Exploring Lung Fu Shan records

I was directed by Stephen Matthews to a list of LFS bird records in Porcupine. (The bird fauna of Lung Fu Shan and the University of Hong Kong by Hung Tun Hei, Sung Yik Hei, Fu Wing Kan and Yuen Pui Yu, Environmental Life Science 2004-2007).

The list is extensive and contains some notable records. I was especially struck by records from Spring 2000 of Schrenck's Bittern and Cinnamon Bittern. The observer is known to me, very reliable and unlikely to have made an error. I am trying to clarify with him whether the location may have been misreported. Or they may be fly over records. Neither record appears in the HKBWS report for 1999/2000.

The Porcupine paper led me to delve deeper into the records for LFS in the bird reports. Happily these are now online at http://www.hkbws.org.hk/web/eng/bird_report_eng.htm and are searchable. The Records Committee report for 1999 and 2000 (G J Carey) bemoans the decline in species reports and notes that records phoned into the HK Birdline often did not make it to a formal submission. Possible reasons for this are put forward.

This means that just because a record does not appear in the report does not mean its appearance on the LFS list should be disregarded. I also decided to go into the HKBWS forum for Lung Fu Shan. This is a treasure trove but only dates back to 2006. This does though mean we have an overlap with the Porcupine paper, which is useful.

One anomaly is that the Forum contains many sightings referred to as being from Po Shan Road. Now on iNaturalist most of Po Shan Road is outside the boundary of Lung Fu Shan and without knowing where on the road the bird was seen we can only speculate whether the record is truly LFS eligible. Whether it matters is down to the individual but to warrant inclusion in the citizen science project care must be taken to remain within the boundary. Helpfully the principal observer, Brendan Klick, noted "I have defined Po Shan Road as the area around the s-curves descending from Po Shan Road, past Realty Gardens Buildings, and down to conduit road plus the first ~500 meters of the small concrete trail that runs east from the top of Po Shan Road. From what I can ascertain, this area lies just north of Lung Fu Shan County Park boundary. I have been keeping a list of birds just seen in this very small area."

I then started to search the bird reports again and lo and behold in 2011 whilst Lung Fu Shan gets only 12 references, Po Shan Road gets 17! We are down to micro-patch birding!

This morning I walked along Po Shan Road. I had done so once before in the direction East - West. Today I walked West - East. It is hard to believe that this road produces such amazing records. It should be renamed Flycatcher Boulevard. And true to form I saw almost nothing. I found the concrete trail Brendan mentions and started down it. I asked 3 young Frenchmen where it ended and to my surprise one said, in flawless English, Old Peak Road. I immediately realised that this is the old pirate trail, Cheung Po Tsai Path. There is good background to this path on Gwulo at https://gwulo.com/node/6641

I suspect I was half way along before it became too difficult for me with a heavy pack. I may have missed a trick as on my retreat I saw some fairly overgrown stone steps that may have once offered a route around the blocked area.

Brendan does emphasise that Po Shan Road is far better in Fall (Autumn) than Spring. This forum page is very useful as it has a map with species annotations. http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/viewthread.php?tid=12573&extra=page%3D1

Where does that leave me? Well the purist in me feels I should eschew Po Shan Road other than as it relates to LFS. The birder in me says the opposite. One possible solution is to use Po Shan Road as my route to Pik Shan Path. It is more boring walking all the way down Conduit Road and missing the challenge of Old Peak Road but maybe this is an Autumn option. Records will have to be accurate for the iNat project for LFS. I suspect there is a lot more to be discovered in LFS.

Postscript: the bittern records mystery has been resolved. The response received was:

"Those records were from HKU’s ‘lotus pond’, opposite to HSBC ATM. I also had common kingfisher and dusky thrush there. The area is completely changed."

So, as expected, legitimate records, habitat loss means we are unlikely to record such species again.

Posted by andrewhardacre andrewhardacre, February 23, 2018 06:24

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Intrigue.....

Arthur Conan Doyle style!

You did bring a deerstalker hat with you Andrew ?

Posted by hkmoths over 1 year ago (Flag)
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No deerstalker Roger and it certainly isn't elementary. The commoner birds are worth logging too as I am sure some are going to be seasonal. I see or hear Chestnut Bulbul each time I go out now yet until the new year I hadn't seen one at all in the last quarter. Over time a pattern will surely emerge.

Posted by andrewhardacre over 1 year ago (Flag)

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