Po Toi April 2009 蒲台島春季鳥況直擊(四月)

Po Toi April 2009 蒲台島春季鳥況直擊(四月)

A great week on Po Toi. The photos can speak for themselves

Streaked Shearwater, Lesser Frigatebird, Ancient Murrelet.
Oriental Pratincole, Brown Hawk Owl, Common Kingfisher (asleep), Ashy Minivet, Chestnut Bulbul, Orange-headed Thrush, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Narcissus Flycatcher, Green-backed Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Japanese Yellow Bunting, Oriental Greenfinch.

(It seems that on Po Toi, most birds are pointing to the right - or is it just me?)

The Common Kingfisher arrived on the South Coast rocks and immediately fell asleep. I have found this with several migrants.
Chestnut Bulbul are rare on Po Toi, I guess from the numbers reported at Tai Po Kau Headland there is an irruption going on.

Waders are starting to migrate past Po Toi. Seen this week, Oriental Pratincole, Golden Plover, Greater Knot and Red-necked Stint. Also the first of the migrant Tree Sparrow flocks have arrived.

Finally, a dead seabird floated close past the South Point on Tuesday evening.

A good bit of detective work from Martin Williams, who was on the island on Wednesday, shows this to be a Great Crested Grebe, which would be a first record for Po Toi - can you count dead birds?

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:58 ]


Despite disturbance from hundreds of people who were at grave sites for the Ching Ming Festival, a good variety of birds were found at Po Toi today (4 April 2009). Here are the migrants that I saw or heard about (from Mike Kilburn, Matthew Kwan & other birdwatchers):

Cattle Egret 1
Grey Heron 1
Brown Hawk Owl 1
Common Kingfisher 2
Ashy Minivet 7
Rufous-tailed Robin 1
Daurian Redstart 2
Chinese Blackbird 1
Grey-backed Thrush 1
Japanese Thrush 2
Green-backed Flycatcher fem
Narcissus Flycatcher male
Ferruginous Flycatcher 2-3
Hainan Blue Flycatcher male
Blue-and-white Flycatcher 4 (3m, 1f)
Yellow-browed Warbler 5
Silky Starling 5
Black-faced Bunting 4



Thanks Richard!! I think some photos will sums up this great day out on Po Toi!! The only flycatcher we missed was the Narcissus... The best bird for me was actually the Rufous-tailed Robin giving me a close up view for up to a minute!! I've never seen one this close before!! None of the birds seemed to be bothered about my existence today, most came to within 2-3m!! All but the Brown Hawk Owl which I'd failed to see one standing still for 3 years in a role...

Po Toi 4/4/2009
Ashy Minivet

Masked Bunting

Rufous-tailed Robin

Ferruginous Flycatcher

Blue-and-White Flycatcher

Hainan Blue Flycatcher

[ Last edited by kmatthew at 5/04/2009 01:48 ]
As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


A record on 5.4.2009 Po Toi Island

Ashy Minivet 10+
Daurian Redstart 1 female,
Ferruginous Flycatcher +2
Blue-and-White Flycatcher 1 male, 1 female
Black-faced Bunting
Yellow-browed Warbler

from other birdwatchers
Grey-faced Buzzard
Common Buzzard
Narcissus Flycatcher
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher (long-tailed)
Rufous-tailed Robin
Pale-legged leaf Warbler
Little Bunting

Southern Sea
Red-necked Phalarope
Sooty Tern x1
Long-tailed Skua x 8
Pomarine Skua x 1
Arctic Skua (uncertain)


Thanks Hey for spotting it.
05/04/2009 Po Toi


First Week in April

A quiet week this week, at least by comparison with last week. The rain on Monday did not bring in as many migrants as I had hoped, but did include 4 Grey-faced Buzzards, a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, a flock of 18 Ashy Minivets and a Pechora Pipit.

A few sparrowhawks are now passing through, Japanese and this single Chinese Goshawk. Also the first Hoopoe of the year and a late male Red-flanked Bluetail on Wednesday.

