Bonanza for birdwatchers as seven new species arrive

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2006, 12:00am

Three bird species not seen in the area before have been spotted on Po Toi Island and in the Long Valley wetlands this month by the Hong Kong Bird-Watching Society. This follows the sighting of four other new species last month.

One ruddy kingfisher, one brown noddy and three or four rosy pipits were seen this month.

Ruddy kingfishers are usually found in India, Japan, the mainland and Indonesia, while the brown noddy is a tern that normally lives in tropical areas and northern Australia. Rosy pipits live in the Himalayas and northern India.

The four new species seen last month - the Narcissus flycatcher, sulphur-breasted leaf warbler, orange-breasted green pigeon and Chinese song thrush - were spotted near Po Toi Island.

A society spokesman said more new species were being found in Hong Kong. 'During the past decade, an average of two or three new species have been spotted each year,' he said. 'But we already have seven new species identified in the first six months of this year.

'It is very exciting for birdwatchers. But it may also imply a change of habitat in Hong Kong and neighbouring countries.'

Lew Young, manager of the Mai Po Nature Reserve Centre under WWF Hong Kong, said the migration pattern of birds had been affected by global warming.

But he added it did not mean that there was now a greater biodiversity in Hong Kong.

'Birds are changing their habits in migration, including their numbers, routes, destinations and duration of stay,' Dr Young said. 'On the one hand, Hong Kong may be visited by birds that have never set foot here before, but on the other hand, several other species of migratory birds, such as pelicans, are decreasing in Hong Kong.'

Other factors, such as an increase in birdwatchers and new birdwatching locations, could also affect the number of species identified in Hong Kong, he said.