Rich Selection of Ducks, Geese at Nanhui

On Saturday 12 Dec., birding once again with the Dream Team, Elaine and I noted 69 species at Lesser Yangshan and Nanhui. We found Horned Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, and Greater Scaup at Dishui Lake, we noted 600 Common Shelduck off the coast at Nanhui, and we added Tundra Swan, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Brown-eared Bulbul, and White-rumped Munia to our Shanghai-area autumn-winter list.

This long-distance image shows the straighter, unhooked bill of Red-breasted Merganser. Common Merganser by contrast shows a hooked bill. © 2015 by Stephan Popp & Xueping Popp.
This long-distance image shows the straighter, unhooked bill of Red-breasted Merganser. Common Merganser by contrast shows a hooked bill. © 2015 by Stephan Popp & Xueping Popp.

Lesser Yangshan has been thin lately, but it was with past December views of Brown-eared Bulbul in mind that we made the 25-km trek across the Donghai Bridge to the little island. Sure enough, we quickly found a single Brown-eared Bulbul, a scarce winter visitor in the Shanghai area. The bird was in Garbage Dump Gully and was flying excitedly from tree to tree. We guessed it had just arrived. Michael was pleased with his lifer. In the trees in the courtyard we found a pair of Japanese White-eye.

Finding little else of interest, we left Lesser Yangshan after less than an hour. Our first stop at Nanhui was an overgrown field near Dishui Lake. Here we found a strong mix of buntings, among them Rustic Bunting and Yellow-browed Bunting.

Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica breeds across northern Eurasia, from Sweden to the Chukotka Peninsula. It's an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor in the Shanghai region.
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica breeds across northern Eurasia, from Sweden to the Chukotka Peninsula. It’s an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor in the Shanghai region.

At Dishui Lake, the first bird I laid eyes on through the scope was the Red-breasted Merganser. Xueping snapped up record shots of the distant duck. The straight bill of our Red-breasted distinguishes it from the hooked bill of Common Merganser. Tufted Duck were the most numerous diving duck, and Falcated Duck the most numerous dabbler. The Horned Grebe, also known as Slavonian Grebe, was in the same northeastern corner of Dishui where Elaine and I found 3 Horned Grebe six days ago.

Peregrine Falcon soaring above Magic Parking Lot, Nanhui. This specimen is a juvenile, told from adult by streaked rather than cross-barred breast and belly. Note stockier, more powerful build of Peregrine as compared to other falcons.
Peregrine Falcon soaring above Magic Parking Lot, Nanhui. This specimen is a juvenile, told from adult by streaked rather than cross-barred breast and belly. Note stockier, more powerful build of Peregrine as compared to other falcons.

A quick stop at the Magic Parking Lot once again revealed late Barn Swallow. Absent from Dishui Lake, they were present in their dozens over the smaller pond behind the Holiday Inn. For the past three weeks, we have noted Barn Swallow there and nowhere else. A Peregrine Falcon soared over the carpark.

The problem with the sea-wall road at Nanhui is that another wall runs along the road, blocking one’s view of the mudflats below. Barred thereby from scanning as one drives, one is forced to make periodic stops and get out of the car. During one of these stops, we found the impressive flock of Common Shelduck. A much luckier view was that of the Common Goldeneye. A random stop produced a single white spot in the muddy sea far out. The scope brought him in just before he took another long dive.

Common Goldeneye alone on the muddy sea off coast of Nanhui. A random stop along the sea wall road produced this lucky record. Goldeneyes are divers, and if this adult male had been in a dive during our quick stop, we surely would have missed it. Common Goldeneye breeds throughout northern Eurasia and North America.
Common Goldeneye alone on the muddy sea off coast of Nanhui. A random stop along the sea wall road produced this lucky record. Goldeneyes are divers, and if this adult male had been in a dive during our quick stop, we surely would have missed it. Common Goldeneye breeds throughout northern Eurasia and North America.

