Thursday, 10 November 2016

China Wetlands (Birdquest) Tour - 10th November (Day 7)

Breakfast was at 06:00 and we ate noodles, onion cakes and batter sticks at a street-side stand surrounded by dogs urinating on table legs and sniffing each others arses - I felt a little less hungry than I should have done for breakfast. We then headed for the coastal wetlands to the east of Dongtai to the south of Yancheng once again. When we arrived at 07:15 the tide was still clearly along way out so we walked out to the waters edge, around 1km from the seawall. There were many Kentish Plover on the sandflats and once we reached the waters edge it was apparent that there were very large numbers of birds with thousands each of Grey Plover, Curlew and Dunlin. Amongst these were small numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Caspian Tern, Lesser Black-backed Gull of the race heuglini (Heuglin’s Gull) and Arctic Herring Gull of the race mongolicus (Mongolian Herring Gull). I picked up a very distant (maybe 800m) smaller gull which looked odd, it was running around amongst the waders plover like with a high pigeon breast and a short dark bill, I soon realised that it must be a Relict Gull (probably a second winter) and asked Hannu to confirm this, which he soon did – another dream bird of mine. We decided to wander closer and we managed to half the distance between us and the bird but the bird then flew and disappeared into the distance. We went back to scanning the vast numbers of waders and after 10 minutes or so I picked-up a second Relict Gull flying past us, this was a 1st winter and I managed to rattle off a few rather distant shots of this bird as it flew past and into the distance - a cracking bird and I was chuffed to have seen this species on the trip. Hannu then picked up a Nordmann’s Greenshank with its distinctly greyer upperparts, shorter bill and legs and stumpy rear end when compared to the nearby Common Greenshank. Alec and I tried to approach but they were a little skittish and kept their distance – a Red-flanked Bluetail flew in off the sea and low over the sandflats heading south, clearly a migrating bird. As we scanned around we realised that there were many Nordmann’s Greenshank and at least 75 within visible distance and a brief count. Then an adult Saunder’s Gull flew by giving a very tern like ‘kek’, a stunning little gull and my second gull tick of the morning. It was 09:30 and time to head off, we had a long drive (around 600km) south-west to Wuyuan.

Relict Gull (1st winter) - Dongtai

Relict Gull (1st winter) - Dongtai

Eurasian Curlew of race orientalis- Dongtai

Eurasian Curlew of race orientalis- Dongtai

Lesser Black-backed Gull of the race heuglini (Heuglin’s Gull) - Dongtai

Lesser Black-backed Gull of the race heuglini (Heuglin’s Gull) - Dongtai

Dunlin, there are several races that pass winter in the area including sakhalina 
and articola - Dongtai

Dunlin (different bird to above), there are several races that pass winter in the area including sakhalina and articola - Dongtai

Image showing the amazing number of wader present at this site. These are 
mainly Dunlin, Grey Plover and Curlew with Nordmann's Greenshank, 
Common Greenshank and Kentish Plover - Dongtai

Nordmann's Greenshank. Compared to Common Greenshank note the greyer tones and noticeably short rear-end - Dontai

Nordmann's Greenshank. Compared to Common Greenshank note the greyer tones and noticeably short rear-end- Dontai

Kentish Plover - Dongtai

Arctic Herring Gull of the race mongolicus (2nd winter) - Dongtai

Waders (mainly Dunlin and Grey Plover (plus Curlew and Nordmann's Greenshank) - Dongtai

The sandflats to the east of Dongtai the sea can just about be seen in the distance

The drive was unremarkable but we left the industrial landscape of the coast behind for an altogether more pleasant woodland landscape with distant hills and small villages. We passed through the outskirts of Shanghai and over the Yangtse River through Wuxi, Yixing and eventually arrived at Wuyuan at 21:00 and checked into the Huayi Hotel,.

A lovely snack available widely in the service stations - The Chinese will 
literally eat anything in my books

The Yangtze in Shanghai

Dinner remains in Wuyuan

Life Birds;
  • Saunder’s Gull
  • Relict Gull