Tuesday, 8 November 2016

China Wetlands (Birdquest) Tour - 8th November (Day 5)

After heavy rain for much of the night we woke to a dry but very windy morning, after a 06:00 breakfast we headed out into the field to the fish ponds south of Qingyanggang, Yancheng from 07:00-11:20. The weather was bitterly cold and I had certainly underdressed for the conditions. We spent all morning scanning from various locations around the fish ponds. The site was an expansive area of reedbeds, fish rearing saline lagoons and canals and in places was a little reminiscent of the North Norfolk coastal areas – but with a far more industrial feel. There were incredibly numbers of duck present. Commonest were Mallard, Gadwall, Chinese Spot-billed Duck and Falcated Duck with probably over one thousand of each present, with hundreds of Pintail and Wigeon. There were also tens each of Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goosander, Eurasian Teal, Mandarin Duck, Shoveler and Red-breasted Merganser. But the prize amongst this spectacle was Baikal Teal and we eventually found around 50 distant birds mixed with a vast flock of mainly Mallard and Pintail and then, nearby, a much closer male with Chinese Spot-billed Duck, Mallard and Pintail. Other highlights of the morning included Eastern Marsh Harrier, Osprey, a roost of at least 150 Black-crowned Night-heron in the reedbeds, Oriental Stork (five), Red-crowned Crane (two), Purple Heron, Tundra Bean Goose (40) and Caspian Tern. Gull watching produced around 30 Arctic Herring Gull of the race mongolicus which is sometimes split as Mongolian Herring Gull plus a single 1st winter Black-tailed Gull. While the birding was great, I was pleased to return to the hotel for lunch just so I could put a few more layers on!


Pallas's Bunting, male - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng


White Wagtail of subspecies leucopsis (1st winter male) - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

White Wagtail of subspecies leucopsis (1st winter male) - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Arctic Herring Gull of race mongolicus (from left to right, adult winter 2nd winter and first winter) - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Arctic Herring Gull of race mongolicus (first winter) - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Mixed ducks, mainly Gadwall and Falcated Duck - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Mixed duck, mainly Mallard and Pintail with Eurasian Teal and Baikal Teal
 - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Baikal Teal - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Daurian Redstart - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Common Crane (two adult and two juvenile) - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Eurasian Spoonbill - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Eurasian Spoonbill - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

White-cheeked Starling - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Oriental Story - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Oriental Story - Qingyanggang Fish Ponds, Yancheng

Fish Market - Qingyanggang, Yancheng

After lunch we birded the gardens of the Agricultural Institute and some forest on the edge of Qingyanggang until around 17:00. The gardens were thickly vegetated and while a little slow going provided some nice birding and shelter from the biting winds. Here, Light-vented Bulbul were abundant and we found a nice fruiting tree with numerous Light-vented Bulbul, stunning Chinese Grosbeak and a single female Hawfinch. A short way along the path a pair of Red-flanked Bluetail and a pair of Mugimaki Flycatcher entertained us in close proximity for some time. Other birds here included Yellow-browed Warbler (four), Pallas’s Warbler (two) and Goldcrest (two). A small flock of thrush contained three Dusky Thrush, six Naumann’s Thrush and a single Chinese Thrush but these quickly departed before allowing prolonged views.

Chinese Grosbeak, female - Grounds of Agricultural Institute, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Chinese Grosbeak, male - Grounds of Agricultural Institute, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Red-flanked Bluetail, male - Grounds of Agricultural Institute, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Mugimaki Flycatcher - Grounds of Agricultural Institute, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Mugimaki Flycatcher - Grounds of Agricultural Institute, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Light-vented Bulbul- Grounds of Agricultural Institute, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

We then headed a few hundred metres back towards town to another small forest patch on the north side of the Nanyao River. This patch was fairly birdy and here the highlights were Red-flanked Bluetail (two), Yellow-throated Bunting (ten), Rustic Bunting (two), Black-faced Bunting (three), Olive-backed Pipit (four), Plain Thrush (two), Chinese Thrush (one), Vinous-throated Parrotbill (15), Grey-capped Woodpecker (two) and Grey-headed Woodpecker (one). After birding in this patch of woodland for around 1.5 hours it was time to head for dinner and after another feast of Chinese fare we crashed at around 21:00.

Red-flanked Bluetail - Woodland to north of Nanyao River, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Yellow-throated Bunting - Woodland to north of Nanyao River, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Plain Thrush - Woodland to north of Nanyao River, Qingyanggang, Yancheng

Grey-capped Woodpecker - Woodland to north of Nanyao River, 
Qingyanggang, Yancheng


Life Birds;
  • Baikal Teal
  • Black-tailed Gull
  • Chinese Grosbeak