Trip report: Beidaihe, China custom tour (May 2013)

Guided by Charley Hesse

This short custom birding tour took in the ‘must see’ tourist highlights in Beijing of the Summer Palace, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square as well as an impromptu visit to the Temple of Heaven on our return. For birding, we concentrated our efforts on the famous migration hot-spots of Beidaihe and Happy Island, although we also had a very successful trip to the Jiaoshan Great Wall at Shanhaiguan which produced our 3 resident targets of Pere David’s Laughingthrush, Godelewski’s Bunting and White-browed Chinese Warbler. An added bonus of seeing the Jiaoshan Great Wall was that it was closed to the general public due to fire risk, but we obtained special permission to enter, meaning that we had the place all to ourselves. Our birding highlights of the trip were many, including Falcated Duck, Saunder’s Gull, Dollarbird, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, a surprise Chinese Nuthatch in Beidaihe, Claudia’s Leaf-Warbler, Yellow-throated & Yellow-browed Buntings. We also saw many common but beautiful migrants like Korean & Mugimaki Flycatchers, Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat and Siberian Blue Robin. Attractive residents like Blue Magpie and Yellow-bellied Tit did not go unnoticed either. The unexpected highlight though was an improvised day trip to the Qinglong River to see the Ibisbill and other interesting birds like Long-billed Plover, Hill Pigeon and Mandarin Duck.

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