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.

80 Dalmatian Pelican at Dongtai

At Dongtai on Sat. 14 Nov. 2015, the Dream Team noted 80 Dalmatian PelicanBlack-faced Spoonbill once again were present at this great, unprotected wetland. Among the species appearing in considerable numbers were Common Pochard (300), Eurasian Oystercatcher (150), Pied Avocet (300), Grey Plover (2000), Kentish Plover (300), Eurasian Curlew (1200), Dunlin (800), and Saunders’s Gull (250). We noted Falcated Duck and Tufted Duck.

Michael Grunwell and husband-and-wife team Stephan and Xueping Popp left Shanghai at 03:30 and arrived at Yancheng at 06:30. Elaine and I met them on the Surf ‘n’ Turf Trail at Dongtai. Approaching from the south, we got a call from an excited Michael, who said, “Get up here! There’s a flock of 80 Dalmatian Pelican right in front of us!” Elaine and I arrived in time. In one eyeful I was seeing more pelicans than I had seen in my previous eight years in China.

We noted once again that the SE corner of the sea wall is the last place in the area to be covered with the incoming tide. We were there as the tide moved in (it never reached the wall here), and noted the impressive shorebird numbers listed above.

The light was fading by 16:30. Elaine and I bade farewell to the trio and returned to our hotel. Michael, Stephan, and Xueping returned to Shanghai.

Great Dongtai Surf ‘n’ Turf Birding Trail, a 40-km loop on coast of Dongtai (Dōngtái [东台]), a county-level city in Jiangsu, China. Important points on Trail are N entrance to new sea-wall road on Dongtai Levee Road (Dōngtái Hǎidī [东台海堤], 32.868218, 120.912340), T-junction on Dongtai Levee Road (32.855576, 120.896557), viewing area on W side of lagoons (32.850988, 120.958103), S entrance to new sea-wall road on Dongtai Levee Road (32.759765, 120.928722), SE corner of sea wall (32.759499, 120.962893), & NE corner of sea wall (32.872444, 120.951522). Foggy & hazy in morning, turning clearer & sunny in afternoon. Wind WNW 11 km/h. High 16°C. Sunrise 06:23, sunset 16:57. SAT 14 NOV 2015 10:05-16:30.

Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 1
Falcated Duck Anas falcata 25
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 13
Mallard A. platyrhynchos 154
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 15
Eurasian Teal A. crecca 30
Common Pochard Aythya ferina ca. 300
Tufted Duck A. fuligula 20
Common Merganser Mergus merganser 3
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 13
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 25
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 2
Black-faced Spoonbill P. minor 17
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 75
Great Egret A. alba 12
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 6
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus 80
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 31
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus 3
Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 20
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus 150
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta 300
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola ca. 2000
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus ca. 300
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica 2
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata ca. 1200
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 20
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 15
Dunlin Calidris alpina ca. 800
Saunders’s Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi ca. 250
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris 2
Vega Gull Larus vegae vegae or L. v. mongolicus 17
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus heuglini 2
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia 15
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 4
Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 15
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 20
Japanese Tit Parus minor 2
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus ca. 50
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 10
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 1
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 30
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 1
White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus 4
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 5
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 4
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 3
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 60
Pallas’s Reed Bunting Emberiza pallasi 1

Featured image: Dalmatian Pelican at Dongtai, Jiangsu, China, 14 Nov. 2015. Listed as Vulnerable by IUCN, Pelecanus crispus breeds from Serbia to Mongolia, with Mongolian breeders wintering along the China coast. Populations in the western parts of its range are stable and even increasing, but the populations in Mongolia and China are in dire trouble.