Laotieshan update – Wednesday

Laotieshan continues to astound.  This morning between just 0530 and 0645 we recorded 1,257 Ashy Minivets and 3,000 Red-rumped Swallows..  not to mention good numbers of Olive-backed Pipits, Richard’s Pipits, Black-faced Buntings…  astonishing.  After the passerine migration began to slow, we took the track below the lighthouse to look for migrants.  A Bull-headed Shrike was a nice start and this was soon followed by two Siberian Blue Robins, 5 Radde’s Warblers and at least 4 Spotted (David’s) Bush Warblers.  The lowlight here was when Paul almost stepped on what we think was a Pallas’s Pit Viper..  The locals had warned us about snakes but in most areas of China, any that are venomous – especially near human habitation – have largely been wiped out.  During my spring visit I saw no snakes at all.. not even the fairly common Rat Snake.  Today’s encounter was a sobering moment and, in a sign of the seriousness of the event, Paul has said he may consider swapping his ever-present shorts for long trousers!

The weather is clearly changing.  Today was overcast with a light southerly wind.  The forecast for tomorrow is for showers, with winds veering to the north-west and, on Friday, the temperature is predicted to drop by 10 degrees Celsius.  That could mean Thursday and Friday are big days….  let’s hope so!

Some more images from the trip…

Oriental Honey Buzzard. This individual showed beautifully.
Oriental Honey Buzzard: extreme close up
Japanese Sparrowhawk, Laotieshan, Liaoning Province, China
Probable Pallas's Pit Viper: not a snake to be messed with. The locals say "if you get bitten, you die"... gulp.
Scanning from the beach with Paul Holt (left) and Peter Cawley. We were rewarded with a single Streaked Shearwater, several Black-tailed and a few Vega/Mongolian Gulls.
Birding is contagious - a couple of the local girls studying the finer points of aging Oriental Honey Buzzard in the field.

To give the reader a sense of the species we are seeing, I am including below our list of species and counts from 0530-0645 only this morning.  Other species seen later today include Asian House Martin, Bean Goose, White-throated Needletail and Streaked Shearwater.  I will publish the full species list and counts on my return to Beijing – there is simply too much to summarise!

Grey Heron – 1

Purple Heron – 4

Kestrel – 3

Amur Falcon – 7

Hobby – 2

Peregrine – 2

Oriental Honey Buzzard – 5

Black-eared Kite – 5

Eurasian Sparrowhawk – 6

Ashy Minivet – 1,257

Grey Nightjar – One hawking over the car park at 0530

Red-rumped Swallow – circa 3,000

Sand Martin – 1

Oriental Turtle Dove – 4

Spotted Dove – 1

Black-naped Oriole – 1

Olive-backed Pipit – hundreds

Red-throated Pipit – 3

Richard’s Pipit – 8

Grey Wagtail – 2

White Wagtail – 12

Dusky Warbler – 3

Radde’s Warbler – 2

Lanceolated Warbler – 3

Yellow-browed Warbler – 2

Daurian Redstart – 1

White-eye sp (Probably Chestnut-flanked) – 240

White-cheeked Starling – 5

Daurian Starling – 1

Chinese Grosbeak – 1

Common Rosefinch – 12

Black-faced Bunting – 17

unidentified passerine – 1000s

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