Recent RC decisions

Minutes of the latest Records Committee meeting are awaiting Geoff Carey's approval on his return from leave on 13th June. I'm sure he will publish details of this, plus a current HK List including the latest IOC changes, which is also awaiting his approval, shortly after his return.

The 2009-10 Annual Report should be published in July. It will follow the current HK List mentioned above although there are one or two small areas where it cannot, for various reasons, but these will be noted in the Report.

Geoff Welch
Secretary, Records Committee

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 7/06/2012 07:54 ]


I will reply on Geoff Carey's behalf as he is away from HK at the moment.

It appears we omitted to report on the decisions taken at our meeting on 13 February (which is mentioned above). At that meeting, we accepted Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis of 11th December 2011 into Cat I as a First Record for Hong Kong. There were no other additions or deletions from the list.

At the previous meeting on 21 November 2011, Bulwer's Petrel was added to the List but 'Grey-cheeked Fulvetta' was moved from Cat III to Appendix II. Cat III species are not part of the official list as far as numbers are concerned so it was not in the 508. So the maths is

508 + Bulwer's Petrel + Northern Goshawk + Brown-backed Needletail + Japanese Bush Warbler + Black-throated Tit = 513

I hope that clarifies.

Other decisions taken at the 13 February meeting were to change Chinese Babax, Chestnut Munia and Baya Weaver into Cat IIC, which is reserved for species which no longer have self-sustaining populations in Hong Kong. This means they still remain on the HK List but in a special status. For details on Category definitions, please see page 30 of the 2007-08 Annual Report.

The reason no report and HK List was issued after 13 February was that the Committee did not agree on the handling of Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler until the 14 May meeting and Geoff did not want to issue a 'temporary' HK List. Now that agreement has been reached and a draft HK List has been approved, I will send it to the HKBWS Office for any necessary corrections to the Chinese names and it can then be formally posted on this website.

I agree that in future, we should publish the key decisions at any RC meeting after the meeting, even if it is 'no decision'. But this was one that dragged on rather and by the time agreement was reached, I regret we had forgotten that no publication on other decisions had been made.

Geoff Welch
Secretary, Records Committee

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 22/06/2012 17:53 ]


No, there is no doubt now that it is established, we are just not sure which species it is.

The RC is trying to decide which of two (new) species it is, David's Fulvetta Alcippe davidi or Huet's Fulvetta Alcippe hueti. Either is possible but we know it is not Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia which is the Taiwan species, because that looks different to the ones we have in Hong Kong. David's and Huet's can most easily be separated by voice which is why Geoff is asking for recordings. Once this is determined, it will go into either Cat IIA or Cat IIB.

I believe this all comes about because of a recent split of the Chinese Fulvettas.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 22/06/2012 18:16 ]


Sorry, I forgot to add.

At the 13 February meeting, the English name of Rufous-rumped Grassbird was changed to Chinese Grassbird, now accepted by IOC as a separate species Graminicola striatus, and Plain-tailed Warbler to Alstrom's Warbler, as recommended by IOC. These may need changes to the Chinese names.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 22/06/2012 18:30 ]


These records appear (with others) on page 5 of the 1993 HK Bird Report.
Geoff Carey was involved in this review and that mentioned on page 486 of The Avifauna.

I presume he will decide whether another review is necessary when he returns from UK.


You are correct. Manchurian Bush Warbler and Japanese Bush Warbler are now two separate species on the Hong Kong List. Manchurian Bush Warbler is Horornis borealis and Japanese Bush Warbler is Horornis diphone ssp canturians.

The other taxonomic changes you have mentioned have also been adopted and you will see them when the new List is published. Geoff Carey did not mention them because they were taxonomic changes which only affect the order of species on the List. There are other taxonomic changes which also affect order but not species - e.g. all bradypterus warblers are now locustella.

Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler is no longer on the List - it was deleted some time ago - for details see page 7 of the 2003-04 HKBR.     

Please note. The taxonomic changes are not decisions of the HKBWS Records Committee but of the International Ornithological Committee, which is the taxonomic authority which the RC automatically follow. The only decision required by the RC is how any new taxonomy affects the HK List.

