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


Nick Sismey
25 October 2009 (Continued)

Moving deeper into the park we came across some paddy fields where we could hear a large number of Tree Sparrows calling. Once we found them there must have been several hundred. However we also came across the blight of many birding areas in China, a mist net which had caught several birds.

Li Haitao immediately got to work freeing the sparrows (Photo1). We all soon did our bit, each of us freeing a total of seven birds. Some even had the net tangled around their tongues (Photo 2). Note to self: Always have small pair of scissors when birding in China.

After all the live birds were freed we "de-commissioned" the net! As we left this area a couple of Oriental Skylarks flew over

361.Oriental Skylark--------------------Beidaihe---------------------China

Back in the wood our final bird of the day a Rustic Bunting (Photo 3) made this place Bunting city! It was certainly a better day/morning than we envisaged.

362.Rustic Bunting---------------------Beidaihe---------------------China

With the fog unabating we decided it best to take lunch and then make our way back to Beijing. The authorities close the expressways during foggy weather so we were expecting a long drive! All told it was a disappointing weekend, however the non-birders Cynthia (Photo 4) and Julia enjoyed the fresh air and it was good to be out birding again with my two birding friends.

The full team is shown in Photo 5, LtoR Cynthia Zhang, Julia Li, Li Ming and Li Haitao.

The list of the 55 birds seen over the two days follows in alphabetical order: -

Black Headed Gull, Black Tailed Gull, Brambling, Buzzard, Coot, Crested Myna, Daurian Redstart, Dunlin, Falcated Duck, Far Eastern Curlew, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Goshawk, Great Crested Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Grey Capped Greenfinch, Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Grey Capped Woodpecker, Grey Faced Bunting, Grey Heron, Grey Plover, Japanese Quail, Kentish Plover, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Olive Backed Pipit, Orange Flanked Bush Robin, Oriental Skylark, Pallas's Leaf Warbler, Pallas's Reed Bunting, Pochard, Red Billed Blue Magpie, Red Breasted Merganser, Rustic Bunting, Shoveler, Sparrowhawk, Spot Billed Duck.Teal, Tree Sparrow ,Tristram's Bunting, Tufted Duck, Vega Gull ,Wigeon, Yellow Browed Bunting, Yellow Browed Tit, Yellow Browed Warbler, Yellow Throated Bunting


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Nick Sismey
28 October 2009

Having taken the fast train (200 mph plus) from Beijing to Tianjin Sunday night, I transferred to Chengdu (Sichuan) Monday night and by Tuesday night I was in Urumqi (Xinjiang) west of the Gobi Desert, having flown in alongside the impressive Tianshan Mountain range.

I hadn't been here for five years so it was good to be back, as it has always been one of my favourite areas of China, being so remote. Urumqi is the furthest city in the world from the sea. It was strange not being able to text, e-mail, use the internet or make international calls due to the government restrictions after the unrest in July between the Uiger and Han Chinese communities.

With China being on the same time zone work doesn't start in Urumqi until 10am, it is still dark at nearly 9am (should be 7am). However we had still finished our meetings by mid afternoon so had the chance to make a quick dash for the Bai Yang Valley leading to the Nan Shan mountain (Photo1), south of Urumqi.

Cai Chang, our rep, had lived here in the past so knew a local guy, a Mongolian Mr Ning Bo who ran a four-wheel drive. It was a good thing as the roads once out of the city were terrible. It took us just over an hour to get to the mountain, passing through mile after mile of steppe made up of medium sized rounded stones and grass. The size of the quarries we passed had to be seen to believed, hence the reason the roads were so bad, the thundering lorries breaking it up!

Walking down the mountain stream, which I had previously visited in June 2004 and was then teaming with birds, was this time rather depleted most birds sensibly moving south as the first snows of winter had already fallen.

I did hear a familiar sound though, that of a Dipper, which briefly stood on one of the slabs of ice on the edge of the stream before making a hasty retreat. While I had seen many Brown Dipper this was my first Dipper in China.

With little to see here we returned to the foothills (Photo 2) where I lucked in on one of my favourite birds a Shore Lark (Horned Lark) (Photo 3), which kept a safe distance in the dulling light. My previous encounter had been here in 2004!

