Sunday, 17 May 2015

Wader Heaven....

Well a lot of things had moved out of Temple Wood overnight, but the good news was that a superb male Siberian Thrush was new in and what a cracker it was too! We enjoyed repeated great views during our time here and got really side-tracked enjoying this beauty. 

This male Siberian Thrush was the star bird of the morning

Siberian Thrush

The Rufous-tailed Robin was still here, and a Siberian Rubythroat showed to a few of the group. There was also at least 2 Hume’s Warblers, male Yellow-rumped and Narcissus Flycatchers, Eastern Crowned and Pale-legged Leaf Warblers, Chinese Grosbeaks, 2 Eye-browed Thrushes and various other ‘bits and pieces’.

Narcissus Flycatcher

After a picnic breakfast we paid a short visit to Magic Wood and walked along the public road here, which resulted in a brief Two-barred Warbler and an Oriental Scops-Owl

Magic Wood

We had to curtail our visit as we needed to head off in plenty of time for high tide at Dongtai, around 40kms north along the coast. But walking back to the bus I heard a Siberian Rubythroat call and with a little effort we enjoyed prolonged views of a superb male singing right out in the open. Wow! I never get tired of seeing this cracker.

Siberian Rubythroat showed very well this morning..

So we drove up to the coastal wader mecca of Dongtai, as yesterday a count had been made of 34 Spoon-billed Sandpipers, a bird very high on most of the group’s wish-list. Well upon arrival the tide was way out and we had around 3 hours to wait for high-tide, so explored the area along the road. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many Saunders’s Gulls here and we had terrific views throughout the day of many, many individuals. 

Saunders's Gull

A Chestnut-eared Bunting took a little digging out along the embankment and eventually eluded us, but a female Black-faced Bunting was seen during the search. A good bit of scope work resulted in distant males of both Pied and Eastern Marsh Harriers quartering the grassland. We drove closer for better views and then had lunch.

The search for Spoonie begins....

By now the tide was coming in quite quickly so we donned the dreaded ‘wellies’ and walked out across the mudflats towards the shoreline and after a bit of phaffing around and a long, tiring walk eventually managed to get close enough to begin the search for Spoonie. With a high wind and bad heat haze it was very tricky and only Gary and Michael, who had separated from the rest of us, managed to find a Spoonie initially. It was all very frustrating really and we were continually back-peddling as the water was rising quickly. There were lots of shorebirds and all in fine breeding-plumage such as Great Knot, Dunlin, Lesser Sandplovers, Red-necked Stints, and a few Oystercatchers of the scarce eastern race…

Eurasian Oystercatcher

Another Saunders's Gull

Spot the Nordman's Greenshanks....

Once we had returned to the seawall and the shorebirds and flown off inland we drove back along the seawall road and found a large gathering of waders with 9 Nordmann’s Greenshanks present. Must admit it was a relief to nail one of the ‘big three’ and the views were pretty good. In this flock were lots of breeding-plumage Bar-tailed Godwits, Terek Sandpipers, Lesser Sandplovers, Red and Great Knots, and Curlew Sandpipers. In fact we spent quite a while watching this group before the tide reached its highest point here. So we then drove back and walked down to the lagoon on the landward side of the seawall in a continuing search for Spoonie. A large flock of waders were present but out of reach and roosting on a sandy area that was cut-off to us by a deep channel, so we had to content ourselves with some closer Terek Sandpipers, in fact there were around 50+ of them here.

Terek Sandpipers were very common here

Once the waders began flying back out onto the mudflats as the tide receded we walked out once more and yomped towards the by now distant shoreline. Loads of birds were avidly feeding and after we had walked maybe just over half a kilometre out we began scanning. After quite a long time and a bit of repositioning a superb summer-plumaged Spoon-billed Sandpiper was found and we scoped the little beauty for a while. Frustratingly the group of Red-necked Stints it was with flew off, along with it, and we had to walk further out to find another one. Well it didn’t take too long and another individual was found, and this time we had prolonged views as it fed on the mudflats. The feeling of relief was palpable and after high-fives and quite some time with the spoony we returned to the bus rather elated.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - the very left-hand bird..... Honest!

But we weren’t done yet and walked along the road bordered by trees either side and scored with Asian Stubtail and Northern Boobook after good work by Gary and Michael ‘going in’. What a day!

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