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Rudong, Wuyuan& Poyang Lake

 4 ¨C 10 Nov 2010

Participants: Dennis Buss & Zhang Lin




I had business in China, and I decided to take this opportunity to visit Poyang Hu to see wintering Siberian Cranes and other wintering specialties.I found Zhang Lin on the internet. . This turned out to be a stroke of GOOD LUCK!!!Zhang is an EXCELLENT guide:He is VERY knowledgeable about birds in the area, very friendly and very accommodating.The logistics of the trip were flawless¡­Before long, my target list expanded to include Scaly-sided Merganser, Relict Gull, Oriental Stork & Great Bittern.We got all of my target birds plus some real surprises:Baer¡¯s Pochard, Black Baza, Moustached Laughingthrush, Spotted Wren-Babbler and Chinese Water-Deer.


Thurs 4 Nov:Drive to Rudong:At the conclusion of my last business meeting, Lin picked me up at 2:30p, and we drove 3 hours to Rudong.


Fri 5 Nov:Rudong :Saw Great Bittern in the morning.Then went to the coast.Saw Relict Gull, but did not see Spoon-billed Sandpiper nor Nordman¡¯s Greenshank.Lin had seen both a few days earlier.But he said the number of shorebirds was greatly diminished from the previous week.Shorebirds had migrated further south(Lin saw 5 Spoon-billed Sandpiper on 19 Nov in his shorebird survey).Drove 3 hours back to Shanghai, and ate a quick dinner. Took a 6 hour coach from Shanghai to Wuyuan, where we spent the night.3 New Birds

  • Great Bittern
  • Relict Gull
  • Reed Parrotbill

Sat 6 Nov:Wuyan:Left the hotel 6:00a and had breakfast.The day started out foggy, but cleared and was sunny.Spent the entire day birding and returned to Wuyan for dinner.7 New Birds

  • Chestnut Bulbul
  • Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
  • Moustached Laughingthrush
  • Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler
  • Gray-headed Parrotbill
  • White-crowned Forktail
  • Red-billed Starling


Sun 7 Nov:Wuyan to Yongxiu:Again, the day started out foggy, but cleared and was a perfect day for birding.Birded around towns in the Wuyan area.Saw Scaly-sided Merganser in the river that flows through Wuyan .Drove 5 hours to Yongxiu, on the west side of PoyangLake, and arrived 7:30p.Night in Yong Xiu Hotel.5 New Birds

  • Pied Falconet
  • Scaly-sided Merganser
  • Masked Laughingthrush
  • Spotted Wren-Babbler
  • BLack-collared Starling

Mon 8 Nov:PoyangLake: Spent the entire day walking along the shore of PoyangLake.It was a memorable day of birding.The temperature was 70 F, and it was clear & sunny.We saw LOTS of cranes, including Siberian Crane.We walked a total of ~10 miles.It was so pleasant that we took a nap in the sun ~1:30p.Night in Yong Xiu Hotel.3 New Birds.

  • Oriental Stork
  • Siberian Crane
  • Richard¡¯s Pipit

Tues 9 Nov:PoyangLake:  Another day of glorious warm, sunny weather.Lin commented that the birds in winter can be sluggish when it is cold, but today, they were very active.We birded in woodland in the morning and saw Black Baza.Then we took a ferry to an island to see Marsh Grassbird in the tall grass.Lin was dismayed to discover that the tall grass was GONE, presumably chewed to oblivion by the hordes of goats and buffalo grazing on the island.We walked for a long way, but didn¡¯t find tall grass.However, we did see 2 Great Bitterns, and a Chinese Water Deer.Drove to Nanchang and stayed at the Good Hotel.2 New Birds

  • Black Baza
  • Gray-backed Thrush

Wed 10 Nov:Fly to Beijing:  Birded at another location on PoyangLake.Again, the weather was warm & sunny.Looked for Marsh Warbler without success.There did not seem to be any tall grass.From a birding perspective, the morning was slow.At 1:00p, we decide to walk to the other side of a small lake where there were some ducks.Saw two male Baer¡¯s Pochards, and as we were returning to the car, we saw 5-6 Marsh Grassbirds.Drove to Nanchang airport, said good-bye to Lin, and flew to Beijing.Night at CrownePlaza.2 New Birds

  • Baer¡¯s Pochard
  • Marsh Grassbird


Thurs 11 Nov:Beijing to Boston: Had a relaxing flight home.


