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Location Hong Kong (China), Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Central coordinates 114o 2.00' East  22o 29.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 3,150 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (Partner Designate)



Site description Shenzhen River catchment and Inner Deep Bay is an estuarine area comprising a variety of habitats, including freshwater wetland, marine-coastal (intertidal mudflats and mangroves) and man-made (aquaculture fish ponds, tidal shrimp ponds (gei wai) and oyster farms) habitats. The freshwater wetlands are situated at Mai Po and at a flood plain area at the southern side of Shenzhen River namely Long Valley, this is an area of actively managed agricultural land. The mudflats of inner Deep Bay are situated across the Shenzhen River, from Mai Po/Tsim Bei Tsui peninsula of Hong Kong side to Fu Tian of Shenzhen side. A thick belt of coastal mangroves encloses these sites. The inland area consists mainly of farmland, fishponds and tidal shrimp ponds. Surrounding and among these are construction sites, residential area and industrial area. On 4 September 1995, a 1,500 ha of wetlands on the Hong Kong side of the estuary area (Inner Deep Bay) was declared a Ramsar Site, including Mai Po Nature Reserve.Shenzhen River catchement and Inner Deep Bay lies in the northwestern part of the New Territories of Hong Kong. The names of the area includes (1) agricultural lands at Long Valley; (2) fishponds at Ma Tso Lung, Lok Ma Chau, San Tin, Lin Barn Tsuen, Mai Po, Pak Hok Chau, Lut Chau, Tai Sang Wai, Nam Sang Wai, Tin Shui Wai and Tsim Bei Tsui; (3) Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve; (4) Inner Deep Bay mangroves and inter-tidal mudflat; and (5) mudflat and oyster farm at Sheung Pak Lai

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna unknown  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana winter  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor winter  2004  present  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea unknown  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Great White Egret Ardea alba unknown  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes non-breeding  2004  present  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus winter  2004  present  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo unknown  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Himantopus himantopus unknown  2004  present  A4i  Not Recognised 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta unknown  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Charadrius alexandrinus unknown  2004  present  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea passage  2004  present  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus winter  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Spotted Greenshank Tringa guttifer passage  2004  present  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina winter  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus unknown  2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Saunders's Gull Saundersilarus saundersi winter  2004  present  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Pleske's Grasshopper-warbler Locustella pleskei winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata passage  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Inner Deep Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 2,235 protected area contained by site 400  
Mai Po Marshes (Inner Deep Bay) Restricted Area 807 protected area contained by site 835  
Mai Po Marshes and Inner Deep Bay Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 1,513 protected area contained by site 1,513  
Mai Po Village Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 5 protected area contained by site 5  
Mipu Nature Reserve Other 0 protected area contained by site 0  
Pak Nai Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 16 protected area contained by site 10  
Tsim Bei Tsui Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 2 protected area contained by site 5  
Tsim Bei Tsui Egretry Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 5 protected area contained by site 50  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Artificial wetlands; Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Rivers and streams  major
Artificial - terrestrial Abandoned farmland, disturbed ground; Arable land; Small settlements, rural gardens  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture 39%
nature conservation and research 48%
tourism/recreation 10%
urban/industrial/transport 10%
Notes: Small settlements
water management 50%

