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China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2011 List (UK, China, Hong Kong & ?) (1 Viewer)


Nick Sismey
For the sixth straight year I hope to keep track of my birding exploits across the UK, China and Hong Kong recorded here on Birdforum in 2011.

Thanks to visiting several countries this year I beat my previous best score of 443 birds in a year, set in 2008, on 16October2011.

The target in the UK was 200 again, which I am pleased to say I achieved on 22June11 with a Red Footed Falcon, the second time I have hit 200 with this species!

Again Steve Whiteley and David Salisbury (DAS) will be accompanying me on many of the UK trips, Steve being the chief co driver. If he can’t find a reported bird location no-one can. DAS was born with hearing that has Steve and I in awe, he can literally hear a Goldcrest across The Wash in a force 10 gale!.

As of 30 December 2011 my current worldwide year list stands at 565 birds, the UK at 216

---UK-----China-----Hong Kong---Holland---Thailand---Madeira---USA---Germany---France---Singapore---Malaysia---Abu Dhabi---World


My current records are as follows:

2010-------------UK-210, China-179, Singapore-93,WW-393
2009-------------UK-209, China-189, Hong Kong-113,Holland-4, WW-380
2008-------------UK-220, China-177, Hong Kong-99, Finland-17, USA-84, Canada-22, WW-443
2007-------------UK-200, China-249, WW-398
2006-------------UK-205, WW-410
2005-------------UK-183, WW-358
2004-------------UK-157, WW-276

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Nick Sismey
Happy New Year to all at Birdforum

1 January 2011

A change in plan to the norm for the first day of the year in 2011 with a trip to an ice covered Rutland Water (near Oakham, Leicestershire) starting off at Hambleton (Photo1 & 2)

The first nine birds of the year were picked up during the drive from Derby to Rutland

4.Carrion Crow--------------------------Rempston-----------------------------------England
5.Buzzard-------------------------------Melton Mowbray----------------------------England
6.Black Headed Gull----------------------Melton Mowbray----------------------------England
7.Rook----------------------------------Melton Mowbray----------------------------England
8.Pheasant------------------------------Melton Mowbray----------------------------England

The next 35 birds were picked up less than half a mile from the car, scanning the frozen reservoir and the shoreline. There were at least 20 Red Crested Pochards, with two redhead Smew

10.Bullfinch-----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
11.Chaffinch----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
12.House Sparrow-----------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
13.Lesser Black Backed Gull--------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
14.Starling------------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
15.Blue Tit------------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
16.Robin--------------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
17.Green Woodpecker-------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
18.Reed Bunting-------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
19.Fieldfare-----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
20.Collared Dove------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
21.Great Tit----------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
22.Wren--------------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
23.Dunnock-----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
24.Redwing-----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
25.Great Crested Grebe-----------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
26.Mute Swan--------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
27.Turfted Duck------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
28.Gadwall-----------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
29.Goldeneye---------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
30.Coot--------------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
31.Pochard-----------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
32.Mallard-------------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
33.Canada Goose------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
34.Teal---------------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
35.Wigeon------------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
36.Cormorant---------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
37.Great Black Backed Gull--------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
38.Red Crested Pochard-----------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
39.Smew-------------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
40.Pied Wagtail-------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
41.Shelduck----------------------------Rutland Water-------------------------------England
42.Redshank----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
43.Greenfinch---------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
44.Grey Heron---------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England

Next stop was the fisherman’s car park looking over the North Arm of the reservoir which just added a Jay

45.Jay----------------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England

A quick visit to the feeding station near the Bird Watching Centre produced two more birds

46.Moorehen----------------------------Rutland Water------------------------------England
47.Goldfinch-----------------------------Rutland Water-----------------------------England

On the way to Eyebrook Reservoir, the other side of Uppingham, a Kestrel was keeping watch on a telegraph wire near the picturesque village of Stoke Dry.

