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

Ng Tung Chai, Hong Kong (1 Viewer)

No idea about the call Jeff - sorry.

I took a morning off on Monday and was delighted to see a large and a medium-sized Wild Boar moving slowly across the marsh. They were too quick for a photo, but I enjoyed seeing them from the window for just the second time in the five years we've been here.

It turned out to be a somewhat frustrating morning. Dylan's mystery bird called just once and the other activity around the marsh was much more muted than Sunday.

I tried checking some of the spots I rarely check (because they weren't much good), and . . . they weren't much good. In fact, with the exception of a nice count of six Daurian Redstarts, three or four Black-faced Buntings, a Green Sandpiper and a juvenile Crested Goshawk close to Tai Om it was a pretty uneventful walk.

Salvation came a mere five yards from the front door. A distant speck in the sky soaring on rather flat wings over the ridge between the valley and Lin Au revealed itself (after a frantic dash upstairs to get the scope on it) as a fine adult Greater Spotted Eagle (152). Dylan had one last winter , but this was a new patch bird and another "Hallelujah!" moment.

"Wild boar" should be delicious;)

How are they surviving down there Mike? Is the situation in HK different from the mainland China for the delicacy of wild stuff?

Congrats on your "praise the almighty" moment. Indeed, such a majestic species of the "Aquila" family...
Thanks Dev

There are loads of boar in Hong Kong and since they are not hunted and they have no natural enemies a Burmese Python might get the odd piglet) they do extremely well here.

Building on the success of the last two weekends I again headed up to Kadoorie Farm to see if I could find the goldspec and to follow up a report of a Plumbeous Redstart.

No luck on either count, but just below the butterfly a small slim flycatcher came up from the bed of the stream and perched for a few seconds. It was so small I was thinking hard about what it could be when I spotted a slim blue crescent on the side of the neck - Niltava, and being so small and neat about the head and shoulders, and lacking a strong white gorget it had to be SMALL NILTAVA! (153)

This is big news as another self-found patch bird and there are less than 15 Hong Kong records, although it scores no red highlights as its not a Hong Kong tick.

The bird disappeared after a few seconds, but a nearby Rufous-tailed Robin provided a useful size comparison and allowed me to be confident about eliminating Fujian Niltava, which is a broad-shouldered bruiser of a flycatcher, and substantially larger.

Other good birds included a single Red-flanked Bluetail, a Black-throrated Laughingthrush and a Red-billed Leiothrix in a mixed flock of Silver-eared Mesias and Rufous-capped Babblers and just my second Mountain Bulbul of the year.

A female Blue Rock Thrush that had me going by flying up from the terraces that Chestnut-bellied normally occupies and landing on a prominent branch in exactly the same manner. This did allow me to confirm that it was not Chestnut-bellied, which has a distinctive white spot behind the ear, and is rather browner and darker above.

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Off sick today - but cheered up by a demure and lovely young female in the veggie patch - a first winter Pale Thrush that was a subtle study of greys and browns, white outer tail tips, and the finest of wing bars.

She was chased off by a Chinese Blackbird, which was later joined by another. The male Daurian Redstart and the female Grey Bushchat (marking two months tenancy) were also on show and a typically streaky Lesser Coucal perched on some of the spare bean poles for a while.

I'm going to miss this.

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A quiet weekend on the patch (I guess I'm due one), but I did get up to Tai Om Shan on Saturday morning after again seeing the Grey Bushchat and Daurian Redstart on the veggie patch.

An Ashy Drongo was first for about a month, and it was nice to see it perched high over a field where a Russet Bush Warbler sang briefly, while both Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets bounced about behind it.

Other than that I had a couple each of Red-flanked Bluetail, Yellow-browed Warbler and Pallas' Leaf Warbler, a single Asian Stubtail, and two different buntings that flushed for so short a distance that I got nothing on either of them (although, but he way they flushed and sat tight I suspect they were Chestnut Buntings).

I also heard three thrushes and had views I could do nothing with of a couple of others, but at least they're here to drive me nuts this winter!