363.Shore Lark--------------Nan Shan (Urumqi)----------------------China

The few bushes in this area attracted Pine Buntings (Photo 4) giving me final bird of the day.

364.Pine Bunting------------Nan Shan (Urumqi)----------------------China

As we walked back to the car Mr Ning Bo showed me that he was very familiar with the flora and fauna and its whereabouts in the region. He had some wonderful photos of Ground Jays, Bustards and Snowfinch to name but three. Hopefully I will be able to return for a weekend in the future!

However it was a good couple of hours, thanks must go to Cai Chang, Tracey Du and Ning Bo (Photo 5) for organising the trip at the last minute.

We then went to a famous Peking Duck Restaurant with our customer. Conversation soon turned to the atrocities of July, which do not warrant repeating here, but safe to say I am pleased with the level of security here at present, you even have to scan your bags each time you enter the Sheraton Hotel.


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Nick Sismey
31 October 2009

Jason Zhang, one of our Reps in Hong Kong, kindly picked me up from my hotel just off Nathan road in Mongkok, Hong Kong at 7am this morning to drive out to the New Territories and pick up fellow Birdforum member Mike Kilburn (MkinHK) from Ping Long at 8am.

My last trip out with Mike had been in February, and invariably he comes up trumps with some terrific birds so the anticipation was high! Our first destination was one of my favourite birding areas in Hong Kong, Long Valley (Photo1) with its large variety of habitats. We raked up 20 birds in the first 15 minutes the 25th being a new one for the year, a Marsh Sandpiper (Photo 2).

365.Marsh Sandpiper----------------Long Valley----------------Hong Kong

Mike then suggested we walk down a particularly muddy area, as there was a good chance of Painted Snipe. Almost as soon as we entered one broke cover! Later we found ourselves in an even better area (Photo 3) for the same species. Initially we saw one in a very peculiar pose (Photo 4) as if trying to camouflage itself against the plants, but then up to 15 young birds moved through an opening enabling some good photo opportunities (Photo 5)

366.Painted Snipe-------------------Long Valley---------------Hong Kong

Later I was pleased to get onto an Oriental Reed Warbler that had escaped me in Lei Zhou earlier in the trip. This bird showed well in some tall reeds, but not well enough to get a record shot.

367.Oriental Reed Warbler------------Long Valley--------------Hong Kong


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Nick Sismey
31 October 2009 (Continued)

A Chestnut Eared Bunting (Photo1) provided my penultimate year bird at Long Valley, while a splendid Pheasant Tailed Jacana (minus the tail this time of year) flew over providing the last. We saw it a couple of times in fact but always flying in the distance.

368.Chestnut Eared Bunting--------------Long Valley------------Hong Kong
369.Pheasant Tailed Jacana--------------Long Valley------------Hong Kong

We had 52 day ticks in the books when we left Long Valley for Nam Sang Wai (Photo 2) where I never need an excuse to take photos of the elegant Great Egret (Photo 3), with that snake like neck! There were also several Black Faced Spoonbills in the mangroves, while a couple of Ospreys passed through.

A Black Tailed Godwit took us to 60 birds for the day, which was also my 100th Hong Kong bird of the year.

We then moved inland slightly into some extensive reed beds (Photo 4), where having passed couples in wedding attire, three chaps in World-War II regalia and another family with a dog, all being photographed we locked on to a Purple Heron (Photo 5) that was always going away from us unfortunately.

370.Purple Heron--------------------Long Valley----------------Hong Kong

This was our last birding patch with Mike for the day and so returned him to Ping Long where we bid our farewells and thanked him for sharing his local expertise with us again. I hope it is not too long before we were back out with him!


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Nick Sismey
31 October 2009 (Continued)

After a short lunch in Tai Po Jason and I then visited Tai Po Kau (Photo 1) forest Nature Reserve, which had been recommended by Mike. Initially there were very few birds around, and even when we went off piste up one of the steeper paths the silence was deafening.

