3 Dec 2021

2nd Dec 2021 - A clear winter morning at the Mai Po boardwalk.

A clear cold morning, and the tide came higher than predicted.  

I didn’t find anything unusual, but some typical early winter birds presented some photo opportunities
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea

Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
Chinese Pond Heron - Ardeola bacchus
Eurasian Wigeon - Mareca penelope
Eurasian Wigeon - Mareca penelope
Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata
Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor
Saunders's Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi
Saunders's Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi
The usual suspects

26 Nov 2021

Finally, some cooler weather !

A cold front arrived with clouds and flurries of rain on November 22nd.  The temperature in the New Territories was a nippy-for-us thirteen degrees centigrade.

Japanese Quail

Jemi and I met up with friends in the fishponds south of Mai Po at Tai Sang Wai. The main reason to go there were reports of Rook and Carrion Crows among the Large-billed Crows so common around the fishponds.

We couldn’t make out any exotic corvids for certain, 

Chestnut-eared Bunting

Little Bunting

Japanese Quail (f)

Japanese Quail (f)

but two species of bunting and a Japanese Quail were the highlights.

two Large-billed Crows

A Black-shouldered Kite lent a tropical flavour to proceedings

Black-shouldered Kite

Black-shouldered Kite

..and pond life continued as usual...

Black Kite harries Large-billed Crow

As we left, an odd-looking female duck was spotted in a grass-filled pond.

Falcated Duck (female)

I had mistaken it for a Gadwall, but our birding companions pointed out that it was, in fact, a female Falcated Duck. 

Stejneger's Stonechat

Mmmm....some duck revision by me will be necessary as our winter wildfowl numbers build up.

2 Nov 2021

As seen on TV...Lapland Longspur

Hong Kong’s second-ever Lapland Longspur was trapped and ringed at Long Valley last week.

The first, three years ago, to quote the HKBWS records committee 

"Lapland Longspur Calcarius lapponicus. One filmed at Nam Sang Wai by TVB on 13 March 2018. Communication with TVB confirmed that the footage was not sourced elsewhere." 

Now a construction site - “LV Nature Park” - Long Valley is closed to visitors, but word leaked out and some keen birders managed to sneak in.  They made use of a narrow window of opportunity between daybreak and site security personnel turning up for work.

These shots were taken early on Oct 31st.. 2021 note the “long spur” in the uppermost shot.

The Longspurs must be having a breakout season, with other individuals noted in Zhuhai (across the Pearl Delta*), and in the Philippines in the past few days.

The birding WhatsApp groups have been buzzing with news of Amur Falcons in the past ten days or so.

NOT to be confused with Northern Hobby, also seemingly popping up everywhere recently.

The falcons are migrating through Hong Kong, but this Dusky Warbler may be arriving for the winter.

The most obvious of escapes, these Black Swans were showing well recently at Mai Po Nature Reserve.

They most likely have come from Huawei’s Shenzhen Campus, a distance of just a few kilometres from northwest Hong Kong, where Mai Po is.

A recent Boat Trip produced few noteworthy birds, but our route included south Lantau Island, where we saw seven or eight Pink Dolphins. “Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins"

The Hong Kong population have been badly affected by infrastructure development, particularly the controversial Third Airport Runway and the underused Bay Area bridge to Macau and Zhuhai. Only 30-40 individuals remain.

The dolphins must wish they could fly away, like some of the birds...

Still the sight of a few of those that remain made our day, even if such encounters are tainted with sadness at the thought of what humans have done to them.


* “Pearl River Delta” - these days the HK Government would like us to refer to the “Greater Bay Area” instead.

There, you have been reminded. 

6 Oct 2021

Tail end of a long, hot summer

 Still very warm - 

It’s official, the Hong Kong Observatory has declared Sept 2021 to have been the hottest September on record.

An autumn bird but not in autumnal conditions then, here are three shots of the same Blue-tailed Bee-Eater (Merops philippinus). It was one of 20 at Mai Po Access road on Sept 29th.

Blue-tailed Bee-Eaters will be on passage here throughout October.

Early October is also a good time to see a Pied Harrier (Circus melanoleucos), these are mostly birds of passage.  Very few seen in Hong Kong are adult males, so some confusion with Eastern Marsh Harrier can occur. 

Here are three shots of Pied Harrier from Hide 1 over the scrape at Mai Po on October 1st, -

and three shots of what seems like the same bird, same place, - but from hide 3 - the following day.

Normally secretive, up to seven Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea) were visible in and around the grass between Hide 1 and Hide 3.  

I made it two adults and five first-year birds.  They often squabbled with each other, which seems like a real waste of their energies, when they have migration, habitat loss and real predators to contend with. 

My “Species of the Month” * is Black Drongo  (Dicrurus macrocercus). 

A steady procession of these seem to be flying westwards over Mai Po every day in Autumn.

 That’s “Visible Migration”....

* “Species of the Month” is a John’s Blog tradition that I have just made up...