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China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2009 List (UK, China, Hong Kong & ?) (1 Viewer)

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
12 June 09

At 0530 (Photo1) dawn had already well and duly broken in Manthorpe, Lincolnshire but it was 0630 before Steve and I set off for Weeting Heath (Photo 2) in Norfolk for our second attempt at Stone Curlew. We were in the right hand hide (Photo 3) by 8am after some birders said they had seen a couple of Stone Curlew by the far right hand fence.

Steve soon claimed to have spotted one, but couldn’t get on it with his telescope, so I proceeded to explain to him the tell tail differences between a Stone Curlew and a rabbit (which were not in short supply!). Some time later Steve spotted both birds near the fence as previously reported, and was adamant they were what he had seen earlier! I was on stony ground (pun intended) by now so just relished in his keen spotting ability! The birds were far too far away, even with digi-scoping, to get anything apart from a hazy blurred photo, so they were all soon deleted!

313.Stone Curlew-----------------Weeting Heath------------------England

Next it was across the border to Suffolk and Lakenheath to again try and pick up on a bird we had dipped on back in May.

It was a long walk to the far end of the reserve (Photo 4) to where there was a female Golden Oriole sitting on a nest. She was joined on a number of occasions by a splendid male that had the whole crowd (Photo 5) that had built up after we had arrived, spell bound. Steve was the perfect host in this situation guiding new birders to the nest, most were appreciative but for some reason, no matter what directions we gave, one lady always knew best, not sure if she ever saw the bird, oh well!

314.Golden Oriole------------------Lakenheath--------------------England

More to follow……….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
12 June 09 continued..........

After the long walk back to the car park we drove onto Swanton Novers to dip on Honey Buzzard, although Steve was able to pick up a mobile moth trap from nearby to make the trip worthwhile. North Creak provided us with our next dip with no sign of Montague’s Harrier, while our hat-trick was completed when the long staying Black Winged Pratincole near Titchwell decided that today would be the day it left the area!

The weather continued to be sunny but the temperature started to cool off. However we still made the most of our visit to Titchwell (Photo1) with a couple of distant Wood Sandpiper (Photo 2 – digi-scoped) and a couple of Knot (hadn’t realised I had not seen them this year until I checked my list at home) in the fresh water marsh adding to our year lists.

315.Wood Sandpiper-----------------Titchwell--------------------England
316.Knot----------------------------Titchwell--------------------England

Out onto the beach the wind was blowing, so conscious (following bitter experience and cost in 2008) of what fine sand can do to your camera we kept them well hidden. A pity as there was a large flock of knot with many in full summer plumage.

Walking off the beach I just happen to mention to Steve that we hadn’t seen Little Tern this year. A hundred yards back into the reserve we both smiled, as there was a lone Little Tern (Photo 3) fishing near the sea wall in the saltwater marsh (Photo 4). Steve suggested I mention what other birds we hadn’t seen this year!

317.Little Tern---------------------Titchwell----------------------England

After fish and chips in Hunstanton we drove to Dersingham Bog (Photo 5) where the weather was so cold (in June!) that we had to go back for our winter coats, the offshore breeze making it feel very uncomfortable. The midges were kept down though!

By 2115 several Nightjars started chirring, but it was another 20 mins before we saw a single bird fly out of a tree.

318.Nightjar------------------------Dersingham Bog---------------England

A reasonably successful but tiring day, arriving home at 0100 hours!
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
6 August 2009

A 5am get up in Hawkhurst, Kent, had me on the shingle beach (Photo 1) near the Nuclear Power Station at Dungeness just after 6am. Having walked passed the old lighthouse at the East end of the power station and then trudged along to the shingle beach to the South, a Black Redstart appeared on the Western perimeter fence. More birds (Photo 2) flew between the scrub area and the fence as I headed north. The first time I had seen Black Redstart in one of their UK breeding grounds!

319.Black Redstart------------------Dungeness--------------------England

Having retraced my steps back to the car I then visited the Dungeness RSPB reserve, where the “Recent Sightings” board indicated that the best birds could be seen on the Arc pit back across the Dungeness road. It was a hot and cloudless morning, with the direction of the morning sun making viewing difficult from the hides. Walking further up the path however I managed to get a better view from near a small wood where a Greenshank flew up from one of the lagoons (Photo 3).

