China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2008 List (Incudes UK, China, Hong Kong & USA) (1 Viewer)

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Hi
This is the third year I have recorded my year list on birdforum. My current total for the number of birds seen this year is 443, both in the UK and Worldwide, as of 29 December 2008.

Again my UK target for the year is 200, which I am pleased to say I reached on 23 May 2008 with a lifer, a Red Footed Falcon

My worldwide target is a bird a day (366 as it is a leap year!), which I am also pleased that I reached on 5 July 2008 with an Eider duck. I still have a couple more business trips to China and Hong Kong to go, together with a family holiday to North East USA and may be some other short overseas trips if I can arrange them.

My current records are as follows:

------------------UK-----China-----HK-----Finland-----USA-----Canada-----World

2008------------220-----177------99------17--------84--------22----------443
2007-------------200-----249---------------------------------------------------398
2006-------------205------------------------------------------------------------410
2005-------------183------------------------------------------------------------358
2004-------------157------------------------------------------------------------276

Life-----806
China---443
UK------252



1 January 2008

As usual the first trip of the year was a dawn raid on Attenborough Nature Reserve, near Nottingham, with my mate DAZ. Although we dipped on Bittern, Water Rail and Smew we did pick up 57 other birds

1.Blackbird------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
2.Robin----------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
3.Jackdaw-------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
4.Grey Heron----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
5.Mallard--------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
6.Mute Swan----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
7.Coot----------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
8.Great Crested Grebe-------------------Attenborough-----------------England
9.Goosander----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
10.Woodpigeon-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
11.Tufted Duck-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
12.Shoveler-----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
13.Gadwall------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
14.Magpie-------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
15.Black Headed Gull---------------------Attenborough-----------------England
16.Cormorant----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
17.Rook---------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
18.Moorehen----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
19.Wigeon------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
20.Wren--------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
21.Carrion Crow-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
22.Reed Bunting-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
23.Long Tailed Tit-----------------------Attenborough-----------------England
24.Blue Tit------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
25.Goldfinch----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
26.Great Tit----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
27.Chaffinch----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
28.Dunnock-----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
29.Teal---------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
30.Greenfinch---------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
31.Great Spotted Woodpecker-----------Attenborough-----------------England
32.Starling------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
33.House Sparrow-----------------------Attenborough-----------------England
34.Willow Tit----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
35.Song Thrush-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
36Bullfinch------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
37.Little Grebe--------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
38.Pochard------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
39.Feral Pigeon-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
40.Redwing-----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
41.Mistle Thrush------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
42.Collared Dove------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
43.Pied Wagtail-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
44.Goldcrest----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
45.Red Crested Pochard-----------------Attenborough-----------------England
46.Canada Goose-----------------------Attenborough-----------------England
47.Goldeneye---------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
48.Fieldfare-----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
49.Egyptian Goose----------------------Attenborough-----------------England
50.Ruddy Duck--------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
51.Lapwing-----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
52.Lesser Black Backed Gull--------------Attenborough-----------------England
53.Common Gull-------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
54.Tree Sparrow------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
55.Snipe--------------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
56.Pheasant----------------------------Attenborough-----------------England
57.Greylag Goose-----------------------Attenborough-----------------England

We also dipped on Peregrine at Derby Cathedral, but made up for that later, picking up one bird on the way to Carsington Reservoir.

58.Kestrel-------------------------------Duffield-----------------------England

At Carsington our dipping continued, missing Great Northern Diver due to fog and both Siskin and Redpoll as the Sheep wash car park was so full we couldn’t find anywhere to park. We therefore moved onto Cromford to dip on Hawfinch despite a good 90-minute stake out. We were pleased to see a calling Dipper though as well as a Jay.

59.Dipper--------------------------------Cromford----------------------England
60.Jay-----------------------------------Cromford----------------------England

At Ogston Reservoir there was a large gathering of birders and as soon as we arrived an Iceland Gull was showing well amongst the Great Black Backs.

61.Iceland Gull---------------------------Ogston-------------------------England
62.Great Black Backed Gull----------------Ogston----------------------England

A Peregrine then spooked all of the birds, which were subsequently joined by both a Glaucous and Mediterranean Gull, both spotted by a particularly eagle eyed birder as they flew in across the reservoir.