All of a sudden we walked into a feeding frenzy, we didn't know where to look next (Photo 2). Chestnut Bulbuls were making most of the noise while male and female Grey Throated Minivet produced the most colour. Then high up on a branch, but only for a split second a tiny Fire Breasted Flowerpecker came into view, followed almost immediately by a gorgeous Velvet Fronted Nuthatch. In fact I counted five of the latter. Having not seen them since 2004 in Yexiangu (Xishuangbanna - Yunnan province) this was a real treat!

371.Fire Breasted Flowerpecker---------Tai Po Kau---------------Hong Kong
372.Velvet Fronted Nuthatch-----------Tai Po Kau---------------Hong Kong

Then came the bird of the day for me as it was my only lifer of the day, a Yellow Cheeked Tit. Jason spotted it first with its striking yellow and black plumage and crest. Being deep in the foliage it was impossible to photograph but made for an excellent end to the day.

373.Yellow Cheeked Tit-----------------Tai Po Kau--------------Hong Kong

We walked further into the forest seeing very little else except a family of noisy Monkeys (Photo 3) before returning back to the city.

It had been a good day with 73 birds being recorded, thanks again to Jason for providing the wheels and Mike the expertise.

A full list of bird is shown below in alphabetical order:-

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Azure Winged Magpie, Black Collared Starling, Black Crowned Night Heron, Black Drongo, Black Eared Kite, Black Faced Spoonbill, Black Tailed Godwit, Black Winged Cuckoo Shrike, Black Winged Stilt, Blue Winged Minla, Buzzard, Cattle Egret, Chestnut Bulbul, Chestnut Eared Bunting, Chinese Bulbul, Chinese Pond Heron, Collared Crow, Common Myna, Common Sandpiper, Cormorant, Crested Myna, Dusky Warbler, Fire Breasted Flowerpecker, Great Egret, Great Tit, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Grey Throated Minivet, Grey Wagtail, House Swift, Japanese Quail, Japanese White Eye, Kingfisher,Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Long Tailed Shrike, Magpie, Magpie Robin, Marsh Sandpiper, Masked Laughingthrush, Olive Backed Pipit, Oriental Reed Warbler, Osprey,Painted Snipe, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Pintail, Purple Heron, Red Throated Pipit, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Richard's Pipit, Scaly Breasted Munia, Shoveler, Siberian Stonechat, Snipe,Sooty Headed Bulbul, Spotted Dove, Teal, Tree Sparrow, Velvet Fronted Nuthatch, White Breasted Waterhen, White Rumped Munia, White Throated Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Wigeon, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Bellied Prinia, Yellow Browed Warbler, Yellow Cheeked Tit,Yellow Wagtail, Zitting Cisticola.


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Nick Sismey
1 November 2009

A later start today, my last day in Greater China, with Jason picking me up from the hotel at 7:30 am for the 30 minute drive to Mai Po Nature Reserve (Photo 1) where the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society were holding a bird watching day. As soon as we arrived we realised that it was going to be a busy day at Mai Po as the World Wildlife Fund (Photo 2) was also holding an open day to make all aware of global warming. I had never seen so many people at Mai Po before (Photo's 3 & 4) however it didn't affect its charm (Photo 5)


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Nick Sismey
1 November 2009 (Continued)

Mai Po can look particularly serine early in the day (Photo 1) but we didn't have much time to take it all in as we were all hurried along the floating boardwalk (Photo 2) through the mangrove swamp and on to the bird hide overlooking the mudflats as high tide was turning.

Great Egrets, Black Faced Spoonbills and Avocets (Photo 3) were all mingling together in the shallows while my first Whimbrel (Photo 4) of the year came just about close enough to get a record shot.

374.Whimbrel--------------------Mai Po------------------------Hong Kong

With the bird hide being packed out, with standing room only clearly the day going was going to be one long trek with around 50 new birders. Therefore I decided to take my leave of absence from the group and do my own thing.

Back on terra ferma I walked all the way along the border fence, anti-clockwise, until the concrete road ran out just as the track turned east. There were literally thousands of Cormorants in this part of the reserve together with 20+ Black Faced Spoonbills and 10 or more Black Eared Kites, but there was no one else in site.

