5 Jan 2012

Hong Kong in winter: - some "fishpond birds"

Black Kite -Milvus migrans.......  with dead fish"prey"

Mai Po Nature Reserve is surrounded by areas of commercial fishponds.  In these freshwater fish are "farmed" for the Hong Kong dinner table.

Hong Kong's Property developers see fishponds as potential building sites… they are large, cheap and flat. 

You can see the high-rise towers of Tin Shui Wai in the background here, until the late 1980s all fishponds, too.

In other places ponds have been filled in to make space for open storage and container yards.  So we have to have to appreciate these areas while we've still got them.  

A typical view…. some discarded rubbish, a wandering dog and the odd rusting container..

Still, on to some pondside birds......

Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus

Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola jundicis

Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis (bengalensis)

Richard's Pipit - Anthus richardi

Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus

Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos

Collared Crow - Corvus torquatus

Yellow Wagtail - probably "taivana"

Stejneger's Stonechat - Saxicola stejnegeri

Stejneger's Stonechat - Saxicola stejnegeri

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Red-billed Starling - Sturnus sericeus

Sometimes Great Cormorants get into fishponds and take the fish. This has become a conservation issue in Hong Kong.

With thousands of cormorants in Hong Kong in the winter, various strategies have been tried to keep them out of commercial ponds, including distracting them with trash fish at Mai Po - a concept abandoned this year after three years or so of pouring tilapia into Gei Wai 3 at Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Elsewhere wires were strung across ponds to stop cormorants gliding in, but these lines have broken or fallen into disrepair and there has been a dispute between fishpond operators and the Government's AFCD about maintenance.

As of New Year's Day, though, the only cormorants we saw were flying into the sunset.  No controversy there, then.



  1. Hope the habitat remains for a long long time John.........

  2. What a super collection of bird photographs. Can't pick any favourites here. -Just enjoy the entire scene.

  3. Good report of these birds and their habitat.

  4. What a good variety of species and well-taken images as well.

  5. Thanks everyone, for your comments. The photos are mostly taken using the car as a hide and resting the camera lens on a beanbag on the car door.

    Fortunately, the grass around these ponds has been cut short and the birds are easy to see right now.

  6. Very nice post, John! I love Green Sandpiper and the pipits. It's never easy trying to get close to any of them. Richard's Pipits is a nice bird to see and identify. In Thailand where there are tons of Paddyfield Pipits, picking up a few Richard's is always a fun and challenging task.

  7. Hi Ayuwat,

    Thanks ! Richard's Pipits are common here in Hong Kong, Paddyfield is unknown, and there is only one record of Blyth's... so not much to confuse Richard's with. We DO get Buff-breasted, which I can overlook as Red-throated...