Beep beep

The ringing call of the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo can be heard from a distance. They are not easy to find. If you imitate the call they often respond and will come to see who is on their patch. This morning I hear a rattling cackle nearby and thought it might be a Laughingthrush or possibly even a squirrel. Movement caught my eye and some orange colour. Maybe Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush?

To my surprise it was an adult Chestnut-winged Cuckoo and it had come down to the stream to drink. It was heavily obscured but I took a few shots none the less. It flew up the hill and I followed it up to the marsh. I kept hearing the cackling call and then the typical beep-beep, which it repeats ad nauseam. Two birds in fact. Clearly they were settled and a lady later told me she had seen them around for a few weeks. I spent maybe an hour playing hide and seek with them and eventually left with a few frames I thought might serve me well.

I initially wondered if they might be breeding and the species does apparently breed in HK but rarely. It is normally a scarce passage migrant. The bird is large, noisy, colourful and yet still hard to see. They use the Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush as the host species for their eggs. So they would have plenty of choice where we are. The GNL is abundant.

Here then is the cuckoo in all its glory.

Clamator coromandus
Clamator coromandus
Clamator coromandus

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.

Birds for Yvonne

I don’t do as much bird photography these days. I don’t like the standard since I gave up heavy tripods and long lenses. Everything is a compromise so I just do my best and accept the body is weak even if the spirit is willing. Nevertheless I promised Yvonne I would post some bird shots and here goes:

Starting with Dusky Thrush, taken locally last month.

Turdus eunomus - Dusky Thrush

Verditer Flycatcher, taken in Malaysia in October

Verditer Flycatcher - male

Dark-sided Flycatcher – actually not too bad because the bird was happy for me to approach to within a few metres

Dark-sided Flycatcher

Bull-headed Shrike, another local long stayer

Lanius bucephalus - Bull-headed Shrike

And last but not least Streaked Spiderhunter from my Malaysian (mothing) trip

Arachnothera magna

Oh go on then, one more – Sultan Tit. I struggled to see this species for ages but typically once I had seen one I found them everywhere!

Sultan Tit

Happy 2020, Yvonne.