The border police informed me that I couldn't get back round to the Mai Po reserve along this eastern track but I tried it anyway. Half way along a family of Collared Crows flew up from the trees above me. Then in the distance I spotted a rather large bird in a dead tree being mobbed by kites, it turned out to be a splendid Imperial Eagle (Photo 5), what a bird! I had seen one earlier in the year with Mike so didn't add to my year ticks!


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Nick Sismey
1 November 2009 (Continued)

Heading north again it looked very much that the track did loop back towards the reserve. Suddenly there was a commotion in the tree ahead of me as a Spotted Dove followed closely by my first Hong Kong based Sparrowhawk (Photo1) exploded from its cover. The dove escaped I am pleased to say.

Back at the reserve proper the crowds just intensified as bus after bus dropped more and more people off. I was walking against the tide most of the time. Clearly the WWF had done a wonderful job of attracting a big crowd but it wasn't inducive to birding I am afraid therefore I left the reserve and made my way along the approach road to the fish ponds and rivers overlooked by the sprawling Shenzhen (Photo 2).

I was pleased I had as I soon came across four White Winged Black Terns (Photo 3 & 4) washing in the pools and preening on the electrical cables. They seemed oblivious to my approach, so close was I able to get!

375.White Winged Black Tern---------------Mai Po--------------Hong Kong

Cautious to try and find well cut grass as I walked around the fish ponds, not wanting to tread on any reptiles, a bunting then flew out of the longer grass, my first Hong Kong Yellow Breasted Bunting (Photo 5) of the year!

More to follow.........


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Nick Sismey
1 November 2009 (Continued)

The bunting would turn out to be the last new Hong Kong bird of the day. I called Jason up to pick me up mid afternoon where we finished off the day at Long Valley.

There were still many photographers (Photo1) wondering the fields when we arrived. As the afternoon (Photo 2) moved into evening (Photo 3) the birds readied themselves for the night (Photo 4) and Jason and I arrived back at the car just as the sun was setting (Photo 5).

It had been an incredible three weeks that went past so quickly, I couldn't believe I was heading home already.

The 65 birds seen today are listed below in alphabetical order:-

Avocet, Azure Winged Magpie, Black Collared Starling, Black Crowned Night Heron, Black Drongo, Black Eared Kite, Black Faced Bunting, Black Faced Spoonbill, Black Winged Stilt,Blackbird, Buzzard, Cattle Egret, Chinese Bulbul, Collared Crow, Common Sandpiper, Cormorant, Crested Myna, Curlew, Dunlin, Dusky Warbler, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Great Egret,Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Grey Heron, House Swift, Japanese White Eye, Kentish Plover,Kingfisher, Koel, Large Billed Crow, Little Grebe, Little Ringed Plover, Long Tailed Shrike, Magpie, Moorhen, Osprey, Painted Snipe, Pintail, Plain Prinia, Red Billed Starling, Red Throated Pipit, Red Whiskered Bulbul, Redshank, Richard's Pipit, Scaly Breasted Munia,Shoveler, Siberian Stonechat, Snipe, Sooty Headed Bulbul, Sparrowhawk, Spotted Dove, Swallow, Tree Sparrow, Whimbrel, White Bellied Sea Eagle, White Breasted Waterhen, White Rumped Munia, White Throated Kingfisher, White Wagtail, White Winged Black Tern, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Browed Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Zitting Cisticola.


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Nick Sismey
21 November 2009

Steve and I arrived at Rutland Water’s Egleton Reserve car park at 0830 this morning in search of our first Slavonian Grebe of the year. We were first in the car park but took our time to get to Gadwall Hide looking over South Arm III (Photo 1) where the bird had been seen. Particularly because many of the normal paths were closed, with bright green Newt fences across some of the pastural fields behind the hides. This was all part of the next phase of the reserve’s development that will see many new lagoons, independent to the actual reservoir so not reliant on the reservoir's own water level.

Arriving at the hide we were surprised to find it full, with standing room only. The grebe had been seen but moving right, along the shoreline.

We therefore made our way along to Goldeneye Hide, which we had to ourselves. The four Black Necked Grebes soon appeared but the slavonian was proving more elusive. Suddenly Steve got onto it, no wonder it was difficult to find, it was asleep with its head under its wing. Steve did well to pick it out. Unfortunately it never came close enough to get even a reasonable digi shot. However it was the first time Steve and I had seen four grebe types in one day in the UK!

