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Panjin Birding by the Old Fat Man (1 Viewer)

I didn't include it, but as we were leaving I asked about checking out the lake I knew was just north of Erjigo. As usual the driver insisted that there was no lake. I insisted that there was and that I could find it, so he called on the radio to ask for directions and several drivers chimed in with there was no such lake. I pointed out I would pay for the time, so still not believing he stopped and ask a couple of locals who both said no lake. He even called up his navigation app on his phone to show me the map display of the area, which showed no lake. At that point he jokingly said alright if I could find it he wouldn't charge me. The lake actually sits above the surrounding area and when we got right alongside the lake I pointed out the row of trees and said there is the lake. He insisted, no, it's just another road, but when we encountered a pathway up the rim he went up to prove me wrong. We crested the rim and sure enough there as an obviously man made perfect oval of a lake, 2 km by 4 km with a perimeter road. There were some ducks, but unfortunately a kilometer away out in the middle of the lake, so no more than unidentifiable duck shaped forms. Not unusual to find hundreds of cormorant and/or geese there though.

Out driver then stopped on the way out a couple of times to ask the name of the lake from locals, but they just said they didn't know. I don't know if that was true, or if it was just the locals wanting the city slickers to go away and leave them alone. I grew up back in the hollars and knew enough not to answer any questions from anybody you didn't know. The neighbor that I worked for considered anybody who wasn't from our county to be a "foreigner". Anybody from Johnstown or Cumberland was a city slicker and you weren't even supposed to talk to them.
April - 4

Two days of having my arthritis flared up left me wondering what all the activity was over by the nearest city park. I could clearly hear heavy equipment and chainsaws running and optimistically had put it off to the adjacent village being up to some kind of improvements. I got out today and my heart sank to see that the best place for birding in the immediate neighborhood looking like a war zone. The heavy equipment was power diggers ripping up the trees and bushes in the park and all the paved walkways. Chainsaws were indeed the nearby village at work as they were frantically trying to salvage as much of the wood as they could before it got loaded up and hauled away. We asked a couple of them what was going on and they said they didn't know, but I got the sense of it being a Sgt. Schultz, I know nothing, I see nothing. Queries toward some of the workers tearing things up varied from, "Don't know", to "A company hired us to clear it for a new building". As we were leaving, a fellow in a guard's uniform showed up asking what we were doing. I pointedly ignored him, pretending not to understand and I didn't catch the exchange between him and my wife but she said he told her not to worry, they were just going to make the park beautiful. Seems too small to be of any real use for new buildings and a shame as it was quite productive for the type of thing you would expect to find in a park setting. Trees that were known habitat and nesting sites for Chinese Bulbul, Azure-Winged Magpie, and the most reliable place to catch Red-Flanked Bluetail and various other small migrants as they passed through the area. There was a huge flock of maybe 50 Azure-Winged Magpie making noisy passes over the remains of the park and a couple of Oriental Magpie were even joining them, their long standing fued apparently put on hold. A lone pair of Chinese Grosbeak sat in a tree at the edge of the village looking confused.

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That moves the best local spots to about a kilometer to the south or east. Since the park to the south is where the Kestrel nest is located, I decided to check that out. The Eurasian Kestrel nest is still in place and one of them was circling the area. Even here there was another large flock of Azure-Winged Magpie in a very agitated state. Today the Japanese Waxwing were feeding high up in the trees and a couple of dozen Brambling were mixed in with them. It took me a little bit to be sure of the Brambling as in the past I have always found them feeding on the ground and these were sticking to the trees. Several Grey-Headed Woodpecker were aggressively claiming territory as the drumed and called loudly. Just as I was leaving there I managed to spot two Spotted Dove foraging on the ground.


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I will take time to encourage Chaofan Feng and any other Chinese birders in Liaoning to post some information on what they are finding. He and some others that communicate on WeChat are coming up with some really nice finds. Most notable is his latest report of 123 Siberian Crane just today! I sympathize with English being the common language here, but even summaries of the high spots are more than welcome. Until you feel confident enough to start your own thread, any of you are welcome to post any Liaoning birding reports here.
Love this report Owen and fantastic photos as well. The Saunders's behaviour is of a nesting bird? It's too early for them to have eggs now though? I've read that they nest on "undisturbed" sandy beaches in the Panjin area. Great to see them in full breeding plumage - one of the best looking gulls around in my opinion.

