Oriental Plover, Hengsha Island, Shanghai, 9 April 2016.

Oriental Plover Highlight 103-Species Weekend

On Sat. 9 April and Sun. 10 April 2016, Elaine Du and I noted 103 species at three Shanghai-area birding hot spots. We had Oriental Plover and Black-faced Spoonbill on Hengsha, the latter present also at Nanhui, where we found in addition Brown Crake, Greater Sand Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Grassbird, Bluethroat, and Citrine Wagtail. Lesser Yangshan yielded out-of-range Rufous-faced Warbler and our season’s first flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher. Other season’s firsts were Eurasian Wryneck and Oriental Reed Warbler on Hengsha, Oriental Pratincole, Japanese Thrush, Tristram’s Bunting, and Meadow Bunting on Lesser Yangshan, and Broad-billed Sandpiper at Nanhui. Garganey and singing Brown-flanked Bush Warbler were on Hengsha and Temminck’s Stint and Grey-backed Thrush were noted at Nanhui. Red-throated Pipit were on Hengsha and Nanhui, as were Intermediate Egret, “SwintailSnipe, Reed Parrotbill, and Chestnut-eared Bunting.

Citrine Wagtail, Nanhui, 10 April 2016. Perhaps the most beautiful of wagtails, Motacilla citreola is a scarce passage migrant in Shanghai.
Citrine Wagtail, Nanhui, 10 April 2016. Perhaps the most beautiful of wagtails, Motacilla citreola is a scarce passage migrant in Shanghai.

On Sat. 9 April Elaine and I birded Hengsha, the alluvial island at the mouth of the Yangtze. Our target was Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus, which we found after a short search. Oriental Plover breeds in deserts and steppes mainly in Mongolia, and in China in Hulunbeier, Inner Mongolia. For Elaine, Ori Pluv was a virtual lifer, as her only previous experience with the species was our quick, long-distance look at an individual near Hulun Lake last July.

It is spring and Meadow Bunting are staking out territories on Lesser Yangshan. This aggressive little fellow had attracted the attention of a female, which kept to the undergrowth while he roared. Common on Lesser Yangshan, Emberiza cioides is almost never recorded on the nearby coast.
It is spring and Meadow Bunting are staking out territories on Lesser Yangshan. This aggressive little fellow had attracted the attention of a female, which kept to the undergrowth while he roared. Common on Lesser Yangshan, Emberiza cioides is almost never recorded on the nearby coast.

On Sun. 10 April Elaine and I were joined by Shanghai-based British birder Michael Grunwell. We noted 90 species on Lesser Yangshan Island and at Nanhui.

The three of us found 30 singing Marsh Grassbird in the large reed bed at 30.866006, 121.939614, a point 2.8 km south of the lock at Nanhui and 4.1 km south of the Magic Parking Lot/Holiday Inn (30.882784, 121.972782). An unpaved road leads into the marsh. The grassbirds were noted only in that reed bed and not in other seemingly suitable reed beds elsewhere at Nanhui. The grassbirds were using only those parts of the reed bed far from the road. They were making their curving display flight.

Marsh Grassbird performing song flight at Nanhui, Shanghai, 10 April 2016.
Marsh Grassbird performing song flight at Nanhui, Shanghai, 10 April 2016.

Marsh Grassbird is also known as Japanese Swamp Warbler and Japanese Marsh Warbler. It is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. The IUCN notes that Marsh Grassbird is “very sensitive to habitat structure and does not tolerate vegetation that is too short or too tall.” It is threatened mainly by the conversion of its wetland habitat to other uses.

Speaking of conversions, new construction is changing all three of the birding spots we visited last weekend. The transformation at Nanhui has been noted by me here and here. Lesser Yangshan Island is being converted from an island to an even bigger megaport, and Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089) is steadily growing unbirdable. A bright spot on Lesser Yangshan is the new wetland (30.611902, 122.114873) on reclaimed land between Lesser Yangshan and Dazhitou Island.

Will this 100-hectare plantation of trees add a new dimension to birding on Hengsha?
Will this 100-hectare plantation of trees add a new dimension to birding on Hengsha?