At Nanhui we ran into Hé Xīn (何鑫). He alerted us to the presence of Tundra Swan, and he told us he had seen an Oriental Stork. He also found Swan Goose. We were able to locate the Tundra Swan but missed the stork and Swan Goose.

The Dream Team consists of veteran birder Michael Grunwell, husband-and-wife team Stephan Popp and Xueping Popp, my wife Elaine Du, and me.

With the new additions, Elaine’s and my Shanghai autumn-winter list now contains 260 species. We started the list on 11 Sept. 2015.

List 1 of 2 for Sat. 12 Dec. 2015 (17 species)

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), Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089), & Temple Mount (30.639866, 122.048327). Mostly cloudy. Winds NNE 11 km/h. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 06:44, sunset 16:52. High 11°C. SAT 12 DEC 2015 07:00-07:50. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, Michael Grunwell, Stephan Popp, & Xueping Popp.

Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 4
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 15
Brown-eared Bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis amaurotis 1
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus 2
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 2
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus 2
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 1
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 5
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 5
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 5
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 3
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 1
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans 1

List 2 of 2 for Sat. 12 Dec. 2015 (62 species)

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 at Magic Parking Lot (30.882784, 121.972782), Magic GPS Point (30.880540, 121.964572), the empty blue-roofed building & nearby microforests (30.961368, 121.952136), and Dishui Lake (30.908702, 121.945124). Mostly cloudy. Winds NNE 11 km/h. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 06:44, sunset 16:52. High 11°C. SAT 12 DEC 2015 08:30-13:40. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, Michael Grunwell, Stephan Popp, & Xueping Popp.

Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii 170
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 600
Falcated Duck Anas falcata 450
Gadwall A. strepera 30
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 50
Mallard A. platyrhynchos 40
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha ca. 400
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 50
Northern Pintail A. acuta 60
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 10
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 120
Greater Scaup A. marila 10
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula 1
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 1
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 1
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 15
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 30
Horned Grebe P. auritus 1
Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis 5
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 70
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 4
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea ca. 50
Great Egret A. alba 10
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 3
Little Egret E. garzetta ca. 100
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 30
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra ca. 200
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 20
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina 10
Vega Gull Larus vegae vegae or L. v. mongolicus 5
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 5
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 5
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 10
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 10
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus 5
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 10
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica ca. 70
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 1
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 4
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 20
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 10
White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus 15
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus 3
Naumann’s Thrush T. naumanni 1
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 2
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 8
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 150
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 3
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 2 taivana
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 5 leucopsis
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 1
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni 5
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 3
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla 15
Yellow-browed Bunting E. chrysophrys 1
Rustic Bunting E. rustica 20
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 1
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 8

Mammals

Siberian Weasel Mustela sibirica 1

Featured image: Xueping Popp (L), Elaine Du, and Michael Grunwell (R) view Horned Grebe at Dishui Lake, Nanhui, Shanghai, 12 Dec. 2015.

Horned Grebe in Shanghai!

Since returning in September from our two-month Amur River Basin trip, Elaine and I have been birding almost exclusively around Shanghai. On 11 Sept. we started “Shanghai-area Autumn & Winter Birding, 2015-16.” Through last Sunday we have noted 252 species for that report. Sunday brought us two additions to the list: Sand Martin and Slavonian Grebe (IOC calls it Horned Grebe). The 3 Horned Grebe were among an impressive thousand or so birds on Dishui Lake and were joined by 13 Black-necked Grebe, 9 Greater Scaup, and 240 Falcated Duck. In all we noted 58 species on Sunday. On Saturday at Hengsha with Michael Grunwell, rain stunted our efforts a bit, but we managed to note 55 species.

Japanese Thrush, Dishui Lake, Sunday. Turus cardis is a passage migrant in the Shanghai area and is most commonly seen in October. This record was our latest ever in Shanghai for the species. On a wet, gloomy morning, the thrush was foraging on the grassy medial strip.
Japanese Thrush, Dishui Lake, Sunday. Turus cardis is a passage migrant in the Shanghai area and is most commonly seen in October. This record was our latest ever in Shanghai for the species. On a wet, gloomy morning, the thrush was foraging on the grassy medial strip.

