19 April 2019

Whiskered Terns

 Rough and wet weather at sea can bring more terns over the fishponds of the New Territories of Hong Kong.

“Marsh” Terns are the most frequently encountered. These Whiskered Terns were over fishponds near Mai Po this morning.

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

Less frequently encountered are Wild Boar.  I  disturbed this one between two fishponds and he (she ?) went ploughing off through the undergrowth, only returning when it thought it was safe.

Wild Boar - Sus scrofa

Wild Boar - Sus scrofa

Wild Boar - Sus scrofa
A few strands of grass came between me and a clearer view, but then - if the animal had seen me - it would have turned tail and fled anyway.


9 April 2019

Spring ! Some waders at Mai Po - 5th,6th and 7th April 2019

Here they are then - mostly waders….

Nordmann’s Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

Nordmann’s Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

Nordmann’s Greenshank - Tringa guttifer

Saunders’ Gull - Chroicocephalus saundersi


Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea

Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa

Far Eastern Curlew - Numenius madagascariensis

Eurasian Curlew - N. arquata + Far Eastern Curlew - N. madagascariensis

Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa

Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa

Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor


Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

Oriental Plover - Charadrius veredus

and mostly at Mai Po’s boardwalk hides....

5 April 2019

Po Toi Fever, - a Wood Warbler "Twitch" on 4th April 2019

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix)
On the ferry from Po Toi back to Aberdeen on 2nd April, one photographer showed another some shots of an odd phylloscopus warbler he had seen that afternoon.

It did look unusual….

Mobile phone photos of the finder’s camera review screen were quickly circulated and almost instantly the verdict was in:

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix) - a “First” for Hong Kong !

Ten of the keenest of HK’s twitchers chartered a boat to Po Toi on Wednesday, 3rd April (there’s no regular ferry on Wednesdays) and re-found the bird.

I was a bit slower and went to Po Toi on Thursday’s public ferry. There were about twenty birders and photographers on board. 



We were directed to the very tree favoured by the Wood Warbler over the previous couple of days by Peter WONG, who had seen it the previous day. After an anxious hour or so, the bird re-appeared.

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix)

Wood Warbler (Phyloscopus sibilatrix)

Wood Warblers breed in western Europe and winter in Africa - there are very few east asian records.

Some other passage migrants* gave decent views as well.

Five-bar Swordtail - Pathysa antiphates


Ferruginous Flycatcher - Muscicapa ferruginea

Ashy Minivet - Pericrocrotus divaricatus

Ashy Minivet - Pericrocrotus divaricatus

Ashy Minivet - Pericrocrotus divaricatus
* Caution - One of these is not a bird




Happy “twitchers” return to the Po Toi public ferry pier.



2 April 2019

Last week of March 2019 - unsettled weather and some migrants at last

Grey-capped Greenfinch - Chloris sinica
More unsettled weather around 23rd/24th March brought a few interesting birds into view.

These usually seem to be high and distant, maybe often overlooked by birders looking closer to hand, including me.

Grey-faced Buzzard - Bustatur indicus

A spring passage regular…

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla tschutschensis (taivana)

At Long Valley there were two different Water Rails about, I missed one but got the second !
Eastern Water Rail - Rallus indicus

When seagoing passage migrants such as phalarope turn up on inland patches of water, like the ponds at LV, you know it must be rough at sea. 

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus

On March 28th the diligence of the fishpond surveyors paid off again with the finding of this unusual wagtail, which may be a Western Yellow Wagtail.  Richard Lewthwaite and I arrived at the same time for a twitch of this potential HK first, feeding on a fishpond bund at Lut Chau.




Western Yellow Wagtail ?- Motacilla flava leucocephala (rear)

Western Yellow Wagtail ? - Motacilla flava leucocephala

Wagtail and admirers

At the boardwalk hides of Mai Po Nature Reserve, on the final day of March, it felt like winter was turning to spring. The wintering gulls were fewer in number and the terns were coming through.  Here’s one -

Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

And the Black-faced Spoonbills were colouring up for their return to their Korean breeding grounds.

Black-faced Spoonbill - Platalea minor

The commoner passage migrants had increased in number and were also adopting some breeding plumage…

Greater Sand Plover - Charadrius leschenaultii

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea

There are fewer than ten records per year of Oriental Plover -and, actually, I haven't seen one in such good plumage for several years, - so it was great when this was pointed out to me on the Deep Bay mudflats :

Oriental Plover - Charadrius veredus

Oriental Plover - Charadrius veredus
And April is just getting started…