A BIRDING BLOG -
hong kong AND
hong kong AND
Long Valley has long been one of my favourite birding sites in Hong Kong. I’ve been birding there since the 1990s and have enduring memories of a time when the rivers were natural banked and flooding was frequent. In particular, I recall October 3 1995 when Typhoon Sibyl hit the territory and the northern part of the valley was transformed into a lake. Three hundred White-winged Terns were flying over the flooded fields with a single Bridled Tern amongst them.
With the channelling of the rivers, flooding is a thing of the past. There have been other changes; most notably, the working relationship between conservation groups and the farmers has helped to enhance the ecology of the area. In particular, the rice-growing projects have brought in more seed-eating birds, notably buntings, to the fields.
Since the harvest in late November/early December, the fields have been relatively quiet. However, I visited the area during the last two hours of daylight on January 18 and saw some good birds: White’s Thrush; a Black-winged Kite preening on one of the wires and later hovering in search of food over the fields; Eastern Buzzard and Peregrine Falcon; four Little Buntings; Eastern Water Rail and – best of all - a male Siberian Rubythroat.
There is something enigmatic about Siberian Rubythroat. It is, in fact, a common winter visitor and passage migrant, but because of its skulking nature and its preference for little-visited areas of grassland-shrubland, it is a bird I seldom see. Therefore, I decided to return on the following day to try and photograph the bird and also the Eastern Water Rail which I had seen very near the rubythroat site.
The rubythroat showed well briefly just after dawn, but the rail was nowhere to be seen. While I was there, I also spent some time taking pictures of some of the other birds in the valley – the first time I’d actually taken bird photographs for several months. Some of these images are shown below, although I confess the Eastern Water Rail was taken in the area in January 2015.
Eastern Water Rail is a scarce winter visitor to Hong Kong. It occurs more or less annually at Long Valley.
You have to look hard and be patient to see the rubythroat and rail at Long Valley in winter. The water birds shown below, however, can usually be seen quite easily by the casual observer walking through the fields.
Finally, a couple of more species that I managed to photograph today. The Crested Myna is a common resident species that will be familiar to many people living in Hong Kong. The small, attractive Zitting Cisticola is more local; it is mainly a passage migrant and winter visitor to grassy and reed marsh areas. Long Valley is a good place to look for it but it is far less numerous than it used to be in the 1990s.