Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher at Ho Man Tin

I always hear about good records at Ho Man Tin, but I’ve personally not had any luck there until today. It’s a rather strange place–just a green hill in the middle of an urban jungle with a number of unusually old trees (for Hong Kong). It seems to serve as an oasis for many impressive migrants, especially flycatchers, though they generally don’t stay for long.

That was why when I heard reports of a brown-chested jungle flycatcher there today, I went right over to try my luck. Aside from being a slow bus ride, I happened to arrive just in time for a pretty nasty thunderstorm. Luckily a few birders were still at the spot when I arrived, so I knew where to set up. I waited out the storm under the forest cover, which was surely dense enough to keep me safe, but not enough to keep me completely calm!

As soon as the storm was over, this little fella came out to say hello. He was very close and still for seconds at a time on a few branches, but only these two gave me any chance at a shot. The conditions weren’t ideal, as it was late afternoon in heavy overcast under cover of a some fairly dense and large trees, so light was definitely an issue. I brought my tripod and cranked up the ISO and managed to get some shots that weren’t completely destroyed by noise. Without the tripod I wouldn’t have had a chance.

Aside from being very cute, brown-chested jungle flycatchers are considered a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, so each of these birds is quite precious. They are native to southern China and winter in Southeast Asia, so this little one probably comes from just a province or two away. Though it appears juvenile due to the bi-colored beak, adults do in fact have a yellowish lower beak and base of the upper beak, so I would say this is probably a full-grown bird.

Ebird describes these birds as “lethargic” and I’d say that’s accurate judging from my encounter. The bird did not seem eager to bounce around, comfortable instead sitting on a branch until something on the ground caught his attention. Indeed what might easily be mistaken for an exhausted juvenile is actually a lazy adult!

This bird has a corresponding (brief) entry in my Hong Kong Bird Log.

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