Asian Dowitchers

Early August is a great time to see a range of east Asian shorebirds on the coast of China.  So last Saturday I planned to make a 2-day trip to check out Nanpu, a vast and featureless area of salt works and ponds to the south of Tangshan in Hebei Province that hosts hundreds of thousands of waders in spring and autumn.

I woke a little earlier than usual with mild abdominal pain.  I put it down to the particularly spicy curry I had consumed on the Friday evening, popped a couple of paracetamol and set off.  There was no way a little stomach pain was going to stop me driving the 2.5 hours to see 100,000+ waders on the coast…

As my journey progressed I was excited to see the air and cloud clearing – having started as a smoggy and cloudy day, Saturday turned into a beautifully clear, blue sky day.

On arrival I slowly drove the long road towards the coast, checking the roadside ponds.  I was buoyed by a beautiful BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER in amongst the many SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPERS, KENTISH PLOVERS and BLACK-WINGED STILTS.

I then found a superb pond filled with mostly BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, MARSH SANDPIPERS and SPOTTED REDSHANKS.  As I carefully scanned, I found a group of ASIAN DOWITCHERS, a regular but fairly scarce migrant.  I counted 22, 21 adults and one juvenile, in a small area.  By now my abdominal pain was worsening and I was considering whether to go to a local hotel to rest or to drive back to Beijing.  Whilst I was deciding what to do, I took the opportunity to record some video of the ASIAN DOWITCHERS.

After making this recording I decided to head back to Beijing; if I was going to be ill, I would much rather be in my apartment in Beijing than in a low-grade hotel in a small Chinese town.  I was glad I did.  When I reached my apartment late on Saturday evening, I could hardly stand up due to the pain.  I called a friend and he took me to the Emergency Room of my local hospital where, after a series of tests and a CT scan, I was diagnosed with acute appendicitis.  Just a few hours later I was in the recovery room after my appendectomy, feeling glad that my appendix didn’t decide to misbehave in some remote part of the developing world!

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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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6 Responses to Asian Dowitchers

  1. Gretchen says:

    Wow – an exciting trip, for several reasons. Great to hear about the sightings and to know you got back in time for what was a successful surgery!

  2. Thank you Gretchen.. I was lucky! I am well on the way to recovery now, so planning another visit to the coast later this week… it’s full of birds, so I am sure there are more goodies waiting to be found!

  3. Dev says:

    Great no of Dowitchers. Sorry about your appendicitis. I had a terrible time during my university exam. Glad to know that you are well ahead of your recovery time. Good luck with Autumn Birding, TT.

  4. Thanks Dev..! And good luck to you too…

  5. Ken Tucker says:

    I’m just back from a long trip abroad (where I managed to see my first Asiatic Dowitcher) and I’m now catching up with posts. So pleased you made the right decision to return home and hope you are recovered now – I notice there are subsequent blog posts which I’ll read in turn, so I assume all is well. Glad you’re still with us!

  6. Thank you Ken! Asian Dowitchers are special birds, so I am very pleased that you caught up with one on your trip. Thankfully all is well now and I am fully recovered… so it’s back to business as usual. The treatment I received in Beijing was first class… the staff, from the surgeon to the anaesthetists to the nursing staff, were wonderful without exception.

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