Thursday, 21 May 2015

More Rarities at Wuyuan....

Left the hotel at 5.30am in a light drizzle and drove through the rural Jiangxi countryside for ten minutes before pulling up at the rustic Shimen Village. Walking down to the river, an inquisitive pair of Rufous-faced Warblers came out of a stand of bamboo to call back at us before we found a small feeding party of Courtois’s Laughingthrushes high in the canopy of some riverside trees. It was such a relief to get the main target bird so easily as the dark skies seemed to indicate that the threated weather forecast of heavy rain all day was going to come true. Fortunately this was not the case and after a few light showers the gods were kind to us and we enjoyed a rain-free morning’s birding. Once the laughingthrushes had moved out of sight we drove around to the other side of the river, stopping for a White-browed Laughingthrush that was singing from a telegraph wire. We parked the bus beside the start of the path to the island where the laughingthrushes breed  and enjoyed a nice field breakfast. A few birds were seen here including our first Chinese Hwamei, a pair of Dollarbirds, Chinese Pond-heron in fine breeding plumage, several Collared Finchbills, Chinese Blackbird and a pair of White-rumped Munias.

Courtois's Laughingthrush habitat

A short walk down to the island led us to the breeding site of Courtois’s Laughingthrushes and we spent a pleasant couple of hours observing the antics of many individuals, getting close views in the process and watched them feeding on the floor, scavenging in the canopy above and even watched a pair building a nest overhead. A real privilege indeed when you consider they were only refound in the year 2000 and that the world population is only around 250 individuals, and they are all in one small area near Wuyuan town. 

We spent quite a long time admiring Courtois's Laughingthrush

We also found a few other good birds here with pride of place going to a pair of Japanese Waxwings scoped at the top of a tall tree and a very exciting sighting indeed. There was also Grey-capped Pygmy, Great Spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Eurasian Jay, and Grey Treepie.

Leaving here we drove for half an hour to a secluded river, seeing Black Eagle along the way, followed a narrow trail and this turned out to be very productive as one of the first birds we had here was a fabulous little Short-tailed Parrotbill that showed very well at the edge of a stand of bamboo. Wow! Unfortunately no photos of this cracker, but it was a lifer for yours truly and a bird i've waited years to see...... Would have loved a photo though......

Continuing along the trail we had Rufous-capped Babbler, Yellow-bellied Prinia,  several Huet’s Fulvettas (a recent split from Grey-cheeked Fulvetta), some pretty decent views of Grey-sided Scimitar-babbler, Chestnut Bulbul, and a flyover Bay Woodpecker. So by now it was early afternoon and the showers were becoming more frequent and we decided to return to the bus for lunch – a good move as it turned out as just after we had arrived the heavens opened and it rained constantly for the rest of the day. We returned to the hotel in Wuyuan around 4pm and enjoyed some time off to rest and relax. 


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