China 2012

...with Chris Bradshaw

November 10th - 24th

It has been a few years since Birdwatching Breaks last visited China, and so it was great to return to this rapidly changing country and also to follow a new itinerary covering locations in the south-east of the country. During the trip the group saw 207 species. In addition one species was only heard and there were two leader only sightings.

Our tour began in Beijing, where some members of the group indulged in some pre-tour cultural activities. The main tour itself spent just a single rather chilly day here, but that was long enough to see some gorgeous Japanese Waxwings. We then headed to the warmth of Fujian province, where Spoon-billed Sandpiper was seen very well and other highlights included Saunder's Gull, Black-faced Spoonbill, both Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktails, a flurry of flycatchers including Mugimaki and Blue-and-white, smart Chestnut Bulbuls, Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler, White-necklaced Partridge and a party of wonderful Silver Pheasants. Moving onto Jiangxi province the temperatures fell again as we visited Poyang Hu. This is an area whose potential is perhaps under appreciated by many birders. It is a truly exceptional place for wintering birds and we enjoyed wonderful encounters with Siberian, White-naped, Hooded and Common Cranes, Oriental Storks, Bewick's Swans, masses of geese including Swan, Bean, Greater and Lesser White-fronted, Falcated Duck and Baikal Teal. Wuyuan is situated in a quiet backwater of Jiangxi province, but it has some very special birds. Here we enjoyed immaculate Scaly-sided Mergansers, cute Pied Falconets, Masked, White-browed and the infrequently seen Moustached Laughingthrush along with Yellow-browed and Tristram's Buntings. The tour ended with a visit to Yancheng where the birding in the 'fens of eastern China' was simply superb. Highlights here included wonderful sightings of Red-crowned Cranes, the impressive Reed Parrotbill, Chinese Grey Shrike, at least 167 Baikal Teal, Dusky, Naumann's and Pale Thrushes and a flurry of bunting species including Chestnut-eared, Japanese Reed, Rustic, Yellow-throated and Pallas's Reed.

All in all this was a marvellous tour, with some very special birds. The food was generally very good and accommodations mostly good as well. Thanks in particular go to the local guide Steve in Jiangxi and especially to Tang Jun for organising all the logistics and being great company throughout the tour. I look forward to returning before too long.

A gallery of images from this tour can be found on our Facebook page .

Our next visit to China is planned for the latter part of 2014.

8th/9th November: London to Beijing. Summer Palace.

Weather: Chilly but calm with hazy sunshine.

Peter, Biff and myself left London on our late afternoon flight with British Airways direct to Beijing, where our arrival next day was on schedule, a little before 1030am. Our progress through the impressive airport was smooth and it was not long before we were on our way to our hotel, situated not far from the Summer Palace. After a short rest we headed out and spent the afternoon wandering the busy paths in search of birds. In all honesty there wasn't much going on, but we did see several Goosanders, Gadwall, Goldeneye, a few Mallard, several Great Crested and 20+ Little Grebes, good numbers of Azure-winged and Eurasian Magpies, a few Spotted Doves and a very brief Great Spotted Woodpecker. Tree Sparrows were common, whilst overhead a few Carrion and Large-billed Crows were noted. A quiet beginning. In the evening we met up for dinner with those enjoying the cultural pre-tour.

10th November: Beijing Botanical Gardens.

Weather: Overcast, chilly with persistent drizzle and later steady rain.

Whilst other group members indulged in cultural activities, Peter and I spent an enjoyable morning and afternoon exploring the Beijing Botanical Gardens. The birding was fairly slow, but it was steady (considering the weather!) and we ended up with some decent birds. A small party of Yellow-bellied Tits, a group of Collared Finchbills (an introduction in Beijing) and a Pallas's Warbler were a great way to get the birding going, whilst a welcome Naumann's Thrush performed nicely for us. Grey-capped Pygmy, Grey-headed and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, White-cheeked Starling, Blackbird, Eastern Great Tit, Goldcrest and Oriental Turtle Dove were further list additions, whilst two Chinese Nuthatches were welcome. We also encountered a fairly obliging flock of a dozen or so Chinese (Yellow-billed) Grosbeaks that afforded nice views as they fed in some low trees. As the day wore on the rain slowly got heavier and birds became more difficult to come by, but persistence produced a splendid Red-billed Blue Magpie, a couple of elusive Plain Laughingthrushes, a Dusky x Naumann's Thrush hybrid and a Common Rosefinch. As the cold and the rain was starting to makes things rather uncomfortable we decided to try and get a taxi back to the hotel. We weren't having a great deal of luck, but were delighted (if very surprised!) when a Chinese man driving a smart new Volvo with his young daughter on board stopped and started talking to me in Chinese. Before long we realised he was offering us a lift, which we gratefully accepted and were soon back in the warmth of our hotel.

