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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Exploring Lantau (1 Viewer)

Really fun to (finally) read your adventures! Congrats on getting such unusual birds so close to home, while keeping up with family commitments! Spring and lots of new birds must be well underway now...

PS - wonderful the way you've been connecting with owls!
Summer birding in Discovery Bay

A few weeks ago I was up with the dawn and in my usual hopeful scan I noticed a whole bunch of Black-crowned Night Herons around the edges of the pond in Central Park. Unusually I decided that I would make the best of the cooler early morning to see if I could get some photos and took myself down to the pond. I like park birding; the birds are often highly habituated to people and allow close approach that is rarely possible in other settings. This doesn't apply to every individual and a few nicely-placed adults were less than impressed by my arrival and made themselves scarce so rather than chasing them about I found a spot on some steps that brought me right down to the same level of the water and waited to see what would come to me.

Four or five metres out from here is a vegetated island and a line of rocks almost directly opposite the steps. The palm trees on the top kept me nicely shaded from the rising sun while providing the opportunity to try some backlit photography. This didn't come to much initially , and the results were uninspiring, until ... a newly fledged juvenile bird - complete with a wisp of retained down its crown - slouched slowly round the right hand end of the island and began foraging in the shadows along the shore without paying me the least attention. This allowed me to get some shots I am really pleased with over the next 20 or so minutes.

DSC01413 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB.jpg
DSC01423 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB.jpg DSC01425 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB.jpg

While the youngster was taking a bit of a break I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye and turned just in time to see a much smaller ardeid land in an overhanging banyan about 15 metres away. It helpfully poked its head out and I was able to zoom in and confirm a surprise juvenile Yellow Bittern. Yellow Bittern breeds in Hong Kong, and this could have been a local bird, but I am pretty sure they do not breed here in Discovery Bay, so this was either a post-breeding dispersal or a genuine migrant. better was to come as it stalked through the branches, stopping occasionally when it was completely out of sight until some 15 minutes later it edged into view on a bare elephant ear branch low over the water where it stretched low to grab a Pied Skimmer dragonfly which it displayed nicely for me to grab a couple of shots before slinking back into covers enjoy its breakfast.

DSC01370 Yellow Bittern @ DB.jpgDSC01394 Yellow Bittern @ DB .jpg

More to come ...



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    DSC01394 Yellow Bittern @ DB .jpg
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Mid-July is also prime time for fledgeling passerines, and I enjoyed watching family parties of Oriental Magpie Robins and Crested Bulbuls coming down two the edge of the water nearby. In the end the shots of the Magpie Robins came out pretty well, and a male Crested Bulbul struck the perfect pose on the closest rock.

DSC01432 Oriental Magpie Robin @ DB.jpgDSC0144 Oriental Magpie Robin @ DB.jpg
DSC01447 Crested Bulbul @ DB.jpgDSC01453 Oriental Magpie Robin @ DB.jpg

Just checking the feed also reminded me that I had an amazing run of six different juvenile Asian Koels in just a week around Discovery Bay. Amazingly four of these birds were being fed by two desperately harried Black-collared Starlings in the casuarinas just behind the beach. I was pleased to find the nest, which still held the youngest Koel, two others had mid-length tails, while the fourth bird was almost fully tailed and vigorously pursued the parents, allowing a decent picture. The two other birds were in the banyans close to my block - sitting tight and giving themselves away with their tediously raucous begging calls, which must drive their surrogate parents nuts! Having never seen juvenile Koels before this time last year see post xx above, I'm now on something of a roll...

The only other good bird of the summer has been a rather confiding Striated Heron that has been foraging along the rocks close to the mangroves by Discovery College on a couple of evenings' dog walks and a noisy family of Black Drongos that enlivens just about every walk.

There has been a small but steady tickle of migrants through Discovery Bay this autumn. These have included a Cattle Egret hanging out on the grass by the tunnel entrance for a few days this week, the usual arrival of Dusky Warbler, a positive fall of Daurian Redstarts in late November, a couple of Chinese Blackbirds, including a young black-billed male today.

