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Hong Kong birding (1 Viewer)

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
No kidding!

A couple of less amazing pix, but of a good birding moment of my own this afternoon, when a flock of 6 Chinese Starlings at Long valley turned out to be carrying two others - a fine male Daurian Starling, and . . .a fine male Chestnut-cheeked Starling!

Actually it was a pretty good afternoon - I also had jut my second Himalayan Swiftlet in HK - a 20-second flyover, over the ponds at the eastern end which had a decent gathering of Black-winged Stilts and Wood Sandpipers, with a couple of LRP, Fantail and Swintail Snipe 5 or 6 Black Drongos and an Oriental Reed Warbler.

As we walked back we disturbed about 200 Crested Mynahs feeding on a bund which took off in a raucous hubbub - I estimate that around 300 birds had come into the roost area by the time we passed. I had also had 4 Silky Starlings on the way in.

Other good birds as the light failed included my first Dusky Warbler of the autumn, a flyover male Yellow Bittern and a Pacific Golden Plover that swooped low over the rice fields in the gathering gloom.

Not bad for a 90-minute evening constitutional with the Mrs!

Cheers
Mike
 

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Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
a good birding moment of my own this afternoon, when a flock of 6 Chinese Starlings at Long valley turned out to be carrying two others - a fine male Daurian Starling, and . . .a fine male Chestnut-cheeked Starling!

Wow you jammy so and so! Think I'll pop with other people's rubbed off excitement if I look any more at BF this morning, what with the empid at Blakeney point , and now this ;) B :)
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Thanks Larry

But jam had nothing to do with it - except for persuading Carrie that Long Valley was a good place for a walk on a evening with the easterlies gently wafting migrants down into HK!

OK, having both in the same flock was pretty cool. Its rare but not unheard of in HK in autumn - this is the 4th or 5th time in 17 years. On one glorious occasion at Long Valley there were also HK's third and fourth Rosy Starlings as well!

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
A game of three halves

It really was a funny old day - A dip, a tart's tick, a major sense of humour failure and a cracking finale.

The dip
7:30 found a group of us hoping to strike lucky with the Naumann's Thrush seen yesterday at Lok Ma Chau. This is a constructed wetland built in compensation for a huge railway/border crossing about 1 km north of Mai Po. Professionally managed, it is a closed site that is only opened when very good birds are found, and HK's fourth Naumann's Thrush certainly fit the bill.

Unfortunately it wasn't there, but this collection of fishponds, marshes and reeds is attractive to a host of wetland-dependent species and other winter visitors. Today these included a posse of Black-faced Spoonbills, Great and Egrets and Chinese Pond Heron mooching around the edges of a drained pond, three hundred Common Teal and a coterie of Black Winged Stilts on another pond, and Little Grebe, Wigeon and Pintail on a third pond covered in lilies.

The corner where the thrush wasn't had a gang of White-cheeked Starlings and my first Manchurian Bush Warbler of the winter, and while I waited Yellow and White Wagtails were decorating the bunds, Dusky Warblers and Siberian Stonechats were pinging all over the place, a superb adult Imperial Eagle drifted over, and a Wryneck lurked on one of the bunds.

The tart's tick
Having packed it in I got call just before lunch that two Crested Buntings had been found in Long Valley. This is the most shocking and longest-standing hole in my HK list, so I bombed over there and was fortunate enough to get them within 5 minutes perched on a wire about 25 metres away - fantastic - HK tick no 439! I had just enough time to whip out the coolpix and get off one dodgy shot (below) before a gang of photographers marched along the bund until the birds flew down onto the ground, and then kept on marching until thy flushed, despite my calling out to stop.

The sense of humour failure
The birds flew past me and land about 30 metres away, causing the photographers to rush up to me, and because the birds were out of site, push past me and . . flush them again. The birds flew into some tall grass which was promptly ringed with photographers, and after about five minutes, they flushed again, this time into a tree where they could be seen clearly. However once again the charge was on, this time led by an idiot woman, who marched up to the tree, flushing the birds so that they disappeared down the other end of the valley.

I left in disgust, disappointed not to see the buntings (one of which was a first year male) better. I did get brief scope views, and they were magnificent - the combination of the bright chestnut wings and tail, an olive tint to the brown head, breast and upperparts, and the slender spiky crest on a head with the same large eye and long convex bill as a Black-headed Bunting, coming together into an unexpectedly striking bird.

After lunch I thought about going back to Long Valley and called Michelle, the friend who had called me before. She told me that there were even more photographers (there were at least 30 in the morning), that the Crested Buntings had, surprise surprise not been seen for about 90 minutes, and that they had also found a Yellow-browed Bunting, which was a bit less flighty, so was having a less torrid time.

The cracking finish
I decided I couldn't hack that and instead went to Mai Po to look for the Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese that I'd seen at untickable range 2 weeks ago, and for 5 brief, but tickable minutes 10 days ago.