11th November: Beijing Botanical Gardens, Yuanmingyuan Park.

Weather: Bright and sunny with a little cloud, but cold with a strong and blustery NW wind.

With all the group members now present the tour proper began today. After yesterday's cold and wet it was good to see the tour begin with a bright and sunny day. However it was rather cold with a strong NW wind that significantly hampered the birding. Nevertheless we began the day with a large flock of Bramblings and this was a species that was clearly present in unusually large numbers, with an estimated day total in the region of 2000. A fine Japanese Waxwing was another early find that showed well and later there was an additional flock flying about. This species' main range is in areas infrequently visited by birders and its appearances in areas that are birded more regularly are rather erratic. So it was an excellent find. Chinese Bulbuls were obvious and although hard work, careful searching eventually produced Eurasian Blackbird, the expected Yellow-bellied and Eastern Great (Japanese) Tits and hoped for Chinese Nuthatches. A Pallas's Warbler performed nicely for us whilst there were a number of Sparrowhawks during the day and up on the ridge Eastern (Japanese) Buzzard and Northern Goshawk were also enjoyed. After lunch we visited a different park, which was just as busy with local people and not exactly leaping with birds. Persistence produced some slim rewards in the form of Goosander (Common Merganser), Kestrel and plenty of Carrion and Large-billed Crows heading overhead to roost. A calling Little Bunting was initially difficult to locate, but eventually showed very nicely and close range with long as you like views had by all.

12th November: Flight to Fuzhou. Fuzhou Forest Reserve.

Weather: Overcast but mild and fairly humid in Fuzhou.

An early start began with our flight to Fuzhou, where we arrived around 11am. Our baggage arrived very promptly and we were soon off to the Fuzhou Forest reserve. Here we checked in to our accommodation and had lunch before hitting the field. We had an excellent afternoon exploring the degraded forest here. Bulbuls featured prominently with some excellent views of Chestnut and Mountain, along with Black and the abundant Chinese. A number of Mugimaki Flycatchers were present and showed nicely, whilst a stream was home to an immaculate Slaty-backed Forktail. Daurian Redstart, Great Barbet, Grey Treepie, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker were among a nice range of other new birds, but the highlight of the afternoon was the discovery of a small group of Silver Pheasants feeding just off the trail. They lingered for quite a while and we enjoyed some nice views of this often shy species.

13th November: Minjiang Estuary. Fuzhou Forest Reserve.

Weather: Sunny with clear skies and pleasantly warm.

Leaving our hotel soon after dawn we headed across the city, picking up a local guide and having breakfast in a local restaurant. Although the journey seemed to take an age, we arrived in good time to take two small boats out into the estuary. Around the departure point there was a Black-faced Bunting, Kingfisher and a brief Chinese Penduline-tit. The boat ride itself produced commoner species such as Teal, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Great and Little Egrets and Grey Heron. Of somewhat greater interest were Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Eastern Marsh Harrier and Caspian Tern. On arrival at the edge of the sandflats we looked across some reedy areas where some gulls were roosting. These included Mongolian, Black-headed and Black-tailed. Nearby a family party of Whooper Swans was something of a surprise this far south and a Plain Prinia popped up briefly. We then repositioned ourselves in order to watch the waders come in to feed as the tide began to recede. Before the shorebirds started to arrive we were able to enjoy views of a small group of the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill that had joined the gulls, which now also included four Saunder's Gulls. As the waders began to flight in we worked our way through the numerous Kentish Plovers, Dunlin and Sanderling as we searched for our principle target bird. A few Red-necked Stints appeared and we again changed position to get closer, but after over an hour of searching I was beginning to wonder whether we would be lucky. However, suddenly there it was, a Spoon-billed Sandpiper, that most charismatic of small waders, which is declining rapidly and in serious danger of extinction. We were able to enjoy excellent views of this cracking little bird over an extended period with two additional birds located whilst the photographers were focused on the original bird. Simply fantastic! Delighted with our success we noted a Terek Sandpiper before heading back to the boats to return to the bus, via a rather muddy trudge off the boat.