In the case of Manchurian/Japanese Bush Warbler, the RC had to decide which of the two 'new' species should be on the HK List. In this case, it was decided that both had occurred in Hong Kong in the past. This was based on measurements of birds trapped over many years, mostly at MPNR, and compared to data given in 'Reed and Bush Warblers' Kennerley and Pearson, p598. I'm not sure they will be easy to separate from field observations but Kennerley and Pearson do discuss other differences and as Geoff says, there may also be differences in habitat or dates of occurrence but these are still under consideration.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 24/06/2012 19:58 ]


This is one area where the Records Committee do not accept the taxonomy of IOC.

The RC has placed commixtus within cinereous rather than minor and use the scientific name Parus cinereous for the local 'Great' Tit.
Perhaps this has not been made clear, but it is commented on above in Geoff Carey's 06/08/2013 posting

'In respect of Japanese Tit, examination of skins at Tring showed that the type specimen of commixtus had a pure grey mantle, confirming that this taxon belongs within cinereus, rather than minor where it appears in the IOC List v3.3'

This position was established some time ago, well before the arrival of either the Shek Kong or the Wetland Park birds.
RC have suggested to IOC that their placement of commixtus is wrong but so far without result.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 6/10/2013 06:13 ]


Regarding the hybrid issue, I can only make a personal comment.

A few weeks ago I spent several days in Meixian in northeast Guangdong close to the Fujian border. The Cinereous Tits there looked exactly like some photos Jonathan Martinez sent us from northwest Hunan and the first photo here is one of these. The other two are the Shek Kong bird and the Wetland park bird, in that order.

There doesn't seem much difference to me between the first two but the Wetland park bird is much greener/yellower on the mantle.
Given that our regular birds in HK are grey with no green/yellow, there may be a change in colour as you go north in south/central China and the Shek Kong bird may have been a bird from further north rather than a hybrid.
This is just my opinion since seeing the birds in Meixian. The RC did say a 'possible hybrid' because I don't think this has been properly researched and the RC were just suggesting a possibilty. Maybe a good subject for someone to take up, if they like 'Great Tits'.
I'm not sure if there are other differences but obviously a lot more to be learnt.

I don't think there are other differences with IOC but I wasn't around when the original IOC list was set up - maybe Geoff Carey can say.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 7/10/2013 05:57 ]


Re the review of Hawfinch historical records. The details behind this decision will appear in the 2012 HKBR. To summarise, it was made under the following rule

‘The hurdle to achieve Cat I should remain high; however, once a species is accepted as Cat I, past records can be reviewed in the context that the species is in Cat I’

With species like Hawfinch, where the possibility of escapes is high, the Records Committee takes a conservative view. However, each successive 'clean' record increases the chances of the species being re-allocated to Category I. This re-allocation happened with the record of Hawfinch on Po Toi on 1 November 2012. Ten previous Hawfinch records were then reviewed under the above rule. Of these, seven were considered acceptable given that the species was already in Category I. The other three did not meet this standard, either for ID or still considered ex-captive reasons.

A similar process happened with Red-headed Bunting, which is also explained in more detail in the 2012 HKBR.

I hope this answers your question while increasing your anticipation of the 2012 HKBR.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 7/10/2013 06:05 ]


RC Meeting 1 September 2015

In Geoff Carey's absence, I will briefly summarise the changes to the HK List agreed at the Records Committee Meeting on 1 September 2015.

Additions to Category I of the HK List were

Chinese Barbet based on a record at Tai Po Kau dated 2014-12-31
Ijima’s Leaf Warbler based on a record on Po Toi dated 2015-03-29
Buff-breasted Sandpiper based on a record at MPNR dated 2015-04-19

In addition, House Sparrow was transferred to Category I of the HK List based on a record at Long Valley dated 2012-11-03

The HK List now stands at 535 species in Categories I and II.

The following changes to the List are required as a result of IOC changes in V5.2 and 5.3

Common Blackbird Turdus merula becomes Chinese Blackbird T. mandarinus
The correct Hong Kong species for Purple Swamphen needs to be determined following a split in V5.2.
A new HK List will be issued when this change is finalised.

Geoff Welch
Secretary, HKBWS Records Committee

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 9/09/2015 13:55 ]


As Geoff Carey is away this weekend at Pak Sha O, I can help to answer these questions.

Yes, Amur Paradise Flycatcher is Terpsiphone incei

Yes, the second Scientific Name for the shearwaters is as before, pacificus for Wedge-tailed and tenuirostris for Short-tailed Shearwater.


Hi Mr Tai

In the IOC V5.4 List, which is what we are using, it's just Ardenna pacificus.