill & Black-faced Spoonbill

There were still plenty of Little Buntings at Long Valley, some of which can be quite approachable. The biggest surprise was perhaps a single Yellow-browed Bunting, a rarer Bunting species that I haven't caught up with this year yet, so I was very pleased to tick this off my year list.

Little Bunting

Yellow-browed Bunting - a pleasant surprise

Siberian Stonechats are now everywhere, there must have been at least ten dotted around Long Valley. Red-throated Pipits are also very common at this time of the year. I scanned for Buff-bellied Pipits but found none.

Siberian Stonechat

Red-throated Pipit

The Eastern Water Rail continues to perform well, we had prolonged views of this usually shy species. It was busily feeding along the bank, including some water snails which it devoured whole. Finally to end our day, we caught up with one of the Chinese Penduline Tit, which is always a nice bird to see.

Eastern Water Rail

Chinese Penduline Tit

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