The journey back across the city was predictably slow, but we reached the forest reserve in time for a short late afternoon birding session where highlights included a Fork-tailed Sunbird, two Blue-and-white Flycatchers and a White-crowned Forktail.

14th November: Fuzhou Forest Reserve. Fly to Nanchang. Travel to Poyang Hu (Wucheng).

Weather: Warm and sunny at Fuzhou. Pleasantly mild in Nanchang, but distinctly cooler on arrival at Poyang Hu.

Our final morning in Fuzhou began with a walk along a trail through the forest. It was a fairly busy birding session with early additions to the bird list including Olive-backed Pipit and Scarlet Minivet. Arriving at a small bridge over a stream bed we paused, initially because I had heard a Siberian Thrush call. However other species quickly put in appearances with Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler and both Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes performing nicely. A burst of song from a Spotted Wren-babbler grabbed my attention, especially as this species wasn't even in the field guide for the region! It responded fairly strongly to playback, but refused to show itself properly to everyone, although some group members were lucky. Whilst we were trying to see the wren-babbler some sharp eyed group members noticed a White-necklaced Partridge moving across the slope. It proved typically difficult to see, but most people caught a glimpse at least. Christine and Gill actually managed to see the Siberian Thrush, but the rest of us had to make do with a party of Large Woodshrikes. The rest of our walk did not add a great deal, although there was another very brief White-necklaced Partridge and some nice encounters with a female Blue-and-white Flycatcher, several Mugimaki Flycatchers and Fork-tailed Sunbird.

Returning to the bus we checked out of our hotel and headed for the airport, where we had lunch and then caught a flight to Nanchang. On arrival we headed for Poyang Hu in an impressively large bus. We had some time to pause and get an impression of the wonderful avian spectacle that this magical place has to offer. Large flocks of geese included Bean, Greater White-fronted and small numbers of Swan Geese. Large flocks of Eurasian Spoonbills and Bewick's Swans were also present, whilst of greater interest were our first Oriental Storks and wonderful Siberian Cranes. Also noted were a handful of Common Cranes and impressive numbers of Spotted Redshanks. A wonderful taste of what this area has to offer.

15th November: Poyang Hu: Boat trip with stops at Da Hu and Sa Hu.

Weather: Overcast and chilly with light rain from late morning becoming heavy from late afternoon.

The plan for the day was to take a boat down the river and make stops at various points to walk around and sift through the large flocks of birds that call this place home during the winter. As we got off the bus the first birds we saw were two Hooded Cranes flying over. Unfortunately they were only seen by part of the group, but thankfully it would not be too long before everyone had connected with this desired species. As we chugged along the river we noted Pied Kingfisher, Ruddy Shelduck and the first of many Avocets. Our first stop produced a flyover group of White-naped Cranes, a handful of Siberian Cranes, Oriental Stork, female Merlin, various small flocks of geese (White-fronted, Bean and Swan), a flock of Eastern Black-tailed Godwits and of course plenty of Bewick's Swans and Spotted Redshanks. Not a bad start! Changing location we visited a lake that had even more to offer. Walking through the longer grass we encountered a couple of Japanese Quail and Zitting Cisticola. The comment 'Is that snow?' brought the reply 'No, those are flocks of birds' and in addition to Bewick's Swans there was a large flock of Eurasian Spoonbills; conservatively estimated at an impressive 800+! Also present were several hundred Avocets and masses of ducks, mostly Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail at first, but on moving closer also including many Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler and our first Falcated Ducks. Good numbers of Buff-bellied Pipits foraged amongst the grassy tussocks. I checked some distant geese and realised that some looked good candidates for Lesser White-fronted Geese, so we headed closer to enjoy some better views and confirm the identification. This we duly achieved before returning our attention to the ducks, where a drake Baikal Teal led us a merry dance as it moved through the masses of Eurasian Teal. A second individual was no more cooperative, but eventually most people got at least a brief look before the flock spooked and took to the air. As rain was beginning to fall we headed back to the boat for some lunch and then braved the deteriorating conditions to try our luck elsewhere. A group of five Hooded Cranes showed well at close range, whilst a male Hen Harrier was a nice find. At the lake shore we were able to enjoy some extended views of White-naped Cranes before deciding that the weather was so unpleasant that an early finish was in order and we headed back to the boat and onwards to the hotel so that we could dry out.

