Thursday, 17 May 2018

South-east China - 25th April (Day 4)

We were up at 05:00 and after packing our bags commenced the short drive to the Dongtai sandflats area for our final birding session at this superb site. After breakfast of bread, bananas and sweet coffee we walked the kilometre or so across the sandflats to the waters edge. The main goal was to try to improve on our views of Spoon-billed Sandpiper. At the waters edge we walked southwards closely following the waters edge and scanning the vast flocks of superb summer plumaged Red-necked Stint as they busily fed on unseen morsels. Close investigation of the sand surface revealed many tidy polychaete worm trails, molluscs and crustaceans which fuel the birds on their north bound journey and make this site of major importance. Amongst the stint were lesser numbers of Greater Sandplover, Lesser Sandplover, Great Knot, Red Knot, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper all resplendent in their summer finery and all with the same aim of feeding and moving northbound to the Siberian tundra to breed. Alas, after two hours of searching there was no sign of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and we decided to head to the seawall scrub to search for passerine migrants. We worked our way westwards but the strong winds hampered our efforts and we saw relatively little, new species that we had not seen here yesterday were Oriental Reed-warbler, Chinese Grosbeak and Green-backed Flycatcher. On the lagoons were Pintail, Garganey and Shoveler as well as Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Black-faced Spoonbill and Saunder’s Gull.

Boarding the bus we headed one hour to the south to Yankou and the fabled Magic Wood which I had last visited on 9th November 2016. This rather unattractive area with bird park, modern hotels, golf courses, imposing wind turbines and littered with waste plastic and polystyrene makes one wonder why it is evidently such a popular spot for Chinese tourists. We birded the avenue of trees that is the Magic Wood seeing relatively little, the highlights being a cracking White’s Thrush, two Dusky Thrush, Silver-throated Tit, Yellow-browed Bunting and at least six Chinese Grosbeak. After a superb lunch of various Chinese dishes which included sweet and sour pork, liver in a black bean sauce, spicy cauliflower, sweet and sour aubergine and pork strips we began the five-hour drive south to Minjiang.

We arrived at Minjiang just as it was getting dark and birded the area around the hotel but it was probably a little late and we saw little but for a few common species such as Barn SwallowLong-tailed Shrike, Dusky Warbler and Crested Myna.

Mixed flock of Red Knot, Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover - Dongtai, Yancheng

Mixed flock of Red Knot, Great Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit - Dongtai, Yancheng

Lesser Black-backed Gull of subspecies heuglini - Dongtai, Yancheng

Lesser Black-backed Gull of subspecies heuglini - Dongtai, Yancheng

Red-necked Stint - Dongtai, Yancheng

Red-necked Stint - Dongtai, Yancheng

Gull-billed Tern - Dongtai, Yancheng

Olive-backed Pipit - Dongtai, Yancheng

Saunder's Gull - Dongtai, Yancheng

Saunder's Gull - Dongtai, Yancheng

Female Green-backed Flycatcher - Dongtai, Yancheng

Birding the Magic Wood, Yankhou

Landscape just outside the Magic Wood, Yankhou