24 Feb 2018

Cool Winter weather - February in Deep Bay, Hong Kong

A month for exotic gulls in the tidal reaches of Deep Bay, here are three shots of "scarce winter visitor" (HK Bird Report 2015) Vega Gull from the Mai Po boardwalk...

(foreground) Vega Gull - Larus vegae

Vega Gull - Larus vegae

Vega Gull - Larus vegae

One or two Pallas's Gulls have graced the tidelines this month. These can be annual in twos and threes.

(right) Pallas's Gull - Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus
Earlier this month a cold snap meant that insects became moribund and fell to the surface of streams and fishponds.  Low and slow flight by insect predators made photography easier and - a bonus - the light cleared up briefly, too !

House Swift - Apus nipalensis
House Swift - Apus nipalensis

House Swift - Apus nipalensis

Red-rumped Swallow - Cepcropsis daurica

Red-rumped Swallow - Cepcropsis daurica

A couple of Mai Po's attention-grabbing rarities this month have been these....

(right) Smew - Mergellus albellus

Black-backed Swamphen (Porphyrio indicus)

(The Swamphen formerly known as "Purple", of course....).

Back at the boardwalk, another "scarce winter visitor" (HKBR)...
Mew Gull (right) - Larus canus

Finally a  shot of a gull that looks like a first winter Glaucous Gull, but it's not quite right and not big enough, either.

"It's just little me..."

This has caused a lot of puzzlement, with a Slaty-backed/Glaucous hybrid being suggested.

I confess I'm not sure either, sometimes nature must remain a mystery to us !


  1. Nice SWIFs. Isn't it one of the smaller Glaucous subspecies? I see quite a few small looking individuals.........

    1. Stu - it's interesting that you see smaller GGs... the very few I've seen here have all been big hulks...so size as a characteristic is fixed in my tiny mind.

  2. Amazing shots of the swifts. As far as hybrid gulls are concerned, they remain an intractable mystery to me. Immature gulls are hard enough! Niagara Falls is a bit of a magnet for gulls in November/December and there are always many birders honing their skills, or perhaps it should be opinions. It’s hardly surprising that several observers can come up with different conclusions about the same bird, each with convincing arguments about why his/her conclusion is correct.

  3. Hi David,
    Gull ID is an area I can "agree to differ..." with others where necessary....which is most of the time !