Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass, spring of 2017

Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass, spring of 2017

2nd of February, 2017 (Thursday)
Overcast with drizzle, E/NE keeping the temperature ranging between 15.3 and twenty

With the Chinese New Year several days in the past, it is well time starting the spring thread

Hopeful of seeing some of the wintering birds again
Mixed fortune after a morning of four hours

The bare trees above the water-collection canal on the farther side's slope revealed no good birds like Ashy drongos and others. The duct itself showed just a single Grey wagtail feeding, a poor situation as long as memory stretches back.

Grey-headed flycatchers did not show well for the past three and present morning trips, an excusable reason for omitting reporting for the past month. This morning, after keeping an extra-alert ear for its call, a single bird was recorded when a four-note call was heard, others being rapid single ones, signifying the presence of spring and its departure soon for the north. A supposed bulbul in company with a lot of others, when on being focused upon, produced a surprise in the form of a male Verditer flycatcher.

A flock of around thirty Chestnut-collared yuhinas were easily found when they were in the vicinity, flying and resting almost as a whole and chirping quite distinctly.

No big mixed flocks were met and the morning's list was a modest twenty-six.

S L Tai


10th February, 2017 (Friday)
Cold with wind from mainly north bringing temperature down to a low 8.2 degrees Celsius, overcast and clear towards eleven

Taking opportunity to check out wintering birds on a cold morning
Partially successful being the result

At seven-thirty the sky was overcast and coupled with coldness the birds were hard to identify for inadequate brightness and quick flight around. The two Ashy drongos seen were an almost exception, one uttering calls while foraging with locals and another resting on a bare tree rendering sighting easy. The wintering single lot of about thirty or more Chestnut-collared yuhinas were hyper-active, eating insatiably on berry-bearing trees but never perching for long.

A single male Red-flanked bluetail was seen foraging low on small trees, active again for food. A Scaly thrush was flushed up but being the least shy among thrushes, perched just a short distance away and stayed for some moment to reveal its bodily features, a first for the past winter and this year. Other thrushes were more heard than seen except one perching almost sideway, showing its brown upperbody including its head and orange-like flank with no spots or marks, a sure sighting of a male Brown-headed thrush.

Record as regards number of species was a moderately low twenty-three, though somewhat compensated by finding new wintering thrushes.

S L Tai


14 February, 2017 (Tuesday)
Dry Easterly wind keeps temperature to moderately cold lowest being 14.3 degrees Celsius at the location

Fairly uneventful morning
Just a thrush to provide comfort

The morning dragged on with local birds recorded in ones or twos at a time. On reaching Picnic site 7 further down the turn on the right was omitted.

Lead Mine Pass did not fare any better. Special attention to the single-lane road's dry broken leaves and soil mixture on both sides paid dividend in form of the Scaly thrush seen last week. It was quite a surprise that it was still there after a KFCD car went past me five minutes before I reached the spot. It stood still, and moved or walked slowly to the right when I closed in on it for enjoyable features of its plumage.

The morning's list was even lower than the previous one, falling to a mere eighteen.

S L Tai


A Double Trip Report:
17th February, 2017 (Friday) Easterly wind, temperatures: 15.5 - 24 degrees Celsius
21st February, 2017 (Monday) Easterly wind, temperatures: 15.8 - 22 degrees Celsius

17th February:
Being a sunny morning, the catchment area before the Reservoir Walk began was more interesting than usual. Sixteen species were recorded, the best being a perching Black-winged cuckoo shrike, keeping still until being approached intolerably at about fifteen metres. Along the walk, a Grey-headed flycatcher was heard and a male Red-flanked bluetail was seen. Being already in spring, Mountain bush warblers' long whipping calls were heard repeatedly, and more interesting was catching the bubbling calls of one or two Asian barred owlets. No sighting was made although trees were searched in the vicinity of the calls' source.

Between Picnic Sites 8 and 9, there was a loosely flock of various leaf warblers, among them a Goodson's and a Two-barred were identified.

Quite a nice morning with a recorded of thirty species.

21st February:
Contrary to the morning of the 17th, the morning was misty and ordinary as regards birds, though in some way complementary. This time, the flock of somewhat thirty Chestnut collared yuhinas were met, a quiet Ashy drongo was seen at the right turn diversion to Picnic Site 7, a long-time-no-see Olive backed pipit nearby, and the rather approachable White's thrush (formely called Scaly here) was seen near Picnic site 8.

It was noteworthy to say Mountain bush warblers were heard in the surrounding areas of the reservoir but Asian barred owlets were silent.

The total species of the morning dropped to twenty-five.

S L Tai


27th February, 2017 (Monday)
Wind from East to Northerly east brings coolness with temperature rising a bit to 15.8 Celsius early in the morning; cloudy but sun broke out towards ten

Birding is something that hardly follows prediction
Some song birds well seen

Local expertise and frequency of visits pay. Today's first dividend was a Grey-headed flycatcher. The surroundings above the Education Centre was alive with local bird calls, but among them there were bursts of rapid ones stood out for investigation. Knowledge of Grey-headed flycatchers' spring call variants, attention was paid to locate the bird. Soon enough it was found, angular crown-head, yellow underbody and almost restive sideway movement pinpointed its identity though sunlight and distance did not favour a clear vision. Lingering on, it was seen nicely before walking began again.

Chestnut-collared yuhinas were hyperactive today. No sooner had it be seen in the space of a cluster of trees than it flew away and disppeared as a lot.

A road side Olive-backed pipit showed it well on the walk, no need to guess with its sharp weak calls.

The stair of rough concrete steps that led to wide dried up fringe of the reservoir was a regular stop for bird calls. This morning the bird - regularly heard but never seen - was judged to be located at an exposed spot. Just a moment of patience paid. The dividend was a Taiga flycatcher, heard only a dozen times for the past several months but for this trip it stopped and perched on the top of a big boulder before it vanished into the forest behind.

At the beginning part of the Lead Mine Pass the wooded area was again alive with bird calls. A flash of blue of a bird flying upward and away  left no doubt that it was a Verditer flycatcher. Needing confirmation and for better enjoyment I lingered on until it reappeared on the other side of the walk, revealing itself to be a beautiful male who flew dancing like at short distances.

The slight warming up of weather probably boosted the feeding activity, resulting in total species reaching thirty again.

S L Tai


2017-Mar-4, morning, sunny.

near first butterfly garden:
Verditer Flycatcher 1 male
Mugimaki Flycatcher 1 female
Asian Brown Flycatcher

near second butterfly garden:
Verditer Flycatcher 1 male