The Birdlines, U and the Society

The Birdlines, U and the Society

Dear all

It is both a epilogue and sequel to the Smew and Rustic bunting affairs on which I said I would present my personal views on the captioned subject.  

To afford time for reflection and discussion (for this is a forum) I will divide the topic into parts,
the first being Introduction. I'm entitled to hold the talk for two reasons. Firstly, I've been a daily user/consumer (when I am in HK) of Richard's English Birdline since its inception more than a decade ago and can testify to the good work of him which has brought such greater chance of seeing good birds. Secondly, I was the person in charge of the Chinese Birdline for more than three years (news provider) which gives me no small insight into its working and effect within the Chinese birding community.


Seeing a rarity in Hong Kong is not an easy matter. It involves no small part of luck, birding skills,
experience and timing to get one. Before the on-line Forum was set up we relied solely on private
communication betweeen members and the Birdlines which put news about birds on an equality-for-all basis.. While the former calls for personal favouritism the latter
serves you all and free!

Except for HK firsts few people rush from their work at hand to the location where a good bird is found. Still the hotlines will gives you a rough knowledge of the birding situation in the colony, which hotspot is good, which day on which is birdie, given that roughly half of the birds on the HK list are migrants
and many are winter visitors (some again as briefly as several days). I can recall the day when more
than thirty members (including C Y Lam) who gathered at the playground at the outskirt of Long Valley proper to see the Rosy, Daurian and Purple-backed starlings . A HK first, the Lesser whitethroat, was
found at the same location and stayed for just one afternoon! Because of phone-communciation between us, and the hotline, I think about twenty people were there to enjoy the observation of the bird.

When discipline was maintained, such as keeping talking to a minimum and discrete distance from the bird(s), everyone present was fully satisfied and happy. The occasions manifested a closely knitted birding community at its best, helping each other at spotting them and the their distinctive features, marvelling
at the birds' travelling and hardship endurance and wondering where they came from. And last but not least was interchange of congratulations, especially a Big Thank You for the finders. The core of the spirit is SHARING.

Were you one of them who enjoyed at seeing the Greater thicknee, the Philippine duck, the Bean geese, the
Relict and Slender-billed gulls at Mai Po?

Next think about what work is needed behind the scene.

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 12/01/2011 08:43 ]


The Englsih Birdline I know

Dear all

The English Birdline is multifold in purpose.

First it tells the local birding community if there are interesting birds at local places.
Secondly, it enhances your awareness under the current weather what kind of birds are being found in HK. Therefore you can make your decision what places to visit during your free time.
Thirdly, when rare birds are found, the bird line enables you to phone anywhere to report or obtain relevant information with the simple device of communication, a mobile phone. Richard now also links up with website information so that more detailed information can be found to help birders.
Fourthly, as English is the most common international language it serves as a means to inform foreign visitors so they feel more at home with local hotspots.

Richard is fully committed, so much so that whenever he was away from HK he passed the machine (the old one) I believe to Geoff Carey to continue the service. Now the machine (again I believe) is completely digital, one supplied by PCCW (again just a guess and from my past experience) he asks his wife (do you notice the Asian female accent) to handle it for him.

He has so far as I know not failed to operate the system to a day. For his unfailing service he has won my respect and full appreciation.

S L Tai


The Chinese Birdline & Work behind tel bird reporting

Dear all

The Chinese Birdline
To be brief, let's be reminded that the Chinese birdline (if I'm not mistaken it still is) was totally financed by our past Chairman H F Cheung. He was also the first officer-in-charger of the Chinese birdline. It is quite within understanding that as a very busy Vice-chariman he did not regularly update the birdline, and according to my obversation he did not bother to get second-hand information from the English one too.

When he became the Chairman, I got the support of CY Lam and took the Chinese birdline under my charge.
To be realistic (for there were few Cantonese birders who reported to the Chinese one) I was willing to
play second fiddle to Richard's, adding some news from what I had found during the morning.

The Chinese birdline did provide recentest bird news as I updated it every evening by translation and adding mine as well some occasional reporting from others. Names of location of birds in Chinese obviously facilitated birders who wanted to go to the said places when rarities were found. Thus the Chinese hotline worked in this way under me until I was told to handover the Chinese hotline to Kwok Jai (forgive me to address him this way). There were non-updated periods when I was away from HK for the tele-machine was digital, a system provided by PCCW.

Work Behind the English hotline

As Richard does the quarterly Hong Kong Bird News in the society's bulletin, naturally he does a lot
of work to sort out the daily reports to appear as digested summaries. His work has become more complicated now to include searching the forum for good finds in photographic form.

Bird watching, reporting and conservation

These three activities are interwoven and inseparable, for bird watching scientifically becomes
ornithology which involves a lot of data finding and pattern (such as migration which makes HK
so attractive and interesting) identification. It is no exaggeration that Long Valley was wrested by us
from KCR to remain like what it appears today (and seems improving environmentally). The battle was
simply won when the society was able to present its findings which proved too convincing and overwhelming
to all sides that the government turned to our favour in stead of KCR's.

Therefore let us all understand that bird watching is not just seeing a nice bird. If a birder is also
a conscious bird and environment lover, he should apply his/her effort to extend it to reporting.

S L Tai

[ Last edited by tsheunglai at 12/01/2011 09:27 ]