Epic China – Epilogue
Siberian Cranes by Garry Bakker
My first birding-trip to the fascinating country of China was a huge success. We saw some of the most wanted en threatened birds in the world and recorded over 270 species in total; a very high number for a winter trip to northeastern China. 84 Of these species were lifers for me and a couple range-restricted subspecies we recorded are likely to be split in the future.
Crested Ibis by Garry Bakker
Among the highlights were 11 Phasianidae including: Daurian Partridge, White-necklaced Partridge (NT), Cabot’s Tragopan (VU), Koklass-, Reeves’s- (VU), Brown Eared- (VU), Silver- and Elliot’s Pheasant (NT). 29 Species of waterfowl including: Swan Goose (VU), Lesser White-fronted Goose (VU), Baer’s Pochard (CR), Ferruginous Duck (NT), Scaly-sided Merganser (EN), Mandarin Duck and Falcated Duck (NT). The rare Citrocristatus race of Lesser Yellownape. 6 Species of Crane including: Siberian- (CR), Red-crowned- (EN), White-naped (VU) and Hooded Crane (VU). Japanese Quail (NT), Eastern Water Rail, Far Eastern Curlew (VU), Long-billed Plover, Spoon-billed Sandpiper (CR), (Eastern) Black-tailed Godwit (NT), Saunders’s Gull (VU), Pallas’s Gull, Cinereous Vulture (NT), Pied Harrier, Pied Falconet, Dalmatian Pelican (VU), Eurasian Bittern, Greater Flamingo (a vagrant in eastern China), Oriental Stork (EN), Black-faced Spoonbill (EN), Crested Ibis (EN), Collared Crow (NT)and Daurian Jackdaw. 11 Species of thrush including White’s Thrush and the rare Japanese Thrush. White-winged Redstart, Chinese Nuthatch and 10 species of tit including – the almost extinct eastern China – Sultan Tit. Chinese Penduline Tit, Chinese Hill Babbler, Manchurian Bush Warbler, Marsh Grassbird (NT), Plain Laughingthrush, Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, Spotted Wren Babbler, Reed Parrotbill (NT), Siberian Accentor, Japanese Waxwing (NT), Long-tailed–, Chinese Beautiful– and Pallas’s Rosefinch and no fewer than 12 species of bunting including: Tristram’s-, Yellow-browed-, Chestnut-eared- and Ochre-rumped Bunting (NT).
NT = Near Threatened VU = Vulnerable EN = Endangered CR = Critically Endangered
We traveled more than 6000 kilometers through this vast country by train, taxi and minivan and of course by foot; thereby experiencing all facets of the Chinese countryside. It is worrying to see that the natural heavens in eastern China are few and far apart. These areas are under pressure as a result of hunting, water-building, intensification of large-scale agriculture and of course the ever expanding mega-cities (which they call urbanization), making the birds depending on these isolated pockets of green highly threatened. In fact 30 of the species we recorded have a global conservation status, 18 of these species are listed as vulnerable or worse and 3 of these amazing species face extinction in the very near future if the Chinese government doesn’t turn the ship around right now…
Spoon-billed Sandpipers by Garry Bakker
Baer’s Pochard by Garry Bakker
This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the excellent guiding of Menxiu Tong. Menxiu has profound knowledge of Chinese wildlife and birds in particular. Moreover he is a patient, funny and flexible man that could cope well with a very demanding Dutch birding group; in my opinion this makes him the man to hire for any group of birders planning to visit China in the future. You can contact him via his website: Chinawildtour or via his Facebook-page: Chinawildtour/facebook
I want to thank my travel buddies Garry Bakker, Lucas Kaaij, Reinoud Vermoolen, Wil van den Hoven and Bas van de Meulengraaf for their excellent companionship. This truly was the trip of a lifetime!