Po Toi 蒲台2007 Spring 春

Po Toi 蒲台2007 Spring 春

An interesting first week of Spring.

Sunday and Monday were mild with light winds. Of seven newly arrived Pale Thrush on Sunday, there were none to be seen on Monday. New migrants on Monday were a Common Kingfisher on the S Point rocks, first for the year, and a Russet Bush Warbler calling from near the cafe at the top of the concrete steps. I think this bird had probably just come down from the surrounding hills where several spent the winter.

The first spring migrant egrets were seen from the S Point on Monday, a single Great Egret, a flock of 5 Little Egrets and an immature Pacific Reef Egret, definitely not a local Po Toi bird, which was flying up the channel and tried to come ashore only to be chased off by the resident S Point male Reef Egret. This bird must have been attempting some sort of migration or dispersal. Here the Great Egret and the local male chasing off the invading Reef Egret.

Migrant Black Kites were flying in at a rate of about two an hour and the first Pacific Swift of the season also came in off the sea from the south. One very dark Black Kite seemed to have made a real mess of its moult

The cold front came through on Tuesday, Wednesday was the coldest day of the winter so far with an average temperature of 12.8 deg C. Today, Thursday, there were at least 10 Pacific Swifts, several Little Swifts and 5 Asian House Martins feeding over the hillsides. A long distance shot of an Asian House Martin, a single migrant Common Snipe today on the lagoon and one of the wintering Black-faced Buntings

I was wrong about the toilet - it was an illegal building and was removed on Monday. But an unsightly pile of rubbish was left behind - surely just as illegal as the building itself

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 08:58 ]


Second Week of March

Land birds of the week were definitely the flock of 10 Grey-faced Buzzards which appeared over Po Toi at 10.30am on Thursday. I believe these birds had set out from somewhere in the north Philippines early the previous evening to fly north towards Taiwan but had been pushed west by the easterly winds over the Luzon Strait and arrived over South China instead. After circling around for a few minutes, they flew off in a line NW towards Cap d'Aguilar. Also 90 minutes earlier, a pair of Silver-backed Needletail arrived in a mixed flock of Pacific Swifts and Barn Swallows.

Heuglin's Gulls must be the seabird equivalent of London Buses - after waiting for weeks without seeing any, this week there were hundreds - 614 to be exact, over three days and all migrating NE past Po Toi and all in the first hour after dawn or the last hour before dark. Majestic to think these birds are flying all the way to north central Russia.

Also over the sea, 6 Streaked Shearwaters on Tuesday, 7 Ancient Murrelet over Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday a superb male Red-breasted Merganser.

Finally, the Peregrines are back on the cliffs after an absence of several months. How do they know it's migration time again? - here a Red-necked Phalarope is the victim

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:20 ]


Third Week in March

A quiet week on Po Toi this week, but very interesting all the same - for me, at least. Here are three areas of interest, Buntings, Egrets and Heuglin's Gulls

There was an influx of buntings this week, mostly Black-faced but also a few Little. Nothing exceptional, but it's very satisfying when you go back to Avifauna and find this is exactly the week predicted for the largest number of spring passage migrants for Black-faced and Little Bunting. Two of the real advantages of Po Toi are its small size and remoteness. You know immediately an influx occurs and you know the birds must be migrants.

Little Egrets and a few Great have been migrating into Hong Kong in small numbers for the last two weeks. You can see the occasional flock over the sea, and on Friday one came ashore, initially on the S coast rocks and then 2 hours later on the lagoon, a typical movement on Po Toi. Here, Avifauna is less certain, 'there is evidence of passage in both spring and autumn'. The advantage of Po Toi is, it can give specific dates to these passages.

Very few Heuglin's Gulls migrating this week after the large numbers last week. Two possible reasons, either the passage is over or the weather was not right. Certainly the weather was not right - I found last year the best conditions to see seabird migration on Po Toi are light, preferably S or SW winds and mist. This is quite different to seabird watching from a boat. What appears to be happening is, the seabirds move into the area on strong E winds but stay around feeding and do not move off again until the winds change. So you can see these birds from a boat, but not from Po Toi until they migrate. The weather next week should be good for seabird migration - let's wait and see.