On the road ringing Dishui Lake, Elaine and I got our latest-ever Shanghai record of Japanese Thrush. 25 Eastern Yellow Wagtail ssp. taivana were present on the muddy areas fringing the reed beds. Last year, taivana was present throughout the winter in Shanghai, an unexpectedly northern record; I and I hope others will be looking for more taivana winter records in the coming months. The Sand Martin were among 50 late Barn Swallow and were flying over the lake behind the Holiday Inn at Nanhui. Among our other Nanhui notables were 170 Tufted Duck on Dishui Lake, 90 Eurasian Spoonbill (no Black-faced Spoonbill noted), 2 Western Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, and 5 Rustic Bunting.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis taivana, Nanhui, Sunday. Look for taivana along the muddy fringes of the reed beds and ponds. Last year taivana was present throughout the winter in Shanghai.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis taivana, Nanhui, Sunday. Look for taivana along the muddy fringes of the reed beds and ponds. Last year taivana was present throughout the winter in Shanghai.

At Nanhui, a long wait deep in the reed beds produced no Water Rail/Brown-cheeked Rail, but on Hengsha I got a very quick auditory record. Michael and I had taken a long walk on an unpaved road through excellent reedy habitat and were enjoying a sustained view of a flock of Pallas’s Reed Bunting. Suddenly, the rail cried out, but was not heard again.

Also at that spot, a Jack Snipe blew its cover, remaining visible in flight long enough to reveal its short bill. We viewed Merlin and heard three flocks of Reed Parrotbill.

This Sand Martin was associating with Barn Swallow at Nanhui.
This Sand Martin was associating with Barn Swallow at Nanhui.

Earlier, during a talk with some local crabbers, we were told that beginning next year it’s game over for the reclaimed area at Hengsha–development of the container port will begin. Michael, who had never been to Hengsha before, was much impressed with the site, and concurred with my view that it is one of the top places to bird in Shanghai. The view of some 6000 birds on Hengsha Main Pond only solidified Michael’s opinion. Fearing the worst for Hengsha, we looked longingly and hopefully across the Yangtze to the protected Jiuduansha islands, barely visible.

More views of Horned Grebe. Podiceps auritus has a flatter head than Black-necked Grebe, the peak of the head being well behind the eye. In winter plumage, the black cap is neater than that of Black-necked Grebe, with no bulge on the cheek as with Podiceps nigricollis. Note the whitish spot on the lores here. This individual is an adult.
More views of Horned Grebe. Podiceps auritus has a flatter head than Black-necked Grebe, the peak of the head being well behind the eye. In winter plumage, the black cap is neater than that of Black-necked Grebe, with no bulge on the cheek as with Podiceps nigricollis. Note the whitish spot on the lores here. This individual is an adult.

Rain turned to frozen rain, and we drove slowly on the sea-wall road along the eastern and northern edges of Hengsha. Some salt-marsh habitat remains between the sea wall and the tide line, and there we found 3 Ruddy Shelduck, a welcome bit of color amid the bleakness. Wooded areas on the inland side of the wall produced White’s Thrush and Yellow-throated Bunting.

Dishui Lake should be a part of anyone’s winter Nanhui itinerary. As it’s just a few hundred meters from Line 16 Dishui Lake station, even birders without a car can enjoy a long walk around the circular pond.

Rustic Bunting, Nanhui, Sunday.
Rustic Bunting, Nanhui, Sunday.

List 1 of 1 for Sat. 5 Dec. 2015 (54 species)

Hengsha Island (Héngshā Dǎo [横沙岛]), a small alluvial island at mouth of Yangtze River in Shanghai, China. S gate to birding area at 31.297333, 121.859434. Excellent view of large pond at 31.331804, 121.883224. Cloudy with drizzle turning to steady light rain. Winds SW 3 km/h. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 06:38, sunset 16:51. High 7°C. SAT 05 DEC 2015 07:20-14:00.

