The Bird Whisperer of Hong Kong.
I have been to TaiPoKau hundreds of times, and it is one of my favourite “go to” places for easy access to wild forest; spectacular trees with massive hanging vines, mossy paths and streams packed with wildlife. But I have never seen so many different and new birds as when went I went on a "bird walk" with an expert. For example, I had never seen this pretty little Yellow-cheeked tit. Ever.
Yes, on my walks I’ll find all manner of creatures; lots of lizards, including skinks and many lovely changeable agamid lizards, newts, frogs and toads, many snakes, porcupines and civet cats, and so many insects, with butterflies galore in the butterfly gardens and sap sucking insects congregating on the trees in the research centre gardens. I often go at night, and the paths are well maintained and laid out for an agreeable but exciting night walk. And yes, I have seen birds there, the common ones, like the Japanese white-eyes, laughing thrushes and the fork-tailed sunbird….but it was not til I went with a birding expert that my eyes were opened as to how many forest birds I had missed in the past, so I would like to take the next couple of days to share this fantastic experience with you. The bird expert is David Diskin, and his contact details are below.
June is not the best time for bird watching, as David was at pains to point out, but the forest at TaiPoKau still has a good selection. The forest, mostly planted after the Second World War, has now matured, and provides a diversity that allows a home for birds of many different habits. There are four different walks laid out for the visitor, and after meeting David at the car park at 7am, we were all set, and we chose a nice easy walk, which would take us til around midday. (The walks are colour-coded. The Red Walk is 3 km, the Blue Walk 4km, the Brown Walk 7.5 km and the Yellow Walk 10 km).
We started off with some common species, and I will not list all the ones we saw here, but the common tailor bird, the Oriental Magpie Robin and the Blue Whistling thrush - all pictured above, left to right - are lovely birds that were at the start of the walk.
Soon after he heard the call of the Hainan blue-flycatcher, and pointed it out on a branch nearby - another bird I had never noticed before, with a very sweet song
As a frequent visitor to TaiPoKau David also knows all the hot-spots for birds, and where the nest are, where he has seen birds alight to build or feed young.
This means he can point out a tiny nest, that you would never be able to see, way up in the canopy, like here, where you can just see the neck of the Grey-chinned minivet sticking out from its nest.
David is also the first to admit that birdwatching is also a lot of luck, as to when the birds forage across your path, or come back to the nest. But he is also quite a modest person, as it seemed that he knew where and when to look, like finding these lovely silver-eared Mesias, another bird species which I had never seen before.
Check the blog tomorrow to find out more about the many other birds we found on our 1/2 day trek through the lovely TaiPoKau. David Diskin is a Hong Kong based writer, photographer and birdwatcher. He leads birdwatching and nature tours for Walk hong Kong: http://www.walkhongkong.com He is the author Mai Po: The Seasons. He has also written and published the excellent Hong Kong Nature Walks Books: 1/. The New Territories (2011) 2/. Kowloon, Hong Kong & Outlying Islands (2012) which you can (and should) buy from his website https://www.birdinghongkong.com/hong-kong-nature-walks.html