Regular readers of this section will realise by now I only have few photos to show. So here are a Little Bunting and some of the migrant ardeid/egretta seen during the week, a Grey Heron which found the local fish farm to its liking, the Little Egret in immaculate breeding plumage on the S coast rocks and a Cattle Egret, strangely perched on the rock just south of Beafort Island and seen from the ferry

The Islands Local Government have decided to renovate/renew all the main water pipes on Po Toi. Great, it will mean a more reliable water supply but may cause some disruption during spring migration.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:21 ]


Fourth Week in March

An early end to the week for me due to commitments in Hong Kong.

Cold fronts passed through on Monday and Wednesday, with strong easterly winds on both days following southerly winds on Sunday and Tuesday. These are good conditions for bringing spring migrants into Po Toi.

I was disappointed not to see Grey-faced Buzzards on either Monday or Wednesday, but I did have Silver-backed Needletails on both days. All five Silver-backed so far this year have arrived in the morning between 9.15am and 9.45am. I believe they may be from a population breeding in Taiwan which have been over-wintering in the Philippines and migrating overnight from there. They arrive earlier in the day than other migrants due to their faster flying speed, only spend about one minute zipping around and then go. Here are birds from 15th, 26th and 28th March

Very few winter thrushes, chats and warblers to be seen now, the long-staying Grey-headed Flycatcher has also gone. Four new flycatchers for this week, Asian Brown, female Mugimaki (no photo), Red-throated (no photo) and male Blue-and-white, an Oriental Pratincole (being chased off by a Black Kite) on Tuesday, a female Purple-backed Starling on Wednesday and a male Ashy Minivet on Thursday

On the sea, it appears the Heuglin's Gull migration has almost finished, perhaps the last large flock was this one of 37 birds flying high up NE late on Sunday evening

On Monday evening there was a big movement of Red-necked Phalarope, streaming continuously past my sea-watching point. I counted 939 in the two hours after I arrived at 4pm but there must have been many more before that time and also some further out I could just about see.

The movement stopped at 6pm when the birds started to settle on the water. Also in this stream, 2 Ancient Murrelet and 6 Heuglin's Gulls.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:23 ]


First Week in April

The week was dominated by the passage of the cold front on Monday and the migrants it brought in. This graph of the numbers of different migrant species seen each day on the island since the beginning of March shows how the number of species more than doubled after the front passed through on 2 April

The first bird through was a Brown Hawk Owl which flew over my head at the S point at 6.50am on Tuesday and kept going south out to sea, carried along by the strong N wind.

From then on for the next two hours, birds were flying into the SE peninsular from all directions, Egrets, Barn Swallows and Pacific Swifts, Asian House Martin, Olive-backed and Richards Pipits, a group of Ashy Minivets and a Chestnut-cheeked Starling amongst others. Here are a selection of species seen over the next three days

An early Dollarbird photographed from across the bay and another Brown Hawk Owl which stayed on the island (possibly more than one)

An Oriental/Eurasian Cuckoo and another Hepatic one

Ashy and Swinhoe's Minivets

Eastern Crowned Warbler, Ferruginous, Narcissus and Red-throated Flycatchers

As well as a large number of commoner migrants and even some new waders, Lesser Sand Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope on the lagoon

Difficult to come away on Thursday.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:26 ]


Just in case no-one else saw it today I had  a male Siberian Blue Robin around 1pm today about 50m past the cafe to the east of the pier.

Lots of others, but many ther people saw them, some of the pix have already been posted, and I'll look forward to Geoff's weekly write-up.

Mike K
Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


We got the following these few days :

April 7.

黃眉姬鶲     Narcissus Flycatcher
北灰鶲        Asian Brown Flycatcher
紅褐鶲        Ferruginous Flycatcher
白腹鶲        Blue-and-white Flycatcher
鴝姬鶲        Mugimaki Flycatcher

栗鵐           Chestnut Bunting
硫黃鵐        Japanese Yellow Bunting
小鵐           Little Bunting

藍磯鶇        Blue Rock Thrush
紫嘯鶇        Blue Whistling Thrush
虎斑地鶇    Scaly Thrush

鷹鴞            Brown Hawk Owl
灰山椒鳥     Ashy Minivet
八聲杜鵑     Plaintive Cuckoo
灰腳樹鶯     Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
灰椋鳥        White-cheeked Starling

April 8 add two new comer but no more Chestnut Bunting.

