Good tool, bad workman, nice birds

There are 2 very good birds at Mai Po at the moment – maybe three. The two I went for today were Oriental Plover and Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The latter is one of the rarest birds in the world. We get small numbers on passage each year. I have seen SBS several times but never photographed it. That remains the case. My photo-buddy for the day managed several distant but very commendable shots today but each time I managed to find this tiny bird at about 100m away it flew before I could focus. This bird is about 6″ in length and we hoped the falling tide would see the small waders drop in front of the hide but they landed too far away in the main. A few came close later but not the Spoony. We arrived about 2 – 2.5 hours before the tide dropped to the level we needed as it was going to be standing room only. And it was for people who were “on time”.

The Oriental Plovers were better but we had poor light. They were maybe 30-40m away but they are a ginormous 9″. Go figure. Here they are – record shots only but a new photo tick for me. I took these using Live View (i.e. not using the viewfinder) and the larger image was using stacked convertors. The camera shake was horrendous with this set-up but the image stabilization helped a bit.

Oriental Plover

Oriental Plover

Oriental Plover

Oriental Plover

Oriental Plover

Oriental Plover

Later on we saw plenty of waders – this is a decent group and see if you can work out how many species there are here.

Wader flock

Wader flock

Red-necked Stint

Red-necked Stint

Red-necked Stint

Red-necked Stint

Red-necked Stint

Red-necked Stint

Terek Sandpiper

Terek Sandpiper

And as you’ve been such a lovely audience here is a rather dim Oriental Pratincole:

Oriental Pratincole

Oriental Pratincole

and, based on the under-wing coverts I think this is Far Eastern Curlew.

Far-Eastern Curlew

Far-Eastern Curlew

For the avoidance of doubt I am saying the Pratincole was taken in dim light. I am not suggesting that the Pratincole lacks a stunning intellect.

 

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11 thoughts on “Good tool, bad workman, nice birds

  1. At last I can see your posts properly and leave a comment. I’ve been off grid for nearly 5 days which has been heaven but frustrating when I’ve seen on my phone that you’ve written a new post and haven’t been able to comment or leave a like because of crap internet and 3G connection.

    LOVE the Red-necked Stint (what a wonderful name!) but they are all great 😀

    • I think 5 days of blog-withdrawal is a small price to pay for a stint in paradise. Hopefully though not a Red-necked stint. Welcome back, Empress.

  2. I couldn’t possibly pick out the number of different species…although it is quite nice of them to wear those nicely colored name tags. 🙂

    The last of the Curlew is my favorite of the bunch….but all are nice and I also especially like the Sandpiper.

  3. I love seeing birds that have been banded. The Far Eastern Curlew are gorgeous.

    Do you know if this is done by governement biologists or are done by international biologists or probably that is a stupid question since you would not have an answer. But I’ll leave all that in place just for thought since “some people” might not have any idea what banding is all about. Maybe you could do a post about all of that sometime. I think I asked you if China is keeping any sort of track of its bird population? But maybe I did not. I am always curious about conservation efforts.

    While on the train of thought, do you plant to attract the birds and butterflies to your garden or is your community garden involved in any such project?

    • Yvonne, the banding projects are usually done here by private conservation teams but they are licensed by government departments (in HK). The data is fascinating and when the mudflats are not producing exciting new birds we all like to search for the banded or flagged ones. Slowly we are building up a good picture of the migration routes. In China the conservation movement is relatively young and small but very enthusiastic. There are huge cultural issues to confront and education is the key. Birds are too often netted and taken for sale in the markets. Many for food and some for cages. Many elderly people take great pride in their songbirds. The walk them in the park, show them off to friends and sometimes enter competitions. Even walking in the local town I can look up and see cages with birds singing. Many Chinese starved to death – literally millions – during the Great leap Forward. Food was whatever you could get including bark off the trees. Birds would have been a way of staying alive for some. That is why education is important and raising living standards more widely. There is a growing universe of highly competent Chinese conservationists, We need more.

      We try to plant for birds and insects in our tiny garden but mainly I rely on the large communal garden our small development shares. It is mainly undeveloped with just a strip of lawn and the odd vegetable being grown. Its very wildness invites many birds and insects to use it. We are very fortunate.

      • Thank so much about the bird situatipn.I figured it most likey was not too good and more or less behind the times but with some action beginning to take place. It seems to be the case in a number of counties.

        Here large groups are invloved and the government has made some huge strides to prevent more losses of bird and animal species. However, people as a whole want their cake and to eat it too.

        Audubon, Nature Conseverancy, Sierra Club, and other ilks have been good as a rule to boost education and support for keeping habitat intact.

        You and Mrs. Ha are indeed fortunate to have settled in a nice area where good habitat remains and from what you write it seems largely undisturbed.I hope that is remains this way.

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