A superb image of the unique Spoon-billed Sandpiper taken by Michael McKee.
The birds listed here are usually present during the northern spring. Great Knot, Blue Magpie, Black-capped Kingfisher, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Black-faced and Eurasian Spoonbills, and Saunders’s Gull, as well as Falcated and Spot-billed (Burmese and Chinese) Ducks, Chinese Francolin, Intermediate and Pacific Reef Egrets, (Black-crowned) Night and Chinese Pond Herons, Great and Yellow Bitterns, Osprey, Crested Serpent Eagle, White-breasted Waterhen, Pacific Golden, Greater Sand and Lesser Sand (Mongolian) Plovers, Black-winged Stilt, (Pied) Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Far Eastern Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Broad-billed, Curlew, Marsh, Sharp-tailed and Terek Sandpipers, Grey-tailed Tattler, Long-toed and Red-necked Stints, Red-necked Phalarope, Oriental Pratincole, (Greater) Painted Snipe, Heuglin’s Gull, Caspian, Gull-billed, Whiskered and White-winged Terns, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, Fork-tailed (Pacific) Swift, Pied and White-throated (Smyrna) Kingfishers, Great Barbet, Grey-chinned and Scarlet Minivets, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Collared Crow, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Chestnut and Chinese Bulbuls, bush and leaf warblers, Rufous-rumped Grassbird, Plain and Yellow-bellied Prinias, Common Tailorbird, Siberian Rubythroat, Oriental Magpie Robin, Blue Rock and Blue Whistling Thrushes, Black-throated, White-browed and Masked (Black-faced) Laughingthrushes, Hwamei, Black-collared Starling, Crested Myna, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Fire-breasted and Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers, Olive-backed and Red-throated Pipits, and Scaly-breasted (Spotted) Munia. Also a chance of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Asian Dowitcher, Nordmann's Greenshank, Bonelli's, Great Spotted, Imperial and White-bellied Sea Eagles, Chinese Egret, Dalmatian Pelican, Aleutian Tern, Long-tailed Skua, Asian and Japanese Paradise Flycatchers, Forest Wagtail, Chinese Goshawk, Grey-headed Lapwing, Pintail and Swinhoe’s Snipes, Chestnut-winged, Large Hawk, Indian and Plaintive Cuckoos, Collared Scops Owl, Asian Barred Owlet, Savannah Nightjar, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Black-naped Oriole, Chinese Penduline Tit, Asian Stubtail, flycatchers including Blue-and-white, Hainan Blue, Mugimaki and Narcissus (Elisa’s and Owston’s), Red-flanked Bluetail, thrushes including Eye-browed, Grey-backed, Japanese (Grey), Pale and White’s, Red-billed (Silky), White-cheeked (Grey) and White-shouldered (Chinese) Starlings, Yellow-billed Grosbeak, and Black-faced, Chestnut, Chestnut-eared, Tristram’s and Yellow-breasted Buntings.
Indo-Pacific Humpback (Chinese White) Dolphin, Finless Porpoise and Dog-faced Fruit Bat.
There are over 200 species of butterfly including Common and Golden Birdwings, and over 100 species of dragonfly.
Black-capped Kingfisher by Tom Tams. Hong Kong has some other spectacular birds apart from shorebirds.
For more information on the best birding sites in Hong Kong see the excellent Hong Kong Bird Watching Society website.
The peak time for shorebirds, including Spoon-billed Sandpiper, is April and the best views can usually be obtained during the periods of highest spring tides. Timing at Mai Po is crucial. Out on the mud flats shorebirds may be little more than distant specks at low tide but during the best spring high tides they can be incredibly close. The weather in April is usually warm, humid and showery with temperatures ranging between 20°C and 24°C.
The Birds of Hong Kong and South China by C Viney, K Phillipps and L C Ying. Hong Kong Government Information Services, 2005 (Eighth Edition).
Birds of South-East Asia by C Robson. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).
Birds of South-East Asia Concise Edition by C Robson. Helm, 2015.
Birds of East Asia by M Brazil. Helm/PUP, 2009.
Bradt Travel Guide: Chinese Wildlife by M Walters. Bradt, 2008.
A Guide to the Mammals of China by A Smith, Yan Xie et al. PUP, 2008.
The Mammals of China by Sheng Helin et al. China Forestry Publishing House, 1999.
Birds of Hong Kong.
Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.
Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for Hong Kong, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Hong Kong. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Hong Kong' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who may arrange custom tours to Hong Kong include the following.