Po Toi 蒲台2007 Summer 夏

Po Toi 蒲台2007 Summer 夏

The number of non-resident species is now down to seven, of which at least five are summer visitors and will probably stay all summer - Pacific Swift, Barn Swallow, Indian Cuckoo, Black Drongo and Hair-crested Drongo. Here the Pacific Swift

Of the normally resident species, the single Black-collared Starling left for wherever it spends the summer in mid-April and there are very few, if any, Japanese White-eye. Both just like summer last year.

There are still a few Yellow Bitterns around, and also the pair of Red Turtle Doves which may now be a latest ever spring record for this species

Neither of these birds is in adult male plumage so I suppose they must be immature, or just fooling themselves.

The main excitement this week was provided by another type of flying - by helicopter. Firstly, two helicopters were used to ferry concrete up to the top of the island, presumably to make a reservoir for the new water system - good news.

Secondly, a very attractive young lady arrived for lunch in this helicopter and turned a few heads, including mine (sorry - no photo). The ultimate in one-upmanship, to go for lunch by helicopter.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 12:51 ]


Second Week in June

The pair of Red Turtle Doves were still on Po Toi this week, and the reason became clear - one of the birds is unwell and now cannot fly

The other bird seems healthy and is just staying with its mate. In Europe, Turtle Doves are known as lovebirds - now I know why.

One Yellow Bittern remains, an immature bird I think. Also a single White-rumped Munia. White-rumped Munia appear at irregular intervals through the year on Po Toi, no apparent seasonal timing to their visits, and always in small numbers.

Not like the Scaly-breasted Munia, which arrive in large flocks when the elephant grass starts to seed - although how they know that I can't imagine. This comparison of the two species is exactly as described in Avifauna.

If you remember, a Ching Ming fire on 15th April turned the SE Peninsular into a black hole. It's now well on the way to complete regeneration, as these before and after photos show. Nature is a powerful force when left on its own.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 12:52 ]


Third Week in June

Po Toi can still create surprises even this late in the season.

The Red Turtle Doves were not to be seen this week (not a surprise - I think the healthy bird left after its mate died), but in their place - an Oriental Turtle Dove, seen first on Tuesday and again on Thursday

Easily the latest record for June in Avifauna but there is a record at Mai Po in July!

Also new this week were a Common Sandpiper and a White-throated Kingfisher, both on the SE Peninsular on Tuesday. By Thursday the Kingfisher had relocated to the lagoon and was much easier to photograph

From the black coloured bill and odd plumage, I think this must be a bird from this year, an example of juvenile dispersal.

Also much in evidence this week, Tree Sparrows. On Po Toi Tree Sparrows are migrants. The first of the year arrived on 4th April and a few have been around since then. On Tuesday I saw a flock of 20 migrate SW from the lighthouse on the SE Peninsular, but on Thursday there were more than 50 around the restaurant, feeding on the stale bread the islanders leave out to dry before using as fishing bait.

Where do these birds come from? - an enigma. I think they are from the Philippines, but who can be sure. Unless the unusually large size of the black bibs on many of the birds is a clue?

The rocky island just to the west of Po Toi now has at least 4 pairs each of Bridled and Roseate Terns, as well as about 20 pairs of Black-naped. Here a photo with some of each species, plus an individual Roseate and Bridled

Finally, I could not resist taking a photo of the name of this ship

Bhum ships are regulars on the route into Hong Kong but this one has the best name. What does it mean in Thai? - probably quite boring.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 12:55 ]


Last Week in June

Not much to report or show this week.

The Oriental Turtle Dove was still on the island on Tuesday but not seen today. Likewise, a few Tree Sparrows were there on Tuesday but none today.

The only photos of interest - two young Crested Myna in the nest and two crabs shaping up for a fight.

The boat captain refused to go on Thursday because the weather was too bad. He had to go today and the weather was even worse.

Here some photos on the return journey - Bridled and Roseate Terns in a rainstorm, and two crazy gweis enjoying their day sailing

This may be my last entry for a few weeks, I will be away most of July, back in August when hopefully things will have started moving again.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 13:42 ]


I'm perhaps missing something but are you sure those are Crested Myna? The nest would be unusual for mynas (which usually nest in holes in rocks/buildings) and they seem a bit too grey and certain other features seem wrong (iris colour, tail pattern, etc). Do you have more photos or have you seen adults visiting the nest to confirm ID?

By the way, Oriental Turtle Dove has oversummered in the NT for a few years, and has bred at Lok Ma Chau. I have seen birds in a couple of places in the last couple of weeks.



You may be right.