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 3
Falcated Duck Anas falcata ca. 2000
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 1
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha ca. 50
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 1
Eurasian Teal A. crecca 30
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 30
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 4
Common Merganser Mergus merganser 2
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 40
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris 10
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 2
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 30
Great Egret A. alba 8
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 2
Little Egret E. garzetta 30
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus 5
Pied Harrier C. melanoleucos 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Brown-cheeked/Water Rail Rallus indicus/R. aquaticus 1
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 20
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra ca. 2500
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 30
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 1
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 10
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 1
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 1
Vega Gull Larus vegae vegae or L. v. mongolicus 18
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 1
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 3
Merlin F. columbarius 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 30
Chinese Grey Shrike L. sphenocercus sphenocercus 1
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus ca. 50
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 25
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 20
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 2
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 4
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 3
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 30
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 20
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 1
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus 3
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 10
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 1
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 15
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 1
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni 5
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 5
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 20
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla 6
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 4
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 25

A chipper Elaine Du pauses while searching for Water Rail at Nanhui, Sun. 6 Dec. 2015.
A chipper Elaine Du pauses while searching for Water Rail at Nanhui, Sun. 6 Dec. 2015.

List 1 of 1 for Sun. 6 Dec. 2015 (58 species)

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 at Magic Parking Lot (30.882784, 121.972782), Magic GPS Point (30.880540, 121.964572), the empty blue-roofed building & nearby microforests (30.961368, 121.952136), and Dishui Lake (30.908702, 121.945124). Mostly cloudy, becoming partly cloudy. Visibility 0-5 km. Sunrise 06:40, sunset 16:51. Low 4°C, high 10°C. SUN 06 DEC 2015 07:30-16:40.

Falcated Duck Anas falcata 240
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 40
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha ca. 50
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 30
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 170
Greater Scaup Aythya marila 9
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 2
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 40
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 70
Horned Grebe P. auritus 3
Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis 13
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 90
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 8
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 40
Great Egret A. alba 16
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 20
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 30
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus 2
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus 2
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 2
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 220
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 13
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 10
Dunlin Calidris alpina 25
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 5
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 1
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 15
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 2
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 2
Sand Martin Riparia riparia 1
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica ca. 50
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 1
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 2
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 1
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 5
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 15
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 7
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 1
Japanese Thrush T. cardis 1
Chinese Blackbird T. mandarinus 2
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 7
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 12
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 16
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 100
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 25 taivana
Grey Wagtail M. cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba 56
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 7
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 6
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 5
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 2
Rustic Bunting E. rustica 5
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 2
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 25

Featured image: Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus, Dishui Lake, Shanghai, China, 6 Dec. 2015.

98 Species at Top Shanghai Sites

On 28-29 Nov., Elaine and I noted 98 species at three of the Shanghai region’s top sites: Lesser Yangshan Island, Nanhui, and Hengsha Island. On Hengsha Main Pond we noted 3200 Falcated Duck. We noted Water/Brown-cheeked Rail at Nanhui and at Hengsha, and among the hundreds of ducks at Dishui Lake were 10 Greater Scaup as well as 15 Black-necked Grebe. A beautiful jack Merlin was grounded by rain on Hengsha, and another on Nanhui scared up a cloud of rather late Barn Swallow. Verditer Flycatcher resorted to the reeds in the treeless reclaimed area on Hengsha, and on Lesser Yangshan we saw a juvenile Lesser Coucal. That tiny island was characteristically thrushy, with Red-throated Thrush and Naumman’s Thrush appearing alongside Dusky Thrush, Pale Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, and Chinese Blackbird, the latter not commonly seen on Lesser Yangshan.

