16 Apr 2023

Mid-April at the Mai Po Boardwalk hides

 Most of the usual suspects have been on view.....

Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis)

Common Redshank - (Tringa totanus)

Mongolian Sand Plover - (Charadrius mongolus)

Great Knot - (Calidris tenuirostris)

Curlew Sandpiper - (Calidris ferruginea)

Chinese Pond Heron - (Ardeola bacchus)

Terek Sandpiper - (Xenus cinereus)

Plus a couple of surprise "fly-bys" on Friday 14th April

Black-legged Kittiwake

Lesser Frigatebird - (Fregata ariel)

Lesser Frigatebird - (Fregata ariel)

Just shows again that this is a month when anything can turn up.......

12 Apr 2023

A "Twitch" for a Scoter in Deep Bay, Hong Kong - 9th April 2023


Velvet/Stejnegers/White-winged Scoter in flight, Deep Bay, HK 9th April 2023

Every month for the last thirty-or-so years a Waterfowl Count has been done in and around Mai Po Nature Reserve and Deep Bay, northwest Hong Kong. 

Because Deep Bay is a Ramsar Site, the Agriculture,Fisheries and Conservation Department has been tasked with monitoring bird numbers through the seasons.  The Waterfowl Count is co-ordinated by the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society and involves twenty or so counters who are assigned their own areas of responsibility - all the counting is done within a two-hour “window” and results tallied later.

All this concentrated attention - as well as providing a comprehensive numbers database - has turned up some rarities over the years and on last Sunday, April 9th, another rarity was sighted by Tom LI, who was counting birds from the pier at Tsim Bei Tsui.

A WhatsApp message appeared with a photo identified by Tom as a Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca).  I arrived at Tsim Bei Tsui car park -  overlooking Deep Bay - to find a dozen-or-so birders there already.

Velvet Scoter is the western cousin of Stejnegers Scoter (M stejnegeri), - on range, far more likely than Velvet, wintering in inshore waters around Japan and the Russian Far East.

There was some spirited debate about the birds identity, but backed up by some fine record photos by Tom himself, Peter Wong and others, eventually the consensus was that Velvet Scoter, the less likely species, was, in fact, the bird on view in Deep Bay.

There are two 1980s records of White-winged-type scoters in Deep Bay, and these have been accepted all along as "Stejnegers" Scoter.  Now Velvet Scoter, if verified by the Records Committee, will be a HK “First”.

My shot, taken from Sha Kiu, is above. I confess I didn't contribute to the ID debate with this one !


Elsewhere in Deep Bay, some views from the Mai Po boardwalk hides.

Some wintering birds are leaving us now....

Pallas's Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)

(centre right) Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus)

last Saunders Gull (Chroicocephalus saundersi) of the year ? - boardwalk April 4th

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba ocularis)

Stejnegers Stonechat (Saxicola stejnegeri)

Eastern Marsh Harrier (Circus spilonotus) with wader prey

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

In the last couple of weeks, nearly all the Great Cormorants have headed north, as have nearly all the gulls and duck.

With a few migrants around now, my pick of the waders so far is this Oriental Plover (Charadrius veredus) on Pond 17A of Mai Po Nature Reserve

Oriental Plover (Charadrius veredus)