The other good birds of the week were a couple of unseasonal Barn Swallows, an Oriental Turtle Dove landing in the big tree and a calling Collared Scops Owl.

Merry Christmas!

A morning walk starting from the Hong Lok Yuen Roundabout failed to deliver the hoped-for Plumbeous Redstart, but did produce the first of three Grey-backed Thrushes, and both Green and Common Sandpipers.

The baicalensis-looking White Wagtail (I'm grumblingly resigned to the fact that it may not pass muster - see John Allcock's comment in post 903) was in another drainage channel that was under construction with a Great Egret, another Green Sandpiper and a female Daurian Redstart.

Th edges of the She Shan Fung Shui woodland was birdy - small groups of Masked and White-browed Laughingthrush three or four Olive-backed Pipits and a couple of Grey-backed Thrushes - a first winter male and an adult male.

The real highlight was a pair of Blue Whistling Thrushes. Normally they're lurking either in or close to cover but these two were feeding right out on the small bunds between the fields.

There were five Richard's Pipits on the grassland and four Little Buntings around the tree nursery, which was about it . . . right up to the moment when a very dark phase Oriental Honey Buzzard flopped across about a hundred metres above the bus stop. Nice!

A rater quiet morning at Ng Tung Chai started well with my first Red-billed Blue Magpie for a while flying over the road, a nicely red-bellied male philippensis Blue Rock Thrush on a roof in the village and a Pale Thrush popping up onto a branch in good view some 30 yards after the start of the trail.

It got substantially quieter thereafter, although I did get a couple of Asian Stubtails, single Red-flanked Bluetail and Lesser Shorwing, an Emerald Dove and a nice male Tristram's Bunting on the way back down.

A Dusky Warbler that hopped up onto a roof in my village was the first for a while.

Another quiet morning at Ng Tung Chai yesterday.

The highlights were a pair of Mountain Bulbuls and a couple of Grey-cheeked Fulvettas, although in a less thrushy winter the Pale Thrush and five Grey-backed Thrushes (including a nice male on the veggie patch back at home) would have scored well.

That apart it was rather quiet.

This morning was also quiet as I got stuck in two mind between giving the patch one last big effort and tarting (unsuccessfully) off after the White-tailed Robin at Shing Mun.

In the end an unsatisfactory compromise meant that I failed to connect with Dylan's White's Thrush from the day before, and his flock of 30 Siskins (which were a patch first) from the day before that. I did get four Black-faced Buntings, andknock out a second Woodcock for the year, heard a Grey-headed Flycatcher and added Moorhen (154) to the year list.

I also had my first Black-winged Cuckooshrike for a few weeks and a Plaintive Cuckoo was chased out of the veggie patch by a Long-tailed Shrike. The male Daurian Redstart put in its first appearance for a few days, and the Stejneger's Stonechat and Grey Bushchat continued their duel.

Ever the optimist, here's hoping tomorrow morning before work brings something special to wrap up the year.

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Sounds like some nice birds the last few days, though they haven't upped the list.

Are the stonechat and bushchat fighting over territory?
Hi Gretchen

The chats seem not to be in earnest, but probably compete a little for preferred perches.

A morning walk up to Tai Om Shan delivered a fine flock of 20-odd Pallas' Leaf Warblers, which was my biggest for a very long time here, plus a single Tristram's Bunting, three Grey-backed Thrushes, and unseen Siberian Rubythroat and Russet Bush Warblers.

Much more showy was a flock containing both Grey-chinned and Scarlet Minivets, a couple of Black-winged Cuckooshrikes, and a Yellow-cheeked Tit .

The real highlights were a flock of nine Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes gliding across the path, and best of all a Hair-crested Drongo in full song with hairs and neck hackles raised in fabulous display and very much intoxicated with the splendour of his magnificence, surrounded by three others giving the dd appreciative whistle - a quality performance!

