Thursday, 6 January 2011

Birding Hong Kong: Part 1 of 2

Birding in Hong Kong was very limited for the 'sometimes crew... Four sites were birded during the week stay - Kowloon Park, Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong Botanical/Zoological Gardens and Hong Kong Wetlands, near Tin Shui Wai to the north-west of Hong Kong.

The masked laughingthrush (above) was photographed in Kowloon Park ~ tribes of this species roamed the hedge-rows and were quite bold. Kowloon Park also held a small flock of breeding alexandarine parakeet (we had a minimum of 11 one morning), black-necked starling, a large residence of black-crowned night heron, a pair of crested goshawk, while yellow-browed warbler and pallas's warbler felt more familiar. The first of several grey form (commixtus) great tit were also present, none of which were photographable as they fed in dense cover.

Hong Kong Park added black-throated laughingthrush to the holiday list (tho these birds are descended from captive birds) and fork-tailed sunbird were present in the canopy. None of the hoped for siberian rubythroat, rufous-tailed robin etc could be found...

The bulk of the birding was at the wetland reserve - an impressive visitor centre marks the reserve entrance, and conveniently it contains a decent cafe too!

Very popular with families when we visited on January 1st, the site is clearly popular... though most were there for a day out rather than specifically the birds.

Bulbuls were evident near the visitor centre, with red-whiskered (crested), sooty-headed and, above, chinese loafing about. On the water, moorhen, great cormorant, teal, pintail, shoveler and grey heron were very familiar...

Daurian redstart were abundant, this confiding bird was near the river hide. At one point it shared a bush with a yellow-browed warbler and siberian stonechat! On the river there were more of the familiar waterbirds that have already been mentioned, but a black-capped kingfisher was new for me.

The grey-backed thrush (above) was photographed near the mudflat hide - this is a female - quite a stunner!

The star(s) of the show were on the mudflats - viewed distantly from the hide were a group of 16 black-faced spoonbill. In typical spoonbill fashion, they remained mostly asleep! Bit odd seeing them with so many grey heron... A few great egret and little egret were also present, while waders included greenshank, common sandpiper, marsh sandpiper and impressive little-ringed plover numbers. White wagtail fed on the shore and in cut grass, and appeared to be of the leucopsis race.

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