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EASTERN CHINA

From Southeast to Northeast

China Birding Tours: our Eastern China birding tour offers a compelling bird watching experience. Our Eastern China bird watching holiday is in two parts, which can either be taken as a single tour or two different tours in their own right. The first part concentrates on the coastal wetlands and forests of Southeast China and features the endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Chinese Crested Tern, the superb Cabot’s Tragopan, Blue-crowned (or Courtois’s) Laughingthrush and many other good birds. The second part explores Northeast China, taking in the grasslands and marshes of Inner Mongolia and Manchuria for Jankowski’s Bunting and Red-crowned Crane, Beijing region and Shanxi for Baer’s Pochard, Brown Eared Pheasant, Grey-sided Thrush and Green-backed Flycatcher, and the Dongzhai reserve in He’nan for the ultra-rare Crested Ibis, the stunning Reeves’s Pheasant, the spectacular Fairy Pitta and other specialities.

Saturday 2nd May — Tuesday 26th May 2020
(25 days)


Part I: Southeast China: Saturday 2nd May — Thursday 14th May (13 days)

Part II: Northeast China: Thursday 14th May — Tuesday 26th May (13 days)

Leaders: János Oláh and local bird guides

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations

The amazing Cabot's Tragopan will be the focus of our birding at the spectacular Wuyishan (Pete Morris)

The amazing Cabot's Tragopan will be the focus of our birding at the spectacular Wuyishan (Pete Morris)

EASTERN CHINA BIRDING TOUR: OVERVIEW

The huge and varied country that is China boasts an extraordinary bird list of over 1300 species. Since 1984, Birdquest has developed a series of comprehensive tours to find a vast majority of the endemics and specialities, but in a country that is so large, and with so many scattered specialities, there is always more to see. This itinerary, to the east of the country, targets some rare and poorly known waterbirds on the coast, and some stunning endemics at forest and steppe grassland sites inland. The bird list will not be huge, but will be respectable, and the quality contained within it certainly will be!

Every now and then, an ornithological discovery is made that excites the entire world birding fraternity, and one such event was the discovery of Chinese Crested Tern breeding in Taiwan in 2000. Prior to that there had been just three records in recent times, and the species was feared to be close to extinction. Whilst the breeding grounds on remote rocks off the Matsu Islands are hard to get to, and the timing of the terns’ breeding inconvenient to tie-in with a visit to Taiwan, seeing the species on the Chinese coast has been relatively straightforward in recent years. With such a window of opportunity (and there’s no guarantee that the terns will be gettable for long!) now is the time to go and see this critically endangered species.

Another equally exciting and critically endangered species is the very special Spoon-billed Sandpiper which has plummeted in numbers alarmingly in recent years, and the Yellow Sea is a major staging area for this species. Much of the area is under threat from reclamation, but in the Shanghai area, there are still extensive mud flats where on a good day one can see double figure numbers of this rare species, many of which will be in splendid summer plumage at this time of year.

Our adventure will begin near to Shanghai, where, as well as the Spoon-billed Sandpipers, we will keep a sharp eye out for other rarities amongst a superb array of shorebirds with species such as Great Knot, Asiatic Dowitcher and Nordmann’s Greenshank all being possible. Stunning Saunders’s Gulls are common here and we will also see the localized endemic Reed Parrotbill. Another attraction of the coast at this season is that it’s sometimes alive with colourful migrants and we’re sure to see a few goodies such as Narcissus Flycatcher or Siberian Thrush! We will also call in at a spot for the rare and localized Japanese Marsh Warbler before leaving Shanghai.

Our next base in Southeast China will be the city of Fuzhou in Fujian province, from where we will explore the Min Jiang Estuary for Chinese Crested Terns and the recently discovered Swinhoe’s (or White-faced) Plover, and this is also a good area for rare migrants such as Chinese Egret and Black-faced Spoonbill. Whilst in Fuzhou, we will also take the time to visit an excellent area of park land and lowland forest where likely species include the skulking White-necklaced (or Rickett’s Hill) Partridge, the endemic Grey-sided Scimitar-Babbler, Masked Laughingthrush and the superb Fork-tailed Sunbird, as well as a variety of other more common lowland species.

