Thursday, 8 December 2016

China Wetlands (Birdquest) Tour - 12th November (Day 9)

After a wet night we started our birding just outside of Nancheng at Nanxinxiang looking for Brown Crake. The site was a wide and well vegetated channel and after a little tape playing we had excellent views of a pair of birds feeding along the waters edge.
 
Brown Crake - Nanxinxiang, Nancheng

Brown Crake - Nanxinxiang, Nancheng

Brown Crake - Nanxinxiang, Nancheng

We then headed north-east to the shores of Paying lake and the Nanjishan Wetland Reserve. On the way I spotted three Siberian Crane from the bus in fields to the north of Shanzizhou.  After a hurried stop we had good views of two adults and a juvenile that were soon joined by another family party of two adult and a juvenile. Fantastic birds, rather primitive looking and with very large bills and small red face patches, the combination of which gave the bill a ‘stuck-on’ appearance.

Siberian Crane - Shanzizhou, Nancheng

Siberian Crane - Shanzizhou, Nancheng

Siberian Crane - Shanzizhou, Nancheng

Siberian Crane - Shanzizhou, Nancheng

Siberian Crane - Shanzizhou, Nancheng

Siberian Crane, the only shot I got of all six birds together - Shanzizhou, Nancheng


We then birded the wetlands around the Poyang Lake edge at Nanjishan Wetland Reserve. Poyang Lake is the largest freshwater lake in China the basin area measuring some 0.16 million square kilometres, although we didn’t see the actual lake! The birding was excellent with a high number of birds. Eurasian Bittern was incredibly abundant and we had excellent views of brids feeding by the roadside, in total we probably saw more than 50 birds. On the water we recorded Tundra Bean Goose and Taiga Bean Geese (of the race middendorffii) in high numbers, the Taiga distinct with their pale swan like necks and long sloping bill while the Tundra are short necked with dark brown feathering and short bill with a steep curved forehead. Other birds on the lakes included Swan Goose, Greylag Goose, Bewick’s Swan, Pochard, Spoonbill, Marsh Sandpiper, Whiskered Tern and Spotted Redshank. While in the vegetation we recorded Yellow Bittern, Purple Heron, Plain Prinia, Zitting Cisticola, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Penduline Tit and Black-faced Bunting. Lunch was at a small restaurant in a tourist trap town, the scene as we walked in was one of utter carnage with food spread everywhere and dogs under the table cleaning up – it was an experience.

Eurasian Bittern - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Eurasian Bittern - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Eurasian Bittern - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Eurasian Bittern - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Oriental Skylark, a bit of a rubbish photograph of a song flighting birds but it shows two diagnostic features that help separate it from Eurasian Skylark, the buff trailing edge to the wing and the tail held closed when in song flight- Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Mixed Geese (Tundra Bean Goose, Taiga Bean Goose, Swan Goose, Greylag goose and Greater White-fronted Goose) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Taiga (of race middendorffii) and Tundra Bean Goose, the Taiga are the rear row of birds and the Tundra the front row. The former are distinctive (even in this long range photograph) in their long swan like necks, long sloping foreheads and paler appearance - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Purple Heron (juvenile of race manilensis) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Purple Heron (juvenile of race manilensis) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Purple Heron (adult of race manilensis) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Long-tailed Shrike - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

White-throated Kingfisher - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Red-throated Pipit - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Amur Falcon (female) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Amur Falcon (male and juvenile) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Amur Falcon (juvenile) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Amur Falcon (juvenile) - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Zitting Cisticola of race tinnabulans - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Black-browed Reed Warbler - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Black-browed Reed Warbler - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

Black-browed Reed Warbler - Nanjishan Wetland Reserve, Poyang Lake

We birded the lake from 10:00 until 16:00 and then headed the three to four hours to Wu Cheng National Reserve at Poyang Hu and checked into the Xinyue Hotel.

