An afternoon stroll around Tianamen square and the Forbidden city gave us our first Large billed crows, Amur falcon and the leucopsis race of White wagtail.
On 10th we spent the day in the mountains at Bai He (white) river. Unfortunately our target bird, Ibisbill, was nowhere to be seen due to the shingle islands they breed on being dredged out to tidy the river up. The place was teeming with other birds though - Hill pigeon, Daurian redstarts, Oriental honey buzzards, Godlewski's bunting, Little bunting, Radde's warblers, Dusky warblers, Siberian stonechats, Oriental greenfinch, Mandarin duck, Japanese tit, Songar tit, Vinous throated parrotbills, Meadow buntings, Elegant bunting, Silver throated tits and Oriental turtle doves were seen and we saw our other target birds here - Chinese hill warbler, Russet sparrow and Crested kingfisher.
We woke to rain on 11th, which was ok, as we spent most of it on our bus on the 4 hour journey to Beidaihe. After sorting our rooms out, we headed to the Hotel friendship grounds for the first of many visits. Good numbers of Dusky and Radde's warblers were moving through along with good numbers of Yellow browed warbler, Pallas warbler, Two barred greenish warbler, Arctic warbler, Brown shrike, Grey streaked flycatcher and we added Red billed blue magpie, Korean flycatcher, Mugimaki flycatcher, Dusky thrush, Rufous tailed robin and Grey faced woodpecker to the list.
We had a pre-breakfast walk to Lighthouse point on 12th and amongst the numerous migrant Warblers and Flycatchers were Red rumped swallows, Black tailed gulls, Vega gulls, Rufous bellied woodpecker and Yellow bellied tits. We saw our first Hume's leaf warbler and a Hobby was hunting tired migrants coming in off the sea. One, a Yellow browed warbler, managed to evade the Falcon and flew through the group making it's escape! We then visited Dong shan hotel grounds, our first Pale legged leaf warbler was there, along with stunning males of both Siberian blue robin, Siberian rubythroat, Dusky thrush, Olive backed pipits, Mugimaki flycatcher, Korean flycatcher and Little buntings. Back at our own (jin shan) hotel grounds we had a very obliging White's thrush, Amur falcon, Oriental turtle dove, Red rumped swallows, Black faced buntings and Pacific swifts.
On the way back we checked a tidal area known as The sandflats and saw Terek sandpipers, Marsh sandpipers, Sharp tailed sandpipers, Red necked stints , Lesser sand plover, Citrine wagtail and various forms of Yellow wagtails. A wetland called the Reservoir gave us Chinese pond heron, Grey headed lapwing, Chinese penduline tits and breeding Spot billed duck and Swan goose.
On 13th, our pre-breakfast walk brought more migrants, with many warblers, Flycatchers, Brown shrikes, Siberian stonechats, White's thrush and Crested mynah. Eyebrowed thrush, Grey sided thrush and Forest wagtail were new for the trip. We then walked part of the Great wall and got our target bird there - Pere david's laughing thrush.
The afternoon was spent at Stony river, loads of commoner waders such as Redshank, Greenshank, Green sandpipers and Wood sandpipers were present along with Long toed stints, Grey tailed tattler and Pacific golden plover. Lots of migrant warblers were moving through the pines, including a confiding Eastern crowned leaf warbler. Citrine wagtail, Japanese quail, Chestnut eared bunting, Brambling, Bluethroat and White throated rock thrush were also found.
On the way back we twitched a Chinese egret that had been found by another group.
The 14th was spent looking around various hotel grounds for migrants and amongst the numerous Warblers, Robins, Flycatchers, Thrushes and Buntings we added Black browed reed warbler, Red flanked bluetail, Black naped oriole, Black drongo, Chinese thrush, Schrencks bittern and Yellow browed bunting to the list. Another White's thrush showed well but briefly and a Falcated duck was on the Sandflats on the way back along with 2 Pacific swift, 3 male Siberian rubythroat, 5 male Siberian blue robin and 3 Rufous tailed robin.
