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 Post subject: Why so few seabirds?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:13 am 
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Why are there no seagulls on Lamma, or cormorants, frigates, pelicans - or even in most parts of HK? We went out to the Nine Pins islands on Saturday - the only birds we saw were a few black kites and a couple of reef egrets. Similar islands around the UK would be teeming with birdlife.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:48 am 
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Fishing boats scoop up every little fish around here, so the food chain has probably collapsed.

I swim at HSY almost every day, I might see a fish once a month. (The mesh of the shark net would keep out only the largest ones, though it might deter smaller ones I guess.)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:35 pm 
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Agree that overfishing has something to do with it, but there must be other reasons - climate maybe? Most of the UK waters are also heavily overfished, but there are still plenty of seabirds. In the UK gulls are also plentiful inland - often around refuse sites - but not here.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:34 pm 
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Best spot on Lamma with large swarms of seabirds, mostly egrets, and swarms of Black Kites: The sweet water lake and the upper area inside the Lamma Quarry.

Deserted and undisturbed by humans, they seem to be thriving in there and are very shy of the occasional, rare biker, hiker or dog walker who make their way there.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:40 pm 
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I noticed when travelling in Thailand that there were very few birds in the countryside. Hunters with rifles were common. We probably don't have any of that here, but I suspect over the border a lot of bird hunting goes on. The only birds that survived would keep a very low profile. Also there a lot of pesticides used, which kills bugs and kills the birds who eat bugs too.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:12 pm 
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Sea gulls prefer a temperate climate (or colder) - most of the seagull-like birds in Hong Kong waters are terns, which are slimmer, and dive into the water to catch fish. There are quite a few breeding here, but mainly in the north-east in Mirs Bay. And there are thousands of cormorants (and some large gulls like herring gulls, vega gulls and black-headed gulls) in Deep Bay - a visit to Mai Po in winter can be a spectacular sight. There are even the occasional pelicans and storks and of course the famous black-faced spoonbills, representing a sizeable chunk of the world’s population of this endangered bird. In addition Maipo has thousands of migrating waders - I was once lucky enough to see a flock af around 800 avocets. That's the place to go if you want to see large flocks of such species.

In spite of over-fishing, there are still fish in the sea - I’ve been swimming at Hung Shing Yeh about ten times in the last month and on nearly every occasion I see small groups of fish jumping out of the water, presumably being chased by a larger predator. I even caught one with my hands near the shark net. There is often a reef egret walking along the top of the shark barrier, and they are frequently seen spearing a fish and swallowing it. And there are reasonable numbers of little egrets and black-capped night herons around Lamma - they too seem to make a living out of what they can find.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:30 am 
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Tks Zep - I suspected that climate might account for the lack of gulls. Granted there are big numbers of waterbirds in Mai Po Marshes/Deep Bay, but that still doesn't explain the extraordinary (to me at any rate) scarcity of birds up the Sai Kung coastline and on the offshore islands.

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