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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)

Ten wonderful years in Lam Tsuen came to a close last Saturday when Carrie and I got in a big yellow truck with all our worldlies for a 22nd-floor flat in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island.

I'll open a new thread to report on my explorations of Lantau in due course, but with no apologies whatsoever for being maudlin and sentimental the end of a fabulous old patch deserves an obituary.

A few stats and milestones:

First visited Lam Tsuen: Early seventies as a child
First birded Lam Tsuen: Boxing Day 1994
Moved into Ng Tung Chai: March 2002
Moved down the valley to Ping Long: January 2007
Left Lam Tsuen: January 2013

Species recorded: 220
Top year list : 153 (2012)

Honour roll: self-found in bold (rarest first)

Less than ten HK records on first discovery:

Red-headed Bunting (third)
Speckled Piculet (third)
Brown Wood Owl(third+ )

Thick-billed Pigeon
Rufous-gorgetted Flycatcher(fourth+)
Slaty-backed Forktail (sixth)(first breeding record)
Asian Lesser Cuckoo (seventh & eighth)
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush (seventh)
Japanese Robin[/B] (eighth +)
Bianchi's Warbler
White-spectacled Warbler​

Less than 20 records on first discovery

Chestnut-crowned Warbler
White-throated Rock Thrush
Sulphur-breasted Warbler
Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo
Fujian Niltava
Black-headed Bunting
Yellow-browed Bunting
Japanese Grosbeak
Brown Bush Warbler

Non description species, but quality birds

Thick-billed Warbler
Dusky Thrush
Orange-headed Thrush
Siberian Thrush
Northern Skylark (several)

Globally threatened species:

Chinese Grassbird
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher​

Major dips:

Rufous-faced Warbler
Manchurian Reed Warbler
Hume's Leaf Warbler
Crested Bunting​

Top bogey bird:
Wood Sandpiper​

Red Lory
Monk Parakeet
White-browed Fantail
Streaked Spiderhunter


Wetland surprises:
Great Cormorant
Eurasian Teal

Water Rail
Oriental Pratincole
Black-winged Kite
Imperial Eagle
Spotted Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle

I'll write more in due course, but this is a wonderful reminder that there was good reason to step out the door and go birding just about every day of the year (ok - except June-August, and even then I had Lesser Cuckoo and the Wood Owl from home!)

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What a great run! What a history!

No one knows what the future holds - you may be back sometime ... but it's hard just as a reader not to feel a loss.

Of course, considering what you can find in a roundabout, I'm sure you'll enjoy a new home patch - looking forward to hearing about it of course.
Amazing list, Mike. Sad to see it end, but you'll find all sorts of new stuff on Lantau.

I look forward to reading the new thread.

I agree with the others here. It's been a great run and I'm sure your new place will amaze as well. That is quite a list! Amazing what you discover if you watch a place for long enough. There is always more than what we see too! Always a reason to head out, even only for 15 minutes or whatever time allows. I'll be a regular skaulker of your new thread as well.

I'll chime in too...was reading this thread long before any possibility of my journeying here was apparent...always good value and the perfect antidote to a grim wintery day in Finland or UK ;D
“They packed all their stuff in a big, yellow truck
And drove to Lantau- didn’t take that much pluck.
Their goal was a flat on a floor high above
Discovery Bay; from the window, Rock Dove ?
So, Mike Kilburn, I wish you both: THE BEST OF LUCK !
I'm late as usual, Mike... but it's been great fun seeing what you had in Lam Tsuen over the past few years... I'm already enjoying the Lantau stuff... but it's a longer drive !!!
Many thanks to everyone for their kind comments - and to firstreesjohn for the farewell poem!

I will post from time to time when I go back ... and yesterday was the first opportunity as my bird race team team covered it in our fourth-placed finish (152 species in 12 hours from 0630 to 1830)

We picked up some good bird race birds that are Lam Tsuen stalwarts:

Ashy Drongo and Sooty-headed Bulbuls feeding on banana flowers below Dylan's place, Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle above the ridge at She Shan, calling White-browed and Black-throated Laughingthrushes and a surprise Striated Heron were around the She Shan fishponds.

I was disappointed that the Grey Bushchat was not on the veggie patch and that neither Siberian Rubythroat, Bright-capped Cisticola nor Black-faced Bunting deigned to call from the grass, but we did have two separate Red-throated Flycatchers, Hair-crested Drongo, and a feeding flock of House Swifts.

