Shing Mun/ Lead Mine Pass in Winter, 2015

Shing Mun/ Lead Mine Pass in Winter, 2015

28th November, 2015 (Sat)
North/North-easterly, cool from 17 to 22 Celsius

Second cold-front bring new wintering species
Yet no surprise

Just ordinary for the Pineapple Dam part but a good local bird in the form of a Speckled piculet was seen near the Road Barrier in company with some Chestnut bulbuls. My second local sighting and fifth after three seen at Fraser's Hill in Peninsula Malaysia. Still a delight to find one.

On the way, an Ashy drongo was sighted.

A flock of twenty-five or more Striated yuhinas were seen at the first Butterfly Garden, a local regular winter species.

Four Olive-backed pipits were seen at Picnic Site No. 7, local first-time sighting.

No delight found at wet ground beyond P S No. 12 but the male Daurian redstart flew in front of me when I was about to take leave, seeming to say, 'I'm still here.'

A leaf warbler uttering three-note calls twice unknown to me triggered the urge to search for its identity online.

S L Tai


Have you checked the two-barred warbler calls?

Now that I know the call I have heard / seen this several times recently.



Congratulations on the piculet Mr Tai - always a great bird to find.

Mike K
Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee



Thanks for your suggestion. After listening to some of Two-barred ones, the ones I heard were not so high-pitched. Just medium three notes,
falling tone, something like dju, dju, dju.

I tried to find the bird today at the same spot but failed.


S L Tai


1st Dec, 2015 (Tue)
Warm easterly, 20 to 25 Celsius. Just shorts and single short-sleeved shirt

Little change of winter scenario
Too warm perhaps to keep the migrants

The catchment part was not interesting at all, save two Chinese blackbirds heard and seen.

Losing of wintering birds at the same location rather than adding new ones. Just vague hearing of Red-throated flycatcher.

Thrushes were heard everywhere but impossible to sight one.

Patience for colder days to come my best strategy.

S L Tai


06th December, 2015 (Sunday)
Cold with northerly wind lowering temperature to a range from 14 to 18 Celsius. Cloudy bur turned clear towards late morning

Zest for thrushes lures one up from warm sleeping bed
Birding scene gives a different turnout

The catchment part provided just calls of Chinese blackbirds but no signs of ground feeding thrushes. Nil was seen all morning.

The catchment area was most ordinary except a male Daurian redstart, the only chat found for the trip.

The ninth recorded species was an Ashy drongo, led to its whereabout as usual by its calls and found on prominent bare parts of a tree. But another took the exception of following a birdwave and perching just outside thick-leafed trees.

A total of three Grey-headed flycatchers were found; two seen and one heard.

The only birdwave of the morning was encountered on reutrn from Picnic site 7 before the footbridge on Reservoir Walk. Huet's fulvettas and a White-bellied erponis were seen among others. A leaf warbler of the length of a Yellow-browed but of bulkier size needed all attention to follow its active and quick movements. Its head looked dark with greyish tinge, wide greater-covert wingbars with dark fringe together with also wide pale tertial fringes dominated the upperbody look. Dark bill with no pale part seen together with darkish legs revealed it was no ordinary leaf warbler. My only conclusion was that of a Hume's (Phylloscopus humei, possibly of the mandellii race) in fresh plumage, a species that notes were dropped for report.

S L Tai


11th December, 2015 (Friday)
North-easterly keeps the temperature range moderately low of 16 to 21 Celsius

Winering bird scene continues to change gradually
New birds of the season continues to appear

A separation of, as far as I remember, more than a decade gave me a second sighting of a Little grebe in the reservoir. When I was on top of Pineapple Dam I proceeded, as usual, to the catchment outlet to the waters. This time the bird was further away, about one third distance across. I took down notes to make sure that I had been looking at a first winter bird, very likely a migrant, or a winter visitor from another part of south China.

