Friday, 9 December 2016

China: Yancheng NNR

A great day at Yancheng National Nature Reserve began at a small park on the edge of town where we waited patiently for some Japanese Waxwings to appear. Unfortunately they failed to materialise but we did score with an unexpected party of Silver-throated Bushtits, Northern Red-flanked Bluetail, Eye-browed and Dusky Thrushes, a flock of Chinese Grosbeaks, Yellow-browed and Pallas’s Leaf Warblers, several Japanese Tits, and a Northern Red-flanked Bluetail for some of us. It was just a shame the male Japanese Thrush that flew over us didn’t land. From here we drove back into the reserve and found more Red-crowned Cranes than yesterday in the fields alongside the main track. In fact there was so much activity with hundreds of Common Cranes flying in to land in the surrounding fields, with little groups of Red-crowned Cranes arriving all the time. 

Better views of Red-crowned Cranes today.

It was quite a spectacle watching flocks of Common Cranes flying over

More Red-crowned Cranes flew in...

What a spectacle this was, and add to this groups of Great Cormorants, Tundra Bean Geese and thousands of ducks it was a very impressive spectacle indeed. Tang Jun then found a rare Sandhill Crane amongst a group of Common Cranes, and this bird has migrated the wrong way and should be in the USA so was quite a sighting. 

We did walk a fair way this morning and headed to the first bridge before Derek and I trudged across a stubble field in the hopes of finding Japanese Quail. No such luck but our first spectacular Oriental Stork of the tour flew low, right over our heads. 

Our first Oriental Stork
And there was the first of many Little Buntings to be seen today, as well as Eurasian Bittern, Red-throated Pipit, Merlin and hundreds of Common Reed Buntings along the path. In fact we spent quite some time sifting through the buntings and picked up a Yellow-browed, several Rustics, Black-faced and a rare Yellow-breasted Bunting. We then drove back to the approach road and walked alongside a line of trees where I found another Sandhill Crane, but the walk is best remembered for the crippling Eye-browed and especially a confiding male Pale Thrush we had. And many more Little Buntings, and a surprising female Chestnut Bunting as well.

Eye-browed Thrush

Pale Thrush
After lunch we drove to the fishponds but there weren’t many ducks on the water and rather frustratingly we saw thousands flying off into the distance and dropping down into the closed area of the reserve, Despite this there was a fine drake Falcated Duck, as well as our first Northern Lapwings. So we decided to drive back to the small park and this turned out to be a good move as we had much better views of Red-flanked Bluetail than this morning, along with Olive-backed Pipit and at dusk hundreds (at least 700+) Dusky Thrushes were flying in to roost, which made for a very impressive spectacle.

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