Zai jian, Ng Tung Chai

Hi, Mike,

I hadn't looked in on your postings for a while, and had that sudden vague feeling in my stomach this morning when I discovered that you had really left your valley.

I went down to Hong Kong late every winter for five or six years in the early '90s and "discovered" (I was alone but using others' information) the path up to the Ng Tung Chai waterfalls, that area becoming my favorite in the Territory. I was also there the day you found the Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher ( You had wandered away from the group to a grove on the other side of the stream, and came back calmly enough, much calmer that everyone else when they found out what you had to report ... ).

I have followed your discoveries and little triumphs ( and woes - the dog ) for the last several years, it all being for me a vicarious return to the Lam Tsuen Valley, and have enjoyed the thought of your being there right in the thick of it and living among the villagers. Accordingly, I am selfishly regretful for myself, but more for you, and for what you have forfeited.

I expect, though, that you will get out there away from your high rise apartments, and make us care for Lantau in its way, as you have done for Ng Tung Chai.

Best wishes,

Norm Farrell
I'm sure you'll enjoy the cafe lifestyle in Disco Bay Mike but you may find birds a bit light on the ground around there. But you'll be closer to Pui O and Tai O which can be interesting.
Good luck with your new digs.
Thanks Norm.

I do remember that day - bu nothing like as well as you - and certainly not being calm over finding the flycatcher. But if that's how you remember it 'll definitely be the last person to argue!

DB is being to show signs of promise Neil - a female Blue Rock Thrush, a Grey Heron and a Common Kingfisher were around the tiny mangrove bed in front of Discovery College, there's been a Chinese Blackbird knocking about, and best of all I could hear a load of Common Toads singing away - even from 22 floors up!

You should get Chinese francolin up in the hills easy enough, I saw grass bird up there too. Blue Whistling Thrush seemed to be common and I saw several greater green snakes when I lived there.

Glad you can hear the toads! Lam Tsuen is still here for you when you need it!:t:

Hi Mike,
shame you've left the valley, I hope you soon find new pastures around your new home. You gave Bridgette and I a fabulous first taste of HK birding in 2009 in the valley and at Mai Po. I had over 40 new lifers that day. We couldn't quite share the enthusiasm for the Mallard you found though!
Look forward to hearing new tales from you.
Back in the valley on a scorching Saturday morning with Dylan and the Times' sports and wildlife writer Simon Barnes, who was in town to cover the Lions vs Barbarians match.

We were in search of the oft-heard but rarely-seen Brown Wood Owl and sadly dipped, but did have displaying pairs of Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle, plus a couple of singing Hainan Blue Flycatchers.

The most interesting bird was a small cuculus cuckoo that sat and alarm-called briefly from a telephone wire. It was strikingly small - the size of a Plaintive Cuckoo, but had a grey and white-barred breast without a hint of orange. It also sat horizontal rather than upright like Plaintive, showing pale grey upperparts before disappearing.

The most tempting and, to me the most likely is Asian Lesser Cuckoo. But with less than ten records in Hong Kong and such brief views this will probably have to go down, sadly, as one that got away.

Gripped again!

This time a Malayan Night Heron Dylan picked up calling yesterday evening in the woods opposite my old home, plus a sighting of a "possible" a couple of days earlier.

I always expected to find one of these for my whole ten years in the valley, so to have this one pop up barely a month after the Drongo Cuckoo is inducing serious homesickness, twitchiness and all sorts of other ickiness.

Very much hoping it hangs about . . .

Gripped again!

This time a Malayan Night Heron

Very much hoping it hangs about . . .


Can you keep it there til February!!!!!:-O

We hope to spend 2 days in HK on our way further south next year - I hope to do a day's birding and visit my first ever house (no 5 the peak) My first return visit since I was born in HK in 1951!!
I am sorry, Mike! The sighting the other morning was a very hopeful possible maybe, it was fleeting and only an impression. It could well have been an immature black-crowned night-heron. I really only got a fleeting glance and I have flushed adult BC night herons off the path several times so they are much more likely. However, I have had suspicion of Malayan Night Heron in the woods behind Lung A Pai for a while since flushing a big brown something off the forest floor.

I hope I can track it down.

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