Monday, 28 September 2009

I'm still here.

How gratifying that somebody misses me.
I have beeen off work for a couple of weeks with a knee injury, unable to hobble to the nearest birdy patch.

Here is a piece about Victoria Peak that I should have included with the Hong Kong Wetlands post.

During winter and passage, one might expect to find some exciting thrushes and flycatchers on the peak, but as this was early summer, I did not imagine that I would find anything out of the ordinary. What I especially wanted to get was a photo of a kite from above. The Hong Kong variant is the Black-eared Kite and it often soars on the thermals around the buildings and the peak. A circular path around the mountain gives the opportunity to look down on them as they fly. I had previously got some nice shots, but the air had been a little misty on that occasion. Today it was clear so I hoped that I could get a better one.
Bus no. 15 leaves the bus terminus at Central and takes about 40 mins to reach the peak. A path runs in a loop around the mountain. It is a flat, paved path which made for easy walking on a hot day. There were the predictable Chinese and Crested Bulbuls and a few kites in the distance.
Much of the path is lined with secondary forest. Here and there a drive leads up to a desirable residence. Occasionally, an open area affords a view over the city.
There are two proper lookout points. From the first of these, I tried to get a shot of a kite against the mirrored glass of the huge buildings, but it was too distant to be realistic.
At the second lookout, there were kites gliding around in the wooded valley below. They would come up the mountainside and cross a ridge into the next valley before reappearing a few moments later. All the time, they kept very distant. There was a potential shot of a bird against the islands in the distance, so I set up for it and waited for it to happen.
Each time a bird came into frame, I fired on motor-drive at nearly 3 frames per second, hoping that it would wheel around and complete my picture. Sadly they kept going straight and appeared as a black line on the photo rather than a recogniseable bird shape.
After nearly 200 frames, I had a couple of marks that might, without prompting, be taken for birds, but not quite what I was hoping for.
The traditional Hong Kong afternoon rain was closing in, so I waited for one more bird to fly through the frame and then packed up. No sooner had the tripod been hoisted back onto my shoulder than something spooked the birds in the valley below. Suddenly there were 30 kites in the spot where my framed picture would have been. I quickly tried to set up the shot again, but now I had more bird-like shapes than I knew what to do with.
The second lookout is almost exactly half-way round the loop. Just slightly further on, travelling anticlockwise, a big fig tree spreads out over the path. Birds were very loud here and I hoped that the Crested Goshawk might be close. Magpie Robin, bulbuls, White-throated Laughing Thrush, Common Tailorbird, White-eye and Peking Robin were all calling.
Crested (red-whiskered) Bulbul
Perhaps it was a snake, I never found out. The threat appeared to pass and all the birds melted back into the trees.
Just for fun, I tried to create the image I had been hoping for using my photo-editing software. Is it too much do you think? Perhaps I should include a prayer?