Monday, 18 June 2018

South-east China - 3rd May (Day 13)

We spent all day birding the Dongzhai area, mainly in the nature reserve. We commenced the day in the Reeve's Phesasant hide at 06:00. Our walk to the hide produced three fly-over Asian Crested Ibis which were seen rather too briefly. Settling into the hide which cost 50 yuan per person, we watched the comings and goings of Vinous-breasted Parrotbill and White-rumped Munia and had an intimate window into the world of Oriental Turtle-dove which were feeding on the grain put out for the pheasants. Everything seemed very quiet and there was little to be seen. Then, at around 07:00 a stunning male Reeve's Pheasant wandered through the clearing in front of the hide, displayed a little and then disappeared back into the forest. The display consisted of the bird standing on top of a rock and flapping its wings loudly in a similar manner to Common Pheasant in the UK. The sound generated is fairly loud and at close range almost sounds like the thudding of a Chinook helicopter. What an amazing bird with a beautiful golden plumage, scaled black with a rich rufous breast spotted white, a black and white head pattern and a stunning 2m long tail.  Leaving the hide we birded down the track back to the vehicle getting brief views of a Mugimaki Flycatcher as it sung from the tree tops. We then headed to Linshang where Birdquest and others have seen Reeve's Pheasant and Fairy Pitta but the situation at the site seems to have changed with no access for our vehicle and only golf buggies ferrying people to a temple so we abandoned and headed back to the nature reserve where we birded a steep forested trail until lunchtime seeing relatively little but for Yellow-rumped Fycatcher, Yellow-browed WarblerYellow-bellied Tit, Japanese White-eye, Black-thoated Tit and Olive-backed Pipit. We headed back to the hotel for lunch and had our first siesta of the trip in the heat of the day.

Male Reeve's Pheasant - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Male Reeve's Pheasant - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Male Reeve's Pheasant - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Male Reeve's Pheasant - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Male Reeve's Pheasant - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Vinous-breasted Parrotbill - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Oriental Turtle-dove - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Demoiselle species - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Collared Crow in the rice paddies outside of Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Incense - Linshang

Siberian Weasel - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Speckled Piculet - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Fritillary species - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Apollo species - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Admiral species - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Admiral species - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Great Tit of subspecies artatus - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

After our siesta we birded a little outside the hotel where Azure-winged Magpie and Brown-rumped Minivet showed well. We then spent a little while driving the rice paddies outside of the reserve looking for Asian Crested Ibis but with no luck and so we headed back into the forest and back to the pheasant hide. We watched the love life of Oriental Turtle-dove from the hide but had no luck with the pheasant, we decided to leave by 16:00 to look for the final remaining target of the site - Fairy Pitta. We headed onto a branch of the trail that we had birded in the morning chasing a reported Fairy Pitta but we had no luck and saw little but for Oriental Scop's-owl in a pot erected for nesting birds and heard Reeve's Pheasant displaying very close by. We decided it was probably a little early in the year for the Fairy Pitta as the species is a migrant arriving in early May and we felt we were probably just a little too early for the bird. After dinner we did a little half hearted owling and we saw distant Northern Boobook and heard at least five others. After dinner we crashed at around 22:00 ready for our final few hours birding in the morning in this part of China.

Asian Azure-winged Magpie - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Black-throated Tit - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Brown-rumped Minivet - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Oriental Turtle-dove - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Blue Whistling-thrush - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

In the Reeve's Pheasant hide - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

In the Reeve's Pheasant hide - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

 Dongzhai Nature Reserve

 Dongzhai Nature Reserve

 Birding in the Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Oriental Scops-owl - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Song of Yellow-rumped Flycatcher - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

 Song of Western Koel - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Calls of flock of Brown-rumped Minivet - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Calls of Northern Boobook - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Amazing chorus of Cicada recorded at around midday - Dongzhai Nature Reserve

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Marsh Sandpiper - Pennington Marsh 10th June

While at our cottage in Cowley, Cheltenham with Trevor and Julie Codlin, news of a Marsh Sandpiper at Pennington Marsh broke as we were relaxing in the garden with a cup of tea. It was not long before Trevor and I hatched a plan to head down and see the bird. So, after tidying the house, loading the cars and saying our farewells to wife's we set off on the two hour drive. The drive went well although, as was expected, it was slow going when we reached the New Forest. Parking in the carpark at Lower Pennington Lane, it was not long before Trevor and I were enjoying good views of this adult summer bird as it fed daintly on the pools to the rear of Fishtail Lagoon. While scope views were good there was a lot of heat haze and my photographs are fairly rubbish. Also here were four Avocet, three Spoonbill, Peregrine and nine Eider. The Marsh Sandpiper was last reported at 21:00, come the 11th June the bird had departed.

There are 140 accepted British records of Marsh Sandpiper and four Hampshire records as follows:
  • 28th July 2006 - Farlington Marshes
  • 28th July to 4th August 1983 - Pennington Marshes
  • 5th to 11th July 1977 - Farlington Marshes
  • 27th to 28th June 1976 - Farlington Marshes

Marsh Sandpiper - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Marsh Sandpiper - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Marsh Sandpiper - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Marsh Sandpiper - Pennington Marsh, Hampshire

Fishtail Lagoon, Pennington Marsh - The Marsh Sandpiper was feeding on the small pool at the rear of the main lagoon

Cotswold Weekend - 9th and 10th June

We spent the weekend at our cottage in Cowley in the Cotswolds with our good friends Trevor and Julie Codlin. Trevor and I ran the moth trap on both Friday and Saturday night recording a good range of spring and early summer species. On Sunday we headed out looking for butterflies. First we visited Daneway Banks Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Reserve where we had reasonable views of recently emerged Large Blue. Speaking to a chap who we met at the reserve who worked on the Large Blue Recovery Project it would appear that the peak count of Large Blue at this site has been 63, we were perhaps a week or two early for such large numbers.

Large Blue - Daneway Banks GWT Reserve

Large Blue - Daneway Banks GWT Reserve

Common Blue - Daneway Banks GWT Reserve

Daneway Banks GWT Reserve - We found our first Large Blue in the far area of grassland in this image

We then headed for Three Groves Wood GWT Reserve only a few miles away but it seemed like an eternity as we weaved through the narrow Cotswold Lanes. The main target here was Marsh Fritillary and we soon found up to 13 of these beautiful insects as they fed on the numerous yellow composites flowering in the grassland.


Marsh Fritillary - Grove Wood GWT Nature Reserve

Marsh Fritillary - Grove Wood GWT Nature Reserve

Lesser Butterfly Orchid - Grove Wood GWT Nature Reserve

Lesser Butterfly Orchid - Grove Wood GWT Nature Reserve

Ghost Swift - Cowley, Cheltenham

Clay Triple-lines- Cowley, Cheltenham

Ingrailed Clay- Cowley, Cheltenham

Grass Rivulet - Cowley, Cheltenham

Pale Tussock - Cowley, Cheltenham

Small Angle Shades - Cowley, Cheltenham

Reddish Light Arches - Cowley, Cheltenham

Shoulder-striped Wainscot - Cowley, Cheltenham

Buff Ermine showing variation in colour and markings - Cowley, Cheltenham

Dot Moth- Cowley, Cheltenham

Iron Prominent - Cowley, Cheltenham

Iron Prominent - Cowley, Cheltenham

Green Silver-lines - Cowley, Cheltenham