Sunday 26 May 2024

Fairy Pitta & Other Last Spring Migrants

The one morning that I decided to head up Tai Po Kau on my own, I heard the unmistakable call of the Fairy Pitta coming from below a gully. While we get Fairy Pittas annually as a passage migrant, they are more often silent, therefore I was quite surprise to hear this one being very vocal! With a bit of patience, I got cracking views of this lovely bird. No matter how many times you see them, every encounter is just as exciting as the first. This species actually breeds fairly close to Hong Kong, there is hope that they will one day establish a breeding population here.

Fairy Pitta - certainly one of our top spring migrant

Both species of breeding flycatchers have now arrived, Hainan Blue Flycatcher often starts breeding earlier, and Brown-breasted Flycatcher a little later in summer. I caught up with one of the Brown-breasted Flycatcher at Tai Po Kau finally, this inconspicuous species is often much harder to find than the Hainan Blue Flycatcher, as they are not a very vocal species.

Hainan Blue Flycatcher

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

There's been a very vocal and relatively tame Pygmy Cupwing at Tai Po Kau, this is a pale morph bird with white throat and breast. Even though I hear and see them quite often, getting good photos of this skulker doesn't happen all that much! So, I am always grateful with any good photo opportunity of this species.

Pygmy Cupwing - pale morph

Weather's been quite unstable of late, with heavy showers every so often. That is quite a challenge when you are birding in forest areas like Tai Po Kau, even worst when you try to photograph birds. I found a recently fledged Orange-headed Thrush, but was too dark for me to get any meaningful photos of. Plain Flowerpeckers are still quite vocal around the reserve, and after the rain the local Crested Serpent Eagle perched back up to its favourite branch to dry itself off.

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Plain Flowerepcker

Crested Serpent Eagle

Out on Deep Bay, I counted three Chinese Egrets together, plus another one on the scrape, making it four in one day in total, which is quite a lot for this time of the year. They are fabulous birds and you will often be rewarded with good views if you go out to the mudflat at the right time.

Chinese Egret

There were still quite a bit of waders present, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Red-necked Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Great Knot, Red Knot, Siberian Sand Plover, Tibetan Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover and Asian Dowitchers just to name a few. Heavy rain came in while I was out on Deep Bay, which halted the birds from feeding, as they stood there to wait out the rain.

Assorted Waders waiting out the rain

There were still plenty of terns around Mai Po as well as surrounding fish ponds, Whiskered Terns being the most numerous. There were still many White-winged Terns around Mai Po, although most of the adults seems to have gone through now, most remaining birds were 1st summer birds. I was pleasantly surprise to see still many Little Terns present, both in Mai Po as well as the fish ponds at Tai Sang Wai, again they gave great close up views as they dived for fish, there were a few 1st winter birds present as well.

Whiskered Tern

White-winged Tern - 1st summer

Little Tern

Little Tern - 1st summer

During our night time ventures, we found plenty of Hong Kong Newts along a stretch of stream, there were still many adults in the water here, but we also saw many tiny newts that probably just morphed into their terrestrial form, some no longer than 2cm!

Hong Kong Newt

Hong Kong Newt - juvenile

The recent rain triggered termites swarms, a nuisance for us humans to try and keep them out of the house, but a feast for many animals in the wild, especially frogs and to my surprise a Brown Forest Skink! A usually diurnal species taking full advantage of the termites attracted to the street lamps. While they are usually very shy, this one became extremely bold and came straight up to my camera to pick off termites on the ground.

Brown Forest Skink

Finally, one of the two Many Banded Kraits I came across lately, this one was getting ready to shed, so the usually black parts became this blue greyish colour, and its eyes seemed very milky. Still a beautiful snake, and a species that I always enjoy seeing.

Many Banded Krait

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