Tuesday, 20 May 2014

SE China: the search for Courtois's Laughingthrush.

We arrived at Wuyan in the dark & in the rain! In fact, it rained so hard during the night, that it kept me awake. The noise on the roof was incredible! Under normal circumstances, it might be a nice city to visit!
The bridge in Wuyhan - in the rain!
I awoke at dawn on 14th May & looked outside. It didn't look good! We drove to the site for one of the most wanted & rarest birds on this rarity filled trip, one of the few known sites for Courtois's Laughingthrush. This is a strange bird, nesting colonially & migrating after breeding to some as yet unknown wintering ground. The world population is very small (around 200 birds). And when I looked across at the site I was beginning to see the problem!
Our quarry was on the other side
 of that raging torrent!
 This is the bridge across to the island,
 where the bird is!
A few hours later the river had calmed down a bit,
 but it was still formidable!
The locals are well prepared!
 I just love the gloves permanently attached
to the handlebars!
 OK! We made it across!
The only photo I have of the bird!
I had a bit of an accident you see
& was two cameras down at this point!
Others had better & bigger equipment than me!
First time for everything!
 Sue & Ron Johns enjoying the moment.
The countryside was really very scenic.
Best birds: 40+ Chinese Pond Heron; Black Bittern; 4 Mandarin Duck; Black Eagle; 3 Black Baza; Lesser Cuckoo; Lesser Coucal; 2 White-throated Needletail Swift; 4 Dollarbird; Great Spotted Woodpecker; 4 Swinhoe's Minivet (one of our prime targets here); 8 Chinese Blackbird; Grey-streaked, Dark-sided & Asian Brown Flycatchers; 50+ Black Drongo migrating high overhead &  6 Ashy Drongo. We also saw around 65 Courtois's Laughingthrush & obtained very good views. With two absolute mega ticks in the bag, we moved on to a nearby small village, which boasted another very good, local species!
 A normal looking Chinese village....
 But on the roof of a local café is...

 A very localised species!
No, not this Oriental Turtle Dove!
 This is the bird!
 Pied Falconet!
 Rare & localised throughout
 its quite restricted range.
 Taken on 100x.
It put on quite a show for us!
 We then moved on to a neighbouring
 larger town for lunch.

 Our restaurant was down this arcade.
 Ordering can be confusing, but pictures help!
Yet another, very well equipped motorbike!
The next day (15th May) we ventured out to Qinghua village. It doesn't look anything special but along the riverbanks are patches of bamboo forest & in them lives a mega rarity- Short-tailed Parrotbill! The weather was overcast, but at least it wasn't raining!
 Notice the very high water levels!

 Life here, is still a very traditional one.
This is the habitat for it!
And after some work, we found it!
Best birds: 2 Chinese Sparrowhawk; 4 Chinese Bamboo Partridge; 3 Brown Crake; 3 Grey-headed Lapwing; Asian Barred Owlet; 2 Pied Kingfisher; Dollarbird; Dusky Warbler; Asian Brown Flycatcher; White-crowned Forktail; 9 Vinous-throated Parrotbill; 2 Grey-headed Parrotbill; 2 Short-tailed Parrotbill; 10 Brown Shrike; 7 Eurasian Jay; 8 Red - billed Blue Magpie; 2 Black collared Starling; 100+ Red-billed Starling; 2 Russet Sparrow; Little Bunting & Black-faced Bunting.
We then had a flight to Shanghai, followed by a long drive to our final destination on Chongming Island. We arrived at our hotel at midnight & collapsed into a deep, but very short sleep!


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