Po Toi Spring April

Po Toi Spring April

A new thread for April but this is in reply to Brendan's posting for February/March.

At last an Ashy Minivet and a flycatcher, hopefully there will be more new migrants this week. Tuesday may be a good day if there is a real wind change tomorrow with some rain.

Sooty-headed Bulbul is probably a resident on Po Toi but in very small numbers and usually in the scrubby areas away from the main centre. There are also higher numbers in spring and autumn so it is probably a passage migrant also.


Extremely quiet today. No flycatchers that I heard about.

1 Grey-faced Buzzard
1 Crested Goshawk
1 Red-necked Phalarope (from the ferry)


First Week in April

A week when I felt Po Toi was starting to return to normal.

Bird of the week, probably bird of the spring and maybe even Po Toi bird of the year was the Redstart found by Mr C W So on the football field early on Tuesday morning. I don’t mind repeating his photos here, they are so good

Thanks to Mr So, we actually have some good photos of the bird which proved very elusive all week but was definitely still there yesterday. I think it’s a female Black Redstart which would be a second HK record (the first in 1995, also in April). Thank you Mr So.

A very bizarre event happened on Wednesday evening. I had been looking for the redstart on-and-off through the day, without success, and near to 6pm I decided to return home for dinner.
Walking up from the ferry pier and nearly at Mr Ng’s house, a small brown bird ran up the path just in front of me and ran around the corner. I quietly rounded the corner and found the bird standing upright in the middle of the concrete path. Very long pale legs – I quickly thought through what it could be – the redstart?, a Siberian Rubythroat?, a Siberian Blue Robin?, all occurred to me but they were all wrong somewhere.
I started to take some photos when I suddenly noticed the redstart was actually in a bush next to this bird. I left the bird and followed the redstart – here are the photos of the bird.

It looks to me like a Bush Warbler, and a Brown Bush Warbler since the under-tail coverts are plain orange buff.
But, a Brown Bush Warbler standing on a concrete path?? Or any Bush Warbler come to that. My conclusion is that I disturbed this bird when it had just arrived and it was a bit lost.

Other supporting cast this week – two Grey-faced Buzzards on Wednesday, the Hoopoe still there, Ashy Minivets and male Blue-and-white Flycatcher all week, also Asian Brown, an early Grey-streaked and at least one male Narcissus, and on Thursday six species of bunting, Tristram’s, Little, Yellow-browed, early Chestnut, Japanese Yellow and Black-faced (very common). Here some photos of Blue-and-white, Narcissus, Tristram’s and Japanese Yellow.

What we are missing are other Philippine species – Ferruginous and Mugimaki Flycatchers. So still a long way to go to catch up previous years. And no cold fronts on the horizon, so we may even miss some regular species this year.

At sea, the first terns and skuas plus a long awaited Ancient Murrelet and a Sanderling caught up in the Red-necked Phalarope flocks

For the third time in six years, the whole South Peninsular was ravaged by fire for Ching Ming. Firemen and helicopters were called in

I’m starting to believe these fires are started deliberately, possibly to clear gravesites. It looks black now but it will start to green after the first rains and will be back to normal for autumn migration. Nature will win.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 8/04/2011 12:37 ]


11 April 2011 - Again don't ask me how could i get to the island. We don't have much time so sorry to the poor "record photo" quality.

We were welcomed by a male Blue-and-white Flycatcher just at the pier, thanks to Fatchun.

At the football field the first bird to note was a Yellow-fronted Canary, followed by a flock of buntings nearby, which we could identify some Black-faced, some Little, a likely female Yellow-breasted Bunting and a stunning male Yellow-browed Bunting

All Buntings are shy as usual but will show quite well if not disturbed.

Also a total of 4 Bramblings were seen and photographed (by my friends only) foraging on the horsetail trees near the school.

The Black Redstart is still there. Same for the buntings it needs a safe distance:

and the very shy Hoopoe

Other migrants includes Yellow-browed Warblers, Silky and White-shouldered Starlings (There were about 5 starlings flying over the pier area but i could only identify two), Asian brown flycatcher, and an unknown thrush near the lagoon.