320.Greenshank------------------Dungeness----------------------England

Unfortunately there was no sign of the Whimbrel or Curlew Sandpiper seen the previous day, and having to be back at Hawkhurst by 1030 I did not have too long to look!
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
14 August 2009

A gentle mid morning drive to Welbeck raptor watch point (Photo 1) in Nottinghamshire for Steve and I produced the target bird, a lone Honey Buzzard

321.Honey Buzzard-----------------Welbeck--------------------England
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
6 September 2009

It was early afternoon before the Ring Necked Duck (Photo 1) came up on Birdguides today at Westport Lake (Photo 2) near Stoke. Getting to Stoke took 45 mins but finding the lake had me lost for another 30 mins and that was with a map book and asking locals directions!

Arriving at the car park a sunny afternoon had turned very dull. The place was packed with families enjoying a Sunday afternoon so I felt a bit conspicuous getting my camera out and extending my telescope tripod, so I kept my camera in its bag and held my telescope to my side until I got away from the throng.

Once at the waters edge I moved along the shore a couple of times before settling down for a good scour of the lake. I was soon joined by another birder who, like me couldn’t turn any of the Tufted Ducks into our target bird! We then decided to check the far shore where I found the Ring Necked Duck preening. We made our way to the other side of the lake where I was able to take some hand held digi shots through my scope. Clearly the bird was in full moult with little or no wing feathers (Photo 3). Fellow Birdforum Member Mike Atkinson also arrived on the scene, and since seeing his photo’s of the bird earlier in the week when I got home mine look even more like record shots!

322.Ring Necked Duck---------------Westport Lake----------------England
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
12 September 2009

A 24 hour corporate trip to St Andrews (Photo 1) meant I was able to take an early morning walk from the Old Course Hotel across the 18th fairway (Photo 2) to the rocky shoreline (Photo 3) where a couple of Rock Pipits were feeding. A nice way to reach my goal of 200 UK birds for 2009! The less said about the golf score later the better, but our customers thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

323.Rock Pipit---------------------St Andrews---------------------Scotland
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
27 September 2009

A 6am start today as Steve, DAS and I made our way, on a gloriously sunny morning, to Bridlington to catch the RSPB's last skua and shearwater trip on the Yorkshire Belle (Photo1). Before we boarded we checked out the harbour wall (Photo 2) for Purple Sandpiper (Photo 3) with two birds being very obliging.

324.Purple Sandpiper--------------------Bridlington-----------------England

Once out on the boat, the sea was like a mill pond but birds where very few and far between, although good numbers of juvenile Gannets and gulls followed our chum line. My fourth such trip on the Yorkshire Belle gave me the confidence to be the first to call "Skua" on this sailing, after spotting a bird flying close to Flamborough Head, typically chasing a gull. The more experienced birders identified it as an Arctic Skua. Later it came close enough to snap a record shot (Photo 4)

325.Arctic Skua---------------------Bridlington--------------------England

The only other new bird of the year was a Manx Shearwater that glided past the bow of the boat, too quick to get a shot, but some Shags (Photo 5) did show well enough for my final photo of the day.

326.Manx Shearwater----------------Bridlington--------------------England

Following the boat trip and some delicious fish and chips a quick trip along the coast and a visit to Blacktoft Sands produced no further birds for the year. Where have all the migrants gone!

October sees only my second trip to China this year, which will include my first visit to Beidaihe, birding near Guangzhou and two trips in Hong Kong including Mai Po.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
13 October 2009

Arriving at Heathrow Airport, the previous day, one minute late for checking in for my flight (due to standing traffic on the M40) meant I had to take the late flight to Hong Kong. This in turn meant I couldn’t catch my connecting flight to Haikou on Hainan Island in China leaving me in Hong Kong for the night today. Therefore to help me stay awake and beat the jet lag I made a quick dash to Kowloon Park (Photo 1&2).

After an hour of spotting the more common birds and getting used to the heat again a family of White Shouldered Starlings hit the top of a conifer tree near the Chinese Garden.

