China – December, 2014

July 24, 2015

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.

boatestuary EurasianCurlew120814MinJiang EurasianOystercatcher120914MinJiang


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.


Shorebird Class at Schollenberger Park

August 14, 2012

On Sunday, August 12, my Sebastopol Community Center Class and I explored Schollenberger Park in Petaluma.  We had wonderful close-up looks at many Long-billed Dowitchers.  We also got nice looks at the Pacific Golden Plover.  A highlight was the appearance of a Long-tailed Weasel on the trail!

A few of us then continued on to the Sonoma Landtrust Property (SLT) near Port Sonoma Marina after Schollenberger Park.

Here is a list of the shorebirds that we saw for the day:

Black-bellied Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Semipalmated Plover (SLT), Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet (SLT), Whimbrel (SLT), Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper (SLT), Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher

Shorebird Class at Bodega Bay

August 8, 2012

Sunday, August 5, my Sebastopol Community Center Shorebird Class and I went to Bodega Bay.  We had an awesome day!   Highlights included both Red-necked and Red Phalaropes, wonderful views of Wandering Tattlers and a group of roosting Snowy Plovers on Doran Beach.

Below is a complete list of the shorebirds we saw:

Black-bellied Plover, Snowy Plover, Semiplamated Plover, Black Oystercatcher, Willet, Wandering Tattler, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Black Turnstone, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Red-necked Phalarope, and Red Phalarope.


College of Marin Class

July 23, 2012

Last week, we finished the summer session of the College of Marin Birding Class.

We had a blast!

Here is the list of birds that we saw at Tomales Bay State Park:

Osprey, Western Gull, Band-tailed Pigeon, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher (heard), Black Phoebe, Steller’s jay, Common Raven, American Crow, Violet-green Swallow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Bushtit, Pygmy Nuthatch (heard), Wrentit (heard), American Robin, Swainson’s Thrush, Wilson’s Warbler, Song Sparrow, Oregon Junco, Brown-headed Cowbird, Pine Siskin (heard), House Finch, American Goldfinch, Purple Finch.


My Road Trip July 29 – Aug 3. Day 6

August 11, 2011

This was my last day. 

I lingered on Highway 89 just south of Lassen for a little while.  I photographed this butterfly which I used to know as Meadow Fritillary.  But now, due to taxonomic changes, it is the Pacific Fritillary.  Sometimes you have to travel all the way to Lassen to learn these things.

I decided to take Road 32 down throuh Tehama County because I had absolutely no birds recorded in that county in my very old-fashioned county-bird coloring book from Golden Gate Audubon Society put out in the 70s or 80s.  That was fun.  I added White-headed Woodpeckers and Cedar Waxwings to the trip list on that road.

It was a dramatic drive down the mountains into Chico.  The last part of the road was through dry Gray Pine Forest.  The views of the large valleys and tall cliffs were stunning and a fitting end to the trip.  Once I arrived in Chico, I called it an end to a great trip.  I ate a burrito, bought some fresh fruit, filled the car with gas, changed in to shorts, and buzzed on home on the freeway.

My Road Trip July 29 – Aug 3. Day 5

August 11, 2011

I returned to Burney Falls in the morning to look for the Black Swifts again.  This time the light was better.  There were Black Swifts visible against the lit up rock cliffs.  The Vaux’s Swifts were not there.  The Vaux’s Swifts were all in wing molt.  As a matter of interest (or noninterest),  none of the Black Swifts were in wing molt.

I headed down to Lassen National Park.  I set up my campsite and birded for the day.  The best bird of the day was probably Evening Grosbeak and there were Bufleheads on one of the lakes which surprised me.

The scenery was amazing, but the birding was pretty slow.  However at one point, I was surrounded by about 50 Orange-crowned Warblers.  Here is a photo of an Audubon’s Yellow-rumped Warbler which was a pretty common breeder up there.

My Road Trip July 29 – Aug 3. Day 4

August 11, 2011

Day 4 was a montane exploration day.  I watched some Western Grebes display to each other on the lake while driniking my morning coffee.  I looked at some Mountain Chickadees. and then found some high-country chapparel with some  Green-tailed Towhees and a Rock Wren feeding a young fledgeling.

I then ditched the pavement for the more solitary dirt roads and traveled forestry road 21 and drove up to Antelope Valley Lookout.  I had nice views of a Williamson’s Sapsucker  and a lovely juvenile Townsend’s Solitaire.

I drove through a huge Alpine meadow called Pine Creek Valley.  There were Sandhill Cranes.

I stopped to photograph these Emerald Spreadwings -

While I was trying to get better photos, a very quiet Short-tailed Weasel peaked out of the grasses at me. It was a magic moment.

I then drove on to Burney Falls, hoping that the Black Swifts would still be using the falls to nest in.  That evening, I was surprised to see Vaux’s Swifts flying around the Falls Area.  This mystified me, so I camped hearby to watch for them again in the morning.

The birding near my campsite was fantastic.  It was Gray Pine/Black Oak habitat and I found a migratory warbler flock of 4 species, breeding Purple Martins, lots and lots of Chipping Sparrows and the place was alive with activity.  Just before sunset, I came across the Western Rattlesnake in the road. 

My Road Trip July 29 – Aug 3. Day 3.

August 11, 2011

I birded the refuge in the morning again.  I enjoyed the Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

Then I drove on to Pyramid Lake.  My favorite wildlife sighting on the shores of this lake was this Zebra-tailed Lizard.  It would curl its tail over its head while it ran.

I then drove a dirt road pass back into Lassen County, California.  I wanted to check out Honey Lake.

There were a couple Sandhill Cranes at Honey Lake, but it was pretty quiet overall.  I enjoyed looking over a large mixed species flock of blackbirds.  Here is a Tricolored Blackbird:

And I liked these Black-billed Magpies.  Anyone have any ideas about the bird in the background?  I never noticed it at the time.

I filled up with gas in Susanville and drove north to Eagle Lake to get out of the desert and into the mountains.  I camped on the south shore of Eagle Lake.

My Road Trip July 29 – Aug 3. Day 2

August 11, 2011

In the morning, I did a little birding around the State Park Area and then visited Carson Lake Reserve.  It was hot, but the birding was good.  There were breeding Long-billed Curlews.  My photos of these did not turn out.  And there were breeding Redheads.  The most abundant bird of the area was White-faced Ibis. 

I then traveled to Stillwater Wildlife Refuge northeast of Fallon.  Here, there were breeding Redheads:

and breeding Clark’s Grebes.

I also enjoyed seeing the thousands of swallows feeding over the marshes and staging in the tules.  There were hundreds of Bank Swallows in amongst Tree, Cliff and Barn Swallows.  Below is a photo of a Bank Swallow next to a juvenile Tree Swallow.

Another wind and dust storm came up in the afternoon.  There was rain and lightning visible in the distance both evenings, but I only experienced the wind and dust.

My Road Trip July 29 – Aug 3. Day 1

August 11, 2011

On Friday, July 29, I loaded up the car and decided to go to Lahontan Valley Nevada,  just to see a new place and do some birding.  I needed an adventure.  I had 6 days and I was going to use them.

I traveld over I-80 past Reno and Sparks and camped in Fort Churchill State Park along the Carson River.  It was an amazing riparian corridor with some of the largest Cottonwood Trees I have ever seen. 

It was late afternoon when I arrived, and a huge wind and dust storm had brewed, so I did not see many birds.  But the sunset was spectacular.