Re ECF Project: 2006-10

Project Title: Association of other waterbird species with wintering Black-faced Spoonbills Platalea minor in Hong Kong

Applicant: Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Ltd. (Dr. CHEUNG Ho-fai)

Total Approved Grant: $91,650

Completed: 01/11/2007 to 30/04/2008

Project Status/Remarks: Completed

The goal of the project is to identify the relationships and the kind of relations between wintering Black-faced Spoonbills and other waterbirds in Hong Kong. Field observations will be conducted in winter months, when the wintering Black-faced Spoonbills arrive at Mai Po, i.e. from November, and finished when the spoonbills start the northward migration, i.e. end of February. Study area would include Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site and the peripheral area where the spoonbills would occur.

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes:
Previous studies of the Black-faced Spoonbill focused to find out basic information of the habitats, food and feeding of the wintering Black-faced Spoonbill in Hong Kong and other sites in the spoonbill's range state. Only brief notes was made for describing associated waterbirds to the Black-faced Spoonbills and these lacked of quantitative measurement of the relationships between the spoonbills and associated waterbirds. This study not only found numbers of waterbirds associating to the Black-faced Spoonbills, but also some numerical relationships of some important ardeids to the spoonbills. This is a first attempt of such study to the Black-faced Spoonbills and in this region.

To summarize, this study focused to some basic information about association among the Black-faced Spoonbills and waterbirds utilising the same areas as the spoonbills. The commonest associate in loafing and feeding habitats of the Black-faced Spoonbills is Grey Heron and Great Egret respectively. Black-faced Spoonbills were always robbed by other waterbird species and Black-faced Spoonbill individuals, but they just could not rob the others. Some aspects of the whole content about the association or aggregation of waterbirds are still not studied, discussed and explained so far. Further studies could be focused on several finer questions, e.g, how the association form, attractiveness of different water species in the association of the species, feeding success or efficiency between associated and solitary waterbirds, and effects of prey density in different feeding habitats to numbers of waterbird present etc. Mai Po Nature Reserve and the nearby Deep Bay area holds thousands of waterbirds in the winter time and some areas are under active management for the wildlife. It is an ideal place to carry out further similar studies later on.