The dive bombing reminds me of a Peregrine nest I once found on a cliff in Dalian. There was a security guard in the area who had no idea he was standing so close to the nest. One of the Peregrines kept dive bombing him and he was quite annoyed at the screaming and diving falcon. I wasn't about to tell him the reason behind these attacks and so chose to watch the entertainment instead. I even videoed it.

Like Mike, I too would be honoured to be smacked by a Saunders's Gull. Last spring I had a Barn Owl poo on my head and now wear that cap with dignity!
Hi Tom, I too would guess that it is still too early for egg laying as we are still getting a few mornings down around freezing temperatures. I assumed that they were in the process of staking out nesting territory. Unfortunately, any nests in this harbor area will be raided for the eggs.

The "undisturbed sandy beaches" is probably the biggest issue with conserving a pretty, delicate little gull that is also much less obnoxious than most gulls tend to be. Panjin has a population boom and steady encroachment into suitable breeding and foraging areas is a constant problem. It is a guarantee that egg collection will be devastating to any nesting area that is accessible to people. This encounter occurred just outside of the Honghaitan tourism area, where I have observed nesting Saunder's Gull. This little fishing harbor sits right at the south entrance. Honghaitan itself can be an excellent example of how to balance conservation with ecotourism, but it always seems to be teetering between a job well done and over exploitation. Having park "rangers" of some sort that understand and can effectively communicate to visitors the importance of respecting and conserving nature is one measure totally lacking.

I got a chance on the 5th to make a quick sweep of Donghu Park in Dawa, which had to cut shorter than I would have been when my wife got lost trying to find me in the park. (90% of our cellphone conversations are along the lines of, "Where are you? I'm over by xxx.")

The only point of real interest was that I spotted the first Black-Crowned Night-Heron of the season as they made a zig zagging path over the park. The count on the Gray-Headed Woodpecker is probably low as there was a lot of calling and drumming going on all over the park. However, I only actually saw the five. I briefly and at a distance spotted what was probably a Eurasian Nuthatch, but just couldn't be certain enough to claim it.

东湖公园 (Donghu Park), Liaoning, CN
Apr 5, 2021 9:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 kilometer(s)
12 species

Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 8
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 5
Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) 5
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 75
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 3
Pallas's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus) 5
Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) 2
Naumann's Thrush (Turdus naumanni) 15
Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) 10
Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) 50
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 10
Yellow-throated Bunting (Emberiza elegans) 2
Sorry to hear about the trashing of nearest park Owen, but nice to get both waxwings just a day apart, and male Bramblings are really smart birds!

April - 18-19

I wasn't able to get out last week, but did manage a couple of outings so far this week.

On the 18th I took a trip to the Panjin Wetland Park again and managed to spend a good three hours poking around. Gulls were the major players, as is usual for there. A major exception from the norm was in not finding the heron/egret that are normally abundant there. One lone Little Egret was the only such to be found. The probable reason was that the eastern extreme of the park, which is normally practically devoid of any people, has apparently suddenly become the place to be. I arrived early, so I was there to see people getting out of cars arriving to open the gates that normally prevent people from driving down the paved way that is normally a nice relaxing place to walk or bike. People were driving way too fast and with no concern for the pedestrians and bike riders that had to scatter out of the way.

Most of the Great Cormorant have moved on in their migration, with only five being seen hanging around the transmission towers where they usually congregate. An unusually large number of 20 Mongolian Gull were still on the lake. About ten Saunder's Gull were dancing about the eastern end of the main lake and large numbers of Black-Headed Gull were to be found there and on the nearby river. As usual the largest flock was on the little mud bar in the river. Altogether I estimated 300 BHG. Great Crested Grebe were scattered along the shoreline diving for fish.

