The Flycatcher

Three or four days a week I try to get away from the noise of the world and walk my local patch. It is not bird rich. I have found many interesting insects however and it seems to be a very productive area for butterflies. The area is a wooded hillside with streams running down into catchwaters. There are some wonderful views and I often find little places tucked away that few people seem to visit. One such area has offered up excellent dragonflies. Occasionally I go up and just sit on the rocks and watch a pool to see what visits.

Nevertheless birds are always in my sights and last week I walked up the lower part of the hill road and saw the gate to a private nursery garden open. I paused and peered in. As I did so a small bird perched up on the fence. Too quick for me but I knew it was a flycatcher. They often return and so I readied my camera gear. I had nothing more than a 400mm lens and the bird was behind a wire fence. I had to shoot through the gaps. And return it did.

Muscicapa griseisticta
Grey-streaked Flycatcher. Muscicapa griseisticta

A bird like this could be Dark-sided or Grey-streaked Flycatcher and this turned out to be the less common of the two. I was given a masterclass in flycatcher identification in the evening. This was my favourite frame – a cocked head possibly listening to the soft click of my shutter. Despite the fence I was able to get a clean line of sight.

I told a fellow photographer about it but neither he nor I has seen it since and the gate to the nursery is always locked when I walk past now. It was a rare stroke of luck to get this. Others go to bird hotspots and find all sorts of wonderful migrants. I dislike driving far now and prefer to walk locally. I accept the poor pickings and I am delighted with the odd bonus bird. The walking is good for my health. When it is cooler I shall recommence my walks to the top of Mount Parker. Who knows what flies higher up.

IG or not IG, that is the question.

Over the last year or so I have flirted with Instagram, or IG as we hispsters call it. I struggle with it to be honest. I could theoretically continue to post photos there and I may well do so out of habit. Adding much narrative is a chore though. I haven’t a clue what to do about hashtags and I make a lot of them up. So perhaps if I wish to write I should do a bit more here again. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance as they say. Instead of uploading a lot of shots to Flickr (which I use as a sort of back up) and spraying photos over IG I think I will just post one at a time.

Portrait at the market place
Cool Hand Luk

I took this in the market at Pok Fu Lam village. The man was sitting on the stair rail through the back. Originally I wanted to use the full frame but I decided he was sufficiently interesting to isolate him as subject in his own right. He was peering at me working out in his mind whether he was the subject of my lens or not. To be honest he wasn’t. He was just one element and I tried several compositions. In some he was partially blocked. Happily the exposure I chose was good and I had a nice clean image. I cropped down to this and converted to monochrome.

He is an interesting subject – well groomed, clean shaven, smartly dressed with open sandals (he probably lives very close by) and he holds a pack of cigarettes, typical of the older generation. He looks quite thin but still has strength in his arms. Of course he has a mask, pulled down momentarily. We will hopefully look back on this time and be grateful that we no longer have to wear one in the stifling heat.

The locals I spoke to fear that the old village will be redeveloped. It is something of an anachronism in Hong Kong. A mixture of newer solid building and old shacks. What appear to be single room dwellings and quite smart larger homes. Haphazard wiring, water supply and I suspect sewage pipes. Yet there are beautifully tended gardens growing fresh vegetables. It is a village of contrasts. I doubt if the residents want to be redeveloped in the name of progress. They seem quite content. I hope my subject today has a long and peaceful future.

I continue to wrestle with the black and white versus colour dilemma. At the moment I am shooting colour DNG files and choosing after the event. This was shot with a Leica M10R and a Noctilux 50mm f0.95.