Preparing for landing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2007, 12:00am


Mai Po Nature Reserve wardens are working full steam to prepare for the return of tens of thousands of migrating birds to the most important wintering habitat in southern China. The birds come from as far away as Siberia to winter at the wetland reserve.

ABOVE: A cormorant makes an easy meal of a tilapia, a fish species stocked by WWF field staff at Mai Po Nature Reserve to protect stocks of the area's commercial fish farms.

RIGHT: A reserve worker removes wooden planks from a water gate, allowing water to flow out of the wetlands and into Deep Bay. The gates are removed each winter to allow the water level to match that of the bay.

ABOVE: White egrets swoop down for a meal after reserve staff stocked a pond with fish. During winter, herons and egrets flock to the Mai Po marshes, Hong Kong and southern China's top destination for bird watching.

FAR LEFT: Wardens empty a barrel of fish into the marshes. The waters are stocked with fish every two weeks, not only to keep the birds fed but to keep them from raiding stocks at the many surrounding fish farms.

CENTRE: Students from Buddhist Mau Fung Memorial College admire water lilies in a pond during a school outing. The ponds are an ideal breeding ground for dragonflies.

LEFT: A mud skipper scuttles past a small crab on the nature reserve's vast mudflat.