Friday, 18 November 2016

China Wetlands (Birdquest) Tour - 18th November (Day 15)

Today was going to be a long travel day. Much of the group left for the extension to the tour at 06:00 while Rienk and I had a few extra hours and so headed to Nanshan Park in Changle, Fuzhou from 08:00-10:00. We were hoping for Fork-tailed Sunbird but this was not to be, apparently it is common in the park in the spring. We recorded a few common species including Common Tailorbird, Pallas’s Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Olive-backed Pipit, Plain Thrush, Japanese White-eye, Oriental Magpie-robin and Brambling and spent some time looking at the butterflies which until this site had been a bit thin on the ground. It was soon time to head back to the hotel to pack and head for the airport. I said goodbye to Rienk and flew Fuzhou to Shanghai at 13:20-14:50.

Olive-backed Pipit - Nanshan Park, Fuzhou

Common Bluebottle Graphium sarpedom - Nanshan Park, Fuzhou

Colour Sergeant Athyma nefte - Nanshan Park, Fuzhou

I think this is a Byasa species- Nanshan Park, Fuzhou

On landing in Shanghai a sickening site greeted me. Lining the grassy areas of the runways were probably thousands of metres of mist-net strung to capture and kill birds using the grasslands. There were hundreds of birds strung up dead in these nets, they mainly appeared to be Chinese Bulbul but there we also Pipits, lots of White Wagtail, several Crake/Rail and many other smaller passerines that I could not identify from the plane. Apparently this practice also occurs at Beijing Airport. To me this is a completely unjustified approach to reducing the risk of bird-strike, one that I am not aware that occurs elsewhere (although probably does) and indicates to me the scant regard that the Chinese, in general, give to wildlife. I am not aware of any movement to stop this practice at China’s airports but I am sure this must kill thousands of birds every year. There is a good write-up on the Birding Beijing website here.

I had a long stopover of almost 11 hours in Shanghai Airport which I filled with editing photographs, catching up with my notes and drinking beer!  I flew British Airways from Shanghai to London 01:55-06:50 (12.55-hour flight) but I was upgraded to first class – bonus! In hindsight I am sure there would have been a better option for my domestic and international flights, there appeared to be several flights a day to Beijing from Fuzhou and surely a better connection and shorter stopover in Beijing as British Airways fly from Beijing to London twice a day – maybe I should have looked into this in more detail.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my first Birdquest experience, we had a good small group all of whom were good travel companions and the birding in this part of China was fantastic. For me the highlights were the cranes and in particular White-naped Crane, Siberian Crane and Red-crowned Crane, Brazilian Merganser and White’s Thrush. But the sheer numbers of wildfowl was fantastic to see as were all those eastern species that are rare vagrants to Britain.

Links to Other Days of the Trip (Click to View)