Retrospective:The primary goal of this trip was to see Siberian Cranes, and we saw LOTS, very well¡­Secondary objectives were Great Bittern, Oriental Stork & Scaly-sided Merganser.I saw them all very well.Unexpected special birds included Black Baza and Baer¡¯s Pochard.Saws 22 New Birds.Missed seeing Spoonbill Sandpiper and Nordman¡¯s Greenshank, that had been seen a week earlier at Rudong, but these are not New Birds for me.I had seen them both in Korea in 2005.

The weather was very warm, clear & sunny.Lin told me that winter birding can be cold and foggy.

We didn¡¯t need 2.5 days at PoyangLake.As it turned out, we saw most of the target birds on the first day.But it was prudent to have the additional days in case of bad weather or in case the birds didn¡¯t show.


Birds:Lifers designated by #

  • Little Grebe
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Great Cormorant
  • Eurasian Spoonbill:Saw many at Poyang Hu, 11/8.

#White Stork:Saw about 40 at Poyang Hu, 11/8.Some were flying.Some were feeding.I missed this on my trip to Korea, Nov 2003.

  • Gray Heron
  • Little Egret
  • Great Egret
  • Chinese Pond-Heron

#Great Bittern:Saw one in flight at Rudong on 11/6.A Bittern rose up from the reeds not far from me, circled and flew a long distance before dropping again into reeds.I watched it during the entire flight in my binoculars.Saw two more at PoyangLake, 11/9.Both were flying quite close.

  • Tundra Swan
  • Swan Goose
  • Greater White-fronted Goose
  • Graylag Goose
  • Taiga Bean Goose
  • Lesser White-fronted Goose
  • Eurasian Teal
  • Common Pochard

#Baer¡¯s Pochard:Lin emphasized several times on the trip how difficult it is to see Baer¡¯s Pochard.He saw only two last year.Moreover, we were not seeing large flocks of diving ducks.At 1:00p on Wed 11/10, we decided to walk to the other side of a small lake to check a flock of ducks.Lin spotted two Baer¡¯s Pochards, and I observed them convincingly.Lin warned me that it is not usually possible to distinguish the green color, and that Baer¡¯s Pochard is identified by shape of head.However, the light was perfect.Moreover, the ducks were active, flapping their wings, making short dives and moving about.On two occasions, I observed a male flap its wings as it faced me.I could see the green head & neck, contrasting sharply with orange breast, contrasting sharply with white belly.Later, I observed the pattern of white and brown on the side of a male with a green head.

  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Spot-billed Duck
  • Mallard
  • Mandarin Duck

#Scaly-sided Merganser:On 11/7, saw in Wuyan area.We saw a small flock of about 6 in the scope.Then we walked closer, but, by the time we arrived where they had been swimming, they were gone.Saw them fly by rather close, three times.I tried to see this in Korea, Nov 2003, but missed it.

  • Osprey
  • Black Kite:Milvus migrans lineatus in Clements 6.4.Called Black-eared Kite (M. lineatus in the field guide)
  • Northern Harrier:Hen Harrier race
  • Common Buzzard
  • Black-shouldered Kite:Saw at Poyang, 11/9.
  • Crested Goshawk:Saw in Wuyan, 11/6.

#Black Baza:This bird was totally unexpected.On the morning of 11/9, as we were leaving the woodland area, a Black Baza flew quite close to us, just above eye-level.I observed a black bird with a white collar, and white spots.Lin recognized it immediately, and commented that it is highly unusual to see this bird in Nov.It breeds in the PoyangLake area, and migrates in Sept.