327.White Shouldered Starling----------Kowloon Park-------------Hong Kong

Another 30 minutes later there was a feeding frenzy high up in a fruit-bearing tree where, amongst the myriad of Red Whiskered Bulbuls, was a lone juvenile Orange Bellied Leafbird.

328.Orange Bellied Leafbird-------------Kowloon Park-------------Hong Kong

Just before I headed back to the hotel I spotted an Asian Brown Flycatcher moving along the branches of a large well-established tree, more like a nuthatch than a flycatcher!

328.Asian Brown Flycatcher------------Kowloon Park-------------Hong Kong
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
16 October 2009

At 4pm today I met up with keen birders Mr Liao Xiao Dong (Bird Man), long time Guangzhou birding friend Lool and Mr Wu Kan Song (Country Boy) near Guangzhou airport. Our destination was the town of Ji Jia on the west coast of the Lei Zhou peninsula in the far east of Guangdong province. The peninsula leads down to Hainan Island where there is a 20 odd mile sea crossing to the island.

I was pleased we were not going to the southern tip of Lei Zhou, just half way down took us nearly 9 hours, including stopping for a meal in the town of Yang Jiang. How our driver Mr He was still awake when we arrived I will never know as the last couple of hours were on less than adequate roads with on coming traffic, which always had their lights on full beam! William Tang, one of our Reps, had also come along for the trip and was already wondering what he had let himself in for when we arrived at our hotel!

17 October 2009

It was a quite leisurely start Saturday morning, the alarm going off in the Ji Gu Yuan hotel (Photo 1) at 0630. Considering we were only paying £8 per room per night it had all the amenities you could want in an area of China that only saw electricity for the first time ten years ago.

Country Boy was a local, who had moved to Guangzhou to teach Biology, having taken up birding just two year previously. He had to organise everything as the majority of the locals only spoke their local language, which none of the Mandarin / Cantonese speakers could understand! He had also discovered the birding area we were going to today, Lool, Bird Man and he having been there only two weeks previously!

Before any birding day in China, breakfast must come first so we headed across the street (Photo 2) to a restaurant (!) (Photo 3) where we sat down to noodles and Chinese bread (Photo 4, LtoR Mr He, Country Boy, William, Bird Man and Lool).

Once breakfast was over we were joined by another two groups of birders, there were 15 of us altogether, from both Shenzhen Birding Club and Guangzhou. It was another 30-minute drive to the village of Hao Lang (Photo 5), down narrow roads in-between plantation after plantation of very thin trees, specifically grown for the paper industry, so I was informed.

We were met at the village by an endless stream of children, the five-child policy evidently the norm here. For such a small, impoverished village the size of the three-story school would compliment any small town in the UK! According to Country Boy this was the first time any of the children (and most of the adults) had seen a westerner and so they were amused with both my skin colour and my big nose, as well as my English accent, excited laughter filling the air as they tried to repeat some basic English words!

After a quick game of badminton with some of the children, as the rest of the birders arrived and organised their gear, which raised the noise level even further we left the village for the paddy fields.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 October 2009 (continued)

Once down in the paddy fields we were met with the sight of many, many mist nets (Photo1) that the farmers put up this time of year to catch the migrating birds. Country Boy had mentioned this before we arrived but I didn’t expect quite so many, lined up and down the fields (Photo 2). Alongside each section of netting was “temporary” accommodation (Photo 3) as the nets were harvested around 4am each day.

Back tracking slightly, my first new China bird of the day (I had already seen them in Hong Kong earlier this year) had been black Black Drongos along the roadside on electric cables (Photo 4 - taken the following day). My first new year bird, and lifer, was however a Japanese Sparrowhawk, which flew over as we left the vehicles, a good start to the day!

330.Japanese Sparrowhawk------------Hai Lang----------------China

A Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker, feeding at the top of a tree, had quickly followed, unaware of the crowd it was attracting!

331.Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker---------Hai Lang------------------China

Just before we had entered the paddy fields we had seen a Chestnut Winged Cuckoo (Photo 5) being pulled out of a net by a young lad who gleefully showed it to us all. While I was dismayed at what fate awaited such a beautiful bird I was at least able to appreciate it in closer quarters than normal, my second lifer of the day.