On 15th we saw our first Siberian thrush in the hotel grounds along with breeding Hobby and Hoopoe. New in were 5 Common rosefinch, 5 Eyebrowed thrush and Pale legged leaf warbler. We then took the 5 hour journey to Jin shan. We visited Big wood with it's large colony of various Herons and Egrets and found a Black winged cuckoo shrike amongst the many Warblers there. We also saw a male Red flanked bluetail, 7 Eyebrowed thrush, Grey sided thrush, White throated rock thrush and Chestnut buntings there. Jin shan lagoons was teeming with waders including Curlew sandpipers, Spotted redshanks, Greater sandplovers, Grey plovers, Kentish plovers and Gull billed terns. New additions were Far eastern curlew and Great knot, whilst Asian short toed larks and Zitting cisticolas sang and a Pallas grasshopper warbler gave brief flight views.
The 16th found us on Happy island, lots of migrant activity in the temple woods there gave us good numbers of the usual things, plus Ashy minivets and Japanese grosbeak. Common terns (longipennis). Little terns, Avocets and Pacific golden plovers were on a sandbank and elsewhere on the island we saw Spot billed ducks, Brown shrikes of the grey headed form Lucionensis, 6 species of Leaf warbler and a constant overhead passage of Black crowned night herons, Chinese pond herons and Eastern cattle egrets. Several Cuckoo's were seen but not put down to species as they need to be seen and heard for confirmation, we did hear Indian, Oriental and Common Cuckoos calling but not seeing them as well as hearing them was a little frustrating! On the mudflats were Saunders gulls and flyover Pied harrier. There were 12 Richards pipit and a flock of Yellow breasted bunting on the golf course and an Oriental honey buzzard gave close views as it circled over the wood. We went to Magic wood after leaving the island an found several birds trapped in a mist net. Most were dead but we released the live ones and tore the net up. The only new species there was a Thick billed warbler.
The 17th was another day on Happy island. New migrants were in abundance - Lanceolated warblers, Large billed leaf warblers, Tristrams buntings, White throated needletail and Dark sided flycatcher were all new in the temple wood. A flock of Chestnut flanked white eyes followed us around and Siberian blue and Rufous tailed robins were numerous. Siberian and Eye browed thrushes were feeding in a ditch and there was a good passage of Pacific swifts and Red rumped swallows, along with many more Herons going over. On the coastline we found Yellow breasted buntings, Eastern marsh harriers and 7 Asian dowitchers were in with the Bar tailed godwits and Far eastern curlews.
On the 18th we had a last look around Big wood. New birds in were Grey nightjar, Blue and white flycatcher and a stunning Tiger shrike. Magic wood held 2 Lanceolated warbler and Red throated pipit, along with the usual Leaf warblers. We stopped at the Luan He estuary on the way back north. Good numbers of waders here, Lesser sand plovers, Terek sandpipers, Red necked stints, Broad billed sandpipers, Sharp tailed sandpipers, Avocets, Common sandpipers, Wood sandpipers, Black tailed gulls, Little egrets, Great white egrets and the white headed "sakhalina" race of Dunlin. 2 Mongolian gulls were loafing with the Gull billed and Caspian terns.
The 19th found us back at the friendship hotel grounds where 2 Lanceolated warblers, Japanese waxwing, Japanese quail, Common swifts (pekinensis) and a nice find by yours truly, a Lesser coucal. The stony river area was great once more, with Rosy pipt, Pale thrush, Yellow legged buttonquail, Baillons crake and Oriental reed warbler being new for the trip list. Other sightings were Thick billed warblers, Chestnut eared bunting, Many Dusky warblers along with the usual leaf warblers, Black browed reed warbler, Black winged stilts, Whimbrel, White cheeked starlings and a very confiding male Siberian rubythroat along with many waders.
Migrants were getting thin on the ground on 20th but we managed Yellow bittern, Pallas reed bunting, White throated rock thrush and Pallas grasshopper warbler in a wetland area where we also saw Kingfisher, Black naped orioles, Vinous throated parrotbills, Little grebe, breeding Amur falcons, Asian brown flycaycher and Purple heron.
Our last day, the 22nd, was spent at Old peak. The dawn chorus was fabulous with 4 species of Flycatcher, 6 leaf warblers, Daurian redstarts, Siberian stonechats, Siberian blue robins, Grey sided thrushes, Chinese nuthatches, Cuckoos and Tits all in song and Amur falcons displaying overhead. Our last new birds were Northern hawk cuckoo, Grey faced buzzard and i finally caught up with Chinese flycatcher. The list was 225 species and i saw 112 new birds.