Monday 21 June 2021

Summer Variety Show - Birds & Wildlife

 Summer is the quiet season for birds, but it is rarely completely birdless, at Mai Po at least 5 Oriental Pratincoles were present on the scrape, at least 2 of them were young juveniles, which got me wondering whether they are breeding in Hong Kong? Or perhaps these are from somewhere nearby? I missed the Little Curlew that was present for a few days, which was likely the most interesting bird of June.

Oriental Pratincole

A few waders remained, including a few Great Knots, Common Greenshanks as well as numerous Black-tailed Godwits. The Greater Painted Snipes on the scrape were very active, with a few showing well in front of hide 3.

Great Knots & Common Greenshanks

Greater Painted Snipe - female

While there are no confirmed breeding records of Intermediate Egrets in Hong Kong, we do see them throughout the summer months, so perhaps they are breeding somewhere and we are just looking at the wrong places. Yellow Bitterns on the other hand is most definitely a breeder in Hong Kong, where they frequent places like Mai Po with a good coverage of reed beds. 

Intermediate Egret

Yellow Bittern

I explored the area above Nam Chung with much 'success', including many breeding species, Grey Treepies are very common in the area, as well as numerous Hainan Blue Flycatchers in song, Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers are slightly scarcer in the summer months, I was delighted to find quite a few present. Whereas Chestnut-winged Cuckoo continues to be one of the better birds of summer. I encountered quite a lot of Indochinese Green Magpies lately, although none of them were photographable.

Grey Treepie

Hainan Blue Flycatcher - male

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker - male

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo

I also covered the Disneyland Resort over a weekend, although nothing particularly interesting was noted, Sooty-headed Bulbuls, Crested Mynas and Greater Coucals were amongst some of the local resident species that frequents the area.

Sooty-headed Bulbul - juvenile

Crested Myna

Greater Coucal

One of the more interesting 'wildlife' in the area are the increasingly common Blue-crested Lizards, this attractive reptile likely ended up in Hong Kong by hitchhiking on exotic plants. The largest feral population is currently around Disneyland, with several other reported elsewhere. Whether this species have any significant impact on the local wildlife remains to be seen, but its bigger size likely means it will out compete with local lizard species such as the Changeable Lizard.

Blue-crested Lizard

Changeable Lizard

The much needed rain likely revived the breeding of many frogs in Hong Kong, here are a few I encountered on casual outings throughout the month, including Butler's Pygmy Frog, Marbled Pygmy Frog, Hong Kong Whipping Frog and Short-legged Toad.

Butler's Pygmy Frog

Marbled Pygmy Frog

Hong Kong Whipping Frog

Short-legged Toad

I've encountered quite a few snakes of late, but none were quite as friendly and photogenic as this White-spotted Slug Snake, surely one of the most docile snake species in Hong Kong.

White-spotted Slug Snake

I have not been finding many new spider species of late, but my latest addition is perhaps one that's been on the top of my wanted list the longest, the highly unusual Asianopis zhuanghaoyuni, it is related to the Ogre-faced Spider which they share similar appearance. Unfortunately I did not have the proper gear to photograph it's unusual face on that very day, perhaps next time!

Asianopis zhuanghaoyuni

Late last month was also the peak for the firefly Curtos fulvocapitalis, it was quite the spectacle to witness hundreds dancing around the tall grass and abandoned farmland. There are not that many good habitat left for fireflies in Hong Kong, with increasing light pollution these remnant farmland and freshwater wetlands are important breeding grounds for these wonderful creatures.

Curtos fulvocapitalis