Showing posts with label HK Waters n Po Toi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HK Waters n Po Toi. Show all posts

16 May 2019

Spring 2019 - "Boat Trip season" in Hong Kong's Southern Waters

Bridled Tern - Onychoprion anaethetus
The are umpteen species of tern of the HK “list” and we are lucky enough to get three handsome species (Bridled, Black-naped and Roseate) breeding on some of the weathered granite rocks that dot Hong Kong’s southern and eastern waters.

Bridled Terns - Onychoprion anaethetus

Bridled Terns - Onychoprion anaethetus



Bridled Tern - Onychoprion anaethetus (11th May)
By early May the islets are populated with noisy, quarrelsome terns in the process of pairing, securing nest spaces and breeding.

Bridled Tern - Onychoprion anaethetus (11th May)
They can often be seen carrying fish as offerings to potential mates. 

The Agriculture, Fisheries and conservation Department (HK Government) puts up signs in an attempt to stop careless humans from landing on the islands and disturbing the birds, but this doesn't always work.

(11th May)


Black-naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana (11th May)

Black-naped Terns - Sterna sumatrana and Roseate TernSterna dougalli

(mostly) Black-naped Terns - Sterna sumatrana (11th May)

Roseate Terns - Sterna dougalli (11th May)

Black-naped Terns and Roseate Tern (11th May)
Mid-April to mid-May is usually the ideal time for boat trips in HK waters to look for migrant terns and other seabirds as well.  

2019 was not as spectacular as some previous years, but a few migrant terns and other seabirds were tallied, too.

Aleutian Tern - Onychoprion aleuticus (11th May)

Great Crested Tern - Thallaseus bergii (28th April)
Common Tern - Sterna hirundo (21st April)

Common Tern - Sterna hirundo (21st April)

Arctic Skua - Stercorarius parasiticus(21st April)

Arctic Skua - Stercorarius parasiticus(21st April)
Short-tailed Shearwater - Ardenna tenuirostris (28th April)

Sometimes, not everything at sea is a seabird. 

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus (20th April)
Oriental Pratincole - Glareola maldivarum (20th April)

Grey-tailed Tattler - Tringa brevipes (27th April)

Swinhoe's (left) and two Little Egrets (27 April)
Swinhoe’s Egrets - Egretta eulophotes (11th May)


Examples of "VizMig" - "Visible Migration" !

I know long-distance landbird migrants may have to fly over stretches of open sea, but it is still a thrill to see them actually doing it.

5 April 2019

Po Toi Fever, - a Wood Warbler "Twitch" on 4th April 2019

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix)
On the ferry from Po Toi back to Aberdeen on 2nd April, one photographer showed another some shots of an odd phylloscopus warbler he had seen that afternoon.

It did look unusual….

Mobile phone photos of the finder’s camera review screen were quickly circulated and almost instantly the verdict was in:

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix) - a “First” for Hong Kong !

Ten of the keenest of HK’s twitchers chartered a boat to Po Toi on Wednesday, 3rd April (there’s no regular ferry on Wednesdays) and re-found the bird.

I was a bit slower and went to Po Toi on Thursday’s public ferry. There were about twenty birders and photographers on board. 



We were directed to the very tree favoured by the Wood Warbler over the previous couple of days by Peter WONG, who had seen it the previous day. After an anxious hour or so, the bird re-appeared.

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix)

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix)

Wood Warblers breed in western Europe and winter in Africa - there are very few east asian records.

Some other passage migrants* gave decent views as well.

Five-bar Swordtail - Pathysa antiphates


Ferruginous Flycatcher - Muscicapa ferruginea

Ashy Minivet - Pericrocrotus divaricatus

Ashy Minivet - Pericrocrotus divaricatus

Ashy Minivet - Pericrocrotus divaricatus
* Caution - One of these is not a bird




Happy “twitchers” return to the Po Toi public ferry pier.



12 October 2018

Po Toi Island, Hong Kong - 11th October 2018


Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica
Po Toi Island is Hong Kong’s southernmost island, and a migration hotspot. Nine or ten birders/photographers, including ourselves, caught the 10:00 ferry from the Aberdeen promenade.

Tin Hau Temple, Po Toi

Migrant birds have limited pockets of habitat on Po Toi, and even fewer places to hide there since Typhoon “Mangkhut” in mid-September.

Areas of brown vegetation, hillside scrub killed off by the typhoon’s salt spray, could be seen everywhere above the shoreline along our ferry journey from Aberdeen. 

White-bellied Sea Eagles - Haliaeetus leucogaster

On Stanley peninsula a pair of resident White-bellied Sea Eagles surveyed us as we passed. 

Here are a few shots of some of the birds seen, as usual, some birds are seen by some birders and not others. A mid-week ferry gives only a three-hour window for birding.

Red Turtle-Dove - Streptopelia tranquebarica

Black Drongo - Dicrurus macrocercus

Yellow-browed Warbler - Phylloscopus inornatus
Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica

Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica

(Asian) Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa latirostris

(Asian) Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa latirostris


Bird of the Po Toi day was probably a Spectacled Warbler (Seicercus sp.) - photographed by someone else and not seen by yours truly at all !

18 July 2018

Terns from the Tap Mun Island Ferry - July 2018

Black-Naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana

A couple of days ago (16th July 2018), I got the ferry from Ma Liu Shui to Wong Shek Pier in Sai Kung.

Tap Mun Island

Tap Mun Island

It’s a four-hour round trip in the sheltered waters of Tolo Harbour.  The boat calls at the western side of Tap Mun Island.  On the seaward side, on rocky islets in Mirs Bay, three species of tern - Bridled, Black-naped and Roseate breed.

The tern numbers are monitored on a monthly basis by AFCD and HKBWS, and breeding success or otherwise noted.  Typhoons are a big natural hazard, and made-made ones can include disturbance on the islets by fishermen or inconsiderate day-trippers.

Roseate Tern - Sterna dougallii

Roseate Tern - Sterna dougallii

Roseate Tern - Sterna dougallii

Roseate Tern - Sterna dougallii


The terns hunt in the comparatively sheltered waters the ferry passes through, and are attracted to the boat because the propellers - when the ferry is under way - can disturb small fish.

In the wake
I only got two species of tern close enough to photograph, but it was good fun.

Black-Naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana

Black-Naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana

Black-Naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana

When a sprat is caught the tern zips back low over the water towards its' nest site, a couple of kilometres away.

Black-Naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana

Black-Naped Tern - Sterna sumatrana

Leg flagging is a new part of the monitoring effort this summer.