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Old Tuesday 17th April 2012, 09:29   #851
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Love that Carpenter Bee shot - there's just something about compound eyes I can't resist. Gave you a smile too.
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Old Thursday 19th April 2012, 15:58   #852
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Thanks Frogfish - I certainly enjoy them.

At 5pm this evening after a day of clouds rain thunder, lightning tempest storm and wind five Dollarbirds (95) flew up and circled above Tai Yeung Che and Ping Long before continuing their migration northeast along the valley. They were not the first of the spring however as Dylan had one whilst walking his dog Kitty (what would you expect of an Irish bloke with a Welsh name who teaches English!) this morning.

I also heard Chestnut-winged Cuckoo and at dusk a Brown Wood Owl was again calling.

I should work at home more often!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Sunday 22nd April 2012, 15:19   #853
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Friday morning there were three more Dollarbirds perched on a tree in the valley and two more this morning brought the total to 10. With so much of their passage period still to come the record of 17 (2009) seems very breakable!

There were not may other birds about today, but I did pick up a somewhat unexpected pair of Hobby (96) circling over the village.

Also of interest today was the 23rd snake species for my patch list - Brahminy Blind Snake or more collquially Flowerpot Snake. Its a small shiny black snake that is most remarkable for reproducing asexually - also known as being parthenogenetic. Not sure if this is a curse of a blessing, but very oddly all specimens collected to date have been female.

Another snake record this week was a young Chinese Cobra that had been killed inside the village just below the Chinese Pond Heron colony.

I also got a decent pic of our most spectacular dragonfly - Chinese Gossamerwing, and brief views of the diminutive Asian Widow, along with twelve or thirteen other species including the amorous pair below.

Cheers
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Old Monday 23rd April 2012, 14:27   #854
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Originally Posted by MKinHK View Post
I also got a decent pic of our most spectacular dragonfly - Chinese Gossamerwing, and brief views of the diminutive Asian Widow, along with twelve or thirteen other species including the amorous pair below.

Cheers
Mike
Hi Mike

I've been meaning to repay your kind words on my thread with some appreciation of the effort you put into maintaining your thread(s) on here...it's only now I've begun I realise what extra effort is required to post this stuff and so to be doing it as long as you have is to be applauded!

Also, while I'm here, do you have any recommendations for references for the dragons and darters? I'd like to broaden my knowledge in that area if possible?

cheers
Mark
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 01:56   #855
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Many thanks Mark

Its great to have a record of the patch - and posting pix of other stuff has expanded my interest to other biodiversity in the valley - only wish I'd started when I first moved to Ng Tung Chai in 2002.

We have a couple of books on dragonflies in Hong Kong. Keith Wilson is the author of both that I know of. Whether this will cover all or even most of the species in the Shanghai area I don't know - we have around 115 spp. in HK.

This link to David Diskin's site on nature walks in Hong Kong should provide some help - especially the further reading section on the second page.

And back to birds - there were two more Dollarbirds in the same tree as held three on Friday last week.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2012, 14:36   #856
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Also, while I'm here, do you have any recommendations for references for the dragons and darters? I'd like to broaden my knowledge in that area if possible?
The definitive guide is recognised as Jill Silby's Dragonflies of the World, however it wasn't definitive for the multiple species I photographed in Hai-Nan !

This is an excellent site .. if you know where to start !
http://www.odonatacentral.org/index....eAction.browse
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Old Wednesday 25th April 2012, 23:19   #857
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Two more Dollarbirds this morning - the first I've had on the ridge-top powerlines this spring, and I've also head from Dylan that he had one yesterday and one on Saturday, which would bring this spring's total to 16.

He also had a Grey-streaked Flycatcher in his garden, prompting m to get up on the roof with for a session with the hula hula hoop from hell to look for one of my own - I've had them in two of the last four springs from the house.

I also heard a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo calling at the bus stop yesterday evening.

Cheers

Mike
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Old Saturday 28th April 2012, 11:21   #858
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Friday morning I had the pleasure of adding Indian Cuckoo (97) to the year list without getting out of bed - one was calling loudly outside the house at about 6:00am. I was even more delighted with supine year tick when I discovered Dylan had also heard it -on his 5:30 am de-lard-ifying early morning run.

This morning an easterly breeze, low cloud and occasional rain looked ideal for migrants, and so it proved - a terrific spring score of seven Dollarbirds, bring the total to 23 has smashed the record passage for a single spring - and there looks like more of the same weather to come.

