Well as I anticipated there were no wild birds in the boardroom. So this has been a bird free day for me. I suppose if I had chosen the chicken at lunch I could have counted that but I had salmon fillet.
Instead I reach back to January 7th and my old friend Stejneger’s Stonechat. Hong Kong has been full of rare birds this week – the Barred Cuckoo Dove, Chiffchaff, a Long-billed Plover and a putative Blyth’s Pipit. I have seen three of the four before though not necessarily in HK. I saw Long-billed Plover in Nepal during a glorious half hour that included both Ibisbill and Wallcreeper. Looking at birds in drainage channels does little for me. So I have been happy to stay close to home and regain a little energy.
Readers who pay attention will recall that I decided this year to photograph Stejneger’s Stonechat whenever I could simply because it is interesting from a taxonomic point of view. It happens also to be easy to find and to be quite a pretty bird. It suffers from hanging out a lot at Long Valley. People don’t go to Long Valley to see stonechats. They go there to look for rare birds. So the poor old stonechat gets little attention unless it hurls itself in front of the camera and flaunts its full frontal finery. Or until the photographers are so fed up with finding nothing glamorous that they resort to photographing the stonechat because there is nothing else and they have itchy shutter-finger, or ISF as its known in the medical profession. Check it out in Grey’s Anatomy. I on the other hand actively seek out the victim of benign neglect. You may mock. And you probably will. But why is this species not lusted after the way the Chiffchaff has been? Numbers pure and simple. Number of chiffys recorded to date in HK. Seven, I believe. Have you never heard of the HK Sevens? Number of stonechats recorded in Long Valley during a morning – at least ten. So there you have it. Rarity sells. Me? I buy the stonechat every time.