小灰山椒鳥  Swinhoe’s Minivet BACK
紫壽帶鳥     Japanese Paradise Flycatcher

April 9 Sunny but less bird than previous two days

Ferruginous Flycatcher and all Minivet disappeared
紫壽帶鳥     Japanese Paradise Flycatcher still exist and very active
(some said two of them)
硫黃鵐        Japanese Yellow Bunting x 2
藍歌鴝        Siberian Blue Robin


April 11, 2007 Po Toi

006        Streaked Shearwater        白額鸌        1
016        Great Egret        大白鷺        p
018        Little Egret        小白鷺        p
020        Pacific Reef Egret        岩鷺        2+
021        Cattle Egret        牛背鷺        1
022        Chinese Pond Heron        池鷺        2
067        Black Kite        黑鳶 (麻鷹)        8+
076        Chinese Goshawk        赤腹鷹        2
085        Common Kestrel        紅隼        1
109        Oriental Pratincole        普通燕鴴        1
136        Common Sandpiper        磯鷸        1
139        Red-necked Phalarope        紅頸瓣蹼鷸        53+
162x Arctic Jaeger        短尾賊鷗        2
162        Long-tailed Jaeger        長尾賊鷗        1
185        Aleutian Tern        白腰燕鷗        4
194        Spotted Dove        珠頸斑鳩        4
201        Chestnut-winged Cuckoo        紅翅鳳頭鵑        1
209        Greater Coucal        褐翅鴉鵑        1
213        Collared Scops Owl        領角鴞        1
217        Brown Hawk Owl        鷹鴞        1
229        Common Kingfisher        普通翠鳥        1
251        Barn Swallow        家燕        4+
257        Grey Wagtail        灰鶺鴒        1
258        White Wagtail        白鶺鴒        p
262        Pechora Pipit        北鷚        1
270        Red-whiskered Bulbul        紅耳鵯        p
271        Chinese Bulbul        白頭鵯        10+
272        Sooty-headed Bulbul        白喉紅臀鵯        1
273        Chestnut Bulbul        栗背短腳鵯        p
278        Brown Shrike        紅尾伯勞        1
279        Long-tailed Shrike        棕背伯勞        1
286        Red-flanked Bluetail        紅脇藍尾鴝        1f
287        Oriental Magpie Robin        鵲鴝        2
297        Blue Rock Thrush        藍磯鶇        1
298        Blue Whistling Thrush        紫嘯鶇        4
301        Scaly Thrush        虎斑地鶇        1
312        Masked Laughingthrush        黑臉噪(眉鳥)        4
347        Common Tailorbird        火尾縫葉鶯        4
349        Dusky Warbler        褐柳鶯        2
354        Yellow-browed Warbler        黃眉柳鶯        4+
358        Pale-legged Leaf Warbler        灰腳樹鶯        1
369        Asian Brown Flycatcher        北灰鶲        1
373        Narcissus Flycatcher        黃眉姬鶲        2m
375        Mugimaki Flycatcher        鴝姬鶲        2m, 3f
378        Blue-and-white Flycatcher        白腹鶲        2m, 1f
397        Japanese White-eye        暗綠繡眼鳥        p
402        Little Bunting        小(巫鳥)        2
407        Chestnut Bunting        栗鵐        1
409        Japanese Yellow Bunting        硫黃鵐        2
410        Black-faced Bunting        灰頭(巫鳥)        2
433        Black-collared Starling        黑領椋鳥        2
434        White-shouldered Starling        灰背椋鳥        2
436        Crested Myna        八哥        p
444        Common Magpie        喜鵲        4
447        Large-billed Crow        大嘴烏鴉        2
       Red-breasted Flycatcher                1
       Thrush sp                1
        Wader sp                1
        Egrets sp                8

        m - male               
        f - female               
        p - present not count


The Red-throated/breasted Flycatcher was not seen on Po Toi today. It may have left.

In fact, there were not many flycatchers or other migrants to be seen on Po Toi today (Thursday).


I should add, the Red-throated/breasted Flycatcher is the same bird that was present last weekend in the large bush beside the toilet block, and appears in my report for the first week in April.

Many people have seen it already.


