Just a stone throw away from Lau Fau Shan, to the north of Tin Shui Wai New Town (天水圍) stands the 61-hectare Hong Kong Wetland Park (香港濕地公園). Created as an ecological mitigation area to compensate for the loss of wetland in the new town construction, the Wetland Park is doubled as a tourist attraction with facilities including recreated wetland reserve for waterbirds and other wildlife, boardwalk circuits over the mudflats to offer a close encounter with the wetland habitats, and a visitor centre hosting exhibitions on wetland’s biodiversity.
Known as the “Succession Walk”, an elevated winding boardwalk takes visitors out to the water pond to closely appreciate various types of aquatic plants.
Different types of waterlilies are some of the highlights of “Succession Walk”.
At “Wetland at Work”, visitors can learn more about the crops produced from wetlands, such as the rice from rice paddies.
Following the boardwalk deeper into the park, visitor arrives at the “Mangrove Boardwalk”.
At “Mangrove Boardwalk”, there is a good chance to have close encounter with some of the inhabitants of the wetland mudflats, such as the Bluespotted Mudskipper and Common Mudskipper.
Able to breathe through their skin, these amphibious fish are quite active on the mud, actively skipping around to defend their territories. Staying in mud burrows allow them to keep moist and maintain their body temperature.
Another type of common inhabitant at the mudflats is the Fiddler Crab. The male uses its small claw to feed and the big claw to defend.
Little Egret are common in Hong Kong, and can be seen in all seasons at the Wetland Park.
The boardwalk of Wildside Walk takes visitors to the far end of the park, where a few types of tranquil pools await both the visitors and dragonflies.
At some pools, algae completely covers the water like a soft green carpet.
The pattern on the algae looks like an abstract painting.
After a loop of the wetland reserve, one can return to the modernist Visitor Centre for further information. The building is one of the few in Hong Kong extensively using exposed architectural concrete.
The lobby where visitors arrive is always busy.
One of the exhibit highlights is Pui Pui, a Salt Water Crocodile caught at Shan Pui River in 2003 when it was a juvenile. It is believes that Pui Pui was an abandoned illegal pet from the area that had grown too big to handle. Hong Kong Wetland Park became Pui Pui’s permanent home in 2006.
Other wetland wildlife on display includes freshwater fish.
Looking out of the Visitor Centre, one can fully appreciate the extent of the wetland reserve, a common type of ecosystem that once dominated large areas of Northern New Territories.
The modernist concrete architecture matches well with the peaceful landscape of the wetlands.
It is pleasant to appreciate the serene wetlands from the upper level of the Visitor Centre before leaving.