But as usual at this time of the year it was the colourful flycatchers which stole the show. Most seem to be males, maybe the females will come later or are just more difficult to find. Here a Blue-and-white, a male and female Narcissus, a Ferruginous and two shots of the fantastic male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher which has the longest tail of any I have seen. If you centre the bird in your photo, the tail disappears off the bottom.

Many of the male Narcissus are in partial first winter plumage, like this splodgy one above - not at all like the pristine pictures in the field guides.

At sea, a few terns and waders are now passing through. Here a Caspian Tern and a flock of Greater Sand Plovers. Plus a distant Brown Booby on Monday, you'll need a magnifying glass for this one.

More rain next Monday - I live in hope. An Oystercatcher passing through would be nice.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 06:00 ]


Just to add rather belatedly to Gary's post of observations on Po To on Sunday 5th (which I've just noticed):

Daurian Redstart - one male near the Southern Peninsula, in addition to the showy female (photo below) by the helicopter landing pad - both rather late
Pallas's Warbler - 1
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo - 1
Red-flanked Bluetail - 1 female

Mike Turnbull

[ Last edited by tmichael at 11/04/2009 17:55 ]


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10/04/2009 15:14



Today (Sat 11th) on Po Toi the following birds were noted between 9am and 11.15am:

Crested Goshawk 1 (open to correction there but that's what it looked like to me, and from photos!)
Grey-faced Buzzard 7+
Ashy Minivet 2
Yellow-browed Warbler several heard
Eastern Crowned Warbler 1
Narcissus Flycatcher 3
Blue-and-white Flycatcher 1
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher 1
Grey-capped Greenfinch 1

Also during a fairly rough boat trip in southern waters during the afternoon:

Oriental Pratincole 3
Far Eastern Curlew 10
Red-necked Phalarope c 20(?)
Streaked Shearwater 1
Arctic Skua 3 (subject to checking when we see the photos)
Greater Crested Tern 2
Aleutian Tern 4
Grey-faced Buzzard 1 (see Owen's photo below)

As I've said, looking forward to seeing others' photos and any additions to this.

Mike Turnbull

[ Last edited by tmichael at 11/04/2009 19:32 ]


It was hard going at times, especially when the boat was heading into the wind, but the end result for a group of 30 or so birders & photographers was memorable views of flycatchers & seabirds and a decent collective list of birds for the day (11 April 2009).

Big thank you to Andrew Hardacre.

Migrants & birds of note seen at Po Toi:

Grey-faced Buzzard 8
Besra 1
Crested Goshawk 1
Ashy Minivet 2
Chinese Bulbul 70 (tight flocks of 50 and 20 behaving as migrants; also some courting individuals)
Blue Rock Thrush 1
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 1
Eastern Crowned Warbler 1
Yellow-browed Warbler 9
Narcissus Flycatcher 3 males
Blue-and-white Flycatcher 1st-summer cumatilis near helipad
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher 1

Seen in southern waters:

Streaked Shearwater 1
Red-necked Phalarope 40
Eastern Curlew 9
Great Crested Tern 2
Aleutian Tern 3
Arctic Skua 3
Brown Hawk Owl 1
Arctic Skua 3


A bit of double-reporting here. Mike T & I have posted more or less the same news simultaneously!


Can I add further to the duplication, once again, by re-iterating Richard's note of thanks to Andrew Hardacre, whose company junk we were able to use today.


Thanks Andrew and all the organizer for this brilliant boatrip.

here a poor quality photo of jaeger + the brown hawk owl? and the tern together with the Shearwater.


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11/04/2009 18:54


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11/04/2009 18:58


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11/04/2009 19:02


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11/04/2009 19:12



Many thanks for posting these Owen

It is clear from this pic that the bird is a Grey-faced Buzzard - it did look very strange  from the boat.

The skua is very interesting - I think it is an Arctic Skua with a an unusually well-developed breast band.  There is not too much white in the upperwing, the body shape is not that heavy, and there seems to be a pale patch above the bill - all of these are good for Arctic, as is the pointed tail, but he bill seems to be pale with a dark tip, which would be better for Pom - and a breastband like this is more typical of Pom - so an interesting bird.