Second Week in April

Another good week, with a mini-cold front passing through overnight on 9th bringing rain, strong easterlies and more new migrants on 10th

Birds of the week for me were the Grey-faced Buzzards which arrived over Po Toi in small flocks between 8am and 10am most mornings. They invariably circled around for a short time, decided they could see nothing to their liking and drifted off towards Hong Kong mainland.

A good week for flycatchers, here an Asian Brown which flew in off the sea on Tuesday and landed on the rocks beside me, the incredible male Japanese Paradise (how can it migrate with that tail??) and the beautiful male Blue-and-white

Also some interesting thrushes, a late Blackbird and a Dusky Thrush here with the first lucionensis Brown Shrike of the season, all Tuesday arrivals

and some different starlings, White-cheeked and Chestnut-cheeked

I didn't get photos of some of the better birds, Siberian Blue Robin (thanks Mike K), menzbieri Pechora Pipit (there were at least three on the island on Tuesday) and not least, a forest-type heron seen briefly on the ground in dense undergrowth near the school on Thursday.

At sea, 12 Common, 2 Little and 1 Caspian Tern over the week, plus a few Red-necked Phalarope.

Finally, enough photos of the Red-throated/breasted Flycatcher have already appeared, and now you can see why - the first twitch on Po Toi

A correction to last week's report. The plover is a Greater Sand Plover, correct id thanks to Geoff Carey.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:29 ]


April 14, 2007

006        Streaked Shearwater        白額鸌        1
018        Little Egret        小白鷺        1
020        Pacific Reef Egret        岩鷺        1
067        Black Kite        黑鳶 (麻鷹)        10+
072        Grey-faced Buzzard        灰臉鵟鷹        1
134        Wood Sandpiper        林鷸        2
136        Common Sandpiper        磯鷸        1
139        Red-necked Phalarope        紅頸瓣蹼鷸        259
162        Long-tailed Jaeger        長尾賊鷗        1
185        Aleutian Tern        白腰燕鷗        2
188        Little Tern        白額燕鷗        2 (not 4)
189        Greater Crested Tern        大鳳頭燕鷗        1
194        Spotted Dove        珠頸斑鳩        2
209        Greater Coucal        褐翅鴉鵑        1 H
229        Common Kingfisher        普通翠鳥        1
251        Barn Swallow        家燕        4+
257        Grey Wagtail        灰鶺鴒        1
260        Olive-backed Pipit        樹鷚        3
266        Swinhoe's Minivet        小灰山椒鳥        1?
267        Ashy Minivet        灰山椒鳥        7
270        Red-whiskered Bulbul        紅耳鵯        p
271        Chinese Bulbul        白頭鵯        p
273        Chestnut Bulbul        栗背短腳鵯        2
287        Oriental Magpie Robin        鵲鴝        2
297        Blue Rock Thrush        藍磯鶇        1f
298        Blue Whistling Thrush        紫嘯鶇        4+
305        Grey-backed Thrush        灰背鶇        1
307        Eyebrowed Thrush        白眉鶇        1
308        Dusky Thrush        斑鶇        1
345        Yellow-bellied Prinia        灰頭鷦鶯        H
347        Common Tailorbird        火尾縫葉鶯        1
354        Yellow-browed Warbler        黃眉柳鶯        12+
360        Eastern Crowned Warbler        冕柳鶯        1
370        Ferruginous Flycatcher        紅褐鶲        1
373        Narcissus Flycatcher        黃眉姬鶲        1m, 2f
397        Japanese White-eye        暗綠繡眼鳥        p
402        Little Bunting        小(巫鳥)        5
409        Japanese Yellow Bunting        硫黃鵐        2
410        Black-faced Bunting        灰頭(巫鳥)        3
427        Red-billed Starling        絲光椋鳥        2
434        White-shouldered Starling        灰背椋鳥        3
436        Crested Myna        八哥        p
440        Hair-crested Drongo        髮冠卷尾        1
        m - male               
        f - female               
        p - present not count               

finless porpoise ( Neophocaena phocaenoides )                        8+

Thanks again to Mr SL Tai for the arrangment. It was an enjoyable day, sea was calm, some good birds, good company...


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14/04/2007 22:38



Today 14 of us hired a boat from Aberdeen at 0800 and spent from 0915 to 1315 on Po Toi, then from 1315 until 1645 in waters south of Lamma.

