The River

27/11/2014 – Wuyuan

 

We woke up to a clear sky in the city of Wuyuan. This small city – for Chinese standards – lies in a beautiful area with forest-covered hillsides and clear rivers. A welcome change to the enormous smog-covered cities we visited so far this trip.

After a noodle-soup breakfast – what else? – we drove half an hour to a small village overlooking a large river with rapids and gravel banks. This habitat is the wintering haunt for the endangered Scaly-sided Merganser; a beautiful and highly sought after duck with a long spiny crest and subtle dark scales on its snowy-white flanks. Needless to say we were keen on the prize…

 

Scaly-sided merganser 2 by Garry Bakker

Scaly-sided merganser 2 by Garry Bakker

 

We started walking a small trail, through thick bamboo-forest, along the river. Now and then we could peak through small gaps in the vegetation that provided a clear view at the turquoise-blue water. During such a stop I scoped a gravel bank and suddenly spotted two Long-billed Plovers, standing well camouflaged between grey-colored pebbles. This vulnerable and difficult to find wader was a welcome grip back for me as I failed to find this species on earlier trips to in India and Nepal.

 

After we all got good looks at the plovers we continued along the trail still meticulously checking the river whenever there was a possibility. Suddenly we spotted a small group of ducks swimming in the river below us. One glance through our binoculars confirmed our suspicions; Scaly-sided Merganser!

They were even more beautiful than the drawings in the book suspected and especially the males received their fair share of ‘Ooohs en Ahhhs’. The small group of about 7 birds was suddenly joined by a larger one and at one point we counted no less than 24 (!) birds, one of the largest single groups Menxiu had ever seen in this area!

 

Pied falconet by Garry Bakker

Pied falconet by Garry Bakker

 

 

Crested goshawk by Garry Bakker

Crested goshawk by Garry Bakker

 

After this excellent sighting we focused on mixed-species flocks. This provided us with several goodies like Huet’s Fulvetta, Grey-chinned Minivet, Grey-sided Laughingthrush, Fork-tailed sunbird and Chestnut Bulbul.

We had lunch at a famous – for birders that is – restaurant in a very scenic little village. It is famous because it has a rooftop-terrace from where you can see the much-wanted Pied Falconet, a tiny black-and-white bird of prey that is no bigger than a starling. Luckily we immediately spotted a pair of these cracking birds as they were hunting on dragonflies from an exposed perch. To add to the experience sharp-eyed Lucas discovered a Crested Goshawk perched just a couple of meters below them in the same tree! The icing on the cake was a Black Eagle soaring high over the hillsides.

 

Wuyuan Pied falconet site by Garry Bakker

Wuyuan Pied falconet site by Garry Bakker

 

After lunch we did some birding in the nearby paddies and from there we drove back all the way to Yong Xiu city, from where we will take the morning train to Emeifeng. The next two days we got the most difficult task so far at hand… Will we be victorious? You will know when I post my next blog 😉

 

Good birding!

 

Species list day 7 (underlined are LIFERS)

 

  1. Chinese Bamboo Partridge Heard only close by

[Elliot’s Pheasant] A female pheasant flushed from the trail and only seen by me was almost certainly this species. It was small with a short chestnut and barred tail. Just not good enough for the record book I guess… F*ck

  1. Common Pheasant
  2. Scaly-sided Merganser 5 adult males, 3 imm. Males and 16 females minimum.
  3. Manderin Duck 10 not seen by me
  4. Little Grebe
  5. Little Egret
  6. Grey Heron
  7. Pied Falconet pair
  8. Crested Goshawk 1
  9. Indian Black Eagle 1
  10. Brown Crake 1
  11. Common Moorhen
  12. Common Sandpiper
  13. Green Sandpiper
  14. Long-billed Plover 2
  15. Spotted Dove
  16. Oriental Turtle Dove
  17. Crested Kingfisher
  18. Common Kingfisher
  19. Grey-chinned Minivet Pair
  20. Long-tailed Shrike
  21. Red-billed Blue magpie
  22. Grey Treepie Heard only
  23. Japanese Tit
  24. Black-throated Tit
  25. Grey-throated Martin 1
  26. Yellow-bellied Prinia
  27. Plain Prinia
  28. Collared Finchbill
  29. Chinese Bulbul
  30. Mountain Bulbul
  31. Chestnut Bulbul 1
  32. Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler
  33. Yellow-browed Warbler
  34. Pallas’s Warbler
  35. Rufous-faced Warbler 1
  36. Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler
  37. Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler
  38. Rufous-capped Babbler
  39. Red-billed Leiotrix
  40. Huet’s Fulvetta
  41. Vinous-throated Parrotbill
  42. Crested Myna
  43. Eastern Blackbird
  44. Daurian Redstart
  45. Red-flanked Bluetail
  46. Plumbeous Water Redstart
  47. Stejneger’s Stonechat
  48. Fork=tailed Sunbird 2 male 1 female
  49. Tree Sparrow
  50. White-rumped Munia
  51. Grey Wagtail
  52. White Wagtail (Leucopsis)
  53. Olive-backed Pipit
  54. Brambling
  55. Eurasian siskin
  56. Chinese Grosbeak
  57. Yellow-browed Bunting 8
  58. Black-faced Bunting

 

 

 

Wuyuan merganser site by Garry Bakker

Wuyuan merganser site by Garry Bakker

 

 

Scaly-sided merganser by Garry Bakker

Scaly-sided merganser by Garry Bakker

 

Arjan Dwarshuis
Arjan Dwarshuis
birding@arjandwarshuis.com