Dalian – the final day

Well, it didn’t rain but the wind did turn to the north and, with low cloud for the first few hours of Thursday morning, there were plenty of migrants about and we enjoyed an excellent day.  We had planned our return flight deliberately to allow a full final day in the field and we were glad we did with two new birds in the last couple of hours of birding – White’s Thrush and Yellow-legged Buttonquail.

The day started promisingly with lots of visible migration from the lighthouse.  A few Yellow Wagtails, Chinese Grosbeaks, Black-naped Orioles and Fork-tailed Swifts were moving and the whole are seemed ‘birdy’ with singing Lanceolated Warbler in a bush next to the watchpoint and Asian Brown and Dark-sided Flycatchers seemingly on every available perch.  Dusky and Radde’s Warblers called regularly from the scrub.

It wasn’t long before Jesper picked up a calling Pechora Pipit as it flew overhead  – the first of two – and a small flock of sparrows that landed in a tree next to the lighthouse turned out to be Russet Sparrows (after we scored the first record for this species in Liaoning Province earlier in our trip, it’s status has seemingly changed from rare to common in the space of a few days!).  Or maybe it’s an unprecedented influx.  Who knows?

3 Black Drongos dropped in to a treetop already holding 6 Chinese Grosbeaks and a Dark-sided Flycatcher and two of a flock of 6 Chestnut Buntings landed in a nearby tree, allowing excellent views of this very smart bird.

After an hour or so, Spike and I decided to leave Jesper and his group and walk up the ridge to gain a broader vantage point.  From here we enjoyed more Black-naped Orioles, a group of 6 Asian House Martins that came in off the sea (the first of 9 in total for the day) and 3 more White-throated Needletails among over 100 Fork-tailed Swifts.  A pair of Hawfinches toured the area around the lighthouse before heading inland and a Peregrine hung in the wind to the displeasure of the local magpies.  A cuckoo (not identified to species) came in off the sea and a Chinese Sparrowhawk came in low and hugged the ridge as it made its way inland.  This was quality vis-migging!

A record image of one of 9 Asian House Martins seen on 19th.

A record image of the Chinese Sparrowhawk at Laotieshan, 19 May 2011

The skies were very busy until about 0900 when the sun began to burn off the cloud and the flow of birds gradually slowed to a trickle.  At this point we began to search the surrounding hillside, shrubs and lighthouse garden.  Many new birds had arrived with good numbers of flycatchers, lots of Thick-billed Warblers, a sprinkling of phylloscs (including our first (singing) Arctic Warblers of the trip), Common Rosefinch, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Forest Wagtail, etc..  Everywhere we walked there were birds.  Not a huge ‘fall’ but certainly a decent new arrival, clearly prompted by the change in wind direction (it was in northerlies that we enjoyed so many birds at the beginning of our trip).

After a spot of lunch at the lighthouse car park, where the locals told us that “in September the sky is full of birds”, we began to explore a track that, at first we thought would just take us onto a piece of waste ground but instead looped round underneath the lighthouse through an area of sloped open woodland, some great gullies and coastal scrub.  It was here that we flushed the Yellow-legged Buttonquail from a grassy verge on the entrance track to a seemingly abandoned hotel complex and, from a shaded gully, the White’s Thrush flew up and perched briefly before disappearing into the thicket above us.  We wish we had discovered this area earlier as it obviously had great potential!

After a final visit to the lighthouse garden we reluctantly walked the track to the main road to catch the bus to Lushun for a bite to eat before picking up our bags from the hotel and making our way to the airport.  We had enjoyed a fantastic trip and were probably the first western birders to cover this area in spring – a real feeling of pioneering.  I can only imagine what would be discovered at Laotieshan if the area was systematically covered over the peak weeks on a regular basis.  I am sure that a few surprises would be uncovered.  As a southerly jutting peninsula, Laotieshan is almost certainly even better in Autumn so we plan to return in late September (the locals say that, on average, the 20th is the peak date for birds of prey) to see..  having been there and scouted the area, we now have a pretty good idea of the best areas.  There is plenty of good habitat for migrants, the majority of which is very undisturbed, so it is not only great for birds but also a real pleasure to walk around and enjoy…

I’ll post a full trip report in a few days, together with a full species list for the trip (over 150).  In the meantime, here are a few more images of the habitat and the species list for yesterday.

