China – December, 2014

December 7th

I was on my own, on the hotel grounds.  I had some time to adjust to the time and date change and take in a few common birds on my own before birding with the group.  It was surprisingly rich.


Daurian Redstart (my first bird of the trip)


Long-tailed Shrike


December 8th 

The rest of the group arrives.

China Group 001

me, Andy Wilson, Richard and Margaret Bentley, Wang Qingyu (leader), Ian McGregor, and Paul Holt (leader)

We travel down to the Fuzhou area and bird for the afternoon in some coastal wetlands


Northern Lapwing


December 9th

First full day of birding, we went to and island on  Min Jiang Estuary not far from Fuzhou.  We were paddled over on boats.  This is where I saw 2 Spoon-billed Sandpipers.  This was the main reason I went on this particular trip.  This was my most wanted bird to see in the world.  We didn’t get close enough for photographs – I could have gotten a few bad ones but I was studying the bird too much to think about getting my camera on it.  Here are some pictures of the boat ride and some Eurasian Curlew and Eurasian Oystercatcher.

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December 10th

Because we saw the Spoon-billed Sandpipers on our first day of trying, we were able to do some forest birding at Fuzhou Forest park.  This was a combination zoo/amusement park with a trail in the back of the park going into the forest.  It was a delightful day.  The weather was pleasant and we could look at foreign birds all day long (not the ones in the cages). Below is a sample of a few bird highlights:MagRobinFouzhouweb

Oriental Magpie-Robin

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Slaty-backed Forktail


Common Kingfisher


December 11

Travel Day.  Rode a high-speed Chinese train.


Yup.  we’re going fast, and so smooooooooth!


photo of country village taken from high-speed train from smartphone.


December 12

Spent the day around Wuyuan and the Le An River.  Saw the very rare Scaly-sided Merganser – way more handsome than my photo will reveal.


village on the banks of the Le An River


Scaly-sided Mergansers

We left the river after lunch to get to Xiaoqi (means Little Up) – a beautiful village where the locals set up their rooftops with chairs and  make tea for the bird tourists while we sit and wait for the Pied Falconets to come in and roost in the late afternoon.




Not a bad wait:



White-cheeked Starlings

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Indian Black Eagle.

And finally

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not 1, but 3 Pied Falconets came in to roost.  These are about the size of a Song Sparrow. Really.


December 13

Birded a wonderful little riparian woodlot on the edge of Wuyuan.


Plumbeous Redstart


Scaly-sided Munia



Yellow-browed Bunting


December 14 

Poyang Hu National Wildlife Refuge.


loading into fishing boat to get to the islands that are a lake bottom in summer but are long islands between braided river channels in winter.

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birding from the boat.


Oriental Stork flying over boat.


Siberian Cranes


White-naped Cranes. We also saw Hooded and Common Cranes there!

And my favorite (after Spoon-billed Sandpiper):




December 15

We spent another full day in Poyang Hu National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to many more waterfowl, cranes and storks, we had a few landbird treats.


Pied Kingfisher

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Water Pipit –  used to be lumped with American Pipit.  American Pipit and Buff-bellied were split from Water Pipit in the late 80s.  American and Buff-bellied Pipit are considered the same species.  The Buff-bellied   (Anthus rubesens japonicus) is the Asiatic form of the American Pipit (Anthus rubescens rubescens).


December 16

Mostly a travel day from Poyang Hu to Dandinghe National Refuge.


December 17

On our way to the Crane Farm, we spotted 2 Red-crowned Cranes (very rare) from the bus.  Beautiful birds!

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I think my finger was over the lens, but the effect is kind of dramatic.

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Many views of them on the ground also!

It was very cold in Dandinghe.

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Oriental Stork on ice.



Little Egret on ice.

And a very special treat -

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the Baikal Teal!!!! in the afternoon.

December 18

We spent another day in the Dandinghe area at the Sheyang Ling Chang Botanic Garden.  We focused more on landbirds.



Azure-winged Magpie



Chinese Grosbeak

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Collared Finchbill


December 19

Last day of full birding.  We attracted some local attention.  Chinesteenagers121714CraneFarmsm

These girls then rented bicycles and followed us around from a distance wherever we went.

And here’s a bird that stole my heart:



Reed Parrotbill.

We spent the afternoon at Sanlizha Fish Ponds  looking for the very rare Baer’s Pochard unsuccessfully.  But we did see

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lots of Common Pochards and Eurasian Coots.


December 20

We arrived back in Shanghai at our original hotel.  We spent the morning birding at Binjiana Forest Park. We saw a lot of landbirds – mainly different species of thrushes. Here are a few birds that we saw nearly everywhere:


White Wagtail – alba form



Crested Myna



Eurasian tree Sparrow



Light-vented Bulbul  (also called Chinese Bulbul)

We spent the afternoon touring Shanghai.  Shanghai is divided in the middle by the Huangpu River.  The shoreline or The Bund is in the center of the city.  One shore of the river has modern architecture and the other shore has very old architecture.



modern Shanghai

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old Shanghai



Shanghai is bustling with activity.


December 21

I had to say goodbye to China and flew back to the USA.  It was fun!

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Scooting away.