Birds: also known as avian dinosaurs, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton.
A black eared kite hovers over the harbour in Sai Kung looking for scraps from the market of fishing boats on a Sunday afternoon.
The black-eared kite (milvus migrans) also known as a black kite, is widespread throughout Asia. In Hong Kong where they are a common sight the winter population keeps to around 2-3,000 birds, but in the summer only a few hundred may choose to stay. The main roosting areas are on the forested slopes of Hong Kong Island’s famous Peak, where you can see them sometimes in their hundreds catching thermals late afternoon. Kites have a varied diet, and many can be found diving for fishy scraps in the scenic setting of Sai Kung fishing port at the Sunday fish market next to the pier. Despite living off a diet heavy in mercury, it is thought that they accumulate the toxins in their feathers, which they then moult.
Hong Kong is a great place for birding. Over 470 species have been recorded, 300 of which regularly reside there. this accounts for a third of the recorded species across the whole
of China, and an amazing one-twentieth of the total global number. Don't miss our next update with a special feature on the birds of Asia, and how to best photograph them.