Baseline Ecological Research to Support Conservation Management of the Critically Endangered Blackfaced Spoonbill Platyalea Minor at the Mai Po/Inner Deep bay Ramsar site - Preliminary Study  

Project Title: Baseline Ecological Research to Support Conservation Management of the Critically Endangered Blackfaced Spoonbill Platyalea Minor at the Mai Po/Inner Deep bay Ramsar site - Preliminary Study

Applicant: World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong

Total Approved Grant: $43,200 (only $38,923.83 was spent)

Duration: 21/01/97 to 21/05/97

Project Status/Remarks: Completed

Scope: To promote the conservation of the Black-faced Spoonbill by collecting baseline information on its ecology during the winter at Mai Po.

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes: The study reviewed all records of the Black-faced Spoonbill in Hong Kong since the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society began to archive records in 1958. The number of birds occurring in winter had increased, especially in recent years - the reason(s) for this were unknown. A review of count data in recent winters, when coverage had been good (including the 1996/97 field season covered by this project), suggested the spoonbills pass through Mai Po on passage in early winter, the mid-winter count being lower than that in November. There was some evidence that birds returned in spring. It was speculated that passage birds moved further southwest to winter on Hainan and the Red River Delta, Vietnam.

Observations of behavior revealed that during the day spoonbills usually rested, with only very limited feeding activity, usually by young/immature birds - this pattern being similar to that at the other main wintering site in Taiwan. Most birds at Mai Po fed at night. Based on field observations and sweep net sampling it appeared that in the Mai Po gei wais spoonbills fed primarily on mosquito fish Gambusia affinis and the shrimp Palaemonetus sp. This had implications for management of the Mai Po Nature Reserve.

This project would lay the groundwork for a more in-depth study into the wintering ecology of the Black-faced Spoonbill.