376.Slavonian Grebe---------------Rutland Water----------------England

There had also been reports of a Long Eared Owl roosting near Fieldfare Hide (Photo 2) earlier in the week. Both of us had ticked this bird in January but high up in conifer trees at Stoke so hoped to get a better view here.

This time I was lucky enough to get onto the bird (Photo 3) first, deep in the bushes on the right hand side of the path. Steve and I spent some time trying to photograph it but it was a real struggle, being impossible to get in a position where branches were not obscuring its view. But what a bird!

Our mornings birding produced 54 birds: -

Black Headed Gull, Black Necked Grebe, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Gadwall, Golden Plover, Goldeneye, Goldfinch, Goosander, Great Black Backed Gull, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Lapwing, Linnet, Little Grebe, Long Eared Owl, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Redshank, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin,
Shelduck, Shoveler, Siskin, Slavonian Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Woodpigeon, Wren


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Nick Sismey
28 November 2009

Rain was the order of the early morning today. It was already raining when I left the house at 0645 to pick up Steve and it continued to lash down all the way to Far Ings on the southern bank of the Humber next to the Humber bridge. Arriving at 0830 it was another two hours before it relented sufficiently for Steve and I to venture out of the car (Photo1).

There had been many far more hardy souls than us around, committed to seeing the Red Necked Phalarope during the downpour so Steve kept on opening the window just enough to get any news, it was all negative!

There was one moment that broke the tedium though. Steve had just asked another drenched birder whether there had been any sighting. The reply, in a broad accent was, “Nor, I’m just goin to get the Scorp” which Steve immediately took as meaning there was a relatively rare duck in the vicinity and so exclaimed “Oh, where is that?” “In the back of me car!” came the bemused reply. That set up the day nicely, it wasn’t long before the rain stopped and we ventured out scouring the south bank in both directions (Photo 2) with little luck. Although I did keep reminding Steve about the unusual number of “Scorps” there were around today!

By 1300 hours we decided to cut our losses and head for Saltfleetby and Theddlethorpe Dunes (Photo 3) which was like most of the North Lincolnshire coast, endless dunes and enormous expanses of beach (Photo 4 & 5). My kind of terrain, open and very few people about. Almost immediately as we passed through the sand dunes we spotted a flock of small birds directly in front of us. Closer inspection revealed 60 odd Snow Buntings and 20 Twite all feeding very nervously amongst the short vegetation binding that part of the beach together.

377.Twite-----------------Theddlethorpe Dunes-------------------England

No more than five minutes later we moved south along the edge of the dunes whereupon 7 Shorelarks were calmly feeding on similar vegetation. This was a first for me in the UK after a number of dips although I had seen the birds a couple of times near Urumqi, China, the last time just a month ago.

By now the light was fading any chance of trying to take some photos of our quarry were fading with it. One final chapter to our day was the sight of my first Merlin of the year attacking the flock of buntings and finches. It soon separated one bird from the flock, twisting back and fourth to try and get onto the bird, which nose-dived down towards the dunes in an attempt to break free. There we lost sight of both birds.

378.Merlin-----------------Theddlethorpe Dunes-------------------England

I great finish to the day after the downpour earlier, with fish and chips completing the day on the way home!


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Nick Sismey
29 November 2009

A mid afternoon trip to Carsington Reservoir started with a visit to Sheepwash Hide (Photo1) where a Yellow Legged Gull was freshening up in the waters just off Flat Island

379.Yellow Legged Gull-----------Carsington Reservoir--------------England

Moving along to Lane End Hide (Photo 2) the birders there were already on the long staying Ringed Bill Gull, which gave me my second new Life UK bird in two days.

380.Ringed Bill Gull --------------Carsington Reservoir---------------England


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Nick Sismey
30 December 2009

No further birding dates planned for 2009 so now time to concentrate on 2010. Am not back to work until 11Jan10 so hope to get some good birding in over the first few days. On 1Jan10 aim is to do normal first day of the year route below and try and beat previous best of 74. Then onto the coast with DAZ and Steve on the 2nd. Happy New Year to all


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