[ Last edited by Beetle at 11/04/2011 21:57 ]


Here is the photo of Brambling of Today


Black Redstart 赭紅尾鴝


  用照片去  點滴我珍惜 的一切!


Second Week in April

The exceptionally slow start to spring continued this week. I did not see a single flycatcher all week, in a week where it’s normal to see four or five species not just four or five birds. So far, no Brown Hawk Owls, Dollarbirds or interesting leaf warblers like Eastern Crowned or Pale-legged. And it’s not just the rarer birds which are absent – even more common migrants like Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper and Common Kingfisher are rare or absent this year.

And in amongst all this nothingness, a Black Redstart, second record for Hong Kong. This is Po Toi.
The bird showed well around the sister’s café on Wednesday but was not seen on Thursday so I suspect it has now gone. These may be the last photos taken of this bird

I’m glad it stayed long enough for many people to see it. The old lady who lives near the ferry pier came back off a two week holiday to see the bird, and so maintain her comfortable lead over Paul Leader in the Hong Kong list stakes.
One reason why it stayed so long must be the sandy rocky habitat created by the clearance of land for farming. So perhaps we have the young Po Toi farming couple to thank for the bird as well as Mr So who took the first photos.

Also on offer this week, a Black Bittern which flew up the east coast on Wednesday morning, single Japanese Sparrowhawk and Chinese Goshawk, a fine Grey-tailed Tattler on the rocky shoreline, the Hoopoe which has now been on Po Toi for five weeks, a few Ashy Minivets but not as many as usual, a really good-looking summer male ocularis White Wagtail on the football field and a Yellow-fronted Canary in the same area.

The Grey-tailed Tattler showed great expertise at prising the small molluscs you can see in the photo off the rocks with its bill and eating them.
Canaries are migrants or summer breeders on Po Toi, seen in both migration seasons and once feeding young.

Even at sea it was quiet – just one Ancient Murrelet, one Arctic Skua, a single flock of 8 Gull-billed Terns and a few Greater Crested Terns. But this is quite normal for early April, the pace should start warming up next week.

So what about next week on the land? What we need is a really good cold front with rain but we’re not going to get one. Next best is a depression with rain and one in scheduled for Sunday/Monday. It could do the trick, especially if the rain is quite heavy for a time. I live in hope. But it may now be too late for some of the early spring migrants.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/04/2011 05:27 ]


Third Week in April

A much better week this week after the rain on Sunday.

Tuesday was the best day (Monday would have been even better but I wasn’t there). Bird of the week was the Red-breasted Flycatcher which stayed throughout the week.
It showed the usual Red-breasted features of pale lower mandible (dark in Red-throated), brown longest upper-tail coverts (black in Red-throated) and generally buff colouration (greyish in Red-throated)

but the real clincher is always the call. Here is the call of this bird

compared with a composite professional recording of Red-breasted (a churr) and Red-throated (a rattle)

This is the fourth spring record for the species on Po Toi after the first in 2007, followed by 2008, 2009 and now 2011.

While I’m on calls, here is the song of a Dusky Warbler, the first I can remember for Po Toi

Tuesday also had six other species of flycatcher, Grey-streaked, Asian Brown, Ferruginous, Narcissus, Blue-and-white plus the Red-breasted and a Hainan Blue reported by Martin Williams. Supporting cast included Striated Heron, Chinese Goshawks, a very fine Black-capped Kingfisher, Pale Martin, Swinhoe’s Minivet from the previous Saturday, an Oriental Reed Warbler and some Chestnut Buntings.
Here the Kingfisher and a Ferruginous Flycatcher, one of my favourite spring visitors

But they had almost all gone by Thursday which was very quiet. Just this strange combination of a late Black Bulbul and a Yellow-fronted Canary sharing the same bamboo.

Although I did catch up a bit, I am still way behind the previous four year’s spring migrant count as this chart shows (pink line well below the other colours from end of March onwards)

Egret migration is almost completely absent so far this year, including no Pond Herons - where are they all?

