Occasionally photos appear on the HK bird forum with the location tagged as “Sai Sha Road”. Not very helpful as the road runs from Sai Kung to Ma On Shan, some 10km. However they are usually waders so it was always clear that it must be a coastal site. The other day someone tipped me off that a very short path from a car park I know takes you directly on to the shore path. This morning I set off to explore with no great expectations.
As it turned out the stretch of accessible coastline is probably only 1km tops but it is very open and seemed quite birdy. I saw White and Grey wagtails, Greater Coucal, Yellow-breasted Prinia, Common Sandpiper, a Collared Crow, a distant falcon, Common Kingfisher, Japanese White-eyes and probably several other very common species that I don’t immediately recall. A few specks sitting in the distance had all the hallmarks of Grey-tailed Tattler. Quite promising really. I took a few shots along the shoreline (see below) and was then contemplating going back to the car when………. whoosh! Three Red-necked Phalaropes, Phalaropus lobatus, shot past me. Ooooh!! Nice bird. Not rare but a good find so close to home. I have seen them off Sai Kung pier but never so close as this for they landed about 50m away. I took some record shots and started to approach. RNPs can be quite confiding but two were not up for it. One allowed me to get a decent ‘context’ shot, feeding in the mangroves.
Migrating birds are hungry so minimal disturbance is the order of the day. I left this one in peace. Or so I thought. I paused on the small bridge that leads from the shoreline to the path back to the car park. And …… plop! The phalarope landed on the water about 10m away. That sounds close but I only had a 400mm lens and a full frame sensor camera. But this gave me much better images. And it came closer. And closer. Until I couldn’t focus. Phalaropes are tiny birds. About 8″ from top to tail. They spin on the water when feeding and they are sexually dimorphic. The female is the gaudier of the two, somewhat unusually. Normally the missus is cryptic so she can stay hidden on the nest, whilst her hunter gatherer mate rolls off every day to bring back food for her and junior.
This Phalarope did not spin much. I don’t know why. Perhaps it suffered from motion sickness. Oh my giddy phalarope! Anyway, here are some bigger images.
They look lovely from behind, too. But eventually all good things must come to an end. This is actually an earlier shot and when I left the bridge the bird was still present.I really could not believe my luck. First visit here and I get frame filling phalarope. Yee ha! as I believe they say in the USA.
The other images I took were less impressive, but in the interests of full disclosure, here are a few. It started with a
kiss moth. Nomophila noctuella in fact. Rush Veneer is the vernacular name. Also on migration believe it or not. Found flitting about on the shoreline.