Another highlight of the day came from a much more common bird. I was sat on the sofa when a Chinese Pond Heron flew over the roof and turned back towards the house, giving me a terrific eye-level view as it floated past. I learned that there were a dozen pairs in the small bamboo stand next to the carpark - the expert eyes of our egret research group picking out at least five more nests than I had found.

A few pix from last week's visit to Mai Po can be found here.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Sunday 29th April 2012, 03:17   #859
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This morning it absolutely poured - an amber rainstorm warning dumped somewhere between 150 and 200mm on us between midnight and 10am this morning. This completely flooded the veggie patch, and knocked out visibility any further away - thereby creating the best ever possibility of getting Red-necked Phalarope on the patch list.

As soon as the rain stopped I headed up onto the roof and added five more Dollarbirds to the spring total (but missed at lest one that Dylan had). However, there were two ore patch ticks in the shape of the first and long overdue Black Drongo (89) of the spring and a couple of Intermediate Egrets (99) which flew up the valley. An Indian Cuckoo also called once.

Most interesting however was a Long-tailed Shrike with a Checkered Keelback, which had presumably succumbed to the deluge. The snake was at least half as long again as the shrike, but it still managed to fly with it a couple of times, perching on bamboo canes while trying to figure out how to eat it. This reminds that while I was photographing the Chinese Gossamerwing last weekend another Long-tailed Shrike flew over my head carrying a Changeable Lizard.

Cheers
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Old Monday 30th April 2012, 08:43   #860
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Working at home today paid off as the sporadic showers dropped four more Dollarbirds and a very late but splendidly white-headed Black Bulbul in the same tree - at long last my 100th patch bird for the year.

According to the Hong Kong Avifauna the latest recorded migrant Black Bulbul was on 27th April, but there are odd records from May and June of birders that may have tried to breed - we are not far from breeding populations in Guangdong.

I also had a pair of Lesser Coucals, a Besra and a Crested Serpent Eagle

Cheers
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Old Monday 30th April 2012, 13:53   #861
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK View Post
Working at home today paid off as the sporadic showers dropped four more Dollarbirds and a very late but splendidly white-headed Black Bulbul in the same tree - at long last my 100th patch bird for the year.

According to the Hong Kong Avifauna the latest recorded migrant Black Bulbul was on 27th April, but there are odd records from May and June of birders that may have tried to breed - we are not far from breeding populations in Guangdong.

I also had a pair of Lesser Coucals, a Besra and a Crested Serpent Eagle

Cheers
Mike
Congrats on completing your "Century" mark Mike. The raptors are tempting.
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2012, 17:08   #862
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Thanks Dev.

These two, plus Crested Goshawk - one was displaying today after the rain - and Black Kite are the resident species in the valley

Two more Dollarbirds today, but not much else birdwise on a hot afternoon.

However a very funky skink and a cobra (I'm leaning towards King based on the size of the head) hunting in a newly prepared cress bed made for a wonderful couple of hours this afternoon.

Cheers
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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2012, 02:48   #863
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That's some local patch you have there Mike.

Amazing pic of the cobra... something I'd love to see (at a safe distance I might add). I had no idea that they are in HK.

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Old Thursday 3rd May 2012, 14:42   #864
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Mike I meant to comment on how I liked your cobra pic - really the angles on both the herps is great - nice to see them at eye level more or less. (though didn't quite see the funky aspect of the skink)

Things seem to be going well on your patch with the dollarbirds, a nice total patch number and a thriving heronry!
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Old Thursday 3rd May 2012, 23:32   #865
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Mike,

I'm not a snake expert but it sure looks like a King to me. Colour, head shape and pattern, etc... Is that another species to your 30 something species in your area?

Tom
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Old Thursday 3rd May 2012, 23:57   #866
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The herp experts both think this is a very large Chinese Cobra - "as big a Chinese Cobra as you're ever likely to see" being one quote.

Maybe funkiness is too subjective a concept for skinks - I'll post another pic later to strengthen my case.

There were also three more Dollarbirds this morning, and Dylan again heard the Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Friday 4th May 2012, 00:01   #867
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Its certainly good to have a multi-faceted patch, especially in a rather quiet winter and spring.

The HK herp experts I asked both think the cobra is Chinese - albeit "as big a Chinese Cobra as you're ever likely to see". It certainly had the confidence of a mature adult.

I'll post another pic to strengthen the case for funkiness in skinks!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Friday 4th May 2012, 13:30   #868
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OK one more skink pic - but first, since this a birding thread . . .

There were three more Dollarbirds this morning. These three make 42 birds so far this spring. Could this spring challenge for the single season record of 55 set from 18 September to 24 October in autumn 2007?

There are 24 more days until my previous latest spring record, which was 29 May in 2011.

