This year has been a roller-coaster ride so far. After birding in Shanghai for 5 years, lifers are hard to come but this year is an exception with some mega rarities literally falling out of the sky. The first cold front was pushed during the penultimate week of October, with day temperature falling less than 15C accompanied by strong and howling north easterly winds. It felt like, winter is here. Out of the blue we had a sudden influx of Narcissus Flycatchers, primarily adult females and 1st winter females. We only saw 2 males during two weekends. This is the first time we encountered Narcissus Flycatchers in fall since my arrival in 2011.
It definitely felt like “winds of winter” minus Ramin Djawadi’s spine chilling background score. Every inch of the micro forests in Nanhui said winter as we encountered more and more wintering Grey-backed Thrush, Pale Thrush, Japanese Thrush and Red-flanked Bluetail but the top bird of the day award went to a 1st Winter Red-throated Thrush.
The two typhoons which battered Hongkong brought some goodies too in the form of a Pomerine Skua, unfortunately the bird has went back to the calm sea on our day out but we were content with the Red-throated Thrush and the supporting cast of wintering goodies.
Following weekend was much more engaging as the no of White’s Thrush has remarkably gone high and so the fresh arrival of Red-flanked Bluetails.
What started to be a mediocre late autumn birding day started to pick its pace with two Greylag Geese flying over the sea. 30 minutes later Russell pointed out two more birds went into the sea making a total day count of 4. I made some canine buddies at a aquaculture farm over the spring but those fellas aren’t around anymore but my habit of stopping at the dirt road leading to the farm never stopped. I had no luck finding my pals again but during the little detour gave me the long-awaited bogey bird of the patch. A female Pied Harrier, a male Hen Harrier and a juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier put the day to the top gear.
The minions of the local “All hail himself” wechat group were passing running commentaries on how the good shorebirds were gone, we patiently scoured through what was left in the high tide roosting flock. As a reward for squeezing the eyeballs through the scope on a bad weather day, we were lucky enough to get some good views of a “Long-billed Dowitcher“
Back at the magic car park, the togs have made arrangements for a Siberian Rubythroat and a male which was present dint fail to flaunt its gorgeous rubythroat. We then did our regular routine of scouting the car park and decided to wrap up the day. By the time, Mr.Frank Chan who has parked his car next to the hedge said there are some other stuff inside and showed his pictures. I could not believe my eyes for a second and to make myself 100% sure, i quickly checked the field guide to eliminate Baillon’s Crake. To my shock, it was indeed a Swinhoe’s Rail. We were at the right place, right time and still dunked. Well, it was the day i met “Lucile”, Not sure if Glenn felt his skull crushing but i felt mine.
1st Weekend of November was bit dragging compared to the last weekends with more and more Dusky and Pale Thrushes arriving. The unexpected bird of the day was 4 Amur Falcons. We missed the Amur Falcon “Happy Hour” during the 1st week of October and we never expected to see one this late. Kevin who has been to Nanhui a day ago reported a Verditer Flycatcher, an immature Tundra Swan and couple of Brown-flanked Bush Warblers. We could only connect with the Tundra Swan on the Saturday. We then throttled to Chongming to entertain our visiting guest from US, Roger Foote.10+ Common and Hooded Cranes have been seen along with 150+ Tundra Bean Geese and 100+ Northern Lapwings.
Earlier this year, we had an incredible winter day out with a native Colombian birder, Juan Martinez. It was a bizarre day with several sightings of Northern Lapwings, Smew, two humongous immature Cinereous Vultures and a Temminck’s Cormorant. Not sure what this winter has in store, may be a “White Raven” from the citadel?
It’s bit old flashback but many thanks to Juan Martinez for sharing the pictures and his around the world birding experience.