10 Apr 2014

Early April at Mai Po, Hong Kong

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
Tides at Mai Po (and everywhere else, I suppose) go through fortnightly cycles.  They key for wader viewing at Mai Po is for the tide to reach 2.2 metres or higher. This brings the tideline  - and the feeding birds - right up to the boardwalk viewing hides at the edge of the mangrove.

On a rising tide, waders and gulls at Mai Po, early April

When the tide is very high, the birds may roost on the ponds within Mai Po Nature Reserve, and return to the tidal mudflats when the mud is exposed again. (Although at the moment, some of the smaller waders have been doing a nifty high-tide disappearing act.)

Nordmann's Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

(mostly) Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica

Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica - ours seem to be race "menzbieri"

Lesser Sand Plover - Charadrius mongolus

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
When the tide is low the birds can feed all day out on the mudflats beyond the prying eyes of humans. Which is good for them, but not good for the humans who want to count them, identify them, or take their photograph.  But the waders might still get chased around by Peregrines, as can be seen here…

This bird seemed to enjoy chasing the waders, but I didn't see it take one.

Living reminders that our migrant waders have wintered elsewhere, here are two birds flagged in Australia : -

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea (State of Victoria)

Great Knot - Calidris canutus (Western Australia)
Here's an example of the prompt Aussie feedback when you report one of "their" waders !

Summary of sightings
Great Knot
Banding/Recapture ZMV
20/02/2014 Nicks Beach, Roebuck Bay, Broome  (-18.00, 122.37)  Australia
06320736  (ZMV) Aged 2+  
Resighting ZMV
07/04/2014 Mai Po  (22.48, 119.23)  Hong Kong (China)
John Holmes 

Unusual in Hong Kong, a flagged wader from Taiwan.

Greater Sand Plover - Charadrius leschenaultii

It's not all waders, April started with this magnificent Pallas's Gull - which may now have moved on.

Pallas's Gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

There has also been a non-breeding Pallas's Gull around.

Pallas's Gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

Terns - among forty-or-so Gull-billed Terns there were three Little Terns a couple of days ago, here is one:-

Little Tern - Sternula albifrons

Duck numbers have mostly decreased rapidly since mid-March, but Garganey is a welcome feature of spring, with some well-marked males about Deep Bay. 

Garganey - Anas querquedula

Still no reports of Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Hong Kong yet this spring, but plenty of people are looking out for them. 


  1. Superb stuff John, TBH I'd rather go to Mai Po than Costa Rica! Pallas Gull is one species I've always wanted to see and we jutst don't get those huge concentrations of waders here in Hokkaido.

    1. Thanks, Stu ! These breeding plumage Pallas's Gulls turn up only once every couple of years here.

  2. Splendid post. Well done, John.

    1. Thanks, Mun ! There's plenty of good stuff at Mai Po at this time of the year - provided the tides are right for viewing.