Red-throated Thrush, Lesser Yangshan, 28 Nov. 2015. This first-winter male came from Siberia. Other Siberian-breeding thrushes present on Lesser Yangshan were Dusky Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, and Naumman's Thrush.
Red-throated Thrush, Lesser Yangshan, 28 Nov. 2015. This first-winter male came from Siberia. Other Siberian-breeding thrushes present on Lesser Yangshan were Dusky Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, and Naumman’s Thrush.

The 9000 birds on Hengsha Main Pond were overwhelmingly of just three species: Falcated Duck, Gadwall, and Eurasian Coot, with sprinklings of Mandarin Duck, Common Shelduck, Common Pochard, and Black-necked Grebe. I had never seen so many birds in a single place in Shanghai Shi. The reclaimed area on which the pond sits is under no environmental protection; the area is slated to be turned into a giant container port.

Hengsha Main Pond is in the northwest quadrant of the reclaimed area, hard by the fenced border with Hengsha Island proper. We viewed the pond from the perimeter road, the other side of which contains farms and trees. While scanning and counting, we noted Hair-crested Drongo and Dusky Warbler. Earlier, in the reclaimed area we once again noted Chinese Grey Shrike and a single Water Pipit. We hadn’t seen Intermediate Egret in a while. Robin-like Red-flanked Bluetail were absent from the treeless reclaimed area, but chat-like Daurian Redstart turned into reed-bed specialists; we noted 18.

Amid steady rain on Hengsha, this Merlin watched and waited.
Amid steady rain on Hengsha, this Merlin watched and waited.

On Saturday Elaine and I were joined by veteran English birder Michael Grunwell. Lesser Yangshan was its typical late-November self, serving up its usual fare of Daurian Redstart, less common delicacies such as Yellow-bellied Tit, and a main course of buntings, this time Meadow Bunting, Little Bunting, Yellow-throated Bunting, and Black-faced Bunting.

The diversity of ducks on Dishui Lake was a welcome surprise. Common Shelduck appeared here as well, and we sifted through the Tufted Duck to find the Greater Scaup. The Mandarin Duck were seen on a pond inside the sea wall and attracted some photographers, who paid little attention to the nearby flock of 800 Kentish Plover.

Mandarin Duck, Nanhui.
Mandarin Duck, Nanhui.

At Nanhui as well as at Hengsha, we selected places likely to hold Water Rail or Brown-cheeked Rail. There, we played back recordings of Rallus aquaticus. On both occasions, we got a loud call from someplace deep within the reeds, but no appearance. While waiting at Nanhui, we noted a flock of Reed Parrotbill.

We spent Saturday night at Héngshā Bànrìxián Mínsù (横沙半日闲民宿; +86 135-0185-1814 and +86 150-2164-5467). For 120 yuan we got a simple double room with bathroom down the hall. Meals are usually available there, but we arrived too late. We had freeze-dried meals with us; they once again proved to be a big asset, allowing us to eat a full meal after a long day birding.

By positioning ourselves on Hengsha the night before we birded, we saved ourselves our typical early wake-up in the city and a dash to Changxing Island for the first ferry.

The author at the Hengsha Main Pond viewpoint. The coordinates of this point are 31.331804, 121.883224. Look for a bend in the road, a gap in the fence, and a broken causeway below. Photo by Elaine Du.
The author at the Hengsha Main Pond viewpoint. The coordinates of this point are 31.331804, 121.883224. Look for a bend in the road, a gap in the fence, and a broken causeway below. Photo by Elaine Du.

