Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass - Winter 2012/13

Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass - Winter 2012/13


24th Dec 2012, Monday

New Cold-front, New Bird Scenario

On arrival at six thirty-five, the daybreak was still at its early stage, affording less light necessary for comfortable eye birding. Birds either did not start calling until a Yellow-browed warbler broke the silence at six fifty-four.

The cold-front brought disruption to the formation of birdwaves and their bird consitituents; much fewer in variety and obvious absence of flycatchers; only one Grey-headed flycatcher was heard all the way, though a lone
Red-throated flycatcher was found at its old place - Pinic Site No. 7. One reward was that I was able to hear to identify before I located the bird and confirmed it, thanks to Geoff Welch who shows the difference between
the calls of Red-throated and Red-breasted, a most timely revison before I went.

Thrushes increased in number and kinds - two Grey-backed and three Pales were seen, but not the Siberian found some days before, an objective bird which brought Thomas Chan as my visit companion.

It was quite an unexpected delight when we saw a Forest wagtail near the Public toilet near Picnic Site No. 6, a personal second winter record.

Either it was the cold weather which brought additional activity or forced  arrival from the north, the number of Red-flanked bluetails increased to two males and two females seen.

One unchanged scene was the female Plumbeous redstart which chose to stay at the same part of the stony stream beyond Picnic Site No.12

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 26/12/2012 12:26 ]


Some photos for the walk in Shing Mun on 24 Dec 2012...

Red-Flanked Bluetail 紅脇藍尾鴝

Ashy Drongo (salangensis) 灰卷尾

Pale Thrush 白腹鶫

Forest Wagtail 山鶺鴒

[ Last edited by cthomas at 25/12/2012 19:12 ]


27th December 2012

To follow the discovery of both the Siberian thrush and White-tailed robin on the patch of flat land short distance from Picnic Site No. 6, I went and met quite a number of fellow
members and aquaintance.

The Siberian thrush, a first winter male , was seen and a White's also, but not the White-tailed robin which was seen by a young man only, I believe.

My number of species of thrushes of this winter from the site increases to four.

S L Tai

NB Near the Picnic site there's a flight of concrete steps that leads down to the place. The thrush was there feeding near everybody most of the morning.


Aside from the Siberian thrush, the white-tailed Robin was still present today, as well as the scaly thrush and a rufous-tailed robin.


I had a red-flanked bluetail and a grey-backed thrush at the same place too.

[ Last edited by thinfor at 28/12/2012 20:43 ]
Manson Tsang


My first visit to Shing Mun/Leadmine Pass for over ten years was pleasure for the birds, if not the fifty photogs around a baited perch.

Black-winged Cuckooshrike - 1

Siberian Thrush (away from the crowd)
Rufous-tailed Robin - 1
Daurian Redstart - 2
Red-flanked Bluetail 10 (including three on the path down to Wun Yiu from Leadmine Pass)

Grey-backed Thrush - 4
Pale Thrush - 2
White's Thrush - 1

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Grey-headed Flycatcher - 1

Mountain Bulbul - 2

Mike K

[ Last edited by kmike at 30/12/2012 21:06 ]
Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


31th December 2012 (Monday)

A Cold Morning of Birding

The last day of the year, also the coldest, was forecast to be sunny as it turned out to be so. I found it to be truly chilly at four degree Celsius.

The birds seemed to have started active before I arrived at seven ten. Black kites, four of them, were already soaring on warm thermals, again as usual in winter towards the north,  perhaps against the northerly wind to increase bouyancy. A male Grey-backed thrush was the second bird seen on the steps before the top of Pineapple Dam, and Daurian redstarts were heard and seen. It was interesting to note that the females utter two kinds of calls, one is of the 'ut, ut' kind  and the other is sharp one-note whistle, making them identifiable by call down to  sex level.

The catchment, which was drying up, attracted more Magpie robins than Grey wagtails, which were kept down to the  winter minimum of two. I failed again to locate the male Plumbeous redstart, which I heard and saw last Friday -the day  I went for the Siberian thrush and White-tailed robin. Its size, dark sihluette at dusk , distinctive high-pitched single-note whistle shorter and some keys lower than either Blue whistling thrushes or Slaty-backed forktails and its quite unique way of tail fanning are helpful in dark light.

