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Good Friday farewell to Hong Kong with some excellent birds

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Having enjoyed a few days sightseeing and birding around Hong Kong, it was to 'work' for me and the preparation for the Hong Kong 7's tournament followed by a trip to a factory in Dongguan, China. I've got to say that our preparation for the event must have been good as everything went as planned and Bernie and I got some splendid views of Red-billed Blue Magpies from the back of the Stadium as well as a fleeting glimpse of a Blue Whistling Thrush as it dived for cover. We also managed to watch quite a bit of Rugby 7's too! :)
Bernie had headed back to England whilst I was in China but upon my return to HK, I had a day before my flight so arranged with Matt for another day's birding. I hadn't done any forest birding at all before - just had headed for Mai Po - so the promise of Tai Po Kau's established forest was an instant draw.
Matthew kindly collected me from my hotel in Kowloon - the roads were quiet on a holiday morning as we made good time to the …

Po Toi Island

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On our continued desire to explore off the tourist beaten track, we took an early morning ferry from Aberdeen to Po Toi, a migration hot-spot for Hong Kong in the company of Matthew again and his girlfriend Hoi Ling.


The ferry across was generally uneventful apart from a fly-past Red-necked Phalarope. The ferry was very busy as it was a public holiday ("Tomb-sweeping") and the day was fine - not ideal for migrants.
Indeed much as we tried, there weren't many birds to be seen but we did see a few goodies - Crested Goshawk, Besra, Grey-headed Buzzard, Daurian Redstart, Pacific Swift and the main rarity, a Brambling!

Return to Mai Po

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Following on from last July's trip to China, I had a follow-up trip planned for April combining it with the Hong Kong Rigby 7's tournament for which my company, Kukri, do all the merchandising. Of course, such a trip gives me the opportunity to do some birding in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar (and some more recognisable) birds. So I decided to go a little earlier with my wife, Bernie, to explore the area.

The first couple of days were spent acclimatising and doing some of the touristy bits, enjoying the Star Ferry and some of the parks amongst the stunning skyline. Bernie was surprised about how hilly and verdant the territory was. Common birds in the parks were the ever present Chinese and Red-whiskered Bulbuls alongside Oriental Magpie Robin, Crested Mynas, Black-collared Starlings and Masked Laughing Thrushes. We got some decent view eventually of Red-billed Blue Magpies at the HK Stadium but the bird that we came across all over the place was Yellow-browed Warble…

December Thrushes bring 2016 to a stupendous finale

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2016 has got to go down in the birding annals as one of the best years ever. A scintillating autumn with perpetual easterlies brought hundreds if not thousands of waifs from east of the Urals. My previous post was drooling over the run of birds on the east coast - finally, the west and middle England got in on the act.
On 5th November, as I was tidying up the garden, I heard my first Waxwing of the autumn flying overhead - the unmistakable trilling call was to become even more familiar over the coming weeks as small flocks started to infiltrate this side of the Pennines with double figures in Blackburn and recently large counts in several places around East Lancashire.
On 20 November, I went to see this little beauty - a Desert Wheatear on St Annes beach - my third along this stretch of the coast and a fitting end to the autumn, or so we thought


But there was more. News broke in mid December of a Dusky Thrush in Derbyshire and after much nervous anticipation, we decided to put the Chr…

East Yorkshire birding at its best

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Normally I have one or maybe two trips to the east coast in the autumn, especially if south-easterly winds are blowing. These past two weeks, a high pressure system has sat over northern Scandinavia and drawn winds from central Russia across northern Europe and across the North sea; at this time of year, these winds influence the migration of thousands of birds. Normally a light south-easterly is all that we require but we've had really strong easterlies for several days. So I, like many others, looked to do some birding on the east coast with the hope of bumping into one or two scarce and rare birds.
I have a few favoured spots but even a died-in-the-wool Lancastrian like me has to admit that East Yorkshire is the best place to be in these conditions so last Wednesday John Wright and I decided we'd have a days birding around Flamborough Head. The news of Britain's third Eastern-crowned Warbler at Bempton late on Tuesday certainly gave us a target to start with having seen…

Tai Mo Shan with Matt

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Sunday morning and I set off to dump my bags at Kowloon Station in order that I could spend the rest of the day unencumbered by them. I had planned to meet Matthew and his father around 12:30 and sure enough, bang on time they were at the front door of the hotel. We started to get to know each other on the trip out to Tai Mo Shan, HK's highest point but one that was shrouded in cloud so we weren't all that confident of what we'd be able to do. I had to be at the Airport in four hours so we decided to go for it and as we reached the car park, it was clear that it wasn't as bad as feared. It was certainly a little cooler up here and there were lots of hikers, joggers and walkers. 
Matt immediately picked up on Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler a that was singing in a nearby bush which eventually gave itself up. Brown-flanked Bush Warblers were singing all the way up with a few tantalising views of a rather dull-looking bird.
Birding in the afternoon is never all that prod…