Dongtai is not exactly a new kid in the block and its not an old willy fox like Yangkou. Yangkou is or was a major stop over for Shorebirds along the East Asian – Australian flyway but the situation changed vastly over the last few years. It was not only a place of importance for the birds but also a majority of birders from all over the world came to find the “Holy Grail”, the iconic “Spoon-billed Sandpiper”. I made my first visit to Yangkou back in 2011 and the last in 2016, my previous post on the fall of Yangkou can be read here. Dongtai is not a newly discovered place, its been brought into the spotlight only recently.  During my last two visits, the autumn trip in 2016 was very promising and the spring trip in 2017 was on the dull side. Although, we did not connect with specialties like the Spoon-billed Sandpiper or Nordmann’s Greenshank during 2016, we witnessed a good number of Shorebirds and 2018 turned an entirely new leaf and we had one of the best shorebirding trip of the decade. Yes, We did see Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank, in heaps.

Acknowledgement :

There is no coincidence, just like 2016, this year trip also with the good old friend, Roger Theo Timmermann who was in Shanghai for business. As usual, thanks to Lily Tang for all the ground work and also taking up the driving duty for the first time.

General information :

We got in and out of Dongtai through our own vehicle. The drive from Shanghai took 3 hours onward and 4 hours during the return journey. We stayed at the Green Tree Inn of Jianggang Town. They have a variety of rooms ranging from 150-250RMB, the standard room with twin beds cost 150RMB per night. The main street of the town is 1km south of the hotel which has plenty of stores and restaurants.

Dongtai Birding Spots :

Usually there will be a google maps embedded in the blog post before but google has complicated the use of the embedded maps with billing and lot more technical stuff which at the moment i cannot fathom. So, going forward there will be only GPS co-ordinates provided in the post.

Birding Day:

We arrived at Dongtai after an half hour delay due to the pouring rain enroute. The mudflats start at the popular tourist spot Tiaozini (条子泥). Just like any other tourist place in China, this also comes packing. Bit of cooler weather also made the outdoor loving people thronging the beach. We started at the northern end of Tiaozini, that’s were the shorebirds congregate during the high tide (atleast during the last two visits). To our surprise, the marshes were already  reclaimed and the mudflats were overgrown with grass. It wasn’t overall a wasted effort, we witnessed a big passerine push and the locust trees lining the sea wall was filled with birds. We picked up a fair share of Siberian Blue Robin, Blue and White Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a very confiding Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler.

Siberian Blue Robin at Dongtai

One of many Siberian Blue Robins

Probably a very tied Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler – It wasn’t Skulking

The charming Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Male)

We spent some time with the mixed flock of Terns which were actively feeding in an aquaculture farm and headed to the northern end of Tiaozini.

Black-headed Gull

Gull-billed Tern

Whiskered Tern with mouthful

The northern end which was productive during the last couple of outings have been reclaimed and the grass was extensive on the mudflats which didn’t bode well for the birds which usually come here during the high tide.

Tiaozini - Dongtai

Northern end of Tiaozini

Massive invasion of Shield Bugs – They were literally on every tree and plant

By the time we decided to return to the southern end of Tiaozini, the tide has already started to come in and we noticed big flocks of shorebirds flying inland. When we stopped at the first roosting spot, we already hit the jackpot. 9 Nordmann’s Greenshank were roosting well outside a massive flock of Knots were easy picking. Later, we noticed another 12 of them in a different flock.

Nordmann’s Greenshank aka Spotted Greenshank

Can count the no. of Nordmann’s?


Birds congregating during high tide

Whenever i go to the Jiangsu coast, my expectations were always on a low profile, I just go there to watch the shorebirds. Back in 2011, i had high expectations to see a Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the resulting failure led to a huge disappointment.  But this year was a total turn around, how many Spoonie’s did we see? Grab a beer or coffee, this is going to be a long story.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Dongtai, Jiangsu

Spoonie No.1

Spoonie No.2

Spoonie No.3 – Can you find it

Spoonie No.4&5 (To the left and Right of the Sand Plover)

Spoonie No.6

Spoonie No : 7&8

Spoonie No.9

Spoonie No.10

Spoonie No.11

Spoonie No.12 with an Yellow engraved Flag 53. Flagged in Dongtai in 2015

Spoonie No. 13&14

Spoonie No.15 with lime 43 flag. It was supposed to have a satellite transmitter but we dint notice it.

That provides a tally of the Spoon-billed Sandpipers we had in the trip. Some more photos below,

Multi-tasking : Birding and Walking Dog

Eurasian Curlews in flight

Black-tailed Gulls were numerous

Two Red-listed Birds : Saunder’s Gull in the back, Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the front. The tidal mudflats of East China sea is vital for these two species.

Bar-tailed Godwits in morning flight

Great Knots leaving the roosting ground

Grey Plover leaving roosting ground

Two of a Kind – Great Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit


one of the 12 Dollarbirds – ebird spit on my face “Too many no’s for this location”

Young Grey-headed Lapwing

Another tired traveller – Grey Nightjar

Pied Avocets were numerous as usual

White-winged Terns were in numerous no’s (Thousands)

Caspian Tern

Shorebird flock during high tide

Red-necked Phalarope – Another injured individual which has lost its leg

Finally, the mud monkeys after a successful holy grail quest.

Roger & myself

Species List :

Species Location Date
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Common/Green Pheasant Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Red Turtle Dove Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Spotted Dove Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Grey Nightjar Dongtai 2-Sep-18
Black-winged Stilt Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Pied Avocet Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Eurasian Oystercatcher Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Grey Plover Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Pacific Golden Plover Dongtai 2-Sep-18
Grey-headed Lapwing Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Lesser Sand Plover Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Greater Sand Plover Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Kentish Plover Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Whimbrel Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Far Eastern Curlew Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Eurasian Curlew Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Bar-tailed Godwit Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Ruddy Turnstone Dongtai 2-Sep-18
Great Knot Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Red Knot Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Broad-billed Sandpiper Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Red-necked Stint Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Dunlin Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Terek Sandpiper Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Red-necked Phalarope Dongtai 2-Sep-18
Common Sandpiper Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Spotted Redshank Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Common Greenshank Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Nordmann’s Greenshank Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Marsh Sandpiper Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Common Redshank Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Saunders’s Gull Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Black-headed Gull Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Black-tailed Gull Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Little Tern Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Gull-billed Tern Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Caspian Tern Dongtai 1-Sep-18
White-winged Tern Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Whiskered Tern Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Grey Heron Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Great Egret Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Intermediate Egret Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Little Egret Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Cattle Egret Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Black-crowned Night Heron Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Striated Heron Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Eurasian/African Hoopoe Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Oriental Dollarbird Dongtai 2-Sep-18
Common Kestrel Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Brown Shrike Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Black Drongo Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Hair-crested Drongo Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Dongtai 2-Sep-18
Pale Martin Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Barn Swallow Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Red-rumped Swallow Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Plain Prinia Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Dark-sided Flycatcher Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Asian Brown Flycatcher Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Siberian Blue Robin Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Siberian Rubythroat Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Blue Rock Thrush Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Chinese Blackbird Dongtai 1-Sep-18
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Dongtai 1-Sep-18
White Wagtail Dongtai 1-Sep-18