Mike K

. . . and thanks again to Andrew
Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


The skuas still look like Arctic to me, the Tern is Aleutian, again as we said at the time, and the "Brown Hawk Owl" must be a Grey-faced Buzzard.

Are any of the claims of Brown Hawk Owl over the sea totally reliable, I wonder.

Mike Turnbull


One more photo of the skuas from the boat trip today, big thanks to Andrew for letting us onto the boat for this good day out!!

I thought the one on the far right looked like a Pom due to the more bulky body shape and breast band, while the other 2 looked like Arctic...But I think I will leave it for the experts to decide...

As The Crow Flies- a Hong Kong Birding Blog


Second Week in April

Festival Week - my least favourite week of spring. Too many people, too much noise. I only stayed 3 days, Tuesday to Thursday.

Not too many birds, but plenty of interest.

Early April is cuckoo time on Po Toi, this week saw the first Indian Cuckoo returning, a singing Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo early on Wednesday morning, and the long staying Chestnut-winged Cuckoo. Also the first Black Drongos to arrive back on Po Toi - my least favourite bird, they have already taken up residence in the tallest trees and are scaring off everything else. With the Black Drongos, an early Hair-crested Drongo.

Other new spring species this week, for me at least, Red Turtle Dove, White-throated Needletail, Eyebrowed Thrush and Asian Brown Flycatcher. Most of the 'colourful' flycatchers have now left, maybe the next cold front will bring in some more or maybe we have seen the last of them for this year. It has been an excellent year for Narcissus, a good year for Ferruginous and Blue-and-white but no Mugimaki as yet.

Here photos of a passing Grey-faced Buzzard (the last of the year?), two more photos of the superb White-throated Needletail on Thursday, an Eyebrowed Thrush, an Asian Brown and a Narcissus Flycatcher.

Most of the Narcissus this year have been male first summer birds, still with some winter plumage like this bird, and looking very messy.

At sea, migrations of three different species this week, all in the early morning as is usual in April.

21 Greater Crested Terns passed in 2 hours on Wednesday morning, in groups averaging 4-5 birds. This is my highest ever count but I have regularly seen small flocks of Greater Crested Tern at this time in past years so I imagine these sorts of numbers are normal in mid April.

A substantial migration of Pond Herons on Thursday morning, total over 200 birds including one flock of 71, most of them heading up the East Lamma Channel.

Also on Thursday morning, a passage of Red-necked Phalaropes, 360 birds in 2 hours flying steadily out of the East Lamma Channel heading for the northern tip of Dangan Island. Good visiblilty seems to be the key driver for this type of Red-necked Phalarope migration, when they can see Dangan Island clearly.  

Also seen at sea this week, the last remnants of the Heuglin Gull migration and the first skua, probably a Long-tailed but quite distant, and a single Swinhoe's Egret which flew up the channel and landed on the south coast rocks. Here a single Greater Crested Tern plus the Swinhoe's Egret

I have given up dreamimg of the next cold front, it never seems to arrive this year.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 06:02 ]


Third Week in April

A good week this week without being exceptional. Monday and Wednesday were the best days, following rain over the weekend and a strong easterly on Tuesday night. However, we have yet to have a really strong cold front this year to bring in the migrants.

Chinese Goshawks, Brown Shrikes and Grey-streaked Flycatcher are now appearing on the list, as is normal for the second half of April. A flock of 42 Chinese Goshawks passed through on Wednesday. Also a good number of Eyebrowed Thrushes this year, more than 10 on Wednesday.

A Striated Heron came in off the sea on Monday and a Black Bittern on Thursday.

One male Narcissus, one Blue-and-white and the first Mugimaki of the spring, a Grey-streaked plus a few Asian Brown made up the flycatcher count but the most interesting flycatcher was the female/second year male? Narcissus-type I have posted under the Id Section. Also two fly-though flocks of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (they never stay long) and a single Chestnut Bunting.

