I have just spent three days in Wu’erqihan, Inner Mongolia, in the company of Shanghai-based British birder, Nick Green. It was my third visit to this stunning part of northeastern China and, after two previous trips in winter, it was a delight to see it so green and leafy, without needing to wear six layers in -30 degrees Celsius!
Whilst in winter the main attractions here are undoubtedly the owls (Snowy, Great Grey, Ural, Hawk, Eagle, Boreal and Little) our main target during this visit was to try to see the three breeding locustella warblers – Lanceolated Warbler, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler and the sought-after Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler. I thought we wouldn’t have too much difficulty in finding all three but I hadn’t expected the numbers we encountered. Pallas’s were seemingly in every inch of suitable habitat and, particularly early morning and evening, were singing constantly, even though it was mid-July. We recorded 53 (surely a considerable under-count) on our first full day. Lanceolated were less common, but still frequent, with 22 recorded and, the following morning, we counted 17 singing Gray’s from the moving car during a 45-minute drive.
Renowned for their skulking habits, locustella warblers are usually tough to see. However, on the breeding grounds, despite most preferring to sing from deep cover, we were fortunate to see several examples of each species singing from exposed perches.
Wu’erqihan in July isn’t only locustella heaven. The supporting cast includes White-throated Needletail, Great Grey, Ural and Eagle Owls, Siberian Rubythroat, Mugimaki Flycatcher, David’s and Chinese Bush Warblers, Pale-legged, Two-barred, Pallas’s, Thick-billed, Radde’s and Dusky Warblers and a host of other ‘sibes’.
A full trip list can be downloaded here: 2016-07 Wu’erqihan with Nick Green, 7-10 July 2016.
6 thoughts on “Groppers Galore!”
A very interesting post with some great shots of cryptic species. Would love to see more pix of the Gray’s Grasshopper Warblers. Since the birds breeding in Hokkaido/Sakhalin have now been split this is a very rarely seen or photographed taxon.
Thanks Mike. I have a few more of Gray’s which I will add to the post in the next day or so. Certainly not difficult to see at Wuerqihan in the breeding season!
Don’t know how long we could see such experiences with the cryptic species. Thanks, Azure Tit.Such a cutie little thingy I love to watch! Bird-breeding is in danger with the reduction of habitat which leads to extinction. Nice captures and it must have been a great experience! Thanks again!
Reblogged this on Scopeguideblog.
Totally gripped. Fantastic trip and write up Terry. Wuerqihan looks totally different with all the green around.
Thanks Dev.. it’s certainly a magical place in all seasons! And nice to wear only a t-shirt and shorts! 🙂