Birds of Hong Kong by Ray Tipper is portable and manageable, easy to carry and it fits into your vest pockets. In 176 pages, this smallish book (180 x 128 mm / 7 x 5”) covers 279 bird species (out of the total of 562) most likely to be seen in Hong Kong, including every species classified as Abundant, Common, or Uncommon in the Hong Kong Bird Report. This introductory guide does not cover all the regional species and you cannot be certain of your ID, as you don’t know whether there are other similar but not depicted species.

The majority of species are represented by a single photo, up to two where sexual dimorphism is pronounced. While birds of prey are mostly shown in very good photos, there’s only one photo per species and I wish for a second photo, so both a standing bird and a bird in flight would be depicted. Not surprisingly, waterbirds have the very best photos. Photos of passerines are very good documentary shots, too, but in many cases I would wish for a second photo from a different angle. There are no range maps.

Species descriptions include nomenclature, size, distribution, habits and habitat. I find the distribution to be the most interesting part of the text, telling us not only where to look for the species, but also its regional abundance status. Also, the introductory chapter deals with taxonomy, climate and habitats, and the main 4 parks and further 5 reserves to visit, along with the species to look for, and then it separately describes wader (shorebird) sites, as well as the 15 Chinese endemics reaching Hong Kong (2 of them regular in winter). The book ends with a checklist of all of the birds of Hong Kong, encompassing, for each species, its common English, Chinese, and scientific name, as well as its current IUCN status, followed by a listing of half a dozen useful websites, and the map of the birding areas.

Ray Tipper is a life-long birder who left his native Britain in 1973 and spent most of the next 22 years engaged in Hong Kong. There, he became a trustee of WWF and was intimately involved with its renowned Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve. It was in Hong Kong that he turned to bird photography which quickly became his major interest. He is an associate of the Royal Photographic Society and his photographs are regularly published in journals and books all over the world. He has led more than 100 tours for the British bird tour company Avian Adventures, in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. He now lives in the Algarve, Portugal where he is Chairman of the Portuguese Rarities Committee.

If you are a keen birder pursuing a long list, you already know that you need a field guide covering all local species and including the respective range maps. This book would be a good choice for a novice-birder, general nature lover, or a spouse and a travelling partner of that keen birder who would like to be able to recognise the commoner species without anyone’s help. Yet, if birds are the primary reason for your trip, look at this book more like as an illustrated checklist to check the abundance status of your target species prior to the trip itself.

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Hong Kong 2nd
By Ray Tipper
Paperback 176 pages
Dimensions 128 x 180 x 13mm | 204g
Publication date Jan 2022
Publisher John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd
Publication City/Country Oxford, United Kingdom
Edition 2nd ed.
Illustrations 300 photographs
ISBN10 191367908X
ISBN13 9781913679088

Written by Dragan
Dragan Simic is obsessively passionate about two things – birding and travelling in search of birds, and that has taken him from his native Balkans to the far shores of Europe and the Mediterranean, southern Africa, India and Latin America. His 10,000 Birds blog posts were Highly Commended in the International Category of the 2015 BBC Wildlife Blogger Awards. Birder by passion and environmental scientist by education, he is an ecotourism consultant, a field researcher and a bird blogger who always thinks that birding must be better behind that next bend in the road, and that the best bird ever is – the next lifer. He tweets as @albicilla66