View Full Version : Hong Kong birding advice
Wednesday 5th September 2012, 23:07
My partner Kate and I will be visiting Hong Kong in early November on holiday from the UK and were wondering in anybody could recommend a good forest/trail area we could spend a day walking and birding. Unfortunately we only have two days to spare and one of those will hopefully be at Mai Po. I have read that Tai Po Kau Forest Reserve is pretty good but we don't know Hong Kong at all so any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
Friday 7th September 2012, 12:02
I'm sure MKinHK will be along soon and he may well give you all the tips you could possibly need. Good luck !
Friday 7th September 2012, 15:03
Ahh yes MKinHK.. I've been avidly reading his thread and its certainly wetted my appetite for some great birding in his part of the world.
Friday 7th September 2012, 16:09
November is a great month to be coming to HK - bird race apart I had my most ever species on one day - 120-odd - in November a few years ago.
Tai Po Kau is certainly good and, patch loyalty aside, is the best forest in HK.
However Ng Tung Chai or Tai Om has the benefit of providing some farmland/open country birds as well as the forest species.
I strongly suggest you try to go into the forest on a weekday as November is hiking season and there is a regular stream of hikers at both main sites.
Drop me a PM when you get here - I'd be happy to talk more based on where you're staying, what's about, what day might be better for the tide at Mai Po etc.
You might also consider fitting a couple of hours at Long Valley into your schedule - its close to all these sites and is always birdy.
Friday 7th September 2012, 20:40
Thanks for the reply and leads, Ng Tung Chai certainly looks pretty amazing. Thanks as well for the offer to PM when we arrive, it would certainly be good to hear whats about. One problem I am having is deciding what day to go to Mai Po. I understand I need to get a permit to enter the reserve which I need to apply for now, but the forms demand that one stipulate which day you'd like to visit. You've mentioned tides.. we have any day from the 8-14th Nov to work with.
Saturday 8th September 2012, 01:13
The tide table for the period you are here is attached below.
You really need a tide of 2.2 metres to cover the mud and push waders onto the reserve, but since none of the daytime tides reach this height you will need to get into the outermost of the three hides (right from the end of the floating boardwalk) as early before the top of the tide as the entry hours (9:00 - 5:00) permit.
In my opinion your best bets are for 13th or 14th, but beware that many of the resident photographers with annual permits will not have to wait for the reserve to open, and competition for space can be tight. Either day will give an approximate 2-hour window when birds should be reasonably close. A good day with northerly winds orlow pressure may increase the height of the tide or the time it stays up.
Although the official opening time for Mai Po is (9:00 am, there is generally someone in the shop from about 8:30, and there is lots of birding along the approach road and the small patch of woodland at the carpark, so there's no harm in getting there early.
The real challenge is having the self-discipline to go straight for the boardwalk hides ( allow 40 minutes of fast walking) and not stop for goodies along the way!
Pleas note that there is plenty more to the reserve than the waders -and if this pace is too frenetic you could have a great day simply covering the whole of the reserve - although I'd suggest leaving time for a late afternoon visit to Long Valley.
Saturday 8th September 2012, 02:58
Although November one of the best months for birding in Hong Kong (nice weather, lots of migrants), one downside is that the daytime tides are often not very good for waders.
Having said that, the tide charts provided by Mike show that the tides towards the end of your stay (12-14th) do reach about 2m - although this may not push birds off onto the roost sites, there should be birds outside the hides in the intertidal area, so there should be waders to see.
And leaving aside waders, there should be very good birding around Mai Po in November - spoonbills, ducks, eagles (and other raptors), buntings, pipits, warblers, rubythroat, etc.
You will need to arrange a permit for Mai Po. Book a 'Solo Walk' permit - the form is available at: http://www.wwf.org.hk/en/getinvolved/gomaipo/spetour/
Feel free to get in touch closer to the time by PM and I should be able to give you some up-to-date information about what's around at Mai Po and where to look.
Saturday 8th September 2012, 19:24
Thanks Mike and John, that info will certainly be useful. "Birds of Hong Kong and South China" arrived in the post this morning and I've been drooling over the plates ever since. I'm really excited, now all I have to do is convince the missus that 2 days birding will simply not be enough. ;)
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