Hong Kong Wildlife

Posts filed under Hong Kong Wildlife

Squat and active

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 4 of 4. "Previous Photograph")

One bird in particular didn't seem to be so shy. He flew around, sometimes very close to me, going about his business, pecking on the tree trunks, pecking through the scrub and generally being a happy bird. I've also seen him or one of his kindred near our home.

His motions are very quick. He almost never stays anywhere for more than a second. He's a rather squat little bird and his beak is remarkably straight.

What kind of bird is he?

squat and active

Common Tailorbird 長尾縫葉鶯

(Orthotomus sutorius)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

For a closer look at the bird, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Hunting together

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 3 of 4. "Previous Photograph")

While sitting up on that tree trunk twelve feet up in the air, there was one pair of birds that I saw more often than any other. They were mates and they were hunting together. They were later on joined by another pair of the same variety.

Forty years old and I've only now realised how marvelous it is to watch birds hunt. They sit on the branches looking in every direction, and when they see a flying insect, they flutter up, catch the insect and flutter back. The action is very quick and very absorbing; and extremely hard to photograph. Tracking them with your camera, keeping everything in focus and pressing the shutter button at the right time is almost impossible to do but I'll hopefully get there one day with more training and practice. In the meantime, you'll have to be content with my non-flying photographs.

What are they? Does anyone know?

Mates

Chinese Bulbul 白頭鵯

(Pycnonotus sinensis)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

What are you looking at? Can't you see we're busy?

Two birds, probably mates, hunting together. I believe you'll find that the females have a different flatter head crest than the males. In this picture, the female is probably the one on the left with the male on the right.

For a blow-up of the female, click here.

For a blow-up of the male, click here.

More photos of the male (my guess from the head crest and the colour).

crested

For a closer look at the bird, click here.

crested2

For a closer look at the bird, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Red and green!

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 2 of 4. "Previous Photograph")

Another one of the birds I photographed on January 25, this bird was only there for a few seconds. One second he was there. The next, he was gone. I've seen him before though so I'll probably see him again. Hopefully, there will be opportunities to get better pictures of him.

Does anybody know his name?

red and green

Fork-tailed Sunbird 叉尾太陽鳥

(Aethopyga christinae)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

For a closer version, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Red and green!

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , ,

喺上海開工。啱啱食咗生煎包。非常好食,又平。4隻只要¥8

Instagram image

Yellow!

Filed in Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: ,

(Bird photographs, 20060125, 1 of 4.)

One of the birds I was able to photograph yesterday was a medium size bird with a black back and a bright yellow belly. I was very surprised to see such a colourful bird in my neighbourhood, albeit inside the bush.

The focus is not perfect but it's a nice shot anyway. If anyone knows what kind of bird he is, please tell me. I'd like to gradually build a library of Hong Kong bird photographs and knowing the names of the birds would be very meaningful.

(The doubling effect of the out-of-focus objects such as the branches is probably caused by the 2x extender that I use. I conjecture that an original 400mm lens without the extender wouldn't produce this effect or what I consider to be an aberration.)

Yellow! again.

Grey-chinned Minivet (female) 灰喉山椒鳥(雌性)

(Pericrocotus solaris)

Date: 25 January 2006, Location: Clear Water Bay

For a closer version, click here.

Now that I have "The Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong", it is no longer necessary for readers to help me name the birds I show. However, thank you to everyone who helped me with the names of the birds prior to my book purchase. I truly appreciate the effort.

Married and beautiful

Filed in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: , , ,

I'm always trying to get good photos of some of the birds around our home. I'd love to get a photo of the owls that live here but I've only seen one of them once in the two years we've lived here, and I've only heard them; a pair of them calling out to each other; once on another night.

Apart from sparrows, there are only a few species of birds living here. There are pigeons which are difficult to photograph because they're so easily unnerved by onlookers, and there is another species of bird, one with red behind its eye and more red under its tail. I find them especially attractive and try to photograph them whenever possible. Both the pigeons and these 'red' birds live in pairs, always with the same mate.

Hong Kong also has a very healthy population of kites (a predatory bird, similar to eagles) and I really hope to get good photographs of these birds in the future no matter how difficult it might be. Luck and timing will be a big part of my success.

For those of you not familiar with birds, the male can usually be identified by its colours. The male's colours are often brighter and stronger than the female's colours.

Married birds

Red-whiskered Bulbul 紅耳鵯

(Pycnonotus jocosus)

Date: 4 December 2005, Location: Clear Water Bay

Some birds mate for life. In this case, the male is the one looking at us from behind.

For a closer look at the pair, click here.

I hope you like the photograph. More will follow next year, especially now that I've added a 2x extender to my lens collection allowing me to get closer to the birds. I have become the proverbial hunter.

While searching for Canon links for this article, I came across references to the first cameras I ever owned. The Canon AE-1 was the first camera I remember owning, and was probably one of the best cameras I've ever used. The Canon EOS 620 was my second camera, purchased after my arrival in Hong Kong, sometime between 1988 and 1989. My EF 70-200mm F2.8L USM lens was purchased soon after and still works flawlessly today 16 years later.