48.Kestrel-------------------------------Stoke Dry----------------------------------England

In the car park at the foot of the hill the first Coal Tit of the year was on the feeding station while Goosander and Common Gull were out on the frozen reservoir

49.Coal Tit------------------------------Eyebrook Reservoir--------------------------England
50.Goosander---------------------------Eyebrook Reservoir--------------------------England
51.Common Gull-------------------------Eyebrook Reservoir--------------------------England

Towards the inflow end of the reservoir (Photo 3) it took some time to pick out the Green Winged Teal (Photo 4 – digi-scoped) amongst all of the common Teal, but Greylag were one of the most common birds there. A solitary Snipe was also feeding on the far bank.

52.Greylag------------------------------Eyebrook Reservoir--------------------------England
53.Green Winged Teal-------------------Eyebrook Reservoir--------------------------England
54.Snipe--------------------------------Eyebrook Reservoir--------------------------England

At the inflow (Photo 5) a Little Grebe kept the list ticking. By now the weather had really closed in, it was miserable with frequent rain showers.

55.Little Grebe---------------------------Eyebrook Reservoir-------------------------England

Setting off across country a Red Kite carrying a transmitter wire was circling over Laxton, and a family of Red Legged Partridges were blocking a small lane just after Laxton

56.Red Kite-------------------------------Laxton-----------------------------------England
57.Red Legged Partridge-------------------Laxton----------------------------------England

I was just ticking the Lapwings feeding in the parkland surrounding Blatherwycke lake when a Peregrine burst out of a nearby tree and set off across the farmland.


Heading towards Lincolnshire I stopped by the roadside in a wood near Collyweston where a Marsh Tit was feeding in the rotting vegetation

60.Marsh Tit------------------------------Collyweston-----------------------------England

Thirty-five minutes and 15 miles later I had passed through Rutland and into Lincolnshire where I knew I had a pretty good chance of picking up both Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer. Both were there in plentiful numbers.

61.Corn Bunting---------------------------Wilsthorpe-------------------------------England

I was now in very familiar surroundings having spent my youth here in southern Lincolnshire. A large flock of Linnets were also where I expected as was a Little Egret.

64.Little Egret----------------------------Greatford--------------------------------England

A Barn Owl was chasing a Kestrel as I was searching Langtoft gravel pits, while a Sparrowhawk flew straight across the road and into some trees a little further along.

65.Barn Owl------------------------------Langtoft---------------------------------England

As dusk fell I noticed a large flock of swans feeding in a field in Baston Fen which included a couple of Whooper Swans. I just managed to get my scope set up when the whole field got up and left for the roost, the Whooper looking size for size almost the same as the mutes.

67.Whooper Swan------------------------Baston----------------------------------England

DAS joined me for dinner at my mothers and then we went out owl hunting, with a Tawny Owl staring back at us from a tree the other side of Lound, just two miles from my mothers. A mile further up the road we picked up DAS’s first Barn Owl of the year.

68.Tawny Owl----------------------------Lound-----------------------------------England

Not a bad start to the year, the best start being 74, but Norfolk beckons on the 2nd day of the year so I am sure the ticks will keep coming. I was surprised not to see a single Shoveler or even hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker today though!


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Nick Sismey
2 January 2011

During the early morning drive to Titchwell DAS and I picked up Pink Footed Geese looming out of the gloom over Wolfreton and Curlew feeding in the fields surrounding the Choseley drying barns.

69.Pink Footed Goose-----------------Wolfreton----------------England

In the car park at Titchwell a family of Long Tailed Tits worked their way through the bushes near the car. Siskins were feeding in the trees behind the main feeding station (Photo1), as a flock of Brent Geese flew over, and to our surprise a Water Rail came and took its fair share of seed spill from below the feeders

71.Long Tailed Tit--------------------Titchwell------------------England
73.Brent Goose----------------------Titchwell-------------------England
74.Water Rail-------------------------Titchwell------------------England

Once out on the redesigned pathway (Photo 2) we picked up six more year birds in quick succession.

76.Marsh Harrier---------------------Titchwell--------------------England
77.Golden Plover---------------------Titchwell--------------------England
79.Egyptian Goose-------------------Titchwell--------------------England

While viewing the impressive new hides (Photo 3) and all of the wonderful work that has been carried out at the reserve a Water Pipit flew down onto the edge of the ice.

81.Water Pipit------------------------Titchwell-------------------England

Viewing from the southern facing hide there were a variety of birds added to the year list despite the lack of open water and mud (Photo 4)

82.Meadow Pipit----------------------Titchwell--------------------England
86.Black Tailed Godwit---------------Titchwell--------------------England
87.Herring Gull-----------------------Titchwell--------------------England
89.Grey Plover-----------------------Titchwell--------------------England

The area (Photo 5) covered by the north facing hide was more like salt water marsh and gave us splendid views of Twite


More to follow….


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Nick Sismey
2 January 2011 (Continued)

Moving onto the beach Oystercatchers were the first shoreline bird spotted


Most birders were concentrating on two other species however. A lone Snow Bunting (Photo 1) was very confiding while nine Shorelarks (Photos 2 & 3) had DAS and I spell bound. It doesn’t matter how many times I see them I am always impressed.

92.Snow Bunting-------------------------Titchwell-------------------------------England

The tide was out so we had to move down the beach (Photo 4) to view the birds on the shoreline and out at sea. There was a raft of at least 2,000 Common Scoter, but before we made the painstaking search for Velvet Scoter we picked up Knot, Sanderling and Bar Tailed Godwit on the beach, Eider on the sea and a passing Red Throated Diver out at sea. The latter entailed a careful juggle of my telescope so that DAS could also see the distant bird, its upturned bill giving it away.

94.Common Scoter-----------------------Titchwell-------------------------------England
98.Red Throated Diver--------------------Titchwell-------------------------------England
99.Bar Tailed Godwit----------------------Titchwell-------------------------------England

Someone reported nine Velvet Scoter in the flock and DAS believe he had seen a flash of white on a bird when a small group took flight. It took me 20 minutes of scanning before I finally saw a Velvet Scoter stand up in the water and flap its wing, the tell tale white patch on the wings standing out like a beacon. DAS then took over the vigil but then the raft of birds took flight, with several Velvet Scoters revealing themselves even through the binos. A nice one to reach the 100th bird of the year, I had also only covered 180 miles in 2011 compared to 248 miles in 2010 to reach the same target!

100.Velvet Scoter-------------------------Titchwell------------------------------England

On the way back to the car park a Red Breasted Merganser circled the salt water marsh before disappearing over the sea wall. DAS also locked onto the sound of some Bearded Tits, sure enough a family of birds flew past.

101.Red Breasted Merganser---------------Titchwell------------------------------England
102.Beareded Tit----------------------------Tichwell------------------------------England

The cliffs at Hunstanton were our next call where a Fulmar soon came into view. DAS also locked onto a Red Necked Grebe across the water, I just picking it up as it disappeared from view. Feral Pigeon were showing off their acrobatic skills on the updraft from the cliff.

104. Red Necked Grebe--------------------Hunstanton---------------------------England
105.Feral Pigeon--------------------------Hunstanton---------------------------England

As the night drew in DAS heard a Goldcrest (Photo 5) as we walked to the top of the former cliffs at Dersingham Bog. It would turn out to be our last year bird of the day we would see.

106.Goldcrest-----------------------------Dersingham Bog--------------------England


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Nick Sismey
4 January 2011

Tuesday morning started cold but dry, first target was the 60 Waxwings (Photo1) reported near the Park Farm shops in Allestree to the North West of Derby. The birds were feeding on apples in a garden at the back of the shops but the light was very poor, only one photo being worth uploading. What special birds they are! Many passing people asked me what they were and were intrigued about where they had come from and why they were here.


Driving on to Allestree Park a Mistle Thrush was guarding berries in a small tree not far from Park Farm

108.Mistle Thrush---------------------Allestree-------------------England

The lake at Allestree Park (Photo 2) was frozen except for a small area. Circling the lake I picked up Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

110.Great Spotted Woodpecker-------Allestree-------------------England

Off Stone Cutter’s Island (Photo 3) at Carsington Water, some 15 miles north of Derby, one of two reported Great Northern Divers was diving for lengthy periods in one of the large areas of the reservoir free of ice. The bird was pointed out to me by a birding couple, it’s always good to ask “Anything about?”

111.Great Northern Diver-------------Carsington Water-----------England

They also guided me to where there was a large flock of Tree Sparrows on a feeding station near the wardens building and Redpolls, of the lesser variety, gorging themselves on seeding grass on the reservoir shoreline (Photo 4) just passed the yacht club slipway.

112.Tree Sparrow-------------------Carsington Water-----------England
113.Redpoll-------------------------Carsington Water-----------England


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Nick Sismey
5 January 2011

After picking Steve up from Ilkeston and heading North for to Rufford the weather closed in, the window wipers being kept very busy. “It’s not looking good Nick!” Steve exclaimed several times At Rufford Country Park it certainly wasn’t looking good, the rain battering down on the roof of the car. A few hardy souls were out walking their dogs and some birders wandering around the trees surrounding the car park. We took the wimps approach and moved the car to where we had seen the birders and would you know it we had our first record of seeing a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker from a car!

114.Lesser Spotted Woodpecker-----------Rufford----------England

Sometime later the race ceased so we braved it and broke from the comfort of the warm and dry car. The rains came again but we soldiered on, our reward a Treecreeper not more than 50 yards from the car park.


We spent an hour walking the grounds, being amazed just how tame all of the birds around the feeders were. Steve picked up a few more year birds before we decided to call it a day and I dropped Steve off back at home as he had some things to do.

It was then decision time for me, I still had most of the afternoon left the weather looking a little brighter. I decided to make my first visit to Attenborough Nature Reserve, South East of Nottingham, of the year.

I was so pleased I did, meeting up with two gentlemen near the stream (Photo 1) behind Kingfisher Hide. Initially the bird (Photo 2) that gave the hide its name came into view.


Then it was show time. For the first time in my life I saw three Bitterns (Photos 3-5) at the same time (two of which I managed to get in the same shot) along the stream. They had been driven out of the reed beds by the thick ice and were fighting for their own fish with Grey Herons that continually dive bombed them.


All three of us were transfixed; we only left once it was just too dark to see any more action.


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Nick Sismey
Thank you to whoever recently ranked this thread, much appreciated

6 January 2011

Again I picked Steve up this morning, around 0830 this time and we took off for Attenborough as Steve had yet to see a Bittern.

Scoping from near the visitor centre I picked up my first Ruddy Duck of the year

118.Ruddy Duck-----------------Attenborough-------------England

At the same stream as yesterday we had another spell binding hour where we saw four Bitterns, two Water Rails and the Kingfisher. A large crowd of birders had gathered. Steve and I took great pleasure in directing many first timers onto the birds. At one point a Bittern flew up and circled the paddock. Later when three people left their river side accommodation adjacent to the stream 2 more Bitterns took off.

The last two days have been the best Bittern watching days since I first saw one of these fabulous birds.

Looking out from the Kingfisher Hide (Photo1) a lone Stoke Dove (Photo 2) was picking up grain spill from the feeders.

119.Stock Dove--------------------Attenborough-----------England

Leaving Attenborough a flock of Waxwing flew over us so we turned back and found around 30 of them perched in the top of a tree, they were there only momentarily but it was a year tick for Steve.

Approaching Church Wilne on a long, straight, single tracked road we stopped at one of the passing places to view a flock of geese and swans feeding along the banks of the River Derwent (Photo 3). Just as we had decided they were just Mute and Greylag a white face popped up out of the long grass, then another. In all there were seven White Fronted Geese.

120.White Fronted Goose----------Church Wilne---------England

By 2pm we had arrived at Willington. We drove a little further down the bumpy track than normal did and parked right next to the fields (Photo 4) where the owls had been reported. A bird photographer arrived almost at the same time. Just as he set up his long lens camera a Barn Owl came out and sat on a distant post. Only minutes later a Short Eared Owl (Photo 4) flew up from the far side of the field and we then enjoyed the sight of two owls hunting for their first meal of the day.

121.Short Eared Owl----------------Willington-------------England

A number of local birders arrived and conversation turned to the reported Long Eared Owls seen over the festive season. The consensus was that the bird hadn’t been seen for a week or more since around 60 birders descended on Willington.

An hour later we moved further into the nature reserve where the large field bordering the gravel pits produced a Stonechat.


As the night was drawing in Steve and I moved back to the owl field picking up a Willow Tit on the way.

123.Willow Tit----------------------Willington--------------England

The Short Eared Owl was sitting on a fence post to our left halfway down the field alongside a hedge, but with little other action Steve and I were almost ready to leave when an elderly couple said they had seen the Long Eared Owl on the previous Sunday and it was after 4pm before it showed. As it was a clear night we guessed the bird could arrive even later so stayed on.

A Bittern flew into a tree on the far side of the field to roost and then all of a sudden there was what looked like two Short Eared Owls sitting along the fence. Scopes focused on the new bird in the diminishing light just as it flicked its ear tufts into the air, “It’s a Long Eared Owl!” everyone called. The bird was clearly hungry as it left its perch after a couple of minutes and flew right past us and into the night.

124.Long Eared Owl----------------Willington------------England

Three owls in one field, you can’t ask for much more than that!


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Nick Sismey
7 January 2011

Friday was definitely not a birding day with snow, sleet and rain making it miserable. I did venture out mid afternoon for a short while however to follow a tip off from one of the birders at Willington the previous night.

Not far from where we saw the White Fronted Geese yesterday, near Church Wilne, I stopped near a field of horses (Photo1) and scoped the a large willow tree through the gloom. Sure enough, as promised, there sat a Little Owl!

125.Little Owl----------------Church Wilne-----------------England


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Nick Sismey
8 January 2011

A late afternoon visit to Foremark Reservoir and two well known birders, Dipper and Martin helped me to identify a Yellow Legged Gull and a Caspian Gull

126.Yellow Legged Gull---------------Foremark------------------England
127. Caspian Gull---------------------Foremark------------------England


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Nick Sismey
9 January 2011

A gloriously sunny morning spent along the River Derwent (Photo1) at Cromford added a Dipper to the year list


Next stop China and Hong Kong from 16Jan11


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Nick Sismey
15 January 2011

During the drive down to Heathrow this morning a Ring Necked Parakeet flew across the M25 on the approach to the M4

129.Ring Necked Parakeet------------------M25---------------------England
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Nick Sismey
16 January 2011

Arriving in the early hours at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong I transferred to the Ferry Terminal at the airport where I was taking the 45 minute ferry (Photo1) ride to the Fuyong Ferry Terminal at Shenzhen Airport

While waiting in the very modern terminal my first Hong Kong bird of the year flew by, a Little Egret while Tree Sparrows flitted about the concrete pier. A lone Black Crowned Night Heron also flew passed giving me my first year bird of the day.

130.Black Crowned Night Heron----------Chek Lap Kok------------Hong Kong

Arriving in Shenzhen, China, Roger Xie from our Guangzhou office and Lool, a well known Guangzhou birder met me. The first thing I had to do was go back through immigration as I hadn’t picked up my suitcase. The last time I had seen it was at Heathrow and I didn’t realise you picked up your luggage from the side of the ferry!

Panic over we drove less than a mile, past thundering dumper trucks that were tirelessly reclaiming land with load after load of soil, before parking up (Photo 2) near some fish ponds.

With the construction of the Zhuhai to Hong Kong road-bridge as a backdrop we picked up approximately 70 Avocets (Photo 3) sleeping on the edge of the mud. However the first year birds were Kentish Plover (Photo 4) scurrying about in drain fish ponds, and Great Egrets (Photo 5) having a very successful time in the shallows, fish in plentiful supply

131.Kentish Plover------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen---------------China
132.Great Egret--------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China

Several Eurasion Curlew we also feeding in the deep mud near the egrets

More to follow…


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Nick Sismey
16 January 2011 (Continued)
As we wondered deeper into the desolate landscape a Chinese Pond Heron (Photo1) soon left its feeding place on the side of a river, while White Wagtails were less nervous

133.Chinese Pond Heron--------------Fuyong, Shenzhen--------------China
134.White Wagtail-------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen---------------China

A Common Kingfisher was sat atop a bamboo pole, being joined by a Magpie Robin while behind us three lovely Temminck’s Stints (Photo 2) were feeding amongst the plovers.

135.Magpie Robin---------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen--------------China
136.Temminck’s Stint-----------------Fuyong, Shenzhen--------------China

Minutes later two more birds were added to the year list with a Little Ringed Plover (Photo 3) and a Common Sandpiper (Photo 4) in their own area of drained fish pond.

137.Little Ringed Plover----------------Fuyong, Shenzhen-------------China
138.Common Sandpiper----------------Fuyong, Shenzhen-------------China

Lool then spotted some very confiding Japanese White Eye’s (Photo 5) feeding in some bushes rather than in the upper branches of a tree where you normally see them.

139.Japanese White Eye---------------Fuyong, Shenzhen-------------China

More to follow…


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Nick Sismey
16 January 2011 (Continued)

Despite the abundance of water the terrain become more and more desert (Photo1) like the deeper we went but Chinese Bulbuls (Photo2) always found something to feed on. This one seemed to be guarding a family of Scaly Breasted Munia (Photo 3) which included many young birds

140.Chinese Bulbul------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China
141.Scaly Breasted Munia-----------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China

Yellow Bellied Prinia were meowing all around, Long Tailed Shrikes keeping their silent vigil and Siberian Stonechats all strutting their stuff from favourite vantage points.

142.Yellow Bellied Prinia ------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China
143.Long Tailed Shrike--------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China
144.Siberian Stonechats------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China

A pair of Zitting Cisticola’s (Photo 4) caught my eye before these mice size birds disappeared into a grassed area. Spotted Doves, elegant Richard’s Pipits and their cousins, Olive Backed Pipits were also a common sight.

145.Zitting Cisticola----------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China
146.Spotted Dove------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China
147.Richard Pipit-------------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China
148.Olive Back Pipit----------------Fuyong, Shenzhen----------------China

While Roger caught a lift from a motorbike to go and pick up the car Lool and I watched the egrets, curlew and pond herons taking their fill as fisherman went about their daily chores. (Photo 5)

More to follow…


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Nick Sismey
16 January 2011 (Continued)

After lunch, not far from the airport, we set off back to Guangzhou but not before stopping at a small village (Photo1) on the island of Hai Ou Dai (Seagull Island).

There were no actual seagulls but as soon as we got out of the car we heard the tack-tack of a Dusky Warbler (Photo 2) in its favourite environment, the water’s edge.

149.Dusky Warbler-------------------Hai Ou Dai-----------------------China

Walking through the village (Photo 3) and over the bridge we came to some more drained fish ponds (Photo 4) where 17 Wood Sandpipers (Photo 5) were readying themselves for the roost.

150.Wood Sandpiper-----------------Hai Ou Dai-----------------------China

There was little more about so we left for Guangzhou, a good start to the China year, thanks to Roger and Lool. The next five days include Zhuhai, Guangzhou again, Xiamen and Haikou but it will be work so probably the next update will be from Saturday’s birding in Haikou.


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Nick Sismey
17 January 2011

During the 3 hour drive along the G15 between Guangzhou and Zhuhai House Swifts were feeding over the fish ponds.

151.House Swift------------------------G15-------------------------China
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Nick Sismey
18 January 2011

Walking through the gardens of the Ocean Spring Metro Park Hotel - Zhuhai a very tame Common Tailorbird came to within five feet, out in the open. Typical when you don’t have your camera!

152.Common Tailorbird----------------------Zhuhai-------------------China

On the journey back to Guangzhou a Black Shouldered Kite flew, in their typical ambling way, along the expressway

153.Black Shouldered Kite-------------------G15----------------------China

Update: 31Jan11 - Picture of Common Tailorbird added, taken in Hong Kong


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Nick Sismey
Thank you very much to the second person to give this thread a rating

20 January 2011

Arriving in Xiamen late last night, due to higher than normal bookings and the fact that I was travelling with a colleague the Sheraton offered us separate rooms within the Presidential Suite. A pity we were only there 10 hours!

While packing this morning a bird shot passed the 29th floor window (Photo 1) which had the jiz of a Peregrine. Sure enough a hapless pigeon was running a losing battle across the city being tailed by the Peregrine. Most cities I visit in China seem to have Peregrine. On clear days you can often see them hunting. Although only a China year bird, they always leave you in awe.

At the airport a number of Azure Winged Magpies were busy feeding around ornamental palm trees (Photo 2 – no I can’t see a single bird in the picture either!)

154.Azure Winged Magpie----------------Xiamen---------------------China

Arriving in Haikou on Hainan Island later in the day the hour drive to the hotel passed through some virgin (but for how long?) marshland where a White Throated Kingfisher (Photo 3 – taken 21Jan11) sat in full splendour. Several Crested Myna were also perched on the street lighting as we neared the hotel.

155. White Throated Kingfisher----------Haikou----------------------China
156. Crested Myna---------------------Haikou----------------------China

After checking in it was a quick dash to the beach (Photo 4) in the fading light. I had never seen the tide so far out but there was nothing feeding along the waters edge.

Turning inland along a river (Photo 5) a couple of White Breasted Waterhen were catching their last meals of the day while in the dense undergrowth an incongruous Pale Thrush was watching me, watching it.

157.White Breasted Waterhen----------Haikou-----------------------China
158.Pale Thrush-----------------------Haikou-----------------------China

The road I had travelled along from the airport, which bypassed the city of Haikou, had only recently been completed but it meant that the previously quiet six lane highway that passed by the hotel was now very busy. It took some time and courage to cross so I could look inland from the bridge over the river to see if development had reached the river. I was pleased to see it hadn’t from the little view I had, but it must be only time before the grasslands and farmland is under concrete with the amount of development all around, a pity as it is a wonderful birding area.


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Nick Sismey
Thank you very much to the third person to give this thread a rating, much appreciated

22 January 2011

Another walk along the beach in Haikou, after breakfast, to the path (Photo1) alongside the river was rewarded with a Japanese Thrush which was in exactly the same place as the first and only previous time I had seen this species on 23Jan07, again where does the time go?

159.Japanese Thrush-------------------Haikou-------------------China

A Swallow and a Hoopoe took my year ticks to 160.


At 0830 I met up with three colleagues, Edward Li, Li Qian and Yan Shen and set off for the Dongzhai Harbour Mangrove Nature Reserve 20 minutes from Haikou Airport.

Before we took a small boat out along the river we wondered around some fish ponds where several common birds added to the year list

162.Green Sandpiper------------------Dongzhai------------------China
163.Greater Coucal--------------------Dongzhai-----------------China
165.Grey Wagtail----------------------Dongzhai------------------China

Three of us then took to the electric boat (Photo 2) for the 45 minute ride to a small island. A Green Billed Malkoha flew across the river and into a tree, while Whimbrel (Photo 3) and Redshank (Photo 4) took refuge from the high tide in the trees.

166.Green Billed Malkoha--------------Dongzhai-----------------China

A noisy pair of Pied Kingfishers flew passed while a Black Capped Kingfisher fished from the many bamboo poles along the river.

168.Pied Kingfisher---------------------Dongzhai-----------------China
169.Black Capped Kingfisher-----------Dongzhai-----------------China

There was very little life on the island so we took the return boat and picked up a roosting group of Black Crowned Night Herons.

After returning to terra ferma and following lunch I picked up two further birds for the day, Black Drongos and Red Billed Starlings as the sea retreated from the mangrove (Photo 5)

170.Black Drongo----------------------Dongzhai-----------------China
171.Red Billed Starling------------------Dongzhai-----------------China

Back at the airport Yan and I thanked Edward and Li Qian for a great day and then headed for Shanghai.


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Nick Sismey
23 January 2011

Saturday in Shanghai had been a wonderfully sunny but cold winter’s day (The following Monday and Tuesday likewise!). Sunday however was damp with fog clinging to everything, making it feel even colder.

Cai Chang picked Yan and I up at 8am to make the hour drive to Chong Ming Island in the Yangtze estuary. I had been there only a couple of months previously and fallen in love with the place. The previous time the weather had been much kinder to us.

First priority was the cranes. Knowing the distance we would have to walk to see these enigmatic birds, as cars were not allowed near the sea wall, Cai had arranged for an official to meet and drive us to where we hoped the birds would be. As we approached the village where we were going to meet this gentleman Cai called him to let him know we were close. He advised that he had already been down to the coast and had not seen any cranes but had seen them yesterday, the weather had been much better then! With gritted teeth I spotted the first year bird of the day, an Orange Flanked Bush Robin (Photo1 – taken later), that flew across the road in front of us.

172.Orange Flanked Bush Robin-----------Chong Ming-----------China

We followed the official’s car to a car park amongst some aging apartment blocks, White Cheeked Starlings balancing on wires that criss-crossed between the buildings.

173.White Cheeked Starling----------------Chong Ming----------China

It was a good couple of miles to the gate (a simple chain) to the reserve area. A guard in a small hut had an argument with our driver that necessitated the latter making a phone call before we were allowed entry. An entry was made in a small note book and the chain lowered enabling us to pass. Progressing along a raised potholed road tall reed beds to our left full of Tree Sparrows, a river to our right and farmland beyond. Cai said he had see cranes in those fields a couple of weeks ago. We stopped for a quick look but the mist held anything feeding from view.

After 15 minutes we came to a right hand bend with salt marsh stretching out into the distance (Photo 2). A large van was parked with its rear doors open and music blearing, wonderful! A boardwalk led out onto the marsh but after 100 yards there were tall locked gates baring our way, built just where the boardwalk dissected a very muddy river. No further progress was possible, again wonderful.

Returning to the sea wall we heard some cranes calling from the fields across the river, they seemed close but were enveloped by the mist. In the river a Spot Billed Duck was startled by our presence and left the scene. Reed Parrotbills (Photo 3) - a lifer only in November 2010 - were feeding at the foot of the sea wall, and Cai was trying out his new camera photographing a Daurian Redstart.

174.Spot Billed Duck-----------------------Chong Ming-----------China
175.Reed Parrotbill-------------------------Chong Ming-----------China
176.Daurian Redstart----------------------Chong Ming-----------China

Yan was the first to spot a ring tailed Hen Harrier arrive from the marshland and disappear over the farmland and then we finally saw the cranes. When I say saw they were really just smudgy silhouettes deep in the mist. My scope was hopeless intensifying the fog rather than magnifying the birds. It was a good 15 minutes before I was able to hand on heart identify what I was looking at were Hooded Cranes – also a lifer back in November

177.Hen Harrier----------------------------Chong Ming-----------China
178.Hooded Crane-------------------------Chong Ming----------China

There must have been around 50 birds in all stretched across the field, their eerie calls breaking through the still air. Ten further minutes and the mist cleared enough to reveal some Common Cranes. But there had been a rumour that there was at least one Sandhill Crane, I had missed it in November so wanted to try for it this time.

179.Common Crane-----------------------Chong Ming-----------China

I indicated to Cai that there was a rough farm road along the other bank of the river, if we could find its source we could get a little closer to the birds. After much discussion the driver agreed and we soon found ourselves at the chained entrance again. The guard on duty had disappeared so I lowered the chain and we went on our way. No sooner was I back in the car when a bridge appeared and we set off down the farm track. Almost opposite where we had been on the sea wall we could see the cranes out in the fields (Photo 4 – of the fields not the cranes!). Several Dusky Thrushes were feeding in the fields and a family of Vinous Throated Parrotbills were noisily foraging in the reed beds along the river.

180.Dusky Thrush--------------------------Chong Ming----------China
181.Vinous Throated Parrotbill-------------Chong Ming-----------China

Being careful not to spook the cranes as they were extremely wary I positioned myself behind some bushes alongside a drain. The birds (Photo 5) were still some distance away but at least I could use my scope. If there was a Sandhill Crane it was doing a great job of hiding itself! The birds were continually moving up and down from the raised tracks and mingling in the field, I wasn’t able to maintain the same view of the birds for more than a couple of seconds. Then suddenly I got a break, the Sandhill Crane raised its head from feeding around the long legs of the other cranes for long enough for me to identify it. That really was wonderful!

182 Sandhill Crane------------------Chong Ming----------China

I stayed for several more minutes but never did see the Sandhill again. It was certainly a very aloof bird, master of disguise.

More to follow…..


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