Po Toi Nov 2011

Po Toi Nov 2011

1 Nov 2011

Verditer Flycatcher x 1
Asian Brown Flycatcher x 1
Daurian Redstart x 1


First Week in November

Family problems now resolved, my first week on Po Toi since September. Not a very good week, I didn’t achieve my expected number of species, but at least it was good to be back.

Buntings were the highlight, although ‘hunting buntings’ is a frustrating task and I heard many more than I saw. Even so, I managed five species, the highlight being a Japanese Yellow Bunting, the third autumn that this previously spring-only species has been on Po Toi since 2007. I think it must mean that some winter in south China or further south.

Also seen were Tristram’s, Chestnut, Yellow-breasted and Little. Here photos of the Japanese Yellow, Tristram’s and Chestnut Buntings.

Also seen during the week, a rather late Little Egret, migrant Japanese Sparrowhawk and Besra, five Eurasian Woodcock, large flocks of migrant Chinese Bulbuls, the first autumn records (for me) of Siberian Rubythroat, Daurian Redstart, Stub-tailed Warbler, Mountain Tailorbird and Fork-tailed Sunbird, and late autumn records of Oriental Reed Warbler, Arctic Warbler and Black Drongo.
I managed to miss a very fine Verditer photographed by Ms Yee on Tuesday (see above).

Migrants are quite consistent in their migration dates, but none more so than Eurasian Woodcock as this chart of my Po Toi sightings shows

Almost all records fall within a very tight period from second week in October to first week in November. This is very different to the Avifauna pattern and shows the migration period very clearly, but why Woodcock should have such a tight migration schedule I don’t know.

The main reason why I couldn’t achieve my expected species targets was the absence of several species which are normally already back by the first week in November, such as Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Oriental Turtle Dove, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-flanked Blue-tail, White’s Thrush and Pallas’s Leaf Warbler. It seems the warm weather has kept them further north than usual at this time.  

I’m pleased to say that work on slope stabilization has now finished, I hope they tidy up the mess. But a group from Islands Department were looking over the Toilet Block with a view to demolishing it and building a ‘much better one’ – whatever that means, it seems like another waste of money and unnecessary disruption. Regular readers will know this is a favourite theme of mine.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 4/11/2011 07:15 ]


白眉鵐 Tristram's Bunting x 3
5/11/2011 Po Toi


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5/11/2011 21:18

白眉鵐 Tristram's Bunting_CWS_4173a.jpg

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5/11/2011 21:18

白眉鵐 Tristram's Bunting_CWS_4234a.jpg


Second Week in November

I was expecting something to arrive after the weather change on Tuesday and it did – all in the form of Blue-and-white Flycatchers. They were everywhere

demolished house – adult male and female
toilet block - female  
Mr Ng’s house – two adult males, a first-winter male and a female
ferry pier -  an adult male, a first-winter male and a female
sister’s café – two first-winter males and a female
pigeon lane gully – an adult male
upper school – an adult male and a female

Discounting possible duplicates, at least twelve different birds. Here some photos

Blue-and-white are mostly spring birds on Po Toi, with no previous autumn counts above three. So this was special.

Unfortunately, not much else. Single Asian Brown, Grey-streaked and Dark-sided Flycatchers

Single Grey Heron, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Manchurian Bush Warbler and two Black-faced Buntings

Quite disappointing after a long wait for the rain to stop. No thrushes, chats, Pallas’s Warbler and many others that should have already arrived, so it’s a very late arrival for the wintering species this year.
But the Blue-and-white’s were spectacular.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 11/11/2011 06:51 ]


13 Nov 11
Black-naped Monarch
Common Blackbird
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Blue and White Flycatcher
Red-throated Flycatcher


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13/11/2011 20:19


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13/11/2011 20:19


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13/11/2011 20:19


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13/11/2011 20:19


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13/11/2011 20:19



To the above list, I can add an adult female Crested Honey Buzzard. Also thought I saw a female Narcissus Flycatcher when it was almost dark.


Third Week in November

A good week with eight species of flycatchers and a wide variety of supporting species.

Best flycatcher – a male Narcissus, the fourth autumn out of six since 2006 for this once spring-only species. Also Asian Brown, Mugimaki, a one-day Red-breasted, Red-throated, Blue-and-white, Grey-headed and at least two Black-naped Monarch.