A fruit-bearing tree (possibly two) had some bulbuls feeding on when I spotted my first Eyebrowed Thrush of the season, just time enough to see its head pattern before it shied away as a thrush always does on the approach of a walking human. A pair of Orange-bellied leafbirds, quite uncommon in the area, was seen on another fruiting tree at another spot. The wet ground beyond Picnic site 12 yielded me a Common kingfisher,again uncommon here but easily seen at Mai Po, was found on a rock out of the water.

It was on the return trip that I met a mixed flock, seeing first an Asian paradise flycatcher which allowed me to see it well. Soon a Grey-headed flycatcher followed. What I enjoyed most were two Goodson's warblers, one of subspecies goodsoni and beforehand of fokiensis (formerly called commonly as Blyth's). The latter I suspected having seen more than one.

The male Daurian redstart I missed around PS 12 was compensated by seeing the one near Pineapple Dam when I nearly finished my morning of birding.

S L Tai


14th December, 2015 (Monday)
Though wind still from N/NE, it's largely warm from 19 to 22 Celsius with a grey sky

Warm weather brings in a birding downturn
Scene seems standing still much like from beginning

Nothing but ordinary was encountered, bringing in a decision to go up when the Reservoir Walk took its sharp-U turn. Decision not to enter the young secondary forest on being overtaken by two walkers taking the same direction. Curious about the presence of Striated yuhinas mixed with mainly Janpanese white-eyes made a downhill walk-back more desirable.

At the bottom of uphill walk sunlight favoured a good view of twenty-five or more of yuhinas. However, their companions were as effort revealed, are ordinary local species, lots of white-eyes, a few Minivets of both kinds, some babblers and a lot of Velvet-fronted nuthatches.

The rest of the forward trip till Picnic Site 12 was just monotonous and the return half of the walk was just rewarded with a Grey-headed flycatcher and one Pallas's leaf warbler heard.

S L Tai


17th December, 2015 (Thursday)
Full impact of a strong cold-front brings in a truly winter day with temperature from 9 to 12 Celsius. Sunny and wind from north

Significant drop of temperature brings new birds
Cold-front pushing forth thrushes on the birding front

Whether it was the effort of the cold-front or co-incidence three Collared crows were seen after an absence of sighting for more than a month.

Daurian redstart in the vicinity of Pineapple Dam increased to a pair. A single male was seen at the wet part beyond Picnic Site 12.

Pallas's leaf warblers were on the increase, two seen on a single tree. Olive-backed pipits were fewer than last year, with two seen at separate spots.

An Ashy drongo was seen foraging with a mixed flock consisting mainly of Grey-throated minivets and Japanese white-eyes.

The vain search of a Fujian niltava at the old Fung Shui woods just in front of Picnic Site 12 naturally led to going further to the wet part of the site. Some Chinese blackbird(s) were heard on far-side slope, but interesting things fell their lot on the near-side along the stream. There more thrushes were heard; patience and little movement posture brought them out to feed near, first a White's thrush succeeded soon by a male Grey-backed thrush, all first species sighting of the season.

My target species of the morning was Red-flanked bluetails. Two were found, all on the walk's side; the first female showed well initially with a front posture, followed by a side-view and then a hind position before a short flight into disappearance.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 17/12/2015 20:37 ]


19th December, 2015 (Saturday)
Still cold with wind from north-easterly; temperature from 12 to 18 degrees Celsius

Hopeful for surprises in sunny weather
Both absent in reality

At seven fifteen it was still cold and the sky was grey. Birds were more heard than seen.

It was between Picnic Sites 5 and 6 that a big mixed flock dominated by babblers was met. Save about ten Striated yuhinas, an Ashy drongo and some Pallas's leaf warblers, the rest were all residents. However, my morning list quickly swelled from nine to twenty-four.

It was at Picnic Site 12 that I saw my first male Red-flanked bluetail. The wet part beyond produced two male Grey-backed and one Scaly (previously call White's) thrushes. The thrushes were shier today than last visit. It was thought that there were more than two in kind and three in number considering thrushes seen and heard only.

