Thursday, 19 May 2011

Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden, Hong Kong.

Bell Wong had come with me to visit Tai Mo Shan and suggested a visit to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden once we were done there. I had never heard of Kadoorie Farm and pictured rolling pasture and corn fields. But this is Hong Kong where any flat piece of ground that is not likely to flood has been built upon, so the terraces stretching up the steep slopes should not have come as a shock. My greatest fear was that the sprightly Bell, might suggest that we climb the seemingly endless steps to the top.

Luckily there was an attractive wooded stream that passes through the lower part of the farm and that kept us entertained. Red-whiskered Bulbuls were common and confiding here.
We found a family of Blue (Violet) Whistling Thrushes along the shaded stream. At least four fledglings were being tended by, we think, just one parent. In the dim light beneath the trees, the spectacular colour and spangles of the parent bird appeared black, belying the glory of a sun-kissed bird. One of the young birds stepped out of the shade and we could see glimpses of the splendid plumage that was to come.
The Blue Whistling Thrush simultaneously fans and presses its tail downwards. This behaviour had already become habitual amongst the shorter-tailed youngsters who appeared to “dance” for us.
Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Gardens has a good website which is distilled below. I was surprised that the site does not make more mention of the wild animals to be found on the farm. Visitors may encounter Wild Boar and Barking Deer for example in the forested areas on the upper slopes and the gardens have attracted 171 species of butterfly and 1300 species of moth!
A small nature pond for frogs and dragonflies attracted this Red-faced Skimmer Orthetrum Chrysis.

Opening times are from 09.00. The last entry is at 16.00 and closing time is 17.00. There is a HK$10 (@HK$12=£1) entrance fee and a shuttle bus that will take you to explore the upper slopes, allowing you to walk down instead of up. Buses leave from the reception car park at 09.40, 11.10, 13.30 and 15.00. Two additional buses run between these times at weekends and public holidays. The farm can be found at Google Earth ref; 22 26’ 01”N 114 07’ 04”E. It is within 3 kms from Tai Mo Shan as the crow flies, but the bus took us on a tortuous drive along Route Twisk to Shek Kong. Here we changed to another bus that passed the farm on the Lam Kam Road.

We only spent a very short time at the farm during the heat of the day and most of our attention was taken by the whistling thrushes. The list below is therefore very short. I am convinced that there is far more to be found here. Thanks again to Bell for his good company and for not making me walk all the way up the steps.

Species seen; 7

Spotted Dove 3, Red-whiskered Bulbul 4, Light-vented Bulbul 6, Blue Whistling Thrush 5, Common Tailorbird 1, Japanese White-eye 1, Eurasian Tree Sparrow 40