27 Apr 2014

Boat Trip - HK southern waters, 26th April 2014

Pomarine Skua

Geoff Welch has certainly spent more time watching the sea channel south of Po Toi Island than anyone else, and has observed that the movement of seabirds in that part of Hong Kong's southern waters is busiest in the first 2 - 3 hours of daylight.  The boat trip on 12th April (07:00hrs) was generally held to have been not early enough, so yesterday's boat was arranged for an even earlier time.

A 06:00 sailing meant that there were more than a few bleary eyes among the optimists who turned up at Aberdeen Public Pier. 

Some of HK's keener regulars were joined by Verity Picken - visiting from the UK, and Singapore's Martyn Kennewell, in town on business.

Northerly and easterly winds had produced a few migrant birds in Hong Kong's more popular birding areas in the previous 24 hours, so there was a mood of cautious optimism as we set off. The occasional fishing boat was a reminder that not everyone was at sea just for fun..

The weather was cloudy and dull for the first couple of hours of the day, but we started to get sightings of birds as soon as the open sea was in sight.

Pomarine Skuas

Pomarine Skua

The highlight was a shearwater that is either Short-tailed or possibly Sooty, some photos of which are below

More photos and ID discussion on the HKBWS Forum here:-


(Added 14 May 2014) The verdict is Short-tailed Shearwater, it seems.

It was a very memorable day, with two species of shearwaters, three species of skuas and eight species of terns.

Among the eight species of tern seen were White-winged Black

And Aleutian Tern….

Aleutian Tern

Aleutian Tern

And the number of Ancient Murrelets I've seen in Hong Kong increased during the morning from six to ten, with these four "fly bys"..

Back to Skuas, here's Long-tailed Skua

And an Arctic Skua

Another Aleutian Tern, resting on a piece of floating polystyrene.  This species was first noted on a Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Boat Trip in August 1992, posing on rubbish like this.

The sightings of exotic seabirds tailed off as the morning wore on. By late morning the sun was actually shining.

A final shot of a Hong Kong resident bird, but one that was well out to sea….

Reef Egret

So now we're all fired up to go and try a similar trip next Saturday (May 3rd) !


  1. Miserable weather but great birds...................

  2. Stu, No doubt about it, bad weather stops migrants !

  3. That definitely seems like a great pelagic trip!

  4. Wish I had gone on more of these myself. Thankfully we have your reports and pics to remind us. By all accounts a wonderful trip - I especially love the Skua photos!

    1. Thanks Jeremy, we certainly did well with all 3 skuas and both the shearwaters on the Hong Kong list...

  5. Love the skua images. I must start going on my pelagic trip here soon.

    1. Looking forward to reading about your pelagic results, Mun !