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

Laotieshan – first report

On Saturday I met up with Peter Cawley  – from my original local patch at Winterton in the UK – and flew across to Dalian for the onward journey to Laotieshan, the southern tip of the Dalian peninsula.  It is here that we will be basing ourselves for at least a week to experience the autumn migration.

We arrived in the late afternoon and met up with Paul Holt who had arrived at lunchtime that day and had managed a few hours birding in the afternoon.  Given the recent settled weather, our expectations were not so high but his report certainly whetted the appetite – in just four hours he had seen over 1,000 Oriental Honey Buzzards, over 1,200 Red-rumped Swallows and a good sprinkling of other birds – Amur Falcon, Goshawk, Osprey and White-throated Needletail.  Not bad.  Sunday was our first full day and it was simply stunning.  Over 600 Ashy Minivets, at least 300 Oriental Honey Buzzards, over 100 Black-eared Kites, 3 Black Storks and between 30 and 40 Japanese Sparrowhawks with good numbers of Eurasian Sparrowhawks, Hobbies, Amur Falcons, Kestrel, Osprey and Peregrine as the supporting cast.   This site is awesome!

Some early images below……

Oriental Honey Buzzard, Laotieshan, 25 September 2011. Honey Buzzards exhibit a wonderful array of plumages; this one is very rufous on the underparts.


Japanese Sparrowhawk, Laotieshan, 25 September 2011. These compact birds have tonnes of character...




Dalian – Day Six

Sunny and warm, light northerly winds, almost no cloud.  Much reduced visible migration and very few hirundines compared with yesterday.  Nevertheless, it was another good day at this special site.  Highlights included another White-throated Needletail that came in at nearly head height (see photo), several Japanese Sparrowhawks, a single Chinese Sparrowhawk, several Lanceolated Warblers and an unexpected new bird in the form of a Japanese Grosbeak that was suspected as it flew overhead and identified from photos!

White-throated Needletail, Laotieshan, 16 May 2011
Japanese Sparrowhawk, Laotieshan, 16 May 2011. One of 9 seen today.
Japanese Grosbeak, Laotieshan, 16 May 2011. Suspected as this species as it flew overhead but only confirmed by this image!
Grey-faced Buzzard (probable first-summer?), Laotieshan, 16 May 2011. This bird circled overhead calling incessantly for a couple of minutes early morning.

Species List (in chronological order):

Fork-tailed Swift (6)

Yellow-browed Warbler (15)

Asian Brown Flycatcher (10)

Rufous-tailed Robin (1)

Ashy Minivet (3)

Chinese Bulbul (5)

Black-naped Oriole (7) – in off the sea

Brown Shrike (6)

Olive-backed Pipit (5)

Oriental Turtle Dove (2)

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (3)

Lanceolated Warbler (3)

Oriental Greenfinch (4)

Common Pheasant (4)

Great Tit (6)

Hobby (7)

White-throated Rock Thrush (1)

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler (2)

Tristram’s Bunting (1)

Dusky Warbler (4)

Eye-browed Thrush (3)

Common Magpie (36 in the air together off the lighthouse at 0630)

Crested Myna (3)

Chinese Grosbeak (3)

Japanese Grosbeak (1)

Stonechat (3)

Chinese Hill Warbler (2)

Common Buzzard (2)

Two-barred Greenish Warbler (2)

Brambling (4)

Vega Gull (15)

Red-rumped Swallow (50)

Grey-faced Buzzard (1) – first summer?

Goshawk (4)

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (4)

Grey Wagtail (1)

Barn Swallow (128)

Japanese Sparrowhawk (9)

Japanese White-eye (2)

White-eye sp (11)

Vinous-throated Parrotbill (5)

Peregrine (1)

Carrion Crow (1)

Blue Rock Thrush (2)

Sand Martin (15)

Eurasian Cuckoo (1)

Egret sp (Chinese or Little) (1)

Saker (1)

Radde’s Warbler (5)

Chinese Sparrowhawk (1)

Oriental Honey Buzzard (1)

White-throated Needletail (1)

Siberian Rubythroat (1)

Siberian Blue Robin (3)

Chinese Penduline Tit (1)

Amur Falcon (3)

Osprey (1)

Grey-streaked Flycatcher (1)

Wryneck (1)

Thick-billed Warbler (1)

Common Sandpiper (1)

Taiga Flycatcher (3)

Black-browed Reed Warbler (1)

Meadow Bunting (3)

Pallas’s Warbler (1)

Dark-sided Flycatcher (1)

Black-faced Bunting (2)