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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Here comes the fledgling

The recent bad weather in Hong Kong had caused another casualty in the bulubul family as I found a dead chick in the garden several days ago. But the fact that the parents still continued to feed the chicks meant that there was still hope.

The young Red-whiskered Bulbuls are usually fed caterpillars and insects in the first couple of weeks of their life, which are gradually replaced by fruits and berries. The fruiting mulberry tree near my house proved to be very handy for the parents.

But the ripe mulberries were too soft to carry home in big chunks,

so they had to do with the less ripened berries. 

Occasionally, they brought home other types of berries and fruits too. 

The ripe papayas in the garden were also difficult to carry around in large pieces. 

A few days ago, I saw the parents flying around a small tree, and then I realized that the little chicks  must have fledged.  

After a very careful search, I found one little fledgling hiding among tree leaves. It seemed that only one chick survived in this brood.

The fledgling was still dependent on the parents for food in the first few days, but the feeding frequency was much less than before.

The young bird was growing very fast.

I saw the youngster jumping up and down the trees searching for food a couple days ago and I am sure it will fly away very soon. The parents, on the other hand,  may just have enough time for the second breeding of this year.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Tough birds----Where there is a will there is a way

Before I knew it, my Red-whiskered Bulbul neighbours who just lost their chicks last month had built a new nest and hatched their eggs again.


I only  realized what was going on when I saw the parents bringing home small insects again.

The nest is hidden very well in a big pine tree in the garden and to this day I am not able to locate it. I decided not to disturb the chicks and just observe the parents from inside my house.

Most of the time, the two birds would go out hunting together. If one caught insects first, it would wait for the other somewhere high up just outside my garden. 

If one was out of sight, the other would make very loud calls on top of a small tree. 

They always fed the chicks in turns, usually mum went in first, while daddy was waiting nearby on guard. 

Gradually, the insects they brought back got bigger and bigger.

One day, I even saw big Stick Insects! 

The two birds had been in and out every 10-20 minutes everyday for over a week, no matter if it was boiling hot or was pouring down with rain. With such dedicated parents, the nestlings must have been growing fast. I am sure that this time these two determined birds will be able to bring up a new family very soon.  

Saturday, 14 May 2011

White Dragontail butterfly

The Swallowtail butterflies are a family of butterflies which are commonly found in Southeast Asia including Hong Kong.

They are usually quite big, for example, the wing span of this Common Mormon is about 10cm. 

The wings of most of the Swallowtails in Hong Kong are mainly black with stripes and/or speckles. They are given the name “swallowtail” because their tails resemble the forked tail of some swallows, like this Common Rose below.

Although the Swallowtails may be distributed cross the entire world, the White Dragontail (left and below), the smallest Swallowtail in the world, with a wing span at about 5cm, is only native to  South Asia and Southeast Asia.   

This butterfly is unique not only because it is a rare species but also because it flies like a dragonfly, which earned its name.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Thirsty Butterfly

  While most of the wintering birds have left for the North, the butterfly season has just begun in Hong Kong.

   The increasing temperature combined with high humidity provides an ideal climate for butterflies. But sometimes the summer heat is unbearable even for the butterflies. The other day I saw a thirsty Paris Peacock butterfly having a drink in a shallow stream.