Our birding begins along the coast to the North of Shanghai itself, at Dongtai and Yancheng where our primary focus will be to search of some of the world’s most endangered waterbirds, most notably cranes, of which we hope to see up to six species: Siberian, Hooded, Red-crowned, Common, White-naped and Sandhill.
There should also be an excellent range of wildfowl with Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck and perhaps even Baer’s Pochard to look for, along with Tundra and Middendorff’s Taiga Bean Geese, Swan Goose and Russian White-fronted Goose. Oriental Stork and the rare Saunders’s Gull add to the mix, whilst at Yancheng we will work to make sure we do not miss the endemic Reed Parrotbill, as well as checking the fields for bunting flocks and small woodlands for thrushes.
The ‘second half’ of this excellent winter tour starts at Wuyuan, a region that has been described as the ‘most beautiful countryside in China’. Although we have moved away from the major wetlands, we still target a duck: the highly endangered and little-known Scaly-sided Merganser that overwinters on rivers close to town. There are also many forest birds to enjoy, including localised specialities such as the dapper Pied Falconet, Short-tailed Parrotbill, Moustached Laughingthrush, Huet’s Fulvetta and Fork-tailed Sunbird, not to mention a host of more widespread Chinese excitements.
By way of a mouth-watering finale, we move to the mountains, hills and forest patches of Emei Feng and Fuzhou National Forest Park (the latter only 10 km from the coast) in search of yet more stunning regional birds. Two phenomenal pheasants top the bill: Cabot’s Tragopan and Elliot’s Pheasant. Either would be reason enough to come on this fantastic tour but added to these beauties we might also be lucky to find Koklass and Silver Pheasants, White-necklaced (or Rickett’s) and Chinese Bamboo Partridges, Pale-headed and Bay Woodpeckers, Black, Chestnut and Mountain Bulbuls, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Masked and Buffy Laughingthrushes, Spotted Elachura and the endemic Grey-sided Scimitar-Babbler.
At all the locations we visit, there will also be the chance of finding some truly exciting wintering passerines. None better perhaps than Asia’s spectacular winter thrushes with White’s, Siberian, Grey-backed, Eyebrowed and Dusky all possible, along with a fine supporting cast that could include Red-flanked Bluetail, Buff-bellied Pipit and Tristram’s, Rustic and Yellow-browed Buntings.
As a journey, our visit to southeast China promises to be a wonderful trip, both in terms of the amazing variety of winter birds to be seen and the fascinating places and landscapes we will travel through. Led by Limosa guide Colin Bushell and our expert English-speaking Chinese bird tour guide Tang Jun, this winter birding tour to China is an experience that is simply too good to miss.
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