Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hong Kong Birding, Day 2 - Choi's Birding Spots

Our friend and local birder, Allwatin Choi, picked us up from our hotel to take us around some choice birding spots. Our first stop was at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden. Our target bird was the Yellow-cheeked Tit, an uncommon bird in Hong Kong. 

It was a long, arduous climb to the spot where this species chose to build a nest. A whole gang of enthusiastic bird photographers were already there when we arrived, patiently waiting for the adult tits to appear. 

A bunch of guys waiting to see a pair of tits
 After what seemed an eternity, one adult finally came bringing food to its nestlings. A flurry of shots. And in just a few seconds the bird flew off. Another long wait. It was nearing noon so we told Allwatin that we're ok with the shot of the Yellow-cheeked Tit that I got and we could move on.


On the way down, I mentioned to our friend that one of the birds we'd like to see is the Fork-tailed Sunbird - arguably the only sunbird found in Hong Kong. He said that it might be difficult since it's that time of year where there weren't many flowers in bloom. He had barely finished talking when he heard a trill. "Fork-tailed Sunbirds!" he exclaimed with a tone of surprise. Soon enough the tiny, colorful bird showed up and flitted quite close to us. "I've never seen them this close!" was Allwatin's incredulous comment. Strange hearing that from him since he had been birding in Hong Kong for quite some time now and I'm sure already had several encounters with this species. But then again my wife and I had similar experiences before so we were not really surprised at what just happened.


As if that was not enough, as soon as the sunbird left the premises, our friend pointed at a small waterway behind us. There, as nonchalant as a bored panda, was a Blue Whistling Thrush - another addition to our life list.


Our next stop was a small open area in a subdivision. There another bird photographer, whom Allwatin knew (and possibly the one who told him about this place) pointed up to a tree branch. We initially had difficulty seeing the object up there. Then our friend's friend showed us a spot where there was a space between the tree trunk and a huge branch, then from theat vantage point the object became visible. An Asian Barred Owlet was peering down at the curious photographers below.


Our next stop was the Kam Tin river. Allwatin told us that since Mai Po, a favorite birding place in Hong Kong, will most likely not have much to offer this time of year, not to mention a permit would be necessary to get in there, the next best thing would be the road by this river. Cynthia and I were glad we stopped by here. Because the very first bird I saw was a Pied Avocet - a lifer that we failed to see in the Philippines. 


Black-faced Spoonbills were here too. In breeding plumage!


To cap off the day we got another lifer - the Chinese Pond Heron, albeit a juvenile. Allwatin was surprised that this was the first time we've seen this bird. "You never saw them at the lagoon in Kowloon Park?" he asked in disbelief. Apparently this species was a regular at the park, we just didn't have the luck to see them there.


It was already past noon. There was a restaurant nearby that our friend recommended. We enjoyed a very hearty lunch of Chinese delicacies.



It had been a very productive day of birding for us. We added 6 more lifers to our list. We don't have enough words to say how much we appreciated Allwatin for taking time off from his work so he can take us to the awesome birding spots in Hong Kong. 唔該, Allwatin!