332.Chestnut Winged Cuckoo-----------Hai Lang----------------China

It was already warming up out in the paddy fields with both Richard and Buff Bellied Pipits being flushed as we walked, the latter a year bird, as was a Lesser Coucal that burst out of a mature crop of rice.

333.Buff Bellied Pipit-----------------------Hai Lang-------------------China
334.Lesser Coucal-------------------------Hai Lang-------------------China
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 October 2009 (continued)

Having passed through the paddy fields and a small wood we then found ourselves amongst more than 100 large fishponds (Photo1), each with its own aerator and automatic fish feeders although all had ropes across, which the fisherman used to pull themselves across on small platforms scattering fish food.

We all (Photo 2) then arrived at a golden beach where the temperatures really began to soar, Lool (Photo 3) taking interesting precautions! The beach stretched as far as the eye could see in either direction in fact it was more like a desert than a beach. The majority of it was perfectly flat where the tide had been in, except for literally trillions of tiny balls of sand that darkened the beach (see dark area at bottom of Photo 4) produced by millions of crabs sifting out any food left by the sea.

Kentish Plover and Sanderling (Photo 5) were the main birds on the beach and shoreline; while above the flow of migrating raptors at this fly away point had not really started just yet.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 October 2009 (continued)

Moving along the beach, there were a number of Lesser Sand Plovers (Photo1) feeding alongside the meandering outlets of small streams that were tricking across the sand. My first Hobby in China for the year also flew overhead, starting the flow of raptors.

335.Lesser Sand Plover--------------Hao Lang----------------------China

Shielding our eyes from the fierce sun we watched several Crested Honey Buzzards (Photo 2) using the thermals above the beach to head south, my third lifer of the day.

336.Crested Honey Buzzard----------Hao Lang------------------China

Another small stream produced a couple of Pacific Golden Plovers (Photo 3), already in non-breeding plumage. Then, above, seven Amur Falcons (Photo 4) slowly glided by. Three males and 4 females one of the latter coming low enough to be captured on “film”.

337.Pacific Golden Plover-------------Hao Lang----------------------China
338.Amur Falcon---------------------Hao Lang----------------------China

After a couple of hours on the beach we headed back to the village along one of the streams. There was no bank as such to walk along. We had to make our way across the top edges of individual fish-ponds where the black plastic, that covered the man made depression, was stretched tight and weighted down.

Country Boy was walking along the opposite side of the stream and called out “Little Heron” just in time for me to see it disappear into the vegetation. I was not so lucky with the Oriental Reed Warbler!

339.Little Heron----------------------Hao Lang----------------------China

Back at the familiar sight of mist nets surrounding paddy fields, the heat was almost unbearable, there wasn’t a breath of wind and lunch beckoned. Nearing the village there was a flock of strange birds overhead, each separated by a good distance, feeding as they flew. Having never seen these birds in such a situation (they are normally crouched down on mud) at first I didn’t know what they were but then one flew away from the sun and so proved to be an Oriental Pratincole. The first I had seen in China since 2006, near Tianjin, where there had been 30 birds or more crouched down on the mud!

340.Oriental Pratincole----------------Hao Lang----------------------China

Several tiny Zitting Cisticola were the last new China birds of the year to be seen before we arrived back at the village. Country Boy had us all smiling as he repeatedly tried to say this bird’s name as we sat down for lunch.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 October 2009 (continued)

Lunch (Photo1) was well received by all the children (Photo 2) again taking centre stage calling out their recently learnt English words.

After lunch a Ruddy Breasted Crake (Photo 3) was brought to the party, by a child, which was tied to a stick by a thread through its beak. The children then amused themselves by throwing the bird into the air to see it crash landing back to earth. It was able to get enough lift from frantically flying its wings to save serious injury thank goodness!

It was now siesta time and all were thankful for it such was the heat, over the next couple of hours all was quiet. Refreshed a number of us made it up onto the roof (Photo 4) of the restaurant, covered in drying corn, where numerous birds of prey were passing overhead. The sun was still baking down and you soon struggled looking up into the bright sky.

