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Birdquest's China's Wetlands birding tour is very different from the norm when it comes to Chinese birdwatching trips, concentrating on the wintering migrants and many interesting resident birds of the eastern and southwestern regions of the country. Our China's Wetlands tour explores the Beijing region, Yancheng on the Yellow Sea, Fuzhou (for Spoon-billed Sandpiper), fabulous Poyang Lake (the last stronghold of the Siberian Crane) and Caohai in Guizhou (Black-necked Cranes) at the season when the wintering birds have arrived but the weather is usually still mild.
Monday 5th November —
Sunday 18th November 2018
Guizhou Extension: Sunday 18th November — Thursday 22nd November (5 days)
Leader: Hannu Jännes
Group Size Limit: 10
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations
A tour which is definitely something completely different! This exciting Birdquest offers the chance to visit some little-known parts of China and see some extremely rare birds whilst experiencing the delights of early 21st century Chinese travel, including some excellent food, chopsticks and fiery Chinese liquor, elegant city dwellers, smiling peasants and, probably, some of the last cormorant fishermen in the country.
The tour provides a wonderful opportunity to see the superb wetlands of China and their many exciting specialities, including some of the world’s most endangered waterbirds, and also a series of exciting endemic and near-endemic forest and scrubland species.
We will begin our ‘cranequest’ through the Middle Kingdom at Beijing, where we will search for Siberian Accentors, Beijing Babblers and Père David’s Laughingthrushes in the shadow of the Great Wall.
Next we travel to the flat, marshy lowlands on the coast of the Yellow Sea in Jiangsu province. Here, at the Yancheng reserve, the incomparable Red-crowned Crane (Asia’s rarest crane) winters in hundreds to escape the icy conditions in its Manchurian and Siberian breeding grounds. This is also an area where the rare Saunders’s Gull and the impressive Reed Parrotbill are permanent residents, where Baikal Teals and Relict Gulls winter, and even the critically endangered Baer’s Pochard can sometimes be found.
From coastal Jiangsu we head inland to Jiangxi province. Our first port of call is Wuyuan, a lovely area of wooded hills, clear rivers, paddyfields and villages of white-washed houses. Our major targets here are the rare Scaly-sided Mergansers, which winters here, the restricted-range Pied Falconet and Short-tailed Parrotbill, the endemic Huet’s Fulvetta, the little-known Yellow-browed Bunting and three near-endemic, Collared Finchbill, Chestnut Bulbul and Yellow-bellied Tit.
Next we will first visit the flatlands to the south of the Yangtze valley, where the relatively mild weather during the coldest months creates favourable wintering grounds for countless birds from northern Asia. Only in recent years, following discoveries by China’s tiny band of ornithologists, has the true importance of this region for some of the world’s rarest birds become apparent. At the vast complex of lakes and marshes at Poyang Hu, now well known as one of the world’s greatest wetland reserves (although as yet few westerners have visited it!), large numbers of rare cranes have been found to spend the winter. In the case of one species, the endangered Siberian Crane, the numbers involved are so large (over 1500) that the estimated world population has had to be revised upwards by a factor of five! The stunning White-naped Crane is also quite numerous, with over 2000 birds known to winter here some years, and there are also small numbers of Hooded Crane.
As well as being of vital importance for several of the world’s rarest cranes, the reserve has been found to provide the winter quarters for almost the entire world population of the critically endangered Oriental Stork and well over half the population of the rare Swan Goose! A good number of Lesser White-fronted Geese winter in the area, and there is even a slim chance of seeing the almost unknown Swinhoe’s (or Asian Yellow) Rail!
Finally we will explore the Fuzhou district in Fujian province. The critically endangered and much-sought-after Spoon-billed Sandpiper has recently been found to winter here on a regular basis, so this is now a key venue on a trip to China. We will also be able to watch the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill here and more wintering gulls, as well as a selection of forest birds including the endemic Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler and the near-endemic Fork-tailed Sunbird.
During the optional extension we will fly far to the southwest to remote and mountainous Guizhou province in south-central China. Here we will visit the famous Caohai (the ‘Sea of Grass’), home to the largest known wintering concentration of Black-necked Cranes, as well as many other Palearctic visitors, not to mention a superb selection of endemic and near-endemic species including Chinese Thrush, Ashy-throated Parrotbill, Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler, Elliot’s Laughingthrush, Spectacled and Grey-hooded Fulvettas, Black-bibbed Tit and Black-headed Greenfinch.
Birdquest pioneered tours to the wetlands of China as far back as 1988.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/guesthouses are mostly of good standard. At Yancheng and at Wu Cheng (Poyang Hu) the guesthouses are fairly simple, but perfectly adequate, and all rooms have private bathrooms. On the Beijing-Yancheng sleeping car train we will be in comfortable 4-berth compartments. Most people rate the food on this tour as good. Road transport is by small coach and roads are mostly good or very good.
Walking: The walking effort is easy to moderate, with some longer walks in both flat and hilly terrain.
Climate: Conditions will range from fairly warm to cool (or possibly even fairly cold if there is some bad weather). At this season sunny periods alternate with overcast weather and there may be some rain or fog. While snowfall cannot be completely ruled out, November is usually much warmer than December-February in eastern China.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £4090, €4830, $5360 Beijing/Fuzhou. Guizhou Extension: £1290, €1520, $1690 (ending in Guiyang).
Price includes all transportation (including Fuzhou-Guiyang flight), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £415, €499, $554 (excluding the night on the sleeping car train). Extension: £131, €154, $171.
Deposit: £500, €600, $650. Extension: £150, €180, $200.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Many of the flights and 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
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