Mudskipper Heaven and Bird Watcher’s Delight

Wooden Winged One

The Princess and I had, for some time, been promising ourselves that we would visit the Hong Kong Wetlands Park for some time and today was the day.  This eco designed park is located in the New Territories here in Hong Kong – about an hour long trip from where we live.  You can learn more about the New Territories by clicking on this link.

The weather forecast showed some light showers however, when we woke and looked out the window the clouds were quite high and the rain was nowhere in sight.  A “go” order was given and after a light breakfast, a shower and back packing we were on our way.

To get “up to” the N.T we took a bus from Discovery Bay then the Mass Transit Rail (MTR) to a place called Tin Shui Wai and then the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to the entrance of the wetlands.  A pleasant trip on a weekday (not a lot of people to negotiate) and reasonably efficient given the interchanges we had to negotiate at the railway stations and bus terminus.

Here is a copy of the MTR route map for you to take a look at.  You can follow the Yellow Line from Sunny Bay to the purple line at Nam Cheong then north to the Tin Shui Wai station.

We had not traveled on the LRT before and we were both very impressed with the extensive and efficient network of tracks and stations.  This network was planned into the design of the development of the N.T and it goes to show what can be done with a bit of pre-thought and planning.  What a wonderful system. This Wiki article will give you some more information on the development and design of the LRT.

We arrived at the wetlands just before midday, paid the very low entry fee (around $4.00US) and proceeded to sort out our camera gear for the walk through the park. The Princess had bought here Canon 550D and Lumix point and shoot and I carried my Canon 50D along with two lenses and the new Panasonic HD video camera.  We “pre-watered” and had a quick bite to eat then set off around the park.

Reflective Beauty

The park’s walkways are elevated (makes sense in a wetland!) in most places and follow a variety of trails that allow visitors to view the streams, mangroves, and lakes.  There are plenty of signs to read and information to take in and all in all the impression we got is that this is well designed and well managed.

The first part of the “in the park” took us past man made creeks and waterfalls (the water levels are controlled in parts of the park) and on to small lakes that are filled with beautiful waterlilies.  We enjoyed using our zoom lenses to capture some of the waterlilies that were in bloom!

The middle section of the park consists of a walk through a mangrove lined creek and fortunately the tide was out when we were there.  This allowed us to get up close and personal with the resident mudskippers.  Neither The Princess nor I had ever seen these interesting little creatures before and it was a real treat to watch and photograph them.  They darted in and out of their little mudholes, jumped and slithered along the muddy banks and sucked up nutrients from the mud with their oversized mouths.

Nutrient Mud

Nutrient Mud

From the mangrove walk we made our way past flowering garden beds and through the butterfly gardens to several bird hides that were constructed for the public to view and photograph the variety of birds that inhabit the wetlands.  We don’t claim to be bird spotters however it was nice to try our hand at capturing some of them through the lenses of our cameras – not an easy task!

In one particular hide we were surrounded by some serious bird spotters and their camera gear and I must say that I had a bit of  “lens envy” going on.  Some of these guys had clearly invested some serious cash into some very large lenses.  My relatively small 300mm zoom lens just couldn’t compete with these purpose designed and built zoom lenses that these guys were packing.  Fortunately, The Princess was still happy with my compact zoom and her own 200mm lens and we held our heads high with the results we achieved.  However, Roey will indeed pursue the purchase of one of these “must have” lenses in the future.  After all – it is all about size!

Shy Skipper

After almost four hours of walking, photographing and videoing flowers, mudskippers, birds and butterflies we returned to the impressive main entrance building and took in a late lunch at the wetland’s cafe.  We both opted for a feed of fish and fresh vegetables and neither of us was unhappy with our choice.

We left the wetlands park around 4.00pm and returned to the LRT line – we opted to take a slightly different route back to the main MTR station at Tin Shui Wai.

The return trip was as uneventful as the trip to the park and before long we were back in Discovery Bay.  If you are living in Hong Kong or planning to visit then we would recommend a visit to the wetlands.  It is a perfect way to see a different side of Hong Kong.  After all, this place is not all high rise buildings, market stalls, shopping centres or crowds of people.  In fact, over 40% of Hong Kong has been protected as nature reserves and over 70% of Hong Kong had no development.  The wetlands give you some appreciation for the fact that the government does indeed have some interest in protecting the natural reserves and not just making money from developers!

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