Chinese Egret, Dapeng Bay, May 1st

Chinese Egret and waders, Dapeng Bay, May 1st.

Chinese Egret and waders, Dapeng Bay, May 1st.

Highlights (wader counts are approximate):

  • Chinese Egret 5
  • Osprey 1
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper 120
  • Terek Sandpiper 10
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 5
  • Curlew Sandpiper 30
  • Grey-tailed Tattler 40
  • Whimbrel 12
  • Long-toed Stint 1
  • Red-necked Stint 15
  • Greater Sandplover 5
  • Mongolian Plover 60
  • Grey Plover 1
  • Pacific Golden Plover 80
  • Kentish Plover 10
  • Common Greenshank 10
  • Common Redshank 15
  • Black-winged Stilt 50

A fairly short morning visit to the usual wader pools, in somewhat gloomy weather conditions with occasional outbreaks of light drizzle. A grand total of five Chinese Egrets stole the show today, several of them showing very well at close range. They are beautiful birds, and seemingly regular (even common!) at this site on migration.

An Osprey was also present which spent most of its time loafing on the mud, but occasionally attempted an (unsuccessful) fishing foray into the bay.

Wader-wise, it was another big day for variety, with seventeen species noted. Broad-billed Sandpiper was the most numerous wader today, with around 120 counted; this species is listed as “uncommon” in Brazil’s Birds of East Asia, but they seem easy to find, even numerous, in suitable habitat on the west coast of Taiwan in late April and early May.

An ID challenge was presented by an intriguing stint that was consorting with the main Broad-billed Sandpiper flock. Unlike all the Red-necked Stints seen today – and indeed, almost all the Red-necked Stints I’ve seen over the last few weeks – this one was still completely in its grey non-breeding plumage. It always stayed with the Broad-billed Sandpipers, never venturing to join the Red-necked Stint flock feeding nearby. To my eyes, it appeared a little shorter-bodied and less elongated than Red-necked Stint. I suspected it was a Little Stint, but as this bird was still in full winter plumage it was impossible to reliably distinguish it from Red-necked Stint. So it will have to stay off the list, unless of course it stays for a while and moults into breeding plumage, in which case ID will be rather more straightforward.

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Great Knot and Savanna Nightjar, Dapeng Bay and Donggang area, April 27th

Highlights (with approximate counts for some species):

Dapeng Bay:

  • Great Knot 8
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper 30
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 30
  • Terek Sandpiper 8
  • Grey-tailed Tattler 1
  • Long-toed Stint 2
  • Red-necked Stint
  • Wood Sandpiper 1
  • Common Sandpiper 1
  • Marsh Sandpiper
  • Common Greenshank
  • Common Redshank
  • Whimbrel 1
  • Dunlin 2
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Pacific Golden Plover
  • Grey Plover
  • Mongolian Plover
  • Kentish Plover
  • Little Ringed Plover
  • Greater Crested Tern 72
  • Whiskered Tern 1
  • Little Tern 5
  • Yellow Bittern 1
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail 2

Donggang Bridge:

  • Savanna Nightjar 1
  • Grey-tailed Tattler 1
  • Little Ringed Plover 2

The mudflats and pools at the north-eastern corner of Dapeng Bay are currently a fantastic area to observe a wide range of wader species, with easy viewing from the cycle road, reasonable range, and excellent light in the morning. During a two-hour visit this morning, I observed no fewer than 18 wader species at this one spot, with three additional species elsewhere in the area.

Today’s highlight was a small party of 8 Great Knot, several of which were in full summer plumage. This is a distinctive, attractive and uncommon speciality of East Asia, which I have previously seen on only a few occasions in Korea and Thailand. Nearby, a lone Whimbrel was also a Taiwan and a year tick. It was a pleasure to watch groups of breeding-plumaged Broad-billed, Sharp-tailed and Terek Sandpipers, Red-necked Stints and Ruddy Turnstones, all at close range, pausing here before resuming their northward migrations to Siberia.

Terns were also in evidence today, with a single Whiskered Tern accompanying 5 Little Terns around the pools. Behind them, in the bay, a distant wooden raft had large numbers of Greater Crested Terns congregating around it. I found a closer viewpoint, and counted 72 …. but no sign of the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern among them. This would probably be an excellent time to see the latter species as it heads to its only known breeding grounds on the Matsu islands.

Heading home, I took a quick look at the marshland around the river under the big bridge at Donggang. Not much around except a single Grey-tailed Tattler and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers. However, at the eastern end of the bridge, I happened to stop in the small village to make a phone call, and to my great surprise saw a Savanna Nightjar flying around in broad daylight. This was a most unexpected way to make up for my failure to find one at Wutai last week.