Taking a pathway through a wooded area I found a few Red-Flanked Bluetail which were chasing bugs out onto the walkway and a couple of Yellow-Browed Warbler mixed in with them. The Magpie of both species were unusually absent. Only a few of the normally abundant Azure-Winged Magpie were to be seen or heard.

The real finds were on a somewhat hidden and isolated pool on the river where 23 Spot-Billed Duck were seen. 5 Garganey were leaving the lake just as I arrived and the hurried photos were too blurry to share, but plenty good enough to verify the distinctive Garganey. Three Little Grebe arrived almost at the same time to take the place of the Garganey. 20 or so Eurasian Coot paddled about and some territorial behavior was starting to be displayed with a few that were chasing others off "their" patch of shoreline reeds.

Barn Swallow were just starting to arrive with about ten observed following the narrow migration pathway where streams of them can be observed during the height of the migration. A few White Wagtail were poking along the shoreline and I heard a couple of Ring-Necked Pheasant crowing from the cover of the reeds.

After three hours my time was running out and my arthritis was telling me it was time to give it up, so I hiked out to catch a taxi back home. I had originally intended to check out the river, but just didn't have the time or legs for it.

Garganey (Spatula querquedula) 5
Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha) 23
Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) 2
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) 3
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) 9
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) 20
Saunders's Gull (Saundersilarus saundersi) 10
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 300
Herring Gull (Mongolian) (Larus argentatus mongolicus) 30
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) 5
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 2
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 1
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 10
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 7
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 2
Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) 5
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) 2


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April 19th

I made a wide sweep through the general area around home and didn't find a lot, but at least made some interesting observations. The Eurasian Kestrel nest is still active despite the fact that the area has a lot of disturbance. Some of the trees and flowering bushes taken up from Lin Hai park next door to us have been relocated to that park and hence there has been a lot of digging and planting going on. The Kestrel were still at the nest though. Surprisingly, just about 15 meters directly below them, a pair of Oriental Magpie were busily beginning construction of a nest of their own. Doesn't seem to be the safest of places to be raising young. Nearby I observed a pair of OM having a prolonged fight over nesting material. One of them found a long piece of reed fiber that it was trying to take up to a nest under construction and the other intercepted and a tug of war ensued. Eventually the thief managed to tug the material loose and flew off to another nearby nest site.

While there I spotted an Azure-Winged Magpie that was noticeably plump and even potbellied looking. Maybe holding eggs? The flock of AWM in the area were in, even for them, a very agitated state and seemed to be arguing over territory amongst themselves.

Further magpie antics cost me another 20 minutes of so as I could hear a strange call from the trees on the other side of the river and hiked around to the road bridge and back to where the call was coming from. After much stalking and listening, I managed to find the source as an OM perched by itself that was apparently practicing a new sound that it had either heard somewhere or dreamed up on its own.

The park is usually overflowing with thrush and Bluetail this time of year, but probably because of the disturbance was fairly empty. However there were seven Dusky Thrush and three Naumann's Thrush poking around in an undisturbed corner.

Elsewhere I found at least 20 Red-Flanked Bluetail and two Olive-Backed Pipit. Four Gray-Headed Woodpecker and one Great Spotted Woodpecker were also found with the GHWP calling loudly. A few stray Barn Swallow and Chinese Bulbul were about and the usual 75 or so Eurasian Tree Sparrow were found around a small village area.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) 1
Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) 4
Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) 2
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 33
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 8
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 3
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 3
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 10
Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) 7
Naumann's Thrush (Turdus naumanni) 3
Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) 20
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 75
Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) 2
April 26, 2021

I had a nice day out, getting a chance to bird at Yingkou for the first time in over a year. The tide was going out as I arrived at the Wetland Park area. Checking out some small ponds in the reeds I was able to immediately get some good closeup shots of Pied Avocet and Black-Winged Stilt. A few Lesser Sand-Plover and Common Redshank also were working along the shore of one pond. The nearby reeds produced Pallas's Bunting, White Wagtail and a couple of Reed Parrotbill who were staying hidden in some brush along the edge of the reeds but who allowed me to approach quite closely without any apparent concern. Of course both Oriental and Azure-Winged Magpie were about. Meanwhile a Gray-Headed Woodpecker was calling from across the nearby road and Black-Tailed Godwit flew overhead and two Barn Swallow, that I see I forgot to include in my ebird report, skimmed along the surface of the ponds.

