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Go Birding with a Specialist in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is an excellent place for the bird watcher. The various habitats in the central and northern New Territories are home to a number of resident sub-tropical species, but the territory is at its best from September to May when passage migrants and winter visitors can be seen. Our day tours usually take in the three key sites of Tai Po Kau, Mai Po and Long Valley. TAI PO KAU Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, a wilderness preserve in the Tai Po area of the New Territories, is a readily-accessible area of our biggest area of woodland, which runs from near the coast at Tai Po up to the slopes of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong's highest mountain. Most of the woodland is maturing sixty-year-old secondary growth of native south China trees. Woodland birds include Black Bulbuls, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and a variety of babblers. It is a good site to see Crested Goshawk. Birding Tai Po Kau is easiest in winter, when the foliage is less thick, and the resident birds have been joined by thrushes and other seasonal visitors. In spring, many migrating flycatchers pass through.Woodland birding requires patience, and many species are more easily heard than seen. However, diligent birders may be rewarded with views of some harder-to-find species. MAI PO Mai Po Nature Reserve is in the northwest New Territories of Hong Kong and boasts the biggest birdlist of any area in Hong Kong, with over 380 species recorded to date. With habitat professionally managed by WWF HK, it is an area of tidal shrimp ponds - known as "Gei Wais" - and fishponds and it lies in the heart of the 1,500 hectares of Deep Bay that was gazetted as a Ramsar Wetland Site in 1994. Mai Po forms a vital resting point for tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds that use the East Asian flyway every spring and autumn. Travelling between their wintering areas in east asia and Australia and their breeding grounds in Siberia shorebirds literally flock to Mai Po. Rarities can include Nordmann's Greenshank, Asian Dowitcher and the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The reserve is well-prepared with paths and hides for birders to appreciate the spectacle. Spring migration peaks in April, and southbound birds are most numerous in September and October. In winter (November to March) tens of thousands of ducks arrive at Mai Po and are joined by south China's biggest concentration of Great Cormorants. These are preyed on by a variety of raptors, including Eastern Marsh Harrier, Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagle. Mai Po is a significant wintering ground for the Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill, - occasional winter counts of over 400 individuals account for up to 20% of the known world population. LONG VALLEY "Long Valley" is a low-lying area of cultivated fields and ponds in the Sheung Shui of the New Territories in Hong Kong. In spring and autumn, it provides good habitat for a variety of pipits, and wagtails. Other open-country birds include Daurian Redstart, Long-tailed Shrike and Black Drongo.The wetter areas can be a haven for freshwater waders, such as Wood Sandpiper and snipe, with the occasional sighting of secretive species like Cinnamon Bittern and Purple Heron. Long Valley was saved from a planned railway viaduct ten years ago. The Green Groups who successfully opposed the project now lead local "eco-tours" in the area and run habitat management projects. Fields of rice (rarely grown in Hong Kong these days) have been particularly successful in attracting rare species, such as Yellow-breasted Bunting and Japanese Yellow Bunting. The best birding areas in Long Valley vary almost daily, with changes in the water level of the ponds and the height of the vegetation. However, I will make full use of my experience in this wonderful area to ensure you see the optimum number of birds.

Hong Kong is an excellent place for the bird watcher. The various habitats in the central and northern New Territories are home to a number of resident sub-tropical species, but the territory is at its best from September to May when passage migrants and winter visitors can be seen. Our day tours usually take in the three key sites of Tai Po Kau, Mai Po and Long Valley. TAI PO KAU Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, a wilderness preserve in the Tai Po area of the New Territories, is a readily-accessible area of our biggest area of woodland, which runs from near the coast at Tai Po up to the slopes of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong's highest mountain. Most of the woodland is maturing sixty-year-old secondary growth of native south China trees. Woodland birds include Black Bulbuls, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and a variety of babblers. It is a good site to see Crested Goshawk. Birding Tai Po Kau is easiest in winter, when the foliage is less thick, and the resident birds have been joined by thrushes and other seasonal visitors. In spring, many migrating flycatchers pass through.Woodland birding requires patience, and many species are more easily heard than seen. However, diligent birders may be rewarded with views of some harder-to-find species. MAI PO Mai Po Nature Reserve is in the northwest New Territories of Hong Kong and boasts the biggest birdlist of any area in Hong Kong, with over 380 species recorded to date. With habitat professionally managed by WWF HK, it is an area of tidal shrimp ponds - known as "Gei Wais" - and fishponds and it lies in the heart of the 1,500 hectares of Deep Bay that was gazetted as a Ramsar Wetland Site in 1994. Mai Po forms a vital resting point for tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds that use the East Asian flyway every spring and autumn. Travelling between their wintering areas in east asia and Australia and their breeding grounds in Siberia shorebirds literally flock to Mai Po. Rarities can include Nordmann's Greenshank, Asian Dowitcher and the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The reserve is well-prepared with paths and hides for birders to appreciate the spectacle. Spring migration peaks in April, and southbound birds are most numerous in September and October. In winter (November to March) tens of thousands of ducks arrive at Mai Po and are joined by south China's biggest concentration of Great Cormorants. These are preyed on by a variety of raptors, including Eastern Marsh Harrier, Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagle. Mai Po is a significant wintering ground for the Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill, - occasional winter counts of over 400 individuals account for up to 20% of the known world population. LONG VALLEY "Long Valley" is a low-lying area of cultivated fields and ponds in the Sheung Shui of the New Territories in Hong Kong. In spring and autumn, it provides good habitat for a variety of pipits, and wagtails. Other open-country birds include Daurian Redstart, Long-tailed Shrike and Black Drongo.The wetter areas can be a haven for freshwater waders, such as Wood Sandpiper and snipe, with the occasional sighting of secretive species like Cinnamon Bittern and Purple Heron. Long Valley was saved from a planned railway viaduct ten years ago. The Green Groups who successfully opposed the project now lead local "eco-tours" in the area and run habitat management projects. Fields of rice (rarely grown in Hong Kong these days) have been particularly successful in attracting rare species, such as Yellow-breasted Bunting and Japanese Yellow Bunting. The best birding areas in Long Valley vary almost daily, with changes in the water level of the ponds and the height of the vegetation. However, I will make full use of my experience in this wonderful area to ensure you see the optimum number of birds.

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