Red-flanked bluetails,two males and three females were seen. Three kinds of thrushes, Grey-backed,Siberian,and Pale were seen in that order.Three species of flycatchers, Grey-headed, Asian brown and Red-throated were found in that sequence. Leaf warblers, the genus that had increase inidentification problems more and more due to splitting, posed in me great  caution. Pallas’s and Yellow-browed which were vocal were surely present,especially the former which had increased significantly and far our-numbering the latter since mid-December, were heard every now and then.  A good candidate for Goodson’s with whitish underbody was seen.
The photographers  at the Siberian –thrush place were seen baiting four Peking robins with  biscuit/bread crumbs and surrounded them at alarming close distance when the thrush had flown elsewhere.

The last notable bird was a male Black-winged cuckoo-shrike which had an almost whitish rump – throwing  me into an alarmed state but quickly  problem-settled by its undertail  white- blotted feather ends.

S L Tai

NB I have changed the Red-breasted fly. to Red-throated fly now. Apology for the typo mistake.

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 1/01/2013 21:21 ]


06 January afternoon

2 grey-headed canary flycatchers in a bird wave
1 taiga flycatcher
1 immature pale thrush
2 rufous-tailed robins
plenty of bluetails (males and females)

highlight was a hwamei eating a long-tailed skink. I would not have thought they were able of eating such a large prey.

[ Last edited by Ronaldo at 6/01/2013 20:48 ]


Hwamei.jpg (136.43 KB)

6/01/2013 20:39



7th January 2013 (Monday)

A Morning of Chats and Thrushes

The morning started sunny and blue but I didn't meet any sizeable birdwave. Naturally there were no flycatchers on my list and warblers were all but heard.

However, I got four Daurian redstarts and five Red-flanked bluetails, of both sexes, on the safe side.

On the approach to where the SiBerian thrush had been located, I saw a White's thrush, before it four Grey-backed thrushes of both sexes, and  afterwards at the Public toilet of Picnic Site No. 6 a Pale thrush fluttered up and perched on a rock before it made another lurch away from sight.

On arrival at Pinic Site No. 8 there were buntings chattering on the right and surely I got two Tristram buntings, my long-awaited for Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass first personal record.

Soon I got past the cordon-off-awaiting repair Pavilion and a dark bird flew up but remain on right side, first thought as a Blue whishtling thrush. On its next jump and fly-up I took it as a Magpie Robin which showed some white somewhere on the body. But MRs were never so nervy in behaviour so I stood still and waited. Soon I got where the bird was and got a focused look. A chat with indigo blue and looked mainly darkish around the body but look -
it strong tail showed a lenghy white on its upper tail outer feathers, which sealed it to be a male White-tailed robin.

I went to Pinic Sites No. 7 and 12 which resulted in seeing one more White's thrush and a Chinese blackbird, my first full sight one.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 11/01/2013 15:00 ]


11th January 2013

Thrushes, Chats and Robins

As it seems that this winter is moderately good for thrushes, chats and robins, I set out this morning to give the three kinds of birds a brief survey.

Daurian redstarts were the first to be found and though I omitted those which were heard I still got three females and two males seen, the last one being found near the rocky stream where I met again my old acquaintance of the winter - the female Plumbeous redstart- which again was seen chasing away a Grey wagtail who dared to approach her old haunt, a large nearly-rectangular block of rock.

The male Chinese blackbird was seen as previously at Picnic Site No. 12. It was quite impressive when he perched on the ground, dark longish body that set it apart with other Turdus species.  

It was interesting to hear a Pale thrush which continued to call on a tall tree with notes somewhat like 'chic, chic, chuck, chuck, chuck' which helped me to be able to identify it by hearing in future.
I found two this morning.

The White's thrushes were again two in total. The first one was seen before Picnic Site No. 6. It was seen spreading out its tail wide and fanned down on the ground which I supposed was a tactic to detect worms below the wet ground. It was again an interesting sight to see the next one in wide-open ground and bright sunshine - standing still seemingly to enjoy a sunbath.

Two Rofous-tailed robins were found with one at the Siberian-thrush's locality where a band of photographers were enjoying their exploits with baits and piled up tree branches for the robin.

A second local Blue whistling thrush was seen flying out to the road while calling thrilledly, the first being just heard.

Red-flanked bluetails were found aplenty numbering five, three males and two females. I found them the least attractive, both for its lack of elegance in colour and its calls of dull low-pitched 'ut, ut, ut'. Perhaps they look better in breeding season.

