Thursday, 17 May 2012


We drove through the rural Wuyuan countryside to a quiet little village alongside a river and walked across some fields where both White-browed and Masked Laughingthrushes were present. Moving on to a secluded little valley we birded beside a patch a Bamboo for a few hours, and almost immediately a Grey-sided Scimitar-babbler began calling from the densely vegetated slope above us. It took quite a while but eventually we had decent and tickable views of a pair as they repeatedly circled us, crossing the path nearby on numerous occasions and alighting briefly on one or two favoured perches. Then a cracking male Fork-tailed Sunbird flew in and perched nearby, whilst several flocks of David’s Fulvettas passed by, and amidst one such flock a Grey-headed Parrotbill made the first of two appearances here this morning. 

Fork-tailed Sunbird

Other birds seen included Chinese Pond-heron, Grey-headed Lapwing, Crested Serpent-eagle, Dollarbird and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush. By mid-morning it was really quite hot so we retraced our route to the river and after a bit of a search found a Long-billed Plover on a shingle bank. 

Long-billed Plover

Our next stop was beside another river to view some distant Blue-throated Bee-eaters before arriving at a patch of tall woodland beside another village where in no time at all we were watching numerous Courtois’s Laughingthrushes in the canopy above us. There were maybe 50 or so birds present, many of which seemed to be nest-building high overhead or moving around the wood in roving flocks. At one stage several birds came quite low and began feeding on a bare trunk allowing incredibly great views. Hardly any western birders have made the pilgrimage to see this very rare species since it’s rediscovery in 2000, really quite a shame as it is a stunningly beautiful bird. 

Courtois's Laughingthrush

Courtois's Laughingthrush

The same patch of woodland also held Great Spotted and Grey-capped Woodpeckers, Chinese Blackbird, Ashy Drongo and Grey Treepie as well. Leaving here we headed to a restaurant for a fine lunch, stopping to see a Brown Crake catch a mouse in some roadside ricefields (!) and whilst it was being prepared we walked up to the roof and had very close views of a pair of Pied Falconets which were nesting in a hole in a large tree nearby. 

Pied Falconet

We watched the birds catching dragonflies and butterflies and bringing their catch to the hole. It really was quite a show and so great to be able to watch these birds more or less at eye-level as they perched in the surrounding treetops. The afternoon session commenced alongside a river where a Brown-breasted Bulbul was perched on a telegraph wire. As we watched this a Chinese Hwamei began singing and was lured onto the same wires giving superb views in the scope, and a Crested Kingfisher also flew by and landed. Then amidst an area of rice fields where a couple of Russet Sparrows and several Red-billed Starlings were present, and at the next site just along the road a short distance an Asian Barred Owlet gave brief views. We ended the day back at the Courtois’s Laughingthrush wood where we enjoyed seconds of these great birds, along with a Grey-headed Woodpecker, Japanese Grosbeak and some flyover White-throated Needletails.

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