Life Birds;
  • Brown Crake
  • Siberian Crane
  • Plain Prinia

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

China Wetlands (Birdquest) Tour - 11th November (Day 8)

Wuyuan turned out to be a party town and despite the most comfortable bed of the trip at the Huayi Hotel sleep was interrupted by blaring horns and shouting right through the night. Breakfast was of Dim Sum and noodles with coffee in a small restaurant at 06:00 and by 07:00 we were in the field. Our first stop was in the small village of Kengkou where we wandered onto the bridge over the River Xiu. It was fairly misty and visibility was no more than 500m but fairly quickly we picked up two female Scaly-sided Merganser feeding in the rapids on the river, they were fairly distant and views were not great. A small group of Masked Laughing-thrush responded well to the tape and came in close to the bridge showing their black masks well. Next we picked up three Long-billed Plover feeding on one of the shingle islands on the river, reminiscent of a large Little-ringed Plover with a less prominent eye-ring and a long bill. Next we found four buntings feeding beneath the bridge, these consisted of two Black-faced Bunting and two Yellow-browed Bunting. Other birds we recorded here included Red-billed Starling, Red-billed Blue-magpie, Common Kingfisher, Plumbeous Water-redstart and Oriental Magpie Robin.

Yellow-browed Bunting - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Yellow-browed Bunting - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Red-billed Blue-magpie - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Red-billed Blue-magpie - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Long-tailed Shrike - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Oriental Magpie-robin - Kengkou, Wuyuan

We then wandered through the small town of white-washed buildings, narrow streets and locals gathering to grind sweet potatoes. A trail extended out of the village and followed the river passing through crop field of cabbage, pat-choy and corn before passing into an area of short woodland and scrub with an abundance of bamboo. Collared Finchbill, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Rufous-capped Babbler showed well while Olive-backed Pipit were abundant. We quickly bumped into our first mixed species flock which was led by Grey-sided Fulvetta (a possible split as Huet’s Fulvertta) and also contained Red-billed LeiothrixGrey-sided Babbler and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler. A short way along the trail a male Silver Pheasant was on the trail but quickly flushed on our approach. And then a Moustached Laughing Thrush which showed well along the tril, this species was a bit of a surprise species as it should be higher than the current site. We spent around two hours in this woodland, birding was quite tough going as the vegetation was thick right up to the trail but was very enjoyable, we also recorded Greater/Lesser Necklaced LaughingthrushCrested GoshawkRufous-capped BabblerChestnut BulbulTristram’s Bunting and Japanese White-eye (fly-over birds).

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler -  Kengkou, Wuyuan

Perny's Squirrel - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Moustached Laughingthrush -  Kengkou, Wuyuan

Grey-sided Fulvetta (possible split as Huet's Fulvetta) -  Kengkou, Wuyuan

The forests at Kengkou, Wuyuan

Darter species - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Collared Finchbill  - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Maritime Striped Squirrel - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Long-tailed Shrike - Kengkou, Wuyuan

 Kengkou, Wuyuan

Kengkou, Wuyuan


Yam Market - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Yam Market - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Kengkou, Wuyuan

Yam Market - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Lady at Yam Market - Kengkou, Wuyuan

After the forest we returned to the bridge for better views of the Scaly-sided Merganser and picked up five very distant birds, a male and four females. After speaking to the driver we headed along a paved road running parallel to the river to try to get closer. We drove around 1km and then walked the final 300 or 400m along a trail through the scrub to come to a small view point overlooking the river. The merganser’s were still around 300m away but as we watched they eventually made their way up river and past us showing very well. There were in total 12 birds, three males and nine females. The males stunning with green heads, double spikey crest and a bright red bill tipped yellow.


River Xiu - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Scaly-sided Merganser - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Scaly-sided Merganser - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Scaly-sided Merganser - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Scaly-sided Merganser - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Scaly-sided Merganser - Kengkou, Wuyuan

Satisfied we returned to the car and drove 45 minutes to Xiao Qi arriving at 13:55 here we quickly found our target, the diminutive Pied Falconet, a family party of six. These were visible from the roof of a restaurant and after enjoying good views we had lunch with a celebratory beer and began our journey south-west to Nanchang at 15:15. The journey took around four hours and we passed through wooded hills and open rice paddies before arriving in the town at 19:00. We stayed in the fabulously named Galactic Peace International Hotel in Nancheng.

Pied Falconet - Xiao Qi 

Pied Falconet - Xiao Qi 

Pied Falconet - Xiao Qi 

Pied Falconet view point - Xiao Qi 

Chrysanthmum for making tea - Xiao Qi

Xiao Qi

Xiao Qi

Life Birds;
  • Scaly-sided Merganser
  • Silver Pheasant
  • Pied Falconet
  • Collared Finchbill
  • Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler
  • Masked Laughingthrush
  • Grey-sided Laughingthrush
  • Moustached Laughingthrush
  • Red-billed Leiothrix
  • Red-billed Starling
  • Tristram’s Bunting
  • Yellow-browed Bunting