It’s been an eventful 2 days. Sunday was spent, as usual, at Laotieshan. The fresh wind was from the north-west and, with the temperature around 10 degrees C at dawn, it felt cold (I had 5 layers on at one point!). After the passerine migration slowed at around 7.30am, Paul decided to walk up to the raptor watchpoint and Peter and I took the track below the lighthouse. We began well with at least 2 Red-flanked Bluetails, a Mugimaki Flycatcher and an Asian Stubtail. Then, just as we reached the sheltered gully at the bottom of the track, Paul radioed us to say that there was a juvenile Steppe Eagle coming in low along the ridge.. We hurried up the track to a point from which we could view the ridge and enjoyed spectacular views as it slowly made its way inland, battling against the increasing wind.. Steppe Eagle is a scarce bird in eastern China, so it was a very good record. The odd thing is that this eagle occurred during the quietest raptor passage we have experience so far! Migration works in mysterious ways.
Sunday afternoon we drove up to Jinshitan to meet up with Tom Beeke for a day of wader watching… After a fabulous meal with Tom’s family (he and his wife, Hannah, are amazing hosts!), we had a fantastic day up the coast with 108 species seen including such goodies as Blue Rock Thrush, Great Knot, Baillon’s Crake and Chinese Grey Shrike. Probably the best bird of the day was a stunning and confiding Little Whimbrel which initially flew in front of the car, causing us to stop rather abruptly on the main road outside Pikou. After a brief search, we saw it again in flight and it settled in a narrow patch of rough grass very close to the road. Stunning. After catching up with the waders between Pikou and Zhuanghe (Dunlin, Great Knot, Red Knot, Far Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Curlew, Lesser Sand Plover, Grey Plover, Terek Sandpiper etc) we turned our attention to gulls and it was here that Paul H excelled himself. First he picked out a first winter Glaucous Gull at about a mile range (ok, a slight exaggeration but it was a long way out) and then, within a couple of minutes of that piece of magic, he pulled out a first winter Pallas’s Gull – top class!
I only have two more days left at Laotieshan before flying back to Beijing. Peter will stay an extra couple of days and Paul will be staying for a while longer.. it’s going to be hard to wrench myself away from this world-class migration site but I feel very lucky to have been able to experience over a week of incredible birding, particularly as it has been in the company of such distinguished companions.