Saturday, 19 May 2012

Mi Jiang Estuary

Another short internal flight took us to Fuzhou where we arrived early afternoon and drove the short distance to the coast, where we donned wellington boots once again upon reaching a coastal tidal creek. Here a boatman took us a few kilometres along the channel to the edge of the Minjiang Estuary, where we set about searching for the exceedingly rare Chinese Crested Tern. This is undoubtedly one of the best places to find this bird, as a few individuals regularly roost and feed here before returning to their nesting islands some 30kms away. With viewing conditions hampered by the sea mist that is often present here, this wasn’t an easy search but at least 40 Great Crested Terns patrolling the coast and landing at the water’s edge on several occasions kept our hopes high. The incoming tide necessitated a hasty walk up the coast before we had to return across a deeper channel in the middle of the estuary, but on at least two occasions we had views of flyby Chinese Crested Terns to get our pulses racing. They were easy to pick out, being much paler and almost white on the upperparts compared to the Great Crested Terns, with long bills and a quick view in the scope revealed the all-important dark tip to the bill. Plenty of other waders were here and most giving close views including Far Eastern Curlew, Great Knot and Grey-tailed Tattler, along with over 70 Terek Sandpipers and large gatherings of Red-necked Stints. Unfortunately, with high tide at 4.00pm it didn’t give us long to scan the tideline as the water retreated before the light began to fade and we had to return to our waiting vehicles. As we left both Arctic and Dusky Warbler were found amidst some driftwood on the beach. 

Arctic Warbler

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