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Thursday, 31 January 2013

More Colourful Wintering Birds

The bad air quality in Hong Kong may not be ideal for photography but it doesn’t seem to deter the birds. In fact I have seen more species of birds this winter than previous years.

Sightings of these beautiful Silver-eared Mesias are always a winter delight for me. 

They belong to the Babbler family which are also called Softbill because of their diet of insects, fruit and vegetables, mainly in the undergrowth.

The Tristram's Bunting, in contrast, is a seed-eating bird with a solid finch-like bill. 

The Chinese Hwamei, or Melodious Laughing thrush, is also a member of the Babbler family.  

The characteristics of this bird are reflected by its Chinese and English names. While “Hwamei”in Chinese means painted eyebrow referring to the white marking around its eyes, the English name reflects the attractive songs this bird often sings.

Chinese Hwameis often feed on the ground in groups, preferably on leaf litter, for insects and fruit. Unfortunately, the singing talent of this bird makes them one of the most popular cage birds in China.

The Black-throated Laughingthrush is very similar to the Chinese Hwamei in terms of behaviour and habitat but less colourful. 

Sometimes they can be seen together with other laughing thrushes such as the Chinese Hwamei.

The Orange-flanked Bush-robin is a beautiful but very shy bird. I was lucky to see this female looking for insects on the ground.  

Sometimes they sing from high up in the tree-tops. 

The Orange-Bellied Leafbird is one of my favourite tropical birds. As its name indicates, the belly of the male bird is very distinctive,

but less colourful in the female.

The Scarlet Minivet is also found in Southern Asia and often forages high up in the tree-tops for insects. Both the male,

and female are brightly coloured.

In the past few months, a Long-tailed Shrike has been living in a local nature reserve.

A typical Shrike, it is often seen perching on top of trees watching for prey.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Wintering Birds in Mai Po Nature Reserve

I was a bit worried about missing the wintering birds in Mai Po Nature Reserve this year as I have been away a lot lately.
   Luckily, there are still plenty of them around in the Reserve and the birds don’t even seem to mind the recent air pollution.

I thought the Black & White images might look less depressing because of the poor air quality.


It makes me wonder how long these birds will be able to spend the winter here, as more and more residential buildings are being constructed every year on the other side of the mudflats in mainland China. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bird Watching In UK---Spectacular Starling Murmuration

   I have been hoping to watch a Starling Murmuration, where hundreds of thousands of birds flock together swirling in the sky at dawn and dusk, in the UK for a long time. My dream came  true during my visit to England at Christmas. 

 The Starling is one of the commonest garden birds in UK. 

  Each year, in addition to the UK resident birds, millions of starlings from Europe spend the winter in the relatively warm Britain.

   These birds are very sociable and prefer to roost together because it not only offers safety in numbers but also enables them to keep warm together.  Each day, they tend to flock back to (and leave) the roosting place at the same time, which are magical moments for bird watchers. 

   In spite of the fact that every part of my starling watch plan had gone wrong (dark cloudy morning, bad timing, lost on the way...) , it was still overwhelming when I saw tens of thousands of birds departing from their roosting place in Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve, Somerset. 

Clearly the starling’s performance was under represented by the images shown here. I am determined to go back next year with a better plan and return with better photos~