The wind were fresh easterlies and the day was sunny with occasional cloud

The following birds were seen:

Great Egret - 1

Red-necked Phalarope - 100+

Greater Crested Tern - 2
Aleutian Tern - 12
Common Tern - 16

Brown Hawk Owl  - at least 2, possibly 3 one mobbed by a pair of Black Drongo

Indian Cuckoo - 2
Drongo Cuckoo - found by Geoff Welch this bird is the 5th record for Hong Kong and showed superbly well in the pier area.

Black-capped Kingfisher - 1
Common Kingfisher - 1

Black-naped Oriole - 2

Daurian Redstart - 1f

Yellow-browed Warbler - 2

Blue-and-white Flycatcher - 2m
Grey-streaked Flycatcher - 2
Asian Brown Flycatcher - 1

Chestnut Bunting -1
Trsitram's Bunting - 1
Black-faced Bunting - 1

Many thanks to all for a very enjoyable day!

I look forward to seeing some of the pix.

Mike K
Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


Po Toi Drongo Cuckoo Society

First meeting of the society (perhaps the only one for some time!?)

Grand day out; thanks Mike (and thanks too to Geoff W for finding this cuckoo, which enlivened lunchtime!)


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19/04/2007 20:22



Third Week in April

We live and learn. When the cold front came through on Tuesday night with rain and a change of wind to strong northerly, I confidently expected to be swatting off the migrants on Wednesday morning. But it didn't happen. Why? I don't know for sure, but I suspect these pictures taken on Wednesday tell the answer

Wednesday was brilliantly clear and sunny. Any incoming migrant could see all of Hong Kong and the surrounding islands (the photo shows Dangan Island behind the SE Peninsular of Po Toi). So why choose the speck of Po Toi when so much is on offer? I guess most incoming migrants simply by-passed Po Toi. The result was a generally poor week for species numbers.

Some migrants did come in, I think having landed on the surrounding islands and later started to move off in a NE direction. These birds usually appear from mid-morning onwards to late afternoon in days after the cold front.

This week, some waders, Grey-tailed Tattler and Wood Sandpiper on Monday and a migrating Curlew sp on Tuesday

The first Indian Cuckoo on Monday, a Black-capped Kingfisher from Tuesday onwards and Dollarbirds on both Wednesday and Thursday

The locals say the cuckoo says 'Hong Kong goh doh' but it can't be a Cantonese bird because there's no 'wah' at the end.

Only a few flycatchers this week. Japanese Paradise Flycatcher on Monday, Mugimaki on Wednesday and Grey-streaked on Thursday

Tristram's Bunting on Tuesday (seen through a fence) and Chestnut Buntings from Wednesday onwards

Last but definitely not least, the Drongo Cuckoo which arrived at lunchtime on Thursday and disturbed a few seafood lunches

Other interesting migrants seen but not photographed were Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo on Monday, Cinnamon Bittern on Tuesday and Brown Hawk Owl on Thursday.

At sea, quite large numbers of Red-necked Phalarope with some Common and Aleutian Terns all migrating NE and also 2 Gull-billed Terns  and a Swinhoe's Egret on Monday, 2 Black-naped Terns on Wednesday and a Bridled Tern on Thursday.

Finally, a Ching Ming fire last Sunday destroyed most of the grass scrub on the SE Peninsular. Fortunately not a bird-rich area. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to recover - new grass was already sprouting after the Tuesday night rain

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:33 ]


Odd front; the fire on SunYes,

Yes, the front had looked promising - I thought yesterday's boat ride looked wonderfully timed, inc with chance of Chinese Goshawks.
Before taking boat, met Ruy Baretto, who told me of the goshawks being "like mosquitoes" on day of over 900 seen over Po Toi last spring.
But, I'd already seen weather charts showing the front (with cloud, maybe still some rain) hadn't yet reached north Luzon till late aft Tuesday, so wondered if many birds would have left northern Philippines. Even so, as soon as boat in, I went up to hilltop pagoda, tried migration watch for half an hour: one or two Black Kites, a Pacific Swift and a Barn Swallow the only birds I noticed flying about (none looking like being on the move). Bah!
Charts looked more promising for movement today; but no one birding Po Toi? (and I'm yet to look on Cheung Chau, where I've never yet seen movement of Chinese Gos, tho have seen G-f Buzzards pass over in numbers on a couple of days in past). Thanks to Geoff for adding the note below.

