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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Dalian (Jinshitan) Birding Reports (2 Viewers)

I have both the Chinese and English versions of Tom's book and I extend my congratulations for a job well done. The Chinese version helps a lot in sharing with the family just what I am up to and Tom's introductory material is very good for explaining the importance of conservation and why I bird.

Jeff, the main city center area of Dalian wouldn't yield much for birding, but there is a surprising amount of preserved green space to the southeast of there, with the shoreline areas being especially good as I remember. The Metro now runs all the way up to Jinshitan though.
Jinshitan farewell circuit and final birding report post June 28, 2016

Last week I had a couple hours and did the rounds of several sites to see what was there and to say goodbye. After 12 years (birding for roughly 10 of them) living in Jinshitan it is time to go. This area is rich in bird life and there is still so much to be discovered and studied. Thanks for the kind words above. I believe I also have to post some thanks to all who have helped make this thread a place where things can be discussed. Thanks to everyone for contributing and posting above!

Special thanks goes to two people who I have known for the last 5 years or so -- Terry Townshend and Paul Holt. For those of you familiar with hockey, I call them Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky respectively! Both of them have been so instrumental in teaching me how to bird and report sightings. Both are fine gentlemen who, though extremely knowledgeable, are able to bird with anyone (including me), no matter the skill level. Both have taught me so much from flight calls to where birds in the area breed and their status.

Paul is the best birder in China and an amazing source of information about the birds from all over Asia. He also has amazing ears, being able to recognize every specie in China as far as I know. Birding with Paul, one simply absorbs his genius. Perhaps the best memory I have from birding with Paul was from the large bridge over the Biliuhe on the coastal highway near Pikou. He quietly picked out a Pallas's Gull at around 0.5 kms away resting behind another large gull. The head shape was visible from time to time as it shifted position! Another incident was on a similar looking bridge over the Zhuanghe estuary/mudflats. We were counting Black-faced Spoonbill when suddenly he shouted Blyth's Pipit! This is an exceptionally rare bird in Liaoning and Paul had it on its flight call far overhead.

Terry is also an amazing birder who somehow gets involved with what seems to be most projects happening in China concerning birds. If he's not meeting with top officials in Beijing about the environment, addressing the Mexican parliament, or counting Jankowski's Buntings in Mongolia he's out in the field helping to put gps transmitters on Beijing's swifts or cuckoos. Thanks to Terry for many many emails answered concerning identification as well as sharing his rich contacts of birding related people all over China. Terry is a pillar of bird conservation and studies in China.

I am leaving in 48 hours. After this I will still be happy to help anyone coming to the area in terms of where to go, checklists, etc... Please email me at [email protected] for any information that I can help with. If you would like a copy of the book described above in previous posts, please email me as well.

Here is the last checklist for the area from late last week. Of note was the Common Goldeneye in late June resting by itself on a piece of mudflat. The two Tiger Shrikes were seen at different places and both were feeding young so there were at least 3 different nests in the Jinshitan area this year that I have seen.

Random sightings in Jinshitan, Liaoning, CN
24-Jun-2016 13:00 - 16:00
Protocol: Traveling
20.0 kilometer(s)
32 species

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) 1
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) 1
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 5
Japanese Cormorant (Phalacrocorax capillatus) 1
Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) 1
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) 1
Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes) 11
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 1
Striated Heron (Butorides striata) 2
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) 4
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 2
Black-tailed Gull (Larus crassirostris) 40
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 1
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 3
Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) 1
Pacific Swift (Apus pacificus) 10
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) 1
Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus) 2
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) 3
Common Magpie (Pica pica) 10
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 10
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) 5
Japanese Tit (Parus minor) 6
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 4
Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana) 2
Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius) 4
Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus) 2
Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus) 1
White/Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) 5 all juveniles
Meadow Bunting (Emberiza cioides) 1
Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica) 5
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 10


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Many thanks for a huge contribution to the China page of BirdForum Tom.

It's been terrific to get a picture of migration on the Dalian Peninsula over the last few years, as well as being continually amazed by the numbers of Chinese Egrets - gutted I never found the time to come and visit before you left.

Really hope there is some-one to take up the torch with the school kids - its been great to see the camera trap pictures as well.

Best wishes for your move, and let us know where your next patch will be.

Many thanks, Tom for the being one of the anchors of the China patch here on the Forum. Especially though for all the help and encouragement that you have given me in getting started in the last year. For me to be involved in any kind of social networking is a rare thing indeed and I must say that although Gretchen's thread first attracted me, it was the shear volume of sightings on your thread and your willingness to guide me along share your experience that kept me going. I wish you great happiness with your new endeavors.


