28 Nov 2014

Deep Bay Birding

Crested Serpent Eagle - Spilornis cheela
We've had a few clear, sunny days and birding conditions have been at their best in terms of comfort and air quality.  Clear air in winter in Hong Kong usually follows southerly or easterly breezes from over the South China Sea.  Cold northerly winds usually bring pollution with them.

Out at Tsim Bei Tsui - across Deep Bay opposite Mai Po, I came across this Serpent Eagle sitting over a bare patch of ground. The car made an effective hide.

From the boardwalk hides at Mai Po, at least two Black-capped Kingfishers seemed to have staked out their own territories.

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata

Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon pileata
November is the best autumn month to see the crab-killing expert Saunders' Gull.

Saunders' Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi

But when the mudflats (and the crabs) are getting covered by the rising tide, even Saunders' Gull will resort to robbery.

Or "Attempted Robbery" in this instance….

450 Pacific Golden Plovers were noted during the November Waterfowl Count.  Some came close to the hides over the next few days.

Grey Plover (P. squatarola) with Pacific Golden Plover (P. fulva)

Pacific Golden Plover  - Pluvialis fulva

Pacific Golden Plover  - Pluvialis fulva

A sizable flock of Dunlin is also present right on the Deep Bay mudflats right now.

Dunlin - Calidris alpina

The wintering birds are not ALL waders, here are a couple of shots of Tristram's Bunting. Pretty much a closed-canopy species, with poor light for photography, but these are with a 500mm f.4 and 5d Mk 3 combination, which can work well in the gloom.

Tristram's Bunting - Emberiza tristrami

Tristram's Bunting - Emberiza tristrami

Out in the open, an Amur Falcon has roosted overnight on a power cable, over a grassy hillside with a view of the bay. 

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis
Perhaps due to the recent mild weather, some migrant birds are passing Hong Kong later than usual this year.

But with any luck, this one will be in southern Africa by Christmas !


  1. You are still getting great species even in 'low' season.............

    1. Hi Stu, Yes, it's been pretty good the last few days…some cold weather coming, they say.

  2. Although I have had the good fortune to see all those birds except Tristram's Bunting, I could only dream of getting such good photos. I really look forward to seeing your blog posts. I especially look forward to seeing the photos of your upcoming trip to South Africa.
    A few years ago I spent a month exploring the Northeastern part of the country. It was a trip that put all my previous trips to shame.

    1. Thanks John - actually the gull-and-kingfisher shots are quite heavily cropped, which is often the case with the stuff I post !
      NE South Africa ? Kruger Park ? It's a great area, but I haven't been there for too long !