It was only checking against my records that I found the almost always found on the side of the road thrush - the Grey-backed thrushes were to be lastly added. They were the easiest species of today and totally six, four males and two females were seen.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 11/01/2013 15:53 ]


Some very nice winter birding Mr Tai

Mike K
Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


Dear Mr. Tai,
My wife and I were there in the same day (11/1/2013).  You were lucky to see white thrushes, Rofous-tailed robin and Plumbeous redstart to our list.  We did see Orange-bellied leafbirds (female and male). It was interesting to watch how the male Orange-bellied Leafbird held the fort by chasing other birds coming close to the Rhodoleia Tree and let the female to get all the food!

some photos attached:
Chestnut Bulbul

Great Tit

Greater NEcklaced Laughingthrush

Orange-bellied Leafbird (M)

Orange-bellied Leafbird (F)

[ Last edited by tomatofamily at 13/01/2013 00:03 ]


14th January 2013 (Monday)

A Morning of Counting Birds

Prolonged chilling condition (Shing Mun being one of the coldest local places) had rendered the birds in the area reversing in easiness of seeing. While thrushes are easy, local birds such as White-bellied yuhinas are hard to find if any. Flycatchers are monotonus in variety. Red-throated were still there in their old places, one of which was Picnic Site No. 7. A Grey-headed was just once heard and no more. Sizeable birdwaves were totally absent.

Having said everything negative, it was a good day to learn how many the area along which I walked could hold as regards robins, chats and thrushes. Red-flanked bluetails reached a seasonal high count of eleven, Dauarian redstarts six, Grey-backed thrushes nine, Pale four, two Chinese blackbirds and White's respectively at Picnic Site No. 12. It was interesting to find each of the two White's associated themselves with a blackbird on each side of the picnic area. Plumbeous redstart and Rufous-tailed robin one each at again their settled places. It was worth mentioning that three flocks of Striated yuhinas were encountered exceeding fifteen each all along the road.

A final but good record was that while I walked down from Picnic Site No. 9 a distinctive call of a Bay woodpecker was heard on the Grass Hill side of the road.

S L Tai


22nd January 2013 (Tuesday)

Lingering on of Wintering Days

In the past, with cold fronts lessening in severity on approach to February, it means birds wintering in the territory are leaving, notably with Rufous-gorgetted flycatchers and Siberian thrushes as typical. And robins, chats and thrushes are harder to see as they are less risky in exposing themselves, coupled perhaps with some already on step-to-step movements northwards. The morning's survey seemed largely reflected the supposed trend.

The four species of thrushes previous reported here were still present - Grey-backed, Pale, White's and Chinese blackbirds - but significantly lots less in the former two but the latter ones remained constant of two each. Striated yuhinas had reduced to one flock seen instead of formerly of three.

Flycatchers speaking, the male Verditer's reappeared in a birdwave, an uncalling Asian Brown plus a heard Grey-headed together made up the morning's total species of three, with Red-throated ones missing at all their previous located places.

The ritual visit of the female Plumbeous redstart beyond Picnic Site No. 12 had the delight of seeing her lively as ever, faithfully holding its territory at the biggest rock near the right part of the straight section of the stream.

It still came as a surprise to hear the Bay woodpecker again, this time near the northern end of the reservoir on the slope facing Tsuen Wan.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 25/01/2013 20:11 ]


30th January 2013 (Wed)

A Seasonal Tug-of-War in Progress

Four rapid notes of 'hu:,hu:hu:hu;' was the call of a Collared owlet heard at six thirty-four at Pineapple Dam, with sixteen more of other species to follow before the seventeenth - two Grey-throated minivets - was seen.

With the temperature returning to rise above fifteenth degrees, the Ashy drongo appeared again punctually on the big tree on the lawn adjacent to the road barrier.

With the Grey-backed not seen at all, the species of thrushes found was decreased to three; flycatchers speaking, again the Red-breastedat Picnic Site Seven was seen beside a Grey-headed not found long before;Red-flanked bluetails and Daurains redstarts reamined fairly easily seen but Rufous-tailed robins were no more.

While returning from Picnic Site No. 12, a frantic-calling Pygmy wren babbler afforded me a brief view before disappearing among the undergrowths.

A Great barbet was heard which seemed heralding the approach of spring.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 30/01/2013 20:27 ]


Mr. Tai, do you mean Collared Scops-owl? Collared Owlet would be a first for Hong Kong although it could conceivably occur in Hong Kong.


Dear all

Thanks for your enquiries including Grham's who PMed me.

To the best of my memories,the bird in question was heard three times and the calls resembled best the call description in Viney's book.
Besides, I had the call description written down in my field record book.

While I'm hearing the calls I did not exert my concentration to the best of my ability as I thought it was an owl easily found in the territor, and therefore might have been confused with the bubbling call of an Asian barred owlet.

Intrigued parties might be interested to know that the bird was heard on the right within thirty metres of the stairs that lead up to the
top of the dam one faces.

S L Tai