More rain (front/trough?) forecast for next Tues and Wed...

Went to Po Toi on Sun, for mix of birding and hiking w family n friends. Saw the fire burning. Firemen arrived by helicopter in. Two guys, one spraying, one beating, surprisingly effective - helped by lack of wind.
Too bad re fires. But without them, would surely be far more cover across Po Toi, so reducing its appeal for vagrant-fans (flip side: like elsewhere in HK if not massively deforested, could perhaps enjoy seeing birds like range of woodpeckers, plus hornbill or two ....)

Maybe mildly entertaining - I've been blogging re birds and some other creatures (with birds sparse, also noted butterflies etc) on Cheung Chau, in Martin's blog. Not completely apples n oranges when comparing w Po Toi - I tend to only go out for an hour or so, also note birds around my place, but clearly far fewer migrants. Saddest thing: had 2 Emerald Doves one day, so thought may breed, but a few days later found badly injured, dying Emerald Dove; haven't seen or heard this species here since.


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20/04/2007 10:45



Chinese Goshawks last year

The big numbers of Chinese Goshawks were on 15th and 16th April last year. The cold front passed over on 13th but was held up for 3 days over the Luzon Strait and passed away late on 16th April. Although the weather on 15th and 16th was reasonable, it was very misty, only part of Po Toi was visible from the sky and was probably the first land that could be seen by a migrating bird (not at all like this week).

The Goshawks came down through the mist, from about 10am onwards for two hours, and formed large flocks over the top of Po Toi. It was a magic sight, they just materialised before your eyes, first none, then a few then tens and then hundreds. Unforgettable.

There were none on 17th and 18th.


April 21, 2007.

Quiet day with almost no flycatcher.  Bird of the day is Dollarbird it staying in Helicopter Pad area for whole day. Another Dollarbird found in abandon Soccer field.

Chestnut Bunting locate in the tree next to the public toilet.

Chinese Goshawk (chasing another similar size unknown raptor)
Common Kestrel
Black Kite
DollarBird x 2
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Grey-streaked Flycatcher
Black-faced Bunting
Chestnut Bunting x 2
Brown Shrike
Barn Swallow
Black Drongo
Black-capped Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Blue Whistling Thrush
Cattle Egret
Chinese Bulbul
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Chinese Pond Heron
Common Sandpiper
Crested Myna
Greater Coucal
Indian Cuckoo
Japanese White-eye
Pacific Reef Egret
Red-necked Phalarope
Olive-backed Pipit
White Wagtail
White-shouldered Starling

Thrush (unknown, small size)


Owen, add 3 species more

Far Eastern Curlew
Grey Wagtail
Peregrine Falcon

Photo of Far Eastern Curlew


Fourth Week in April

A good week, but still no really big falls of migrants since 10th April. As usual, the best day was the day after the cold front passed through. What a spectacular cold front, day turned to night just after 11am on 24th, not much birdwatching was possible for the rest of the day.

Bird of the week was the Malayan Night Heron on Wednesday, found by Kwok Jai, seen by others but not by me. Other good birds that day were an Osprey, the first simillima Yellow Wagtail and Oriental Turtle Dove of spring, all early morning on the SE Peninsular, and later in the day as birds started to accumulate, a very late Ferruginous Flycatcher (the latest in Avifauna is 16th April) and the first ever Intermediate Egret to stop on the island.

Earlier in the week, female Yellow-breasted and male Chestnut Buntings, together with the second Purple-backed Starling of spring (extremely rare in spring according to Avifauna but also seen on Po Toi last spring), Eyebrowed Thrushes and a late Blackbird which were around all week and on Thursday my first Black-naped Oriole with a Pechora Pipit (no photo).

I should be used to seeing birds in unusual circumstances but the sandpiper which landed on the rocks beside me as I was seawatching on the SE Peninsular on Monday evening caught me out. It was clearly exhausted, just stood where it landed and fell asleep (first photo). I id'd it as a Red-necked Stint and left it alone. To my surprise, it was still there on Tuesday morning but now feeding on the rocky shoreline. With this behaviour and the long wing extension, I started to imagine it was something else until Paul Leader pointed out, a sandpiper with a red neck is likely to be a Red-necked.

