Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass in Spring, 2014

Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass in Spring, 2014

25th March, 2014

Wintering Birds Keep Dwindling

The spring scene seems repeating itself. Both species of local minivets have splitted company. High on the fir-like tree - the highest on the catchment - were noisy Chinese bulbuls, soon joined by three equally vociferous Scarlet minivets. Hopeful for a lingering-on Black-winged cuckoo shrike, I also lingered on. Not disappointed, the not-seen-for-weeks bird flew up to the same tree, easily identified in bright sunlight.

Ashy drongos no more, and the Verditer flycatcher, which used to be around in the vicinity in the mornings was also no more. Thrushes were heard flying on trees, but none afford a good sighting.

To check the spring scene on the full way of Lead Mine Pass, I went up to the top. Fork-tailed sunbirds were everywhere with two seen, Scarlet-backed flowerpeckers had increased significantly but again affording only quick flying views. Pygmy wren babblers called again which were recorded two. Three Lesser shortwings were heard, but none of Mountain bush warblers.

Next trip will be one during unsettled weather, when north flying forest birds being stopped to stay by a strong cold front, surely in April.

S L Tai


11th April, 2014

Mid-spring scene of the place
Five consecutive sightings of different male Hainan blue flycatchers

Anyone who wants to get conversant with the spring song of Hainan blue flycatchers should get a try along the path on Lead Mile Pass. Mature males call fervently in their seeking of a mating partner while perching and making short flights around their spring territory. In this spring, unlike previous ones, it was sheer luck that the first bird was heard, located and identified within minutes, same birding encounters keeping up until my return trip from the first straight section of road the leads to the arboretum, totally five.

Rest of summer or spring visitors were heard, which were a Plaintive and a Large hawk cuckoos.

Just a migrant showed up, in the form of Ashy drongo of the subspecies leucogenis, elaborately emphasized for its very whitish facial patch not seen in all the winterers of the species, all not been recorded for weeks.

The locals kept appearing in pairs, notably a sing couple of Orange-bellied leafbirds now appearing uncommon, best located when they are heard on flowering cotton trees or the single Chinese Chandelier (correct spelling?) on top of Picnic Site 6.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 12/04/2014 18:34 ]


16th April, 2014 (Wednesday)

Low Ebb of Spring Forest Migrants
Vindication of Flycatchers Passing in Waves

It was on the water-edge of Pineapple Dam that a migratory Great egret was seen, and the only obvious migrant seen today.

It was at the beginning of Picnic Site No.6 that a female Hainan blue flycatcher was seen, looking hesitantly before making a choice between two frantically singing males, each of the latter on either side of the road. It took some time for the female to fly from my left to the right side. All three were silent when I returned from the top of Lead Mine Pass which was rather quiet.

Asian barred owlets were heard only once uttered by one individual, probably the weather was overcast and not so attractive to other ones, four being recorded along the trip last time on the 11th of April, the day being fine. In comparison, on the same day thirty of bird species were recorded to today's 26.

Hainan blue flycatchers are known to sing on migration. It certainly is true for the area too. Last time (Friday) there were five seen and a few more heard, making a total of about ten. But today they were less heard on the upper part of the trip, resulting in a few less.

It was a delight to see a pair of Scarlet-backed flower-peckers in breeding plumage feeding in a tree flowering luxuriantly at just the lowermost part.

From my personal experience the first concentrated passage of flycatchers was on last Sunday, four species seen on Mai Po. Next, disrespect of weather, I would suggest towards the end of the month. I will be searching on the Pass when the time comes. If I am not mistaken, the first wave of migrants comes from the Philippines and upper Indochina and the second from Singapore and lower down.

S L Tai