The Lorelei of Long Valley

I was up before the lark this morning and on Long Valley a few minutes after 7am. The sun was barely above the horizon. It was simply glorious. There were few unusual birds although the Red-headed bunting was still present. I find it rather odd, or maybe not, that after a week or two the photographers have sated their lust for the fullest frame shot possible and nobody wants to simply enjoy the bird. I was not even expecting to see it today yet it offered me some amazing opportunities in silky-golden soft light. This was the frame I chose to keep.

I picked this one because it was a slightly different pose and the shape of the bill is beautifully captured.


In the same place I watched a Red-throated pipit and it gave me a couple of nice frames of plumage detail:

Red-throated-pipit RTP2

Water helps to add interest to shots and I was watching all the time for reflections. Nothing too good this morning but a White wagtail (Motacilla alba leucopsis) gave me half a chance.


And flitting behind was a Dusky warbler, Phylloscopus fuscatus.


DW is a garden bird for me but I still find them a good challenge to photograph in the field. An unexpected bonus was a more confiding Chestnut-eared bunting, Emberiza fucata.


Note the cooler tones as this bird was feeding in the shade.

Snipe are a mystery to me. I don’t understand why I can’t see them until I am about to step on them. I also assume that the ones I photograph are Common snipe unless someone tells me otherwise! This one was pretending I couldn’t see it.


Actually I guess it was just too busy feeding to bother. This is a more typical snipe view


And after 2.5 hours the light was getting harsher so I started to pack up and head home for a late breakfast. As if to tempt me to stay, a Pale thrush, Turdus pallidus, popped up and moved ever further away, hoping I would follow. The Lorelei of Long Valley.


I resisted the siren call and arrived back at the car having enjoyed a short stay at Long Valley. I saw only two other birders this morning. Folks, you missed some fabulous light and I am all the richer for it.

To clarify my blogging schedule, it will start to reduce in about 10 days. Thereafter it will be as work permits. I will have little free time but I hope we won’t desert one another completely and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Do not adjust your set.

16 thoughts on “The Lorelei of Long Valley

  1. All are fine shots and running contrary to popular opinion, it would seem, my favorite is the peekaboo image of the Snipe. I also like the Red-headed Bunting for the same reason as you. Which leads to the question you ask about the absence of other birders/photographers. I would guess the answer lies more with the checklist mentality of many people. I share your pleasure in repeated visits with a favored species although in my case it is wildflowers (especially the Painted Trillium πŸ™‚ ) but the case is the same.
    So sorry the work will keep you away but hopefully your absence will create a fond longing for your reappearance. πŸ™‚

    • Steve, what shocks me is that so many bird photographers don’t carry bin’s and many have no idea what it is they are photographing. There are indeed some photographers who are also top notch birders but they are the minority. They start on day 1 with the most expensive gear on the market and just blast away! I feel strange in the field without binoculars round my neck. Indeed most of the rooms in our house have some sort of binoculars to hand just in case something flies by. One pair is 20 years old (Bausch & Lomb) but they serve the purpose. I despair of checklists if that is as far as they go. A checklist with some substance behind it is fine but just a checklist??? Where is the pleasure in that. Sorry…… rant over.

      • A very valid point, Andrew, and I’m with you in the rant! I noticed this behaviour very strongly on our Antarctica trip. People were obsessed by ticking off species on their checklist but were not really interested in the birds. So if one specie was ticked, it was not interesting anymore (penguins perhaps aside…) .
        I often observe the same here at home with butterflies and orchids. Some photographers seem to be on a hunt to have record shots of as many different species as possible. They can’t appreciate yet another Marble White anymore and even worse, they don’t respect nature and walk into the meadows and destroy other plants to get their shot 😦 Or – the worst thing! – they take the butterfly/dragonfly and place it on a different (more attractive) flower. As they don’t know any about the subject they are photographing, they end up with a photo of a butterfly/dragonfly on a flower that would never be chosen by the butterfly to rest on πŸ˜‰

  2. Oh well only if I did not have to rush to office everyday, I would have headed to Long Valley, lol…brilliant write up Andrew and the photos are just fabulous. Need to make a trip there sometime. What is the route?

    • I go up route 9 and come off at the Pak Shek Au exit. I think you can come off earlier but I am not familiar with that route. At the end of the exit slip road turn right and right again into Castle Peak Road at the T junction. (Left would take you to Mai Po). Drive down this road until you see the blue sign left to Ho Sheung Heung. About a mile along this road you will see an entrance on the right with concrete deer statues. Turn in here and follow the road around to the village – beware the speed bumps and small children. You can park in the village after about 7am. Before that the parking lot is full of lorries and school buses. After parking walk towards the river and cross the bridge towards Long Valley. HTH. Andrew

  3. Glad to see that the early start paid off! The littler poser (Red-throated pipit) and the cute warbler are my favourites.
    Work can spoil your whole life B| but only three months will pass quickly. Hope that you will find the time to post more… penguins!!!! πŸ™‚

  4. Agree with Yvonne, the pipit photos are beautiful and I also love the red-headed bunting.

    I’ll also miss your posts, but we all miss money! Hope it works out well for you. Just keep in touch say, once a week? Unless you are working 24/7 of course.

    • Well its only a 3m contract (I hope) and I hope once a week will be sustainable. The challenge will be sourcing decent content. Maybe I’ll lapse back into some street photography for a while. The pipit was a real treat – doing a bit of preening then suddenly a wide wing spread – quite the little show off. Why do I want to work? I’ve forgotten!

  5. Andrew, These area all excellent shots in my opinion but the White Wagtail and the Common Snipe have very nice reflections in the water. Water and the reflections adds a lot to the picture. I liked the little warbler and the best ones, for me, are the two photos of the Red Throated Pipit. The outstretched wings just can not be beat. To be able to click the shutter at just the right momement makes the bird so beautiful. The feather detail is to gorgeous.

    I shall miss your posts but if I had the chance to make $ then I would not miss the ability to work either. To do something that you enjoy and that you are good at doing- well one can not pass that up. Besides you are still young, even though you say that you are sliding down hill, that just is not the case. I’ll be watching for your posts. if it is 20, 30, 40 days or however the long between posts. Please do not give up your blog. I enjoy your pictures and your words. So good luck and be careful in all that you do.

    Best regards,

    • Dear Yvonne, you are so generous with your encouragement. Thank you. I won’t go away for long. I just have to re-prioritize for a while. And yes, the pipit was a real gem today. I was lucky.

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