Other biodiversity 1. FishpondsFlora: - Dominant grasses and herbs commonly found on bunds include Alternanthera sessilis, A. philoxeroides, Commelina communis and Ipomoea aquatica. Common grasses such as P. maximum and common weedy species such as Lantana camara, Mikania mirantha and Bidens rubra are commonly occurred.Fauna: - Mammals: Ades (1995) listed 13 mammal species that have been recorded from the fishponds, their banks and bunds at the Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve. The Javan Mongoose Herpestes javanicus and Leopard Cat Felis bengalensis chinensis have been observed with young, on bunds adjacent to fishponds (Young 1992b). Chinese Otters Lutra lutra chinensis have been seen acrossing tracks between fishponds (Fazey 1993). Seven-banded Civet Viverricula indica scats are also seen regularly on fishpond bunds (Ades unpublished data) and Ryukyu Mouse Mus caroli was first discovered in Hong Kong in 1992 on fishpond bunds adjacent to Mai Po (Chandrasekar-Rao 1995). - Amphibians: Lau (1995) showed that 7 amphibian species have been recorded from the Deep Bay fishponds within the Ramsar site, which is one-third of the amphibian fauna. - Reptiles: Lau (1995) indicated 16 reptile species have been recorded in and around fishponds of the Deep Bay area, which is about 20% of the known reptile fauna native to Hong Kong; this includes the SAR important Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle Pelodiscus sinensis. - Invertebrates: A total of 30 Odonata species out of the 103 known from the SAR have been recorded in fishponds (Townland 1993), and 60% of the identified species belong to the superfamily Libelluloidea (K. Wilson pers. comm.). Among the invertebrate fauna, Diptera and Hemiptera are also important components of the invertebrate fauna, their population densities reaching a the peak in spring and autumn. Dominant benthic invertebrates include Ostracoda and Nematoda. (Aspinwall & Company 1996b)2. Gei Wais (tidal shrimp ponds) and reedbedsFlora: - Local rarities include Ruppia maritima which has been recorded in the gei wai (ERL 1988) and the marine angiosperm Halophylla beccarii is found on the mudflat. - The stands of reed Phragmites communis in Mai Po Nature Reserve are the largest in Hong Kong (46 ha), and one of the largest remaining in Guangdong Province, China (Gao, Y.R. pers. comm). - Mangrove species including Kandelia candel, together with Avicennia marina, Acanthus ilicifolius and Aegiceras corniculatum are well-established in several gei wai.Fauna: - Mammals: In May 1995, a dead Chinese Otter was discovered next to a gei wai at Mai Po Nature Reserve (Cha 1995). Chinese Otter spraints have been found near sluice gates of the gei wai, and the mammal has been seen swimming in the gei wai (Young 1994). Other mammals include Javan Mongoose , Leopard Cat, Seven-banded Civet, Bandicoot Rat Bandicota indica, Japanese Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus abramus and Brown Musk Shrew Suncus murinus. - Amphibians: Lau (unpublished data) recorded 5 species of amphibians at the bunds or water edges of gei wais in Deep Bay, including the Chinese Edible Frog Rana rugulosa which is protected in China (Rana tigrina rugulosa) (Romer 1979a; Karsen et. al. 1986) - Reptiles: Lau (unpublished data) also recorded 13 reptile species in and around gei wai in the Deep Bay area, including the Mangrove Water Snake Enhydris bennetti, Oriental Rat Snake Ptyas mucosus, Chinese Cobra Naja naja, King Corba Ophiophagus hannah and Burmese Python Python molurus. Also, there are occasional records of Chinese Soft-shelled Turtle (Lau, unpublished data). - Fish: Lee (1992) recorded a total of 38 fish species from the gei wais in Deep Bay during 1985 to 1989. Dominant fish species include the Tilapias Oreochromis nilotica and O. mossambicus which have the highest density and comprise 90% of the fish community in terms of numbers. - Invertebrates: The endangered Odonate (damselfly), Mortonagrion hirosei, has been recorded in the Mai Po reedbeds. This is a species specific to reedbeds that at present is otherwise known only from Japan (Reels 1994). Nearly 400 species of terrestrial invertebrates are found in the Mai Po reedbeds, with at least 4 species probably being previously undescribed (Reels 1994). - Butterflies and Moths: Mai Po is the type and only known locality for two moth species, Schrankia bilineata (Galsworthy 1997) and Thalassodes maipoensis (Galsworthy 1997). Mai Po also holds a number of moth species which are characteristic of mangrove and reedbed habitats including Chasmina candida, which in Hong Kong has only been recorded at the reserve so far (R. Kendrick, pers. comm. 1999).3. MangroveFlora: - The wetlands around Inner Deep Bay holds some 400 ha of inter-tidal mangroves which is the sixth largest protected area of mangroves in China (Fan 1994). The main species are Kandelia candel, Avicennia marina, Aegiceras corniculatum, Bruguiera conjugata, Exoecaria agallocha and Acanthus ilicifolus Fauna: - Reptile: The Mangrove Water Snake Enhydris bennetti is specially adapted to live in the mangrove. This species has a restricted global distribution and is found only along the coast of southern China between Hainan and Fujian Province (Zhao and Adler 1993). Deep Bay is the stronghold for this species within the territory (Romer 1979b, Lau and Melville 1992), and possibly in the region. The Burmese Python has also been found in mangroves in Deep Bay (A.J.Brandt pers comm.); this indicate this species may uses mangrove as a foraging ground or as a resting place. - Invertebrates: A literature survey of the marine invertebrate community (excluding insects) at Mai Po was made by Lee (1993). A total of 81 species were recorded, while 13 of which are previously undescribed, including the curstacean species Parasesarma Maiponensis. Dominant gastropod snail species include Irvadia bombayana (Peking University 1994). Crustacean species (crab) at the Mai Po Nature Reserve include Uca vocans, U. arcuata and U. acuta. 4. Intertidal MudflatFlora: Hodgkiss and Morton (1978) indicated the only higher plant on the open mudflat is the sea-grass Halophila baccarii which occurs on the seaward edge of the mangroves.Fauna: - Birds: The area regularly support large number of waterfowl in winter (over 68,000 recorded in mid-January 1997) and on migration (up to 20,000 - 30,000 shorebirds). - Mammals: The only known mammals to use the mudflats are Chinese Otter and Crab-eating Mongoose whose scats have been found in the habitat (Young pers. comm.). - Reptile: The only known reptile to inhabit the mudflat within the Ramsar Site is Mangrove Water Snake. - Fish: Mudskippers include Boleophthalmus pectinirostris and Scartelaos viridis dominant on the open mudflat, and the Periophthalmus cantonensis limited to areas near to the mangroves. - Invertebrates:The Shenzhen River Regulation Project EIA carried out by Peking University in 1994 recorded a total of 77 morphospecies, with the most dominant Nereid polychaete worms and bivalves. The polychaete worms biomass recorded is high when compared to other similar studies on mudflats elsewhere in the world. Peking University (1994) showed that their dominance is closely related to organic pollution. These polychaetes and also bivalves provide an important food source for birds.In the past, there were extensive oyster beds on the intertidal mudflat (e.g. at Pak Lai) of the Deep Bay area. Two species of oyster were cultured, namely Crassostrea gigas and C. rivularis (Young and Melville 1993).6. Freshwater MarshesFlora: Dominant species include Phragmites australis, Paspalum distichum and Eleocharis equisetina. There are also records of common sedges such as Cyperus malaccensis var. brevifolius, C. radiata, C. alternifolius and C. polystachyos.Fauna: - Mammals: Local rarities include Chinese Otter which have been recorded only at Mai Po and in the Deep Bay area. - Amphibians: Freshwater marshes are the most important breeding habitat for amphibians such as the local rarity Chinese Edible Frog.

