SE China Spring Migration Special

Saturday 4th May – Sunday 12th May 2019

Siberian Thrush - SE China 2015The south-east coast of China is one of the hottest Spring migration destinations anywhere in Asia. Every year this eastern birding mecca plays host to a mouth-watering selection of Siberian vagrants and in the right conditions can produce spectacular falls of migrants. The coast just north of Shanghai has a surprisingly good selection of habitats ranging from coastal marshes, reedbeds, lagoons, scrub, arable fields and pockets of woodland that can entice wave upon wave of tired migrants to linger. Quite often they are exhausted and birds that are extremely shy on their breeding grounds are remarkably tame here and allow unparalleled opportunities to study them up close and personal! 
We will begin by visiting what has been called the best site in the world for seeing Spoon-billed Sandpipers. This is their last staging post before leaving for their breeding grounds in eastern Russia and we have a chance of seeing one in its breeding finery if we are lucky. A multitude of other migrant waders should also be seen, such as flocks of Great Knots, Red-necked Stints, Little Curlew and hopefully a rare Asian Dowitcher or Nordmann's Greenshank. The coastal wetlands hold Black-faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret and Saunder's Gulls patrol the area, whilst Chinese endemics Reed Parrotbill and Marsh Grassbird nest in the reedbeds. 

We have timed our visit when Spring migration will be in full flow and we should see a good selection of 'eastern vagrants' as we explore the varied habitats. On previous visits we've been totally amazed at the number of birds moving through Temple Wood and Magic Wood and it's been hard to know where to look fIrst. All those near-mythical Siberian rarities we can only dream about seeing in the UK and Europe are possible such as Siberian Blue Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Pechora Pipit, Thick-billed, Lanceolated, Two-barred Greenish and Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers, Siberian, White's and Dusky Thrushes, and Black-faced and Pallas's Reed Buntings amongst many others.

If you have ever dreamed of cleaning up on those eastern rarities that occasionally straggle to our shores, then this is the chance.


  • Chinese Egret
  • Black-faced Spoonbill
  • Amur Falcon
  • Yellow-legged Buttonquail
  • Baillon's Crake
  • Great Knot
  • Little Curlew
  • Swinhoe's Snipe
  • Far Eastern Curlew
  • Grey-tailed Tattler
  • Long-toed Stint
  • Red-necked Stint
  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper
  • Nordmann's Greenshank
  • Asiatic Dowitcher
  • Saunder's Gull
  • Northern Boobook
  • Oriental Cuckoo
  • Blyth's Pipit
  • Pechora Pipit
  • Chinese Grosbeak
  • Rufous-tailed Robin
  • Siberian Blue Robin
  • Siberian Rubythroat
  • White's Thrush
  • Siberian Thrush
  • Grey-sided Thrush
  • Grey-backed Thrush
  • Eye-browed Thrush
  • Pale Thrush                        
  • Brown-headed Thrush
  • Dusky Thrush
  • Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher
  • Asian Stubtail
  • Manchurian Bush Warbler
  • Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
  • Lanceolated Warbler
  • Marsh Grassbird
  • Thick-billed Warbler          
  • Eastern Crowned Warbler
  • Pale-legged Leaf-Warbler
  • Two-barred Warbler
  • Arctic Warbler
  • Pallas's Warbler
  • Radde's Warbler
  • Narcissus Flycatcher
  • Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
  • Mugimaki Flycatcher
  • Blue-and-white Flycatcher
  • Green-backed Flycatcher
  • Reed Parrotbill
  • Chinese Penduline-Tit
  • Asian Azure-winged Magpie
  • Chestnut-eared Bunting
  • Tristram's Bunting
  • Yellow-breasted Bunting
  • Pallas's Reed Bunting
  • Japanese Reed Bunting   
Narcissus Flycatcher, Magic Wood by Nick Bray
Whites Thrush by Nick Upton
Siberian Rubythroat, Magic Wood 2015 by Nick Bray
Blue-and-white Flycatcher - SE China 2015
Siberian Blue Robin, Nanhui 2015 by Nick Bray
Asian Stubtail, Temple Wood, SE China 2015 bby Nick Bray
Spoon-billed-Sandpiper-Rudong 2012
Birding at Nanhui by Nick Bray
Saunderss Gull at Dongtai, 2015 by Nick Bray
Red-necked Stint at Yangkou, 2015 by Nick Bray
Even More Shorebirds at Yangkou, 2015 by Nick Bray
Blyths Pipit
Magic Wood, 2015 by Nick Bray
Lanceolated Warbler
Eastern crowned Warbler, Rudong 2015 by Nick Bray
Pale-legged Leaf-Warbler, magic Wood by Nick Bray
Tristrams Bunting, temple Wood 2015 by Nick Bray
Marsh Grassbird by Nick Bray
Northern Boobook by Nick Upton
Reed-Parrotbill-by Nick Bray
Day 1    Arrival in Shanghai - Nanhui   - 4th May
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
Transfer to the international airport for your onward journey home and the conclusion of a wonderful tour. 

Leaders:  Nick Bray and local guides.  

Ground Price:  £1950.00 

Airfare: £550.00 - £630.00 (Approx) - Shanghai/Shanghai

Single supplement: £195.00

Deposit: £350.00

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 5 and maximum 10 with 2 leaders.

Included in costAccommodation in twin rooms, all en-suite, all meals from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 9, all entrance fees, all transport throughout, and services of leaders and an English speaking guide. 

Not includedInternational airfare (Virgin Atlantic is the preferred carrier for this tour), visa fee, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation:  Comfortable hotels close to the birding sites. 

Tour Code:  Expect good food, decent hotels, and a mixture of weather. Above all, you need to expect the unexpected! We will be out in the field all day, so expect the days to be quite long. The weather is generally unsettled at this time of year, so expect some cooler weather and odd showers mixed in with periods of quite warm and sunny weather. Driving times are minimal and the birding sites at Nanhui and Rudong are under half an hour away from the hotels we stay in at each site.


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