in the field -
a hong kong
a hong kong
One of the rewards of being a birding guide is that each day is different. On January 27th I’d taken out a couple from Australia. As the high tide was at Mai Po in the morning, I’d picked them up from Kam Sheung Road station and we’d headed for the wetland reserve with a brief stop at Kam Tin River en route. The day was clear and very warm and we had a fairly leisurely time. We walked out to Deep Bay for the tide, then back onto the reserve and around the scrape, finishing at Long Valley in the afternoon. Because of the time of the tide, we didn’t do any forest birding but still came up with a total of 88 species, including Black-faced Spoonbill, Saunders’s Gull, Eastern Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles, and the wintering Siberian Crane on the scrape. At Long Valley, the highlights were Greater Painted-snipe and Eastern Water Rail.
From Tai Po Kau, we drove to Long Valley, arriving in the middle of the day. Fortunately, the area was quiet - the first day of CNY is one where people are preoccupied with family celebrations and the countryside is far less busy that it usually is at the weekend or on public holidays. Here, the weather turned cloudy and rainy. As on the previous day, I found Greater Painted-snipe and Eastern Water Rail in the same places, and the usual open country birds – Sooty-headed Bulbul, Red-throated Pipit, and Eastern Yellow Wagtail - were more in evidence than they had been yesterday.
Which left the remainder of the afternoon. I had been considering going to San Tin, but decided to opt for Mai Po access road and the Kam Tin River along Pok Wai South Road. The access road and the area between the Mai Po office and the AFCD reception usually hold a number of common species and my hope was that we might pick up a flyover Black-faced Spoonbill. Luckily, that proved to be the case and my clients managed to connect with Mai Po’s flagship bird. We were also fortunate to see a small party of Chinese Grosbeaks feeding on Chinaberry berries near the AFCD office.
And so to Kam Tin River before I dropped my clients off at Kam Sheung Road station. This is not an area I know very well, but I had visited on the previous day with my Australian clients on the way to Mai Po. That had been on a rising tide where the riverside mud was being covered by the tide. Now I was aiming for the falling tide and calculated that there would be some exposed mud at the time of our visit. This turned out to be the case and from the road beside the river, we were fortunate enough to see a single Black-faced Spoonbill and four Grey-headed Lapwings. Other water birds were in evidence, including ducks and tringa sandpipers – Marsh Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Common Greenshank. A nearby flowering Red Cotton Tree held at least three White-shouldered Starlings – a bird which is regular in the northwest New Territories in summer but very scarce in winter.
We finished the day with a total of 102 species.
Note that all photographs are from my archives as I don’t carry my camera when guiding.
All images are © David Diskin.