22 Jun 2011

Wuyuan County, Jiangxi - 16th to 18th June 2011

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.

Dryonastes courtoisi

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.

Vanellus cinereus

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.

Cecropsis daurica

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.

Dryonastes courtoisi

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.

Dicrurus leucophaeus

We saw Crested Kingfishers in several places, including these juveniles. One  juvenile permitted a closer approach.

Megaceryle lugubris

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. 

Microhierax melanoleucus

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.

Microhierax melanoleucus

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.

Emberiza cioides

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" !


  1. Looks wet! Better enjoyed via the interweb than in the flesh perhaps? Great pics as usual!

  2. Sounds like you had a great trip John, and the laughingthrush is a real cracker! The photo looking down the misty valley is quite moving and is how I like to think of how China looks, rather than the polluted cities we are so familiar with.

  3. Dave: - Better enjoyed "in the flesh" of course ! (Like your pelagics, there is no substitute for being there...)

    Jeremy: - Glad you like the scenery shots - I always think it's fun to put the birds into context where possible. Although I might be accused of "padding out" the post a bit


  4. Hi John.. I love the falconet images.. and that Laughingthrush is a stonker! I need to see if I can extend my stay in China! Cheers, T

  5. Wow, looks like another great trip. I'd love to see that Falconet. The non bird shots are very evocative BTW.

  6. Yet another travel log pulling me towards China.
    Any future trips in the planning?

  7. @Terry - Yes, a year in China isn't long enough, speak to your boss !

    @Stu - Thanks -the word the non-bird shots evoke in MY mind is "wet" !

    @Peter - "Planning" ? You must have mistaken me for someone who is organised !