63.Peregrine Falcon----------------------Ogston-------------------------England
64.Glaucous Gull-------------------------Ogston-------------------------England
65.Mediterranean Gull-------------------Ogston-------------------------England

We moved just half a mile up the road from the gull watch point to wait for Woodcock as dusk fell, two birds passing low overhead.

66.Woodcock---------------------------Ogston-------------------------England

The first day of the year has certainly been consistent over the last three years, with 67, 67 and 66 birds being seen respectively. A trip to the coast later this week will hopefully see my year list top 100 before I have to return to work.
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
2 January 2008

As is typical of birding, after spending 90 mins looking for a Hawfinch at Cromford yesterday without luck, today one appeared straight away at the top of a tree next to the river, just after lunch. While admiring it through the ‘scope a Raven also flew over.

67.Hawfinch---------------------Cromford-------------------------England
68.Raven------------------------Cromford-------------------------England

I then dipped again with the Great Northern Diver at a very cold Carsington Reservoir but did pick up a Meadow Pipit.

69.Meadow Pipit-----------------Cromford-------------------------England

With the light fading fast I decided to try for the Bittern and Water Rail again at Attenborough Nature Reserve. Like the Hawfinch, the Bittern was immediately showing well from the hide, and while watching it a Water Rail passed in front of the hide. One of those days you dream of!

70.Bittern -------------------Attenborough-----------------------England
71.Water Rail ---------------Attenborough------------------------England
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
3 January 2008

A quick 45 minute trip to a freezing Elvaston Castle Nature Reserve, near Derby provided Nuthatch, Stock Dove and Coal Tit

72.Nuthatch---------------Elvaston Castle-------------------------England
73.Stock Dove-------------Elvaston Castle-------------------------England
74.Coal Tit----------------Elvaston Castle-------------------------England

That evening I was staying near Bourne in Lincolnshire ready for a trip to the north Norfolk coast the next day. Therefore I went in search of owls. The first owl of the year being two Barn Owls, in separate locations, one in a tree the second flying alongside the car. The second owl was again two separate Tawny Owls, one on a post near a forest, the second picking at road kill in the middle of the road. They really such wonderful birds owls

75.Barn Owl------------------Wilsthorpe-------------------------England
76.Tawny Owl----------------Stainfield-------------------------England
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
4 January 2008

As dawn broke I was watching flocks Whooper and Bewick Swans leaving the Welney Wildfowl Refuge to feed on the fields to the east of the refuge, a pair of Red Legged Partridge appearing as I was differentiating between the two different swan types. Minutes later, several Corn Buntings were “jangling” at the top of a large bush.

77.Whooper Swan-----------------Welney-------------------------England
78.Red Legged Partridge-----------Welney-------------------------England
79.Bewick Swan-------------------Welney-------------------------England
80.Corn Bunting-------------------Welney-------------------------England

Next stop was Roydon Common for the Great Grey Shrike, but after an hour I moved on having dipped, a Little Egret and Green Woodpecker did fly through however.

81.Little Egret--------------------Roydon Common------------England
82.Green Woodpecker-------------Roydon Common------------England

The disappointment at Roydon Common was dispelled in a minute when I arrived at the Wolferton Triangle as another birder had set up his ‘scope on the side of the road watching a Golden Pheasant, the first time I had seen one of these spectacular birds in the UK after umpteen attempts!

83.Golden Pheasant----------------Wolferton------------------England

As I drove past Snettisham my first skein of Pink Footed Geese flew overhead.

84.Pink Footed Goose--------------Snettisham--------------------England

The fields to the south of road past Heacham gave up there usual specialties, Curlew and Grey Partridge, while the Oystercatchers and TurnstoneS were again the first birds of the year provided by Hunstanton, on the school playing fields and grass at the top of the cliffs respectivley.

85.Curlew------------------------Heacham-----------------------England
86.Grey Partridge-----------------Heacham-----------------------England
87.Oystercatcher-----------------Hunstanton--------------------England
88.Turnstone---------------------Hunstanton--------------------England

Scanning the sea at the top of the cliffs added another five birds for the year.

