Thursday 4 May 2023

Japanese Waxwing - Another Northern Rarity

Hong Kong being in the sub-tropics have the advantage of getting both tropical and temperate species, occasionally we get species from quite far north visiting, such as this Japanese Waxwing found near Lion's Nature Education Centre, which should be wintering in Japan and eastern China. Instead, this bird found itself feeding on the berries of the Machilus trees on the southern coast of China. Despite being a bit far, it showed quite well while I was there, perching out in the open a few times. We do occasionally get Japanese Waxwings in Hong Kong, my last encounter with this species was back in 2001 on a fruiting fig tree at Long Valley.

Japanese Waxwing

The only two other migrants worthy of note at Lion's Nature Education Centre were several Pacific Swifts and a lucionensis Brown Shrike. Both species are usually fairly widespread during spring migration. Otherwise, there were plenty of local birds to look at, including Red-billed Blue Magpies, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes and Cattle Egrets.

Pacific Swift

Brown Shrike - race lucionensis

Red-billed Blue Magpie

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush

Cattle Egret

Mai Po's been quite underwhelming this spring, other than the regular migrants there's been very few surprises. A single Chinese Egret roosting on the mangroves was about the most interesting thing out on the mudflat, while some Black-faced Spoonbills were still present.

Chinese Egret

Black-faced Spoonbill

San Tin and Ma Tso Lung faired slightly better, with some very confiding Oriental Pratincoles resting on the dried fish pond. There was an obvious influx of Eastern Yellow Wagtails passing through late last month, notably of nominate race tchutschensis. At Ma Tso Lung a Black-winged Kite remained, it was however very wary of people, and kept a safe distance from me whenever I try to approach it.

Oriental Pratincole

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - race tchutschensis

Black-winged Kite

Tai Po Kau was also fairly quiet, while the Chinese Barbets continue to call, they were not giving any close views. I did manage quite a nice shot of a Silver-eared Mesia, while a common species I always like getting a good photo of this usually quick bird. Two Chinese Sparrowhawks were perhaps the best migrant I managed. I spotted two Orange Punch butterfly, a rare species in Hong Kong.

Chinese Barbet

Silver-eared Mesia

Chinese Sparrowhawk

Orange Punch

While working at Pak Tam Chung, I got several good photo opportunity of a female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and a male Fork-tailed Sunbird, both came within a few feet of me. Several Chestnut-winged Cuckoos were heard and subsequently seen, but none came out for a photo.

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker - female

Fork-tailed Sunbird - male

Hainan Blue Flycatchers are now singing in woodlands all around Hong Kong, including this fairly cooperative male at Pak Tam Chung. The friendliest bird however, was a Common Emerald Dove, which came to within a few feet to me, my guess is that this is still a young bird which doesn't know the dangers of man-kind!

Hainan Blue Flycatcher - male

Common Emerald Dove

At home the only interesting bird to add was a singing Grey Nightjar one evening, I manage to find it perched very high up on a broken branch. A single Grey-faced Buzzard was the only other migrant worth noting at home. Crested Serpent Eagles been very vocal and often seen flying around during the day. Some Barn Swallows already fledged and the parents been very busy feeding them and giving them flying lessons near our rooftop.

Grey Nightjar

Grey-faced Buzzard

Crested Serpent Eagle

Barn Swallow

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