The lighthouse at Laotieshan seen from the 'vis-mig' watchpoint, early morning

The lighthouse garden.. flycatchers, buntings and warblers were all seen along this stretch during the trip

The view from the lighthouse across the garden to the entrance gate. Pale Thrush and Rufous-tailed Robin were seen here.

The steps down to the sea-watching point

The seawatching point at Laotieshan lighthouse. We saw good movements of Streaked Shearwaters during our visit, mostly in the evenings.

Typical habitat on the ridge... a series of trails make covering this area easy.

Me introducing the locals to shorebirding at Pikou... Photo: Tom Beeke

Scanning shorebirds on the incoming tide... at this spot, between Pikou and Zhuange, we saw around 1,000 Dunlin, hundreds of Great Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit and many other species including Red-necked Stint, Terek and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Red Knot and Greenshank. Photo: Tom Beeke

Species List (in chronological order of first sighting):

Fork-tailed Swift (106)

Chinese Bulbul (18) – including a flock of 16 migrating out to sea

Common Pheasant (1)

Dark-sided Flycatcher (7)

Lanceolated Warbler (7) – including one singing from our watchpoint

Grey Wagtail (1)

Radde’s Warbler (4)

White-cheeked Starling (3)

Chinese Grosbeak (25)

Dusky Warbler (5)

Hawfinch (2)

Barn Swallow (40)

Two-barred Greenish Warbler (5)

Black-naped Oriole (17)

Olive-backed Pipit (12)

Black Drongo (6)

Spotted Dove (1)

Eurasian Siskin (1)

Common Rosefinch (3)

Red-rumped Swallow (24)

Russet Sparrow (9) – including one flock of 8 briefly at the lighthouse

Chestnut Bunting (6)

Yellow Wagtail (61)

Pechora Pipit (2)

Stonechat (1)

Black-browed Reed Warbler (9)

Oriental Greenfinch (4)

Common Pheasant (4)

Great Tit (6)

Brown Shrike (9)

Vinous-throated Parrotbill (12)

Asian Brown Flycatcher (11)

Siberian Rubythroat (1)

Taiga Flycatcher (3)

Thick-billed Warbler (9)

Siberian Blue Robin (7)

Brambling (1)

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (7)

Forest Wagtail (2)

White-throated Needletail (6)

Sand Martin (9)

Hobby (2)

Asian House Martin (9)

Black-tailed Gull (80+)

Richard’s Pipit (2)

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)

Chinese Pond Heron (4)

Blue Rock Thrush (1)

Trsitram’s Bunting (4)

Mallard (1)

Eurasian Cuckoo (1)

Chinese Hill Warbler (2)

Chinese Sparrowhawk (1)

Yellow-browed Warbler (1)

Peregrine (1)

Oriental Reed Warbler (2)

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler (2)

Meadow Bunting (1)

Arctic Warbler (5)

Yellow-legged Buttonquail (1) – seen well in flight and scurrying along the ground

White’s Thrush (1)

Cattle Egret (1)

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About Terry Townshend

I am a British birder living and birding in Beijing from August 2010 until 2015. Through this blog I hope I can convey a sense of what it is like to live in this thriving, confident and contrasting city and the birdlife that can be found in its environs. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Terry Townshend, Beijing September 2010
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One Response to Dalian – the final day

  1. John Holmes says:

    Impressive birdlist, evocative photos – congratulations to you all. Obviously, a fabulous trip.

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