Po Toi March 2016

Po Toi March 2016

Yesterday was my first visit for several weeks. Except for seabirds, Po Toi does not really start until the last week in March when most spring migrants begin to arrive. My objective yesterday was just to see what species were left over from winter plus possibly some gulls from the ferry. Peter Ho and KK Chang also there.

No gulls, but some early migrants seen from the ferry. 4 Great Egrets flew past and into Stanley Harbour, many pairs of Barn Swallows flying low over the sea in the channel before Po Toi as well as a single Pacific Swift. Then as we approached Po Toi, a single small raptor flying low over the sea eventually made landfall on Po Toi and revealed itself as a female Common Kestrel - the first time I have seen one actually on migration.

On land, wintering birds included Oriental Turtle Dove, lots of Chinese Bulbuls preparing to fly north, Asian Stubtail, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-billed Starling, Japanese Thrush, Daurian Redstart and Little Bunting with early spring arrivals of Common Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail, all to be expected in early spring, and a single adult Black-crowned Night Heron flying in.

A lot of clearance work has been done to paths and gravesites, and at least two new gravesites constructed over the winter. You can now use all the paths, although some of the clearance has been a bit brutal. But it will recover in the wet season.

New visitors may notice work being done at the helipad. This is a ground investigation for a provisional freshwater well for the residents. The details were discussed with Chuan at HKBWS and me , the provisional work will be complete by mid-April and has not affected any important bird areas.
But visitors to the area where the Ijima's Warbler was last spring may notice two dumps of old railings in that area. These are railings taken out from the new footpath next to the generator. We will be complaining to the authorities about these dumps and asking for them to be removed.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 16/03/2016 10:36 ]


22nd March

I intended to sea watch from Po Toi for this visit but the weather was just too bad - drizzle and mist.
But I did see 120+ Red-necked Phalarope from the ferry, most in the area between Aberdeen and Stanley.

Just past the Sister's Cafe a Grey-faced Buzzard flew in off the sea and landed on the first available tree, looking just a little bit wet

It was calling loudly, looking for friends, but none appeared so it flew on.

Also on the Island, at least 4 Grey Wagtails plus one from the ferry, a White's Thrush and a male Blue-and-white Flycatcher - seems a lot of them around this spring.

I'll try again on Thursday, depending on the weather.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 23/03/2016 16:34 ]


25th to 27th March

A Pacific Swift I think Alan. I saw several of these but I missed the Cinnamon Bittern and the Chestnut Bunting.

My first overnight stay on Po Toi for two years. The main objective was to watch for seabirds in the early mnorning and late evening, the best time for these. I was hoping for some unusual species but only saw the regulars, 136 Red-necked Phalarope, 29 Black-tailed Gull and 84 Heuglin's Gull. Not a great count for 8 hours watching the sea, but it was enlivened by seeing migrants flying over from Dangan Island in the early morning - one Grey-faced Buzzard but most interesting, 18 Large-billed Crow in four separate flocks, here are some from two flocks

Large-billed Crow is a regular early spring migrant on Po Toi although most of the birds I have seen in the past have been leaving Po Toi. These flocks were arriving from the south, causing great annoyance to the local resident pair which had to make sure they didn't overstay their welcome.
Also several mixed flocks of Great, Little and Cattle Egret typical at this time.
I probably missed some flocks of Grey-faced Buzzard on Friday morning when the weather conditions and timing would have been good for them - I didn't get to the island until lunchtime.

Plenty of time for ship watching. 33 empty container ships tied close to Dangan are a result of the economic downturn - the last time this happened was in 2008. But another ship which no doubt helped the economy of Hong Kong, and particularly Wanchai, this huge American Assault Ship USS Boxer leaving after a short time-out in Hong Kong

Also watching the antics of the now large group of overnight campers on the South Peninsular - I counted 32 tents

All students, watching the sunset, stars and sunrise - very romantic. There was a time when I had the South Peninsular all to myself, but not any longer.

Back to the birds. On land, high daily counts of Blue-and-white Flycatchers with six on Saturday, four males and two females, four Stejneger's Stonechats and eight Grey Wagtails, both high counts for Po Toi. Other good records, a calling Large Hawk Cuckoo, rare on Po Toi, a male Narcissus Flycatcher, and still calling Red-tailed Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Stubtail and Japanese Bush Warbler. Here a fine male Stonechat and an unfortunate dead Red-necked Phalarope found on the path near the Lower School, not sure how it got there

Not a great tally but nice to get back, at least for one weekend. But it may be my last, I'm back to the usual day visits from now on.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 28/03/2016 07:56 ]


31st March

Most species from the Easter weekend had left with the change in wind to southerly, so today much more difficult to find birds.
Interesting species, a fine male Swinhoe's Minivet, two Blue-and-white Flycatchers, and a Siberian Blue Robin. Still many Red-necked Phalarope from the Ferry.
Here a photo of the Minivet with thanks to WK Nip

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 31/03/2016 17:41 ]