16th November: Poyang Hu, Sa Hu.

Weather: Overcast and chilly with persistent, often heavy rain almost all day.

The day dawned grey and wet, with the rain of yesterday having continued to fall all night and destined to continue for most of the day. A Daurian Redstart, three Blackbirds and a small flock of White-cheeked Starlings were around the hotel, but a leader only Grey-backed Thrush was most frustrating. Heading out we made a short roadside stop which resulted in sightings of a Black-collared Starling, a flock of Red-billed Starlings and a group of Whooper Swans flying over. At the lake a flock of White-naped Cranes flew over and an Oriental White Stork was fairly close. We decided to try our luck using the bus as a mobile hide and were able to get close views of some goose flocks and get to grips with the separation of the Taiga and Tundra forms of Bean Goose. Greylag Goose was new for the list, whilst a Zitting Cisticola was welcomed by one group member and close Spotted Redshanks afforded some photographic opportunities. Where else in the world can this species be encountered in such large numbers? We were returning in the direction of town when we became bogged down in the mud. As time passed a number of other vehicles managed to get themselves stuck and our own attempts to move forward had achieved very little. We therefore squeezed into a small van and travelled 'Indian-style' back to the hotel, while driver and local guide persisted with the bus extraction. With the rain still pouring down we tried a birding around the hotel (just a few fruiting trees and a couple of low hedges) with little success until just before lunch our first Chinese Grosbeaks flew in. During lunch the bus reappeared so I decided that we should brave the awful weather again and try Sa Hu. The boat trip produced three Hooded Canes and Peregrine, whilst the walk at Sa Hu yielded some Japanese Quail, a nice flock of 132 Oriental Storks and at least 350 Falcated Ducks. A lonely Pacific Golden Plover was new to the list and a pleasant selection of other waders were also present, but really the weather was just terrible and so we headed back to base hoping that the conditions would relent soon.

17th November: Poyang Hu (Nanjishan). Travel to Wuyuan.

Weather: Bright, sunny and pleasantly warm after a cool start.

An early start and a two hour drive meant that we found ourselves in the Nanjishan area in the early morning sunshine! This area was pretty busy with birds and new additions to the list included Water Pipit, Marsh and Green Sandpipers and Coot. We enjoyed nice views of Chinese Grosbeak and could study the leucopsis form of White Wagtail as we had a picnic breakfast. Common Cranes flew over and a walk along a bushy embankment turned up Black-faced and Yellow-throated (Elegant) Buntings, Dusky, Pallas's and Brown-flanked Bush Warbler. The drive to Wuyuan was along a recently built expressway, sections of which had been open a matter of months. The service area where we had lunch provided an opportunity to see some obliging Olive-backed Pipits. We arrived in the Wuyuan area in the late afternoon and a short but a highly productive walk provided us with a flurry of new birds in the form of White-throated Kingfisher, a good number of Yellow-browed Buntings, Red-flanked Bluetail and White-browed Laughingthrush. A nice way to begin our exploration of this interesting area.

18th November: Wuyuan area.

Weather: Early fog clearing to become bright and sunny by mid morning and warm during the afternoon.

We began the day along a trail through the forest in misty and rather murky conditions. A little quiet to begin with we had some nice views of Grey-backed Thrushes feeding in some fruiting trees along with Himalayan Black Bulbuls of the form leucocephalus. Grey-sided Scimitar-babblers were duetting and showed to some before we had our picnic breakfast. After breakfast Chinese Hwamei, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta and White-crowned Forktail were enjoyed before the number of local people using the trail prompted us to try something different. Birding the edge of the forest from the road yielded some good encounters with Black-faced Buntings, Eurasian Jay and Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers in addition to a variety of other more regular species. During the lunch stop Peter found an Asian Barred Owlet, which most of the group managed to see.

The afternoon session along the Le An river was one of the most enjoyable of the trip. Walking up the side of the river we connected with our first Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers which performed nicely in a bare tree. On a riverine spit a Long-billed Plover was sat quietly among the boulders, whilst up river the main reason for us being here, a Scaly-sided Merganser was showing nicely if more distantly than hoped. Further up river more mergansers were present and these did the decent thing and flew down towards us, swam around for a while at closer range and then headed off again. A count of 17 was a notable number of this very rare duck whose global population is estimated by Birdlife International as being between 2400-4000 mature individuals. Walking a narrow trail we encountered another noteworthy bird when we located some Moustached Laughingthrushes. This smart bird showed nicely at close range. Further exploration added Rufous-capped Babbler and Plumbeous Redstart to our ever growing list before the light began to fade and it was time to head back to the hotel, a tired but highly contented group.

