Yeah, it’s been a while and its time to make some presence felt with a digital footprint. It’s been a busy winter with the new house, car and the paperwork surrounding it. I had just one weekend free as i committed long time ago to a visiting birder Cory Chiappone from Cleveland. As he was visiting Shanghai in December, i suggested that we plan for Yancheng to connect with the Red crowned Cranes as this is the first time Chia’s visiting China. Long time friend, Roger T who happened to be in town for business also joined up for the weekend birding.

The drive from Shanghai to Xinyang Village (Yancheng) takes about 3 hours. We left at dawn but we din’t account for the truck traffic at the toll plaza, so it took us a bit more than 3 hours. This is my third visit to Yancheng, although the first since early 2015. The first two visits came during 2014 and 2015, the trip reports can be found here, here and here. The reserve has grown bigger mainly to bring more commercial tourists as the area near the entrance has been altered with artificial ponds, lawns etc. The good thing is they have shut down most of the aquaculture farms along the access road and included in the reserve. The reeds have grown extensively and looked very promising for reed and marsh dwelling species.

The Red crowned Cranes were in good no’s and seen very well inside and outside the reserve.

Red crowned crane at Yancheng Nature Reserve

(Han) Solo Crane

Red-Crowned Cranes into the reserve

Back in 2014, we saw a single Black-winged Kite along the reserve access road. After two years, the population has been increased significantly as we saw 4 birds in different locations. Like, most of the birding trips, the best bird was always seen at the end of the trip but in our case it was just the opposite. We had our mega bird right when we were just starting. For starters, we had 4 Baikal Teals. The teals were seen in the ornamental pool at the reserve entrance which also begs the question whether its a captive or wild ones which are taking advantage of the availability of food.


Back in 2014/2015, there were good no of Mandarin Ducks flying in and out of the pond which were totally absent this time. The ornamental pond also held a good no of Bar-headed Geese, there were reports of Bar-headed Geese seen in Dongtai few months ago, which is not very far from here. If the Baikal Teal is not wild what are the odds of the Geese seen in Dongtai? The mega bird of the trip is however not from the ornamental pond which was seen in the pools at the eastern end of the reserve, a pair of “Scaly-sided Mergansers“.

MEGA “Scaly-sided Merganser”

Now, this has saved me from a trip to Wuyuan. There is a stake out at Kengkou village and its been famous for the Scaly-sided Merganser. I usually like the way how Chinese folks organize the stake outs, they are well organized and well maintained but there are few tainted ones. The one in Wuyuan, where the hides are placed along the shores of the river and someone go upstream and drive a motorboat thereby pushing the mergansers downstream and towards the hide. That’s not my cup of tea and i never wanted to do that.

Common Cranes which usually seen in good no’s were not seen inside the reserve but we found a massive flock in air north of the reserve. Also, few Eurasian Spoonbills were seen but no Black-faced.

Cormorant Flock

Common Cranes (Up Close)

Distant Crane Flock

Territorial Long-tailed Shrike

Turf war

Buff-bellied Pipit

The next day morning, we started north of the Village, mainly of paddy fields and patches of reeds bordering the reserve. Farmers were in constant vigil to keep the waterfowl away from the fields as they have sowed the fields recently, the farmers were bursting crackers regularly. But, we struck luck with a scarce bird for the region “Common Starlings”. This had been a good winter for the Common Starlings as they were the commonest of the Starlings which outnumbered the White-Cheeked Starlings and Crested Myna,


Mixed Flock of Common Starling and Northern Lapwing

Also, it has been a good winter for the Northern Lapwings, there were good no of them in Chongming Island as well.

Northern Lapwing Flock

Last but not least, the most prized catch of Yancheng is the “Oriental Storks“. We observed 35+ storks on the south of Xinyang village in one of the old shallow aquaculture farm.

Oriental Stork

One of the 4 Black-winged Kites

Reed Parrotbills showed up extremely well

Oriental Stork in flight

Bit of fun with our gang.

L to R : Bingjie, Roger, me and Chia

Dinner Time

Trapped in the hotel

Species List :

Common name Scientific name
Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae) – 13 / 173
Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Gadwall Anas strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Baikal Teal Anas formosa
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Smew Mergellus albellus
Common Merganser Mergus merganser
Scaly-sided Merganser – EN Mergus squamatus
Pheasants and allies (Phasianidae) – 1 / 182
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Grebes (Podicipedidae) – 2 / 23
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Storks (Ciconiidae) – 1 / 19
Oriental Stork – EN Ciconia boyciana
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae) – 1 / 36
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae) – 7 / 72
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae) – 1 / 41
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Kites, Hawks and Eagles (Accipitridae) – 3 / 256
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
Black-eared Kite Milvus lineatus
Rails, Crakes and Coots (Rallidae) – 2 / 151
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Cranes (Gruidae) – 3 / 15
Red-crowned Crane – EN Grus japonensis
Common Crane Grus grus
Hooded Crane – VU Grus monacha
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae) – 1 / 10
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
Plovers (Charadriidae) – 1 / 67
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae) – 4 / 96
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Gulls, Terns and Skimmers (Laridae) – 2 / 102
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Vega Gull Larus vegae
Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae) – 3 / 335
Rock Dove Columba livia
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae) – 1 / 93
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Hoopoes (Upupidae) – 1 / 4
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Woodpeckers (Picidae) – 3 / 234
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae) – 1 / 67
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Shrikes (Laniidae) – 2 / 33
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Chinese Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus
Crows, Jays (Corvidae) – 2 / 131
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae) – 1 / 61
Japanese Tit Parus minor
Penduline Tits (Remizidae) – 1 / 11
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus
Larks (Alaudidae) – 1 / 97
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae) – 1 / 151
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
Leaf Warblers and allies (Phylloscopidae) – 1 / 77
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus
Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae) – 1 / 158
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae) – 1 / 70
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei
Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae) – 3 / 123
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus
White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Thrushes (Turdidae) – 3 / 166
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (320) (Muscicapidae) – 1 / 320
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae) – 1 / 51
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae) – 3 / 65
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens
Finches (Fringillidae) – 3 / 219
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica
Buntings, New World Sparrows and allies (Emberizidae) – 5 / 176
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala
Pallas’s Reed Bunting Emberiza pallasi
Species: 82