Wednesday, 16 May 2012

SE China Tour Day 1

 Apologies for no recent posts, but The Great Fire Wall of China prevented any posts whilst on tour.

Following a morning arrival at Shanghai Airport the group met up after some had flown from UK and others had spent a day or two before the tour started in the city. We then headed the short distance to the coast and stopped along the road which transects a huge reedbed. In no time at all the first of our two key target species appeared, when a pair of superb Reed Parrotbills appeared, although frustratingly didn’t linger. But we didn’t have to worry as over the course of the next hour we were treated to repeated views of several birds darting around the reeds, and on a couple of occasions they appeared alongside the road right next to us. The other key bird here is Marsh Grassbird and initially all we had were rather distant views of individuals song flighting high in the air before plummeting down to an invisible perch in the dense reeds. Again our patience was rewarded with decent scope views when one bird remained on top of a reed stem for quite some time and began singing. 

Reed Parrotbill

There were lots of other birds here with an Amur Falcon and Japanese Sparrowhawk flying by, Chinese Pond-heron, Purple Heron, at least 7 Great Bitterns flying around and a couple of Pacific Swifts. Our scrutiny of the area also revealed a Manchurian (Korean) Bush-warbler skulking alongside the road, several Oriental Reed-warblers, Vinous-throated Parrotbills nest-building, brief Siberian Rubythroat and a few Black-faced Buntings

Great Bittern

 Leaving here we drove along the coast road and found a small party of roosting waders on the rocks which turned out to be 7 Terek Sandpipers, a couple of Common Greenshanks and 2 Grey-tailed Tattlers. Just inland are numerous fish ponds and marshes which were teeming with shorebirds, with Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Long-toed Stints particularly numerous. Our first wader session to look at these beauties also resulted in Marsh, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilts and Common Redshank. Some movement on the scrub-covered bank led us to the first of two fine Pechora Pipits and Derek spotted a distant Red-throated Pipit as well.  Further along this road we enjoyed incredible views of all these waders again, along with a flock of breeding-plumaged Red-necked Stints, Pied Avocet, probable Swinhoe’s Snipe and Eastern Black-tailed Godwit as well, along with two races of Eastern Yellow Wagtail and a very bright Citrine Wagtail. Best of all was the Little Curlew we scoped in a ploughed field some distance from the road which was associating with some Common Whimbrels showing the size and structure differences nicely, and a few Oriental Pratincoles flying around were only a minor distraction! 

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Long-toed Stint & Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Long-toed Stint & Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Swinhoe's Snipe

After a huge lunch at a nearby restaurant we headed back to the coastal road and checked out a small wooded area which held a couple of Eastern Crowned Warblers before spending the rest of the day at a more wooded area where a gaggle of Chinese photographers pointed the way to a superb Narcissus Flycatcher. This area was very good and also held Long-tailed Shrike, several Mugimaki and Asian Brown FlycatchersYellow-browed and Pale-legged Leaf-warblers and just before we left a Chinese Grosbeak flew in and landed above us. What a first day! All that remained was the tedious drive to Rudong, some 4 hours away and a late supper.

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