Monday, May 14, 2018

Bulletin 305 - China #5 - Plovers, Rails and Oystercatcher

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. His website is here. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts coming in including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

I got photos of 3 new plover species..all lifers of course. The 14" Grey-headed Lapwing (Vanellus cinereus) is a tall plover with a gray head, brown back, yellow legs and white underparts.


Grey-headed Lapwing
The 6" Long-billed Plover (Charadrius placidus) in an east Asian bird. It is similar to others of this genus. 



Long-billed Plover
The 6" Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) is similar to our Snowy Plover with only a partial breast band. In fact until a dozen or so years ago, they were considered to be the same species. There was a huge flock way out on the mud flats.


Kentish Plover
The last plover species is the 6" Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius). I had seen this bird in Hong Kong, but obtained a better photo this trip.


Little Ringed Plover
We also saw a Northern Lapwing as long way off in the reeds and no photo was possible. This was also a life bird.

The rail family consists of rails and coots and gallinules. Rails are always shy and retiring, so it was nice ti see this 11" Brown Crake (Amaurornis akool). It looked similar to our Sora with the short yellow bill. It has a brown and gray body. We saw 2 of them an open area.


Brown Crake
The 15" Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) is an easy ID with the gray body and white bill. It is the only coot in eastern China.
Eurasian Coot
The 13" Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is another easy ID as similar to our Common Gallinule.
Common Moorhen
 The last bird for this bulletin is the 17" Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus). Again this bird is an easy ID as a large black and white shorebird with the long bright red bill.


Eurasian Oystercatcher
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 15 of the 67 species of plovers


I have photos of 14 of the 138 species of rails and coots


I have photos of 3 of the 11 species of oystercatchers

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Bulletin 304 - China #4 - Crows, Jays and Finches

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. His website is here. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts coming in including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

The corvidae family consists of crows, jays, magpies and nutcrackers. I photographed several on this trip. First is the 13" Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius). It is brownish with black wings and tail.


Eurasian Jay
The 20" Collared Crow (Corvus torquatus) is a black crow has an extensive white collar. I had seen this bird at a distance in Hong Kong, but this time I found one on the ground. I was doing research as the species name has changed recently, from pectoralis to torquatus. I found this disturbing article that this species is in rapid decline. It lives just in eastern China, northern Vietnam and Hong Kong. The population has dropped from an estimated 30,000 birds to less than 2,000 in the past decade, likely due to pesticide use. We saw about a dozen birds in The Dongzhi Nature Reserve where this photo was taken.


Collared Crow
The 18"  Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) is identical to our Black-billed Magpie and they were considered as a single species until about 20 years ago. This bird has an extensive range from Europe to the Pacific Ocean in China and Russia. It appears that there may be further splits in the future of the east populations. It is also known as Common Magpie.


Eurasian Magpie
They build a huge bulky nest.


Eurasian Magpie - on nest
The 26" Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythrorhyncha) is a magpie with a black head, blue wings and tail and red bill. The guide told me an interesting story. He went to university to become and air traffic controller. In his spare time he wandered in a woods near the university. He saw one of these birds and became hooked on birds and he never worked as an air traffic controller.


Red-billed Blue Magpie
I also photographed 4 finches on the trip and all were lifers for me. The 5.5" male Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus) is a small brown bodied finch with a bright red head.


Common Rosefinch - male
The 7" male Chinese Grosbeak (Eophona migratoria) has a black head and tail, beige body and large yellow bill.


Chinese Grosbeak - male
The 5.5" male Grey-capped Greenfinch (Chloris sinica) has a gray head and greenish body with some yellow on wings and tail. This is a winter plumaged male and duller then breeding plumage. This was formerly in the genus carduela as it certainly looks like our goldfinches. It is also known as Oriental Greenfinch.


Grey-capped Greenfinch - male winter
The last is the 6" male Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla). This bird has a widespread range across Europa and Asia. It make enough appearances in North America, as a vagrant, that Sibley includes it in his book. The male has a black head and rusty breast with white underparts. We saw several large flocks of this species.