More to come ...
Good birding elsewhere has distracted me from uploading pix from DB that were a first outing for my new Sony RX10iv.

This Chinese Blackbird was foraging on some damp ground just as the sun emerged above the horizon, lighting up the fine details of the belly plumage and centred the catchlight in its eye.

DSC00012 Chinese Blackbird @ DB bf 2.jpg

Crested Mynas like nothing better than a good after-party.

DSC00021 Crested Myna @ DB bf.jpg
Up to 40 Black-crowned Night Herons roost in the Park. I have not yet made a full count, but I suspect there are more this year. This young bird was preparing to roost in a pondside banyan.

DSC00049 Black-crowned Night Heron @DB bf.jpg

My previous best shots were with the light behind the bird, so this one, again with the catchlight on the eye, offered a different shot.

DSC00053 Black-crowned NightHeron @ DB bf.jpg

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A productive dart up the hillside behind my block produced a fine range of woodland/shrubland species that included 4 Siberian Rubythroats, 2 Rufous-Tailed Robins, 2 Asian Stubtails, a female Fork-tailed Sunbird, 3 Black-faced Buntings and a fine male Daurian Redstart. As I got to the flatter ground three Sooty-headed Bulbuls bounced into a taller shrub. Other bits and pieces included a couple of Common Tailorbirds, two Cinereous Tits, Yellow-bellied Prinia, two Large-billed Crows and both Crested and Chinese Bulbuls.

DSC00980 Chinese Bulbul @ DB.jpg

A female Eurasian Kestrel went over while I was on top of the ridge and an Eastern Buzzard hanging absolutely motionless on the wind as the mid-morning commute of Crested Mynas bounced onto the top of the buildings before coming up into the scrubland to feed.

DSC00988 Dawn @ DB.jpg
A Saturday morning dog walk in Central Park turned up patch gold when a warbler flicking about in a tiny hedge went "tic" instead of "tak". As I followed, it continued to call and gave naked eye views as it foraged in the flower beds above the waterfalls, but without bins or a camera it could only go down as a "suspected" until the next morning when I was able to grab some pix and again hear it call, thereby becoming a confirmed Yellow-streaked Warbler! With around 20 records in Hong Kong, this is one of my top Discovery Bay finds, and a great addition to my Hong Kong self-found list, which now stands at 414 .

Yellow-streaked Warbler is one of the hardest birds in Hong Kong to identify. It is very similar to the abundant Dusky Warbler and much scarcer Radde's Warbler, but has a distinctively slender and pointy tipped bill than Radde's, which is a rougher-formed and more colour-toned version of the darker and longer-tailed Dusky Warbler. The bunting-like "tic" call, and presumably the song at the right time of year, is by far the best way to identify it and I have listened to hundreds if not thousands of Duskies and wondering if that call was a "tic" or a "tak". As with many such cases there's no doubt when you hear the real thing! It was not that easy to connect with, but I did eventually manage some pix and a video that allowed the key features to be seen.

Here's all three species. Top left is the Dusky Warbler was taken the same day, but hidden deep in a bush so the light does not allow for the best comparison, while the Radde's Warbler (top right) was on my Magic Roundabout patch at airport in November 2015. The Yellow-streaked Warbler is shown in the lower 3 pix). It clearly lacks the greyish brown colour tones of the Dusky Warbler, which always looked longer tailed and showed a much more distinctive eyestripe and a hint of a lateral crown stripe above the supercilium. The Radde's Warbler has a broad-based stubby bill, a broader dark eyestripe that is more distinctive behind the eye, a ,longer tapering supercilium with a hint of rufous in front of the eye, mealy cheeks, and a hint of a wing panel. In contrast the Yellow-streaked Warbler is much more uniform than the Radde's on the face and wings and has a bill that is in this individual reassuringly fine and pointed - the final pic shows this really well. The supercilium is rather broad and square-ended, and lacked any hint of rufous tones in front of the eye. If anything it was more willing to show itself than the Dusky Warbler that was always in cover.