When I took the photo, I assumed they were Black Drongo, from the nest and its location. When I looked at the photo, I thought they couldn't be Black Drongo from the bill and tail so decided they must be Crested Myna.

Are they Black Drongo after all? I didn't see the adults but they are nesting on Po Toi.


Last Week in July

Back from two very wet weeks in UK.

Bird of the week this week was a Grey Wagtail last Thursday 26th, not there today.

From the pinkish base to the bill and the brown feathers (or is it stain?) on the breast, I think this is a juvenile. Either a very early migrant or an example of juvenile dispersion, in which case there may be a nesting pair in the Hong Kong area.

Only one other new bird this week, a Common Kingfisher.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 13:43 ]


First Week in August

Autumn migration has started - slowly but a few species have started passing through.

Best bird, today, a Hoopoe. Not the best photos though, it was quite shy and only wanted to show me its back end

Other migrants, 2 Oriental Turtle Doves flew in off the sea yesterday, also a migrant flock of 5 Common Sandpipers and today a White Wagtail passed overhead and carried on out to sea flying towards Lamma Island.

2 juvenile Great Tits today were the first Great Tits for me on Po Toi since August 2006 when there were also 2 juveniles.

Po Toi seems to get several examples of juvenile dispersion in July/August, the Grey Wagtail last week and also the Common and White-throated Kingfishers from previous weeks, still there this week.

Finally, some decent photos to show it is possible - a single White-rumped Munia from last Thursday and one of a group of 6 Scaly-breasted Munia which flew into the SE Peninsular today

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 13:44 ]


Second Week in August

A very wet and wild week in south Hong Kong. The ferry didn't run for one week because of winds and rough seas, so I wasn't able to see if any seabirds were blown in last weekend.

Today, an early Brown Shrike, enjoying the rain.

Also a Common Kingfisher, the White-throated Kingfisher, 2 Great Tits and a White Wagtail.

This week completes a full year of detailed recording for me which started on 17th August 2006 and finished today, 16th August 2007. I kept records on 153 days and saw 222 species over this period (22 residents, 150 other land birds, 22 waders and 28 sea birds). At least another 6 species were seen by others.

This graph shows the number of non-resident land bird species seen each day visited throughout the year (in pink) and the average HK daily temperature that day (in blue)

Two features are typical for Hong Kong

1. More species are seen in spring than in autumn. This characteristic of Hong Kong birds was first noted as early as 1913 by Vaughan and Jones in their 1913 HK Bird List.

2. The number of species increases when there is a significant fall in temperature. This occurs throughout the year, although the reasons are different in each season. Temperature is not usually the cause of the increase, the real cause is wind direction and strength.

In autumn – a surge of northerly winds brings migrants flying across China from the north east to the south west down into Hong Kong. See 11th and 12th September after 3 days of strong N winds (remember the Tiger Shrikes?)

In winter – a surge of northerly winds and cold weather brings wintering species from further north down into Hong Kong. Temperature may be a motivating factor at this time. See 9th January.

In spring – north-easterly winds after a cold front bring migrants flying north from the Philippines into Hong Kong. See 3rd April. This is the only time of the year when Philippine wintering species such as Ferruginous Flycatcher, Japanese Yellow Bunting can be seen in Hong Kong and mostly explains why species numbers are greater in spring than autumn.

For a detailed analysis of Weather and Bird Migration in Hong Kong, see the ground-breaking paper by Lam and Williams in the 1993 HKBWS Annual Report.

I will only do two days a week on Po Toi for the next few weeks as my wife is expecting a baby in September. But if all goes well, I expect to be back in full action soon.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 13:45 ]


Last two weeks of August

Increasing numbers of migrant species over the last two weeks although it seems a slower start to autumn migration than last year.

Migrants so far have included Red Turtle Dove, Hoopoe (today), another Brown Shrike (today), Zitting Cisticola, Plain Prinia, Arctic and Eastern Crowned Warblers and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher. Here some photos of all these species except Brown Shrike and Zitting Cisticola

Highlight of the week was the juvenile Brown Booby last Sunday - this is one of  the original photos as it was taken without cropping.

Most of the summer terns have now left, only  a family of 4 Black-naped today. 2 Caspian Terns flew south past the ferry last week.

I tried out my new Canon 40D camera today. Three major improvements over the 30D, the viewfinder gives a much larger and clearer view, similarly the LCD display, and the noise when you take a photo is less, now more a click than a clunk. No doubt there are other improvements for the expert but these are the obvious ones for me. So far, I can recommend it.

This is my last entry for Po Toi Summer - Po Toi Autumn starts next week, with the prospect of nine full months of birding ahead.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 18/08/2010 13:47 ]