89.Herring Gull--------------------Hunstanton---------------------England
90.Shelduck----------------------Hunstanton---------------------England
91.Red Breasted Merganser--------Hunstanton---------------------England
92.Fulmar-------------------------Hunstanton--------------------England
93.Shag--------------------------Hunstanton---------------------England

Choseley drying barns produced no finches but there was a small flock of Ruff amongst the Curlew.

94.Ruff---------------------------Choseley------------------------England

Two more birds were added at the feeders outside the Titchwell RSPB reserve centre, with a single Brambling on the ground, and several Siskins in the Alder trees

95.Brambling----------------------Titchwell------------------------England
96.Siskins-------------------------Titchwell ----------------------England

A walk through the reserve took my year list through 100 with an additional 12 birds, the best being the Black Brant amongst the large flock of Brent Geese.

97.Pintail-------------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
98.Brent Goose-------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
99.Black Brant--------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
100.Avocet-----------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
101.Dunlin------------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
102.Ringed Plover-----------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
103.Marsh Harrier-----------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
104.Bar Tailed Godwit-------------Titchwell------------------------------------England
105.Black Tailed Godwit-----------Titchwell------------------------------------England
106.Grey Plover-------------------Titchwell-----------------------------------England
107.Redshank---------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England
108.Linnet------------------------Titchwell -----------------------------------England

At the beach there was nothing on the sea but two new birds at the water’s edge

109.Sanderling--------------------Titchwell ------------------------------------England
110.Knot-------------------------Titchwell ------------------------------------England

On the way back to the car park two Golden Plover were feeding amongst the Lapwing

111.Golden Plover-----------------Titchwell ------------------------------------England

The last two birds of the day were easier than falling off a bike, in a flock that were being fed seed on the shingle beach at Salthouse, the Lapland Bunting my second new addition to my UK bird list.

112.Snow Bunting-----------------Salthouse---------------------------------England
113.Lapland Bunting---------------Salthouse---------------------------------England
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
6 January 2008

Late morning I made my first ever visit to Budby Common in search of the Great Grey Shrike that had been frequenting the heath land for some time. Having arrived it was a matter of working out where I needed to be, but then I spotted some birders returning to their cars. They had all dipped so weren’t best pleased, and it didn’t give me much hope, but you have to be an optimist to be a birder so I retraced their steps.

After nearly two hours I also failed to see the bird, and it hasn’t actually been since so good day to try and see it! I did however spot a pair of Stonechat to increase my year list.

114.Stonechat------------Budby Common-------------------------England

Leaving Budby I made use of the fact that I was near Williamthorpe Nature Reserve to go and see the Long Tailed Duck. During the drive between bird sites a Buzzard flew across a field near Bolsover, and luckily once at Williamthorpe the duck continued to be very obliging as in 2007.

115.Buzzard---------------Bolsover-------------------------------England
116.Long Tailed Duck------Williamthorpe--------------------------England
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
12 January 2008

A quick trip to Carsington Reservoir produced the Great Northern Diver at the third attempt!

117.Great Northern Diver--------------Carsington-----------------England
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
13 January 2008

Another late afternoon trip, this time to Attenborough to spot the Red Necked Grebe from the Kingfisher hide. There were plenty of other birders there after the bird was recorded on BirdGuides

118.Red Necked Grebe--------------Attenborough-----------------England
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
14 January 2008

No less than 39 Red Kites spotted driving down the M40 on the way to Gatwick for my first trip to China of the year.

