7 Oct 2010

A "First" for Hong Kong - European Roller

Out of Africa

The autumn, southerly migration of birds is going on right now. What the Hong Kong Observatory called “a replenishment of the winter monsoon” brought cold grey weather last Tuesday (Oct 5th) and with it lots of birds.

John Allcock kindly phoned me around mid-day with news of a European Roller sighted (by Dave Stanton) near Black Point Power Station, which is about as far west as you can drive in the New Territories. Having worked nearby a few years ago, I didn’t need any clarification of the directions.

We bashed down the highway to Tuen Mun nearly as fast as the green Public Light Buses that ply the route, and arrived to find that the earlier Roller viewers had all left. But the bird itself was sitting in plain view on a support cable for a power line (top right of the first photo).

In the northern summer European Rollers may be found between southern Europe, central Asia and as far east as China’s Xinjiang Province. They should all spend winter in sub-saharan Africa. This first-winter bird seems to have set off in entirely the wrong direction.

European Roller

This bad fortune for a young European Roller has provided much excitement for HK birders.

Sadly for the bird itself, it seems likely that it will fly out over the Pacific Ocean until it drops exhausted, still wondering where it took a wrong turn.


  1. Congratulations on this bird!
    A really strange find for east Asia...

  2. Extraordinary! Tell it we would welcome it as a guest in Malaysia!

  3. Ayuwat, David,

    With this birds' poor sense of direction it could turn up anywhere next !