5th - 22nd May 2018
Leader: James Eaton
Max group size: 7
Arrivals into Fuzhou International Airport. Night in Fuzhou.
We spend half the day visiting the Minjiang Estuary in search of one of China’s rarest species, the recently rediscovered Chinese Crested Tern. Small numbers are usually present most days here, as they feed, rest and congregate before moving to their breeding islets offshore, with larger numbers of Greater Crested Terns. A large number of waders are often present here, including Swinhoe’s Plover. The other half of the day (depending on tide times with which way round we do it) will be spent inside Fuzhou Forest Park. This popular park with locals is home to a small number of sought-after species including Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler and Rickett’s Partridge. In addition, we can also hope for Huet’s Fulvetta, Great Barbet, Chinese Hwamei and Fork-tailed Sunbird. Night in Fuzhou.
Depending on tide times and birding around Fuzhou, we then head inland to Emeifang NNR. Any free time in the afternoon will be spent exploring the lower slopes in search of Elliot’s Pheasant and Chinese Hwamei. Nights at Emeifang.
We spend two days inside Emeifang NNR to locate the main prizes of this beautiful, isolated mountain range. The jewel in the crown is the Cabot’s Tragopan which regularly feeds by the roadside in the early mornings and by patiently driving slowly along the road that winds its way up we hope to get close views of this spectacular forest galliform.
For the remainder of our time we bird at a variety of altitudes along the single forest road in search of the other species endemic to south-east China’s mountain ranges; Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, Rickett’s Partridge, Huet’s Fulvetta (part of the ‘Grey-cheeked’ complex), and we even have a chance of Elliot’s Pheasant, the most difficult of the endemics. Many other scarce but widespread species are possible; Moustached and Buffy Laughingthrushes, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Sulphur-breasted, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, White-spectacled, Alstrom’s and Buff-throated Warblers, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Green and Blyth’s Shrike Babblers, Brown Bush Warbler, Elachura and Chestnut Bulbul. Nights at Emeifang.
Depending on our previous days successes we drive north to Wuyuan. If we arrive in time we can search for any of the following Pied Falconet, Courtois’s and Masked Laughingthrush, Swinhoe’s Minivet or Mandarin Duck. Night in Wuyuan.
This morning we will visit one of the small colonies of Courtois’s Laughingthrush in the beautiful Wuyuan countryside. This critically endangered species is known from only 5-6 colonies, all within the Wuyuan county borders with the current known population numbering no more than 200 individuals. Driving around the local villages, seemingly trapped in a time warp while the rest of the country develops at neck-breaking speed, we will search for several scarce species including Short-tailed Parrotbill, Pied Falconet, Masked Laughingthrush, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Rufous-faced Warbler, Red-billed Starling and even the spectacular Mandarin Duck which has a healthy population along the riversides.
Once done, we drive north-east, skirting the outer edges of Shanghai to Rudong. Night in Rudong.
Birding on the mudflats at high tide we have a reasonable chance of finding Spoon-billed Sandpiper among the thousands of shorebirds. Also here, Saunder’s Gull, Nordmann’s Greenshank and Reed Parrotbill are possible. The nearby scrub and plantations provides shelter for passage migrants, with a whole host of buntings, starlings, warblers and flycatchers of various species possible.
There is a slim chance of Reed Parrotbill in this area. If we have not encountered it during the morning then we visit an area of coastal marsh and reed-bed towards Shanghai. We head down to Shanghai in the evening ready for the following mornings flight. Night in Shanghai.
After early morning birding for Reed Parrotbill and Japanese Swamp Warbler we fly inland to Wuhan, and drive 90 minutes north to Dongzhai NNR. Late afternoon birding in search of Reeves’s Pheasant. Night in Dongzhai NNR.
A full day in search of one of China’s most recognisable endemics – the splendid Reeve’s Pheasant. Dongzhai has the largest population of this increasingly rare species but it is still difficult to find. Other species possible here include Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Chinese Hwamei, Oriental Scops Owl and even Fairy Pitta. Night at Dongzhai NNR.
Drive back to Wuhan Airport and fly further north to Taiyuan. After a 90-minute drive we arrive at a monastery where Brown Eared Pheasant are often in view. During the afternoons the birds are less likely to be around, so we can search the scrub for Beijing Babbler, Silver-throated Bushtit, Yellow-streaked Warbler and Long-tailed Rosefinch. Night in Jiaocheng.
Full morning at the monastery for the Brown Eared Pheasants, followed by birding in the nearby scrub. After this we drive back to Taiyuan to fly to Inner Mongolia.
Depending on the previous days flight will decide which way round we do the birding in Inner Mongolia, as we visit two sites. One site, is a remnant grassland for one of China’s rarest specialities, Jankowski’s Bunting, which really is just clinging onto what habitat remains. Other species in the area include breeding Great Bustard, Amur Falcon, Chinese Grey Shrike, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Asian Short-toed Lark and Japanese Quail.
The other site, a large wetland we have a chance of cranes - namely Red-crowned and an outside chance of White-naped. Also here is the possibility of Swan Goose, Oriental Stork, Japanese Reed Bunting andChinese Penduline Tit.
Morning flight back to Beijing, and drive to Lingshan. Around Lingshan the possibilities include Grey-sided Thrush, Green-backed Flycatcher, Zappey’s Flycatcher and Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch. Night at Lingshan.
After mornings birding, afternoon drive south to Hengshui Lake. Hengshui Lake is now well known as one of the very few known breeding sites for the critically endangered Baer’s Pochard. Schrenck’s Bittern is also possible here, though we might be a little early for them still. Night near Hengshui.
Mornings birding at Hengshui Lake in search of Baer’s Pochard, Reed Parrotbill and Schrenck’s Bittern before driving back north to Beijing Night in Beijing.
Departures from Beijing International Airport.
Please note that the itinerary is provisonal at this point, and will be confirmed nearer in 2017.