11 Nov 2022

Early winter visitors - Nov 9th

A typhoon passing Hong Kong in early November is evidence of the reality of Climate Change.

But, after several wet and grey days, the sun shone on November 9th and the birds performed over the fishponds of the northwest New Territories. 

Yellow Wagtail - “macronyx"

White Wagtail - “leucopsis"

White Wagtail - “leucopsis"

Common Snipe

Red Turtle Doves

Eurasian Wryneck

Amur Stonechat

White Wagtail - “ocularis"

Eastern Buzzard

Imperial (l) and Greater Spotted Eagles

Imperial (upper) and Greater Spotted Eagles

Greater Spotted Eagle

What better place to be than the fishponds bordering Mai Po Nature Reserve ?

27 Oct 2022

Geese at the Mai Po boardwalk hides, 25th October

Another clear and cool morning at Mai Po Nature Reserve.

I saw the tide come in at the outermost boardwalk hide, and the “usual suspects” were present, but nothing unusual. The flags on this Common Redshank were a sign that the Hong Kong bird ringers had been busy.

Round at the oldest hide I met KK Hui and another photographer. We hadn’t been sitting there very long when three large, pale geese flew in and landed about 100 metres out.

Greylag Geese - Anser anser

Greylags - a seventh or eighth record for HK.  They obligingly took off and circled, then landed again and drifted closer.

While viewing the Greylags we had a brief flyby of three Greater White-fronted Geese. By the time I’d identified them on the back of the camera they were long gone.

It was our good fortune that, when the Greylags left after about an hour-and-a-half, the Whitefronts reappeared briefly.

Greater White-fronted Geese - Anser albifrons

Fewer than ten HK records for this species. Geese are rare in the tropics, even in the winter.

Later still, we saw all six geese heading towards Tin Shui Wai, where they were duly reported over HK Wetland Park.

20 Oct 2022

Winter birds arriving at Mai Po

 On a clear and cool morning at Mai Po Nature Reserve, I joined the (mostly senior) photographers in hide number one.

With the sun behind us and a lot of newly arrived winter visitor birds in front, there was plenty to look at.

Most notably, there were at least 24 Eurasian Spoonbills among the spoonbill flock of just over 100 birds; - the rest being Black-faced Spoonbills, normally by far our commonest spoonbill.

Eurasian Spoonbill (eight in this view, with Black-faced)

Eurasian Spoonbill

In fact, I’ve never seen more than five Eurasian Spoonbills at one time at Mai Po before… so I wonder if this influx was due to the dryness of Po Yang this autumn, where Eurasian far outnumbers Black-faced.

Black-faced Spoonbill

It will be interesting to see if any other Yangtse/Po Yang wintering waterbirds arrive here in the next month or so.

Other winter birds included duck, - here are Garganey, Eurasian Teal and Shoveler.

Olive-backed Pipits are newly-arrived, 

and this Spotted Eagle was my first of the season. 

(The Record high count for Eurasian Spoonbill was 30 on 14 March 1976) 

6 Aug 2022

Chinese White Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) south of Lantau, Hong Kong - 4th August 2022

Hei Ling Chau and Lantau, HK

We joined a southern waters boat trip on August 4th, with a plan to go to the far western tip of Lantau Island to look for Chinese White Dolphins (Sousa chinensis), and look for seabirds along the way.

Much rain seemed likely due to a passing Tropical Depression but umpteen stalwarts turned up to board the hired vessel at Aberdeen Public Pier at 07:15.

As things turned out much of Hong Kong got a soaking, but rain was light for us during our eight hours on the water. 

The “Pink Dolphin” was a symbol of the HK handover, but the local population has suffered a severe 21st century decline due to intense boat activity in Hong Kong’s western waters, made worse by construction of the HK-Zhuhai-Macau causeway and the HKIA Third Runway.

We found a small pod of dolphins - seven or eight, perhaps - close to the Lantau shoreline. 

Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis)

On the way back to Aberdeen we encountered three or four small parties of Finless Porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides).

We had seen a few distant Bridled Terns earlier on, but when we passed the Soko Islands on the way to Lantau the breeding population of Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) on the Sokos was well-represented among the dozen-or-so birds that pursued the boat from time to time. 

Inevitably in summertime, there were plenty of Black-naped Terns (Sterna sumatrana) around too. 

A grand day out !