19th November: Wuyuan area.

Weather: Chilly and misty to start, but becoming warm and sunny with clear skies.

The morning was a little slow as the mist took quite a while to clear, but nevertheless we encountered some excellent birds. First up was a flock of Grey-chinned Minivets near the bus and then after a fairly long walk the forest yielded a nice flock of Indochinese Yuhinas (a recent split from Striated) and some nice encounters with Tristram's Buntings. More standard fare took the form of Grey-cheeked Fulvettas, Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers, Fork-tailed Sunbirds and Red-billed Blue Magpies. Our planned visit to one particular area was curtailed due to a fatal traffic accident, so we took lunch in a different area allowing Peter to locate a pair of Brown Dippers nest building. After an aborted attempt to reach our planned birding area we changed tack and birded an island by the river, Here, a productive session produced Mandarin Duck, Masked Laughingthrush, Grey-headed Woodpecker, a Dusky Thrush and a hyperactive flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbills.

20th November: Wuyuan area. Travel to Huangshan and late evening flight to Shanghai.

Weather: Some high cloud and a few spots of rain in the morning. Sunny and mild in the afternoon.

As a result of being able to take a late evening flight to Shanghai, the expected day of travelling to Shanghai was changed in order for us to enjoy a leisurely day birding around Wuyuan. The morning was spent along the Le An river where we enjoyed some more great views of Scaly-sided Mergansers. New for the list here was a flock of Eurasian Siskins and two Crested Kingfishers although the latter were only seen by Peter and myself. We had better looks at Masked Laughingthrush, an excellent encounter with a flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbills, Grey-backed Thrush and many of the now usual suspects. On our way to the lunch stop we paused for two ever so cute Pied Falconets, but the hoped for close views at the restaurant didn't materialise despite a fairly extended wait. The late afternoon was spent around some fields where Russet Sparrow was a nice find (albeit a little distant) and the group caught up with Brown Dipper. As dusk fell we headed for Huangshan where we caught a late flight to Shanghai, which had a delayed departure and eventually we reached the hotel soon after 0115hrs.

21st November: Shanghai to Xin Yang Gang. Yancheng.

Weather: Cool, but milder than recent days. Overcast with often heavy rain.

After the late arrival at the hotel the previous night, we took breakfast at 0700hrs and were soon on our way to Yancheng. The journey took around four hours along an expressway that had relatively little traffic on it. On arrival in Xin Yang Gang we checked into our simple hotel, had some lunch and then headed out in to the field.

Our first explorations of this area were intended to target some of the duck species still missing from our list. However at the first stop attention was immediately diverted by a Pale Thrush which initially showed quite well, but then became flighty, elusive and disappeared before everyone had connected. Two Rustic Buntings were better behaved and a Water Rail was a great performer as it wandered about in the open along a track. Getting back to the ducks, we scanned through large numbers of Gadwall (first of the trip), Mallard and some Goosanders with little else of particular interest. However, Biff picked up distant group of four Red-crowned Cranes flying over the reeds, whilst a Eurasian Bittern was also new. Moving on to another pond we were delighted to find some Smew, a new bird for one group member and some better views of drake Falcated Duck. Returning to the bus a Hoopoe was new to the list, but as yet we hadn't encountered any Aythyas.

The next stop was to put that right very quickly as large numbers of Pochards and a sprinkling of Tufted Ducks were present along with good numbers of Coots. I began scanning the flocks and the third duck I clapped eyes on appeared to be a drake Baer's Pochard! There was a frenetic spell trying to get people on to the bird, which became difficult when it went to sleep and was then lost to view amongst the packs of Pochard. The situation was then complicated when Peter located what was assumed to be the same bird, but I had my doubts and a change of position confirmed that bird as a Ferruginous. As I had immediately stepped away from my scope to allow clients to view, I had not seen the first bird for long, so I began to wonder had there really been a Baer's? Patient scanning of a very tight group of Pochard confirmed two Ferruginous Ducks, and then, much to my relief a drake Baer's Pochard appeared in my field of view, with everyone eventually getting views of this rare and rapidly declining species. During this period Christine located a female Red Crested Pochard, a fairly rare winter visitor in eastern China. By now the light was beginning to deteriorate, but a slow drive back to base produced some Common Starlings among a pre-roost gathering of White-cheeked. Our final stop was for a thrush that was destined to remain unidentified (because it promptly disappeared), but which allowed us to enjoy a wonderful spectacle as large numbers of geese, ducks, herons, egrets and cranes moved about the sky as they flew to roost or headed out to feed. A highly rewarding way to end an excellent afternoon.