As I arrived about an hour before dark I found a pond with some grass growing into the water in one corner. It had several hundred Silky Starlings buzzing around it, perching on wires and in the short trees before settling on the edge of the grass for a pre-roost wash. I failed to get any decent photos of the birds washing, but did pick out a couple of White-cheeked Starlings and a remarkably fawn and spotty Eurasian Starling - my first for a couple of years in HK.

Climbing to the top of the Tower Hide I was delighted to see the two Taiga Bean Geese swimming on a broad patch of open water some 60 metres away. Although the light was against me I had wonderful views through the scope as the birds fed, preened, wing-flapped, flew a lap as an unseen raptor flew over. After the zoo at Long Valley it was wonderful to be completely alone to enjoy these birds - a first record for Hong Kong, and as dark fell to watch 34 Black-faced Spoobills drift in and shake ruffle and preen before roosting for the evening.

Cheers
Mike
 

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Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Nice read Mike, wish I could have been there. Beats my day out today around Portishead. Enjoying reading your reports all the more now that I can envisage the sites.
 

Jynx

Mike King aka The Gloster Birder, Keeping Gloster
Nice one Mike. We have similar photographer based incidents going on here, just read the American Robin thread for instance.
Hope all is well with you and yours.

Mike & Bridgette
 

Gretchen

Well-known member
Mike, forgot to comment how I like the starlings on the wire - one does look a little different... Glad you're getting some nice birds.
 

Chlidonias

Well-known member
shame about the photographer lot :(

I do enjoy reading your posts. Hong Kong sounds like the kind of place I need to get to some time. I've had a field guide for a long time (um, "Bird Of Hong Kong" by Viney and Phillipps, 1988 version -- not sure how much use it would be in the field now....)
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Thanks everyone.

HK has great birding: tons of birds, short distances between sites (and habitats), reliable safe and cheap public transport and no gouging fees. Just don't come in summer (mid-May to mid-September) when there are no birds and only mosquitoes and humidity as compensation.

This makes it great for birding but less so for adventure, although you could always tag on a trip into China and travel by local bus for a few days, and you'd soon have plenty!

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
And a personal technological milestone - first video uploaded to YouTube - of the Taiga Bean Geese and a huge scoop - the only video yet published of this HK first!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh0sN6qGiUc

The derivation of my username is fun.

One of the local birders has christened the obnoxious photographers "pseudobirders" , a name which perfectly captures his disdain and their ignorance. Since I have no illusions about my abilities behind the lens, pseudophotog seemed all too appropriate, especially as "photographer" gets shortened to "photog" in HK English.

The "pseudo" itself is a reference to the Hong Kong pseudomodel phenomenon, under which aspiring young beauties that had previously failed to win modelling contracts promoted themselves with self-produced photo albums, full-size inflatables and other paraphenalia at the otherwise rather staid Hong Kong Book Fair. The media were frothing with prurient indignation for months, and published loads of pix out of a duty to respect the public's right to know!

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
A morning in the forest at Shek Kong catchment, which is just a couple of kilometres over the hill from my patch, produced a decent range of species. The best of these was a very briefly seen Eurasian Siskin, whih was apparently one of flock of 50. It has been a very good year for this species in HK, and this is one of the biggest flocks ever recorded.

I was also pleased to see my first each of Grey-backed and White's Thrush, while being led a dance by three different Rufous-tailed Robins - one of which finally condescended to give such poor views it could have been a mouse. ONe bird did compenate with a couple of bursts of it's trilling, rather Dabchick -like song. I did manage to clap eyes on one of two Asian Stubtails, which also scuttle about the forest floor and squeak. Both Pygmy Wren Babbler and Lesser Shortwing were in good voice, but never even thought about showing themselves, while one of the many Mountain Tailorbirds eventually gave up the briefest of views.

Some of the more visible birds included Chestnut Bulbul, Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets, Hair-crested and Ashy Drongo, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, and a delightful party of White-rumped Munias feeding on the heads of a rather tall grass beside the nullah.

Yellow-browed and Pallas' Leaf Warblerseventually showed well at eye level and an adult Crested Serpent Eagle called as if floated majestically overhead.

In the afternoon a visit to Mai Po produced a decent range of winter waterbirds. The best of these were the two Middendorffi Bean Geese and good numbers of Black-faced Spoonbills, both feeding and flying overhead, among which was a single Eurasian Spoonbill. The south end of the reserve produced two first winter Greater Spotted Eagles and a 1st winter Imperial Eagle. There were also a good number of Common Buzzards and at least two, and possibly more, Peregrines, including this rather slender juvenile.

I'll post some pix later

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Pix from Tuesday . . .

The Hair-crested Drongo had the good manners to sit sill in excellent light and posed like a champion. The Black-crowned Night Heron was prerched right by the warden's hut at Mai Po, and the Peregrine was on the scrape at last light.

Cheers

Mike
 

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John Cantelo

Well-known member
Lummy, Mike, there's 17 lifers there for me alone! My feelings of trepidation about flying out to HK (and beyond) are rapidly diminishing the more I contemplate birding with you in less than a week.

