New Territories, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an excellent place for the bird watcher. The various habitats in the central and northern New Territories are home to a number of resident sub-tropical species, but the territory is at its best from September to May when passage migrants and winter visitors can be seen. Our day tours usually take in the three key sites of Tai Po Kau, Mai Po and Long Valley.
Tai Po Kau holds a greater range of native tree species than any other woodland in Hong Kong and is consequently the best forest area for birds. Like any woodland birding site it can be frustrating and disappointing, but on a good day the forest provides views of some of Hong Kong’s most colourful birds: Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets, Orange-bellied Leaf bird, Silver-eared Leiothrix, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Fork-tailed Sunbird and more. Flycatchers, warblers and thrushes occur in winter and on passage. Hainan Blue Flycatcher arrives in April to breed during the summer months.
The globally significant wetland, Mai Po Marshes Reserve, situated on the Australasia migratory route is Hong Kong’s birding jewel in the crown. The reserve is world-famous for its wader migration in spring, including the Asian specialities of Nordmann’s Greenshank, Asian Dowitcher and the near-extinct Spoon-billed Sandpiper. It is also an important site in winter for endangered species such as Black-faced Spoonbill and Eastern Imperial Eagle. In the full day birding schedule, Mai Po Reserve may take up the major portion of the day, especially if our visit coincides with a good high tide and we head out to the hides overlooking the Deep Bay mudflats.
The agricultural fields at Long Valley hold a number of open-country and wetland species throughout the year, including breeding Greater Painted-snipe.
If you have interests in certain habitats or species, please let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
Bird watching sites in Hong Kong are relatively undemanding in terms of physical fitness. Tai Po Kau is uphill for the first few minutes but is fairly easy-going after that. Mai Po Marshes require the greatest amount of walking and we may cover a distance of 5-6 km, especially if we take in the Deep Bay mudflats. However, all walking at Mai Po is on the flat, as are the fields at Long Valley.
The weather is very taxing in some seasons, especially the hot and humid summer months. The main bird watching season is from late September to early May.
As all tours are private/exclusive, the final itinerary depends upon the wishes of the client. We usually recommend that a full day birding tour takes in Tai Po Kau forest, Mai Po Reserve and Long Valley, which are the three premier birding sites in Hong Kong. This may vary depending on the time of high tides at Mai Po. Half day tours usually take in one or two of these key sites.
Pick-up for bird watching outings is at one of the stations on the East Rail Line out in the New Territories – usually University station or Fanling station depending on the itinerary. Drop off at the end of the day will again be at a station on the East Rail Line. Transport to and from these stations is by private car. Full details of how to get to the pick-up point from your hotel will be provided before the tour.
A full checklist of the birds seen is emailed to the client after the tour as an Excel file.
Your guide will carry a telescope – particularly useful for observing water birds at Mai Po. They can also provide extra binoculars if needed. Appropriate reference books are available, primarily ‘The Birds of Hong Kong and South China’ (Eighth edition).
Full day: HKD2,400 for one or two people, HKD3,000 for three people, HKD3,600 for four people.
Half day: HKD1,200 for one or two people, HKD1,500 for three people, HKD1,800 for four people.
If a visit into Mai Po Reserve is included, clients need to pay for a permit at the reserve on the day. This is currently HKD180 per person (November-April), HKD150 per person (May-October).
Please note: Our maximum group size is four. Groups over four have to be responsible for their own transport arrangements.