In the reclaimed area on Hengsha, a 100-hectare area at 31.299495, 121.893845 is being converted from savanna to forest. That is an area about two-thirds the size of Century Park in Pudong. This may be good news, as the tree plantation may attract forest species such as flycatchers and leaf warblers, families that on the formerly treeless reclaimed area at Hengsha have always been scarce.

The springtime birding season in Shanghai is really picking up steam. On the Web site of the Shanghai Wild Bird Society, shwbs.org, birders have recently reported Long-billed Dowitcher, Asian Dowitcher, and Ruff on Chongming and Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Black Redstart on Hengsha.

List 1 of 1 for Sat. 9 April 2016 (52 species)

Intermediate Egret with prey, Hengsha, 9 April 2016.
Intermediate Egret with prey, Hengsha, 9 April 2016.

Hengsha Island (Héngshā Dǎo [横沙岛]), a small alluvial island at mouth of Yangtze River in Shanghai, China. S gate to reclaimed area at 31.297333, 121.859434. Cloudy; low 12° C, high 22° C. Wind SE 6 km/h. PM2.5 AQI: 74 (moderate). Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 05:32, sunset 18:19. SAT 09 APR 2016 07:40-15:30. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Gadwall Anas strepera 117
Falcated Duck A. falcata 2
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 1
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 3
Garganey A. querquedula 10
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 16
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 12
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 15
Black-faced Spoonbill P. minor 13
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris 6 booming
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 3
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 24
Great Egret A. alba 5
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 12
Little Egret E. garzetta 40
Circus sp. 1
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus 1
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 24
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 60
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 10
Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus 3
Pin-tailed/Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago stenura/megala 1
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 3
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 2
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 2
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 6
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 4
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 1
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla 1
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 2
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus 20
Eurasian/Oriental Skylark Alauda arvensis/gulgula 20
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 6
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica ca. 400
Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone canturians/H. borealis borealis 7 singing
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler H. fortipes 1 singing
Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis 5 singing
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 16
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 14
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 4
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 3
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus 7
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 2
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 10
Red-throated Pipit Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus 3
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 20
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 3
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 4
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 5

Mammals

Siberian Weasel Mustela sibirica 1

List 1 of 2 for Sun. 10 April 2016 (45 species)

Green Sandpiper in gully below Guanyin Temple, Lesser Yangshan Island, 10 April 2016.
Green Sandpiper in gully below Guanyin Temple, Lesser Yangshan Island, 10 April 2016.

Lesser Yangshan Island (Xiǎo Yángshān [小洋山]), island in Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang, China. List includes birds noted at Garbage Dump Gully (30.641565, 122.062836), Temple Mount (30.639866, 122.048327), & a wetland area (30.611902, 122.114873) on reclaimed land between Lesser Yangshan & Dazhitou Island (Dà Zhǐtou Dǎo [大指头岛]). Sunny in morning, turning cloudy. Low 11° C, high 22° C. Wind E 6 km/h. Visibility 10 km. PM2.5 AQI: 159 (unhealthful). Sunrise 05:30, sunset 18:20. SUN 10 APR 2016 06:00-09:45. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, & Michael Grunwell.

Eurasian Teal Anas crecca 6
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 1
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 10
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 3
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 2
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 1
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 6
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 3
Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus 6
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 1
Wood Sandpiper T. glareola 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina 37
Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 2
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 5
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 1
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 1
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 5
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 17
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 30
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 1 singing
Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone canturians/H. borealis borealis 16 singing
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 5
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 5 singing
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 2
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 2
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 8
White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus 14
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 8
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 2
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris 1
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 4
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 5
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 20
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 8
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 3
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides 3
Tristram’s Bunting E. tristrami 2
Little Bunting E. pusilla 5
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 10

List 2 of 2 for Sun. 10 April 2016 (72 species)

Around sunset, this Brown Crake emerged onto the grassy base of the sea wall to forage. I had never noted Brown Crake in Shanghai. Nanhui, 10 April 2016.
Around sunset, this Brown Crake emerged onto the grassy base of the sea wall to forage. I had never noted Brown Crake in Shanghai. Nanhui, 10 April 2016.