For those of who you don't share my slightly OCD-like focus on Dollarbird passage here's a good old-fashioned stinker of an ID challenge. A photographer posted a picture of a cuckoo sp from 1st May on which I would welcome any thoughts.

There is just one record of Eurasian Cuckoo from Hong Kong and Oriental Cuckoo has been split into Horsfield's and Himalayan Cuckoos, which are a) extremely similar to Eurasian Cuckoo and b) only separable on call (as far as I know). Go on . . . give it a go!

Cheers
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Old Friday 4th May 2012, 13:46   #869
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Very tough on the cuckoo ID, even with a front view.......you really need to hear it. Sorry to not be of more help. Oriental is now split?
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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 13:32   #870
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Nice additional view of the skink! He's in quite an interesting position there.

I decided in the last few years that skinks may be my favorite reptile family (I still know little about reptiles, through the reptile subforum I have seen some variety). Skinks are so slinkly, graceful (for a reptile) and smooth (probably thereby reminding me of frogs) - and some of ours in the US have nice racing stripes!

So anyway, I won't be bothered by the non-feathered entries! Hope you had a good weekend.
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Old Wednesday 9th May 2012, 23:42   #871
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Thanks Gretchen, I did have a good weekend, but with the exception of some more Dollarbirds scoped from home (one on Sunday, four on Monday and two on Tuesday brings the score to 49) my birding was off-patch.

I was again at Mai Po and will post on the HK Birding thread in due course.

Its now hot, clear and sunny here, and with the exception of the Dollarbirds, possibly a Brown Shrike and the off-chance of a bittern, migration is pretty well done for this spring.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 15:14   #872
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Two more Dollarbirds today. One was on the line of trees between the grassland the the ginger marsh (but sneakily invisible from home), plus one on wires close to Kau Liu Ha at the northern end of the valley at dusk - now 51 birds this spring.

Other birds today included a Pacific Swift (101) this morning over Ping Long Fa Yuen, 18 Cattle Egrets and a Great Egret (102) flying SW down the valley this morning at about 8am. A Black-crowned Night Heron and a Little Egret this evening added to the Chinese Pond Herons hunting in the veggie patch and various other places to make five species of ardeid in the valley today. The Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo was singing as loud as I have ever heard behind Ha Tin Liu Ha village.

Other signs of spring were a couple of fledged Long-tailed Shrikes, a White-browed Laughingthrush carrying food and four newly fledged Barn Swallows taking break on one of the aircon units of the flat below mine.

The Cattle Egret in the pix was skulking around the tree nursery down at She Shan, and manged to pose well both on the deck and when it took fright and retreated to a treetop.

Other wildlife included this violently pink Crimson Dropwing and a Brahminy Blind Snake wich dived down a worm hole as I lifted the plank it was under - something I do a bit more circumspectly after seeing that cobra!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Monday 14th May 2012, 02:17   #873
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Talking

Girls will love the Crimson Dropwing.

Be careful with the snakes Mike! I came across few snakes in Yangkou, they were too afraid to stick out their necks. May be they dont want to end up as a meal for someone!
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2012, 14:33   #874
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Just realised that its nearly a month since I posted on the patch. The main reason is that we are deep into the summer doldrums here and a 10-day trip to Australia combined to deliver very little of worth to report.

The big exception is the egretry next to the carpark. My mate in the egret specialist group told me that there were 12 Chinese Pond Heron nests this year. The youngsters fledged a couple of weeks ago and have been scrambling around on the spindly tops of the bamboos. Today I saw my first youngster on the deck and I expect to find them perched in odd places begging for food chasing their parents around and making their first efforts to hunt for themselves. This has been a wet couple of weeks and their are plenty of frogs for them to search out (I've heard at least 4 different species calling this evening).

The big highlight of last weekend was a new high count of . . . wait for it . . . two Common Mynas. This is marginally more exciting than it sounds. Yes they are a feral breeding species in Hong Kong and don't really count, but there are just four previous records in the valley, so they have some interest to the avid Lam Tsuen patch birder. Actually they looked pretty tight and they may be a breeding pair, which would be a first for the valley - Dylan and I are keeping a sharp look out!

Perhaps its time we named ourselves the Lam Tsuen-atics(crash course in cantonese pronunciation: "tsuen" rhymes with prune).

I've also rooted out a few pix from the last month.

Cheers
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Old Wednesday 13th June 2012, 15:46   #875
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Excellent timing with the Black Blister Beetles Mike...just finished processing last weekends pics which included a couple that were destined for the "My ignorance knows no bounds" pile (mountain?) until I saw your shots

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