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Great to hear from you, Tom! Nice shot of the Dusky Grouse. Grouse tend to stay so well hidden that you almost step on them before they scare the wits out of you when they break.
Good to hear from you again, Tom! Your reminding me of bucket list items. Jasper, Banff, Yukon and on up into Alaska is a trip my middle brother and I considered three years ago. Unfortunately he couldn't get the time off of work. Still might do it on my own next time I am back in the States.
NT4A0128.jpgHopefully some action towards protection and even some restoration of tidal mudflats comes of the governmental changes. I was at Yingkou yesterday and infilling of marsh was evident around the industrial park that already exists there and bulldozers busily cutting a new roadbed. Also this pic of digging right in the heart of the wetland park.

On a lighter note, I am trying to organize a birding trip down to Dalian area and figured the Jinshitan area was probably the best bet. It has been 15 years since I was there though, so thought I would ask where you would suggest for a half day birding trip.
Hi Tom, Hi Owen,
I'm glad to know you guys are familiar with Dalian/Panjin. I'll probably make trips to both places in May or June. It's not the best time of year for migratory birds, especially my main target, gulls. But, this is the only time I have this year. I'm hoping to see Sauder's, Black-tailed and Herring Gulls (Vega preferred). I'd appreciate your suggestions on where to go.
Hi Lancy, The Panjin - Yingkou area happens to have a good size breeding population of Saunder's Gull and the other two are common here also. The best places that I have around here for almost always having Saunder's Gull are the Yingkou Wetland Park, which is at the mouth of the Liao River, just upstream of the mouth of the Liao River on the Panjin side of the river, at the Panjin Wetlands Park which is close to the Panjin Railway Station, and of course at the Red Beach Tourism Area. The Red Beach (Honghaitan) has an entry fee, which last year I think was 105 RMB/person plus a fee for the vehicle. The others are free access. The Black-Headed Gull can normally be found anywhere there are Saunder's, which makes for the challenge of sorting the two out. Herring Gull & Black-Headed are also common more inland at larger lakes. One of my favorites, Gedalou Reservoir, normally has both and it is not unusual to have Saunder's in smaller numbers.

For May and June the Dingxiang Tourist Area Rookery will be loaded with nesting Egrets and Herons. Also a fair number of Passerines to be found there if you tear yourself away from the Herons and Egrets. That is a further downstream part of the Panjin Wetland Area.

If you want, I can supply you with the coordinates for any of these locations. All except Honghaitan and the Rookery are accessible by the same bus route from the train station with Gedalou being about three or four kilometers east of the bus stop and it is one short transfer from the end of the line to cross the bridge into Yingkou. Honghaitan & the Rookery would need some special arrangements as there are not any buses going to the Rookery and you have to provide your own vehicle for Honghaitan as it is too long of a piece of coastal mud flat for one to walk and oddly enough no shuttle buses are provided.
Hi Owen,

To be honest, I would spend a half a day in the Zhuanghe and Pikou (Biliuhe) areas on your way down to Dalian instead of going all the way there. This time of year the shorebirding would be perfect and both sites would be completely full of things to see. All of the passerines, shorebirds, and everything else that can be seen in Jinshitan around now could be seen along the dikes and coastal wetlands and scrub areas of the coast at this time. Jinshitan is a great birding site but I always explored there because I lived there and often only had a n hour for birding. The areas along the north east coast of Liaoning are far better. A full day along that coast at this time of year will get you 30+ shorebird/wader species and a full day's total list will be over 100 species.

I would come down the Shenda expressway and turn east towards Zhuanghe. There is a huge tidal mudflat there where Black-faced Spoonbill are relatively easy to find among the numerous Chinese Egrets. Black-faced Spoonbill breed on the small island out in the ocean that can be seen from the mainland on a clear day. Broad-billed Sandpiper and full breeding coloured Curlew Sandpiper are also an attraction there in the spring. There should be several thousand Bar-tailed Godwit as well. Try to hit this area at complete high tide to see everything at their roosting sites and then follow the tide out along with the shorebirds. I'll attach a google earth image about this place later when I have more time.

The drive from Zhuanghe south to the Biliuhe Bride just north of Pikou on the coastal road (not the Shenda) is also an amazing place. Several thousand Bar-tailed Godwit will be there at this time and sometimes other goodies such as Oystercatchers and strage gulls can be found there. At low tide all the shorebirds come down the river and land on the mud being exposed. It is a photographers dream to have many species of shorebird fly right past you if you are in the right spot and you can see them coming for quite a while so cameras can be ready. I'll also attach a google earth image showing the sites here but have to go right now.

I'll answer the other post about where to find gulls later as well.
Thank you, Tom!
Since this is not a birding trip, I’ll have to coordinate with others. I may be able to make a day outside Dalian city but will not have my own vehicle. So, I will have to choose some place accessible by public transportation. Which of the mentioned places would you recommend in that case?
I only have point-and-shoot for ID photos but I do try better photos if having opportunities.
Hi Lancy, all of the above was for Owen for his half day birding trip south. I will post about finding gulls from public transportation later when I have more time.

Owen, here are the google earth pictures. Red indicates roads that any vehicle can use and the best birding is possible from. Blue indicates high tide roosting areas. From the roosting areas, the shorebirds move out towards the ocean at the tide recedes. You have to get get the tides right, otherwise it will be quite frustrating. The bays between the two sites can also be very very good for shorebirds, particularly at an incoming tide as the ocean pushes everything closer and closer along the banks where you are.

The area is very good in late April/early May. Be prepared for frustration of not having enough time and not being able to take it all in.


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Gulls in the Dalian area in May and/or June

Lancy, no worries!

On public transportation around Dalian I would head to the Jinzhou garbage dump site. This is the Jinzhou in Dalian, not the larger city of Jinzhou nearer to Panjin. Take the qing gui (light rail) from downtown Dalian to Jinzhou. Get off at the 3rd stop from the end and get into a taxi. Tell the taxi driver you want to go to the "Jinzhou La ji chang" (not sure how good your mandarin skills are). He/she will look at you confused and then tell him/her you want to go see birds there. There are two possible places the taxi can bring you. The place you want is the one that is located right across the main Shenda highway from downtown Jinzhou. Give the taxi driver the attached photo and you shouldn't have a problem. Be advised that a taxi can take you there but you will have to walk back across the bridge into the downtown area to get another taxi for your return. This walk is about 15 minutes but can feel longer with full optical equipment and gear (!).

This is a premier gull site in the winter with numbers in the thousands. In May or June (when you said you might visit) there will definitely be gulls there but I'm not exactly sure which kind or how many. Vega breed locally on some islands nearby so probably will visit the garbage dump to feed throughout the breeding season. It is difficult to distinguish between Mongolian and Vega during the early fall and late winter but most (if not all) Mongolians should be in Mongolia at this time. I would assume that most Herring Gull types in Dalian would be Vega at that time but you really need to know what you are doing to distinguish in May and June :)

A second location is Dalian Bay. This is the bay between Dalian city and Dalian's development zone (Kai fa qu). the same Qing Gui can be taken here but the stations are frustratingly far away for walking. You will see it out of the windows of the Qing Gui as you fly by and get your bearings that way. The Jin Ma Lu station is probably your best bet and then walking back. There is a sea wall walkway and road along most of Dalian Bay and this will have Black-tailed Gulls for sure. The Saunders's Gulls can be seen in a back corner of this bay at times. See the attached google earth snapshot of Dalian Bay for further info. If you are going to Panjin, that is the breeding hot spot for Saunders's so you will have more luck there for sure. Black-tailed are the most common gull in much of Liaoning Province so going to any part of the ocean will most likely yield them.

If your Mandarin is good enough, just give these images to a taxi driver and have them drop you where you need to be and arrange to get picked back up at a set time at the same location.

I'm also attaching my ebird records for the gulls you are after to see their status in May and June. It should be noted that ebird lists (or did when I was there) both Mongolian and Vega as "Herring Gulls". May is an excellent month for migrants and visiting any green space should result in some good stuff. June can be challenging with everything in nesting mode.



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Hi Tom,
Thank you so much for the detailed information!|=)|
Mandarin is my mother tongue. Actually, I lived in Dalian for a couple of years but it was before my birding time. I had been in Jinzhou when the soccer team was playing there. There might be a zoo (?) if my memory serves. Daheishan scenic area was one of my hiking places. I should be able to find the birding spots if the city has not changed too much.
Ideally, if I started from Panjin, I would take a train first thing in the morning to Jinzhou Railway Station which is 4-5km from the dump. I am thinking to spend the rest of the day there. Then, Qinggui would take me to Kaifaqu for an overnight stay. The second day would be my birding time at Dalian Bay before heading to Dalian city. Alternatively, I’d stay in Jinzhou and head to Dalian Bay the second day. I’ll figure it out.
I’ll have to figure out those gulls. Vega is my dream bird (I named my cat Vega. She is a brown tabby so always young in her 1st cycle) but I haven’t seen one in my life, nor Mongolian. I had some reading of Vega hoping to find one among thousands of American Herring Gulls and identify it at least as a candidate. No luck so far. More time with the book, Gulls of North America, Europe and Asia.
Thanks for your eBird list. Your Pallas’s Gull made me jealous!
I visited the Snake Island during my years in Dalian, which is one of my best memories. Me and my buddy also hiked Laotieshan, Lvshun, and ended up somewhere we should not be. A fully equipped/armed soldier escorted us out after seeing our student IDs. Same happened in Daheishan but the soldier was much nicer, so was his girlfriend. I will not try it again with my Canadian passport |>| We rescued some birds in Laotieshan and the area across Huanghe Rd from Maritime University. But I had no idea what they were.
Oh, one more question, is the dump open to public? Our local dump here was closed and only accessible to two people for Christmas bird count. I can’t wait to see how my pals would respond learning my first stop in Dalian would be a dump :D
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