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


  1. Nice photos! I would love to twitch the bird, so wonder which part in Shing Mun it was sighted (I haven't been there before.) Thank you.

    1. For the Slaty-backed Forktail you can often find it along the stream at picnic area 7, just sit quietly by the stream and wait, it usually feed along the edge and between rocks. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for sharing some worth mentioning species of birds in Shing Mun. Specially Slaty-backed Forktail, a rare bird in Hong Kong is a beautiful one. Japanese Thrush - female and Red-billed Blue Magpie attract me most. Orange-bellied Leafbirds is another charming bird.
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