Sunday, 16 October 2016

Greater White-fronted Geese - a single and a trio

Change of winds also marked some new birds arriving upon us, Thursday I received news of a few Greater White-fronted Geese had overshot their flight plan and landed at San Tin, an area with a lot of fish ponds near Mai Po, also another one reported inside Mai Po. As most Geese had a habit of disappearing the next day, I waited and received updates on Friday that it was seen back at San Tin in the evening, so I felt hopeful that they will still be there on Saturday. As our car had gone into service, Yuen offered to give me a lift to San Tin the next morning.

Greater White-fronted Geese

So, I met him on Saturday morning, constantly receiving news on the geese being very confiding and showing well. As we drove into San Tin, a text message from a friend informed me that the Geese had flown off towards Lok Ma Chau. Yuen cursed loudly, as he's not had much luck with the geese the day before and needed it for his Hong Kong list. We went along to the supposed location anyway, hoping that the geese may turn around and come back, but when we arrived the dried fish pond was all but empty. The only interesting bird we saw on another fish pond nearby was a lonesome Grey-headed Lapwing.

The reported fish pond...empty

Grey-headed Lapwing - this one had a strange leg

Seeing that there was nothing left at San Tin, we decided to move to Mai Po to try our luck there as there's been a report of a Cotton Pygmy Goose. Things were pretty quiet at first, we spotted a rather conspicuous Purple Heron which walked right out to the open. Our luck turned for the better when we spotted a single Greater White-fronted Goose at Scrape 16/17! The view was rather distant but Yuen got his tick and we stayed there to enjoy the bird for a short while. Also at the scrape, a lot of Intermediate Egrets were around, a few constantly fighting which was a good source of entertainment when nothing was showing.

Purple Heron

Greater White-fronted Goose - the lonesome juvenile at Mai Po

Intermediate Egret - fights can get rather fierce...

Just outside the Education Centre, an Oriental Reed Warbler provided some half decent views, it's the best view I got so far this year, most I've seen had been very shy. All Chinese Pond Herons had changed back to their winter uniform, a clear indication that summer is so definitely over, but the weather was telling a different was quite warm and was easily over 30 degrees when under the sun.

Oriental Reed Warbler

Chinese Pond Heron

At around 3:30pm we headed back towards San Tin, we heard the bird arrived at around 4pm the day before so we thought we should wait there to see if they roost back at the same location. A few small waders were feeding at the pond when we arrived, namely a few Temminck's Stints. We managed to spot a single Red-necked Stint along with them, which was a nice addition to our day.

Temminck's Stint

Red-necked Stint

We waited for a while, and right about 4:20pm we started to discuss about what time we had to leave! As Yuen had to be at a dinner gathering that night, and I myself had somewhere to go to as well, so we thought we should give it 10 more minutes. At just around 4:30pm, when we were seriously considering packing our stuff away, I spotted three dots in the sky flying towards us, I quickly scanned them with my binoculars and surely the geese arrived! Circling the fish pond for a short while giving us some cool flying views.

Greater White-fronted Geese - flew in from Lok Ma Chau

They soon landed, although the view was not particularly close comparing to those who were there this morning, the sight of these rare visitors were truly pleasant, what's more they totally amazed me at how bang on time they were! We only get a handful of geese every few years, so it's nice to have seen four of them on a single day in Hong Kong, turning this into quite a remarkable weekend, and turning Yuen's bad luck around!

Greater White-fronted Geese - they look to be in great shape, got a great appetite too.


  1. I am very happy that you found the geese, Matt. It almost seems amusing to us that geese could be a rarity. Canada Goose is ubiquitous here and right now Snow Geese can be see as they make their way south from their northern breeding grounds. A few Great White-fronted Geese are usually seen here and there. Four months from today I will be on my way to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Yippee!!

    1. Indeed, even House Sparrows are super rare here (and I still need one on my HK list)! We are really too far south to get any regular wintering geese, only a pair of Beans stayed for a whole winter a few years back as I remembered. I think HK is nearly as far south as they will go, they are much more common up further north and I have seen them in hundreds at Poyang Lake in Jiangxi years ago. Looking forward birding with you!