Next we will make our way northwestwards to Emei Feng (also in Fujian province), where  we will explore the forested road that leads up through the reserve. Our prime targets will be the pheasants, and it’s quite possible to see four species in a morning! Pick of the bunch is the unbelievable Cabot’s Tragopan, though gorgeous Elliot’s Pheasant gives it a good run for its money! The supporting cast is good too with other possibilities including Chestnut Bulbul, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, White-spectacled Warbler, Brown Bush-Warbler, Spotted Elachura (formerly known as Spotted Wren-Babbler, it is now placed in its own monotypic family) and Buffy and Moustached Laughingthrushes.

Our final port of call will be the rural villages around Wuyuan in eastern Jiangxi province, where our main prize will be the beautiful and critically endangered Blue-crowned (or Courtois’s) Laughingthrush, whilst nearby we should be able to find the scarce Pied Falconet, Mandarin Duck (real wild ones!), Brown Crake, Long-billed Plover, the localized Swinhoe’s Minivet and the smart Short-tailed Parrotbill.

During the second part of the tour, which explores Northeast China, we will travel first to Wuhan on the Yangtze River in Hubei province and onwards to the Dongzhai National Reserve in He’nan province. One of two major attractions here is the spectacular Reeves’s Pheasant, and this is surely the best place in China for getting good views of this extraordinary and beautiful creature. It is not too far from here that a relict population of the spectacular Crested Ibis was found by Chinese ornithologists long after the species was thought to have become extinct in the wild (in Japan). Now the population has greatly increased and they have spread back to cover part of their original range. Another great speciality here is the lovely Fairy Pitta, a rare and declining species. Other attractions include Chinese Sparrowhawk, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Collared Finchbill, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Masked Laughingthrush, Silver-throated Bushtit, Red-billed Starling, the fast-declining Collared Crow and the impressive Chinese (or Yellow-billed) Grosbeak.

Next we will travel onwards to the rugged, partly-forested mountains of Shanxi province, famous for its spectacular Brown Eared Pheasants. Also here we may well see the strange, babbler-like Chinese Hill Warbler, Yellow-streaked Warbler and Père David’s (or Plain) Laughingthrush

Afterwards we will visit some mountains around Beijing which hold a few very special birds, including the poorly-known Green-backed (or Elisa’s) Flycatcher, the colourful Zappey’s Flycatcher (split from Blue-and-white Flycatcher), the very rare Grey-sided Thrush and the localized Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch. Other specialities include White-bellied Redstart, Chinese Thrush, Chinese and Claudia’s Leaf Warblers, Yellow-bellied Tit and Chinese Nuthatch.

We will also visit a fantastic wetland to the south of Beijing which has recently been discovered to be home to a breeding population of the critically endangered Baer’s Pochard. As well as this ‘mega’ we should also find the rare Von Schrenck’s Bittern and Blunt-winged Warbler.

Finally we will travel to Inner Mongolia and the adjacent Baicheng region in Jilin Province in southern Manchuria. Here the steppe grasslands still harbour the critically endangered and little-known Jankowski’s Bunting, which has been seen by very few birders, as well as the stately Great Bustard, Asian Short-toed Lark, the spectacular Mongolian Lark and the localized Pallas’s Reed Bunting. We also plan to explore the nearby Xianghai National Nature Reserve, a huge sanctuary of 105,000 hectares. Within the reserve a wide range of habitats is found including extensive Phragmites reedbeds, large marshes and lagoons, open elm woodland and dry grassy plains. The majestic Red-crowned Crane (undoubtedly the most spectacular member of this impressive family) breeds here, while other specialities include the rare Swan Goose, Amur Falcon, Daurian Partridge, White-naped Crane, Oriental Pratincole, Grey-headed Lapwing, Chinese Penduline Tit and the impressive Chinese Grey Shrike.

After we return to Beijing, a visit to the famous Great Wall will round off a fantastic tour.

Birdquest has unrivalled experience in China, having operated a long series of tours there since 1984.