Sea-watching was quite good this week, with five species of tern, Common, Black-naped, the first Aleutian, Bridled and a small passage of Greater Crested (total 32) together with two species of Skua, Arctic and Long-tailed and two Ancient Murrelet. The last species pleased my guest, Brendan, who stayed with me all week and also saw Roseate Tern, but I’ll leave him to supply the seabird photos which are much better than mine. Sea birds should now increase to a peak over the first two weeks of May.

PS Paul Leader has commented that the unusual bird I saw two weeks ago (see First Week in April above) running and standing on the concrete path was a first-winter female Siberian Rubythroat, not a Brown Bush Warbler. Apparently first-winter females do not always show the distinctive white head pattern shown in the text books and for behaviour and rarity, a Siberian Rubythroat fits much better than a Bush Warbler. Thanks Paul.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 22/04/2011 06:51 ]


Birds Condition in Po Toi Today?

I am contemplating whether I should go to Po Toi tomorrow.  Can anyone tell me how is the birds condition in Po Toi today?  Thousand thanks.


As Geoff promised, I'll add record photos of some of the seabirds seen this week

Ancient Murrelet

Arctic Skua

Greater Crested Tern (eating a Red Snapper?)

and one of the three Roseate Terns which are earliest date for HK


Today (Sunday April 24) there were still a few migrants to be seen on Po Toi (in spite of the crowds viewing the colourful dragon boat races), although seemingly fewer than the last couple of days:

Eastern Cattle Egret - 2
Little Egret - 1
Common Sandpiper- 1
Chinese Goshawk - 1
Plaintive Cuckoo - 1
Common Kingfisher - 1
Swinhoe's Minivet - 2
Grey-streaked Flycatcher - 1
Hainan Blue Flycatcher - 1
Asian Brown Flycatcher - 1
Dusky Warbler - 1
Eastern Yellow Wagtail (nominate) - 1



Are you sure the last tern photo isn't a Little Tern.  The head and bill pattern look better for Little than Roseate, but it is a bit difficult to be sure from this angle. Also, the date fits well for Little Tern.


Agree in the picture it does seem to have the shape of a Little Tern.  Unfortunately, none of the other photos shows the head or wing pattern better.  The two terns passed directly overhead but caught me a bit by surprise. They seemed larger than Little Tern and they seemed to have very long tail feathers but now I am a bit less convinced of my impressions.


25-April-2011 Po-toi
Grey-headed Flycatcher - 1


Last Week in April

Yet another quiet week on Po Toi in a spring which must rank among the quietest ever (ignoring an Ashy Woodswallow or two). I wrote in the most recent HKBWS Quarterly Bulletin number 219 that spring on Po Toi is ‘short, fast and furious’ but the adjectives ‘long, slow and tedious’ are more appropriate for this year.

The fact that I saw my first Dollarbird, Brown Hawk Owl and Mugimaki Flycatcher this week demonstrates this. These species are more than two weeks late on a normal spring, as were Chinese Pond Heron, Grey-faced Buzzard and Ferruginous Flycatcher before them. Other species about one week late have been Chinese Goshawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Ashy Minivet, Blue-and-white Flycatcher and Black Drongo and as yet no Brown Shrikes when normally I am falling over them.
And the numbers are not there either. Almost all species are in fewer numbers than previous years.

All the result of weather. This has been a very quiet spring weather-wise with only one weak cold front on 4th April and a small depression on 18th April. The net result is both a warm spring and fewer migrants. I have discussed the relationship between average spring temperature and early migration dates in Bulletin 216. It’s not that the birds are migrating later or in smaller numbers, it’s just that to see spring migrants in Hong Kong you need some bad weather to bring them our way. Otherwise they just overfly or pass well to the east of Hong Kong. Good for the birds, not so good for the bird-watchers.

So to some photos from this week. Firstly my own (as seen from the quality), Ferruginous and Mugimaki Flycatchers (Tuesday), Brown Hawk Owl and Dollarbird (Thursday), a fine male Grey Wagtail and a Swinhoe’s Minivet (all week).