119.Red Kite-------------------Wendlebury-----------------------England
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
16 January 2008

A slow start to my first China trip of the year, Magpie Robins being prevalent in the grounds of the Gloria Resort Hotel in Sanya, on Hainan Island, with House Swifts chattering away in the sky

120.Magpie Robin---------------------Sanya--------------------------China
121.House Swift----------------------Sanya--------------------------China
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 January 2008

A short walk through the grounds of the hotel, during a break, produced Olive Backed Pipits on one of the vast laws, with Long Tailed Shrike and Spotted Doves dashing between the trees

122.Olive Backed Pipit-----------------Sanya--------------------------China
123.Long Tailed Shrike--------------Sanya--------------------------China
124.Spotted Dove------------------Sanya--------------------------China
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
18 January 2008

I was able to do my first proper birding in China with an hour’s walk, at dawn today, along the road from the hotel to the mangrove swamp. The amount of building that had gone on since I had been here 12 months ago is quite staggering with massive new Marriott and Hilton hotels having sprung up together with a vast area, full of new apartment buildings. I was worried whether the mangrove would still be there!

Before I found out a White Wagtail flew over.

125.White Wagtail----------------Sanya--------------------------China

To my relief the swamp was still there (Photo1) but for how long as it looks like they have damned the river as it enters the sea with a large sand bank and cut away an enormous sway of trees near what was the mouth of the river, and covered it in earth. More buildings then!

The tschack-tschack of a Dusky Warbler suddenly diverted my attention. One of many I would sea in the bushes along the edge of the road

126.Dusky Warbler----------------Sanya--------------------------China

A solitary Greenshank then made a loud ringing call as it flew overhead which also brought me into the sight of several Asian Palm Swifts.

127.Greenshank-------------------Sanya--------------------------China
128.Asian Palm Swift--------------Sanya--------------------------China

Amongst the Water Buffalo in the fields were the normal Cattle Egrets, Little Ringed Plover scattered around the last remnants of water logged grassland, and Intermediate Egrets in the small lagoons

129.Cattle Egret--------------------Sanya--------------------------China
130.Little Ringed Plover-------------Sanya--------------------------China
131.Intermediate Egret-------------Sanya--------------------------China

What remained of the bushes along the road produced the regular Plain Prinia although a small flock of Black Eared Bunting surprised me.

132.Plain Prinia---------------------Sanya--------------------------China
133.Black Faced Bunting------------Sanya--------------------------China

One Water Buffalo was playing host to both Common Myna and a Black Drongo while a relatively large flock of Scaly Breasted Munia commuted between grassland and bushes

134.Common Myna----------------Sanya--------------------------China
135.Black Drongo-----------------Sanya--------------------------China
136.Scaly Breasted Munia---------Sanya--------------------------China

The last bird of the “morning session” was a Common Sandpiper making best use it could of the receding mud as the water level seemed to be rising before your very eyes!

137.Common Sandpiper-----------Sanya--------------------------China

Mid afternoon, after all the meetings had been concluded and the temperature had dropped somewhat I ventured further a field, trying not to think of the building work, and enjoy the birding. Several Swallow’s were gliding over the water logged grassland, while a beautiful male Daurian Redstart flew amongst the vegetation near the bridge. It is incredible how they cope with so much adversity as the noise from the road building was deafening

138.Swallow----------------------Sanya--------------------------China
139.Daurian Redstart--------------Sanya--------------------------China

Taking a left at the crossroads I was at last able to get away from humanity for a while, a Green Sandpiper rising swiftly from a small pool followed in quick succession by a Chinese Pond Heron. Minutes later two of Asia’s most spectacular kingfishers, the White Throated Kingfisher and Black Capped Kingfisher flashed over the mangroves.

140.Green Sandpiper----------------Sanya--------------------------China
141.Chinese Pond Heron-------------Sanya--------------------------China
142.White Throated Kingfisher-------Sanya--------------------------China
143.Black Capped Kingfisher---------Sanya--------------------------China

Deep amongst the Eucalyptus trees that surrounds the swamp a female Olive Backed Sunbird was busying herself amongst the branches, with a crimson Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker in the very same tree, amongst some derelict building, I had seen it in 12 months ago!

144.Olive Backed Sunbird------------Sanya--------------------------China
145.Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker-----Sanya--------------------------China

One of my favourite birds, a Black Naped Monarch followed with a Chinese Bulbul only having being spotted after three days in China!

146.Black Naped Monarch-----------Sanya--------------------------China
147.Chinese Bulbul-----------------Sanya--------------------------China

Again, on the very same tree, in a dried up river bed, as last year, a White Throated Fantail did what it does best, fan its tail, while a “flying banana” a Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher strutted its stuff on a small branch just a few feet closer to me.

148.White Throated Fantail-----------Sanya-------------------------China
149.Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher----Sanya------------------------China

As I started the walk home an Asia Brown Flycatcher (Photo3) caught my eye high up in a tree it was sharing with a Yellow Browed Warbler

150.Asian Brown Flycatcher-----------Sanya-------------------------China
151.Yellow Browed Warbler-----------Sanya--------------------------China

A Red Throated Flycatcher (Photo4)was then noisily flicking its tail on the side of a bush.

152.Red Throated Flycatcher--------Sanya--------------------------China

Back at the crossroads I wondered across some of the grassland frequented by water buffalo, a Blue Rock Thrush (Photo5) and Grey Wagtail standing within metres of each other. In the same field was also a Siberian Stonechat atop a tall grass.

153.Blue Rock Thrush--------------Sanya--------------------------China
154.Grey Wagtail------------------Sanya--------------------------China
155.Siberian Stonechat------------Sanya--------------------------China

As dusk began to fall there was an almighty commotion in a small area of palm trees with a Black Eared Kite flying off in one direction, a Peregrine and a Black Shouldered Kite vacating the area in other directions!

156.Black Eared Kite---------------Sanya--------------------------China
157.Black Shouldered Kite----------Sanya--------------------------China

With the additions of Blackbird, Great Tit, Little Egret and the Peregrine above my China total had increased to 41 for the year.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
19 January 2008

Recovering from a bout of food poisoning due to some rather dodgy shell fish the previous day I kept myself to the grounds of the hotel in the morning, spotting a couple Richard’s Pipits (Photo1) amongst their Oliver Backed cousins.

158.Richard's Pipit----------------Sanya--------------------------China

Late afternoon I felt well enough to venture more further a field so retraced my steps from yesterday. Photo’s 2 and 3 show the terrain away from the swamp

The first new bird of the afternoon was Shikra darting between the trees, a light grey version of the Sparrowhawk, with a Great Coucal bursting out of the Mangrove swamp on the other side of the road.

159.Shikra------------------------Sanya--------------------------China
160.Greater Coucal----------------Sanya--------------------------China

While watching a flock of Japanese White Eye scattered amongst the tree tops a Kingfisher darted overhead.

161.Japanese White Eye----------Sanya--------------------------China
162.Kingfisher--------------------Sanya--------------------------China

One of my favourite birds, a Siberian Rubythroat was the last bird of the day. A brown bird had caught my attention as it dived under a bush, a quick look back before it disappeared revealing the white mask across its eye.

163.Siberian Rubythroat----------Sanya--------------------------China
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
20 January 2008

A different route for my last morning in Sanya, through water logged grasslands and paddy fields (Photo’s 1 & 2). Several Long Toed Stint (Photo 3) were feeding with the Little Ringed Plover while well over a hundred Snipe (all seemed to be common) exploded out of the paddy fields.

164.Long Toed Stint-----------------Sanya--------------------------China

Zitting Cisticola kept me company as I walked along the raised earth (mud) walkways, one dried up paddy field revealing a flock of at least 25 Pacific Golden Plover (Photo 4) , totally camouflaged against the dead foliage.

165.Zitting Cisticola-----------------Sanya--------------------------China
166.Pacific Golden Plover------------Sanya--------------------------China

Three Painted Snipe joined the escaping Snipe, followed by three Wood Sandpiper.

167.Painted Snipe------------------Sanya--------------------------China
168.Wood Sandpiper---------------Sanya--------------------------China

Grey Heron, Kestrel and Teal took my China year tally to 57.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
21 January 2008

A quick pre breakfast walk near the Sheraton Hotel in Haikou just added one new bird to my 2008 China list, a Moorehen.
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
22 January 2008

Having arrived in Nanjing the previous night the only birding I could do there was during the 30 km journey from the hotel to the airport, where our meetings were going to be held, along the expressway. I added two new China year birds a Magpie and a Crested Myna, the latter also being a new year bird

169.Crested Myna-------------------Nanjing-----------------------China

That afternoon I flew north to Tianjin, the weather getting colder and colder the further I flew north, all the lakes frozen solid there. During the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel a flock of Rook were returning to their roost, and a lone Black Headed Gull passed overhead, my 61st and 62nd China year birds.
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
23 January 2008

The next day a flock of Tree Sparrows were making themselves heard outside the office at Tianjin Airport, taking my China year list to 63. The drive that afternoon, to Beijing, added no further birds
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
24 January 2008

The statutory Azure Winged Magpie was gorging itself from one of the large bins outside our office at Beijing Airport

170.Azure Winged Magpie---------------Bejing---------------------China
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
26 January 2008

It was a cold 5am start today from Chengdu, heading southwest to the Xiling Snow Mountain, with fellow Birdforum member Wei Qian and one of my reps Albert Jiang. It was still pitch black as we neared the mountain 90 minutes later and as the road was starting to ice up Albert negotiated with a guy with a small van to take Wei Qian and I the remaining 12 km’s to the cable car, as he had tyre chains. We therefore rattled our way up the mountain.

Before taking the cable car we stopped for some noodles and did some birding around the cable car station. Parrotbills seemed to be everywhere in the vegetation along the small river, with Ashy Throated Parrotbills far outweighing Vinous Throated Parrotbills.

171.Vinous Throated Parrotbill-------------Xiling Mountain------------China
172.Ashy Throated Parrotbill---------------Xiling Mountain------------China

A pair of Large Billed Crows flew in over our heads, resting on one of the snow covered cable car supports

173.Large Billed Crow---------------------Xiling Mountain------------China

Walking up the side of the river, which had basically become a series of long concrete steps, or man made waterfalls. For once man’s alterations really suited many of the water birds with a glorious White Capped Water Redstart flashing under the snow covered bridge we were viewing from. Further up the river there were three Little Forktails (Photo1).

174.White Capped Water Redstart--------Xiling Mountain------------China
175.Little Forktail------------------------Xiling Mountain------------China

Then I picked up my first lifer of the year, a Barred Laughingthrush calling from the top of a fur tree.

176.Barred Laughingthrush------------Xiling Mountain------------China

Walking round the back of an abandoned building the snow covered trees and bushes were alive with birds, the most vivid being the Golden Breasted Fulvetta that were mixing it with a Green Backed Tit. Then we identified two different Babblers with the smaller Rufous Capped Babbler deep in a bush, the Streak Breasted Scimitar Babbler moving between the larger trees.

177.Golden Breasted Fulvetta-----------Xiling Mountain------------China
178.Green Backed Tit-------------------Xiling Mountain------------China
179.Rufous Capped Babbler--------------Xiling Mountain------------China
180.Streak Breasted Scimitar Babbler----Xiling Mountain------------China

Back at the river the common pairing of a male and female Plumbeous Water Redstart were bobbing their way up and down the river.

181.Plumbeous Water Redstart----------Xiling Mountain------------China

The next 90 minutes were spent making our way up the mountain via two frozen cable cars and a chain wheeled bus. As we waited for the first cable car a Wren, new for China in 2008, could be seen feeding in the rafters. The bus brought us to a winter wonderland (Photo 2) before we took the second cable car to the top (Photo 3)

By now the temperature had really dropped, being only able to remove one’s gloves for a few seconds to take any photo’s. A flock of three different types of birds were feeding on the steps leading from the cable car, Rufous Vented Tit (Photo 4) being the most numerous, Streak Throated Fulvettas and a lifer, Grey Crested Tits.

182.Rufous Vented Tit------------------Xiling Mountain------------China
183.Streak Throated Fulvetta-----------Xiling Mountain------------China
184.Grey Crested Tit----------------Xiling Mountain------------China

After a long climb two Great Parrotbills (Photo 5) appeared, with a White Throated Redstart flitting along the bamboo covered mountainside.

185.Great Parrotbill---------------------Xiling Mountain------------China
186.White Throated Redstart------------Xiling Mountain------------China
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
26 January 2008 (continued)……..

Back at the bottom of the two cable cars we continued to bird amongst the disused buildings with a flock of Grey Headed Bullfinches (Photo 1) ripping seed heads off some dead plants. Albert had managed to drive up the remaining 12 km’s after the road had been salted, so joined us. He would regret that decision!

187.Grey Headed Bullfinch-------------Xiling Mountain--------------China

In the river three Spotted Forktails (Photo 2), my third lifer of the day, had joined the Little Forktails, so many forktails in one place!

188.Spotted Forktail---------------Xiling Mountain------------China

Walking along the river to the car park, we were conscious that it was snowing heavily now and we needed to be off the mountain before it got dark. However there were still one or two birds about so we just had to check them out. A Brambling, new to China for 2008, was sharing a tree with a lifer, a Three Banded Rosefinch (Photo 3)

189.Three Banded Rosefinch-----------Xiling Mountain------------China

Still there were three more birds to identify, the Red Billed Leiothrix (or Peking Robin) was amongst a flock of birds that included Grey Cheeked Fulvetta and the 24th and final bird of the day, a lifer, the gorgeous Green Shrike Babbler (Photo 4)

190.Red Billed Leiothrix-------------------Xiling Mountain------------China
191.Grey Cheeked Fulvetta---------------Xiling Mountain------------China
192.Green Shrike Babbler-----------------Xiling Mountain------------China

Once back in the car we set off down the mountain, the temperature now at –4C, and soon got caught up in a traffic jam. There had been literally hundreds of cars in the car park, with tens of coaches, and all wanted to get down the mountain. However the road had already started to ice up, it being one of the worst winters in China for many years. Most of the drivers had never driven on ice and the traffic jam was due to drivers overtaking others on narrow roads, like is normal in China, not realising the road conditions and crashing off the side of the road. One car was upside down in a small river (all escaped) and many more were in the barriers or cliff side.

At one point Albert lost control down a particularly steep hill (there were spectators from the local villages watching on the side of the road). I had to scream at him to take his foot off the break and then grabbed the wheel and guided the car round the next left-hander, which luckily lead onto a wide bridge with big barriers. The car kept off the barriers, but with that Albert decided he could not drive any further, I didn’t blame him as it spooked me!

I therefore took over to get us off the mountain. What should have taken us 20 minutes took over three hours, using third gear and driving in the snow-covered verge, away from the iced wheel tracks of other vehicles. There were police everywhere with yet more cars off the road.

When we eventually got to where we thought it was safe, and the temperature had gone up we swapped over again only for Albert to panic again where the road is always more icy, on a bridge, hitting the brakes again. Luckily the road immediately after the bridge was clear of ice so he regained control, but duly decided I should drive some more, until we at least got back to Chengdu. It was lucky he had as at the exit of one particularly long tunnel there was a downhill section of road which was covered in ice and several more drivers had panicked; more cars in more barriers!

When we finally arrived back at the hotel we were rather relieved to say the least, and felt for all of those who must still be stranded on the mountain, as we had been some of the first to descend!
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
27 January 2008

A much more civilised start on Sunday, this time another rep Michael Zhang was kind enough to drive Wei Qian and another old friend from Chengdu Zaxio, who is the full time President of the Chengdu Birding Society. The quality of the photo’s he showed me in the car on the way to Jin Hu Lake in the city of De Yang, north of Chengdu, made me realise I have to change my camera equipment if I hope to take worthwhile photos.

Arriving at Jin Hu Lake, which isn’t a lake at all but a river, broken up into a series of lakes (Photo 1) and drained sections (Photo 2), by sluice gates, the first new bird of the year for the day was a Long Billed Plover walking in the mud behind one of the large sluice gates.

193.Long Billed Plover------------------De Yang------------------China

We soon picked up several other birds some were new to China for 2008. A full list of birds is at the foot of today’s update below.

Driving through the city to another “lake” several Yellow Billed Grosbeak were sharing telegraph wires with Crested Myna.

194.Yellow Billed Grosbeak-------------De Yang-------------------China

Arriving at one of the lakes, amongst a huge raft of Little Grebes was a single Black Necked Grebe, while a wonderful Crested Kingfisher was sharing a high-powered cable with a Little Gull. All were new to my all time China list.