#Pied Falconet:Saw before breakfast in the center of a town near Wuyan, 11/7.Later, we saw several.One was chasing a flock of Siskins.Saw well in the scope.This little guy is only 6 inches long!!!

  • Common Kestrel
  • Merlin
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Japanese Quail:Saw several in the waning hours of our trip on 11/10.
  • Chinese Bamboo-Partridge:Saw 6 in flight the morning of 11/6 in Wuyan.
  • Common Pheasant:They were quite common.
  • White-naped Crane:Saw many at Pouang Hu, 11/8.
  • Common Crane:Saw many at Pouang Hu.
  • Hooded Crane:Saw many at Pouang Hu, 11/8.

#Siberian Crane:Seeing these majestic birds at Poyang Hu on 11/8 was the highlight of the trip.We saw some in the far distance.Then one flew over with a flock of White-naped Cranes.The sight of that first Siberian Crane was thrilling.During the remainder of the day, we saw many small flocks of 2-5 in flight, and we observed one feeding flock of about 30.Lin estimates that we saw ~120.Later he spotted a distant flock of ~180.On 11/9, we observed a few in flight and Lin spotted a very large flock in the far distance.On 11/10, we observed another flock of over 100.There are a few thousand Siberian Cranes in the world, and most of them winter on Poyang Hu.

  • Common Moorhen
  • Eurasian Coot
  • Brown Crake:Saw very well on 11/7 near the spot where I saw Masked Laughingthrush.
  • Oriental Turtle-Dove
  • Spotted Dove
  • Northern Lapwing
  • Eurasian Curlew
  • Far Eastern Curlew
  • Common Greenshank
  • Spotted Redshank
  • Red-necked Stint
  • Dunlin
  • Grey Plover
  • Lesser Sand-Plover
  • Kentish Plover
  • Wimbrel
  • Great Knot
  • Sanderling
  • Green Sandpiper
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Wood Sandpiper
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Black-tailed Gull:Saw one on 11/5 at Rudong.
  • Heuglin¡¯s Gull:Saw one on 11/5 at Rudong.
  • Saunders¡¯s Gull:Most of the gulls at Rudong were this species.
  • Vega Gull:Race of Herring Gull.Saw one at Rudong.
  • Common Black-headed Gull

#Relict Gull:Saw one on the ground in a flock of Saunders¡¯s Gulls.Observed in the scope size difference, bill shape and speckles on the neck.

  • Caspian Tern
  • Hoopoe
  • Crested Kingfisher
  • White-throated Kingfisher
  • Common Kingfisher
  • Olive-backed Pipit
  • Buff-bellied Pipit
  • Water Pipit

#Richard¡¯s Pipit:Observed one in the scope at Poyang Hu, 11/8.Saw quite a few more, subsequently.On 11/9, we observed a Richards Pipit escaping from a Long-tailed Shrike.

  • White Wagtail
  • Gray Wagtail
  • Oriental Skylark
  • Daurian Redstart
  • Plumbeous Water Redstart
  • Dark-sided Flycatcher:Saw one in a village near PoyangLake on 11/9.Lin observed that most Dark-sided Flycatchers have already migrated.

#White-crowned Forktail:Saw quite a few around water on 11/6.

  • Red-flanked Bluetail
  • Oriental Magpie-Robin
  • Blue Rock-Thrush
  • Dusky Thrush
  • Pale Thrush
  • Common Blackbird

#Gray-backed Thrush:Saw quite a few in the woods at Poyang Hu on 11/9, but I never got on any of them,The most convincing look I had was of a bird that flew past, quite close at about eye-level.I saw the bright orange under-wing.Others, I saw in silhouette, but could not get my binoculars on them.

  • Common Stonechat
  • Grey-chinned Minivet
  • Collared Finchbill

#Chestnut Bulbul:Saw 5-6 quite well at different times and places during the day 11/6.

