Conservation work pays off as black-winged stilts nest and breed in park for first time

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2009, 12:00am

Black-winged stilts are nesting and breeding at Hong Kong Wetland Park for the first time, thanks to the park's conservation efforts.

Photos released yesterday by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department show a nest on a mudflat at the park, built by a pair of black-winged stilts.

The nest was discovered by volunteers stationed at the mudflat hide on April 25. The pair built the nest by heaping mud, rotted leaves and grass roots together. It is estimated that incubation of their three eggs will take 18 to 20 days.

The black-winged stilt commonly migrates through Hong Kong in the spring and autumn, with hundreds seen each year. The first breeding record of the species in Hong Kong was at Mai Po in 2003.

A spokeswoman for the department said efforts had been made to clear mudflats in the park of weeds to create a good breeding environment.

Cheung Ho-fai, chairman of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, said it was not difficult to spot black-winged stilts in Hong Kong.

Adults are about 36cm long, have long pink legs, a long black bill and are blackish above and white below.

'Such birds have been breeding in Mai Po for a few years, although it is probably the first time they have nested and bred at Wetland Park,' Mr Cheung said.

The pair of black-winged stilts appeared to be very alert to any sign of danger around them.

To prevent other birds or animals from intruding in their nesting territory, they fly low and periodically make their alarm calls.

The park has installed telescopes at the mudflat hide to allow visitors to take a closer look at the birds.

Observers wishing to see the birds are advised to keep quiet and never poke their arms, cameras or telescopes out of the windows.

To minimise disturbances to the birds, observers are also advised to avoid using flash photography.