Here photos of the Narcissus, Blue-and-white, Red-breasted and Mugimaki

Of the 12 Blue-and-white seen on Thursday last week, all the adult males left by the weekend with only three females and a first-winter male there on Tuesday this week, and only two females by Thursday. Interesting that the adult males all left within two days.

I’ve also been thinking ‘Why such an autumn fall of Blue-and-white?’ Spring is the main Po Toi season for Blue-and-white and these were also the latest ever by my previous Po Toi autumn records as well as being by far the highest ever number.

I think the answer may be in this HKO Weather Chart for Monday of last week

The low-pressure system which produced the rain last week was positioned right in the path of birds migrating from East China and Taiwan to the Philippines. I suspect these Blue-and-white were doing just that and got caught up by the wind and rain and driven west on to the south China coast.

Amongst the supporting cast this week, a Savannah Nighjar caught napping on a gravesite, Brown Shrikes, a high number of calling Siberian Rubythroats, the first Red-tailed Robins, Red-flanked Bluetail, Japanese Thrush and Pallas’s Leaf Warblers together with single Pale-legged and Blyth’s, and Tristram’s and Chestnut Buntings.

Also this pipit found early on Wednesday on a path near the south point. I don’t get many Red-throated on Po Toi and this one confused me with its broad supercilium and other head markings which don’t feature in the Field Guides I had with me on Po Toi. But after looking at photos on OBI since I came back, it seems that some winter Red-throated can look like this

It's been reported to me there was a Green-backed Flycatcher on Po Toi last Sunday. Did anyone see or photograph it, or has anyone seen photos on other websites?

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/11/2011 07:13 ]


Thx your report.

Here is the photo from a Bird Photo Lover "Jason" who was with me last Sunday and he posted on, but not be confirmed it is a Green Backed or not.

Can you advise?


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18/11/2011 10:16



Certainly could be one. Any views of the front?


Thanks for the photo. Looks like Green-backed to me, and the underside seems quite yellow so possibly a male although no sign of yellow on the rump.

As Brendan says. other photos particularly showing some of the front would be helpful.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/11/2011 15:24 ]


Very quiet in Po Toi today. Had to walk a lot to see a few birds...
The following birds were seen today:
2 Black-naped monarchs (possibly others as seen or heard by other birders)
1 Mugimaki flycatcher female
1 Blue and White flycatcher female (possibly two others again seen by other birders)
1 Narcissus male seen by another birder
A few Yellow-browed and Pallas' Leaf warblers
A pair of Zitting Cisticolas
A group of three buntings (probably black-faced) in South Peninsula
Some Daurian redstarts (at least 1 male and a few female)
2 Blue Rock Thrushes
Heard Mountain Tailorbird and unidentified warbler near the toilets area.
1 Sparrowhawk species, Besra? Anyone to help confirm from the following two pictures. These may be two birds, as they were seen in different spots at different time of the day...


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20/11/2011 20:04

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20/11/2011 20:04

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To the above list, I add 紅脇藍尾鴝(雌) - Red-flanked Bluetail (Female)


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20/11/2011 21:25


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20/11/2011 21:25



Sparrowhawk 1 has very short primary projection and seems heavily spotted on the breast so I would say it is a juvenile Besra.

Sparrowhawk 2 is rather pale, has five fingers, with P3 being the longest. I think these features would all suggest Japanese Sparrowhawk.


Fourth Week in November

A quiet week this week, so I thought I would describe a typical day spent on Po Toi in late November.

Wednesday 23rd November.
A beautiful day, warm, some afternoon sun, a great day to be alone on the island. Not quite alone, another eight residents as well as me this week, reassuring but rarely seen.   

Up at 4.30am, I spent the first hour working on my computer, accompanied by a flask of tea made the night before and a large furry brown spider on the wall opposite. These spiders don’t seem to bite so I was quite happy to leave it there. A wash and a five-minute breakfast of bacon and eggs and I left the house at 6.40am. My neighbours had already left in their small boat to set their fishing nets for the day.

It’s a myth that birds start at dawn. Most birds on Po Toi don’t start moving until they can see where they are going, which is usually at least 30 minutes after first light. One exception is thrushes and the first birds up were a flock of five Blackbirds in the tallest trees below the school. These trees are one of the best places to see birds either just arrived on Po Toi or simply looking around, they have a great view from up there.

