Sunday, June 10, 2018

Bulletin 307 - China #7 - waders and kingfishers

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.

We have 2 cranes in North America. However in the Birds of East Asia guide, they have 7 species of crane and I saw 3 of them.

The tallest of them is the 56" Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus). It is an all white crane with black wingtips, seen in flight. Thus it is similar to our Whooping Crane. And like our crane, this one is critically endangered. There were historically 2 populations breeding in the Siberian arctic. The western population wintered in Iran and India, but the India subgroup has been extirpated and there are estimated only 10 birds left wintering in Iran. So most of the world population of 2-3,000 birds are the eastern population and 95% of them winter in the huge Poyang Lake wetland area in China. This area is threatened with water level changes due to construction of the Three Gorges Dam. The International Crane center has successfully bred this crane in captivity.



Siberian Crane
And in flight.



Siberian Crane

The 46" Common Crane (Grus grus) is next in size. It is light gray with a black neck and head with a white lateral stripe down the neck. This one has a huge range all across Eurasia and is not in any danger with an estimated word wide population of 600,000.

Common Crane

The last is the 40" Hooded Crane (Grus monacha). It is a dark gray crane with a white neck. It is listed as vulnerable as the population is estimated at only 10,000 birds. They breed in southeastern Siberia and winter in China, Korea and Japan.

Hooded Crane
This next bird is an amazing example of bird recovery. The 23" Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) was thought to be extinct in early 1980s due to habitat loss and agricultural chemical use. Then a small remnant flock of 7 birds was found in a poor rural province in China where the people could not afford chemical use. From there with captive breeding it has rebounded to more than 500 birds and now is listed as endangered only. It is a gray ibis with a red face, and with pinkish hue in breeding plumage.

Crested Ibis
The 34" Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) is a white bird with a black bill.

Eurasian Spoonbill
The 28" Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) is a white heron with a yellow bill in winter. It is the bird behind in the photo.

Intermediate Egret (behind)
The 30" Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a brown bittern with a streaked neck similar to our American Bittern. We saw about 6 of these birds in the Poyang Lake area. It is also known as the Great Bittern.


Eurasian Bittern
And another in his camouflage pose.

Eurasian Bittern
Kingfishers are much more common in the Old World. We have only 6 in the Americas of a total of 113 species worldwide. The 7" Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) has a blue head and back with reddish underparts. This one caught a minnow and as we watched, a Long-tailed Shrike chased him and caused him to drop his fish.

Common Kingfisher
The 11" White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) has a red head and underparts, with blue back and wings and white throat and breast and a bright red bill.

White-throated Kingfisher
Both these small kingfishers I had seen in Hong Kong previously, but this next one was a treat and we saw it at the last moment before the trip pended. It is the huge 17" Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris). It is dark blue and white with a bushy crest.

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

I have photos of 5 of the 15 species of cranes.


I have photos of 8 of the 35 species of ibises and spoonbills.

I have photos of 25 of the 66 species of herons, egrets and bitterns.

I have photos of 9 of the 113 species of kingfishers.

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


Monday, May 28, 2018

Bulletin 306 - China #6 - Thrushes, Laughingthrushes and Starlings

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.

Thrushes are a worldwide family of medium sized songbirds with many being beautiful singers. The 9" Naumann's Thrush (Turdus naumanni) is brown with a pale eye strip and reddish spots on underparts.

Naumann's Thrush
The darker 9" Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomus) has brown spots,These 2 species were formerly considered to be the same species.

Dusky Thrush

The last thrush is the 9.5" Chinese Blackbird (Turdus mandarinus).This bird is all black with a yellow bill. The 'blackbird' of the nursery rhymes was formerly a single species all across Eurasia, but has been split into 4 separate species with this being the most easterly one.

Chinese Blackbird
Laughingthrushes are a different family of songbirds despite a similar sounding name. The 12" Masked Laughingthrush (Garrulax perspicillatus) is a plain gray brown bird with a black mask.

Masked Laughingthrush
The 9" Moustached Laughingthrush (Garrulax cineraceus) is brown with gray wings and a white crescent under his eye

Moustached Laughingthrush
The 10" White-browed Laughingthrush (Garrulax sannio) is mostly rufous with a white face.

White-browed Laughingthrush
The starlings and mynahs are an Old World family of birds. I found 2 new species of starlings on the trip. The 9.5" Red-billed Starling (Spodiospar sericeus) is a gray bird with black wings and a red bill and feet.

Red-billed Starling
The 8.5" White-cheeked Starling (Spodiospar cineraceus) is dark gray brown with a prominent white face patch.

White-cheeked Starling
I have put the different bird families in single folders for easy viewing

I have photos of 39 of the 167 species of thrushes


I have photos of 5 of the 135 species of laughingthrushes

I have photos of 7 of the 118 species of starlings and mynahs

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.

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.