The total species recorded increased to thirty-three from twenty-six of last time. Optimistically, only if more warblers and some flycatchers were seen, the total species would reach forty or beyond in near future.

S L Tai


24th December, 2015 (Friday)
Warm easterly raises temperature from 20 at the location to believed to be 25 or more Celsius at Tsuen Wan urban area

Taking chance of birding quietly before noisy X'mas public holidays country park hikers
Rewarded with more thrushes

Among the first ten species recorded there were a female Red-flanked bluetail and an Asian brown flycatcher, the latter being brushed with grey on the breast but wide pale inner half of lower mandible together with typical call when flying away confirmed what it was.

It was again the same fruiting tree -that Paul Aston introduced the present Shing Mun/Lead Mine Pass route about a decade ago - not far from the first butterfly garden that a pair of Japanese and a first winter male Grey-backed thrushes were seen. Moving little, they were seen at just one perching position before flying away. It was at second attempt that a noisy Ashy drongo was seen. At the wet patch behind Picnic Site 12, a cautious approach yielded - believed to be previously seen - single Scaly and male Grey-backed thrushes. They were being a bit alarmed and retreated to the fringe of thick bushes before disappearing.

On the return leg of the morning trip, a flock of Striated yuhinas - thought to be the same lot as previous times - were seen with some local babblers and bulbuls. It was on the long flight of stairs down from the firt butterfly garden that my local first Rufous-tailed robin of the season was heard and spotted which rounded up my day's count to thirty-five.

S L Tai


31st December, 2015 (Friday)
N/E wind continues blowing coolness over with clear sky; temperature from 16 to 20 degrees Celsius

Wintering scene continues as usual
Birds appear more shy and move morning locations

The catchment continued to be quiet as last time. When the first long flight of stairs that led to the reservoir fringe was approached, the Red-throated or Taiga flycatcher was heard again for the third or fourth time over the past several weeks. As now estimated within sighting distance, quick steps soon revealed the whereabout of the bird. Nearby by a male Red-flanked bluetail was also seen.

It was just past the bridge over the stream into the reservoir that a birdwave led mainly by local babblers was encountered. Winter visitors included a Grey-headed flycatcher which uttered just single-note rapid calls -harder to detect than its usual four-note ones. Just a Goodson's warbler was also seen.

The wet patch beyond Picnic Site 12 yielded just one Scaly thrush as one other thrush fled back into disappearance on approach.

S L Tai


7th January, 2016 (Thursday)
With wind blowing again from N/NE, morning bit cold with partially clear sky; 15- 20 degrees Celsius

Wet and comparatively warm winter conditions render birding different
No birdwaves of wide variety met

Overtaken by a noisy gang of twelve morning trekers ruled out robins and chats being met on the Reservoir Walk. Consequently  only two male Daurian redstarts were seen, one on the fringe of the reservoir near Pineapple Dam and one on wet patch beyond Picnic Site No.12, both away from human walkers.

Ashy drongos seemed disoriented by weather condition, two kept feeding on a fixed spot, one mostly silent while the other uttering natural calls and two kinds of minmicry - that of Crested goshawk and Orange-bellied leafbird.

Two flocks of Striated yuhinas continued their active feeding forages, each time at different locations.

Grey wagtailswere totally absent from the catchment area near Pineapple Dam. Cause apparently a near-total dry up of the bottom except the deeper central part. It was remembered that just a little of more than a year ago the cement bottom had been repaired and raised higher for more than a few centimetres; yet the consequence on its feeding ground effects becomes significant in January. The lesson is, try as far as possible not to tamper with ecosystems, both natural and artificial if the latter already working well.