Southeast China-only or Northeast China-only Options: You may opt to take either the Southeast China section or the Northeast China section as a stand-alone tour.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and guesthouses are of good or medium standard, though the guesthouse at Emei Feng is simple but clean and comfortable. Road transport is by small coach, minibus or cars. Roads are generally of a good quality.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there will be one or two harder walks on the mudflats where some walking through mud will be required in order to get close to the shorebirds and terns, though this is generally not too difficult, and some moderate grade hikes in northeastern China.

Climate: Generally cool to warm (occasionally hot in the lowlands) with sunny spells interspersed with overcast conditions, especially in the mountains. Some rain is likely and it may be heavy at times.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Can be taken together with: TAIWAN

EASTERN CHINA BIRDING TOUR: PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: our tour prices include all flights and all tipping, including tips for local guides and drivers. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately: £760, €870, $1060.

2020 provisional prices

Part I: Southeast China: £3490, €3980, $4850 Shanghai/Wuhan. Deposit: 10%.

Part II: Northeast China: £3690, €4200, $5130 Wuhan/Beijing. Deposit: 10%.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes these flights: Shanghai-Fuzhou, Wuhan-Taiyuan (may be partly by train), Beijing-Wulanhaote (Ulanhot)-Beijing.

Single Room Supplement: Southeast China: £324, €369, $450. Northeast China: £360, €410, $500.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in Pounds Sterling and Euros are based on £1 = $1.39 and €1 = $1.220.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The critically endangered Courtois's Laughingthrush was only rediscovered in 2000 (Pete Morris)

The critically endangered Courtois's Laughingthrush was only rediscovered in 2000 (Pete Morris)

Four Chinese Crested Terns stand alongside a darker Greater Crested Tern. The whole of the known world population, just a handful of birds, use the Min Jiang Estuary (Pete Morris)

Four Chinese Crested Terns stand alongside a darker Greater Crested Tern. The whole of the known world population, just a handful of birds, use the Min Jiang Estuary (Pete Morris)

The splendid Spoon-billed Sandpiper is now in catastrophic decline. Indeed the areas where we will look for it are under threat of reclamation in the near future (Pete Morris)

The splendid Spoon-billed Sandpiper is now in catastrophic decline. Indeed the areas where we will look for it are under threat of reclamation in the near future (Pete Morris)

Superb Saunders's Gulls are a regular feature on the coast (Pete Morris)

Superb Saunders's Gulls are a regular feature on the coast (Pete Morris)

A typical wader roost scene with a Great Knot just left of centre. This species is also in decline as so much important staging habitat has been lost along the Yellow Sea coast (Pete Morris)

A typical wader roost scene with a Great Knot just left of centre. This species is also in decline as so much important staging habitat has been lost along the Yellow Sea coast (Pete Morris)

We should have an excellent chance of finding the localized Pied Falconet (Pete Morris)

We should have an excellent chance of finding the localized Pied Falconet (Pete Morris)

Real wild Mandarin Ducks should be on the agenda (Pete Morris)

Real wild Mandarin Ducks should be on the agenda (Pete Morris)

The recently discovered Swinhoes's (or White-faced) Plover is common on the coast. The jury is still out on whether or not it is a good species (Pete Morris)

The recently discovered Swinhoes's (or White-faced) Plover is common on the coast. The jury is still out on whether or not it is a good species (Pete Morris)

The eared pheasants are as magnificent as they come and Brown Eared Pheasant is the rarest of them all  (Mark Beaman)

The eared pheasants are as magnificent as they come and Brown Eared Pheasant is the rarest of them all (Mark Beaman)

The Crested Ibis was rediscovered, after being feared extinct in the wild, in a remote region of north-central China  (Mark Beaman)

The Crested Ibis was rediscovered, after being feared extinct in the wild, in a remote region of north-central China (Mark Beaman)

The near-endemic Chinese Nuthatch is amongst a host of great birds on this tour  (Mark Beaman)

The near-endemic Chinese Nuthatch is amongst a host of great birds on this tour (Mark Beaman)

One of the rarest birds in the world, we have an excellent chance of finding Chinese Crested Tern (Pete Morris)

One of the rarest birds in the world, we have an excellent chance of finding Chinese Crested Tern (Pete Morris)

Swinhoes's (or White-faced) Plover lose their white-faced appearance through the breeding season (Pete Morris)

