Monday 28 March 2022

Springtime Flycatchers

Colourful migrant flycatchers are probably one of the most exciting thing about birding in spring, these migrants are delightful to the eye but also often a challenge to get good photographs. I visited Po Toi Island on Saturday, hoping to find some of these migrants, while it was slightly quieter than expected, we did find a few of these flycatchers scattered around the island. A single Narcissus Flycatcher was seen hawking for insects near the pier, but this one was quite shy, took a while to get a few photos. There were up to three Blue-and-White Flycatchers on the island that day, but only one showed well enough for photos. Finally, a single Ferruginous Flycatcher was also observed, this is also a regular spring migrant, often not as shy as the other two species.

Narcissus Flycatcher - male

Blue-and-White Flycatcher - male

Ferruginous Flycatcher

Other than the said flycatchers, it was actually pretty quiet on the island. A single Swinhoe's Minivet made an appearance, a female Blue Rock Thrush was found near the pier. Other people had an Oriental Cuckoo, but it was gone before I could get there.

Swinhoe's Minivet

Blue Rock Thrush -female

At Mai Po, the many Falcated Ducks were still present, there were more males than females. It is that time of the year again when Large Hawk Cuckoos are very vocal, although they are never easy to see, I spotted this one flying across and managed a quick photo.

Falcated Duck - male

Large Hawk Cuckoo

I found nothing particularly interesting at Tai Sang Wai, the Prinias are now very vocal, often displaying while perched on a blade of grass. Amur Stonechats still in good numbers, the males now moulted into their handsome breeding plumage. Zitting Cisticolas are as confiding as always. Only two Whiskered Terns were seen on the fishponds, they will likely soon be joined by their friends.

Plain Prinia

Amur Stonechat - male

Zitting Cisticola

Whiskered Tern

San Tin faired slightly better, numerous Red-throated Pipits can be seen along the tracks, while the Eurasian Skylark was still feeding around the same area.

Red-throated Pipit

Eurasian Skylark

Oriental Pratincoles now found in flocks, resting on the dried fish ponds. I counted no less than 35 of them at San Tin, most of them in their breeding plumage.

Oriental Pratincole

The dried fish ponds are perfect for migrating waders, a good number of small waders were seen feeding on the wet mud, including numerous Temminck's Stints, a few distant Long-toed Stints, and the best of the bunch was a single and relatively more friendly Little Stint that came closer to the edge for photos.

Temminck's Stint

Long-toed Stint

Little Stint

A single Greater Spotted Eagle was also seen at San Tin, our wintering raptors should soon depart, it will likely be winter when we next see them soar through our skies again.

Greater Spotted Eagle

Sunday 20 March 2022

Signs of Spring Migration

Its been warming up lately, with temperature getting as high as 30°C, but a bit of rain cooled it off and brought in some more interesting birds. One of the best was a male Black-headed Bunting that dropped into San Tin, not in full breeding plumage just yet but still a rather good looking bird. It was enjoying the 'bread buffet', fattening up before its journey north.

Black-headed Bunting - male

A Eurasian Skylark also dropped in, though a regular migrant in Hong Kong they can sometimes be tricky to track down, so I was quite happy to find this one feeding along the dirt track.

Eurasian Skylark

A good number of waders are now dropping into the fishponds, small flock of Temminck's Stints been frequenting the fishponds including this Hong Kong tagged S4. A Spotted Redshank was found feeding amongst a few Marsh and Wood Sandpipers. A few Oriental Pratincoles finally dropped into the dried ponds, I scanned for Oriental Plovers but failed to find any.
Temminck's Stint

Spotted Redshank

Oriental Pratincole

Over at Tai Sang Wai, a Brahminy Kite been spotted by birders on two occasions, but it proves to be extremely elusive and not shown itself despite searching hard...A very confiding Little Bunting kept us entertained, while over ten Zitting Cisticolas decided to drop in together. The long staying Carrion Crow been showing exceptionally well, occasionally allowing close approach. 

Little Bunting

Zitting Cisticola

Carrion Crow & Collared Crow

At Mai Po, I caught up with the returning hybrid White Wagtail thats been frequenting the Tree Pipit site, it is believed to be an alboides x leucopsis hybrid. The Tree Pipit was still showing well, to my delight its now a much cleaner looking bird, having completed most of its moult.

White Wagtail - alboides x leucopsis

Tree Pipit - long staying rarity

The access road is quite a good place to look for buntings, although I've only seen Black-faced Buntings there lately, they remain very confiding. The Eurasian Wryneck near Mai Po was still showing well.

Black-faced Bunting - male

Eursian Wryneck

I gave Sha Lo Tung a go last week, but found very little of interest. Crested Serpent Eagles now very vocal and often seen in display flights. A rather confiding Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler together with an equally friendly Speckled Piculet were nice birds to make up for an otherwise uneventful outing. The best bird was probably a female Black-naped Monarch.

Crested Serpent Eagle

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler

Speckled Piculet

Black-naped Monarch - female

Though the Barred Cuckoo-doves continues to show occasionally, I've not been able to get any more photographs of these elusive doves...A few Pygmy Cupwings were vocal and gave relatively good views in the valley. The most photogenic bird there remains to be the extremely friendly Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker.

Pygmy Cupwing

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker - male

As weather warms up, insects are now much more active, here are a few members of the Lepidoptera family, such as this Episteme lectrix, a day flying moth. The beautiful Painted Jezebel that is quite common at this time of the year. A butterfly new to me was a Constable, I've wanted to see this species for quite a long time but never been able to find one, it is a nice looking butterfly on its own, but look exquisite once you put a flash on it! Luckily for me, this one allowed very close approach that I was able to use my phone to get a photo with flash on!

Episteme lectrix

Painted Jezebel - Delias hyparete

Constable - Dichorragia nesimachus

Tai Po Kau's not been exactly great of late, but a pair of Chinese Barbets been extremely vocal and with some effort I was able to locate one singing from the tree top. There were plenty of Black Bulbuls around, this is a species that I suspect should start breeding in Hong Kong sooner or later. Plain Flowerpeckers are now singing, they are not difficult to find once you learn their song.

Chinese Barbet

Black Bulbul

Plain Flowerpecker