Finding nothing out on the tidal mud flats, I decided to move south towards where the Godwit were headed and where I could occassionally in the distance make out large congregations of something out on the mud flats, which turned out to be an excellent idea and will be my next post.

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) 4
Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadrius mongolus) 3
Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) 2
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) 4
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) 2
Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) 1
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 5
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 1
Reed Parrotbill (Paradoxornis heudei) 2
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) 6
Pallas's Bunting (Emberiza pallasi) 5
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) 8


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April 26th continued:

Moving on down the shoreline, I finally caught up with the large congregations that I had observed earlier massed along the water's edge in the vicinity of what looks to be a navigation beacon. I couldn't quite make out an ID, but there were thousands in several groups down the shoreline to where they disappeared into the haze.
By this time the tide was fully out and so I was still a considerable distance from them. They were packed in almost shoulder to shoulder in several massive groups. I couldn't quite make out an ID due to the haze, but there were thousands in several groups down the shoreline to where they disappeared into the haze. I decided to see what I could find closer in on the mud flat while I waited for the tide to turn and push everything closer.
Some Kentish Plover where doing their usual dash forward then stop suddenly and scan for anything of interest and I almost neglected distinguish the similarly colored, slightly larger Lesser Sand-Plover. Scattered about where a few Common Greenshank and Common Redshank. A scattering of Black-Bellied Plover (Grey) showed up while I was there and I managed an in flight shot showing the underwing black patch to verify it was what I thought. 6AAACB97-7157-46A2-AC22-FBE8E83A8403_1_105_c.jpeg

Rounding it out were some Terek Sandpiper and a couple of Ruddy Turnstone.

Surprisingly, there were very few Black-Headed Gull to be seen that day, but at least 50 Saunder's Gull were scrounging in the mud.

We had a sit down and I munched on a packed lunch sandwich as the tide had turned but still had everything a bit to far out as the haze was also increasing. I could make out a few Curlew, but which kind still wasn't clear.
Finishing my break, the tide was finally in far enough to start to figure out what I was seeing. First of all, I was able to make out some in flight Far Eastern Curlew that I could verify the specific ID in the binoculars and a few Eurasian Curlew, easier to ID in flight by the large white back patch.



Some Far Eastern with one Eurasian in the group.


Then the payoff finally arrived as the mystery birds finally revealed themselves. A small group lifted up and flew close enough to verify Black-Tailed Godwit.


They flew down the water's edge and other small groups started to rise up to join them. They all then performed several orbits over the masses still on the ground as several more flocks formed up and performed their own orbits. Finally, they all suddenly formed up into one huge flock far out over the water and flew off in mass to the northeast disappearing in the general direction of the Shuangtaizhi Hukou Wildlife Refuge. Edit: Liaoning Shuantai River Esturary National Park.

ebird questioned my count of 3000 and isn't including it in the Liaoning reports, but I am sure there were at least that many that I could see along a couple of kilometers of coast. I also could just make out another huge flock rise up in the distance further down the coast line that were probably the same as they rose up and flew off at the same time in the same direction.

The final topping was to have a small group of Pied Avocet drop in fairly close to work the edge of the water as the tide rose.

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) 11
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 5
Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadrius mongolus) 20
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) 10
Far Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) 25
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) 10
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) 3000 multiple large flocks feeding along waters edge at low tide - photos
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) 2
Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) 4
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 2
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) 2
Saunders's Gull (Saundersilarus saundersi) 50
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 10
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Wow Owen, what a post!! I must admit that every time I see a Saunders's gull in breeding plumage my heart jumps. Some great species there including the Pied Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit. Of interest, Bar-tailed Godwit far far far outnumbered Black-tailed (100:1) on the east coast of Liaoning but I believe Black-tailed outnumbered Bar-tailed on the Bohai side where you are. Pied Avocet also being far more scarce on the Yellow Sea side of the peninsula. Thanks for posting, there is nothing better than having the tide push a large group of waders towards you.
Thanks, Tom! It was the kind of outing that makes up for the days when the birds all seem to have disappeared. ;) I believe that you are right about the Black-Tailed being predominant here as they are what I normally see with a few Bar-Tailed thrown in. I am more convinced than ever that Panjin contains large under appreciated and under studied vital migration stop overs.

