Firstly, HAPPY NEW YEAR ! 2015 was awesome – I had the best time of my life and so many dreams came true! In 2016 I will continue to strive for the best, learn and polish new skills, take even better photos and make the coming year an amazing one!
It’s been a while since my last post here – I haven’t been able to edit my photos over the Christmas break and now there are heaps of them waiting for me to process! Not to mention coursework due in less than 2 weeks time…
During my Christmas break in Hong Kong, I went birding in Nam Sang Wai, Long Valley and Mai Po Nature Reserve. This was the first time I went “serious-birding”, and I must admit I’m still lacking in many aspects. Something to work hard in in 2016.
Nam Sang Wai (南生圍) is a piece of wetland to the north of Yuen Long (元朗), a very popular place for birdwatchers as well as cyclists.
Some of the birds I saw: – Black-faced Spoonbill (黑臉琵鷺), Bittern, Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher (斑魚狗), White-throated Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Tufted Duck, Black-crowned Night Heron, Shoveler, Little Ringed Plover, White-breasted Waterhen, Whimbrel, Pintail (or Swinhoe’s) Snipe, Grey Heron, Great Egret, Little Egret, Chinese Pond Heron and many more!
I have been visiting Nam Sang Wai every winter for the last 3 years, and I’m glad to see the increase in the number of Black-faced Spoonbills – I’ve only seen them in Mai Po in previous years, looks like conservation efforts paid off and the numbers are slowly recovering. But this beautiful bird is still very endangered – there are only 3272 of them in the whole world, according to the (January) 2015 International Black-faced Spoonbill Census.
Long Valley (塱原) in Sheung Shui (上水) is the largest manmade freshwater wetland in Hong Kong, formed by rice paddies and agricultural lands. In 2000, KCR (former Kowloon Canton Railway) planned to build the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line right through the wetland, and a successful campaign by environmental groups aroused public awareness. KCR at the end gave in and tunnelled under the wetland.
Long Valley holds approximately 220 species, including a number of threatened species, such as the yellow-breasted bunting. I read it is best to bird there in migration times and especially in September and October, which is when the greatest variety of species occurs. I have yet to see any of the specialities (Greater Painted Snipe, Japanese Quail, Chinese Penduline Tit, Oriental Pratincole, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Ruddy-breasted Crake and many more), hopefully I will meet some of them next time I visit!
Some of the birds I saw: – Common Koel, Durian Redstart, Japanese White-eye (相思), Cattle Egret, Plain Prinia, Siberian Stonechat, Little Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper, Masked Laughingthrush, Scaly-breasted Munia, White-rumped Munia, Tree Sparrow, Teal, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Chinese Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul. I suspect I saw a Small Asian Mongoose, but I only had a glimpse of the swish of its long upright tail before it vanished into the farmlands.
I also witnessed two cats snuggling up to a flock of small birds – most were scaly-breasted munias and tree sparrows, and both hunts were successful. It was like watching tigers stalking their prey in The Hunt – afterall both are cats. Photos were quite bloody so I wouldn’t post them here…
Here are my favourite ones from Long Valley: –
Mai Po Nature Reserve (米埔自然保護區) is a Ramsar Site (拉姆薩爾濕地), meaning it is a wetland of international importance. Located at the heart of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), which extends 13000 km from the Arctic Circle through Southeast Asia to Australia and New Zealand, the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay wetland is an important stop-over for many migratory shorebirds to rest and feed before setting off again on their long journey. Over 400 bird species have been recorded in Mai Po, which is more than 75% of the total bird species known to occur in Hong Kong. (WWF Hong Kong – Mai Po Wildlife)
Some of the bird species I saw: – Black-faced Spoonbill (黑臉琵鷺), Common Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher (斑魚狗), White-throated Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Asian Azure-winged Magpie, Black-crowned Night Heron, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Collared Crow, Red-billed Starling, Grey-headed Lapwing, Coot, Moorhen, Asian Dowitcher, Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper, Intermediate Egret, White-breasted Waterhen, Curlew, Whimbrel, Black Kite and more.
Despite the very wet weather on the day, we safely made it over the floating boardwalk in the mangrove forest and into the floating bird hide for some bird watching. Unfortunately the tide did not come in at the predicted time so we were a bit far away from the large group of birds, mostly black-headed gulls and great cormorants, but we were still treated with small wading birds and kingfishers very near to the hide.
I was super excited to be able to get near enough to a common kingfisher (much smaller than the other 3 species of kingfishers). Although this male was just sitting on its perch doing nothing, I was very happy with this portrait, taken just minutes before the tour into the reserve.
I’m planning to do a write-up on the 4 kinds of kingfishers I observed in Hong Kong. But before that, I have to finish my coursework!
Have a wonderful year 2016 everyone! 🙂
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