Journal archives for May 2022

May 01, 2022

Year of the Chinese Sparrowhawk

2022 has been a good year for spring passage of both Grey-faced Buzzard and Chinese Sparrowhawk, with large numbers passing over outlying islands such as Po Toi and Lantau. Even so, I was not expecting to see either hawk in the local park at Kowloon Tsai. Yet on April 7 a Grey-faced Buzzard was soaring overhead on its way north. Today it was the turn of the Chinese Sparrowhawk. The reason I noticed it is worth recording. I was photographing a koel for the sake of the City Nature Challenge when it emitted an unusual alarm call - more of an alarm shriek, in fact. At that moment a hawk flew past with black wing tips suggestive of a Chinese Sparrowhawk. It then perched just long enough to allow itself to be photographed before moving on. The photos show the distinctive red 'cere' like a wax seal above the beak.

Posted on May 01, 2022 11:05 AM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2022

Chinese Egret and stints at San Tin

The Chinese Egret, also known as Swinhoe's Egret, once bred in Hong Kong but is now a scarce passage migrant, most readily seen in and around Mai Po between April and May. It is often found in the company of Little Egrets, and this was the case with an individual at San Tin today. The pond was half-drained, resulting in expanses of mud which were attracting shorebirds. Among the numerous Red-necked Stints was a Long-toed Stint, distinguishable by its long greenish legs as well as long toes.

Posted on May 04, 2022 09:42 AM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 14, 2022

Last of the spring migrants

eBird's annual 'Big Day', timed to coincide with spring migration, provided an excuse to revisit Mai Po in search of the last spring migrants passing through Hong Kong. Among the target species for the day, one Asian Dowitcher in rufous breeding plumage was feeding on the pond at hide no. 1. Several Spotted Redshank were in black breeding plumage, alongside Whimbrels, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns.
On the mud flats, waders included Common Redshank and Greenshank, Terek and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Eurasian Curlew and Grey-tailed Tattler. On the gei wai ponds several Yellow Bitterns were active, some of them no doubt being passage migrants.
Among the resident species, Black-winged Stilts and Little Grebes were on their nests and two pairs of Greater Painted-Snipe were active. One female Painted-Snipe was displaying by raising her wings, possibly for territorial defense but probably for courtship (since a male was present, and in this species the larger and more colourful female does the courting). Indian Cuckoos were singing and for once the reclusive Large Hawk Cuckoo was seen as well as heard.
A surprise on the way out was an Asian Barred Owlet perched in the open near the entrance to the reserve. This resident owl is sometimes active during the day. This unexpected bonus and a total of 59 species made for quite a 'big' day. A full checklist is at https://ebird.org/checklist/S109960497

Posted on May 14, 2022 09:34 AM by stephenmatthews stephenmatthews | 12 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment