Farewell, Glossy Ibis!

The last trip to Tai Sang Wai was brief but successful. The two Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) were located just when I arrived. But I still hoped for better weather conditions which would give me a better chance to take pictures that show the metallic, colourful wings under sunlight, from which the species got its common name. So I headed for Tai Sang Wai again on 17 April. Unfortunately, some photographers told me that the two birds had been absent for a few days.

Glossy Ibis in Tai Sang Wai
Glossy Ibis - Bye
No Glossy Ibis? So I wander around the fish ponds. Interestingly, a male Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) was guarding over a fruiting ficus tree. This is my first time seeing one demonstrating such an aggressive territorial behaviour. He was constantly driving away birds of other species which were drawn by the bright-red fruits on that tree. The fruits were so abundant that all birds joining the party could have no difficulty feeding themselves. The male koel also devoured those fruits actually.

Asian Koel in Hong Kong
Asian Koel on fruting fig tree
Other birds did not fight back when the koel charged them. Rather, they would fly to nearby trees and wait for the koel to hide deeper in the tree crown. After the pause, they were ready to feed again. Among them, the most cunning would be the Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus). They landed on the tree in a small flock. One of them kept the Koel irritated while others seized the chance to pick the fruits. They took turn in doing so. How intelligent!

Things were getting complicated. A female koel flew into the tree crown. She seemed to be aceepted by the male as she also enjoyed those food at the side of the male. No mating or courtship behaviour was observed. The female was not interested in privatising the fruits as she did not disperse the other birds.

Female Asian Koel in Hong Kong
Asian Koel - Female
Other birds also took part in the feast, including Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), Chinese Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis), Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus) and Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis).

Azure-winged Magpie fighting for fig fruits
Azure-winged Magpie

Acridotheres tristis
Common Myna

Pycnonotus jocosus
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Other birds were seen collecting nest materials and courting. Low-frequency, deep calls of Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) were heard throughout the afternoon. Smaller passerines were gathering dry grass to build nests. This Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) posed for quite a few seconds.

Plain Prinia collecting nest materials
Plain Prinia - collecting nest material
While waiting for the van, I saw two White-shouldered Starling (Sturnia sinensis

Sturnia sinensis
White-shouldered Starling - male
The whole journey of the search of Glossy Ibis is an invaluable lesson. If I were a perfectionist, extreme disappointment could linger in my mind for a week or two, engendering unlimited regret over the poor quality of the photos taken during the rain. But for an optimist, catching a glimpse of the two rare visitors to Hong Kong would bring immense joy. As a birder, I have to face the constant fate of finding nothing despite a strenuous search. If you were me, what would your face look like in front of an empty field when the weather presents huge photographic opportunities?

1 comment:

  1. The Glossy Ibis were fun while it lasted, I hope more will come to HK in the future!