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.http://www.shanghaibirdingtour.com . 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
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
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
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 #
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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!!!
#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.
#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.
#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-crowned Forktail:Saw quite a few around water on 11/6.
#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.
#Chestnut Bulbul:Saw 5-6 quite well at different times and places during the day 11/6.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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¡
22 Life Birds
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