Autumn buntings in Long Valley, Hong Kong

Long Valley-  an agricultural piece of land made up of cultivated fields and marshy ponds is probably the best site to see buntings, pipits and some freshwater waders such as Painted Snipes as well as crakes and rails.

The varied vegetation attracts buntings during autumn migration and is probably the easiest place to see the endangered Yellow Breasted Bunting.  Its a hard fact and sad truth but this bunting will soon be extinct within the decade if sanctions to stop illegal trapping in China and other parts of Asia fail. I really wished that on going programmes that help save this species from extinction will see light at end of tunnel soon.

yellow breasted bunting in Long Valley, HK

yellow breasted bunting in Long Valley, HK

Yellow breasted bunting can be seen in Long Valley during autumn migration..

Yellow breasted bunting can be seen in Long Valley during autumn migration..

Other buntings that can be seen here include- Crested bunting, Little bunting, Chestnut bunting, Chestnut-eared bunting, Brown-headed bunting, Black-headed bunting, Black-faced bunting, etc. Long valley is a haven for buntings- with crops harvested in November, they can be seen foraging on grounds in early morning!

black faced bunting

black faced bunting

From left- Little bunting, Black-headed bunting, Brown-headed bunting in Long Valley

From left- Little bunting, Black-headed bunting, Brown-headed bunting in Long Valley

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Birding in Olympic Forest Park, Beijing

After a savvy lunch in Sanlitun, Beijing, we decided to head down to the Olympic Forest Park to do a bit of birding.. 🙂 It was a smoggy day with toxic air peaking at dangerous levels, but that didn’t deter us from our itinerary! >.<

The Olympic Forest Park is a huge, man-made nature park built for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games! We entered the park from the South gate where the subway line is and headed West! There were bikes for rental in the park, but we preferred to walk on foot!

Beijing Olympic forest park map

Beijing Olympic forest park map

We walked along the frozen lake, not expecting any ducks, goose or waders! But I was taken by surprise by a big, white-feathered bird standing in the open!! It stood close to the boardwalk, obviously enjoying the attention from the park goers! @_@” It’s a Bewick’s Swan, a split from the Tundra Swan (小天鹅) and definitely a lifer for me! 😛

Bewick's swan

Bewick’s swan

The swan had more than enough admirers, so we continued our way to the reeds area located on the West end of the park! As we walked along, the pecking and rustling sounds of reeds could be heard loud and clear! A huge flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbills (棕头鸦雀 ) were in that bed of reeds! They were known to be fast and furious birds- hard to photograph, but these cuties decided to hang a little while longer to have their photographs taken! 🙂

Vinous-throated Parrotbill in flocks!

Vinous-throated Parrotbill in flocks!

A pair of Bearded Tits (文须雀) were recently sighted, but there were no signs of the amorous couple! But we were soon entertained by Oriental Greenfiches, and a Black-faced Bunting who loved those reeds too.. Then out of the blue, I heard a hoarse outcry, ” Great Bittern!” How often do you get to see a Great Bittern (大麻鳽) in the open?? Quickly, we grabbed our cameras and snapped away! 😛

Great Bittern in the open!

Great Bittern in the open!

As we walked on, the male Bearded Tit popped out of nowhere and showed up nicely for us before it flew across to the opposite reed bed, and returned shortly after to pick up his partner! 🙂 It was very cool to see the couple frolicked away before they disappeared into the reeds…!! And last but not least, a Siberian ChiffChaff (叽喳柳莺) made a brief appearance! It brought a happy coda to our afternoon birding session!  

Bearded Tits- male and female!

Bearded Tits- male and female!

Male Bearded Tit

Male Bearded Tit

Jay Birding around Kansai- Wakayama 和歌山赏鸟

Finally got to end of writing my Kansai Trip report! Phew!!!!!! To make it short, I did not go to the Wakayama Port but to the Wakayama city instead! It was a very very (I cannot stress enough) cold morning with high wind speed! When I exited the train station, that strong gust of wind nearly blew me off my feet! Walking against the wind wasn’t easy for me (cough)…but I was very determined to cross the street! Why?? It was because I saw my first ever Blue Rock Thrush! For many birders, its a common bird, but it was a lifer for me!

blue rock thrush

blue rock thrush

The blue rock thrush tried to fly in a trajectory path but with strong head wind, it was “blown” away..so far away that even if I had wings…I couldn’t even chase after it! XD

Wakayama is a great place for onsen (hot springs) but I had other plans…hehe! I went to the Wakayama Castle! There were some trails that lead up to the castle itself…!

Along the trails, I saw Japanese Grosbeaks, Spot Billed ducks, Japanese wagtail, Grey wagtail, Tufted ducks, etc… but what actually caught my attention was a warbler-The Japanese Bush Warbler! 😛

Japanese bush warbler!

Japanese bush warbler!

spot billed duck

spot billed duck

I was really hoping to see a Japanese bunting in Japan…but I only saw the black faced bunting when I crossed the historical wood bridge at the Wakayama Castle! Outside the castle, I saw also a common buzzard and a dusky thrush…!

black faced bunting

black faced bunting

common buzzard

common buzzard

dusky thrush

dusky thrush