The only new bird at this juncture was an Eastern Marsh Harrier (Photo 5), looking much darker than any other bird in the sky.

341.Eastern Marsh Harrier--------------Hao Lang---------------------China

More to follow.........
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 October 2009 (continued)

Back out in the paddy fields (Photo1) while there were numerous types of bird of prey flying through no new species passed by. I then broke away from the main group to do a bit of solo birding. Just as I was criss-crossing one of the mature fields of rice a Yellow Bittern (Photo 2 - taken during lunch, another captive I am afraid!) burst out from its cover, I was pleased to see there were still some flying free!

342.Yellow Bittern--------------------Hao Lang-----------------------China

Twenty minutes later and I found a Bull Headed Shrike (Photo 3) atop a mist net pole, my fourth lifer of the day.

343.Bull Headed Shrike---------------Hao Lang-----------------------China

A makeshift dirt road split the expanses of paddy fields and mist nets with the bushes that lined the road providing the only cover between the two woods. I was pleased to pick up my first Crested Bunting, a female, of the year there. Unfortunately the farmers and fisherman were returning home by now, as dusk began to fall, frightening off the bunting before I could get close enough for a record shot with my camera.

344.Crested Bunting-----------------Hao Lang-----------------------China

After I mentioned this bird to one of the young Shenzhen birders, he was keen to return there to try and see if it was still around as he had not seen one in the flesh. Unfortunately for him it didn't but we did luck in, in first hearing and then seeing five wonderful Blue Tailed Bee Eaters fly over heading north, my last lifer of the day!

345.Blue Tailed Bee Eater------------Hao Lang-----------------------China

By now the sun (Photo 5) was just a red disc above the trees with Black Drongos enjoying the last few rays of the day. As we made our way back to the village a number of farmers were just entering the fields with bright lights strapped to their heads holding long poles with nets. They were after Yellow Breasted Buntings that roosted in the rice fields. I tell you there is no let up for any poor bird this time of year here! Luckily we did see some of these birds but well away from where the "light hunters" were so we could enjoy these brightly coloured birds in peace, our last bird of the day.

346.Yellow Breasted Bunting---------Hao Lang-----------------------China

Back in the village, we had to rely on torches to find our way back, as large bats flew overhead. I was actually looking forward to returning to our hotel however someone produced a laptop and proceeded to give a lecture, in Chinese, on birds of prey (Photo 5). Nearly two hours later and after nodding off at least twice I mentioned to William (who could understand it but was a none birder, so not really interested) that I was going to ask the lecturer to repeat it in English afterwards! Grimacing he suggested we wait in the car with the air conditioning on. This we did for just five minutes before all returned..............
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
18 October 2009

It was a rather early start today, arriving at the paddy fields (Photo1) at 0530 as Lool was hoping we would be able to see some of the birds the farmers had caught in the mist nets. However we were too late, the car that came and picks up all the birds had long gone with its prizes to sell in the towns and cities!

As we arrived the farmers were just raising the lower portions of their nets (Photo 2), their dirty work done for another day. One of the farmers even showed us in one of our books which owl (Photo 3) he had caught, an Oriental Scops Owl that fetched him an extra couple of Yuan!

To our surprise he then told us that he had not sold all of his nights catch. He brought out a bag (Photo 4), which contained two Cinnamon Bitterns and a White Breasted Waterhen. Country Boy negotiated the price for the birds, leaving me to hand over the 24Yuan (£2.40) to the farmer.

Extracting the birds from the bag they didn't look in pristine condition, their capturers even forcing the bittern's bills through the skin at the base of their necks so they cannot bite, unbelievable! However both Cinnamon Bitterns (Photo 5) looked like they would survive so we released them into some thick vegetation giving them time to recover before the following night's campaign! The waterhen soon followed.

347.Cinnamon Bittern----------------Hao Lang------------------------China

More to follow............
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
18 October 2009 (Continued)

As the sun rose in the sky Lool, Country Boy, Bird Man and I spread out to try and find our own birds. William and the driver slept in the car knowing they had a nine-hour drive home later!