I am really pleased that there is a large group of birders on WeChat organized by Chaofan Fen that are posting some really good results from Liaoning and that several of them are now reporting regularly to ebird. Dandong has been showing some really great results lately.
April 28, 2021

I decided to do some birding along the irrigation canals locally where Panjin encourages people to exercise with minimally maintained garden strips and paved walkways along the banks. It is only a little more than a kilometer from home and often produces some interesting finds.

Immediately upon arrival I was greeted with the Yellow-Browed Warbler that seem to be in abundance this year. Before I had even made 100 meters groups of Brambling became evident all seemed frantic to find insects and caterpillars to stoke up on and steadily continued to move from tree to tree from south to north. I estimate that I encountered a good 150.


A single Black-Crowned Night-Heron made a few low level passes over an adjacent rice field, but it hasn't been flooded yet this year and it decided to try elsewhere. Meanwhile the usual Azure-Winged Magpie were noisily patrolling the area and a few Tree Sparrow worked the leaf litter alongside the path. Not finding much of interest, I detoured down a side channel following the worn dirt path along the embankment as it passed by the remains of a village that has recently been vacated and is slowly being demolished. That proved more interesting as I immediately found a White Wagtail and a couple of Gray-Headed Woodpecker. More YB Warbler were populating the trees and a Naumann's Thrush seemed surprised to have anybody disturb him. I had paused to observe the Barn Swallow flying overhead and a Spotted Dove in a tree when I heard an odd, loud and what I would describe as a very pure tone call. Doing some investigation, I finally managed to track it down and just managed one quick glimpse at maybe a hundred meters of what I think may have been one of the rare Red-Bill Blue-Magpie! Too quick a look and too far away to be certain, but coupled with the call and that long distinctive tail and the fact that a couple of years ago there was a pair in that general area. Didn't count it, but a good one to watch for in the future. At that point I ended the hike with a couple of Oriental Magpie and caught a taxi back home for lunch.

Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 1
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 1
Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) 2
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 20
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 3
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 5
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 3
Naumann's Thrush (Turdus naumanni) 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 20
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) 1
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) 150
Yellow-throated Bunting (Emberiza elegans) 6


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May 1, 2021

Clear blue skies and mild temps can't be wasted :) so even though it was May Day and crowds were guaranteed, we took a taxi up to the island city park where the Panjin zoo is located. There were a lot of people there, but it wasn't as crowded as I had anticipated.

Immediately upon entry we found ourselves surrounded by Yellow-Browed Warbler and Yellow-Bellied Tit! The YBT in particular were totally unconcerned about all the people passing by, even when they walked by, totally oblivious to them, within a few meters directly under their antics. My wife actually spotted them first as I was distracted by trying to see the YBW's singing away deeper into the trees. She isn't yet an active birder, but I handed her my binoculars for a really close up look at the YBT and she then didn't want to relinquish them. Looks like I need to be in the market for a second pair!


Turned out that most of the crowd was restricted to the direct path to and the immediate area of the zoo. Simply taking one of the side paths was enough to suddenly be into good birding with few people evident. A nice little garden area just off the main path a short ways from the YBT had a nice population of Red-Flanked Bluetail and if one took the time to just sit down and quietly wait they would resume their hunting of insects at very close distance.


Before we left the area a few Light-Vented (Chinese) Bulbul showed up and delighted my wife as they sang loudly.


I briefly had some excitement as while my wife was checking out the mostly deserted garden area, I checked out the nearby water and the first views through my now recovered binoculars revealed what at first looked to be a Chinese Egret. Getting closer and at a better angle my expectations fell as I realized the short legs were just an illusion from the perspective of looking down on the bird from the little hillock where I first spotted it. Furthermore, the extensive erectile fancy plumage lacked the extensive plumage on the head and back of the neck that the Chinese Egret possess. It was actually a very well dressed Little Egret. I spent some time trying to convince myself it was a CE, but alas, not to be.

