6 Jan 2015

"Out with the Old, in with the New..."

Well, the Twelve Days of Christmas are done and dusted and the prospect of 2015 lies ahead of us. I've opened this post with a Black-winged Stilt, taken on New Year's Eve in Long Valley.

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus

Elsewhere the birding has a "midwinter" feel to it; -a feature of Mai Po's Access Road are the flocks of wintering starlings around: -

Red-billed Starlings - Sturnus sericeus

Black-collared Starlings - Sturnus nigricollis
On the post at the bottom left you might be able to make out a couple of White-vented (Great) Mynas... an introduced species in HK.

Along the road a large flock of House Swifts  has been active.

House Swift - Apus nipalensis

House Swift - Apus nipalensis

In Mai Po itself - in late December - I was fooled by a small party of these at first, mistaking them for Siskins, but was just a group of good old, (introduced) Canaries.

Whoops ! I vow to check more carefully this year...

Canary - Serinus mozambicus

A nice male Daurian Redstart has been hanging around the litter bins near Mai Po's Education Centre;

Daurian Redstart - Phoenicurus auroreus

and nearby, Olive-backed Pipits have been poking around in the leaf litter.

Olive-backed Pipit- Anthus hodgsoni

On the subject of Pipits, here is a Richard's Pipit on a fishpond bund at the edge of Deep Bay.

Richard's Pipit - Anthus richardi

A few yards away, more starlings, Red-billed and Grey-cheeked, squabble over the contents of a sack of fish feed.

Sturnus sericeus and Sturnus cineraceus

A Common Starling has stepped back from the fray - the few we get are winter visitors.

Common Starling - Sturnus vulgaris

 We started with a wader, here is another: -

Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta

Here is a fairly typical winter view of the southern end of Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Pond 22, Mai Po
 The area can be quite birdy in the late afternoon. Here are a few of the winter resident birds..

Eastern Marsh Harrier - Circus spilonotus

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

Black-faced Spoonbills - Platalea minor

Last but never least, Eastern Imperial Eagles have taken up their winter quarters at Mai Po. Here, two views of a juvenile from the Tower Hide.

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

An adult EIE at the south end of the reserve, not getting its' due respect for being the biggest beast around.

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Eastern Imperial Eagle - Aquila heliaca

Three species of corvid just want to say "Have a nice day !"

Finally: -

WWF HK manage Mai Po for the wildlife. Maintaining the Gei Wais, ponds, hides and paths costs money and we should not take their efforts to preserve this spectacular place for granted.

WWF Hong Kong's Annual Fundraiser, the Big Bird Race, takes place on January 17th.  I'm supporting the "Deadset Drongo" Team.

If you haven't picked a team to support in this event, here's a link to do so: -

And I'll just say "Have a great 2015" !


  1. Wow, what a great range of species John..............

    1. Happy New Year, Stu ! Yes, we've got a bit of variety around at the moment...

  2. I have to agree with Stuart. I'm glad you included the scenic shot as I've often heard of Mai Po but not seen a landscape type image of it. I stop-over in Hong Kong on the way to somewhere sounds like a good idea! Good luck with the fundraising.

    1. Hi Sonja, Yes you might be surprised at the number of birds in HK. But I'd have to say this is a "Best of the past three weeks" collection - I had a good day last Friday (2nd Jan) and saw over 100 species, but missed the Imperial Eagles - largest birds of all !

  3. Great post and images as usual. You should see how the crows here in Malaysia treat the EIE - just short of hopping on the eagle's back and pecking on its head!

    1. Thanks, Mun ! I think the crows are "dicing with death" when they do this kind of thing...

  4. This is a great series of photographs, especially the flight shots. I changed planes in Hong Kong a couple of years ago on the way to Vietnam and I debated whether to spend a couple of days there. Now I wish I had!

    1. Thanks, David. Well, there is always next time....but avoid June, July & August is my main advice. On an Asian scale our woodland birds aren't very gripping, but Mai Po and surrounds can be "First Rate".