Swinhoes's (or White-faced) Plover lose their white-faced appearance through the breeding season (Pete Morris)

The superb Reed Parrotbill can be found in the reedbeds along China's east coast  (Mark Beaman)

The superb Reed Parrotbill can be found in the reedbeds along China's east coast (Mark Beaman)

Red-billed Starling is a regular feature (Pete Morris)

Red-billed Starling is a regular feature (Pete Morris)

Migrants are an attractive feature on the coast at this time of year and may include species such as Narcissus Flycatcher (Pete Morris)

Migrants are an attractive feature on the coast at this time of year and may include species such as Narcissus Flycatcher (Pete Morris)

... Rufous-tailed (or Swinhoe's) Robin (Pete Morris)

... Rufous-tailed (or Swinhoe's) Robin (Pete Morris)

... and Tristram's Bunting (Pete Morris)

... and Tristram's Bunting (Pete Morris)

Many interesting warblers occur at Wuyishan, including Brown Bush-Warbler (Pete Morris)

Many interesting warblers occur at Wuyishan, including Brown Bush-Warbler (Pete Morris)

... White-spectacled Warbler (here of the yellow-spectacled intermedius form) (Pete Morris)

... White-spectacled Warbler (here of the yellow-spectacled intermedius form) (Pete Morris)

... Kloss's Leaf Warbler (part of the White-tailed Leaf-Warbler complex) (Pete Morris)

... Kloss's Leaf Warbler (part of the White-tailed Leaf-Warbler complex) (Pete Morris)

... and Hartert's Leaf Warbler (part of the Blyth's Leaf-Warbler complex) (Pete Morris)

... and Hartert's Leaf Warbler (part of the Blyth's Leaf-Warbler complex) (Pete Morris)

The attractive Yellow-cheeked Tit should also be seen (Pete Morris)

The attractive Yellow-cheeked Tit should also be seen (Pete Morris)

... as should the localized Chestnut Bulbul (Pete Morris)

... as should the localized Chestnut Bulbul (Pete Morris)

... and Collared Finchbill (Pete Morris)

... and Collared Finchbill (Pete Morris)

In open country around Wuyi we'll come across a number of interesting species such as Grey-faced (or Grey-headed) Woodpecker (Pete Morris)

In open country around Wuyi we'll come across a number of interesting species such as Grey-faced (or Grey-headed) Woodpecker (Pete Morris)

... and the scarce Long-billed Plover (Pete Morris)

... and the scarce Long-billed Plover (Pete Morris)

The woodlands of Shaanxi hold the stunning Yellow-rumped Flycatcher  (Mark Beaman)

The woodlands of Shaanxi hold the stunning Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Mark Beaman)

While further north it is replaced by the localized, breeding-endemic Green-backed or Elisa's Flycatcher  (Mark Beaman)

While further north it is replaced by the localized, breeding-endemic Green-backed or Elisa's Flycatcher (Mark Beaman)

The smart Chinese Sparrowhawk is a summer visitor to the woodlands of eastern China  (Mark Beaman)

The smart Chinese Sparrowhawk is a summer visitor to the woodlands of eastern China (Mark Beaman)

With just a tiny range in the surviving forests of the Beijing region, the Grey-sided Thrush is one of China's rarest birds  (Mark Beaman)

With just a tiny range in the surviving forests of the Beijing region, the Grey-sided Thrush is one of China's rarest birds (Mark Beaman)

Manchurian Bush Warbler is a giant in comparison with its sibling, the Japanese Bush Warbler  (Mark Beaman)

Manchurian Bush Warbler is a giant in comparison with its sibling, the Japanese Bush Warbler (Mark Beaman)

The rare Jankowski's Bunting hangs on by the skin of its teeth in the vanishing grasslands of Manchuria  (Mark Beaman)

The rare Jankowski's Bunting hangs on by the skin of its teeth in the vanishing grasslands of Manchuria (Mark Beaman)

And, of course, no visit to Northern China would be complete without a stop at the Great Wall  (Mark Beaman)

And, of course, no visit to Northern China would be complete without a stop at the Great Wall (Mark Beaman)

Many of the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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