Wednesday 25 September 2019

Birdwatching at Gardens by the Bay - Migratory birds

October to March/April are good months for birdwatchers and bird photographers. Some migrants will stop by Singapore for a few weeks in October/November before flying further south to their final destinations for winter. Some will find Singapore good enough for winter and stay here until it is time to return home for summer. Birdwatchers and photographers will be out in full force with their gear, hoping to get a glimpse or photo of these not-so-frequently seen birds.

I love visiting Gardens by the Bay to take bird photographs because it is only about 50 minutes from home by public transport and I get to enjoy breakfast at my favourite stall at Satay by the Bay. Prata and Teh Tarik!

These are some of the birds I have photographed over the last few years and these birds (who knows, they may be the same ones!) still show up every year during the migratory period.

Oriental Reed Warbler.

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher.

Common Kingfisher. Common elsewhere but uncommon in Singapore.

Arctic Warbler.

Asian Brown Flycatcher.

Tiger Shrike.

Barn Swallow.

Juvenile Chinese Pond Heron.

Part of the fun is looking for these birds and in my case, photographing them. Most of them are very shy and the best time to see them easily is before the busloads of tourists start arriving at the Gardens from 9am. I usually go to the quieter areas, stop, and wait for the birds to appear. Seeing bird photographers is also a good sign there are interesting birds nearby. I follow some of the local Facebook bird groups. Some birders are so helpful that they even post the locations online.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Birdwatching at Nam Sang Wai, Hong Kong

In April this year, I visited some popular birding places in Hong Kong with the intention to photograph the birds rather than just watch them. I brought along a 300mm F4 lens, a 1.4x extender, an APS-C camera body and a monopod. This setup fits nicely into a compact photo backpack and allowed me to walk pretty long distances without getting very tired.

Nam Sang Wai

This is a wetland area located in Yuen Long and very popular with birdwatchers and photographers during low tide, especially if it coincides with the early morning or late afternoon hours. The Inner Deep Bay, Mai Po Nature Reserve and the Hong Kong Wetland Park are nearby and it is not surprising to find shorebirds moving between these few areas for food.

This scenic area, consisting of mainly fish ponds and farms, is bordered by Kam Tin River and Shan Pui River. It became very famous in 2003 when a 1.5m saltwater crocodile (most likely someone's pet) was found here and evaded capture for many weeks! Pui Pui is now residing at the HK Wetland Park.

If you wish to walk the entire Nam Sang Wai Road, it is doable and about 5km long. The best place to start birding is at location A. Walk towards B and end at C. Look out for birds on both sides of the river.

What you will see on a good day at location A. This was taken a few years ago.
What I saw recently on a not-so-good day at location A.
Pied Kingfisher. This kingfisher hovers before diving to catch fish.
Chinese Pond Heron flying off with a mudskipper meal.
Black-faced Spoonbill with catch.
Plain Prinia.
Yellow-bellied Prinia singing its heart out.
Selfie hotspot known as the Nam Sang Wai Little Wooden Bridge.
Crossing the river the old-fashioned way at Location C.
Press bell for ferry.

How to get there

The quickest way to get to location A is by taxi (green ones) from nearby Yuen Long MTR Station. This will save you a lot of walking unless you plan to do so. Please make sure you get the taxi company's telephone number if you wish to call them to pick you up after the walk. When you get to location C, you may want to consider taking the one and only river-crossing ferry in Hong Kong. After crossing the river, follow the signs to Yuen Long MTR Station. You will arrive at a bus-stop for mini buses. Ask for help if you do not know which bus to take to the station.

This was my bird list at Nam Sang Wai on 5 Apr 2019 morning. I was there to look for a pair of rare Glossy Ibises not seen in Hong Kong since 1994. Unfortunately, they chose to feed elsewhere that morning.

Common Redshank
Spotted Redshank
Common Greenshank
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Pied Avocet
Black-winged Stilt
Little Egret
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Chinese Pond Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-faced Spoonbill
Plain Prinia
Yellow-bellied Prinia
White Wagtail
Pied Kingfisher
Black-capped Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Black Kite
Chinese Bulbul
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Common Koel
White-breasted Waterhen
Common Moorhen
Spotted Dove
Collared Crow
Masked Laughingthrush
Oriental Magpie Robin
Greater Coucal