Picnic Site No. 12 was visited again for thrushes. The right wet part beyond the site yielded four Grey-backeds but the only White's there not seen. Prior to walking back on the grassy part of the site, difficulty of locating a calling thrush on a tree resulted in paying attention to nearby trees. More thrushes were heard. Right on the grassy patch a fruiting tree was evidently the cause. Thrushes and babblers were found, the former clearly coming from the sloppy part across the Reservoir Walk. A total of five thrushes were counted, four Grey-backeds and one male Japanese.

S L Tai


13th January, 2015 (Wednesday)
N/E wind and clear sky; temperature from 12 to 19 Celsius

Comfortable weather and leisurely birding
Common thrushes and chats dominate morning's wintering species

The morning started quite ordinarily until a pair of Red-flanked bluetails were seen on side of Reservoir Walk near second butterfly garden. A female Daurian redstart with almost no white patch on the wing kept me busy with five minutes until this distinctive feature showed well (still a lot smaller than ordinary) upon its third appearance, noisy single and couple of walkers alternately disturbing the bird and observation.

Only the White's thrush was found on the old wet spot. I left it and went to the grassy Picnic Site 12 proper. Near the stony steps five Grey-backed thrushes were seen feeding on the ground, quite oblivious to human approach if done slowly. Some morning trekkers walked down the steps and scattered the thrushes. I went to sit for a short rest near and above the former feeding spot of the birds. Soon some flew up and started feeding on my right side, providing some of the  most sedentary birding possible.

For flycatchers I got the Taiga flycatcher at its old place again and a Grey-head flycatcher on Picnic site no. 7 foraging with some local birds.

S L Tai


18th January, 2016 (Monday)
N/NE keeps temperature in the region of 10 to 17 degrees Celsius; sunny

No change as regards flycatchers and warblers
Thrushes diminish but new variety

It was the occasion to see a Blue whistling thrush in stead of recording the species often as heard. A short shiny blue down-to-the-nape cloak spotted in silvery grey enhanced its elegance when it took on a slightly upward stance of its head, pressing down its tail, spread out its rectrices and in a flash got them closed. Such a proud bird.

The first Pale thrush of the winter was seen when it flew across the Reservoir Walk and landed on the left side before flying across back to the right.

A handsome male Verditer's flycatcher was well seen feeding on small red berries in short distances.

On the Lead Mine Pass up to Picnic Site 9 just a female Grey-backed thrush waa seen. The other thrushes were either hidden from view and flew away on approach or scared away by passing lorries or cars of the AFCD.

Picnic Site 12 yielded no thrushes at all. In compensation a Grey-headed flycatcher was seen foraging down from the steep slope on the other side of the narrow stream among White-eyes and Blue-winged minlas.

The second from last bird was a well-seen Goodson's leaf warbler, thick blackish lateral crown stipes, one and a half wingbars and mainly yellowish underbody combined to make it one of the most attractive warblers in winter.

S L Tai


25th January, 2016 (Mon)
Cold with wind from N/NE bringing temperature down to range of 3 - 9 degrees Celsius

A Morning of Common Chats and Robins
Thrushes moving to unknown feeding grounds

Daurian redstarts were in fairly good number of two males and four females. Red-flanked bluetails reached local high of four males and four females, being driven by the chilliness of weather to feed within sight-reaching distances.

Birdwaves did not seem to amass good variety, but in a small-sized one a Grey-headed flycatcher and a Goodson's leaf warbler were seen.

Striated yuhinas were seen in one sigle flock of more than twenty-five, and an uncalling Crested serpent eagle was seen circulating on thermals with nearly thirty Black-eared kites, first bird seen for the winter.

Most thrushes at usually-seen locations had moved to other places, resulting in just three Grey-backed thrushes seen singly at different places.

S L Tai


2016-Feb-09, sunny and hot.