A green visitor

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the Day

A few weeks ago, I returned home with some of our children after taking them for their nightly walk. While taking their leashes off, they seemed very curious about something in one corner of the court area where our gas canisters are kept. A couple of the dogs even displayed sudden reactions to something that I could not at the time see in the dark that is night.

After letting the dogs through to the main garden area, I went back to take a look at the gas canisters. I was curious too and wanted to see what had them acting so unusually. It didn't take me long to spot the reason. A green snake was wrapped around the tap of the gas canister looking pretty scared. I guess I would be scared too if several dogs one hundred times as large as myself suddenly started poking their wet warm windy noses in my direction.

I couldn't leave him there. It was too dangerous and I couldn't be sure that he'd find his way back to the bush from whence he came, so I had to think of a way to move him. The first thing I did though was grab my camera because he was a really nice looking snake.

A green visitor

The green snake was wrapped around the tap of the gas canister, feeling just as nervous of me as I felt of him.

I don't know if it was the multiple flashes from the camera as it tried to focus on the snake in the dark, but the snake remained fairly quiet as I photographed it. I was actually quite nervous about getting too close to the snake because he was still standing in defensive mode and I didn't feel like getting bitten.

I gathered a barbeque fork and a large white bucket. The idea was to use the fork to encourage the snake into the bucket whose smooth sides would hopefully keep the snake from slivering out while I transported it back to the bush. Imagine my surprise when the snake wrapped itself around the fork and stayed there.

I quickly put the bucket down, moved around to an area of the house with better light and took a few more pictures. The pictures were ok but not great. Perhaps because of a lack of experience or perhaps because I didn't have time to set up everything perfectly, none of the photos were accurately focussed. There were still two good photos though and I'm glad I have them because the snake with its green body, yellow belly and red tail looked incredible.

Curled tight

He (probably a male because the colours are relatively sharp) wrapped himself around the bbq fork and remained there, quiet and calm.

Having taken the photos, I walked out to the bush behind our garden and positioned the fork and the snake wrapped around it near the branches of a small tree. The snake very quickly moved off into the tree and I returned home to study the photos.

I liked the photos so much that I've converted one of them to be the background on my Nokia phone. He looks real cool and I guess it's appropriate anyway because I'm actually a 'snake' person; born in 1965.

What was rather peculiar about that night was the conversation I had with our elderly neighbour that very morning. She was going on about how she had instructed her relative to cut back the branches on a couple of trees next to the path we use to come and go from our homes. She was worried about snakes coming down from the trees and biting people and I was thinking that she was worrying just a little too much. It's really strange that the green snake would appear in our own garden that very night. Weird!

The next day, our maid came looking for me and asked me to look at Beethoven. I was surprised to see his nuzzle swollen so badly but knew immediately what had happened. He didn't seem to be in any discomfort though and a call to the vet assured me that if the snake bite was deadly, Beethoven would have died within a couple of hours of the bite.

Swollen, nice and round.

Beethoven's nuzzle was quite swollen in the morning; big and round. There is no lens distortion in this photo. His nuzzle really was this big! If you look closely, you can see the two puncture marks about half way between his nose and his eyes.

It must have been the week of the local snake gathering because a few nights later, we saw another snake. While driving home late at night with three or four cars behind us, I saw something shimmering near the edge of the approaching road. I slowed down and had more than enough time to realise that it was a snake planning to cross the road. I stopped the car completely, much to the cagrin of the drivers behind us, and waited for the snake to cross the road. It was a python, probably at least five or six feet long. As he crossed the middle of the road, a minibus was approaching from the other direction. Typical Chinese people living in our area wouldn't think twice about running over a snake on the road and I flashed my headlights at the driver hoping to slow him down. He slowed but not enough and continued straight down the road. The snake was lucky. He managed to compress himself; like you would compress a spring; just enough to fit between the right and left wheels of the minibus as it passed over him, and he then continued safely to the other side of the road and climbed or rather jolted himself up the embankment and into the bush.

I knew we have pythons in the neighbourhood. I just never expected to be lucky enough to see one. My only regret is that I wasn't able to get out of the car and take a picture. I don't think the cars behind me would have appreciated the wait.

It's a rather interesting neighbourhood when I think of it. We have snakes, interesting birds (there are a few very unusual birds I'd love to photograph if I ever get the chance), monkeys, large spiders, large lizards and even wild bores (ie, pigs). There are also some very interesting flying beetles, one variety of which had relatives in the local news a few weeks ago when it was reported that the furniture in the new Disneyland hotels was being eaten from the inside out. They beetles are called wood borers and I've observed them making homes in the bamboo in our garden. I find it interesting to watch them using their bums to block the entrances to their nests in the bamboo when it rains. Maybe I'll show you photos of them at a later date if I can get a few great shots.