List 1 of 2 for Sat. 28 Nov. 2015 (32 species)

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), Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089), & Temple Mount (30.639866, 122.048327). Partly cloudy. Winds SSE 6 km/h. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 06:28, sunset 16:49. High 14°C. SAT 28 NOV 2015 07:10-10:20.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 2
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 2
Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis 1
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 5
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 1
Yellow-bellied Tit Pardaliparus venustulus 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 40
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 3
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 1
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 6
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 5
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus 20
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 2
Eyebrowed Thrush T. obscurus 3
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 6
Red-throated Thrush T. ruficollis 2
Naumann’s Thrush T. naumanni 3
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 7
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 8
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 20
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 100
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba 10
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 15
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides 1
Little Bunting E. pusilla 1
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 15
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 3

Reed Parrotbill in characteristic pose and reedy habitat, Nanhui, 28 Nov. 2015. The species is still common wherever large beds of reeds are spared from the backhoe and bulldozer. There are a few such good spots at Nanhui.
Reed Parrotbill in characteristic pose and reedy habitat, Nanhui, 28 Nov. 2015. The species is still common wherever large beds of reeds are spared from the backhoe and bulldozer. There are a few such good spots at Nanhui.

List 2 of 2 for Sat. 28 Nov. 2015 (53 species)

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 at Magic Parking Lot (30.882784, 121.972782), Magic GPS Point (30.880540, 121.964572), the empty blue-roofed building & nearby microforests (30.961368, 121.952136), and Dishui Lake (30.908702, 121.945124). Partly cloudy. Winds SSE 6 km/h. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 06:28, sunset 16:49. High 14°C. SAT 28 NOV 2015 10:50-16:00.

Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 7
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 6
Falcated Duck Anas falcata 350
Gadwall A. strepera 5
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 20
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 14
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 50
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 60
Greater Scaup A. marila 10
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 1
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 30
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 20
Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis 15
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 41
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 40
Great Egret A. alba 9
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 30
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus 3
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 3
Brown-cheeked/Water Rail Rallus indicus/R. aquaticus 1
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra ca. 100
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola 8
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 800 (flock)
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 2
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 4
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Merlin Falco columbarius 1
Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 3
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus 15
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 5
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica ca. 100 (flock)
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 2
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 4
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 1
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 1
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 2
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 30
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 4
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 15
White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus 2
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 1
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 12
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 17 (7 tschutschensis, 7 taivana)
White Wagtail M. alba 15
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 2
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 24
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 1
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 5

Intermediate Egret, Hengsha, 29 Nov. 2015. Egretta intermedia is noticeably larger than Eastern Cattle Egret and in winter has a dark-tipped orange bill. The head is more rounded than in Great Egret. Note the gape line on this specimen: It ends below the eye, whereas in Great Egret the gape line extends behind the eye.
Intermediate Egret, Hengsha, 29 Nov. 2015. Egretta intermedia is noticeably larger than Eastern Cattle Egret and in winter has a dark-tipped orange bill. The head is more rounded than in Great Egret. Note the gape line on this specimen: It ends below the eye, whereas in Great Egret the gape line extends behind the eye.

List 1 of 1 for Sun. 29 Nov. 2015 (66 species)

Hengsha Island (Héngshā Dǎo [横沙岛]), a small alluvial island at mouth of Yangtze River in Shanghai, China. S gate to birding area at 31.297333, 121.859434. Excellent view of large pond at 31.331804, 121.883224. Cloudy with light rain. Winds SW 3 km/h. Visibility 10 km. Sunrise 06:34, sunset 16:51. High 13°C. SUN 29 NOV 2015 07:00-16:00.

Greylag Goose Anser anser 1
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 20
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 40
Falcated Duck Anas falcata ca. 3200
Gadwall A. strepera ca. 2625
Mallard A. platyrhynchos 5
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 45
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 20
Eurasian Teal A. crecca 14
Common Pochard Aythya ferina 200
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 4
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 220
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus ca. 50
Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis 2
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 5
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris 5
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 4
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 70
Great Egret A. alba 60
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 2
Little Egret E. garzetta 65
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 2
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus 3
Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Brown-cheeked/Water Rail Rallus indicus/R. aquaticus 1
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 30
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra ca. 3000
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus 13
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 5
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 6
Wood Sandpiper T. glareola 3
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 4
Vega Gull Larus vegae vegae or L. v. mongolicus 4
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 20
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Merlin F. columbarius 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 25
Chinese Grey Shrike L. sphenocercus sphenocercus 1
Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus 1
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus ca. 50
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 8
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 5
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 3
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 6
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 20
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 5
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 30
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus 3
White-cheeked Starling S. cineraceus 12
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus 1
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 1
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus 1
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 18
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 15
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 20
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 5
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni 4
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 3
Water Pipit A. spinoletta blakistoni 1
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 5
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 2
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 65

