Day 1 Arrival in Shanghai - Nanhui - 4th May 2019/2nd May 2020
Following an overnight flight we will arrive in Shanghai (Pudong) Airport this morning and begin our exploration of this fascinating country by driving for around an hour to an area of marshes and reed beds, where we can search for the stunning endemic Reed Parrotbill. The parrotbill is usually rather inquisitive and very active as it flies over the reeds before perching on a tall stem to survey its territory. The other key species here is Marsh Grassbird (also known as Japanese Swamp Warbler), which usually betrays its presence by its diagnostic song flight where it rises high into the air before parachuting back into the reeds.
There are a number of other birds here and considering it is migration time, anything could possibly turn up. We may well see Eurasian Bitterns here, as well as migrating Japanese Sparrowhawks or Amur Falcons, Pacific Swifts, Chinese Penduline-Tit, the hulking Manchurian Bush-Warbler, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Narcissus Flycatcher, or even Pallas's Reed Bunting amongst many other possibilities. There's a great patch of trees and scrub around the local Convention Centre that has become something of a migrant hot-spot and this is the place to get some really close views of Siberian Blue Robin, Japanese and Chestnut-flanked White-eyes, Chinese Grosbeak or an Eastern Crowned Warbler. After an action-packed first day we will retire to a decent hotel for some much-needed rest and a good meal. Night in Nanhui.
Day 2 Shanghai - Rudong
We can spend the whole morning checking out various migration hot-spots as we work our way along the coast and this is a particularly good area for waders with species such as Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Long-toed and Red-necked Stint, Oriental Pratincole and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper all distinctly possible. Our previous visits have turned up Little Curlew, Citrine Wagtail, Narcissus, Mugimaki and Asian Brown Flycatchers, Red-throated and Pechora Pipits, Grey-crowned, Pale-legged and Eastern Crowned Warblers, as well as some stunning Chinese Grosbeaks. After lunch we will drive for a few hours to Xiao Yang Kou, or more simply known as Rudong. Night in Rudong.
Days 3 - 7 Rudong - Yangkou
From our conveniently situated hotel we will make day excursions to a variety of migrtion hot-spots, all within an easy drive of our base. Where we go will depend on the prevailent weather conditions but we'll work each area and will undoubtedly turn up plenty of great birds. This is the single best site in the whole of China, and arguably the most accessible reliable site in the world for Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one of the world’s rarest and most enigmatic waders. We have timed our visit to give us a chance of seeing these exceedingly rare birds in their splendid brick-red breeding finery just before they depart for their breeding grounds in north-east Russia – something that very few western birders have had the privilege to witness. It will take some finding in this vast area, especially considering that tens of thousands of shorebirds pass through here each spring, so we'll need a good slice of luck as well!
Indeed, it is realistic to expect to see over thirty species of wader here in a day! Amongst a superb selection of other shorebirds we can find such sought-after species as Lesser and Greater Sandplovers, Far Eastern Curlew, Pacific Golden Plover, Great Knot, Kentish Plover, Broad-billed, Sharp-tailed and Terek Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Red-necked and Temminck’s Stints and Grey-tailed Tattler. There are also good opportunities to find the highly-prized Asiatic Dowitcher and Nordmann’s Greenshank amongst huge flocks of more familiar waders. The recently discovered White-faced (or Swinhoe's) Plover and Black-faced Spoonbill are also a distinct possibility here. Further searching of the mudflats should reveal Gull-billed Tern and if we are lucky, a fine Saunder’s Gull.
At this time of year migration will be well underway and this opens up a whole new realm of possibilities to add to the resident population. The nearby Magic Forest is a local migrant trap where many surprises can turn up and we could find Grey-streaked, Dark-sided, Yellow-rumped, Mugimaki and Taiga Flycatchers, Forest Wagtail, Brown Shrike, Siberian Rubythroat, Siberian Blue and Rufous-tailed Robins, White-throated Rock-Thrush, Siberian, Eye-browed, Pale and Grey-sided Thrushes, Forest Wagtail, Olive-backed and Pechora Pipits, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Dusky, Arctic, Pale-legged and Claudia's Warblers and Chestnut, Chestnut-eared and Elegant Buntings. Other species we may encounter in the general area include Falcated Duck, Yellow Bittern, Intermediate Egret, Pied Harrier, Grey-headed Lapwing, Oriental Turtle-Dove, Black-capped Kingfisher, Lesser Coucal, Pacific Swift, Chinese Grosbeak, Ashy Minivet, Chinese Blackbird, Asian Azure-winged Magpie, Japanese White-eye, Yellow-browed, Meadow and Black-faced Buntings and Crested Myna. Nights in Rudong.
Day 8 Rudong - Nanhui - Shanghai
We can spend the morning around the estuary and woodland looking for recently arrived migrants and new birds will almost certainly delay our departure! We could well find Lesser Cuckoo, Amur Paradise-Flycatcher, Radde's and Two-barred Warblers, Daurian Starling, Tristram's, and Chestnut, Little and Meadow Buntings. Sometimes Radde's and Dusky Warblers can be extremely numerous and you can find them on any patch of wasteground, no matter how small. During our last visit we managed to find a beautiful Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher, both Blue-and-white and Elisae's Flycatchers, Lanceolated Warbler and Japanese Grosbeak. We will then make one last visit to the Nanhui area to see if we can find anything new. Slightly later migrants can include Pallas's Grasshopper and Lanceolated Warblers, whilst there's always the possibility of something mega turning up such as a Schrenck's Bittern, Fairy Pitta, Japanese Robin, Japanese Thrush, Sakhalin and Kamchatka Leaf-Warblers, Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler, Manchurian Reed Warbler or even something rarer!
Day 9 End of Tour - 12th May 2019/10th May 2020
Transfer to the international airport for your onward journey home and the conclusion of a wonderful tour.