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HAPPY ISLAND (IN AUTUMN)

Saturday 23rd September - Tuesday 10th October 2006

Hannu Jännes

This was Birdquest’s second visit to Happy Island on the east coast of China, but the first one in autumn. A bird tour that differs from most in being almost entirely based in the one place, thus avoiding long days of travel, with no need for constant unpacking and repacking of luggage. However, Happy Island is primarily a migration hotspot with the occurrence of birds greatly dependent on weather patterns, and this can sometimes be very frustrating. This year’s trip experienced an exceptionally long period of very warm weather, which kept numbers of many migrating birds relatively low. Despite the less favourable weather conditions our keen, hard working group managed to record 172 species including many rare quality birds such as Chinese Egret, Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Swinhoe’s Rail, Red-crowned Crane, Grey-headed Lapwing, Spotted Greenshank, Relict and Saunders’s Gulls, Siberian and White’s Thrushes, Chinese Grey Shrike, Manchurian Reed Warbler, Japanese Marsh Warbler and two mainland endemics, Père David’s Laughingthrush and Chinese Hill Warbler. Other memorable sightings included good numbers of Amur Falcons, several Pied Harriers, three Greater Spotted Eagles, Chinese Penduline Tits, Yellow-bellied Tits, Ashy Minivets, five species each of leaf warblers and pipits, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroats, Red-flanked Bluetails, Dusky and Red-throated Thrushes, a big flock of Daurian Jackdaws, and an amazing thirteen species of bunting, which included Yellow-browed, Tristram’s, Pallas’s, Chestnut, Black-faced, Yellow-throated and Chestnut-eared. And of course there was the bonus (as on all trips to China) of the tasty cuisine, which rarely disappoints.