22nd November: Yancheng.

Weather: Overcast with light winds. A little chilly.

Well, a simply superb day's birding began along a track through some agricultural fields, where we were soon getting some stunning views of Red-crowned and Common Cranes. Small flocks were flying about and dropping in to feed on the stubbles and provided some excellent entertainment. A small number of Hooded Cranes were among the Common Cranes and we also located a Sandhill Crane, with probably a second individual seen a little later on. A smart male Hen Harrier flew across the road, whilst a couple of small flocks of Lapland Buntings flew over calling. Exploration of a reedy ditch proved worthwhile as chasing up our first Pallas's Reed Buntings we encountered both Chestnut-eared and Japanese Reed Buntings. Thrushes had been proving a little hard to come by on this trip, but a stop to photograph some close Red-crowned Cranes provided us with our first good views of both Dusky and Naumann's Thrushes, with a couple of intergrades between the two species thrown in for good measure!

A key bird of the extensive reed beds in the Yancheng area is the Reed Parrotbill, and our first attempt at seeing this sought-after species was successfully achieved in perhaps five minutes (and for most of the group rather less time!). We encountered perhaps 8-10 individuals (and heard others) during the morning with some very nice close views obtained. Pallas's Reed Buntings were quite common and now performing nicely with a male Yellow-throated (Elegant) Bunting being well received. Further stops afforded more Dusky Thrushes and some views of Lapland Buntings feeding in a stubble field.

We returned to base for a quick lunch before heading back out in search of better views of Baikal Teal, seen earlier in the trip during poor weather at Poyang Hu. We had been told that perhaps 6 or 7 had been seen in the area recently and after checking one lagoon without much success (although ca 200 Goosander and a couple of Smew were impressive), we tried a second lagoon where a nice drake was located fairly quickly. Once everyone was on this individual, further scanning through the throngs of ducks on the same pond produced a count of at least 167 Baikal Teal (!), and there were doubtless quite a few more hidden by the reedy fringes that obscured our viewing of other parts of the same water body. The last hour or so of light was spent checking the lagoons for gulls, but apart from a single Vega and small numbers of Mongolian we didn't find anything of particular note. However the day had one last surprise in store. As we bumped our way back down the track a smashing Chinese Grey Shrike flew across the track in front of the bus and perched up nicely giving us some excellent views. A great way in which to end a wonderful, last full day of birding for the trip.

23rd November: Yancheng. Travel to Shanghai.

Final species total: 207.

Weather: Overcast with a blustery and rather cold wind, a little brighter by late morning. Dry.

We had a final rather relaxed birding session in some gardens not far from our hotel. This proved fairly productive, with a Long-eared Owl a nice addition to our trip list along with Goldcrest and perhaps rather more surprisingly a female Eurasian Bullfinch, which seems to be south of its usual winter range in China. We also had some nice views of Dusky, Naumann's and Pale Thrushes, Pallas's Warbler, a female Mugimaki Flycatcher and Red-flanked Bluetail. Heading back out to the fields we came across a Chinese Grey Shrike and a scattering of buntings that included obliging Rustic, Chestnut-eared, Little and Pallas's Reed. A Bittern was a nice sight and there were further sightings of Dusky and Naumann's Thrushes. As the morning session came to a close we spent a little time just soaking up the spectacle of sizeable flocks of cranes feeding and flying about and including Common, Hooded, Red-crowned and Sandhill, along with good numbers of Bean Geese. A simply wonderful way to round off our birding. We had lunch and a 'rather interesting' journey to Shanghai Airport Hotel, where we had an overnight stay. Our departure the next morning was pretty much on time with an Eastern Buzzard circling beside the runway as we waited to take off being the final bird of a great trip.

For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at

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