We had a ten hour direct, overnight flight with Virgin Atlantic and landed just over half an hour late in Shanghai at 8.30am and met up with our guide and my good friend Tang Jun. We then drove north towards Rudong and kept on going for another 50kms further up the coast… A quick stop for our first meal in China was made and then we were off again and driving to the coast where we discovered that the tide was already receding. Everyone was out from the bus quickly and we were all scanning the shorebirds feeding below us. After a few minutes we found a Spoon-billed Sandpiper, the main bird we had come to see at this site.
After a few frantic directions our scopes were trained on the bird and not one but two spoonies. This is such a star bird and even though I see them every year, the thrill is always there. And if it’s a lifer for you, well what better way to start a tour than this. We spent quite some time watching them, before getting distracted by a few Black-faced Spoonbills, before going down the slippery path of gull identification. We had both Vega and Heuglin’s Gulls side-by-side but the lure of more shorebirds was rather compelling. There were a few Red-necked Stints and plenty of commoner waders, but the 15 Dalmatian Pelicans were something of a surprise to say the least.
So from here we drove on along the coastal road, stopping frequently to scan through flocks of ducks in the lagoon. The star birds were the Falcated Ducks amongst scores of more familiar waterfowl, but we also saw Black-necked Grebe, Greater Scaup and Eastern Spot-billed Duck as well. The light was poor by now and the grey, leaden skies cast a grey cast over everything but at our last stop our spirits were lifted by firstly a Dusky Thrush, which was joined a short while later by a Pale Thrush. And that was the end of the day as the deteriorating light stopped us scanning through a large flock of Eurasian Curlew for something better. So with it getting too dark to continue birding at 5pm we headed to a nearby hotel for the night. We'd originally been booked at a hotel near Yancheng but that was still another 3 - 4 hours drive away, but thanks to Tang Jun we were able to switch to this great hotel, just 30 minutes away.