Rounding the shaded part of a mature rice field I spotted a small crake like bird moving just behind the first row of rice plants. Analysing a couple of quick poor quality shots proved the bird to be a lifer a Baillon's Crake (Photo1). I called the rest over as quietly as I could and luckily it stayed for all to view

348.Baillon's Crake----------------Hao Lang-------------------------China

Separating again I then found myself staring through my binoculars at a bird that seemed to be sunning itself next to yet another crop of rice. I beckoned Country Boy over with his scope and we all viewed (Photo 2) a Water Rail sitting down and taking in the early rays of sun before skulking back into the rice. I still haven't seen one in the UK yet this year so that was a nice surprise, particularly as it was a first for China!

349.Water Rail--------------------Hao Lang-------------------------China

From here I found a farmer (Photo 3) standing in a small field covered in nets with three Red Collared Doves tied to the nets by a thread that just enabled them to fly up a couple of metres or so. His targets were wild birds of the same species. As luck would have it he had not been successful today, ironically as he put the last net away a flock of the same doves flew into the tree behind us, I must have had a rye smile across my face!

After this encounter I only added three more China year birds to my list, Hen Harrier, Black Winged Cuckoo Shrike and Greenshank despite another trip to the beach where ladies were skimming the surface of the sand with 'U' shaped tools (Photo 4) that ran a couple of inches under the surface and when they hit something hard they hoped it was a shell fish. Looking in their baskets they were not having a lot of success!

Before returning to the car Bird Man (Photo 5) just wanted to get some plover shots, it was then time for the journey we all dreaded!

More to follow............
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
First of all many thanks to the 10th person to rank this thread, much appreciated

18 October 2009 (Continued)

Back at the car in time for one last shot of the team (Photo1) we then headed for Lei Zhou's principle city aptly named Lei Zhou where we ate lunch, Country Boy picked something up from his mother and we then set off back to Guangzhou.

Arriving back at 2230 we were all spent and I cheered when I arrived at my hotel room. A big thanks as usual to Lool for arranging the trip, for Country Boy showing us this very remote part of China and Bird Man for his guidance. Hats off also to our driver Mr He who drove 16 of the 18 hours and for William for driving the rest and being such good company, even though he hadn't realised what he had let himself in for!

Our total number of birds seen over the weekend was 53, all listed below in alphabetical order: -

Amur Falcon, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Baillon's Crake, Black Drongo, Black Shouldered Kite,Black Winged Cuckoo Shrike, Blue Tailed Bee Eater, Buff Bellied Pipit, Bull Headed Shrike, Chestnut Winged Cuckoo, Chinese Bulbul, Chinese Pond Heron, Cinnamon Bittern, Crested Bunting, Crested Honey Buzzard, Dusky Warbler, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret,Greater Coucal, Greenshank, Grey Capped Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Hen Harrier, Hobby,Japanese Sparrowhawk, Japanese White Eye, Kentish Plover, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lesser Coucal, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Egret, Little Heron, Long Tailed Shrike, Magpie Robin,Oriental Pratincole, Pacific Golden Plover, Plain Prynia, Red Collared Dove, Red Rumped Swallow, Richard's Pipit, Sanderling, Scaly Breasted Munia, Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker,Siberian Stonechat, Snipe, Swallow, Water Rail, White Breasted Waterhen, White Wagtail,Yellow Bittern, Yellow Breasted Bunting, Zitting Cisticola
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
24 October 2009

A leisurely 0730 start today in Beidaihe after travelling here from Beijing with Julia Li and Cynthia Zhang together with fellow Birdforum member Mr Li Ming and long time Beijing bird watching friend Mr Li Haitao last night.

The Lang Qin Yu hotel (Photo1) was very good for the Yuan100 (£10) a night. I had always wanted to visit Beidaihe, in all my birding trips out of Beijing I had never made it there as it hadn't been the right time of year. I was so hoping it was this time!

After a full Chinese breakfast for the others, Chinese tea for me, we headed for the mud flats (Photo 2) near an outlet to a reservoir. Luckily the tide was coming in when we arrived pushing the birds towards us. There were many gulls, the majority being Black Headed and my first Black Tailed Gulls (Photo 2) of the year.

