4 Feb 2020

Winter, turning to Spring - maybe



Eurasian Wigeon - Mareca penelope

We have lift-off !  And Wigeons have a new family scientific name, - who knew ?


Birding in HK is not a "wilderness experience", as I often remind people. 

This point seems more obvious when one views the fringes of the Deep Bay Ramsar site. On the northern (Shenzhen) side are some of the tallest buildings in Asia.

It’s nice to pretend they are not there, but really they are a fact of life. 




“Lok Ma Chau Loop"

View from Mai Po boardwalk hide, Dec 2019

Shenzhen's Ping An Centre behind this morning flock of Wigeon...

Three views over Gei Wai 8 at Mai Po Nature Reserve....

Shenzhen High Rise

Black-faced Spoonbills - Platalea minor

Phragmites Reed Beds, Mai Po

“Birds of a feather..."

Tin Shui Wai (HK) looms over a tidal pond


Enough concrete background, already !   

In damp weather last week at Tai Sang Wai I had a "wagtail-ly" and "pipit-ty  kind of day.

Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis (taivana)


White Wagtail - Motacilla alba (leucopsis)


White Wagtail - Motacilla alba (ocularis)

Buff-bellied Pipit - Anthus rubescens

Mai Po Nature Reserve still has the main Border Fence running through it.  In the 20th century  illegal immigrants had to cross or go around the fence to get into Hong Kong.

They still do, but times have moved on, and usually the Hong Kong Government permits tens of thousands of mainland tourists to visit every day. Illegal border crosser numbers have dwindled, but the towers and fence (dating from 1980/81) are still there.  




Due to the dreaded coronavirus Hong Kong is closed (almost !) to mainland visitors again, albeit temporarily.  I don’t think we’ll need the fence this time, though.

I don’t want real life to intrude too much on this blog, so I’ll end by noting that we have passed Lunar New Year and it’s officially the start of spring in south China. Koels are calling and Rhodoleia trees are blooming.  


Swinhoe's White-Eye - Zosterops simplex
Our White-eyes used to be “Japanese” but now they’ve been split and named after Robert Swinhoe, a pioneering ornithologist of the Victorian era. 

Fork-tailed Sunbird - Aethopyga christinae
And Fork-tailed Sunbird is named for Christina, Mrs Swinhoe.

And another thing -

Apologies again for my lack of response to comments - since the expiry of Google Plus my settings seem to be screwed up.  I can compose a post, but I can’t comment on the same post.

And don’t seem to be able to post comments on many other blogs. Some yes, some no.

Computers - grrrr... 

Never mind - I’m off on a trip, and -authorities and fates permitting- back in a few weeks.

19 Jan 2020

Eastern Imperial Eagles at Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hong Kong

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca
Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

A fine afternoon in mid-January. 

I knew I was due to do a Waterfowl Count at Mai Po on Sunday Jan 19th, and a circumnavigation of the reserve would be required.  

“Time spent in reccee is never wasted” they say. So it seemed a good reason to stretch the legs and check out the paths at the southern end of Mai Po, adjacent to the fishponds at Lut Chau.

In the summer the bunds become muddy and overgrown, but I remembered that conditions are usually drier and clearer in mid-winter, and snakes likely to be less of a hazard. 

Among the thirty-or-so Black Kites circling above the open water and reedbeds were two Eastern Imperial Eagles, a first or second winter bird and an adult.

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca
Later these settled in a tree beside Pond 21.  When I got closer, I found two young Imperial Eagles standing on a grassy bank accompanied by several Collared Crows.  The adult Imperial was in a tree nearby, striking a heraldic pose as it fended off the attentions of a Black Kite.
Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca
Royal Air Force Cap badge

Meanwhile, the  juveniles standing at the pond edge nearby reminded me of barnyard chickens. Large and fearsome barnyard chickens.
Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca
The reason for the young eagles’ interest in that particular area was revealed when one of them popped out of the long grass with a dried - but well-pecked - piece of fish. 


Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Almost immediately the other bird threatened the first bird, causing it to drop and abandon the fish. 

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca


Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca
The dried fish was abandoned to the crows. 

Both juvenile eagles went to roost as the sun set over the phragmites reedbeds.


12 Jan 2020

Eastern Marsh Harriers at Mai Po, Hong Kong

Although the calendar says “mid-winter” the temperature was distinctly autumnal at Mai Po yesterday.

Conditions were good to view and photograph the Eastern Marsh Harriers (Circus spilonotus), which make use of the habitat at Mai Po Nature Reserve and nearby Deep Bay area from mid-September to mid-April.

Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harriers (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harriers (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harriers (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus)

Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus)



Two individuals were about, an adult female and a first or second-winter bird.

6 Jan 2020

2019 “Review” - some birds in flight in Hong kong


Here we go, then - umpteen photos in search of a theme....


Black-faced Spoonbill - October


Saunders’ Gull - February


Silver-backed Needletail - March


Oriental Plover - April

Black-tailed Godwit - April



Whiskered Tern - May


Bridled Tern - May

Little Egret - June


Large-billed Crow - June

Peregrine - October


Sand Martin - October

Himalayan Swiftlet - December


Whimbrel - October

Chinese Grey Shrike - November


Amur Falcon - October

Chinese Pond Heron - October

Black-faced Spoonbill - October

Wigeon - November

And a Birdy 2020 to all !