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Panjin Birding by the Old Fat Man (1 Viewer)

Sounds like a great place Owen. Love the Indian Cuckoo call - often heard in early summer but rarely seen. The Black-crowned Night-herons must be breeding nearby. Sounds like you've reached the doldrums in terms of migrant birds seen regularly. I bet that reservoir will be pumping again in September and October. Must have been amazing being that close to the weasel!
Tom
 

Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Jul-1

Hi Tom,

I have figured for several years now that do to the numbers to be seen here, there must be one or more rookeries nearby, but other than the government run the DingXiang Tourist Area Rookery, (15km to the west-northwest), which is presently closed, no longer labeled on Google Maps and that very few locals even know about, I haven't been able to locate their origin. They always seem to be coming from or going to some location almost due west and the only good areas for a large rookery would be 12-15km along the Shuangtaizhi River or to the west of the river in the "Wildlife Sanctuary", which is difficult to access.

Oddly enough, that is the first time that I have heard Indian Cuckoo. That call is loud enough and unique enough that I would remember having heard it.

Close encounters with any wildlife is always a kick for me. The weasels are especially good as they don't seem to exhibit any real concern about people being nearby. They just go on about their business as though your nothing more than a minor inconvenience. I've even had them stop in plain sight and out in the open and exhibit obvious curiosity as they look me over.

I had a good look off our second floor balcony at one adult and two juvenile Little Owl early this morning. The juveniles are now able to fly well and one even brought a mouse back to the nest, but they still hang around the nest and occasionally one of the adults shows up to check on them.
 

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Gretchen

Well-known member
Nice sightings! I enjoyed the owl pics. By the way, I've never really had a chance to see many juvenile owls. I've identified the few I've seen by their poor flying skills. Are there any other clues you (or anyone else) knows of?
 

Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Hi, Gretchen,

In the case of the LO, I knew they were juveniles because we observe the nest out our back window, so I already was expecting to see the youngsters out and about. The night before they had been flying about the neighborhood chattering and calling loudly. Also just seeing them tend to stay close together is a good clue. General clumsiness in flight is indeed an indicator.

The next day I encountered three Eurasian Kestrel noisily flying around the area where I was birding. The same clues as I knew where the nest was this season and they were behaving like a group of human teenagers out to have a good time and hooray the town. They were particularly bad at landings, more just crashing into whatever they thought would be a good perch. In the first pic here, I caught them just as all three picked the same spot to land and arrived simultaneously.
 

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Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Jul-5

My wife managed to organize a small group trip to one of the "Natural Area" Parks and because she organized it, it only cost us the time and effort she put into arraigning thinks like the transportation. Anyone familiar with China knows that the "Natural Areas" are anything but natural, but this one was maybe 10 hectare of rice paddies, water lily ponds and some apricot trees adjoining a small village. More attractive than most and did attract an interesting array of bird life.

We had left at 07:00 in order to arrive as soon as the gates were opened and the weather was a heavy overcast and threatening rain which discouraged visitors for a couple of hours.

Eastern Spot-Billed Duck were flying overhead and Black-Crowned Night Heron were fairly common. Generally rather hard to find Chinese Pond Heron were easy to find as well. All three of the "Bei Lu" Great Heron, Intermediate Heron and Little Heronwere to be found also. A couple of Yellow Bittern, Purple Heron and a few Oriental Reed Warbler, unexpectedly calling from one of the water lily ponds rounded out the marsh type of birds.

A pair of Eurasian Collared Dove and a few Oriental Magpie flitted about in the tree line along the irrigation canal and though I only got a fleeting glimpse of yellow a couple of times, their calls verified a couple of Black-Naped Oriole in the same area.

A Brown Shrike, several Barn Swallow and a couple of Hoopoe rounded out the day.
 

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Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
August 15 &16, 2020

For the last several weeks birding has been slow in Panjin, both due to the extremely dense foliage this year, which makes actually seeing anything very difficult and miserable conditions in the form of frequent rain and much higher temperatures and humidity than normal.

