8 Apr 2021

Egretta eulophotes - Chinese Egret

This species was chosen as a symbol for the HKBWS when it was founded. A sketch by Mike Roser was used for the Society’s first thirty-or-so years, superseded by David Bakewell’s more realistic version in the late 1980s. More recently still, the HK Birdwatching Society has been using a different, colourful representation of this bird. There can’t be an egret that does “aigrettes” quite like Egretta eulophotes, even the scientific name means “well-crested”.
All photos taken from the boardwalk hide, today, 8th April 2021.

30 Mar 2021

Four Glossy Ibis at Mai Po Nature Reserve, 30th March 2021

I was out at one of Mai Po's boardwalk hides - where mobile coverage can be intermittent - when I got "pinged" on the phone with some "hot" bird news that there were four Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) just landed on Ponds 16/17, a few hundred metres away. This was the fourth time Glossy Ibis had occurred in Hong Kong and four was a new "high count". Naturally, I hurried along, and the birds were still there. They all appeared to be adults. The last record was of two immature birds at Long Valley on 21st March 2019.
The birds looked unsettled and I wasn't surprised when they were spooked by a Black Kite after about half an hour. Spring wader migration is slowly starting and "also-seens" at the board walk were two Endangered species of wader...Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis)and Great Knot (Calidridris tenuirostris)
Turned out nice again !

23 Mar 2021

Black-faced Spoonbills - all dressed up and somewhere to go

At the Mai Po boardwalk yesterday, most of the remaining Black-faced Spoonbills (Platalea minor) were in breeding plumage and feeding actively before they departed for their Korean breeding grounds. These individuals were twitching their wings like butterflies as they chased fish in the shallow water.
It's great to see these birds, but I'm also sad to report that numbers in Deep Bay are slowly dropping, even when the known population of this Endangered Species is still rising. Water quality is declining, probably as a result of increased development and urbanization.

18 Mar 2021

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) at the Mai Po boardwalk

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) From the most recent Hong Kong Bird Report - “Scarce spring visitor with other isolated records and some long-staying individuals; most records are of immatures and occur in the first half of the year.” The book is spot on, in this case !
This individual has been a regular visitor to the Mai Po tideline in the past few weeks. Viewed from the Boardwalk hides, these are photos taken on 12th and 15th of March.

14 Mar 2021

Two early Spring woodland “Twitches"

It took three visits to Mount Davis on Hong Kong Island before we successfully “twitched” HK’s first Ryukyu Minivet. After a few East China records this past winter, this species was seen first at the site in mid-February. Since then it has appeared intermittently near Sitting Out Area No.2 on the road to the Youth Hostel. While waiting there were a few other woodland species to enjoy. Mount Davis has commanding views to the west, and Green Island is in Hong Kong Harbour to the north. Early butterflies appeared on all the flowering trees. My 1988 Urban Council Book “Hong Kong Insects” identifies these as Common Black Jezebels (Delias aglaja), … ”notable for being brighter on the underwing than on the upperwing..” They certainly don’t name butterflies like they used to. The Blue-winged Minla (last four photos) etcetera, were taken at KFBG.

Crested Goshawk - Accipiter trivirgatus

Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike -Lalage melaschistos

Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike -Lalage melaschistos

Green Island

White-bellied Sea Eagle - Haliaeetus leucogaster (with Black Kite, Milvus migrans)

Scarlet Minivet - Pericrocotus speciosus

Scarlet Minivet - Pericrocotus speciosus

Common Black Jezebel - Delias aglaja

Common Black Jezebel - Delias aglaja

Blue-winged Minla - Minla cyanouroptera

Black-throated Laughingthrush - Garrulax chinensis

Yellow-cheeked Tit - Machlolophus spilonotus

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch - Sitta frontalis

24 Feb 2021

“Do you have Conservation in Hong Kong ?"

I was asked this while overseas a couple of years ago, and was a bit taken aback.  The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society was founded in 1957 - it has lobbied Government ever since - and persuaded the Government in the early 1970s to set aside a part of the Mai Po area as a Nature Reserve. the local branch of WWF was set up in 1981.  

Worldwide Fund for Nature Hong Kong manage Mai Po Nature Reserve and it now costs them, as an organisation, several million HK dollars (almost three-quarters of a million US dollars) a year to do so. Maintaining a seaside artificial wetland requires labour and earth-moving equipment. Boardwalks, paths and hides need to be maintained and vegetation has to be controlled where necessary.   Old reed beds need to be periodically ripped out and replanted. Mangrove grows rapidly anywhere its seeds can float to, often in places where Reserve Management might not want it.

Even if enough visitors paid more entry fees to cover more costs, the presence of more people would compromise it’s usefulness to wildlife.  So entry/guiding  fees will help, but  the value of a place for nature, like Mai Po, is beyond price.

WWF HK has held fund-raising Bird Races in most years since 1984.

“Bucks for Mai Po” was  the mantra in the first dozen years or so of the event, and, pre-handover, sums raised were close to two million HK dollars. 

Wild Boar, Ho Chung

A Bird Race always was a memorable, but exhausting day out.  As as birder, though, I wasn’t the only person who saw Mai Po Nature Reserve as the best of good causes…Having done about twenty of these over the years I thought I had passed the baton to a newer generation of birders.

However, I  joined this year’s WWF Big Bird Race event when someone had to drop out at the last minute.  Not just driving, I actually had to help find some birds, too. 

Due to Covid-19, Teams of two were the rule, and Tim Woodward and I became “All Stars B” .

These are a few mobile phone shots that might give some flavour of the day. Obviously, it wasnt practical to carry the “proper” camera and long lens.

Black-winged Stilts, Long Valley

We experienced dry late winter weather, being cool in the morning but appreciably warmer at mid-day.  It’s that time of the year when some winter birds have fled back to their breeding grounds, and the main cohort of passage migrants haven’t arrived yet.


A hundred and umpteen birds in twelve hours didn’t win the race, but we certainly covered a few habitats.