The best land bird for me was the Forest Wagtail on Wednesday, a first ever spring record for this species on Po Toi I think.

Here are some photos, the Striated Heron in off the sea, Chinese Goshawk, Brown Shrike, Forest Wagtail, Chestnut Bunting plus Blue-and-white, Mugimaki and Grey-streaked Flycatcher and the very green Narcissus-type Flycatcher


Over the sea, the first Short-tailed Shearwater on Monday evening (not one of my best photos), and the Lesser Frigatebird on Tuesday and briefly Wednesday morning were the highlights. Here the very distant Shearwater plus the Frigatebird.

Finally, if you are thinking of reincarnation, avoid becoming a Taiwan Racing Pigeon. Every year, 100,000 of these start a series of 10 races from which only about 10 survive.
Several end up each year on Po Toi, usually as lunch for the Peregrines or local cat. Here is one coming in off the sea, and later near the ferry pier. Having been hand fed, they are unable to fend for themselves and just smooch around looking for a handout.

This bird had its owners chop marked in red plus some other good luck symbols on the white patch on its wing. Didn't do it any good.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 06:04 ]


Last Week in April

A classic spring migrant fall this week.

The rain on Saturday and Sunday brought migrants flying over the South China Sea down on to the coastal islands south of Hong Kong, including Po Toi (and Cheung Chau according to Birdline reports). Those birds too weak to resist the rain fell into the sea – as in the Black Bittern incident. Many other smaller birds were no doubt also landing in the sea, both close to the coast and further out to sea. The stronger birds (survival of the fittest) made landfall on the islands and the coastline.

By Monday, numbers of the later spring migrants such as Brown Shrike, Chinese Goshawk, Grey Wagtail and Blue Rock Thrush had grown to fall proportions on Po Toi. After Monday, their numbers fell away as the weather improved and the birds were able to continue their migration.

Here are charts showing the number of Migrant Species and the number of Brown Shrikes on Po Toi for each day during this week compared with the number last week.

Many birds which had landed on the southernmost islands headed north from their landing place and found Po Toi, the northernmost island in the chain, and a convenient stopping place for rest and feeding. New birds were flying into Po Toi on both Monday and Tuesday even as the first birds were leaving. Scattered in among the common birds were the unusual species. On Monday, Striated Heron, Black Bittern, Osprey and Pechora Pipit were all seen coming in off the sea and Oriental Cuckoo and Yellow-browed Bunting were found on land. On Tuesday, the Blue-winged Pitta together with Oriental Turtle Dove, Chinese Grosbeak and Black-naped Oriole were newly found on the land and on Wednesday, a Chestnut-cheeked Starling. By Thursday, most of the birds had left and the island was quiet again.   

This was by no means the largest fall I have had on Po Toi, just above average size but the best so far this year. The origin of many of these birds is the Philippines/North Borneo although some such as the Yellow-browed Bunting and Chinese Grosbeak must have originated from south China.

Now for some photos. When I first saw the Blue-winged Pitta, it was being chased off by a Blue Whistling Thrush and passed within five meters of me at the Upper School. Unfortunately, the only photo I was able to get of it was later on the ground through a tangle of vegetation. The photo is more like an impressionist painting, but it does show the brilliant colours of the bird – bright turquoise blue wings with a green back and orange-buff below with red under-tail coverts.

Other photos in order – Osprey coming in off the sea, a migrating northern subspecies Peregrine, probably japonensi, Mugimaki and Narcissus Flycatchers, Yellow-browed Bunting, Chinese Grosbeak, Chestnut-cheeked Starling and Black-naped Oriole.

Except for waders, nothing much was happening over the sea. This has been a poor year so far for terns and skuas, on Po Toi at least.
Here photos of a colourful Ruddy Turnstone on the south coast rocks and a migrating mixed flock of two Grey-tailed Tattlers with another Ruddy Turnstone. The smaller waders seem to happily migrate in mixed species flocks.  

I’m hoping we will get at least one more major fall before the end of the spring season in late May, probably a fall of small bitterns and herons in mid-May like last year.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 06:06 ]