350.Black Tailed Gull------------------Beidaihe---------------------China

The wind was from the South and it was still very warm so we soon realised we had little hope of seeing migrating crane today, but hey I was in Beidaihe one had to make the most of it! Out on the surf several families of Red Breasted Merganser (a first for China) were feeding while there were a number of Vega Gulls (a lifer) in various plumages resting above the high tide line.

351.Vega Gull------------------------Beidaihe----------------------China

Dunlin (Photo 3) were chasing the tide as they fed while Pallas's Reed Buntings were mixing it with Tree Sparrows in the reed beds. A Japanese Quail was flushed from the same reeds as we progressed along the mud.

352.Pallas's Reed Bunting-------------Beidaihe----------------------China
353.Japanese Quail-------------------Beidaihe----------------------China

Two more birds took my Chinese year count to 168, a Grey Plover (Photo 5) and a low flying Goshawk that buzzed the hundred or so Kentish Plovers. Two Spot Billed Ducks then flew over and headed up the reservoir, somewhere where we needed to be later according to a Chinese photographer who spoke no English but showed me the ducks that were there by pointing to them in a book.

354.Spot Billed Duck------------------Beidaihe---------------------China
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
24 October 2009 (Continued)

Next stop was a Lian Fengshan park (Photo 1) that looked over Beidaihe, which has a tall mast giving good views of any migrating birds, should there be any migrating birds! Unfortunately the only new bird of the year was a Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Photo 2) and so after a very quiet couple of hours we were heading back to the sea again.

355.Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker--------Beidaihe-----------------China

Back at the coast Li Ming had arranged to meet up with Birdforum member and Beidaihe resident Gretchen Naumann who joined us for the afternoon. This started with a very long walk trying to get into the reservoir park across the road but with little success and so we took a rest scouring the mud flats again (Photo 3).

Three Far Eastern Curlews (Photo 4) were feeding in front of us giving some rest bite to an extremely frustrating day.

356.Far Eastern Curlew---------------------Beidaihe-----------------China

Ok we were by now determined to get into the reservoir park so approached the originally chained gate and found that it was quite easy to step over the padlocked chain between the gate and the fence and so we were in!

We were pleased we had made the effort as the park was unspoilt, the general public not being allowed in and so there was no litter anywhere. We stood on a small covered platform to view the reservoir where a male Falcated Duck gave me my final year tick of the day, although there were five other duck species I had not seen in China this year together with three (Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted) that I had never seen before in China!

357.Falcated Duck-------------------------Beidaihe------------------China

As dusk fell it was then time to say our farewells to Gretchen and return to the hotel for a meal.

That night gave me my first chance to read through a copy of the "Birds of East Asia" by Mark Brazil, Li Ming had managed to pick up for the princely sum of 75 Yuan (£7.50). The book is printed in China and like everything in China if you know where to go some extra copies are always available at local prices! Saying that the book is certainly worth the full price, Mark has done an excellent job it will certainly accompany me on future trips.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
25 October 2009

We awoke the next day to thick fog that put pay to any migration watch. Julia and Cynthia bought some hot corn on the cob from a street vendor (Photo1) before we headed to the same breakfast stop as the previous day.

Due to the weather we decided to visit the reservoir park again, and would you know it the gate was open this time. The fog had not relented as we wondered along the track (Photo 2) deep into the park, but it didn't seem to affect the Spot Bills (Photo 3) who kept us company with their loud calling.

Nearing some thicker vegetation, with a small stream running through it, there were many small birds feeding. Although the light was not the best we soon picked out a Tristram's Bunting, followed almost immediately by a Yellow Browed Bunting (Photo 4) that dropped into the bottom of the leaf covered stream

358.Tristram's Bunting----------------Beidaihe-----------------------China
359.Yellow Browed Bunting-----------Beidaihe-----------------------China

As fast as could write the birds names down another would appear, this time a splendid male Yellow Throated Bunting stopped for a split moment before disappearing.

360.Yellow Throated Bunting----------Beidaihe-----------------------China

If the birds was more than 20 feet away from us we were struggling to identify them, although we were able to assure ourselves Photo 5 was a Grey Headed Woodpecker by its call!
 

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