At sea, 5 Pomarine Skuas and 1 Arctic Skua on Sunday evening, with 9 Greater Crested Terns, all flying NE.

That's all for this week - please note the changes to the ferry schedule for the next two weeks, I have posted the details elsewhere.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:35 ]


Po Toi 2007 Spring

Birds at Po Toi today 29th April, 2007

At Sea from Aberdeen to Po Toi :
Red-necked Phhalarope x 30+
possible Ancient Murrelet x 2

On Island :
Yellow-browed Bunting x 1 (at football ground)
Chinese Goshawk x 10+
Chestnut Bunting x 3 Male
Grey-streaked Flycatcher x 3
Asian Brown Flycatcher x 1
Arctic Warbler x 5+
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler x 2
Black-naped Oriole x 2
Brown Shrike x 4

A nice birdy day



Intermediate Week, April to May

Light winds all week - not good conditions for spring migrants on Po Toi, we need a strong overnight blow from the east. Generally low species numbers as a result, except on Tuesday when birds were coming in, I believe from the surrounding islands. They don't stay long under these conditions and by the end of the week, only a few stragglers and the longer staying migrants such as egrets remained.

There were some excellent birds on Tuesday, the Malayan Night Heron seen again (but not later in the week), good views of a very late Eastern Crowned Warbler early in the day, Chinese Goshawks flying over and on the island (but not in the numbers seen on Lamma), Blue-tailed Bee-eaters flying over, an Oriental Reed Warbler, the Yellow-browed Bunting and for me, at least as good, a male Yellow-breasted Bunting late evening on the SE Peninsular

Numbers went down from Tuesday on, but the week ended with at least 13 Arctic Warblers on Thursday, 10 in one tree alone.

Visible migrants coming in included many Yellow Wagtails (all simillima/tschutschensis) and going out, Japanese White-eye, Chinese Bulbul, Black and Hair-crested Drongo and the first ever sighting of migrant Crested Mynas, a flock of 29 which flew off to the NE on Wednesday evening. I think these are more dispersals than true migration, but interesting nevertheless.

Sea watching early on Monday morning was good with the first 4 Short-tailed Shearwaters of the year, 2 Pomarine and 2 Long-tailed Skuas and the first Whiskered Terns of spring. Here the first of the Short-tailed Shearwaters followed by a pair and the final bird, close enough to see the underwing pattern on the photo. Also a Long-tailed Skua making a successful attack on a Black Kite.

Several flocks of migrant waders, here Red Knot and Curlew, together with a group of 4 Ruddy Turnstone on the S rocks, one of which has an Australian leg flag

Finally, on Wednesday evening, a very late immature large gull, which I think from the small head, evenly dark brown upperwing and white upper tail is an immature Black-tailed Gull. Avifauna says they have been seen in Hong Kong as late as June.

Don't forget, next week is Tin Hau Festival Week on Po Toi, Saturday to Thursday, special ferry timetable (see elsewhere), dragon boats, Chinese opera, hundreds of people but all in the harbour area. Good luck.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:37 ]


A poor week for migrant species this week, a combination of not being able to stay overnight, coming towards the end of the migration season but mostly the weather was too good for migrants to stop on the island.

New species for the week included a Plain Prinia, first for spring, and a Common Myna, first for Po Toi for me but another is mentioned in Avifauna

Regular species include Indian Cuckoo, Arctic Warbler, Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Brown Shrike and Chinese Goshawk present all week.
I think one of these is the same Chinese Goshawk that was rescued from the fishing pot last week by Winnie and Sammy. It looks a lot better now, congratulations to them


Not much time for sea-watching, but 4 Black-naped Terns were present around the harbour all week, and a single Arctic Skua passed my sea-watching point on Thursday


Finally, some photos from the Tin Hau Festival, which was obviously very successful this year

particularly for the owners of the restaurant!

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:39 ]


Third Week in May - first half

I have split the week this week, will be going back on Thursday.

Some recovery in species numbers, although this probably represents not being able to stay on the island last week. certainly the clear weather this week so far has not been good for new species to arrive.

The common spring migrants at this time in May are Arctic Warbler (max 13 per day), Brown Shrike (max 14), Grey-streaked Flycatcher (only 1 all week) and Yellow Wagtail (max 9). Arctic Warblers pass through very quickly, most only staying one day. Brown Shrikes and Yellow Wagtails are more leisurely, usually staying a few days and Grey-streaked Flycatchers may stay a week or more.

