Twenty-first Century Schizoid Man

With apologies to King Crimson…………

This old fogey has dipped a toe into the 21st Century. I downloaded the Spotify app yesterday. Streaming has arrived in Sai Kung. If you have not come across Spotify before it is a Swedish company that offers music (free if you don’t mind the ads) on a streamed basis. That is you don’t download it or store it. You simply log on, click and it plays. The artist gets a tiny royalty and the listener has access to a virtually unlimited collection of music. I am listening to the “Blues radio” as I write and Strange Brew by Cream has just come on. Can’t be bad. If you want to listen ad free and on mobile devices then you do need to pay. In HK it is HK$48 per month. Not much more than a Starbucks ‘coffee’ I guess. Is vinyl dead? I don’t know. I must look in the wardrobe. I certainly have a cardboard packing case full of LPs that has not been opened in 20 years. No idea what condition the records are in. It just travels with me wherever I go. Just in case. CDs? Well yes there are plenty of those in the house. I have half a dozen in the car but never listen to them. I always listen to the BBC World Service. I have an iPod. It contains hundreds of recordings of bird songs and calls. Streaming is new to me. I am notoriously resistant to new-fangled stuff but Spotify has been around a while, just not in HK. I had heard good reports and this week they added Hong Kong to the countries in which you can access it. So far so good. Now playing: Sloe Gin, Joe Bonamassa.

Yesterday was Mrs. Ha’s birthday. Tempting though it was to go birding I decided that was not a smart move so I took her to Caprice, our favourite restaurant. It is part of The Four Seasons hotel in HK. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food superb, the staff provide perfect service and atmosphere and, here’s the good bit, it is not outrageously expensive if you don’t drink alcohol. It is where we go to treat ourselves. Very fine it was too.

I posted Mrs. Ha’s birthday portrait on FB – the B&W version. Here is a smaller version:



And here are two more black and whites…….. shots from the birding trip on Tuesday:

Terek Sandpiper

Terek Sandpiper

Dowitchers in monochrome

Dowitchers in monochrome

I have a portrait of a Greenshank in similar pose to the Terek, taken a couple of years ago. It must be a standard wader anti-rain, must have a sleep with one eye open, just in case, position.

Sadly (or not) I have to work this afternoon. Mrs. Ha is out looking for something called a clutch bag (for the wedding). It is probably called a clutch bag because that is what the husband does when he sees the price tag – he clutches his heart.

Time to make coffee. Until next time. Don’t just sit there, Spotify.

Rain, rain, go away

I headed off to Mai Po this morning and knew the forecast was not too good. It was dry when I arrived and the tide was a long way out. We set ourselves up for the wait happy that we had a seat for the show. That turned out to be the only good thing we did as the hide was overflowing with people. Many seemed put out that they were late for the hide seats. There was constant chatter behind us. Add to this two illegal mudskipper collectors  out on the mudflats and the onset of very dark clouds and torrential rain and the result was a very disappointing session. I took hundreds of frames trying different apertures, shutter speeds, ISO settings, all to no avail. You can’t make a silk ear out of a sow’s purse.

What we did see was a small group of seven Asian Dowitchers Limnodromus semipalmatus. This is a migrant through HK, much more common in Spring than Autumn. Still, seven in a group was good. It is regarded as a HK speciality alongside Black-faced spoonbill, Spoonbill Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank.

Here are a few shots of the Dowitchers.Asian-Dowitchers Dowitcher-pair Single-dowitcherThere was also an acceptable shot of a Turnstone.Turnstone A  Curlew sandpiper just about passed muster in the gloom:Curlew-sandpiperAnd to show just how wet it was, even the Bar-tailed godwits looked fed up.Barwit-rainAnd in sheer boredom I played with some distant terns. The first shot is monochrome – your eyes are not playing tricks.Terns-BW TernsI did take one shot in the dry. Here it is. Taken in the car park in murky light. And with this White-shouldered Starling I too will say “merci” and au revoir. Wish me better  luck with the light next time.White-shouldered-starling