  • Mountain Bulbul
  • Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul
  • Yellow-breasted Tit:Saw well on 11/6, and several times subsequently.
  • Black-throated Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Chinese Penduline-Tit
  • Zitting Cisticola
  • Pallas¡¯s Leaf-Warbler:Phylloscopus proregulus in the Phylloscopidae family in Clements 6.4.Saw many well.
  • Black-browed Reed-Warbler:Acrocephalus bistrigiceps in the Acrocephalidae family in Clements 6.4.

#Marsh Warbler:Megalurus pryeri in Clements 6.4.Meguluridae is a new family that includes Locustellas.Called Japanese Swamp Warbler (Locustella pryeri) in the MacKinnon & Phillipps field guide.As we were walking back to the car to leave for the airport on 11/10, we spotted a small group of 5-6 marsh Warblers.

  • Yellow-browed Warbler:Phylloscopus inornatus in Phylloscopidae family in Clements 6.4.
  • Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler:Cettia fortipes in the Cettidae family in Clements 6.4.Lin says this is the most common Bush-Warbler in winter, but I didn¡¯t get a convincing look until 11/9.
  • Plain Prinia
  • Yellow-bellied Prinia

#Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush:Saw the morning of 11/6 in Wuyan.

#Moustached Laughingthrush:Lin spotted one by the road as we drove by.This was his life bird.We spent a lot of time watching a pair of birds, and saw them well.

#Masked Laughingthrush:Saw, 11/7, near the river, where we saw Scaly-sided Merganser.Saw 3 very well.

#Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler:Pomatorhinus erythrogenys swinhoe in Clements 6.4.Called Gray-sided Scimitar-Babbler (P. swinhoei) on Lin¡¯s checklist.Saw fleetingly on the morning of 11/6 in Wuyan.

#Spotted Wren-Babbler:Lin had heard this in a small town where he sometimes stays.We went to the town on 11/7, and Lin heard it again.But, the bird was in a very inaccessible place up a steep hill. We scrambled up the hill, and I got a fleeting glimpse of it.Lin saw it rather well.

  • Hwamei:Saw several well, 11/7.Mark Brazil¡¯s field guide splits the Taiwan Hwamei as a separate species, but Clements 6.4 does not.
  • Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler:Saw well on 11/6.
  • Rufous-capped Babbler
  • Grey-cheeked Fulvetta:Saw lots.
  • Dusky Fulvetta:Saw one pair well on 11/6.
  • Red-billed Leiothrix:Saw well on 11/6.
  • Chestnut-collared (Striated) Yuhina:Saw lots.

#Reed Parrotbill:Saw many very well on the morning of 11/5 at Rudong.

#Gray-headed Parrotbill:Saw many very well on the afternoon of 11/6 at Wuyan.

  • Vinous-throated Parrotbill:Saw lots.
  • Long-tailed Shrike
  • Rook
  • Eurasian Jay
  • Red-billed Blue-Magpie
  • Common Eurasian Magpie
  • Gray Treepie

#Red-billed Starling:Saw in the town of Wuyan the morning of 11/6, and many times subsequently during the trip.

#Black-collared Starling:Saw two very well in the scope on 11/7, and observed quite frequently on subsequent days.This is a striking bird¡­

  • Crested Myna
  • White-rumped Munia
  • Scaly-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Manikin)
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  • Brambling
  • Gray-capped Greenfinch
  • Yellow-billed (Chinese) Grosbeak:Saw well on 11/5.
  • Meadow Bunting
  • Tristram¡¯s Bunting:Saw well on 11/6.
  • Little Bunting:Saw well on 11/6.
  • Yellow-browed Bunting:Saw well on 11/6.
  • Rustic Bunting
  • Yellow-throated Bunting
  • Chestnut-eared Bunting
  • Black-faced Bunting:Saw many on 11/5.
  • Pallas¡¯s Bunting
  • Eurasian Siskin

22 Life Birds







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