Whilst I was in Hong Kong, I had decided to treat myself to a new camera lens. Anyone who prefers DSLRs will know that it is an expensive hobby. Buying lens were not really top priority over the things I had wanted to spend my hard earnt money on back in the UK and the lens I wanted were no longer stocked. So I was so happy to find the lens I wanted in HK: the Nikon 55-200mm F/4-5.6 AF-S VR DX. The one available in UK does not have vibration reduction which is helpful in handheld conditions. At 1000HKD, it’s a good value lens for my budget.
So, where else would be better to play with my new toy than at HK’s most famous attraction? Ocean Park. Misleadingly, Ocean Park is less aquarium, more rollercoaster and more mammals based. Pandas, red pandas, seals and dolphins are the main heroes of this park, closely followed by birds of all kind, from parrots to penguins. Finally, you’ll find a small area of the park which houses an aquarium. I am a bit wary of mixing rollercoasters with animals but in a place as small as HK, I get the feeling that the owners of the park wanted to attract all kinds of people. Just a word of warning, I was tripodless so my images were not crisp clean (I was unable to bring it with me on this holiday) and my battery ran out halfway through the day so some photos were taken using a Samsung Note 2.
When we arrived, the first place we headed to was to see a bird show as the timing was just right. The first bird we were shown was the white cockatoo, a vulnerable bird found in lowland tropical rainforests. Aside from being obviously white, this cockatoo is recognisable for its glorious white crest that curves backwards. For those who have had the chance to see one in flight, you will know that they have these beautiful lemon yellow feathers on the underside of the wings and tail, as you can see in the photo below. Well, aside from looking good, the white cockatoo at this Ocean Park had attitude. Instead of getting with the story and acting out the parts it usually does, the bird decided to not return when it was asked to and hid on a beam at the top of the theatre. After a ladder and a trainer managed to coax the bird back down, the show continued.
Another cockatoo, the salmon-crested cockatoo, was shown and like it’s white counterpart, this species is also vulnerable. They are extremely trainable which makes them popular in animal shows. The crest tends to come up when the bird is feeling threatened or very excited.
Next was a beautiful hyacinth macaw. This blue bird can be easily mistaken with the smaller Lear’s macaw which is rarer. Like the previous two birds, numbers are not particularly high; the hyacinth macaw is listed as being endangered. Beginning to see a pattern? These beautiful birds are often caught for trading as their bright colours and clever nature makes them desirable pets for some. These problems are often the more major causes for population decreases. The macaw they used kept hiding things in a hole in the tree trunk.
Then, in an almost comical way, a scarlet ibis swoops in and starts walking towards a shallow pool of water on set. This species of ibis is most known for it’s bright red plumage. The bill can be either red or black. Interestingly, juvenile versions of this bird come in dull colours: white, brown and grey.
Another interesting bird we saw was a hornbill, I think. Not being too familiar with hornbills and after an excruciating search, I had narrowed it down to a female wreathed hornbill. This bird is recognised for it’s pouch under the bill and for the black bar that goes across it. Male wreathed hornbill’s have a yellow pouch instead. A pair will stay together for life and the female is completely dependent on the male when she brings up their young. This dependency is caused by the male sealing the female and her eggs in a tree cavity with mud and leaving just a hole to feed them through.
Putting birds aside, the presentation of the show was in the form of an educational story about a wood cutter and his tree cutting lifestyle, a talking tree and various birds rebelling, ending with the wood cutter coming to terms with how his actions were endangering animals. It would have been a fun way to teach children about the environment and the way us humans impact it but then again, many children probably would not understand the story. This was due to the park using an extremely confusing and pointless method of storytelling. The story was told in three languages (Cantonese, mandarin and English) but rather than repeat each sentence in each language, they decided that each sentence should be a different language, cycling through the three languages. So most people would only understand a third of the story. Luckily the variety of birds more than made up for the poor organisation of the program.