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Disappointment and Chaos - Back In Hong Kong (1 Viewer)


Hong Kong
To summarize everything, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I have returned to Hong Kong for the holidays and have went birding here. The bad news is that my most recent birding trip in Hong Kong (which was yesterday) did not go well.

Due to me not knowing much about the suburbs of Hong Kong (I am pretty much a city person when it comes to my home region), I may have accidentally underestimated how hard it is to go birding in certain rural areas of Hong Kong. Don't worry too much about me, however, I dealt with most of my problems just fine on that day.

December 16. It was a sunny day, though a bit chilly in such a place with a subtropical climate. I set out on a journey to go birding and maybe manage to catch a glimpse of some lifers. First, I went to the pier at Ma Liu Shui by taking the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) to see if I could be lucky enough to see some seabirds. I stayed there for around 20 minutes, and after noticing nothing but little egrets and tree sparrows, I left early.

By the time I boarded the MTR with a disappointed look on my face, I made a rather risky decision - attempting to go to one of the best birding spots on Hong Kong, overlooking the Mai Po Wetlands (which is not open to the public and required people holding a certain pass to enter, which I did not have) and Hong Kong Wetland Park, which was none other than Tsim Bei Tsui. Located in a very rural area, I did not know what to expect besides birds, and I was so excited about being able to see new birds that I almost forgot about my personal safety (yes, I know how reckless I was).

I got off at the Tin Shui Wai MTR station and took another 20 minutes trying to look for minibus number 35, the only minibus that could lead me directly to my destination. When I got off at the Tsim Bei Tsui minibus station, all I could say was that it looked nothing like this image that I saw in a random hiking blog. (Note that this was the only image that I could find online about the Tsim Bei Tsui minibus station, and I had no idea what else to expect besides a one-way ticket to my destination, as the blog stated that the station was "close by".) Instead, it was rather far away from the lookout point in Tsim Bei Tsui, most likely due to little to no people besides birders and locals knowing about this destination and so have decided to relocate it to somewhere that is not that far away.

As I was walking down the narrow village pathways to the lookout point with my mobile phone in hand, I noticed a stray dog staring at me. Not looking at the stray dog directly in the eye, I tried to walk away from it slowly, but it was still following me. Afraid of dogs, I started to panic and (this was a very awful decision) walked at a faster pace. As expected, the stray dog kept following me until a car came down the road, causing the dog to lose interest in me. Still afraid, I walked quickly down the path at the same pace and even started to run when I finally saw the place that I was looking for in front of me.

That was when I was met with disappointment yet once again. Although I have seen many birds, from little egrets to various waterfowl and even some black-faced spoonbills and gulls, the smell was quite awful (though I eventually realized that I have to get used to bad smells if I have to go birding in other places and even during future pelagic trips). After staying for a while, I got used to the smell, but I have not noticed anything that I wanted to see, with the only birds soaring in the sky being black kites. Like any normal birding day, not many things happened to me. Guess I just wasn't lucky enough this time to see anything out of the ordinary. However, I do have to admit that the view of the wetlands was quite nice.

By the time I wanted to get back to the minibus station to catch a ride back to the MTR station, two other stray dogs started to get in my way when they noticed my presence. I backed up multiple times until they stopped trying to look at me and wanting to come towards me, but even that took me longer than expected. Eventually, they left me alone, and I walked back to the station, patiently waiting for someone to take me away from this place.

After I boarded the minibus and took a safe ride back home on the MTR later, I learnt multiple lessons that day: I should really do as much research as possible before going to a "popular birding spot", I should not rely on stuff written on the Internet, and most importantly, not to venture into rural areas when I am not fond of the local wildlife (besides birds) and the place as a whole. Next time, I am probably settling with safer options such as the Hong Kong Wetland Park nearby, and I will not go to Tsim Bei Tsui again unless I find someone to go there with me.
There's an experienced HK-based birder here who goes by the screen name MKinHK. It might be worth you getting in touch with him, or at least reading his posts about HK birding, for ideas. Having a mentor of some kind can really shorten the learning curve.
There's an experienced HK-based birder here who goes by the screen name MKinHK. It might be worth you getting in touch with him, or at least reading his posts about HK birding, for ideas. Having a mentor of some kind can really shorten the learning curve.
Mike relocated to Sydney a year ago Exploring Sydney - and further afield.

I do still miss his HK posts though. Here's one of his threads: Hong Kong birding

You may get some ideas of where to go from them. Try PMing him - I'm sure he will help if he can.

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