Brambling - male
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 35 of the 130 species of crows, jays and magpies


I have photos of 49 of the 212 species of finches

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bulletin 303 - China #3 - Sandpipers and Avocet

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. His website is here. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts coming in including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

As I was on the Asian side of the Pacific Ocean, I got to see birds that only show up in USA as vagrants. I was a few weeks early for spring migration, but did see a number of wintering birds, so I got a number of life birds.

The first is the 12" Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus). This is the only one in the Sibley guide. It has bright red legs and some spotting along flanks. In breeding plumage it is distinctive with solid black underparts.


Spotted Redshank - winter
And here he is in flight.


Spotted Redshank - winter

The 11" Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) was in breeding plumage. It has orange-red legs and a shorter bill.


Common Redshank - breeding
Next was the 12" Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) has gray green legs and a slightly upturned bill. These are winter plumage as they only have only slight streaking on breast

Common Greenshank
The 9" Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) is very similar to our Solitary Sandpiper with dark wings. I had seen this bird in Hong Kong, but got improved photos this trip.

Green Sandpiper
And in flight.

Green Sandpiper
The 8" Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) is almost identical to our Spotted Sandpiper, but does not have spots in breeding plumage. It has the similar white shoulder patch. I had photographed this bird in Hong Kong before, but I got a much better photo this trip.

Common Sandpiper
The last sandpiper is the 22"  Eurasion Curlew (Numenius arquata). It is pale gray brownish, with the typical long down curved curlew bill. He has a crab in his bill.

Eurasian Curlew
I also got a better photo of the 17" Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta). This is the only avocet in the area. It is black and white with an upturned bill.

Pied Avocet
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 44 of the 93 species of sandpipers.


I have photos of 4 of the 10 species of avocets and stilts


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Bulletin 302 - China #2 - Bulbuls, Dipper and Lark

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. His website is here. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts, including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

The bulbuls are an old word family of medium sized songbirds. There are 154 species in the family. Some are popular as cage birds and 1 species can be found in the USA as an escaped bird. I saw several new ones on this trip. The sexes are similar. The most colorful was the 8.5" Collared Finchbill (Spizixos semitorques). This bird is IDed by the black head, white neck collar and the rest of the bird is olive. 


Collared Finchbill
The 8" Chestnut Bulbul (Hemixos castanonotos) has a black cap, chestnut face, and back, white underparts and gray wings and tail.


Chestnut Bulbul
The 8.5" Brown-breasted Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthorrhus) has a black head, brown back wings and tail, white underparts except brown chest band and bright yellow undertail. There were several of these birds flycatching over a small pond and the bright yellow was what caught my eye.


Brown-breasted Bulbul

The last was the 9" Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii) is rather dull with olive wings and tail, grayish back, rufous on neck and breast and white streaking on gray throat and crown.



Mountain Bulbul
The dippers are a tiny family of aquatic songbirds consisting of just 5 species. They are plump birds with short tails that feed along mountain streams, often submerging to find insect larvae. The 8" Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) is the species occurring from the central Asia eastward. The adult is all dark brown with a black bill. We saw several along a mountain stream on the 3rd day. I love watching dippers and so it was a treat to see this life bird.


Brown Dipper
Larks are a family of 98 species with all except the common Horned Lark being in the old world. The 5.5" Oriental Skylark (Alauda gulgula) is rich brown. I was lucky as this bird landed very close while we were watching for other birds. Usually skylarks are just seen flying.


Oriental Skylark
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 7 of the 153 species of bulbul.


I have photos of 3 of the 5 species of dippers.

I have photos of 3 of the 98 species of larks.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bulletin 301 - China #1 - Waterfowl

I had an 8 day birding to trip in eastern China with a wonderful guide Lin Zhang based in Shanghai. He is perfectly fluent in English. We visited 5 different locales. FYI making contact within China by email is a problem as the government blocks some email accounts coming, including gmail.  So I had to contact him using MS Outlook. His email is zhanglinas@hotmail.com.

Wintering waterfowl were still present and I saw several new species and lifers. The Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) is a familiar bird as it is often found as a feral introduced domesticated goose. It is IDed by the bicolored neck and black bill. You will notice that the wild populations do not have the big hump on the bill.