Hearing some Spotted Dove calling in a nearby wooded area, we moved off path to pursue, despite my wife's objections. Stepping off the paved walkway and especially cutting through a drainage ditch into the woods is not her idea of civilized behavior! It is exactly the kind of place I want to be though. That immediately led to some more Bluetail and one Naumann's Thrush. A very pleasant song that I was unfamiliar with distracted me from the dove and eventually I was able to track down a few Yellow-Billed (Chinese) Grosbeak singing and chasing each other.

Following some Hoopoe to try, unsuccessfully, for a photo, I did finally find the Spotted Dove.

Moving out into the open again, I was just in time to spot a couple of Eurasian Kestrel soaring overhead, doing their "sky dance". This is the point where the pictures stop too as I was rudely reminded that it is a good idea to make sure that the battery you grabbed leaving the house was a fully charged one. My wife "helpfully" pointed out that I have a second battery so why didn't I bring it too?

It actually wasn't so bad as it was mostly more of the same from that point on with a few Barn Swallow seen swooping about overhead a small group of Brambling and single Great Spotted Woodpecker and Grey-Headed Woodpecker presenting themselves along with plenty more YB Warbler and a few Pallas's Leaf Warbler.

New signage was pointing to "Water Bird Zoo", but since there was visible construction going on in that direction and my wife was complaining about leg cramps, we decided that it was a good idea to leave that for a later trip and leave in time to beat the expected traffic.

Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) 10
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 1
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 10
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) 1
Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) 1
Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) 2
Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) 30
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 2
Yellow-bellied Tit (Periparus venustulus) 20
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 5
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 10
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 50
Pallas's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus) 10
Naumann's Thrush (Turdus naumanni) 1
Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) 10
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 20
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) 20
Yellow-billed Grosbeak (Eophona migratoria) 5


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May 11, 2021 - DingXiang Bird Paradise rookery

The nicest day of the year so far, so my wife managed to ascertain that the DingXiang "Bird Paradise" rookery was finally reopened. Therefore we decided to cough up the 200 RMB to get a car and pay the 100 RMB each entry fee to check out what always is a great place to bird. Being a weekday there was not too much of a crowd, with only one tour bus showing up and I avoided them easily by poking around for accipitors in little traversed corners. Of course the standard retinue of Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Black-Crowned Night-Heron and Cattle Egret where nesting in the rookery area and constantly flying to and fro. The Little Egret and Great Egret where in the peak of their finery and even some of the Chinese Pond Heron had some impressive plumage.
Chinese Pond Heron.jpegGreat Egret (1).jpegGreat Egret.jpeg

While avoiding the bus load of tourists, I went back into a wooded area and managed while trying to verify Olive-Backed Pipit, to find both Eurasian Collared-Dove and Oriental Turtle-Dove, both of which were easy to separately ID by their calls. Yellow-Browed Warbler were scattered throughout the foliage and both Great Spotted Woodpecker and Gray Headed Woodpecker flitted about on the trees. While spending a fair amount of time working out a definite ID on Yellow-Rumped Flycatcher and some very shy and dull looking Red-Flanked Bluetail, I got a quick look through the binoculars at a Black Drongo. I've only seen one several years ago, but that distinctive looking tail made the ID easy. Meanwhile, Ring-Necked Pheasant crowed from all over the area and I even flushed one.

While waiting on the crowd to clear out of the rookery viewing area I poked around another side dead end path and managed to sneak up on a Black-Crowned Night Heron that was facing away from me. I already had the camera up and taking pictures by the time he noticed me only about 25 meters behind him. The closest I've every managed to get to any of the Egret/Heron without being in a hide.

