New winter homes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 November, 2009, 12:00am

A year-long project to renovate a special pond for migratory birds at the Mai Po Nature Reserve has been completed.

The reserve is managed by environmental organisation WWF.

Construction began last summer on one of 13 estuary ponds, or gei wai, to provide better environment for waterbirds staying in town during migration seasons.

Every winter, reserve officers stock the gei wai with fish for the birds to eat in order to reduce the number of fish taken from nearby commercial ponds.

The HK$1.5 million project involved creating a new home for migratory birds.

A series of 'high tide' roosting sites were built. These roosts consist of shallow pools with raised areas of mud on which birds can rest and eat. Twelve manmade islands have also been constructed in the pond.

Workers had to remove vegetation and silt from the area and create a 1.3km-long network of ditches.

The project was made possible by funds raised from WWF's Big Bird Race and donations from private companies.

Bena Smith, a manager at WWF Hong Kong Mai Po Reserve, said the new roosting sites had been completed in time to attract migratory waterbirds such as egrets, herons, and globally endangered black-faced spoonbills this winter.

They were also expected to attract other birds in the spring and autumn, the main migration seasons.

'The roost design is based on overseas examples, the known ecological requirements of waterbirds, and draws on our own 25 years of management experience at Mai Po. It gives us considerably greater flexibility and new options to manage gei wai for waterbirds at different times of the year.'

Smith said reserve officers would look at how the new roost performed in the coming year to consider similar renovation of other ponds.