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CHINA'S WETLANDS

Saturday 8th November - Wednesday 26th November 2014

Hannu Jännes

Black-necked Crane (Hannu Jännes)

Black-necked Crane (Hannu Jännes)

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 five other species of geese), the rapidly declining Baer's Pochard, Mandarin Duck (‘real’ ones!), Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal , the beautiful Scaly-sided Merganser, Pied Falconet, Silver Pheasant, White-necklaced Partridge, the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, six species of cranes (including Black-necked, Hooded, White-naped, Red-crowned and Siberian), Saunders’s, Black-tailed, Mongolian, Siberian and Vega Gulls, Amur Falcon, Lesser Coucal, Siberian Accentor, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktails, Collared Finchbill, Chestnut Bulbul, Eye-browed, Pale, Naumann’s, Dusky, White's and Chinese Thrushes, and Chinese Blackbird, Chinese Hill Warbler, Marsh Grassbird, Black-streaked and Grey-sided Scimitar Babblers, Ashy-throated, Vinous-throated and Reed Parrotbills, Chinese Babax, Père David’s, Masked, White-browed and Elliot’s Laughingthrushes, Chinese Hwamei, Spectacled, Rusty-capped 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 twelve 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 tens of the rare Siberian Cranes with smaller numbers of Hooded Cranes, Swan Geese and many other species at a wetland in Poyang, the large mixed flock of various ducks at the fish-pond in Yangchen, or the massive number of wildfowl at Caohai in a remote corner of Guizhou province?

The infrastructure, compared with many other parts of China, is surprisingly good, with mostly excellent road conditions and mostly good quality accommodation throughout the tour. Ten years ago, when checking into a hotel in China, the first question used to be 'do they provide hot water, and for how long?'. Now the question is: 'do they have WiFi, and what is the password?' This is really quite an 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.

Bar-headed Geese (Hannu Jännes)

Bar-headed Geese (Hannu Jännes)