Mai Po birdwatchers get a new place to hide

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am

If you're in Sheung Shui and up for a relaxing day watching birds, check out the new birdwatching structure, or 'hide', at the WWF nature reserve in Mai Po.

You will find a lively assortment of birds of all shapes and sizes, from the speedy peregrine falcon to the tall blue heron.

The new hide, which opened yesterday, can be reached by a floating boardwalk system that extends into the Deep Bay estuary.

It gives visitors and naturalists a close-up view of the birds, which number as many as 10,000 in the peak season during the winter.

The hide was built mainly to allow easier access to the various waterfowl in Deep Bay, as the natural expansion of the mangroves move the waterbirds farther out into the water. Many of these birds are rare or threatened, and the hide offers a good platform for scientific observation.

'With the new boardwalk, better monitoring opportunities are provided for individual researchers', said Mai Po Reserve manager Lew Young.

The reserve is home to over 380 bird species, many of which are migratory species that either winter at Mai Po or pass by on their way to warmer climates in the south. It is an important stopover on the East Asia-Australasian flyway for the millions of birds that fly to Southeast Asia or Australia in the autumn and return in the spring to their breeding areas in northern China, Mongolia and Siberia.

Mai Po is the wintering site of one-quarter of the world's black-faced spoonbills, an endangered water-based bird, of which only 1,600 are left worldwide.