Lam Chiu Ying

林超英

Lam Chiu Ying

Former Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
Interests: Birds, roadside plants

Wild weeds aren’t just weeds – they have a name!

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Lam Chiu Ying has always prided himself of being naturally ambitious. He’s willing to try everything once: “A naturalist? I’m really more a nature hoarder!” Years ago, while on a quest to find hobbies after work, he decided to take up courses on a variety of topics. One of these courses, taught by former Chairman of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) Michael Webster, was on bird watching. This course opened a new chapter for Lam, who found his life-long interest. In 1976, he joined HKBWS, a community that seemed at that time exclusive to Westerners. Years later, he translated the Chinese edition of The Birds of Hong Kong and South China, published in 1994, which is still regarded as the “bible” for local birders today. Lam went on to become the Chairman of the HKBWS from 1997 to 2004.

In 2014, Lam began taking an interest in roadside plants. Observing a wide variety and beautiful flowers sprouting from these “wild weeds”, he bought the Handbook on Hong Kong Plants to further his interest. In effort to conserve and allow for the plants on a roadside slope near his home to grow naturally, he wrote to the Highways Department to petition for a reduction on grass cutting in his neighbourhood, which was finally accepted after many tries. "My only contribution to roadside plant conservation in Hong Kong for now, " he says. Today, Lam shares on his social media daily to introduce a plant a day to his followers, with over 700 posts on roadside plants to date. There is a difference between how amateurs and taxonomists observe animals and plants, he notes. Whereas Handbook on Hong Kong Plants uses scientific data to describe flowers and plants, such as details of the length of leaves and width of petals, Lam tries to keep his posts concise and easy to understand, sharing only the unique characteristics of each species. It is in his hopes that, in the future, these posts can be compiled into a website, available to the public for free.

前香港天文台台長
生態愛好:雀鳥、路邊花草

「雜草」不是雜草,它們都有名字!

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林超英以「搏」形容自己的性格,甚麼都想試:「與其說我是博物學家,不如說我是『搏』物學家!」當年為找工餘興趣,參加過許多課程,時任香港觀鳥會主席Michael Webster所教的觀鳥課程是其一,令觀鳥成為他的終身興趣。1976年加入了幾乎只有西方人的香港觀鳥會。1994年,由他翻譯的《香港華南鳥類》中文版出版,至今仍是本地觀鳥者的「聖經」。他亦曾於1997至2004年期間擔任香港觀鳥會主席。

2014年,他開始觀察路邊花草,發現「雜草」有很多品種,開的花都很漂亮,遂買了本《香港植物檢索手冊》開展新興趣。為了長在他家附近斜坡上的花草能自然生長,他多次去信路政署請求減少剪草,建議終獲接納,「暫時是我在花草保育的唯一貢獻」。他現在每日於社交平台撰寫〈一日一花〉介紹路邊花草,至今已逾700篇。他指普通人觀察動植物與分類學家角度有別,例如《香港植物檢索手冊》多用數據形容花草,如葉有多長、花瓣有多寬等;他則會盡量寫得精簡,集中花草的辨別特徵。他希望未來可以將圖文合輯成網站,讓公眾免費查閱。