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CHINA'S WETLANDS

Saturday 9th November - Wednesday 27th November 2013

Hannu Jännes

Siberian Cranes (Mike Rodegerdts)

Siberian Cranes (Mike Rodegerdts)

The wonderful winter wetlands and woodlands of China always turn up lots of great birds, and, as always, our journey through this fascinating and rapidly modernizing country proved to be a highly successful one. The more spectacular species recorded were Oriental Stork, Black-faced Spoonbill, Swan and Lesser White-fronted Geese (plus six other species of geese), Mandarin Duck (‘real’ ones!), Falcated Duck, Baikal Tea , the beautiful Scaly-sided Merganser, Pied Falconet, Silver Pheasant, the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, seven species of cranes (including Black-necked, Hooded, White-naped, Red-crowned, Sandhill and Siberian), Saunders’s, Mongolian, Siberian and Vega Gulls, Himalayan Owl, Siberian Accentor, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Spotted Wren-babbler, Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktails, Collared Finchbill, Chestnut Bulbul, Grey-backed, Eye-browed, Pale, Red-throated, Naumann’s, Dusky and Chinese Thrushes, Grey-winged and Chinese Blackbirds, Chinese Hill Warbler, Japanese Swamp Warbler, Black-streaked and Grey-sided Scimitar Babblers, Ashy-throated, Vinous-throated, Grey-headed and Reed Parrotbills, Chinese Babax, Père David’s, White-browed and Elliot’s Laughingthrushes, Hwamei, Spectacled and Grey-hooded Fulvettas, White-collared Yuhina, Yellow-bellied Tit, Chinese Nuthatch, Chinese Penduline Tit, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Chinese Grey Shrike, Asian Azure-winged Magpie, Red-billed Starling, Black-headed Greenfinch, Yellow-billed Grosbeak, and no fewer than ten species of buntings. However, one should remember that the tour is not only an opportunity to see such desirable rare species, but also provides the chance to see great concentrations of many of them in evocative settings. Who could ever forget the sight of several hundred of the rare Siberian Cranes with smaller numbers of Hooded Cranes, Swan Geese and many other species at a wetland in Poyang, the mixed flock of five different species of crane on a single field in Yangchen, or the massive number of wildfowl at Caohai in the remote corner of Guizhou province.

This was my first visit to many of the sites on this tour, and, after years of guiding in other parts of China, I was positively surprised by the good infrastructure, with mostly excellent road conditions and good quality accommodation throughout the tour. This is a really easy tour, with not too much physical effort for anyone interested in impressive numbers of some of the most magnificent, often rare birds, that still survive on our crowded planet.

Drake Scaly-sided Merganser (model) (Hannu Jännes)

Drake Scaly-sided Merganser (model) (Hannu Jännes)