There is a lot of variation in the underbody plumage of Arctic Warblers, from grey to bright yellow. Here a mid-yellow bird. Brown Shrikes are 99.9% lucionensis, but this bird with a distinctly brown head may be confusus (photo was over-exposed so head colour is not so obvious as the real bird).

Grey-streaked Flycatchers differ in the amount and size of streaks, this week's bird was very spotty. Yellow Wagtails seem to be all simillima.

More unusual birds this week were the Grey-headed Lapwing which flew in off the sea on Sunday evening and the White-cheeked Starling which arrived on Sunday and was still there yesterday. Both these birds are very late records according to Avifauna. Also a White-breasted Waterhen (no photo) which spent Sunday on the SE Peninsular, an unusual record for Po Toi and clearly a migrant bird.

A Yellow-fronted Canary arrived on Tuesday 15th, one day later than a similar bird in 2006. Not a coincidence I think, probably the same bird which has established some sort of migration route. Another bird arrived at the end of May last year and the two paired, interesting to see if that happens again this year.

On the sea, the unknown shearwater on Monday (I now believe this bird was a Bulwer's Petrel) was the highlight, here two photos together with a Short-tailed Shearwater for comparison. Up to 10 Short-tailed were seen each morning and evening, together with migrating Whiskered and White-winged Terns, also some Bridled and a few Great Crested and another Black-tailed Gull.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:44 ]


Third Week in May - second half

I don't know what the weather system which brought all the rain early this week is called, but it effectively acted as a cold front, bringing in many new migrants from Sunday onwards

Birds mostly affected were egrets and bitterns, on Sunday evening when I arrived back on Po Toi they were lined up in all the tall trees

By Monday morning there were more than 100 egrets and bitterns on the island. 2, possibly 3 Black Bitterns, here two different birds, one flying over the football field and one in the lagoon behind the restaurant

At least 3 Schrenck's Bitterns, here a male on Monday with a superb white moustache

and a female on Wednesday

At least 17 Yellow Bitterns on Monday all around the island

as well as many Cattle Egrets, Pond Herons, a few Little and Intermediate Egrets, a Cinnamon Bittern and at least 2 Striated Herons.

Also brought in were a female Swinhoe's Minivet (looking very wet), 30 Brown Shrikes including this brown headed bird and 5 Grey-streaked Flycatchers

No photo of the Cinnamon Bittern, the Lanceolated Warbler and the Black-faced Bunting, all on Tuesday or the Thick-billed Warbler last Thursday.

Not much time for sea-watching between the heavy downpours, but I did have 2 Short-tailed Shearwaters on Tuesday and Wednesday, also the first Roseate Terns on Wednesday.

Birds started to leave the island even on Monday night, by today (Wednesday), only about 20 egrets and bitterns were left, no sign of any Black Bittern but 1 Schrenck's and the Cinnamon Bittern still around.

Good luck to those going tomorrow, don't forget your mosquito repellant!

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:42 ]


That's a great narrative, Geoff!
Good birding as well!



Last week in May

Thanks Ken.

Species numbers continued to fall this week as the spring migration draws to a close.

On Monday, six species of bittern/heron were feeding around the lagoon, Black-crowned Night Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Striated Heron, Yellow, Schrenck's and Black Bittern

I did not see the Black Bittern after Monday, or the Schrenck's Bittern after Tuesday when I saw this female near the cafe at the top of the steps

A very confiding pair of Red Turtle Doves were still present today, also around the cafe


No photo of the crake (Brown?) seen crossing the dirt path after the cafe on Sunday. I have a photo of the very late male Black-faced Bunting also on this path on Tuesday but it's too poor even for me to show. The last Arctic Warbler was on Saturday, and the last Yellow Wagtail on Sunday, the last Brown Shrike and Grey-streaked Flycatcher the previous week.

But stars of the show for the whole week were the Yellow Bitterns which seem to come in a variety of shapes, sizes and expressions, mostly pretty fierce

Their numbers were down to only a few today.

This is the end of Po Toi 2007 Spring for me. It had a good start and a good end but the middle was a bit slow.

2007 Summer starts next week.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 15/12/2009 05:46 ]


A lot of hard work, man, and great stuff.