Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Leuven, Belgium
Huanzidong 12 April final report
To get to the Huanzidong Reservoir we had the help of a friend of my in-laws (they do not have a car themselves). It took us 2 hours to go and the same time to return, so double the time I read otherwise. The GPS of our driver showed a location on the South-West side. The first views of the lake at the south east side immediately looked promising with white birds on the southernmost tip of the bay. I asked to stop the car and could see enough to confirm they were Siberian cranes. Really massive birds compared to two spoonbills in between them. I could also observe one coming in to land at the moment I was urged to stop because the others were getting nervous to stop on the side of the big road. I was hoping for better views later. A bit further the driver asked for directions and was pointed to the road east of the lake that leads to the north side of the lake, along the dam. At the end of the dam there is a small peninsula with a modest settlement (and public toilets) that indeed gave the best views of the lake and with some shorebirds close by, but no Cranes. Most observations were from this location.
From one local we heard that all cranes were gone, another told us they were feeding in the fields around the lake during the day. After some initial birding at the viewpoint we decided to go further along the road towards the west to see if we could see birds in the fields or get other viewpoints. No Cranes were seen and also no additional good viewpoints for binoculars were encountered. At the moment all fields are barren of any crop and it looks like one big waste land, very much like the fields we encountered during the trip from Shenyang. But boy, the tons of plastic that are flying around in the fields, I wonder how much ends up in our food…
Although a little more west of the peninsula there is a S-curve in the road from which you can have a nice view of the northwest side with a scope I can imagine. With bino’s I could just observe that a lot of groups of birds were standing there. Around there we did have the two Oriental storks flying low above the fields and dropping in the northeast corner of the lake and also a nice group of Eurasian curlews flying around on the way back. We went as far as the road that runs west of the lake, but found out it was a long detour to go around all the way. The distance between the sometimes bumpy road and the lake was much too far. All roads leading closer were field roads that looked like a 4x4 could take but were too risky for a sedan car. It would also be too far of a distance to walk for my family and they dind’t feel like waiting more than an hour along the roadside if I would go by myself. Thus we returned to the north side and took a pick nick break there while I tried to get better views to get some ID confirmations.
A group of 20 or so Spoonbills came closer, but still too far to look for the black faced kind. I am assuming almost all are the regular type. Locals were pointing us to the ‘bai se de’ birds thinking we were looking for white birds only. There was one other party of Chinese tourists walking around with one lady on high heels and a massive porro binocular that probably got fooled by that. But I assume, like my wife, they were a bit disappointed by the advertisement on the internet as a ‘Park’. My wife even said later the lady was asking people to help her focus the large binocular, so no birder at all, and that they probably expected they could feed the Cranes.
A thing I would agree on is that for such a site, an oasis for birds in a barren landscape, they could do a little more effort to get people close enough from all sides to get better views for the average Chinese tourists. They might not be able to feed the birds, but closer views of the number of birds there can help people understand how special the place is at least at provincial level. It could get some revenue in for the locals that, according to the driver, still prefer to eat the birds then watch them. The handful of western birders that can visit the site cannot sustain such an economy. But then again, if you see how easily some of the touristic places in China are overdeveloped and get droves of tourist, I doubt the environment of the lake can handle that.
When we returned I requested to drive by the southeast bay again to see if we could get closer. Unfortunately, the other people in the car were not keen on finding a way closer to the bay (wanted to go before traffic in Shenyang), although I thought (and later confirmed on satellite images) there was a paved road going close to the south edge that potentially could get better views. On top of that, although I could figure out from the side of the main road, there was still at least 1 crane, it had moved to the other side of the bay. Even though I still walked between the fields to the edge of the large reed beds, the views were still a couple of blurry white spots with reddish where a face should be and they were bigger than some other blurry white spots going back and forth (Spoonbills feeding). A walk close to the reed beds could also have been interesting. I had pheasants calling, some pipit maybe, some quails flushing out and some very distant, probably harrier. But all too fast and no time to chase behind.
Thus, I did have my goal species, but still with some regret I was close to have it even better.
Species list for Huanzidong reservoir, 12 April 2018, 10:20 – 14:05:
L = Lifer, C = New to China list, T = New to Trip list, ??=too uncertain (not counted in lists)
1 Swan Goose - Anser cygnoides (L, C, T)
2 Taiga Bean Goose - Anser fabalis ?? – Didn’t actual make ID with Tundra species. Which one is more likely?
3 Common Pochard - Aythya ferina (C,T)
4 Common Pheasant - Phasianus colchicus (T)
5 Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis – (T) 4 ex along the dam
6 Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus (C, T)
7 Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia (C, T)
8 Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea (T)
9 Little Egret - Egretta garzetta (T)
10 Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra (C, T)
11 Siberian Crane - Leucogeranus leucogeranus (L, C, T) - 8ex southeast bay
12 Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus (C, T) - 64ex seen close by
13 Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta (C, T) - 23ex seen close by
14 Northern Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus (C, T)
15 Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius (C, T)
16 Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrines ??
17 Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata (C, T) - 21 ex
18 Bar-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica (C, T) - 1 ex with 1 foot missing
19 Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago (C, T) - 5 ex
20 Oriental Pratincole - Glareola maldivarum (L, C, T) - 1 ex
21 Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus (C, T)
22 Mew Gull - Larus canus (C, T)
23 Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis (T) – 2ex
24 Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus (T) – 2 ex
25 Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
26 Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica (T)
27 Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus
28 White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
29 Black-faced Bunting - Emberiza spodocephala – 1ex at the northern peninusula
Trip list: 45 (+23)
Patch list: 27
China list: 117 (+16)
Lifelist: 369 (+3)
Erratum post #70: Black headed bunting at Xiacuiyuan park should have been Black-faced Bunting of course. This was not a lifer or new addition to China list. Corrections made in counts above.
Last edited by Creba : Friday 13th April 2018 at 17:32.