Protection status 1. Mai Po Marshes Wildlife Education Centre and Nature Reserve Mai Po Marshes is part of the largest estuarine wetland and the only remaining significant piece of such habitats in Hong Kong. About 70% of the area of the marshes consist of tidal shrimp ponds (gei wai), each on average being 10 hectares in area. The other 30% of the area is mangrove. Since 15 September 1976, Mai Po Marshes was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance. Listing of an area as a SSSI did not confer any legal protection but its values would be considered in Government planning. The Mai Po Marshes (Register of SSSI, Planning Department, HKSAR Government 1993) are the only area in Hong Kong where large numbers of duck, shore and marsh birds can regularly been seen, and as such have a very considerable scientific and educational potential. The marshes contain the largest and most important area of dwarf mangrove in Hong Kong. This highly productive community and the related artificial Gei wais provide a rich food source for both resident and migratory birds, as well as nesting habitats for a number of species. Since 1981, the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap. 170, was amended so that all hunting of wild birds became totally prohibited in Hong Kong. World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong (WWFHK) initiated its Mai Po Marshes project in 1983. In 1984, WWFHK began active management of Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve for education and conservation of wildlife. In 1995, the wetland around Mai Po Marshes and Inner Deep Bay (1,500 ha) was formally designated as a Ramsar Site, under the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance. Inner Deep Bay was declared a restricted area in February 1996.2. Mai Po Village The Mai Po Village declared as SSSI because of the presence of a egretry (Register of SSSI, Planning Department, HKSAR Government 1993).3 Pak Lai Of ornithological interest. Area consists of sandspit which is used as a high tide roost site for gulls and herons in the Deep Bay area and is the only such site in Hong Kong. (Register of SSSI, Planning Department, HKSAR Government 1993). However, this area is no longer a egretry now (Young pers. comm.)4. Tsim Bei Tsui A mature mangrove community with rare species Bruguiera conjugata and the only habitat for snail Ellobium polita (Register of SSSI, Planning Department, HKSAR Government 1993).5. Inner Deep Bay The largest and most important mudflats for mangroves and feeding site for migratory birds (Register of SSSI, Planning Department, HKSAR Government 1993).6. Tsim Bei Tsui Egretry The egretry is important in Hong Kong as the nesting and breeding place for several hundred pairs of egrets and herons. (Register of SSSI, Planning Department, HKSAR Government 1993). Tsim Bei Tsui used to hold more than one egretry in or before 1995. However, it is now is no longer used as an egretry (Young & Cha 1995),

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