30 Jun 2013

End of June

Most of these photos were taken at morning or evening.  It's so hot in Hong Kong in June that it seems like noon by about 09:30.

Around the carpark at Mai Po a number of White-shouldered Starlings can be heard and seen. They have adapted to nesting in man-made objects such as power-cable switch boxes, so their breeding success is deserved.

White-shouldered Starling (Sturnia sinensis)

White-shouldered Starling (Sturnia sinensis)

White-shouldered Starling (Sturnia sinensis)

An "also seen" is this Black-crowned Night Heron.  During the winter they day-roost in the deep bushes and mangroves around the Reserve, and even in April Bird Races you might miss them. With the pressure of young to feed they are driven into to the open during summer days.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Chinese Pond Herons are sporting their breeding plumage, too.

Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus)

A sudden rain shower and I'm glad to be lurking inside the Tower hide, with this view of reed beds and mangrove in Pond No.9 in front.

Pond 9, Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hong Kong

A passing Pied Kingfisher becomes my "black-and-white" image du jour. This is a BIG crop. 

On the approach to the hides before the "Scrape" (Ponds 16/17) two Masked Laughingthrushes pause for a moment before clattering off into the bushes.

Masked Laughingthrush (Garrulax perspicillatus)
On the scrape itself, a Chinese Yellowknib  poses obligingly on a bare islet.  Yellowknib/Spotbills (call them what you will) used to number in hundreds, then down to dozens, and in recent years they've become quite hard to find at all.

Chinese Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonoryncha)

A sudden flurry of activity  - a  Slaty-breasted Rail exits stage left, hotly pursued by a White breasted Waterhen. 

Slaty-breasted Rail (Gallirallus striatus)

Slaty-breasted Rail (Gallirallus striatus)

After this scintilla of excitement we trudge out to the boardwalk hides at the edge of Deep Bay. The morning air is fairly clear and the high-rise of Shenzhen seems to loom over the Great Egrets in the distance.It's more than just a metaphorical "looming", deteriorating water quality is a conservation 
issue at Mai Po.

Sandbarge with Shenzhen in the background

Great Egrets (Ardea alba)

And there is a Little Egret closer in.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

(The waders had pretty much all gone, but on June 21st  a group of five non-breeding Black-faced Spoonbills still lingered in what traditionally is a "wintering" area.  Here are two of them.)

Black-faced Spoonbills (Platalea minor)

Time to go, it's warming up.  But droplets from recent rain decorate this lily.  Who could resist it ? 

Lily, Mai Po
July should begin with a Typhoon, ("Rambia")  coming from the Philippines.  Perhaps it will blow a "good" bird or two our way ?


  1. A nice selection, Mr H. I hadn't realised the spotbills were declining so much but it's true, I don't recall seeing many in recent years. The flighty rail is a nice surprise. You deserve something for braving the heat. Is MPNR good for dragonflies?

  2. Andrew,

    It's official - Spotbills are declining (in HK anyway).

    Seen a few dragonflies at Mai Po, but I'm a complete duffer at those. I suspect the Wetland Park could be better

  3. While I have really enjoyed you latest posts of your travels far afield (and all the interesting birds you saw) I'm happy to see you back in HK and showing us some more of you wonderful pics of things seen around Mai Po. It always comes a something of a shock to me when looking out from the boardwalk hides across to Shenzhen especially when there are a lot of birds in between (as in your shot of the Great Egrets). Love the CPH pic too - it seems to be all bill!

  4. Thanks Jeremy..... I've been planning to put more scenery pics in among the bird stuff, which should give a broader impression of birding in Hong Kong. AND it should help bring back memories for people who've lived and birded here

  5. Even your staple summer birds seem really interesting to me................

  6. Thanks, Stu ! The shots above are a sort of "best of..." from four or five outings.

  7. Exceptional pictures as usual John. Love the monstrous skyscrapes(skyscrapers). The scorching summer is all set for a good dry birding but amazed by the birds you have managed even on 5 outings. Have a rest John ;-)

    1. Thanks, Dev ! July in Hong Kong is another good month for "resting" !

      And it's been pretty hot up your way these last few days, I see...