Heavy rain in June has meant misery for many in the Chinese Provinces that border the Yangtze River. But our tickets were booked and paid for, so, with the usual optimism of birders, last week we flew from Shenzhen to Jingdezhen for three full days of birding in Jiangxi Province.
Apart from ourselves, there was Roger Muscroft and Tim and Thelma Woodward. Tim is the author of the excellent "Birding South-East China" and -naturally- had been to Wuyuan before. Tim's "South China Birder" website is here: -http://www.southchinabirder.com/
The main target bird was the Critically Endangered Blue-crowned (or Courtois's) Laughingthrush.
Wuyuan was seventy kilometers eastwards from Jingdezhen along a splendid new highway. We could see that a lot of the low-lying field and roads were flooded. We arrived in the dark.
The county town turned out to be something of a bustling - albeit wet - metropolis. But next morning, once we left Wuyuan Town, things got more rustic in the countryside. People were busy planting - or re-planting after the flooding- rice in the fields.
Grey-headed Lapwings were seen regularly, often, as here, with young at the edges of rice paddies.
The traditional style of house in the area is quite attractive.
Red-rumped Swallows were nesting in the villages, and circling everywhere when the rain eased off.
Wuyuan County is famous for the tea grown there.
At Wuyuan, Blue-crowned Laughingthrushes are known to nest in a wood between a tea plantation and the river. The water was too high to cross into the wood itself, but the Laughingthrushes obliged, coming down to the waters' edge opposite to forage for nesting material among the flotsam.
An Ashy Drongo - race leucogenis - sallied from a bare perch. These are really "Ashy", unlike some of the other forms of this species in south and southeast asia.
We saw Crested Kingfishers in several places, including these juveniles. One juvenile permitted a closer approach.
On to Xiaoqi, in picturesque hills further to the northeast, where we were treated to views of Pied Falconets from the roof of the guesthouse. The falconets use the bare branches of huge Camphor trees as lookout points.
These fierce little raptors subsisted mainly on dragonflies, but, with young to feed, we saw the female take a Great Tit. After stripping the feathers off, the carcass was carried to the falconet nest hole.
There was attractive scenery continuing further up the valley, closer to the provincial border with Zhejiang. In fact the whole area is marketed to domestic Chinese tourists as a "Scenic Area". It is popular, but not yet too over-visited.
At the end of a road seemingly built just so that tourists like us could admire the view, we found a pair of obliging Meadow Buntings.
And that was about it. Despite the wet weather, a lot of birding was packed into our visit. Our total was about seventy species.
On Sunday morning we returned to Hong Kong and I had a knot tied in my sodden handkerchief to remind me to "Bird Eastern China More Often" !