On Thursday I visited the BAER’S POCHARD breeding site with visiting Dick Newell, Lyndon Kearsley (from the swift project) and good friends Andrew and Rachael Raine. It was one of the hottest days I have ever experienced in Beijing with the thermometer on my car peaking at 43 degrees Celsius as we drove south. It was still 38 degrees C when we left the site at 8pm.
Despite the heat, it was a superb day. One of the objectives was to see, and count, the BAER’S POCHARDS present. As the spring wears on, these birds get more secretive but we were fortunate to see at least 18 of this “Critically Endangered” duck, 16 of which were males.. The predominance of males suggests to me that perhaps the females are on nests, which must be good news….
We enjoyed some excellent views of a male at close quarters by the side of the road and I was able to take this video using my iPhone 5 and the Swarovski ATX95 telescope. I am continually amazed at the quality of the results using this set-up.
Baer’s Pochard male
As well as the BAER’S POCHARDS, we also enjoyed excellent views of REED PARROTBILL and displaying SCHRENCK’S BITTERNS just before dusk.
A brief update on my trip to Rudong with Shanghai birders Zhang Lin and Tong Mienxu. Fuller account to follow. First, I have to blurt it out – I saw SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER!!! In fact, I had four sightings (2 on each day, involving at least 3 different individuals). One was even self-found (a moulting adult still with some rufous on the throat).
Supporting cast of waders (there were probably around 7,000 waders on site) included 6 Nordmann’s Greenshanks, Common Greenshank, Redshank, Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Long-toed Stint, Far Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Greater and Lesser Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint, Black- and Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher (quite scarce), Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Turnstone. Other highlights were many and included an adult male Pied Harrier (a stonking bird!), Northern Hawk Cuckoo, Reed Parrotbill, Pechora Pipit, etc etc.
No photos of Spooners (they were all seen at middle distance and, to be honest, I just enjoyed the sighting without trying to juggle camera and scope), but I have a few photos of some of the other birds (Asian Brown Flycatcher, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Reed Parrotbill etc) which I will post shortly.