Shanghai March ’19

The first leg of a three week work trip to Shanghai and Hong kong. 10 days staying in the very centre of ‘the worlds biggest city’. I’d done some research and quickly it became clear that I was going to see some excellent birds in the parks, As usual my focus would be on birds of relevance to vagrancy in the UK, perhaps my next trip  will branch out a little. But from what I could gather I was likely to see wintering thrushes,  Warblers and buntings. My hotel was 20 minutes from the largest urban green space: Century Park. 

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The Park itself was a similar size to Regents park perhaps, with ‘wilder’ areas which held the better concentration of birds.  The thrushes were a real highlight, starting with my favourite of the trip, White’s Thrush A new bird for me and my first views were like a dream, an odd sized bird flushed through the forest floor, bold striped underwing in and out of dappled light and posed, half hidden. Incredible

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I saw about 3 or 4 during my trip and each one was a joy.  An area of mature  trees and wet ground held other species of thrush, a flock of 20+ Dusky thrushes were mostly seen in flight and hard to pin down at first, according to ebird a Nauman’s thrush was present too but I didnt see it. 

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the following were new birds for me: 2 Eyebrow thrushes, many Pale and also GreyBacked,(in that order below) the first year males of this species were excellently plumaged, better than the adults i thought.

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RedFlanked Bluetails were stationed at regular intervals.

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most were 1st winter types but I did happen upon 2 different adult males one morning.

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Occasionally A Daurian Redstart would have a go at one, they looked brilliant stood in on the ground, resting mid tussle next to one another.

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I had one Yellow Browed Warbler but by far the most common phyllosc were Pallas‘, these called and sang at intervals too, some very bright birds and some mid body moult.

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Id heard OliveBacked pipits on my first visit to the park and hadn’t managed to get views of them till the last day where I figured out they were walking about in the long grass flushing to the trees when people approached to take photos of the flowers(a seeminlgy popular past time in China)  

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Next up Emberiza Buntings of which I saw two Species, Black-Faced (Below)…

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and the bird of the trip for me – Yellowthroated Bunting, what a bird. WHAT a bird.

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Long Tailed shrikes were very common and present even in the smallest green spaces in the city, a contrast to Hong Kong were I only saw them outside the city in previous years.

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Below a Leucopsis Alba Wagtail,

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Next up the Gulls, Nothing to get too excited about really, Mongolian Gulls were the most common, the adults with that huge tertial cresent and fleshy pink legs, 

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First years quite Caspian like in some ways- tail and inner primary window pattern, and sometimes expression in flight but not in others.

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.. and Taimyr gulls (below).  I think mid winter should be better for gulls. I will be visiting Shanghai again with more regularity in future so expect a fairly regular post from there!

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Early March vibes

At this point in March I usually make a trip down to the East Sussex coast in the hope of an early migrant or two with LP. The usual urgency to grab a glimpse of the year’s earliest migratory birds wasn’t quite as potent as it often is this time of year as id seen 4 Swallows down near Dunge off the back of the warm southerly weather a couple of weeks ago, back on the 23rd Feb!

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Currently we are a week into constant blustery weather from the west and todays winds reached 50+ mph at the south coast. Not great for watching anything so luckily the previous day had yielded a few things to look at.

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LP and I checked Belle tout woods on Beachy head first thing Sat and had 2 maybe 3 Firecrests, whilst the Cuckmere held a couple of littoralis Rock Pipits, some amorous Med gulls and this Glossy Ibis thats been knocking around.

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Next up we checked west rise marsh for a Sand Martin or perhaps a Garganey, neither were present although a small group of smart Pintail, one or two Water pipits and the below White Wagtail were signifiers of the comings and goings of this time of year.

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As we made our way back to the car we came across 10 or so Gulls and I could make out the familiar facial expression of a Caspian Gull standing face on within the ensemble.  After getting a little closer I could see the also familiar cadmium yellow darvic ring alerting me that this 2nd winter bird would likely be born and ringed in east Germany. A nice, big snouty thing.

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Ringed at the usual spot by the very efficient Ronald Klein who replied to my email less that 24 hours later with the birds info.

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The following morning, despite a weather warning and 50 mph winds, we hit Dungeness, Short version of the story is that there were lots of gulls but nothing of interest other than a 2cy Yellow-Legged Gull amoung them and a wind that got up my nose.

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Thats probably my last post for a while, I travel to China next week with work: Ten days in Shanghai followed by ten days in Hong Kong, so expect some of that stuff for the foreseeable.