In the afternoon I had a walk from Tai Mo Shan to Leadmine Pass and, as dusk fell, into Tai Po Kau. None of the three Blue Rock Thrushes were inside the patch and nor were any of the three Grey-backed Thrushes, the White's Thrush or five Red-flanked Bluetails, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

Best wishes to everyone for a bird-rich and wonderful New Year

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No posting last weekend - although I did get out and even had some birds. The reason is that to our shame Dylan and I managed one of those horrible cock-ups ups that have the excellent effect of keeping us humble. We have long wanted to find a Red-breasted Flycatcher among the much more common Taiga Flycatchers, and since its been a good year for them a flycatcher with a pale base to the lower mandible and showing white in the outer tail looked like a pretty good bet.

Somehow, even on the screen of my camera it looked OK, but reality eventually sunk in that no Red-breasted shows that little contrast between the tail and uppertail coverts (i.e. none!) nor that wide and pale-based a lower mandible. The pix below clearly show an Asian Brown Flycatcher . It be showing a little less contrast on the head that most birds do, but there's really no doubt. So that last word on the subject is "Doh!"

Moving on . . .

That apart it was a pretty good morning - we had brief views of a male Hainan Blue Flycatcher behind Lung A Pai. This is a rare bird in winter in HK, despite breeding in the valley in good numbers. A male Verditer posed long enough for a record shot showing scalloped undertail coverts. There was a also a Siberian Rubythroat lurking about in the undergrowth below the ABF's favourite flowering tree and a rather tame Grey-backed Thrush.

In the middle of the week a female Eurasian Kestrel was perched in the lone tree in the (increasingly shrubby) grassland, having ungraciously avoided the patch for the whole of 2012!



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Are you really taking those lovely shots of such small birds with a Nikon CoolPix P6000 as the exif data shows? That boggles my mind.
Yes indeed Andrew, but I hand-hold it to a 85mm Zeiss Diascope with a 20-50x zoom that is getting on for ten years old!

I was to tired to get out today, but yesterday I spent the morning up at Kadoorie Farm hoping to see if Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush was wintering again this year. I had no luck there, but the Farm was full of thrushes and I was able to confirm five different Pale Thrushes and three Grey-backed Thrushes, plus the usual assortment of tantalising calls.

I also had a fine count of eight Red-flanked Bluetails and a couple each of Daurian Redstart and Rufous-tailed Robin, but really not too much else birdwise.

On the way down the stee path I'd seen the Small Niltava on last month I was watching the second Rufous-tailed Robin, when I heard a scuffling in the leaves below me. As I turned round I was astonished to see the back end of a Leopard Cat, (identified from a domestic cat, by the white spots on the back of each ear and a nice fat tail), walking slowly out of view behind a tree.

I was even more amazed when it stopped and looked at me from cover about 20 yards away, allowing me to get some pictures with the trusty Coolpix - and sadly no scope as it's all forest birding at the Farm - now those would have been killers!



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Wow! That is jackpot in my book. It was certainly staying out of sight a bit, but must have had that curiosity so dangerous to cats.... Have you seen one before? Are they seen at the farm once and a while?
Thanks Gretchen

I've seen Leopard Cat a couple of times in the last twenty years but never in the valley, so its a wonderful way to draw my time living here to a close.

They are seen from time to time but its usually a flash before they disappear - its the prolonged views that make this sighting so unusual.

Thanks Gretchen

I've seen Leopard Cat a couple of times in the last twenty years but never in the valley, so its a wonderful way to draw my time living here to a close.

They are seen from time to time but its usually a flash before they disappear - its the prolonged views that make this sighting so unusual.


Great sighting Mike, I'm hoping to be as lucky with Jaguar in Belize this summer.
Great to get that mammal tick Mike - and a special one at that !

*goes off to paint white spots on the neighbours cat's ears*

Let's paint it grey n black to make it the "Snow Devil", those 300 milestone HK birders will never get to see anywhere close to them.8-P

Mike, i would definitely say, you were on a lucky run. First it was a boar n now a leopard cat.

Come to my hometown to see some "Real" big cats.
No questions that Snow Leopard's the ultimate big cat Dev . . . and I saw another Wild Boar, plus the Grey Bushchat passing the three month mark for its winter visit from home this morning!

Best of luck with your Jaguar hunt Mike - and best of luck with your self-delusion Kevin!

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