Friday 29 January 2021

Last Week of January - Shing Mun Reservoir

Shing Mun had been getting quite a lot of attention of late, with some good birds here and there, the site is good but good bird waves can be difficult to locate, though even when you don't get a good bird wave, sitting by the stream usually give you good views of the now very stable Slaty-backed Forktail, which is still a rare bird in Hong Kong in its own rights. It seems to be fairly comfortable with people now, as long as you sit quite still, it often come in quite close.


Slaty-backed Forktail

The lovely Rhodoleia are now flowering, attracting numerous birds, Orange-bellied Leafbirds being one of the most notable wherever you get a Rhodoleia tree, at Shing Mun a pair of these colourful birds have marked this particular tree as their territory, both the male and female showed well.

Orange-bellied Leafbird - male

Orange-bellied Leafbird - female

Along the stream numerous Thrushes came in to drink, if you sit still enough they will come out from the dense vegetation and into the open. Other birders have had luck with other less common species but I only had good views of Japanese Thrushes of both sexes and different age.

Japanese Thrush - male

Japanese Thrush - female

Japanese Thrush - 1CY male

While we usually get more Grey-backed Thrushes than other species, this year Japanese Thrush seems to be the dominant species, with far fewer Grey-backed than usual, quite a few came to the stream to drink.

Grey-backed Thrush

Huet's Fulvettas and Grey-chinned Minivets are numerous within bird waves, along with other common species, while I found a single Eastern Crowned Warbler within them, an increasingly common winter visitor in Hong Kong. Red-billed Blue Magpies also frequent the area.

Huet's Fulvetta

Grey-chinned Minivet - female

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Red-billed Blue Magpie

Other interesting species I encountered includes a very vocal Alstrom's Warbler which only gave fleeting views, but the best species I saw there was no doubt a few Black-throated Tits! This is locally a very scarce species, I have seen them many years ago at Kowloon Hill Fitness Trail and Tai Po Kau, but have not been able to connect with them in recent years. I found a few within a small bird wave, although they remained quite high up and difficult to photograph, they still completely made my day!

Black-throated Tit - one of the cutest looking bird in Hong Kong!

One species that we experienced a huge influx this winter is the Kloss's Leaf Warblers, where we have had widespread records throughout much of New Territories. I managed to locate one at Tai Lam where it was very vocal within the bird wave. Whether this species had been under recorded in the past or we are getting more of them wintering remains to be seen, but they certainly makes scanning for warblers that much more exciting in the winter months! There were also quite a few Black Bulbuls at Tai Lam, which makes this one of the most reliable sites to look for this species in Hong Kong.

Kloss's Leaf Warbler

Black Bulbul

At my local patch things remains much the same, with the pair of Grey Bushchats still fairly 'showy', the only new addition for this winter were two Black-naped Monarch which only showed briefly.

Grey Bushchat - female

Black-naped Monarch - female

I tried my luck at Nam Chung one evening for owls but failed miserably as expected...I was however rewarded with a rather confiding Leopard Cat! I saw its eye-shine from afar and first thought it was a domesticated cat, but upon looking through my binoculars I was shocked to see a beautifully marked creature sitting in the middle of the road! It later came closer and sat quietly towards the side, where I had brilliant views for at least 10 minutes! It later ran across the road and disappeared up the slope. 

Leopard Cat

Thursday 21 January 2021

White-spectacled Warbler - Friendly Guy!

Tai Po Kau continues to be one of the better forest sites lately, with big bird waves that you can often enjoy good views of birds for over an hour! The best bird for me was no doubt a beautiful White-spectacled Warbler which was friendly enough to allow for some good photos. These are by far the best photos I've taken of this species, and what a fine looking specimen this was, with textbook broke eye ring and a strong second wing-bar. The Alstrom's Warbler was also present but did not show well enough for a photo.

White-spectacled Warbler

Other quality warblers continuing includes at least two Sulphur-breasted Warblers, which showed fairly well. Hartert's Leaf Warblers were in no short supply and there were plenty of fine looking individuals such as this very yellowish one. I saw at least two Kloss's Leaf Warblers again, although they preferred to stay higher up and seldom come down low for photos.

Sulphur-breasted Warbler

Hartert's Leaf Warbler

Kloss's Leaf Warbler

Other good birds in the bird waves includes Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, they rarely disappoint and often come down quite low to feed, I can hardly resist taking more photos of this species.

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher

A single Black Bulbul was seen amongst the numerous Mountain and Chestnut Bulbuls, while other bird wave regulars includes numerous White-bellied Erpornis and Yellow-cheeked Tits at close range.

Black Bulbul

White-bellied Erpornis

Yellow-cheeked Tit - male

Tai Mei Tuk Catchment have been away from the spotlight of late, other than the long staying Grey Bush Chats, I came across a very cooperative Speckled Piculet which drummed at close range. It was in view for over five minutes before moving on. While over at Lam Tsuen a male Verditer Flycatcher showed well late afternoon, it was feeding at the forest edge next to the paddies, hawking for flying insects with a Siberian Stonechat!

Speckled Piculet

Verditer Flycatcher - male

Its been a good winter for Rufous-tailed Robins, where they are very abundant in most wooded areas, I came across a few very vocal individuals, which started singing in the midst of a few warmer winter days. Despite being a common species, I've always found them to be extremely charming.

Rufous-tailed Robin

I gave Yan Yee Road at Sai Kung a try one late morning and yielded a female White-rumped Shama, which seems to be a local specialty there, this species is now locally common in some parts of Sai Kung and often seen at Shing Mun.

White-rumped Shama - female

I encountered only a few small bird waves along the catchment, with a few photogenic Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers willing to pose for a photo. One of the better find along Yan Yee Road were a few Pale Thrush, which is rather scarce this winter. Finally, I found another Siberian Rubythroat strolling about in the open near the car park, although nowhere as friendly as the one near Tsing Tam Reservoir.

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babble

Pale Thrush

Siberian Rubythroat - male