Tuesday 30 October 2012

Tai Po Kau, Hong Kong, Oct 2012

As so often happens, the main excitement at Tai Po Kau came in the lay-by at the entrance to the reserve. As soon as I crossed the road from where green minibus 28K dropped me, birds began to show. Scarlet Minivets are my favourite bird here and were the first to be seen in small numbers. They were part of a feeding group that spent about 20 minutes in the trees at the north-west end of the lay-by.

Accompanying them were the usual suspects including Japanese White-eye, Great Tit, Yellow-browed Warbler and Velvet-fronted Nuthatch. The nuthatch is one of the denizens of Tai Po Kau that have made a home there after escaping from captivity.

Depending on how neurotic, beg your pardon, diligent, you are about your life list, it is well worth checking the field guide to confirm status of many of the Tai Po Kau songbirds. Other species that have established a population from originally captive stock include Blue-winged Minla, Silver-eared Mesia and Rufous-capped Babbler.

Thirteen of the visit’s twenty birds were seen at the lay-by before even starting up the hill, including this morning’s life bird, a Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike.

Up and into the forest I went. The coral trees have showy red flowers that attract many varieties of bird, but at this time of year they are in leaf rather than flower.


Paris Peacock Papilio paris
In the garden at the Outdoor Education Centre (Google Earth ref; 22°25'48.05"N 114°10'51.51"E), were butterflies and some dragonflies in the small pool.
Lesser Blue Skimmer Orthetrum triangulare
Red-faced Skimmer Orthetrum Chrysis 

Following the road around gives access onto the path system. I suspect that there may be an aviary or exotic collection in one of the private houses there as many unlikely calls emanated from beyond a fence.

As usual, I chose the Red Route which describes a 3 km loop through the forest. A few steps and slightly rough stretches of path exist, but for the most part, the route is easy to walk and well maintained.

Very few birds were seen for the large part of the walk, with a consistent call frustrating me. As I came full circle, the path crosses the stream and a Common Blue Jewel, Rhynocypha perforata, damselfly caught my eye. A few males were jousting above the stream’s surface while females waited provocatively.

Birds seen; 20

Black Kite 1, Spotted Dove 6, Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike 2, Scarlet Minivet 8, Grey -chinned Minivet 2, Great Tit 15, Yellow-cheeked Tit 1, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 3, Red-whiskered Bulbul 15, Light-vented Bulbul 6, Chestnut Bulbul 2, Yellow-browed Warbler 3, Japanese White-eye 20, Silver-eared Mesia 2, Blue-winged Minla 10, Rufous-capped Babbler 3, Oriental Magpie Robin 3, Scarlet-backed Flower-pecker 2, Fork-tailed Sunbird 3, Gray Wagtail 1

Buses 102 and 106 leave from just outside the World Trade Centre on Hong Kong Island (starting just after 06.00. For a really early start try N170 from the same stop, or the 24 hour bus N122 which runs every 15 mins from the first bus stop on Hennessey Road, opposite Sogo). They run through the tunnel to Hung Hom Station and a chap could be on an East Line (formerly known as the KCR, Kowloon Canton Railway) train heading to China in moments. Using the subway system would involve 3 changes of train to achieve the same result. Returning to the island, the buses run from the first stair off the footbridge out of Hung Hom Station.

Tai Po Market Station is on the East Line. Taxis are easily available from the station and cost $HK25 (@ $HK12 = £1) at the time of writing. Green minibus 28k runs up the hill from the railway station and stops close to the lay-by. Ask the driver for Tai Po Kau (pronounced How). There is usually a steady flow of taxis past the lay-by for return, unless it is raining.

The East Line connects to the rest of Hong Kong’s transport system at Hung Hom or Kowloon Tong.

Previous posts from Tai Po Kau can be found at the links below;

Visit the dedicated Asia Page for more from Hong Kong, including; Sha Lo Tung and Long Valley.

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