16 Nov 2015

Amur Falcons - slightly off-course in Hong Kong

Amur Falcon is a bird that has only been known in Hong Kong for the past umpteen years.

It's possible that some were overlooked as Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) in the past.  They are autumn migrants, and they turn up in Hong Kong between leaving their breeding areas in northern China and Russia and their wintering grounds in southern Africa.

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis

Don't take my word for it - Wikipedia has a lot on this species: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amur_falcon

In Hong Kong on passage they will sit on wires over fishponds and bare hillsides, - similar to the sort of habitat they may have known where they bred perhaps...

A couple of years ago, Amur Falcon was in the news recently for the wrong reasons, when it was revealed in 2013 that they were being trapped by the hundreds in the Indian State of Nagaland and sold for food. However, a big effort by Indian and overseas conservation groups seems to have turned this around by creating a festival for tourism and birders, as outlined here : http://www.easternmirrornagaland.com/the-story-of-amur-falcon-its-conservation-and-safe-passage/

Birdlife South Africa has been satellite-tracking Amur Falcons, too.  The progress of individuals can be monitored and posted on the internet within hours.

@copyright Birdlife South Africa

On leaving India, bound southwest, they'll fly across the Indian Ocean, feeding on migrating dragonflies over the sea.

Very confiding for a small raptor, they can be a photographers' favourite....they are certainly one of mine, anyway.

They can scratch their heads and wonder how they are going to get to where they need to be...but sooner or later they just need to "get on with it"...

They have a long way to go.


  1. I still haven't got my "on the wire" shot, very wonderful photographs John and they are also my favourite HK raptor. I truly hope the trapping will subside with more education done over there, so we can get to enjoy views of this magnificent little raptor for years to come!

    1. Me too, Matthew, they are a highlight of the autumn for me.

  2. Thanks for more wonderful photos of this amazing bird (which I still haven't seen yet). Didn't realize they have such an extended migration but then I should have put 2 and 2 together as my brother Steve in SA mentioned driving down to a major roost site for them and watching the thousands of birds congregate each evening. Must have been an incredible sight!

    1. Hi Jeremy, we don't get them in such huge numbers here, obviously, because we're a bit off the main migration route.
      Still, like your brother, I'd go a long way to see a good flock !

  3. I overlooked one here in Hokkaido as Eurasian Hobby and even posted it on my blog, thankfully someone pointed it out. You've got to love the internet sometimes..................

    Hope mine could make it to Africa. At least yours are (kind of) on the way...............

  4. Hi Stu, Yes, an AF in Hokkaido is really going to have to review its' migration strategy...!

  5. Great shots of a species that eluded me in South Africa. Happy New Year to you.