13 Sept 2021

Hong Kong Southern Waters, 12th Sept 2021

The little bit of success seabirding on 29th August proved encouraging. 

So, on Sunday 12th September 2021 many of the seabirders from two weeks before turned out again at Aberdeen Public Pier at 07:00hrs for more of the same. 

Hong Kong was wedged between two typhoons, and the air seemed hot and still.

This time there were no dolphins, nor any Storm-Petrels to be seen. There was a passage of terns going on, though, featuring mainly three species. 

Greater Crested Terns (Thalasseus bergii) were dispersing southwards from their breeding grounds in Fujian/Zhejiang with a few juveniles present. 



Great Crested Tern

Great Crested Tern

Great Crested Terns - juvenile on left, obviously

Great Crested Tern

All morning we encountered both Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) and Aleutian Terns (Onychoprion aleuticus). In bright, hazy conditions, when in flight, they could be hard to separate.

Common Tern

Aleutian Tern - note dark trailing edge to secondaries

Standing on bits of floating polystyrene, identification was more straight forward.

Common Tern

Common Tern - note pink legs, dark edge to carpals 


Aleutian Tern - still mostly adult plumage

Aleutian Tern - still mostly adult plumage


Back to Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), five flight shots......








A quick (five shots) comparison with Aleutian Terns (Onychoprion aleuticus)







Some of these birds are going into winter plumage quicker than others.

Although over 300 individual terns were tallied during the seven-hour trip, not a single skua was spotted.

Finally, there were flocks of egrets moving generally southwest over the sea, clearly more “visible migration” was happening with land birds, too.



30 Aug 2021

End of August 2021 - Two “Hong Kong Ticks” at sea

On 29th August we joined umpteen other birders in a suitably masked, socially-distanced boat trip into Hong Kong’s southern waters, the general area being between Po Toi Island (HK) and the not-HK Islands to the south. 

Wet weather from the south-east was predicted and that’s what we got. An early highlight was a big pod of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops aduncus)

Despite having done dozens of boat trips over the years, this was a Hong Kong “Cetacean Tick” for us and everyone else present.
Satellite dishes at Chung Hom Kok
And immediately afterwards we had a flyby Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma monorhis), photographed by several people, including yours truly. 

Hong Kong Observatory website


It seems that the rain fronts may have driven it further inshore than normal. There are, as yet, no accepted Hong Kong records for Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel, although Bart de Schutter saw and photographed a distant one from Po Toi Island itself a few weeks ago. (Added: AND a sick Swinhoe's S-P was found on Hong Kong Island in autumn 2020, rehabilitated by the KFBG people, and released about a month later)
A report form has been submitted to the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society Records Committee regarding this sighting. 

It would be a highly anticipated addition to the Hong Kong Bird List, as well as being a fine "Hong Kong Tick" for all the birders present on the boat.

21 Jul 2021

More Ferry Good Birding

Hong Kong’s first Brown Noddy was photographed off Po Toi Island by Geoff Welch umpteen years ago. 

The second bird was seen near Po Toi last year during a typhoon. BUT in July 2021 we now appear to have two different Brown Noddys ("Noddies "?)at the same time in HK. 

A bird - HK’s third - that has been around for 3-4 weeks in Mirs Bay - presently delighting photographers east of Tap Mun Island. http://matthewkwanbirding.blogspot.com/2021/07/brown-noddy-mid-summer-twitch.html 

AND FOURTH, found by people last week tern-watching on the Cheung Chau to Central Ferry, this bird I photographed today, 21st July, also from the back of the public ferry.
Five photos of this very worn and abraded individual, and a couple of shots of one of the ferries (just like ours) - someone going the other way seems to be looking out for the Noddy, too !

26 Jun 2021

Hong Kong’s Breeding Terns

Hong Kong has three species of breeding tern, - Bridled, Black-naped and Roseate - and the rocks near Tap Mun Chau (Grassy Island) in the northeast New Territories are a stronghold for them. There are ferries to Tap Mun from Ma Liu Shui (near Chinese University) and from Wong Shek Pier, Sai Kung.
Late June sees a peak of activity, as the birds roam the waters of Tolo Harbour, to catch fish for their newly-hatched young. These are some shots from the back of the public ferry, taken yesterday, 25th June 2021.