Wednesday 19 July 2023

Quiet July - Local birds and a few Herps

With temperature soaring up to 38°C on one day last week, it really is not the best time to be out doors. However, I had a request for a half day bird tour during what was likely the hottest day of this summer. Despite the heat, I thought it was actually quite an enjoyable outing, with a few good resident species seen, plus a couple of nice summer visitors. Tai Po Kau is probably at its quietest during this month, as Chinese Barbets and Hainan Blue Flycatchers are now not singing anymore, making them tricky to find. Common birds like Silver-eared Mesia, Huet's Fulvettas and Black-throated Laughingthrush can still be seen and heard with relative ease.

Silver-eared Mesia

Huet's Fulvetta

Black-throated Laughingthrush

Mountain Bulbuls used to be a relatively rare bird in Hong Kong good many years ago, and Black Bulbuls used to just be an eruptive winter visitor to Hong Kong. Both of them now breeds in Hong Kong, with Mountain Bulbuls now very widespread and relatively common throughout. Breeding Black Bulbuls are still not a common sight, so seeing a few juveniles at Tai Po Kau was nice.

Mountain Bulbul

Black Bulbul - juvenile

Velvet-fronted Nuthatches are always a nice bird to see, we saw no less than 6 birds in a flock, a few of them I suspected as younger birds, although they already have red bills, but they were evidently following the 'parents' begging for food.

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

Plain Flowerpeckers are now not very vocal, although I did manage to find a juvenile feeding. Pygmy Cupwings are never easy no matter the month, I was pleased to find this one singing by the footpath. While I only had a brief glimpse of a Bay Woodpecker, Speckled Piculets were more cooperative in general.

Plain Flowerpecker

Pygmy Cupwing

Speckled Piculet

Along the forest footpath a Branded Orange Awlet was seen, this is a rare butterfly species in Hong Kong. Whereas an Idionyx victor was found perched by the stream, a nice forest stream species that is uncommon in Hong Kong.

Branded Orange Awlet

Idionyx victor

Over at San Tin, several waders were seen on the drained pond, including a few Wood Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpipers, just to prove that even in mid-summer there are still a few birds around. Immature Barn Swallows were everywhere, a few perched nicely on the wire for photo. There were a lot of Yellow Bitterns flying around, but the best bird goes to a single female Cinnamon Bittern that flew into the reeds next to the road, I tried several times to flush it out but it simply did not budge! It wasn't until the third time of trying did it finally flew out for a nice inflight view.

Wood Sandpiper

Barn Swallow

Yellow Bittern

Cinnamon Bittern

Led a few different night tours lately, with good sightings of Reeve's Tokay Geckos at its usual spot. A nice looking Taiwan Kukri Snake and a Rufous Burrowing Snake was found on two separate evenings, both provided great opportunities to educate children and public about these fascinating creatures. Although I didn't get any chance to photograph these two beauties properly as I had to move on with the tour group, so only a few record shots were taken.

Reeve's Tokay Gecko

Taiwan Kukri Snake

Rufous Burrowing Snake

Closer to home, I did get a chance to photograph a lovely White-spotted Slug Snake, a very common species of snake in Hong Kong that is also one of the most docile.

White-spotted Slug Snake

Otherwise, nothing hugely exciting, except our locally common Garnot's Gecko, Brown Tree Frogs and Asiatic Painted Frogs.

Garnot's Gecko

Brown Tree Frog

Asiatic Painted Frog