Hong Kong. Eastern Promise. December
from Dublin to Hong Kong via Heathrow took about fourteen-fifteen
hours. Upon arrival in Hong Kong we bought an Octopus card which is
essential for travel on the local buses and MTR, which we used daily.
We bought mobile broadband for €50, this was important to navigate
the transport system, unfortunately our mobile phones were locked
into our local networks and needed to be open for a local sim card
to work. We stayed in East Kowloon which was handy for most of the
better birding sites.
visited were Kowloon Park to familiarize ourselves with the common
birds, we saw nothing here that wasn't available elsewhere. Hong
Kong Park just to tick off Yellow crested Cockatoo, only reason
to go there. Victoria Peak, Gardens and walking trails best early
morning for thrushes and before tourist to Peak filter out. Tai
Po Kau Park which is a must do for jungle birding and is just fantastic,
beware we visited three times and twice got several lovely waves
of forest birds but on our third visit the forest was poor. Long
Valley for water birds, Pipits and Wagtails, I could have spent
a week there. It has fantastic western pal species, lots to be taken
from here. San Tin fish ponds for Siberian Rubythroat and Black
faced Bunting with David Diskin, both of which we got several. Tai
Wo drainage channel for Plumbereous Water Redstart and got two.
Mai Po again with David Diskin for Black faced Spoonbill, Saunders
Gull and wetland birds in general, the tides were low and did not
produce much but still well worth seeing as most of the regular
winter waders were still present as were the gulls, just more distant
than one wished for.
sites took between one to two hours to get to on the MTR even though
some were only 20K away, while the MTR arrives every minute it stops
everywhere. Rush hours can be hectic and the locals are not shy
about quietly slipping ahead of you to embark MTR, one has to adapt
and push back without words - no offense is taken. Locals do not
talk to each other and appear ignorant but if you approach them
for directions or anything really they are friendly and will always
try to help, it's a matter of being open- minded. Most people speak
English and will engage if approached.
people do their own thing and pay no heed to birders at all. The
parks are worth visiting just to watch the numerous people practicing
Tai Chi. A fitness and form of fighting which must be admired, they
start young and are very skilled at this form of martial art. Don't
think we observerd any over weight people in Hong Kong. I must mention
if one does not walk a lot don't bother going to Hong Kong. We walked
about twenty km per day between MTR connection's and birding of
course, be prepared to walk a lot.
hired David Diskin for Mai Po and Tai Po Kau Park as to introduce
us to the local birds and calls, he can organize passes for Mai
Po. This is the best introduction one can do to eliminate common
species quickly, his skills are well noted via trip reports on the
web and well earned. David is very well clued in to local taxon
and areas to find difficult birds. His contact details as follows.
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.birdinghongkong.com
His website has plenty of information on birds and sites so worth
a look. We used the resources of The HK Bird Watching Society which
gives plenty of site guides and expected birds, they also have an
app Common Birds of Hong Kong field guide which is free to download,
handy on the phone to say the least.
not photographed but worth a mention. Pallas's warbler, rather localised
perhaps twenty or more observed usually within waves of birds. Goodson's
Warbler, one confirmed by David Diskin, basically Yellow-browed
with some yellow on belly and feeding like a Nuthatch. While we
only saw one they should be looked for among waves as they are not
uncommon. Pale Thrush, one Tai Po Kau not uncommon but secretive.
Black faced Bunting several San Tin fish ponds. Eurasian Spoonbill
Mai Po, just one with the regular Spoonbills. Greater Spotted Eagle
and Eastern Imperial, one of each Mai Po confirmed by David Diskin.
While tides were low at Mai Po it did produce two Great Knot, Greater
Sandplover, Pacific Golden Plover, Four each of Red necked and Temminck's
Stints, Broad billed Sandpiper and the usual common waders. Two
Saunders and a Pallas's Gull. We observed a total of 140 species,
weather was pleasant 15-20 degrees every day with no rain. Apart
from public transport which is cheap Hong Kong is expensive in general.
and Andrea Kelly 2017