Around Pudong Nanhui Dongtan Wetland (Pǔdōng Nánhuì Dōngtān Shīdì [浦东南汇东滩湿地]), Shanghai, China (30.920507, 121.973159). List includes birds found along Shijitang Road from 31.000204, 121.938145 S to 30.851114, 121.848527. Sunny in morning, turning cloudy. Low 11° C, high 22° C. Wind E 6 km/h. Visibility 10 km. PM2.5 AQI: 159 (unhealthful). Sunrise 05:30, sunset 18:20. SUN 10 APR 2016 10:20-18:00. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, & Michael Grunwell.

Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha 3
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 5
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 16
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 4
Black-faced Spoonbill P. minor 10
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 28
Purple Heron A. purpurea 2
Great Egret A. alba 1
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 2
Little Egret E. garzetta 30
Brown Crake Amaurornis akool 1
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 6
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 45
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 15
Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus 35
Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii leschenaultii 14
Pin-tailed/Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago stenura/megala 1
Common Snipe G. gallinago 8
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa 3
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 8
Common Redshank T. totanus 1
Marsh Sandpiper T. stagnatilis 13
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 10
Green Sandpiper T. ochropus 1
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 1
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis 31
Temminck’s Stint C. temminckii 1
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper C. acuminata 1
Dunlin C. alpina 3
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 1
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus 15
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 6
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 1
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 1
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 1
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus 3
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula 4 singing
Eurasian/Oriental Skylark A. arvensis/gulgula 15 singing
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 26
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica ca. 200
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 3
Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone canturians/H. borealis borealis 4 singing
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 2
Marsh Grassbird Locustella pryeri 30 singing
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 5
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 5
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 80
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 18
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 3
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus 10
White-cheeked Starling S. cineraceus 24
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 2
Japanese Thrush T. cardis 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 12
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 24
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica 1
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 2
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 100
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 2 tschutschensis
Citrine Wagtail M. citreola 3
Grey Wagtail M. cinerea 2
White Wagtail M. alba 15 (1 lugens, 1 ocularis)
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus 3
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 11
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 3
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 25
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 10

Craig Brelsford in Garbage Dump Gully, Lesser Yangshan Island, 10 April 2016. Photo by Elaine Du.
Craig Brelsford in Garbage Dump Gully, Lesser Yangshan Island, 10 April 2016. Photo by Elaine Du.

Featured image: Oriental Plover, Hengsha Island, Shanghai, 9 April 2016.

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Craig Brelsford

Craig Brelsford lives in Shanghai, where he runs shanghaibirding.com and studies Chinese at the Shanghai University of Engineering Sciences.

6 thoughts on “Oriental Plover Highlight 103-Species Weekend”

    1. Hi John! Ori Pluv is a bird that in my discussions with Elaine had taken on a mythical quality. How proud I was to give her the spotting scope and let her take in her first good views. Garbage Dump Gully is a migrant trap and actually is scenic despite the eyesore at the bottom.

  1. Beautiful photographs. I very much appreciate your documentation of the transformations of the areas you visited and the neutral way you note them.

    1. Hi Catherine, I appreciate your appreciation of my neutral way! To what may I attribute this neutrality? There are a few factors. One is that, living in China, one develops a thick skin. Dostoevsky was right when he said that man is the creature that can get used to anything. Another reason is sympathy. 160 million persons live in Shanghai and in the two provinces (Zhejiang, Jiangsu) bordering it, about half the population of the entire United States of America in an area slightly smaller than the state of Kansas. That’s real population pressure, something that any government no matter how efficient would find challenging to deal with. Yet another reason is that while the trend is toward degradation so severe that future generations of Chinese are almost certain to lament what is happening now, not all conversions are clearly bad, as for example the wetland that has popped up at 30.611902, 122.114873. Take care and thanks for reading!

  2. Wow! What great photos. I loved the Citrine Wagtail. Did not see that one on my trip to China. The Oriental Plover was stunning.

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