Featured image: While Craig Brelsford consults Collins Bird Guide, Michael Grunwell uses Craig’s Swarovski ATX-95 spotting scope to view Greater Scaup. Dishui Lake, Shanghai, 28 Nov. 2015. Photo by Elaine Du.

Koklass Pheasant Highlight Tianmu Trip

On Sunday 22 Nov., Elaine and I completed a rainy three-day trip to the Tianmu Mountains, 270 km SW of People’s Square. The highlight was 4 Koklass Pheasant on Saturday. We found the pheasants on a long walk down the mountain road at West Tianmu Mountain Nature Reserve. Other finds were of the common southern China variety but were no less delightful: Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Collared Owlet, Grey-chinned Minivet, Grey Treepie, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Rufous-faced Warbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, White-crowned Forktail, and Little Forktail. Among the wintering/passage birds were Dusky Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, and Mugimaki Flycatcher.

The author at the Koklass clearing at West Tianmu Nature Reserve, elev. 1020 m, Sat. 21 Nov. 2015.
The author at the Koklass clearing at West Tianmu Nature Reserve, elev. 1020 m, 21 Nov. 2015. (Elaine Du)

After so many weeks watching migrating birds along the coast, Elaine and I noted the more settled character of the bird life in the big, southern-temperate, montane forest at Tianmu. Seeing the many south China residents, several of whose ranges extend not much farther north than Tianmu, was like meeting old friends.

On Saturday we took the bus to the parking lot at Lóngfèngjiān, the famous Japanese Cedar forest. We declined to pay 140 yuan per person to enter the forest. Instead, we walked the road back toward our hotel. The first Koklass took off from cover and flew down slope. A few bends and twists of the road below, we again heard the beating of pheasants’ wings. Finally, at a spectacular clearing about 3 km below Lóngfèngjiān, I got a view of a female Koklass startled into flight. I rushed to the edge of the slope, just in time to see her partner, a stunning green-headed male. I now was convinced that in this high-quality habitat, large and well-protected, pheasants must be numerous. Examining the rim of the slope, I got further confirmation of that idea by the rows of pheasant scat that I found. Koklass Pheasants must stand there often, using the disused parking beam as a perch.

Koklass Pheasant droppings here suggest a substantial presence of these unusual gamebirds.
Koklass Pheasant droppings here suggest a substantial presence of these unusual gamebirds. (Craig Brelsford)

The view the pheasants take in there is superb, especially on a cloudy day, with clouds partly filling the valley below. During a rare moment when the fog lifted, we took in the impressive view. The exercise, fresh air, and good birds put us in a fine mood. I was without my camera, not willing to carry it through the mist, and I reveled in my mobility. When I heard a Koklass calling from bamboo, I jumped in to take a look. I couldn’t find the pheasant, but no matter: The sound of a singing Collared Owlet quickly refocused my attention.

The forest around Lóngfèngjiān is mixed broadleaf-conifer with short, wispy bamboo a component of the moderately thick undergrowth. The broadleaf trees are bare now, and the scene is reminiscent of colder, more northern climes. Farther down, more trees retain their leaves, the undergrowth is in places impenetrable, and bamboo grows in thick stands.

Elaine and I have now had a pair of Tianmu trips–one this past May and now this one six months later. The mirror-image trips have given us a view of Tianmu at opposite ends of the year. We now better understand the southern Chinese flora and avifauna right at our doorstep, and we appreciate more than ever the transitional, north-south character of the Shanghai region.

