Early August Waders

Greater Sand Plover Juvenile (Charadrius leschenaultii)

The last week of July brought some substantial low pressure systems in from offshore, and seemed also to have brought some migrating waders. Mai Po marshes recorded many greater sand plovers, greenshanks, redshanks, and spoonbills, among others during the final days of July. So I decided to make a few trips to my usual spot on the shores of Deep Bay (Shenzhen Bay), to have a try. (Details are secret.) The variety here isn’t as good as what you can expect at Mai Po, but with a bit of luck and care, you can end up getting much closer to the birds, if you manage not to scare them off!

It seemed like the same group of birds were in town all week, in spite of weather differences. Various and at times severe storms earlier in the week eventually gave way to a subtropical ridge of high pressure that should stay for at least a few days. High tide has been peaking around midday, leaving the best time to try in the early afternoon. However, on the southern shores of Deep Bay, the summer sun can be brutal, and unfortunately as it lowers makes it more difficult for birding, so really the stormy days are best.

Upon first arriving, on the 1st, I spotted a black-winged kite. Their hunting strategy couldn’t be much more different from their larger cousins, the black kite. Like other kestrels, they hover in place rather than circling, watiing to divebomb some unsuspecting creature. Unlike other hovering birds, black winged kites cannot support themselves as they hover, so they must fly into the wind to keep afloat.

On the 1st, the four main species of wader we saw included 12 or so greater sand plovers, another dozen or so little ringed plovers, a four to five terek sandpipers, a ten or so grey-tailed tattlers, four or five common sandpipers, and three whimbrels. The tide was low, so by the time I noticed those birds they were already well out into the sandbar and had no interest in coming closer.

Common Greenshank

The plovers, on the other hand, were much more fearless, coming in close to check out the strange man trying to take their picture. I was able to get some decent photos of the little ringed plovers, which appeared to be a mixture of juvenile and adults, as well as the greater sand plover.

Stay tuned for more in-depth posts about the individual birds I managed to photo!

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Greater sand plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)

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