Wednesday, 16 May 2012

SE China Day 2

Early this morning we headed towards Magic Forest and birded along the tree-lined road, which had attracted a large fall of mainly warblers and flycatchers overnight. Indeed everywhere we looked Asian Brown and Grey-streaked Flycatchers were flitting amongst the green canopy, with smaller numbers of Mugimaki and surprisingly several Narcissus Flycatchers as well. 

Narcissus Flycatcher

 A Dark-sided Flycatcher was a welcome find a little later, and we also picked out our first Claudia's Warbler amongst the more numerous Eastern Crowned and Yellow-browed Warblers, as well as several Oriental Turtle-doves and Olive-backed Pipits as well. A Manchurian Bush-warbler was singing from an exposed perch and we enjoyed several minutes of fine views. A few Eye-browed Thrushes perched up nicely for us. but a Pale Thrush was only present briefly. 

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Manchurian (Korean) Bush-warbler

 As the day warmed up we headed back for breakfast before driving out to the coast where we donned our recently purchased kaki-coloured wellington boots and walked out onto the mudflats where we had an hour to find Spoon-billed Sandpiper before the high tide covered the exposed mud. 

Looking for Waders!

The mudflats were teeming with shorebirds and we began with Grey and Pacific Golden Plovers, summer-plumaged Greater Sandplover and Curlew Sandpipers along with many fine Dunlin as well. Overhead, majestic Saunder’s Gulls passed close by and we scoped a few which landed nearby. But our attention was drawn to the hundreds of lovely Red-necked Stints who were feeding avidly but were also very skittish as the tide approached rapidly. Rather frustratingly Menxiu found a roosting spoonie which refused to show its all-important bill before suddenly flying off, leaving us all a little downhearted. So we headed back along the coast, finding Broad-billed Sandpiper and a flock of 6 Black-faced and single Eurasian Spoonbill, and plenty more shorebirds but still no spoonies. So our next port of call was at the high-tide roost where we walked out onto the mudflat and waited for quite some time in the hot sun. Eventually  hundreds of birds descended after being disturbed by a passing digger and we set about the tricky task of nailing a spoonie in the suddenly increasing heat haze. A few near misses followed when a bird was found only to disappear before everyone could get on it but eventually we had a superb breeding-plumaged Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the scope and we could enjoy the moment at last. Then another was found, and another and before we knew it at least 5 individuals were found – all in various stages of plumage. What a bird this is and despite its incredible rarity value it is also a stunner! 

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

 But there was plenty else to keep us occupied with both Greater and Lesser Sandplovers standing out from the hordes of stints and Dunlin. It was a decent photo opportunity and we spent the rest of the morning admiring the commotion and activity at relatively close quarters. 

After lunch and a short siesta we headed back to the Magic Forest area in high spirits as Menxiu had just received a phone call with the hot news that his friend was watching a male Japanese Paradise-flycatcher right at that moment and as we were only ten minutes away we dived over to the spot with fingers crossed. Surely it would move on before we arrived, as anyone knows its madness to chase other people’s birds during spring migration right? How wrong can you be and as we pulled up Menxiu’s friend pointed into the canopy above us and wham! Can you believe a stunning long-tailed vision of beauty was looking down at us! What a bird and one to set our pulses racing for sure and it certainly warranted an intensive grilling and suitably lengthy period of observation. 

Japanese Paradise-flycatcher

 But there had obviously been another minor fall this afternoon as this section of forest was teeming with even more birds than this morning. So we set off along the road and soon notched up our first Grey-capped Woodpecker, Swinhoe’s and Ashy Minivets, Chestnut Buntings, Eurasian Wryneck, Eastern Great Tit, Dusky, Arctic and Pale-legged Leaf-warblers, Black-naped Oriole and Azure-winged Magpie along with the other phylloscs and flycatchers seen earlier. Some nearby fishponds were then checked for any lingering dowitchers, but we only found lots of  Long-toed Stints and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers amongst the regular waders. But close Saunder’s Gulls were nice, although a few White-cheeked and Daurian Starlings and Pallas’s Reed Buntings were even better! Then we found a Pechora Pipit, whilst Black-browed and Oriental Reed-warblers, Reed Parrotbill and Common Rosefinch were also found. As if things couldn't get any better we checked out the 'new' Magic Forest, a small area of isolated trees and scrub and immediately had eyeball popping views of a Rufous-tailed Robin perched out in the open a foot above the ground where it remained for 20 mins or so! With a flock of Japanese White-eyes and an excellent Northern Boobook staring down at us we found it hard to tear ourselves away in the gathering gloom.

Saunder's Gull

Saunder's Gull

Daurian Starling

Northern Boobook

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