But pride of place to Jennifer Leung’s male and female Hainan Blue Flycatchers on Sunday. This is quite a rare species on Po Toi and these photos are especially good.

No sign of these or the Grey-headed Flycatcher on Tuesday when I arrived.

Also quiet at sea with light winds. Just an Arctic Skua (here passing in front of a bright blue Maersk container ship), Greater Crested Terns and waders, for example these Curlew migrating high up heading north east, and this Striated Heron coming in off the sea.

No Short-tailed Shearwaters yet, although they have already arrived off the coast of West Malaysia where they are also now known to be annual spring visitors.

Good luck to the HKBWS Boat Trip on Sunday.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 29/04/2011 09:00 ]


30 April 2011

1 Japanese Paradise Flycatcher (ties record late date for spring I beleive)
1 Mugimaki Flycatcher
2 Grey-streaked Flycatcher
3 Asian Brownflycatcher
1 Chinese Goshawk
1 Black-winged Cuckooshrike
1 Swinhoe's Minivet
2 Chinese Pond Herons
1 Black-capped Kingfisher

at least 100 Red-necked Phalaropes from the ferry

[ Last edited by brendank at 30/04/2011 23:15 ]


1May2011 Po Toi and south waters outing
根據其他觀鳥者及個人的紀錄,最少看見47鳥種。 At least 47 species were seen according to other birdwatchers and my own records.

54        紫背葦鳽        Von Schrenck's Bittern
60        綠鷺        Striated Heron
61        池鷺        Chinese Pond Heron
62        牛背鷺        Eastern Cattle Egret
67        小白鷺        Little Egret
83        黑鳶        Black Kite
91        赤腹鷹        Chinese Sparrowhawk
136        鐵嘴沙鴴        Greater Sand Plover
178        紅頸瓣蹼鷸        Red-necked Phalarope
199        大鳳頭燕鷗        Greater Crested Tern
200        白額燕鷗        Little Tern
201        白腰燕鷗        Aleutian Tern
205        黑枕燕鷗        Black-naped Tern
206        普通燕鷗        Common Tern
207        鬚浮鷗        Whiskered Tern
208        白翅浮鷗        White-winged Tern
210        短尾賊鷗        Parasitic Jaeger
217        珠頸斑鳩        Spotted Dove
225        褐翅鴉鵑        Greater Coucal
235        四聲杜鵑        Indian Cuckoo
253        白腰雨燕        Pacific Swift
277        灰山椒鳥        Ashy Minivet
287        黑卷尾        Black Drongo
292        紫壽帶        Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher
301        大嘴烏鴉        Large-billed Crow
310        紅耳鵯        Red-whiskered Bulbul
311        白頭鵯        Chinese Bulbul
318        家燕        Barn Swallow
330        褐柳鶯        Dusky Warbler
335        黃眉柳鶯        Yellow-browed Warbler
368        長尾縫葉鶯        Common Tailorbird
374        黑臉噪鶥        Masked Laughingthrush
386        暗綠繡眼鳥        Japanese White-eye
388        八哥        Crested Myna
399        紫嘯鶇        Blue Whistling Thrush
420        鵲鴝        Oriental Magpie Robin
429        藍磯鶇        Blue Rock Thrush
433        灰紋鶲        Grey-streaked Flycatcher
435        北灰鶲        Asian Brown Flycatcher
437        棕尾褐鶲        Ferruginous Flycatcher
439        黃眉姬鶲        Narcissus Flycatcher
441        鴝姬鶲        Mugimaki Flycatcher
463        白腰文鳥        White-rumped Munia
469        灰鶺鴒        Grey Wagtail
470        白鶺鴒        White Wagtail
471        理氏鷚        Richard's Pipit
496        栗鵐        Chestnut Bunting


Can add

2 Tristram's Bunting

Heard reports of Japanese Paradise and male Blue-and-white Flycatchers.

Photo of the Schrenck's Bittern.


請加: Species to add:
岩鷺 Pacific Reef Egret
灰卷尾 Ashy Drongo


As far as I am aware that is the first ever Ashy Drongo in May. Good find!