Nordmann’s Greenshank

Another highlight from the trip to Dandong was the remarkable total of Nordmann’s Greenshanks (Tringa guttifer) that we observed at a high-tide roost.  Totals of 17, 17 and 16 were recorded on my three visits and, on one of the days, local birder Bai Qingquan recorded at least a further 7 from a different location at the same time, making a minimum count of 24 at this important stopover site.  Nordmann’s Greenshank is officially “endangered” with a population estimate of around 500-1,000 individuals.  It breeds in eastern Siberia along the western and northern coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk and also on Sakhalin Island, wintering in south-east Asia (Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia etc) and is encountered on migration along coastal China from Hong Kong north to Liaoning Province.  It’s population is declining, almost certainly related to habitat destruction primarily on its wintering grounds and stopover sites.

We did not try to get close to these birds for fear of flushing them from their roost but the occasional pass by the local Peregrine and even the odd Black-tailed Gull kept them on their toes and, on several occasions, the flocks took to the air, allowing us to hear the air through their wings as they wheeled around in front of us.. a spectacular sight and sound.  It was interesting that the Nordmann’s seemed to associate with the Grey Plover.

Grey Plovers, Donggang, Dandong, Liaoning Province. The wheeling flocks were a lovely sight.
Nordmann’s Greenshank in flight (with Grey Plover), Donggang, Dandong, Laioning Province. Nordmann’s seem to like Grey Plovers!
Nordmann’s Greenshanks with Grey Plovers.

Having North Korea as a backdrop added human interest to the birding here.

A shellfish picker works the low tide with North Korea just the other side of the Yalu river.
A list of what not to do on the North Korean border. Needless to say, we did as we were told..

And other waders, most in splendid breeding plumage, were a sight to behold.

Two Asian Dowitchers (the small orangey blobs in this awful photo) were a welcome addition to the high tide roost.
“Eastern” Black-tailed Godwits. Beautiful birds.
Our search for Spoon-billed Sandpiper proved fruitless (a little early) but breeding plumaged Red-necked Stints were a joy to watch.

Now, you’ve all heard of the “Magic Woods” at Beidaihe….  well, not to be outdone, Donggang has its own ‘not of this Earth’ site.  Here’s introducing the “Harry Potter Hedge”!

The “Harry Potter Hedge”… every day it would wow us with magical appearances.

Out of thin air it produced a Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Rufous-tailed Robin, Siberian Blue Robin, Siberian Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Pechora Pipit, Siberian Rubythroat, Oriental Scops Owl and much much more..

Finally, just for fun, here are a couple of photos of wader flocks…  Photo 1 is beginner level.  It has four wader species.. can you identify them?  Photo 2 is a little tougher… it contains 6 species.  A *glittering prize* awaits the first person to list them all correctly.

Photo 1 (Beginners Level). There are 4 wader species in this image. Can you name them?
Photo 2 (Advanced Level). There are 6 species in this photo. Can you name them?

17 thoughts on “Nordmann’s Greenshank”

  1. OK – if no one else is going to comment, I’ll have the first go… feel free to slam me down.
    Pic 1: Bar-tailed Godwit, (Eastern) Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover
    Pic 2: Dunlin, Terek Sandpiper, Grey Plover, (Eastern) Common Tern, Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit

    Love these pics. Reminds me of the diversity in those eastern shorebird flocks and how exciting they were to work through never knowing what you might find.

    1. Hi Ken,
      Well done for going first! Spot on for pic 1 and close on pic 2. I should have said 6 species of wader (ie not including Common Tern). But there are actually 7 species of wader in pic 2! 🙂 Want another go?

  2. Asian Dowitchers among the waders in pic 2, very rufous belly and pale underwing, I fancy I can see the bill shape clearly enough on a couple ?

  3. How about add sharp-tailed sand (just right of centre at the top above the barwit… but it’s probably a great knot) and long-toed stint (just below the middle, right of centre through that bunch of plovers)? Really clutching at straws. I feel there should be a Nordmann’s in there given the title of the post, but I can’t see one.

  4. Hi Ken, the first bird you pointed out is indeed a Great Knot! But you get half a point for picking out another species – the bird “just below middle, right of centre through that bunch of plovers” – but it isn’t a Long-toed Stint..! 🙂

    1. Doh! Having looked back at your last shot of flying Nordmann’s… that’s what the species through the plovers is, isn’t it? Must say – this has proved a welcome distraction from writing a tricky report. When it all gets too much – take another look at that picture! So, still another species to find? Might look for that after a bit more report writing.

  5. Hi Ken, it’s not a Nordmann’s either! 🙂 Too small. In fact, I’ll let you into a secret: there is no Nordmann’s in the photo, despite the title of the post. Sorry for being a little misleading. So far we have Dunlin, Terek Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Great Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit. Two to go, one of which you have spotted but haven’t yet identified, the other is tricky (but doable). I hope you manage to complete that report!!

  6. I will add Curlew Sandpiper at about 2 o’clock from the summer plumages Barwit in the top left quarter, and Spoon-billed sand.

    1. Yeah – I wondered about that bird with a curved bill. Think you could be right. My final stab at the wader I found but couldn’t ID (these stabs in the almost dark are getting embarrassing!) is red-necked phal. Then I give up.

      1. Ken, You have been a great sport in this contest and I admire your bravery. You got nearly all of them and spotted the ‘rogue’ wader. It is a Broad-billed Sandpiper. With the Curlew Sandpiper, that makes 7. So, to confirm, the 7 species of wader are (in alphabetical order): Bar-tailed Godwit, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Great Knot, Grey Plover, Terek Sandpiper. If there is an Asian Dowitcher in there (as per John Holmes’ suggestion), that would be 8. I *think* it’s a Bar-tailed Godwit but happy to be corrected by a wader guru.

  7. It’s not bravery – it’s task avoidance! Have enjoyed this and always look forward to your next blog instalment. Keep then coming, Terry!

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