On the 15th however, for no particular reason, I decided to walk about a kilometer south to the river despite reported 97% humidity and fog in order to get a good walk in before the predicted 34°C predicted for later on. This section of the river was dredged last summer and so had not had the normal activity so far this year. I hit the jackpot this time though as it suddenly went from little activity to bustling with Terns and Gulls.

Due to the fog and the possibility of rain again and the fact things had been so slow recently, I had not taken a camera with me. However I did have my binoculars and though numbers were much lower, I was able to return the next morning with my gear and even though it was still somewhat foggy and numbers were way down from the previous day, I was able to get some shots of most of the same species.

As I walked there were many Barn Swallow zipping past me, kept down at head height or lower by the high humidity and the fog. Azure Winged Magpie and Brown Shrike were found as expected by their nest areas with noisy youngsters begging for their breakfasts. I could hear the Oriental Magpie far overhead at a known nest at the top of a high tension power line tower, which was lost in the fog. A few Chinese Bulbul called out of the fog and one Eurasian Kestrel zigzagged through a stand of trees causing a couple of Hoopoe and three Collared Dove to flush from the ground.

As I followed them towards the river side, I was surprised to find large numbers of both White-Winged Tern and Whiskered Tern circling about the water and perched on the power lines. A handful of Black-Headed Gull also circled about. Far out on the water, only visible in the binoculars through the fog, were what looked to certainly be Grebe, but viewing was just to poor to be certain of species, so though Great Crested were the likely candidates, I couldn't claim them as all I would see was the general Grebe outline. There also was a general duck shape to be seen but also no detail to verify the probable Eastern Spot-Billed Duck.

I ended up spending about 45 minutes trying to make out exactly what I was seeing as the fog faded in and out. In the process I did pick up a couple of rarities in the form of a single Ashy Minivet and a mystery resting out in the middle of the river by itself which my wife actually spotted first. She was calling it a duck, but it obviously was not. I first thought maybe a gull, but it didn't look right for that either. The head appeared to be small for the body and quite rounded in shape with a white face and neck and mottled brownish neck and back. After a short look it took off and quickly disappeared into the fog. Gull like in flight and then appeared quite a bit larger than I had first judged. Digging through my references, I really think it was a Streaked Shearwater. However, given the poor viewing conditions and with not photos and given that it would be unusual, I didn't count it. However, Brazil does include in the notes, ". . . after typhoons; during fog and heavy rain sometimes recorded inland.", which would be good for local conditions. The typhoons and tropical storms usually go up the coast towards Japan, but may have pushed a few vagrants west into the Bohai Gulf.

At that point, it started darkening and anticipating approaching rain, I retreated back home. Pictures are actually from the next morning when numbers were much lower, but most of the same species were still to be found. There was still considerable haze and heavy cloud cover making for dark conditions, but I was able to get basic verification photos before approaching rain once again chased me off. Already raining at sunrise this morning, so had to pass again as temperatures soared as the rain left and it cleared off this afternoon.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 3
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 10
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) 70
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) 25
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 2
Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) 1
Long-tailed Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus) 1
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) 5
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 15
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 3
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 20
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 5
 

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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
It's great when local habitats suddenly come alive. Congratulations on your terns and the minivet.

I also enjoyed your owl and kestrel posts - especially the owls from home!

Cheers
Mike
 

Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
JUL-20, 2020 - Even more Terns!

A nicer day, especially for visibility, so I went back to the Qingshui River to see of the Tern were still hanging around. Not only were they still there but in an immense flock, feeding on shoals of minnows that were schooled right at the surface level. White Winged Tern are usually found about 15km to the west where the Qingshui joins the Shangtaizhi River around a small fishing village, but apparently they had followed the abundant food source all the way upstream to the head of the Qingshui.

The swarms of mostly White-Winged Tern extended on past the 1.5 km stretch that I observed with the sky loaded with soaring and diving Tern and all the power lines and guy wires in sight loaded with perched tern and gull resting and squabbling. A sight that I have never seen that far inland from the Bohai Gulf. I wonder if the governments efforts to hammer home the "dangers" of harvesting and eating wild animals and bird eggs actually had the desired effect and as a result the tern had an extraordinarily good nesting season this year. Warnings were given in a steady stream on the TV and informational posters of the don't do this variety were posted widely.

Mixed in with the estimated 600 White-Winged Tern were maybe 50 Whiskered Tern and 20 Black-Headed Gull. The normal counts for that area would be maybe 10 each of Whiskered Tern and Black-Headed Gull. Of course those numbers of WWT got the report flagged on ebird, but I am sticking to it. Unfortunately, I only had my backup SX-70 HS camera with me but did get enough to verify my sightings.

I was mostly focused on all that activity, so didn't take the time to check out what was probably some Coot that I could hear complaining as I walked near the small pond in that area. Besides the reeds have grown so tall and thick that it is almost impossible to see anything anyway. As I approached, picking my way around mud pits and standing water I did spot a few Hoopoe and the local family of Oriental Magpie which continue to gather in larger groups than I normally see for OM. A few Brown Shrike scolded from the tree line, put I didn't investigate.

I did impress my wife, who usually refuses to follow me into the marshy areas, as I was expounding on there were probably Herons hiding in the reeds in front of us. In fact there were probably some right in there. . . Just as I pointed to a random spot 10 meters or so away, a Chinese Pond Heron let out a gronk and lifted up out of the cover it was indeed hiding in. She was amazed and I decided not to tell her it was a surprise to me too.

Getting hungry and thirsty, as I had skipped breakfast and even my morning coffee, I decided to head back home and flushed a Yellow Bittern just as we left the wetland area. As we walked out through a little village the Barn Swallow reappeared, apparently having been flying high enough that I had not seen them until I got near their nesting areas in the village.

Panjin, Dawa County, Liaoning, CN, Liaoning, CN
Aug 20, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 kilometer(s)
12 species

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 10
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 20
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) 600 Immense swarm extending over aprox. 1.5 km along the Qingshui River feeding on shoals of minnows schooling near the surface. White Winged Tern are usually found about 15km to the west where the Qingshui joins the Shangtaizhi River around a small fishing village.

Heavy rains for several previous days and fog with about 95% humidity this day heavy overcast dim lighting conditions
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) 50
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) 1
Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus) 3
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 5
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) 1
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) 5
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 5
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 10
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 15
 

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Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Aug-21, 2020

Absolutely beautiful weather, so I took a break from the Terns and just went for a pleasant walk through a few kilometers of the recently spruced up city park that runs along the banks of a major irrigation canal. The well maintained pathway is lined with mature trees and the dense foliage in the canopy presently makes actually seeing most birds impossible, but I still enjoyed myself and picked up a few nice shots. Such as these juvenile Azure-Winged Magpie hanging out together.

Difficult enough to manage a shot of Barn Swallow in flight and better yet to get a shot of the adult approaching the youngsters with some food and better yet the reaction of "Hey, where's mine?" as she flies off without stopping and the sibling gobbles down the insect.

I stopped to try and get eyes on what ever was singing in the dense foliage and a single, brightly colored Yellow-Bellied Tit suddenly dropped straight down into a bush not more than a meter away directly in front of me. Too close for the camera to focus! After quickly snatching a few bugs off the leaves it zoomed away on down the pathway. I followed and though I didn't find it again, I did find a small group of Japanese Tit with a single Eurasian Nuthatch mixed in.

I spent quite a bit of time following a "What is that?" only to have it turn out to be a tailless and very washed out looking Azure-Winged Magpie. Speaking of which, I wasn't able to come up with a species ID for this duck.

Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) 5
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 30
Yellow-bellied Tit (Periparus venustulus) 1
Japanese Tit (Parus minor) 8
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 20
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 2
Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 10
 

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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Wonderful that the terns have increased - and even better if that's as a result of Govt public service announcements!

Those baby Azure-wnged Magpies are just brilliant!

Never reveal the secrets of your brilliance to your spouse! That little snippet really made me smile!

Cheers
Mike
 

Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Aug-25

Back to the river to check on the Gulls and Terns this morning after yesterday's heavy rain. The terns still predominated, but the Black-Headed Gull numbers where steadily increasing while I was there as groups moving up the river arrived.

I spotted an adult Chinese Pond Heron standing in a pushed down area of reeds and as it left, I was surprised to see that it was actually a nesting site with a juvenile left standing in the nest, which was not more than 25 meters from the nearest buildings of the nearby village. Surprising in that villagers normally raid and forage any nests they can reach and this one was right out in the open. Again, maybe the public service announcements have had some effect.

The gulls and terns where clustered a half a kilometer to the west near another village, so I decided that despite the rains the day before I would try to make my way through the wetland between them along the river. Fortunately my hiking boots are waterproof as it turned out to require wading through standing water in places. I did manage to navigate across just soggy ground and avoid the sucking mud.

In the process as I was distracted by the local Oriental Magpie family, I walked up on a Common Sandpiper which as I emerged from some cover was not more than 5 meters away. In very odd behavior for Chinese birds, it showed absolutely no fear of me and just continued to forage away. After some photos, I continued to move on and it decided to tag along basically shadowing my moves. I have to wonder if it was a first year bird that had been raised somewhere that it had no contact with people and hence had developed no fear of them.

A Hoopoe and a Yellow Bittern made flybys.

The Tern and Gull were mostly in segregated groups, with my reaching the White-Winged Tern first with an estimated 150, mostly resting on power lines and guy wires and occasionally flying out to do some fishing. Mixed in were an estimated 25 Whiskered Tern. In the same place as last time another Chinese Pond Heron flew off from the reeds, so there might be another nest in that spot.

Further west, with were the Black-Heade Gull, which as I said were steadily increasing in number. By the time I left I estimated 125.

At the far west edge of the BHG where 7 Little Grebe and 6 Great Crested Grebe. Black-Crowned Night-Heron flew by high overhead and a flock of 10 Chinese Bulbul were constantly moving back and forth through some trees. Probably starting to flock up for the migration.

Panjin, Dawa County, Liaoning, CN, Liaoning, CN
Aug 25, 2020 8:45 AM - 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 kilometer(s)
16 species

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 7
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) 6
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) 1
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 125
White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) 150
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) 25
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) 1
Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus) 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 3
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 1
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) 2
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 14
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 15
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 5
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 10
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 20
 

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Owen Krout

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More Aug-25 pnotos

Some more shots from the outing on the 25th
 

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Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Great Crested Grebe

And the Great Crested Grebe from the 25th and I have no idea what the flowers are, but I just thought they were pretty.
 

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Owen Krout

Registered User
Supporter
Interesting. My initial impression was for Wood and they have been common here this year. However the bright white shoulder blaze seemed more diagnostic of Common. I now see that the short tail is more indicative of Wood. Still investigating.

Thanks for the comment, James.
 

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Gretchen

Well-known member
Owen, wonderful experiences and great photos - thanks for sharing! I've never seen juvenile azure-winged magpies before, so especially enjoyed that. Really fun all the youngsters you've been seeing, and nice news if people are staying away from bothering the birds!
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Definitely Wood sandpiper Owen. I think the feathers on the side of the breast have fluffed up over the point of the wing leaving that funny white spot.

This bird is too spotty on the back from Common Sand, which is typically a duller green.

Also its more elegant. Common Sandpipers are more hunched and lower to the ground than the longer legged, longer-necked and more upright Wood Sandpiper.

You're right about the short tail - Common Sandpiper's tail projects far beyond the wingtips, rather being about the same length as the wing tips on this Wood Sandpiper.

Cheers
Mike
 

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