DSC02414 Dusky Warbler @ DB bf.jpg IMG_4310 Phylloscopus sp. @ RDBT.JPG
DSC02196 Yellow-streaked Warbler @ DB bf.jpg DSC02191 Yellow-streaked Warbler @ DB bf .jpg
DSC02442 Yellow-streaked Warbler @ DB bf.jpg

Other birds that contributed to a wonderful day were a female Daurian Redstart in the veggie patch, a Black-winged Cuckooshrike that had lost a substantial portion of the feathers on its right wing in one of camphor trees on the main lawn, and great views of a range of species munching on the fan palm fruit that included Chinese and Crested Bulbuls, Crested Mynas, Black-collared Starlings, Asian Koel Tree Sparrows and Spotted Doves. I also enjoyed the Crested Bulbuls and Crested Mynas coming in to bathe at the spot I spent most of my time looking for the Yellow-streaked Warbler, which also hosted a couple of Oriental Magpie Robins and a wonderful huddle of Scaly-breasted Munias clambering on top each other to get to the middle and stay warmest. While I've seen them huddling in bushes multiple times I've never seen this on the ground before.

DSC02177 Black-winged Cuckooshrike @ DB bf.jpg DSC02403 Scaly-breasted Munia @ DB bf.jpg
DSC02431 Crested Myna @ DB bf.jpg DSC02434 Scaly-breasted Munia @ DB bf.jpg DSC02433 Oriental Magpie Robin @ DB bf.jpg

I'll post separately on some pix of the Black-crowned Night Heron's which provided a terrific opportunity to learn a little more about the birds in flight capability of the RX10iv

As an extra bonus here's a video of the Yellow-streaked Warbler inaction, but not ticking...

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Many thanks Jeff!

Continuing my blossoming love affair with the Sony RX10iv here's a few pix of Black-crowned Night Herons in flight that show the BiF capabilities of the camera with the settings suggested in DP Review. I love that I just have to walk five minutes downhill to have access to this flock of around 50 birds which allow wonderfully close approach and every so often get helpfully flushed by other visitors to the park.

DSC02246 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg DSC02247 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg DSC02248 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg DSC02249 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg

DSC02250 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg

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Another series of one of the Discovery Bay Black-crowned Night Herons in flight. This time an adult making its approach to landing. I especially like the last shot which shows both alulae raised as the bird puts on the brakes for landing.

DSC02272 Black-crowned Night Heron @DB bf.jpg DSC02343 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg

DSC02353 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg

DSC02354 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg DSC02360 Black-crowned Night Heron @ DB bf.jpg
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Blue Whistling Thrush

Another set of portraits of a common DB resident; this time a young Blue Whistling Thrush (as can be told by the biggest white spots on the coverts) that was foraging on the rocks on the edge the pond in Central Park. The first shot it saw me and snapped into its danger pose, and thereafter, having decided I was harmless it relaxed and continued to forage very close-by.

DSC02631 Blue Whistling Thrush @ DB bf.jpg DSC02632 Blue Whistling Thrush @ DB bf.jpg
DSC02648 Blue Whistling Thrush @ DB bf.jpg DSC02641 Blue Whistling Thrush @ DB bf.jpg
The good thing about finding other birders in DB is that you hear about more birds. Will - a kayaking birder mate found these three terrific Pied Avocets bizarrely sitting on the sea near the ferry pier on Sunday.

DSC02970 Avocet @ DB bf.jpg DSC02972 Avocet @ DB bf.jpg

In nice contrast an hour in the scrubland on the slope behind my building delivered a bunch of heard and not seen birds including a singing Siberian Rubythroat, Asian Stubtail, and a couple of Hwameis. While walking th dogs a little earlier I did have a nice male Grey-backed Thush under the big banyan bt the tunnel and a Chinese Blackbird flying around excited about something or other.

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