Just after that I was focused on getting the image above of the Pond Heron in it's finery and didn't notice at first a pair of much smaller waders of some sort working on the starts of a typical looking heron nest of nothing more than a sparse flat platform of sticks just off to my right and even closer. I had already lowered the camera and only managed a quick look with the bins before the pair took off. I just can't seem to match what I saw with anything. Impression I got was a much smaller bird than a Night-Heron both in body and length, deep in the shade, but very dark appearing black, with medium long wader legs and most distinctive and very clear, a medium length long, downward curved, very thin bill. Maybe some white on wings, but may have been spots of sun shining through the foliage. Honestly, they looked very much like Glossy Ibis! That doesn't fit for here though, so it leaves me puzzled. I waited a bit for them to return with more nesting material, but then decided it was better to let them be and not disturb them. They may have been stealing nesting material from herons rather than constructing.

This in itself led to another interesting find as while I was standing there, my wife noticed a Wild Silk Moth cocoon artfully constructed around a small twig. The pupae inside the outer cocoon was empty, so I did slip it off the branch for a better photo.
Wild Silk Moth cocoon - Bombyx mandarina.jpegWild Silk Moth cocoon - Bombyx mandarina (1).jpeg

Once back into the rookery, a few of the Great Egret were sitting nests almost that close to the walkway.

A large building protruding back into the nesting area and to a waterhole is set up as a hide with benches to sit by numerous heavily tinted glass windows. That is always an interesting stop, but it was particularly productive that day producing good closeup views of Great Egret, Gray Heron, Purple Heron, Chinese Pond Heron, Reed Parrotbill, Vinous-Throated Parrotbill, Black-Crowned Night-Heron, Tiaga Flycatcher and an Oriental Magpie that would fly up to the exterior window ledge and knock on the window if he heard you talking inside. I'm pretty sure that it was hoping you would open the window and slip it a treat.

While checking out a new orchard area we spotted a brightly colored White-Throated Rock Thrush, a special treat!
White-Throated Rock Thrush (1).jpegWhite-Throated Rock Thrush (2).jpeg

Checking out some isolated ponds while unsuccessfully trying to find some Penduline-Tit I found a small number of Greenshank, Black-Bellied Plover and Gray-Headed Lapwing as well as more of the various herons. Finally, on the way out, numerous Oriental Magpie and a few Chinese Bulbul and Tree Sparrow.

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) 8
Oriental Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) 4 Positive ID by call
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 4 Positive ID by call
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 2
Gray-headed Lapwing (Vanellus cinereus) 2
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 5
Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea) 5
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) 25
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 50
Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) 4
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 10
Cattle Egret (Eastern) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) 8
Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus) 50
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 25
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 5
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) 1
Gray-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus) 2
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) 1
Oriental Magpie (Pica serica) 30
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 4
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 10
Reed Parrotbill (Paradoxornis heudei) 6
Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana) 8
Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) 6
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia) 4
Taiga Flycatcher (Ficedula albicilla) 2
White-throated Rock-Thrush (Monticola gularis) 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 10
Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) 4


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  • Great Egret swapping nesting duties.jpeg
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  • Little Egret (Western).jpeg
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Hi Owen, just getting caught up a bit - you've had excellent outings, and it's so encouraging to hear about the WeChat group!

It's hard to single out individual sightings or pictures, but I'm very impressed about the lovely rock thrush, and love the pond heron picture. (The cocoon was fascinating too!)

Hope there's a bit more good spring left for you!
White-throated Rock Thrush male! Stunner! Love the egret and heron shots as well. Great to hear about the rookery and the fact that it is behind a fee :)
White-throated Rock Thrush male! Stunner! Love the egret and heron shots as well. Great to hear about the rookery and the fact that it is behind a fee :)
Hi Tom, I have come to the conclusion that the private/government consortium model for protecting key environmental locations is overall the best thing for China. Without a relatively expensive fee wall and strict controls over what areas can be accessed, anything that is truly nice will quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer number of visitors who mostly don't understand the sensitive nature of such sites.

Not just China, BTW. I know that proposals have been considered for years now to close Yellowstone Park to private vehicles, except by special permit and heavy fee, and run shuttle bus service around the various attractions. I love Yellowstone and personally would support this kind of approach.
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