Journal archives for April 2021

April 06, 2021

New residents at Tai Po Kau

As Hong Kong's replanted forest has matured, a series of species have colonised (or re-colonised) the central New Territories. The latest bird to take up residence is the Chinese barbet, a resident of southern China which has apparently spread eastward from Guangxi. The Chinese barbet is closely related to the Taiwan barbet, which however has quite different vocalizations and behaviour, having adapted to urban parks.
According to Richard Lewthwaite, the presence of Chinese barbets is an indicator of forest quality and the species needs mature forest (with dead trees for nesting holes). It has been seen (or heard) in and around Tai Po Kau since 2014. Today its machine-gun-like call resounded around the valley. One perched prominently at the top of a bare branch while calling, presumably establishing its territory.
Other recent immigrant species seen and heard today included Huet's fulvetta, mountain and chestnut bulbuls, and Hainan blue flycatchers which were singing along the stream. The yellow-cheeked tit is thought to have been introduced, but might also have spread naturally.

Posted on April 06, 2021 05:01 AM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 19, 2021

A duet of coucals

The greater coucal is resident all year round, but like other members of the cuckoo tribe, becomes more prominent in spring when its hooting call resounds. In the valley of Chung Chi stream at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, coucals have been calling this month. On April 11th, a typical call was answered by a second bird at a different pitch. It turns out that like many species of bird, pairs of coucals sing duets, either together or in sequence, as on this occasion. The female, being larger than the male, has the lower-pitched call.

Posted on April 19, 2021 09:57 AM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 20, 2021

Grey-faced buzzards at Lung Fu Shan

Grey-faced buzzards migrate through Hong Kong in late March and early April, as described in my entry for April 1, 2019. Around 10 a.m. this morning, at least two buzzards passed over Lung Fu Shan behind the University of Hong Kong, harrassed by the local kites. Meanwhile, individual grey-faced buzzards have been sighted over Po Toi and a group of 40 or so was recorded by Kelvin Ng circling over nearby Mount Davis on the morning of April 11. These buzzards are capable of substantial sea crossings, probably using sea thermals, as noted by Keith Bildstein in his book 'Migrating Raptors of the World: Their Ecology and Conservation' (2006). It would appear that the buzzards make landfall around Mount Davis before continuing across Hong Kong island using the thermals that develop during the morning.

Posted on April 20, 2021 10:18 AM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 24, 2021

Marsh terns at Mai Po

Marsh terns are a number of species whose preferred habitat is inland marshes or brackish waters. Two species in particular stop over in Hong Kong on spring passage and can often be seen at the fishponds along the 'approach road' to Mai Po Nature Reserve, Tam Kon Chau Road, in April and May. Whiskered Terns occur in large flocks which often contain one or two White-winged Terns, as was the case today when a lone White-winged Tern deposed a Whiskered Tern from its top perch. Although both species are dark, the all-black head and mantle distinguish the White-winged Terns (also known as White-winged Black Terns).

Posted on April 24, 2021 12:56 PM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment