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


Nick Sismey
29 January 2008

Having a spare hour at lunch time, in Shanghai, I went across to the Hongqiao Central Park (Photo 1) near my hotel, the Renaissance Yangtze Shanghai Hotel, which was six inches deep in snow after it had been snowing all night and most of the morning. Immediately after arriving in the park I added another China year bird with a family of Long Tailed Tits feeding in the snow covered trees.

After a further 45 minutes or so both several Dusky Thrush’s (Photo 2) and Pale Thrush’s (Photo 3) were mixing it with Chinese Bulbuls in a quieter part of the park. Just a couple of minutes later, under some trees that had kept the ground free of snow, a Scaly Thrush (Photo 4) was feeding alongside an Orange Flanked Bush Robin (Photo 5). I hadn’t been sure whether to venture out; I was certainly pleased I had!

211.Dusky Thrush-----------------Shanghai-----------------------China
212.Pale Thrush------------------Shanghai------------------------China
213.Scaly Thrush-----------------Shanghai------------------------China
214.Orange Flanked Bush Robin----Shanghai------------------------China


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Nick Sismey
4 February 2008

Back in England a trip to Allestree Park on the northern outskirts of Derby produced a couple of Treecreepers (Photo 1) and the park's speciality, Mandarin Ducks (Photo 2).

216.Mandarin Duck--------------Allestree--------------------England

Then a very wet walk through the Erewash Field section of the Attenborough Nature Reserve, near Nottingham brought my first sparrowhawk of the year!



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Nick Sismey
10 February 2008

Sometimes birds are easy to spot and the Waxwing (Photo 1) in the Allestree district of Derby was very easy. The six birders near the relevant tree gave the game away straight away, with the bird showing well at the top. Having parked up I was able to get a reasonable photo of the bird when it came down to pick berries of a smaller tree.


Meeting up with Steve Whiteley in Allestree we both decided to visit Swallow Moss that afternoon for the Great Grey Shrike (Photo 2). A couple of hours later, on a wonderfully warm, sunny (was this really February?) day, we were up on the moors, the bird was showing very well, but being very mobile. We joined another local birder Nick Pomiankowski, the Staffordshire County Bird Recorder, to try and get a closer look but the bird always kept well in front of us. The photo was with my telescope and camera both on full magnification.

219.Great Grey Shrike ----------Swallow Hill-----------------------England

Nick then suggested we move north to try and pick up some Short Eared Owls. We dipped on those initially, but just as we arrived in the area he had suggested, a female Hen Harrier cruised along the valley floor. Later another flew across the horizon. We also heard several Red Grouse before we spotted the first of many on a wall in the distance.

220.Hen Harrier-----------------Swallow Hill----------------------England
221.Red Grouse-----------------Swallow Hill----------------------England

Steve and I then returned back to our original spot where the shrike had been to see the harriers come into roost. After 20 mins or so I decided to go back for the Short Eared Owls, one finally showing quartering over a distant part of the moor.

222.Short Eared Owl------------Swallow Hill----------------------England

A great day and some great birds, and thanks to Steve and Nick for their great help!


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Nick Sismey
16 February 2008

The plan today was to visit Park Hall Country Park near Stoke this morning, with Steve Whiteley, to see my first UK Long Eared Owl (I only saw my first one in China a couple of weeks ago). However at the last minute I could not make it this morning so Steve had to go on his own, with me visiting in the afternoon.

Thanks to directions from Steve, via the mobile, I was able to walk straight to the tree the birds (I counted 4 very high up at the top of the tree) were in. I had to be a bit careful as there were a few youths about and I didn’t want them to know what I was doing. This took my 2008 UK list to 128 and UK life list to 238.

From here it was a short walk back to the quarry near the Visitor’s Centre to look for the resident Little Owl. After several minutes of scoping the sun kissed pink quarry wall I picked up the bird (Photo 1 - digi-scoped around 50 metres away) on a ledge, enjoying the sun.

223.Little Owl---------------------Stoke---------------------------England

On the way home to Derby I called at Blithfield Reservoir, dipping on the Black Redstart but picking up a Grey Wagtail (Photo 2) leaving my 2008UK list at 130.


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Nick Sismey
17 February 2008

While unable to get a positive ID on the Thayer's Gull at Pool Brook I did manage to pick up the female Scaup at Ogston Reservoir on a gloriously sunny yet bitterly cold day



Nick Sismey
Thanks to whoever rated this thread, much appreciated. Visiting Eyebrook, Cossington Meadows and Attenborough this weekend so hopefully more birds to add to the list


Nick Sismey
23 February 2008

What a day, one that should not really have been a birding day. My 18 year old son Jamie wanted to drive his first car from Derby to Bourne, in Lincolnshire, to show his Grandparents and other family members. I pointed out that there was a great road between Melton Mowbray and Oakham he could try out, oh and after that maybe we could make a slight detour to Eyebrook Reservoir to see the Smews! Being a totally non-birder I thought he wouldn’t buy this but he did, it was my lucky day!

As we took the Oakham by-pass my first Skylark of the year flew up from a field adjacent to the road.


It was only another 15 minutes before we arrived at Eyebrook and luckily (with son’s birding threshold being very low!) I only had to wait ten minutes before spotting a Redhead, not my first Smew of the year, but my first in the UK for 2008.

Arriving at my fathers, and after Jamie had shown him his car, I realised I had a few hours to kill in the afternoon so asked him if he wanted to go on his first ever twitch, to Cley for the White Crowned Sparrow (Photos 1 – 3). Being, like Jamie, an avid non-birder, I was surprised he agreed but it was more so he could spend time with his son (bless) than actually see the bird!

Picking me up from my in-laws, just after lunch (Jamie having a full afternoon booked going round all the relatives to show them his car), it took us two hours to get to Cley, but I wasn’t complaining as he had decided to pick me up in his “other car” (Photo 4), 73 and enjoying every minute! Is this what you call Posh Birding?

Arriving at the Three Swallows pub at around 4pm there were only a handful of birders, plus a local, familiar with the bird, looking over the fence where the bird had last been seen an hour earlier. Within minutes the bird showed and I was able to get some reasonable shots, my father even saw the bird. Not a lifer, having first seen one way back in 1987 in Phoenix, but certainly a new UK bird! I also understand the church fund is now close to £6,000!

226.White Crowned Sparrow------------Cley next the Sea------------------England

After ten minutes it was another two hours back to my mothers to meet up with Jamie and then drive back to Derby. In all I did 8 hours in cars today, without driving once, very strange!


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Nick Sismey
24 February 2008

A first trip to Cossington Meadows, between Leicester and Loughborough, with friend DAZ and his daughter Rebecca, this afternoon, produced the long staying Water Pipit. Bad digiscoping photo’s I am afraid!

227.Water Pipit----------------Cossington Meadows----------------England


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Nick Sismey
2 March 2008

Another new birding area to me, Thoresby Hall, north of Mansfield in Nottinghamshire for the Black Redstart (Photo1) that had been reported for a few weeks. There were several birders already in the car park watching the buildings when I arrived just before lunch, but the bird had not been seen for a while.

Then after just 5 minutes, up went the shout that the bird was in a private garden round the back of the main buildings. Sure enough the bird was there and showed very well, for all to see, a beautiful male, a first for the UK for me.

228.Black Redstart ---------------Thoresby Hall-----------------England

Back at the car there were Nuthatch, Coal, Blue and Great Tit on the feeders near to the garden centre. Theses were joined by my first Marsh Tit (Photo 2) of the year!

229.Marsh Tit-----------------------Thoresby Hall-----------------England


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Nick Sismey
2 March 2008 (Continued)

That afternoon I visited Eyebrook Reservoir to try and find the Green Winged Teal. It took a good 20 minutes to locate the bird thanks to info from other birders, but as soon as we found it it flew off again! Several Yellowhammer were also at the feeding station.

230.Green Winged Teal--------------Eyebrook Reservoir------------England
231.Yellowhammer-------------------Eyebrook Reservoir------------England

A quick check at Rutland Water failed to produce the Black Necked Grebe at the Fisherman's car park, although I did pick up the Long Tailed Duck another birder said he was looking for while watching the grebe, typical! No access to a computer last night hence further update today.


Nick Sismey
15 March 2008

Fellow birder Steve Whiteley called me up first thing this morning about the two Firecrests (Photo 1) reported on BirdGuides at Upper Saxondale, to the East of Nottingham. By 1030 we had arrived at the East restaurant where two other birders were already on one of the birds. We got the briefest of views as the bird flew away into another tree further down the road. It was several minutes before we picked up the bird again, but this time we saw both birds together. They were so active and moved so quickly trying to get a photo was very difficult hence the poor picture attached. My last Firecrest had been in 2004 so it was a good spot, thanks to Steve.

232.Firecrest-------------------Upper Saxondale -----------------England

We then spent some time at Attenborough where the Cetti’s Warbler was calling repeatedly but unfortunately never showed from The Bund.

Have also attached other photo’s taken by my new Canon 40D and 400mm F5.6 lens I purchased a couple of weeks ago. Very impressed so far, believe it gives much better results than my Nikon D70s and Sigma 50-500mm lens, but it may just be me!


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Nick Sismey
First of all thank you very much to the second person to rate my thread.

20 March 2008

A 6am start today for fellow birder David Salisbury (DAS) and I, from Manthorpe in Lincolnshire through to Titchwell in Norfolk. The day started cold turning to wind and rain, I have never been so wet, and that was with so called waterproofs! We did clock up 92 birds (seen) though, so not a bad run!

The first two new birds for my 2008 UK list were seen virtually at the same time in the sleepy village of Greatford, where the river exits the manicured gardens of Greatford Hall, through a sluice gate and on through old English farmland, full of sheep and ancient oak trees. Two Kingfisher flashed along the river towards the hall, as we stood on the bridge, and at the same time two Green Sandpiper took to the air amongst the sheep, taking my UK list for the year to 142.

I was also surprised to see two Little Egret further up the river, the closest I had ever seen these birds to my childhood local patch!

It wasn’t until after we had passed through Welney (we were actually the last car to make it through the flooded road, they closed the road after us), DAS successfully notching up his first Whooper and Bewicks of the year, that I added my next UK bird to my list, a White Wagtail feeding amongst several Pied in a field.

As the wind increased we arrived at Hunstanton cliffs where several juvenile Kittiwakes were flying along the beach, my first of the year.


Just prior to arriving at Titchwell we made a quick dash up the road to Choseley Barns to try and add Little Owl to our day list. We weren’t disappointed with two birds in their normal haunt, see photo.

At Titchwell the promised rains finally arrived, we spent the first half an hour in Fen Hide where, after some quick glimpses of Bearded Tits flitting between reed beds a splendid male finally awarded us some better views. Unfortunately we had just missed the Bittern by minutes, which would have been an excellent day bird!

234.Bearded Tit-------------------Titchwell-----------------------England

After visiting the other two hides we braved the elements to check out the sea. Luckily the wind was off shore so we could hide behind the sand dunes. The sea was dead as far as birds were concerned, a family of Red Breasted Mergansers the only real high although a pair of Common Scoter took my year list to 235.

235.Common Scoter---------------Titchwell---------------------England

We did call at the Norfolk Ornithologists’ Association bird observatory at the end of a long drive to the east of Holme next the Sea, my first visit, what a great place. We were the last to leave so got chatting to the Warden, who advised that the local bird count was well over 300, I will certainly be back in May!

Our final stop was at Wolferton Triangle, no Golden Pheasants, but two species of deer appearing out of the thick cover of Rhododendrons at the side of the road, and more surprisingly several Woodcock feeding in the mud along the grass verge!

Our list for the day was as follows, without the Short Eared Owl DAS saw and I missed, as well as hearing but not seeing several Green Woodpeckers and a Jay!

Avocet, Bar Tailed Godwit, Barn Owl, Bearded Tit, Bewick Swan, Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Godwit, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Brambling, Brent Goose, Bullfinch, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Common Scoter, Coot, Cormorant, Corn Bunting, Curlew, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Fieldfare, Fulmar, Gadwall, Golden Plover, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Sandpiper, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Grey Plover, Grey Wagtail, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Kittiwake, Knot, Lapwing, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Owl, Long Tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Moorehen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pintail, Red Breasted Merganser, Red Legged Partridge, Redshank, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Ringed Plover, Robin, Rook, Ruff, Sanderling, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Snipe, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Teal, Tufted Duck, Turnstone, White Wagtail, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Woodcock, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer.


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Nick Sismey
21 March 2008

In between squally showers there were a large number of Sand Martins on the North Arm of Rutland Water today, my 147th UK bird of the year. I had to stay longer than I expected, as I needed the RAC and a set of jump leads, having left my lights on!


Nick Sismey
25 March 2008

Another trip to Allestree Park, to the north of Derby, in search of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker initially sprung the first Chiffchaff (Photo1) of the year.


Then after around 45 minutes an elderly birder came rushing down to the bottom lake through the wood that connects the lake to the car park. He had just enough time to tell me that there were two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers halfway up the wood. He then disappeared as quickly as he arrived and I made my way, just as quickly, to where the woodpeckers were, locating a female at the top of a tree, guided by her drumming.

237.Lesser Spotted Woodpecker ------Allestree--------------------England

Buoyed with success I then drove down the M1 to Swithland Reservoir, south of Loughborough, to search out the Lesser Scaup (Photo 2 - digiscoped). The birders already there had not picked up the bird yet, and while we were still looking I was pleasantly surprised to see my mate Steve Whiteley arrive with his girlfriend Brenda. Almost at the same time a couple of other birders said they had just seen the bird from the damn, close to where we were standing! A few more minutes search and the bird suddenly appeared amongst some Tufted Ducks. A great present for Steve’s birthday, what was my 150th UK bird of the year!

238.Lesser Scaup-------------------Swithland---------------------England


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Nick Sismey
27 March 2008

A glorious afternoon at Carsington Water produced my 151st UK bird of the year a Swallow, a single bird that flew around the Visitor Centre for a couple of minutes and then headed north.
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Nick Sismey
29 March 2008

Steve Whiteley and I picked the best part of the day, this morning, to make our first visit to the nature reserve at Willington near Burton-upon-Trent alongside the river Trent. The sky was blue yet there was still a cool breeze. There had been some good birds reported from there so we were keen to check it out.

Luckily a few minutes after arriving we met a local birder who regularly birds there, who kindly gave us a tour of the site. Our first port of call was a gravel pit alongside the canal that had been half filled in, leaving a shallow lake with gentle gravel slopes. This was perfect for Little Ringed Plover, my 152nd UK bird of 2008. There were at least 10 birds plus an equal amount of Ringed Plover, which enabled us to easily compare the birds.

We then ventured around the rest of the site in such of the reported Rock Pipit. However it wasn’t until we returned to the same pit that the bird showed if only for a few seconds. It was thanks to another birder who picked the bird up in his scope that we both saw it. I was especially pleased, as it was a lifer for me, my 750th!

239.Rock Pipit------------------Willington--------------------England

Just to make sure we knew that we should have listened to the weather forecast and left before the weather broke, we got a good dowsing on the way back to the car!


Nick Sismey
05 April 2008

Another soaking for Steve Whiteley and I at Willington this morning, although the first Blackcap (Photo1) of the year made up for it. We also heard a Willow Warbler in an area we could not access but didn't see it!


Walking along the river Derwent this evening, to Alvaston Park in Derby, produced a single House Martin (Photo 2), amongst a large flock of Sand Martin and the occasional Swallow, the 155th UK bird of the year.

241.House Martin----------------Derby---------------------------England


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Nick Sismey
6 April 2008

In between the snow flurries (April!!) this afternoon, at Attenborough (Nr Nottingham), I staked out the Cetti’s Warbler from The Bund (The name of this particularly walkway between two areas of water). The bird was calling every five minutes and then after about 30 minutes a small brown bird darted into the undergrowth on the edge of the water near my feet. A couple of seconds later there was an explosion of sound as the bird let rip, it was like someone had turned the volume to the maximum, as it echoed off the bank. As quickly as it arrived it left, leaving me stunned, deaf and happy!

242.Cetti’s Warbler -------------Attenborough---------------------England

Later in the afternoon, with the cold now biting, a lone Willow Warbler (Photo1) was wondering why it had bothered migrating as it fought off the cold feeding deep inside a large bush. Its call was very weak, who could blame it, with it continually on the move, making it difficult to photograph.

243.Willow Warbler ------------Attenborough-----------------------England


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Nick Sismey
Thanks to the third person to rate my thread!

13 April 2008

Today was my last chance to pick up some UK summer migrants for two weeks as I am on my travels tomorrow with work.

First stop was Eyebrook Reservoir on a sunny but crisp morning. As soon as I arrived, along the northern edge of the reservoir, two Norfolk birders parked up behind me and within seconds of us introducing ourselves my first UK (158th) Greenshank of the year flew off with a pair of Redshank.

Moving towards the bridge we joined up with some local birders who pointed out that the Osprey had already returned to its favoured tree.

244.Osprey --------------------Eyebrook--------------------------England

After another hour, now along the southern shore, a lone Yellow Wagtail finally made itself available for all to see.

245.Yellow Wagtail -------------Eyebrook--------------------------England

While observing the wagtail another birder advised there was a Wheatear just up the road sharing a field with some sheep, sure enough, minutes later, there was the bird!

246.Wheatear-----------------Eyebrook --------------------------England

Next and final stop of the morning was the Egleton part of Rutland Water, which produced two Common Tern.

247.Common Tern--------------Rutland Water---------------------England

NEXT STOP: China and Hong Kong

Tuesday evening, while trying to combat jetlag, I will hopefully be able to explore what is left of the farmland around the Sheraton Hotel in Haikou on Hainan Island off the southern coast of China.

Thursday/Friday will be early jaunts to the park near the Renaissance Yangtze Hotel in Shanghai

Saturday/Sunday, a group of us are returning to the Nan Ling forest reserve in the mountains 4 hours north of Guangzhou.

The following week there will be very little chance of birding in Guangzhou, Tianjin and Xian but that weekend I will be making my third visit to Mai Po in Hong Kong followed by a boat trip off the coast of Hong Kong; can’t wait!
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Nick Sismey
15 April 2008

After scraping the ice off my hire car window yesterday, in Derby, before the journey to Heathrow, it was nice to arrive at Hong Kong airport this morning at 7am and 23 degrees C.

The three hour wait for my connection flight to Haikou on Hainan Island enabled me to start my 2008 Hong Kong list, while sitting in departures. Three Crested Myna’s were picking up scraps from the apron down below, while a lone Chinese Bulbul (may be the same one I saw last year) was flying around within the terminal. Then a couple of Swallows flew past over the Regal hotel directing my eye to a new bird for 2008 on top of a palm tree, a Red Whiskered Bulbul.

248.Red Whiskered Bulbul----------------Lantau----------------Hong Kong

Just before I boarded the plane two Black Eared Kites were patrolling the sea along the edge of the airport, taking my Hong Kong year list to……5

Having only managed 3 hours sleep on the long haul flight to Hong Kong I needed to stay awake this afternoon so I would sleep tonight. Therefore I made a three-hour jaunt along the river near the Sheraton Hotel, which took me through some familiar farming areas.

Before leaving the beach (Photo 1) the first new bird of the year, a splendid Pied Kingfisher (Photo2) was hovering over the river just as it entered the sea. Later I managed to find the whole family (Photo 3)!

249.Pied Kingfisher------------------------Haikou--------------------China

Next up was a noisy flock of White Shouldered Starlings (Photo 4) making themselves easy targets.

250.White Shouldered Starlings------------Haikou--------------------China

After crossing the vast four-lane high way, which caters for very little traffic and crossing the bridge I dropped down the other side of the river negotiating the large flocks of white farm ducks. Most seemed, unusually, to be two to three month old chicks, which unlike the more wary adults, thought it a good idea to follow you! The problem was that as soon as you thought you had shaken one group off you stumbled across some more! Amongst this palaver I heard the meowing of a Yellow Bellied Prinia (Photo 5) that flew to the top of a bush. Seconds later I flushed a Hoopoe minding its own business along the bank.

251.Yellow Bellied Prinia--------------------Haikou-------------------China

Then, once into the more open grasslands, which had tethered cows here and there, I checked some overhead power cables to be surprised by a lifer, a pair of Red Collared Doves. They were too far away and flighty to get a photo but a couple more checks and I was able to convince myself they were indeed Red Collared Doves, the male being particularly vivid.

253.Red Collared Dove-----------------Haikou------------------China

While I was still patting myself on the back two more birds appeared in quick succession, a flock of Black Collared Starlings and a single Fork Tailed Swift, noticeably much larger the more common House Swifts, that headed towards the sea.

254.Black Collared Starlings---------------Haikou-------------------China
255.Fork Tailed Swift---------------------Haikou-------------------China

As I headed back towards the beach myself, in-between a building site and the golf course an Oriental Skylark rose out of the golf course singing a similar song to its European counterpart.

256.Oriental Skylark ---------------------Haikou-------------------China


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