Monday, 9 July 2018

Summer Rarity

Lesser Whistling Duck - the target bird of the day

We have a very minimal bird list during summer, so whenever we get something out of the ordinary in the summer it is very much appreciated. News of a Lesser Whistling Duck that had been hanging around Mai Po pond 8b caught my attention and I went to try my luck early morning.

Things were pretty ordinary to start with, I saw a lot of Black-crowned Night Herons, many were juveniles, I am sure they breed in Mai Po somewhere. I also found a Little Grebe nest and they had one chick on the nest, they eyed me carefully and one of the parent called the chick to climb onto it's back, probably didn't trust me very much...Another breeding species at Mai Po is Black-winged Stilt, during the summer they kind of take over the little islands at pond 16/17 and claim as their own, they are highly territorial and will attack any birds that try to go near their nests or chicks.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Little Grebe at nest

Black-winged Stilt

Upon arriving to pond 8b, the lowered water levels attracted a lot of Egrets, this is why Mai Po is so important for waterbirds, even during summer we get huge numbers of waterbirds congregating. Chinese Pond Herons, Little Egrets, Intermediate Egrets, Great Egrets and Grey Herons could all be found in the same pond.

Hundreds of egrets...

Assemblage of Egret species 

Great Egret

I located the Lesser Whistling Duck pretty quickly, it's brown plumage stood out from the crowd. It is a pretty elegant looking duck, long necked and rather slim. This species is widely distributed throughout south east Asia and India, while a summer migrant to southern China. It started pouring down minutes after I saw the bird, so I didn't stay too long. The duck didn't seemed to mind either, and stood out in the rain.

Lesser Whistling Duck - in the rain

Lately I have also DIY my own set of macro tools, with an old magnifying glass that had been laying around underneath a drawer, an old and very little used EF-S 18-55mm lens, plus a bit of tape...I had myself a pretty decent macro lens! I improvised with an old folder and made a reflector for my flash gun, the results were pretty decent, considering I made this out of zero budget! I had quite a lot of fun photographing different species of spiders, here are a few species I found...

Rhene flavicomans

Rhene flavigera - female

Siler semiglaucus - female

Siler semiglaucus - male

Zebraplatys bulbus - female

Zebraplatys bulbus - male

Telamonia festiva

Myrmarachne magna

Myrmarachne formosana - male

Castianeira hongkong


  1. Brilliant "improvised kit/zero budget" shots of the spiders...

    I managed to miss the Whistling Duck, so another Mai Po trip is called for !

    1. I think it should stick around for a few more weeks at least! Good luck!

  2. Congratulations on seeing the Whistling Duck, Matt. The photograph of the Little Grebe with the youngster is precious and the spider shots are nothing short of spectacular. Pretty quiet here from a birding perspective, but in about another four weeks migration will start to get into high gear and then it gets exciting again.

    1. Cheers David, I think we are all looking forward to migration season! So I will have another month looking at other wildlife I think.