Wednesday 2 July 2014

Spoon-billed Sandpipers at Mai Po; Hong Kong - Guest blog by John Holmes

Many years ago Mai Po used to be the place to go if you wanted to see Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Today, in line with the unfortunate bird's decline, they are a rarity there. John Holmes tells of his finding of one this spring accompanied by some of his breathtaking photographs.

A small feature on a very small bird - finding Spoon-billed Sandpiper

It's the middle of April and up until today we had had no reliable records of Spoon-billed Sandpiper during this spring's migration.

From the outermost hide at the board-walk I was thinking of this as the waders approached in hazy sunshine. Hazy, a bit, but sunshine, yes. Good lighting conditions to find a very small feature on very small bird.

Dutifully scanning a bunch of Red-necked Stints I found a pale one that appeared to be gifted in the bill department.  Muddy stint bills can "get you going" as David Bakewell has described in Malaysia, 

But it was soon obvious it really was Eurynorhynchus pygmaeus - although at "Record Photo" distance. 

Later it turned up on the tide-line in front of the "Twin Hides".

Also on display were five Asian Dowitchers among a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits.

Variety, that's the thing about waders at Mai Po in April . Also present and shown in this post are Curlew Sandpiper, Great Knot, Ruff, Grey Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Grey-rumped Tattler, Common Redshank and Pied Avocet.

Six species in the shot below, I think. 

More views of the "Blackwits" in flight.. 

A rather piebald-looking Ruff  (above), lower left

See more from John Holmes on his blog: John's Hong Kong Birding

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