195.Black Necked Grebe----------------De Yang------------------China
196.Crested Kingfisher-----------------De Yang-------------------China
197.Little Gull-------------------------De Yang-------------------China

The next section had been drained, revealing mud as well as grass where my first lifer of the day was feeding, a Buff Breasted Pipit.

198.Buff Breasted Pipit----------------De Yang--------------------China

Back at another lake, this was full of birds, the four new for 2008 being Spot Billed Duck, Sand Martin (so unusual seeing these birds flying in snow!), a female Smew and a Ferruginous Pochard (Photo 3). A male Plumbeous Water Redstart sat close to us on the embankment (Photo 4)

199.Spotbilled Duck----------------------De Yang-------------------China
200.Sand Martin-------------------------De Yang-------------------China
201.Smew-------------------------------De Yang------------------China
202.Ferruginous Pochard-----------------De Yang------------------China

After lunch we walked along long sections of drained river in the centre of the city, where there was little or no birds, and with the stench who could blame them!

We then decided to catch a taxi to yet another part of the river; easier written than done, it took an age to wave one down. But the wait had been worthwhile when we finally arrived at our final section of the river. Ruddy Shelduck flew in just as we arrived, and several Falcated Duck were spotted amongst the thousands of duck, which took some scanning with a cold wind blowing and incessant snow.

203.Ruddy Shelduck--------------------De Yang------------------China
204.Falcated Duck---------------------De Yang------------------China

Wei Qian said there were normally at least a few Baikal Teal in this area, and just as he said it I locked the scope onto a male, then another, in all there were five males, what a splendid lifer, it was as if an artist had been let loose on that head!

205.Baikal Teal-----------------------De Yang--------------------China


Behind us in some scrub were a flock of Black Throated Tits, while a number of Little Buntings were perched at the top of some dead plants.

206.Black Throated Tit---------------De Yang-------------------China
207.Little Bunting--------------------De Yang-------------------China

Being an hour away from Chengdu I needed to catch my flight to Shanghai at 1930 hours so it was decided we would start to head back early so that we could visit Jin Yan Lake Park in the city of Guan Han to look for Long Eared Owls. This would be a lifer for me, always wanting to see them, having missed them in 2007 at Dongting Lake.

As we discussed whether we had time see them, at the Guan Han junction of the expressway I spotted a flock of White Cheeked Starling in a tree next to a river.

208.White Cheeked Starling----------Chengdu /De Yang----------China

In fact it only took us 10 minutes to get to the lake, another five minutes to get to the Willow Tree where they had been seen roosting before. I wasn’t giving much hope as a building was being constructed right round the tree, the lake saving the tree from being engulfed by building work. To my surprise, particularly with the amount of noise, there sat four magnificent Long Eared Owls (Photo 5) peering down at us; they certainly looked wise! While we were trying to photograph them several Black Crowned Night Heron’s flew along the lake to roost.

209.Long Eared Owl----------------De Yang----------------------China
210.Black Crowned Night Heron-------De Yang----------------------China

A wonderful weekend thanks to Wei Qian and Zaxxies expertise and the support from Albert and Michael, which saw my China list for the year, surpass my UK list. Yesterday totalled 24 birds, today 57 listed below

Baikal Teal, Black Crowned Night Heron, Black Headed Gull, Black Necked, Grebe, Black Throated Tit, Blackbird, Buff Breasted Pipit, Buzzard, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Cormorant, Crested Kingfisher,
Crested Myna, Falcated Duck, Ferruginous Pochard, Gadwall, Goldeneye,
Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank
Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Little Bunting, Little Egret, Little Grebe
Little Gull, Long Billed Plover, Long Eared Owl, Long Tailed Duck, Long Tailed Shrike, Magpie Robin, Mallard, Olive Backed Pipit, Pintail, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Sand Martin, Shelduck, Shoveler, Smew, Snipe, Spotbilled Duck, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Tufted Duck, White Capped Water Redstart, White Cheeked Starling, White Wagtail, Wigeon, Yellow Billed Grosbeak.
 

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