The first area I go to is always the south Peninsular, often the arrival area for new migrants and a good place to start the day. Today just the usual wintering birds, Blue Rock Thrush, Zitting and Bright-capped Cisticolas, Plain Prinia and Richard’s Pipit (but the next day, a newly arrived Yellow-browed Bunting on the rocks). On the way back, the first flocks of migrant Japanese White-eye arrived for the winter and the first Russet Bush Warbler calling. I get these photos of it later in the day.

A Siberian Rubythroat calls just behind me as I stand on a gravesite looking out over the old ricefield valley and a few Oriental Turtle Doves fly around. These birds come to Po Toi every November to moult, at times becoming flightless and easy targets for snakes and rats. This year there are far fewer than normal.

I can hear and occasionally see Japanese Thrush as they fly through the tree tops and a pair of Fork-tailed Sunbirds are in the flowering bushes next to the sister’s café. Up Pigeon Lane to the gravesites, three Chestnut Buntings

with a Red-flanked Blue-tail and on the way back I see three finches in the distance, one with white shoulder markings – Brambling? I don’t see them again. But I do hear the first Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler of autumn ticking away, with the first of three Mountain Tailorbirds and five Stub-tailed Warblers heard calling.

I flush a White’s Thrush near the Upper School and suddenly hear the jingle-jangle call of an Ashy Minivet in the tall trees, just arrived and looking for others to join. It spends just five minutes on Po Toi before flying off high to the south-west. Then I’m back home for an alfresco lunch (bacon and eggs again, this time with an English sausage) and half an hour sleep in the chair outside.

The afternoon is always quiet at this time of the year, birds seem programmed to sleep in preparation for a migration flight that night. I decide to go to the Temple to look for the finches, no luck, but a calling Arctic Warbler, the first for three weeks, takes me by surprise. I’ve had two previous late November Arctic Warblers, in 2008 and 2009, but this time I record the call in case it can be identified within the new Arctic Warbler complex.

A final look around shows a pair of Tristram’s Buntings at the sister’s café and a White-breasted Waterhen in the lagoon, a regular November migrant on Po Toi

and I’m back home by 5pm for a cold beer, dinner (tinned meat and potato) with a glass or two of wine, putting the day’s records on the computer and sleep by 9pm.

Today, just 29 non-resident species. I have an ‘expected number’ for every day of the year based on past numbers and for 23rd November the expected number is 36. This autumn has been poor for species numbers, no strong north winds to bring the birds in. But the day counts of common species was quite high, Dusky Warbler at eleven, Yellow-browed at fourteen and Pallas’s at seven are all good day counts.

Not a great day for birds but a great day to be there on Po Toi.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 25/11/2011 06:17 ]


My friend, Ray, took a pic of that Flycatcher and ask me to post for him.
Is it 紅胸姬鶲 Red-breasted Flycatcher?

[ Last edited by aquagras at 29/11/2011 20:35 ]


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29/11/2011 20:35



Yes, Red-breasted Flycatcher, see below


Transition Week, November to December

A late report because my Internet has been out of action.

The end of what must be one of the warmest Novembers on record, and probably one of the quietest from a bird point of view, certainly for me on Po Toi. I was joined this week by that famous soccer star Ronaldo, who fortunately turned out to be quite a whizz with the camera also. Which was just as well, most of the photos in this report come from his camera.

A quiet week but with a few good species. Tuesday started with two Red-breasted Flycatchers in the same tree as a Blue-and-white, next to the Ferry Pier.

Also a small group of Eyebrowed Thrush near the lagoon, including this fine first-winter? male

Wednesday was very quiet with nothing new and all three flycatchers apparently gone overnight.

Bird of the week zipped in on Thursday morning, a Himalayan Swiftlet which flew past us as we walked back from the south Peninsular early morning.

The bird must have stayed on Po Toi for all of two minutes, so we were in the right place at the right time. Which only goes to show how many good birds must be missed here.

This is my first late autumn Himalayan Swiftlet on Po Toi and I suspect it arrived due to the northerly wind change. I hope the cold front brings in some more birds for the weekend and next week. Otherwise next week may be my last on Po Toi this year.

Thanks to Abdel (Ronaldo) for all the photos except the Eyebrowed Thrush.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 3/12/2011 22:28 ]


Dear Geoff

Please be aware HK is relatively small from the view of birds and they may land or pass anywhere.
It is no great news that they have been found in busy streets and in the wrong places.

You are doing a very good job. No blame but praises will continue to shower on you for missing anything.

S L Tai