Elaine Du takes in the view at the Koklass clearing, West Tianmu, Sat. 21 Nov. 2015. Elev. 1020 m. Note the bare vegetation, the presence of bamboo, and the extensiveness of the southern-temperate forest. West Tianmu offers high-quality habitat at the place where north and south China meet.
Elaine Du takes in the view at the Koklass clearing. Note the bare vegetation, the bamboo, and the extensiveness of the southern-temperate forest. West Tianmu offers high-quality habitat at the place where north and south China meet. (Craig Brelsford)

List 1 of 3: Birds noted around West Tianmu Mountain Nature Reserve (Xī Tiānmùshān Zìrán Bǎohùqū [西天目山自然保护区]), Zhejiang, China. List includes observations from hotel at Hǎisēn Nóngzhuāng (海森农庄, 30.337622, 119.455874, elev. 425 m) to a point on the road called Jiǔzhū Xiàn (九朱线, 30.308047, 119.483266, elev. 200 m). Rainy and foggy; high 12°C. Visibility 0 km. Wind NNE 6 km/h. Sunrise 06:29, sunset 17:01. FRI 20 NOV 2015 13:00-15:35.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 3
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus 2
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 2
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 7
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 15
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 10
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 2
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 30
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 1
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 4
Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus 2
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 70
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 2
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus 10
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 5
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 50
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba 4
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 5

List 2 of 3: Birds noted around West Tianmu Mountain Nature Reserve (Xī Tiānmùshān Zìrán Bǎohùqū [西天目山自然保护区]), Zhejiang, China. List includes observations made on walk & drive between hotel at Hǎisēn Nóngzhuāng (海森农庄, 30.337622, 119.455874, elev. 425 m) to Lóngfèngjiān (龙凤尖, 30.344148, 119.440201, elev. 1120 m). The distance by road between the two points is 12.7 km. Lóngfèngjiān serves as the parking area for the Japanese Cedar forest below Xiānrén Dǐng (仙人顶; 1506 m), the highest point on West Tianmu Mountain. Cloudy with periods of rain; high 15°C. Visibility 0-5 km. Wind NNE 11 km/h. Sunrise 06:29, sunset 16:54. SAT 21 NOV 2015 09:40-17:00.

Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 4
Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha 4
prob. gamebird sp. 2
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei 1
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 2
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 5
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha 5
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 6
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 10
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 6
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 2
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 30
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 2
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 6
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 4
Huet’s Fulvetta Alcippe hueti 3
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 60
Grey-headed Parrotbill Psittiparus gularis 50
Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus 4
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 5
Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri 1
White-crowned Forktail E. leschenaulti 3
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
Plumbeous Water Redstart P. fuliginosus 2
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 2
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 2
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 3
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 5

Densely vegetated area near entrance to West Tianmu Nature Reserve. Elev. here 330 m. This was our main birding site on Day 3.
Densely vegetated area near entrance to West Tianmu Nature Reserve. Elev. 330 m. This was our main birding site on Day 3. (Craig Brelsford)

List 3 of 3: Birds noted around West Tianmu Mountain Nature Reserve (Xī Tiānmùshān Zìrán Bǎohùqū [西天目山自然保护区]), Zhejiang, China. List includes observations from the broad area of mixed habitats around the entrance gate (30.314472, 119.442713, elev. 330 m). Rainy and foggy; high 16°C. Visibility 0 km. Wind NNE 6 km/h. Sunrise 06:31, sunset 17:00. SUN 22 NOV 2015 10:30-12:10.

Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 4
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 1
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 2
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 1
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha 1
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 9
Japanese Tit Parus minor 6
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 3
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 30
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 2
Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus 2
Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus 2
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 2
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 20
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 20
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 5
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 18
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica 2
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 2
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides 1
Tristram’s Bunting E. tristrami 3
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 8

Featured photo: Female Koklass Pheasant, Tangjiahe Nature Reserve, Sichuan, 20 May 2013. Pucrasia macrolopha ranges from the Himalaya to E and N China. (Craig Brelsford)