Common Tailorbird 4
Black Kite 1
Red-flanked Bluetail 9 6 males and 3 females
Black Bulbul 2
Blue Whistling Thrush 2
Japanese White-eye 1
Chinese Bulbul 1
Oriental Magpie Robin 1
Rufous-capped Babbler 1
Blue-winged Minla 1
Daurian Redstart 3 1 males and 2 females
Red-whiskered Bulbul 1
Ashy Drongo 1
Large-billed Crow 1
Cinereous Tit 1
Yellow-browed Warbler 4
Goodson's Leaf Warbler 1
Chestnut-collared Yuhina 20
Fork-tailed Sunbird 1
Red-billed Blue Magpie 2
White Wagtail 1
Grey Wagtail 3
Olive-backed Pipit 2
Pygmy Wren-babbler 1 heard only
Spotted Dove 1
Chestnut Bulbul 1
White-bellied Sea Eagle 1
Mountain Tailorbird 1 heard only
Crested Goshawk 1 heard only
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 2
Huet's Fulvetta 1 heard only
Mountain Bulbul 2



and Happy New Year!



Dear AC 130

Would be thankful if you kindly tell the spot where you found the Black bulbuls.

Nice record of a morning's birding.

S L Tai


At the very beginning of my trip, near the store/toilet,
there is a tree with many tiny green fruits on the left hand side of the road.
A Black Bulbul and many Chinese bulbuls were having their breakfast on that tree.

For the second one, after I had found the first one, I looked back at the Pineapple Dam.  I found another Black Bulbul
standing on a tall tree on the left hand side of the dam top.



AC 130

Thanks. I missed them for the spot of the black bulbuls was not on my trip route.

S L Tai


]4th (Thursday) & 12th February (Friday), 2016

4th Feb
N/NE wind kept temperature moderately low from 11-17 Celsius with sunny periods

Spring keeps most of the wintering birds but with almost no addition
A morning with a birding companion

Roy, who came from Canada, kept me company for the morning to learn the general layout of the country park.

Together we had four Daurian redstarts, three female and one male. For Red-flanked bluetails we had six, four males and two females.

Birds did not came in bird waves. We picked them up in two and threes in species at a time, and often singly, like the Orange-headed thrush shortly before Picnic Site 6. I was able to demonstrate to pick out a White-bellied erponis by hearing first and sighting it right afterwards, to the delight of us both. Of other thrush kinds only one Grey-backed was seen.

A Two-barred greenish warbler was briefly seen but missed an Ashy drongo which called once but was not found.

12th Feb
Wind had turned S/SE bringing humidity and warmth which caused slight sweating with temperature ranging from 19 to 23 Celsius

Chats and robins keep out of sight or have started departing, or both
Total species result in dropping significantly

Cheatnut collared (previously called Stiated) yuhinas, absent from last trip, were found in two separate flocks of about twenty and twenty-five, or more. Around Picnic Site 12, three Grey-backed thrushes were seen, otherwise the forward trip was not engaging at all.

The return lap was better with first a silent Ashy drongo was seen on top of an erect dead tree, soon followed by a Black-winged cuckoo shrike which flew in from my left with some Chestnut bulbuls. A Great barbet was heard, signifying spring being upon the place.

The morning's count was a mere twenty-four, dropping appreciably from last time's thirty-six.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 14/02/2016 20:49 ]


17th February, 2016 (Wednesday)
Wind from the north keeps the temperature down to range of 10 to 15 Celsius; overcast

Quiet as regards birds
A routine trip similar to last time

On the path above the Visitors' Centre twenty-five or more of Chestnut-collared yuhinas were heard and seen.

It was on the left of the Road Barrier along the catchment that wintering species like an Ashy drongo and a Black-winged cuckoo strike were found among Grey-chinned minivets, common bulbuls and blue-winged minlas forming a birdwave.

Notably a Grey heron was seen flushed away when a sort of headland facing the reservoir was visited. A male Orange-bellied leafbird, uncommon around the place, was heard and seen at a distance, reinforcing the ability to identify the species by listening alone.

The near-bare patch of land beyond Picnic Site 12 yielded the male Daurian redstart not seen previously.

Total number of species recorded was again short of thirty, two below actually.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 17/02/2016 19:55 ]