Sharp island, Sai Kung

There were more than 50 bird photographers at the Sai Kung pier today.. Intrigued by what they were after, I was very soon “informed” that they were waiting for the White- bellied Sea Eagle. I remembered when I was a newbie in birding years ago, Sai Kung was the place to go! At dusk, black kites would fish around the pier for thrown away fish scraps by fishermen. There’s also a pair of white-bellied sea eagles residing on the islands near the pier too! Recently, there was a Frigate bird spotted at the pier that caused a stir.

But I  don’t have my gear or bins with me this time! So…what was I doing at Sai Kung pier then? :P During summer when there is nothing flapping around in the air, I would visit the ones flapping down under.. Yes, flapping fins! :P At the pier, we boarded the diving boat and headed off to Sharp Island.  Despite HK waters has poor visibility, the variety of sea critters can be surprisingly overwhelming on a gd day!

Here’s a short video of what I saw on my latest dive (taken by my GoPro cam).

“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust.

Nature comes in all forms, really dun have to travel far to discover them!

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Greater Painted-snipe in HK

The Greater Painted-snipe has always been one of my favorite birds.. The reason is simple- the female is much more colorful than the male! Its no wonder the female who courts the duller colored looking male is polyandrous, leaving the male to look after its chicks! *cough*

The Greater Painted-snipe breeds in HK, and they’re not hard to see esp. in the Mai Po Nature Reserve at hide #3 during breeding season. Once the chicks are out, the father parades them proudly across open reed beds, onlookers like me are just as excited! It would be nice to see the entire family together, but the female is always AWOL after eggs are laid! The doting male will incubate the eggs and care for the chicks as the female leaves to mate with a different male. :-/ So its impossible to have a family portrait of the Greater Painted-snipe..

The female is much prettier, agree?

The female is much prettier, agree?

Male is less gaudy looking.

Male is less gaudy looking.

Proud father and its chicks! But mummy has gone AWOL!

Proud father and its chicks! But mummy has gone AWOL!

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Birding at Panti, Malaysia

The calls of the long-tailed macaques echoed through the Panti forest in early morning left me with a sense of wonder, delight and curiosity as our car drove into the famous trail. It was very cool to see Hairy-backed Bulbuls, Grey-cheeked Bulbuls, Raffles Malkoha, Blue-winged Leafbirds, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, and even the Asian Paradise Flycatcher, etc., which are all lifers to me! But the prized find was the Rufous- collared Kingfisher, heard by my friend, Low! Here’s the video taken when it was calling. How cool is that? :P

Prized find of the rufous collared kingfisher

Prized find – the rufous collared kingfisher

Another mega find was Black-backed Kingfisher! Though its a resident in Panti, this skittish bird is always in hiding. My friends know their birds and their behavior well and we got to see them in close view. :)

black backed kingfisher at Panti

black backed kingfisher at Panti

My friend, Low, was determined to find us a Broadbill and he did! There were more than 2 in the bird wave and it was truly exciting to see them since I missed the Black and Yellow Broadbill in Thailand some years ago..! *cough* Don’t you just love its bill? :)

black and yellow broadbill in Panti

black and yellow broadbill in Panti

Last but not the least, Panti has a cave that houses bats! Its always cool to see them as I love bats too! :)

hairy-backed bulbul and blue-winged leafbird found in birdwave

hairy-backed bulbul and blue-winged leafbird found in birdwave

And here’s us! :)

P.S. Lots of leeches but I was not targeted! :) with my friends

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Beijing Long-eared Owls

Its widely known that a pair of Long-eared Owls could be found at the Temple of Heaven almost every winter! But to see them is another story- they are usually well above the pine trees and very much camouflaged. :-/

But a place further out of Beijing city, approx. 1hr 40mins transportation time takes us to Nanhaizi Park (南海子公园), which hosts not 1, not 2 but atleast 8 Long-eared Owls during their winter visit!

To get there- From Beijing metro, change to Yi Zhuang Light rail and alight at Rong Chang Dong Jie Station (荣昌东街) and then take the bus no. 453 (There is no bus stop sign! The bus stops under the bridge outside the station).

Take bus 453 to nanhaizi park from rongchangjie station

Take bus 453 to nanhaizi park from rongchangjie station

The bus will arrive at the South gate- in the park, walk towards the west where there is a path and some signs which included one that says “Hawk Roosting Platform”! I have not seen any hawks roosting there…but who knows! :-/ But the pine trees around that platform hosts several Long-Eared Owls in winter..!

At first we didn’t see any owls but Yellow-bellied Tits and Goldcrest, but we kept our hopes high.. Then the magic happened! While we munched on our packed lunch, 3 owls flew out from the trees!! We later saw some more and I was very thrilled to see them and also have a picture of it! A New year blessing for me.. :)

long-eared owl in Beijing

long-eared owl in Beijing

 

goldcrest at Nanhaizi park

goldcrest at Nanhaizi park

 

 

 

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Birding at Tai Tong Country Park

In early Spring (Jan-Feb), Tai Tong Country Park often yields quality birds! Many times, I have taken overseas birders and photographers to this area birding! But because its also a hiking hotspot and family picnic area, I often arrive before 8am to avoid human traffic! After all, the early bird gets the worm. :P

Tai Tong Country Park area for birding

Tai Tong Country Park area for birding

BBQ area at Tai Tong

BBQ area at Tai Tong

At the slopes of  BBQ area, thrushes will not be missed! Grey-backed thrush, White’s thrush, Japanese & Pale thrush are not rare here. It almost seems like a thrush haven! Occasionally, eye-browed thrush and orange-headed thrush can be seen too. Other birds foraging at the BBQ area are Olive-backed Pipit, Red-Flanked Bluetail, etc.

grey-backed thrushes seen along the slopes at BBQ area

grey-backed thrushes seen along the slopes at BBQ area

pale thrush at Tai Tong

pale thrush at Tai Tong

White's thrush

White’s thrushes almost everywhere, if you can spot them!

As you walked up to the red leaves area (in the map) from the BBQ area, you maybe in for some nice surprises! Rufous-tailed Robin, Siberian Rubythroat are not rare in HK, and this is a gd area to spot them!

rufous tailed robin seen uphill away from BBQ area

rufous tailed robin seen uphill away from BBQ area

Tai Tong Country Park never fails to amaze me. I have seen Black Bulbuls, Rufous-Gorgeted Flycatcher and lately, over 100+ hair-crested Drongos at close distance with overseas birders and birding friends!

black bulbul at tai Tong

black bulbul at tai Tong

rufous-gorgeted flycatcher- an early spring passage bird in HK

rufous-gorgeted flycatcher- an early spring passage bird in HK

100+ hair-crested drongos seen this early spring

100+ hair-crested drongos seen this early spring

Getting to this place is possible even without a car! But it would require a 30min walk uphill from the Tai Tong bus stop. Ofcoz along the way, you’ll see lots of large-billed crows! *cough* By public transport- take the Light rail transport to Long Ping Estate and take the bus K66 to Tai Tong!

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