I always tell my friends and guests, there is one call i won’t forget as its imprinted in the deepest core of my subconsciousness and that one belongs to the Marsh Grassbird. With its typical locustella call and with a very unique display flight, its one of my favorite birds of Shanghai. Despite its uniqueness, the bird has made the “IUCN Red List” due to loss of habitat. The loss of habitat is very apparent around Shanghai as the swamps and reed beds have been reclaimed under a vast scale.
We had no difficulty in finding the first Marsh Grassbird for this year and they are as usual back to breed in Shanghai. Our main mission on April 1st was to find the most sought “Oriental Plovers” for Russell. Unfortunately, the flock which was there a week ago weren’t there anymore (Sorry Russell). If it was any consolation, we located the Marsh Grassbird with its display song and spent a good time seeing it perched up on top of the reeds.
The mudflats on the southern end of island held a good no of Great Knots and Far-eastern curlew but very far as it was low tide. The best moment of the day came early as we spotted 3 Common Gulls among several Herring Gulls. An immature male Eastern Marsh Harrier was displaying courtship behaviour with a female Marsh Harrier.
The Aquaculture farms had a good no of shorebirds and they were all getting ready for the breeding season.
We made it to the Chongming Island in the afternoon hours and we tried to give the boardwalk a try and it’s been my first visit since 2013. The visitor area at the entrance was pretty much “landscaped” with windmills, flower beds etc and to top this a mini scale replica of the Shanghai financial district was setup amidst the Yellow flowerscape (rape seed). The board walk was intact, the reed beds were pretty much the same except the new seawall which covers the entire southern end of the island is pretty much visible now.
The above gritty image was just shot right in front of the exhibits museum. The Eurasian Tree sparrow was just taking refuge from Strong winds behind this dead White-cheeked Starling. Being commercial is a way for the reserve to gain finances for maintaining the reserve is understandable but being negligent of not removing a dead bird right in the middle of reserve?
Complaints apart, we did find nice waterfowl around the boardwalk including few more Marsh Harriers. The ponds right before the boardwalk had a single Long-billed Dowitcher. The waterfowl have been largely absent in Hengsha island throughout the winter and i was worried due to the large flocks of Falcated Ducks that frequent here. Looks like they just jumped the camp and settled in Chongming.
With amazing views of the Marsh Grassbird and their active display was a big relief despite the vast scale reclamation on the Shanghai coast. More on the migration front will follow up next.