Swan Goose
The Tundra Bean Goose (Anser serrirostris) is the smaller of the bean goose species. It is IDed by size and grayish brown color and bicolored bill.



Tundra Bean Goose
The last goose was a Greylag Goose (Anser anser). It is a gray goose with pink bill. We saw only a couple of these birds.


Greylag Goose
There were also several duck species. The Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha) is a large brown duck with a black bill with a yellow tip.


Eastern Spot-billed Duck
The male Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) is similar to our Green-winged Teal, but it lacks the vertical white stripe ion the flank.


Eurasian Teal - male
The male Eurasian Widgeon (Anas penelope) has a brown head and beige stripe across crown.

Eurasian Widgeon - male
Two species of diving ducks were also found. the female Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) has a reddish brown head. The male would have a solid red head similar to our Redhead.


Common Pochard - female
The rare Baer's Pochard (Ayhtya baeri) is listed as vulnerable and restricted to east Asia. The male has a greenish head and brown breast and light colored eye.. The female is lighter.


Baer's Pochard - pair with male in front
Also we found 2 merganser species. The male Smew (Mergellus arbellus) is a white duck with a black face. and wings.


Smew - male
And the last was another vulnerable rare east Asian endemic. The male Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus) is similar to our Red-breasted Merganser, but has pronounced scaly appearance to the flanks and a long crest.


Scaly-sided Merganser - male
The female has a reddish head.


Scaly-sided Merganser - female
We watched several pairs of birds in a fast rushing mountain river. They would drift down river and then fly back upstream. It was a treat to see such a rare bird.


Scaly-sided Mergansers

We also saw Mandarin Duck, Tufted Duck, and Ferruginous Duck as well as species that also occur in North America (Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail). All of the birds pictured here were lifers for me except the Eurasian Widgeon.


I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 60 of the 165 species of waterfowl


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2018 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bulletin 300 - Guatemala 2017 #6 - Hummingbirds

I went for a second visit to Guatemala at the end of May. Once again, I used the wonderful local guide Knut Eisermann of Cayaya Birding. On this visit, we concentrated on the western highlands and Pacific lowlands along the Mexican border, as several Mexican species just make it into Guatemala here. 

I got photos of 7 species on hummers on the trip, so I will describe them in alphabetical order. The 4.5" Amethyst-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis amethystinus). This bird has a vertical white behind the eye.The range is Mexico to Honduras. The male has a bright pink throat, but I did not see one. This juvenile male was feeding at some flowers.



Amethyst-throated Hummingbird - juvenile male
The female has a buffy throat.


Amethyst-throated Hummingbird -female
I was surprised to see the 4" Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) here. This is the hummer seen in Colorado They do breed this far south, but at very high elevations. We were about 10,000 feet. It was very cold even in early June and the stunted flowers were just an inch tall, so the bird was on the ground essentially.


Broad-tailed Hummingbird - male

Next is the 3.5" Canivet's Emerald (Chlorostilbon canivetii). The male is all green with a forked tail. The female ahs a striped head, but is all white below. This juvenile male is molting to adult plumage, but he still has the head of a female and mostly white below. The forked tail can be seen. The range is southeastern Mexico to Honduras.


Canivet's Emerald - juvenile male
Next was another lifer the amazing 4.5" Garnet-throated Hummingird (Lamprolaima rhami). The male is green with deep red throat with blue chest, but he also has reddish wings making him an easy ID.


Garnet-throated Hummingbird - male
The next was another life bird, the 4" Green-fronted Hummingbird (Amazilia viridifrons). This is a rather plain hummingbird green above and grayish below. He does have the red bill usually seen in this genus.


Green-fronted Hummingbird
Next is the 5" Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii). This bird is a rare vagrant to Southeast Arizona where I had first seen it, but didn't get a photo. This was my second sighting of this species. Sexes are similar and it id iDed by large size, striped head and white lower back.


Plain-capped Starthroat
Lastly is another rarity in southeast Arizona, the 3.5" White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis). It has a dark head with a white stripe behind the eye and a red bill.


White-eared Hummingbird

I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 123 of the 348 hummingbirds

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.