I am still wading (no pun intended) through my sightings and images from a shorebirding trip to Donggang, Dandong, last weekend with Paul Holt and local birder, Bai Qingquan. The highlights were many. One of the surprises was the amount of passerine migrants that we saw along the newly planted trees that lined the sea wall.. every day we saw buntings, pipits, flycatchers, thrushes and robins which made the walk to the wader high tide roost a real treat. And it was here that we found the bird of the trip – a Kamchatka Warbler (see previous post). Another, more mature, hedgerow to the north of the wader high tide roost produced another very special bird and the second highlight of the trip – a Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike. This is the first record of this species in Liaoning Province and possibly the most northerly record in mainland China.
We had just seen a Brown-eared Bulbul making its way south, noisily, along the sea wall and just a few minutes later a similar-sized bird flew north along the landward side of the hedge. Bai Qingquan picked it up and both he and I saw it briefly as it flashed by.. what was it? Paul was on the other side of the hedge and missed it. Both Bai and I had never seen this bird before.. sort of cuckoo-shaped but we had seen some white on the wing. Luckily it perched up in a tree a 100 metres or so to the north. Although it was mostly obscured, we could just see its tail which looked cuckoo-like and we speculated that it could be some sort of cuckoo or hawk cuckoo.. but the white in the wing didn’t tally.. We crept forward and then it flew, luckily just a few metres, and this time sat up in full view. Paul very quickly identified it as a Black-winged Cuckooshrike. We were able to secure some pretty good views for about 30 minutes as it fed along the hedgerow. Bai “high-fived” us.. a new Liaoning bird!
The cuckooshrike clearly liked the area as we saw it again the following day and again on our last morning.. Isn’t migration brilliant!