Regards,


A morning in the forest at Shek Kong catchment, which is just a couple of kilometres over the hill from my patch, produced a decent range of species. The best of these was a very briefly seen Eurasian Siskin, whih was apparently one of flock of 50. It has been a very good year for this species in HK, and this is one of the biggest flocks ever recorded.

I was also pleased to see my first each of Grey-backed and White's Thrush, while being led a dance by three different Rufous-tailed Robins - one of which finally condescended to give such poor views it could have been a mouse. ONe bird did compenate with a couple of bursts of it's trilling, rather Dabchick -like song. I did manage to clap eyes on one of two Asian Stubtails, which also scuttle about the forest floor and squeak. Both Pygmy Wren Babbler and Lesser Shortwing were in good voice, but never even thought about showing themselves, while one of the many Mountain Tailorbirds eventually gave up the briefest of views.

Some of the more visible birds included Chestnut Bulbul, Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets, Hair-crested and Ashy Drongo, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, and a delightful party of White-rumped Munias feeding on the heads of a rather tall grass beside the nullah.

Yellow-browed and Pallas' Leaf Warblerseventually showed well at eye level and an adult Crested Serpent Eagle called as if floated majestically overhead.

In the afternoon a visit to Mai Po produced a decent range of winter waterbirds. The best of these were the two Middendorffi Bean Geese and good numbers of Black-faced Spoonbills, both feeding and flying overhead, among which was a single Eurasian Spoonbill. The south end of the reserve produced two first winter Greater Spotted Eagles and a 1st winter Imperial Eagle. There were also a good number of Common Buzzards and at least two, and possibly more, Peregrines, including this rather slender juvenile.

I'll post some pix later

Cheers
Mike
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
A morning with the ringers at Mai Po introduced me to the astonishing wierdness of Wrynecks. Of course they have twisty necks but I was completely blown away when the first bird extracted from the bag started gyrating like a cobra emerging from a snake charmer's basket.

The pic tells part of the story, but this video clip gives a much better sense. Apparently they all behave like this!

Please note that no Wrynecks were harmed in the production of this posting!

There was a good range of other species, which included Rubythroat, Bluethroat, several Chinese Penduline Tits, Black-browed, Dusky, and Pallas' Reed Warblers., and best of all my first Blunt-winged Warbler in Hong Kong.

This is one of a difficult group of accrocephalus warblers, which also includes Paddyfield, Blyth's Reed, and Manchurian Reed Warblers (plus Caspian Reed, which is yet too occur in HK). In the hand we were able to see the diagnostic shortness of the primary projection and review the subtle range of features that separate it from these others.

Blunt-winged Warbler is curiously catholic in its breeding habits - I've seen breeding in reedbeds at the Summer Palace in Beijing, and in montane grassland at 1800+ metres on top of Babao Shan in Guangdong. Almost all records from Hong Kong however(winter and passage birds), come from reedbeds; a habitat that's much easier to cover with a good suite of mist nets!

Other birds seen during the session included at least 3 adult Purple Herons, a highly unseasonal Yellow Bittern, while elsewhere on the reserve we had four Imperial Eagles (two adults and two paler and younger birds), a couple of Greater Spotted Eagles and, after a week's absence, the two middendorffi Bean Geese drifting gently along against an elegant backdrop of 100+ snoozing Black-faced Spoonbills.

I'll add pix shortly

Cheers
Mike
 

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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
This morning was in the meg cold bracket for Hong Kong, with a fine dose of frost across the marsh, grassland and veggie patch as a result of a cold front, a windless night and a temperature inversion off the 1000m mountain (Tai Mo Shan) that props up the SW corner of the valley.

I went to Tsim Bei Tsui with Richard to find a swan,crane, or sea-duck that had been brought down by the cold front, but despite terrific viewing conditions across the bay no mega appeared and we had to content ourselves with a pair of Chinese Grosbeak in a roadside hackberry tree, a flyby Saunders' Gull (my first of the winter), and a Ducky Thrush which called a couple of times from the top of a casuarina tree, but flew off just as I got the scope onto it. A decent find nonetheless.

We then scored a fat lot of nothing around the fishponds at Fung Lok Wai before heading over to Mai Po. The Middendorff's Geese with in their traditional daytime roost on the northernmost pond, but the real show-stopper was a redhead Smew which sailed serenely out from behind the mangroves as I was scoping a flock of a couple of hundred duck.

This was either the birds from three weeks ago being refound, or a new one arriving with the cold front -and so either the third or fourth for HK! I wasn't fussed either way - in fact we were both delighted as the bird I saw more than 15 years ago has come under a cloud of suspicion, and one bird serves as a fine insurance tick.

Pix of both birds can be seen on the HKBWS website here:
http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/redirect.php?tid=12923&goto=lastpost#lastpost (hopefully better pix were taken later in the day),and here:
http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/viewthread.php?tid=12735&extra=&page=1

Apart from this Mai Po was its usual winter self, with the usual mix of Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles mooching about at the southern end of the reserve being the next best thing.

Cheers
Mike
 
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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Can't argue with that. It will be trying to persuade the Records Committee that its a first for the world that will be difficult!

Cheers
Mike
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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