Plants and Animals

Flora n fauna on Cheung Chau

A few winter thrushes in at last

The cooler weather of late has evidently resulted in a few more winter visitors arriving on Cheung Chau - after it had been very quiet. (These birds likely moving south as places they had been staying in China became cold, maybe with snow, making it harder to find food.)

On 18 January, had relatively successful (bird-wise) walk around Fa Peng area, with handsome male Grey Thrush, Grey-headed Flycatcher and Black-naped Monarch.

Fukien Niltava again AWOL

I went back to the "niltava" place this aft - as had been told the bird had dark face/head, which fits niltava but not bluetail. Again, no niltava, but a female or young male bluetail. Email from one of the finders (aka Bjorn n Karin), sticking to their identification as niltava. So, I'll have to try again.

Saw quick flash of blue-tailed skink tail, as the animal vanished by footpath.

Cobra killing toad, plus rat snake and a few migrants

Walking along Don Bosco Road (south of the Sports Ground) this afternoon, I heard rustling in the leaves; looked down, and saw a Chinese cobra maybe five metres away. Only a small one - half a metre long? It was still at first, I think as it had seen me.
 
As I watched, saw something jump below the cobra (both were downhill of me, so not moving in my direction!). The cobra moved down too - fast. Looking through binoculars, I then saw the cobra had a toad in its mouth.

Black-naped Oriole along Peak Road

Walked along southern Cheung Chau this morning. Nothing of note in southeast corner, where sometimes find migrants, but along higher stretch of Peak Road - in patch of trees near houses - had excellent views of a Black-naped Oriole, as well as saw an Artic Warbler and heard a Yellow-browed Warbler. THe oriole may breed on Cheung Chau (one pair?), but not too easy to find as a passage migrant.
 
At southwest, saw a Brown Flycatcher in tree by the cemetery. 

One Arctic Warbler

May seem counter-intuitive at first, but autumn migration can somewhat mirror spring: birds that arrived last in spring tend to be earliest in autumn. This seems especially the case with species that breed in far north, so experience only a very short summer before they have to flee the return of winter.
 

Scarlet Sterculia and Blue-tailed Skink

Summer's just starting to fad; themperatures not quite so baking. Yet for birds, it's autumn - seems the Barn Swallows and Chinese Starlings that arrived to breed on Cheung Chau have gone.
scarlet sterculia
Walking woods near Fa Peng - no passage migrants as yet - seeing a few Scarlet Sterculia seed pods; also fallen parts of these striking pods, which look rather like brilliant red flowers.
 

Swallows and White Wagtails roosting

At dusk yesterday, saw around flock of around 70 Barn Swallows swirling around over waterfront buildings, before going to roost. Seems typical that after breeding, swallows here gather in groups like this:  may perch together on tv aerials, or on wires over buildings.
Pretty soon, though, they'll "disappear" - going south for the winter.

Chinese Starlings still present - surely breeding

I saw a party of five Chinese Starlings above Pak Tei temple yesterday - maybe a family party (adults and young), tho didn't see them very well.

Three or four days ago, saw a male Chinese Starling at the top of Peak Road (top of main slope up from the village - where I've seen them in previous years, and suspected breeding). Around three days before that, saw three above Human Head Rock.

So, would indeed seem that some of these starlings have stayed on to breed.

2 Brown Shrikes, an Arctic Warbler and 2 Black-naped Terns

Walked southeast Cheung Chau this aft. With fine, hot weather, I didn't expect to find migrants - but saw two Brown Shrikes and heard an Arctic Warbler singing. Also Plaintive Cuckoo singing: seems one is hanging around this spring. At lower Fa Peng Valley, saw a Chinese Starling - another summer visitor that seems to be staying on to breed.