On migration: a Siberian Rubythroat on Happy Island

RubinkehlchenHappy Island is considered to be (one of) the best location to watch the East Asian migration. This turned out to be already on the first – very successful – photo morning of my stay on a late autumn day on Happy Island. Wow, a real hotspot for migratory bird observation on China’s south-east coast. I got up at 5:45 am. I grabbed not only the photo equipment, but the tripod and spotting scope as well. First, I scanned the beach along the wadden sea of the Yellow Sea. There were already the Curlews (Numenius arquata), which I had seen in the last evening light yesterday. Then a lonely standing Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) and also a few ducks could be seen. Beautiful light. Light clouds were in the sky, the sun struggles through the dense haze that hangs over the horizon. A dream! Very soon, I realized a decent migration movement of Swallows. As far as I could see, all birds were Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica). I walk along a dyke-like embankment along the beach. The beach became noticeably narrower. Suddenly 2 Skylarks on (Alauda arvensis) departed in front of my feet. In addition, I saw a small group of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba); in total I count 8 individuals. When I turn around, I realize one of the top guys, which is very high on my wish list. It is a male Siberian Rubythroat (Calliope calliope), which sits very quiet in the morning light on a thorn bush. He has certainly just arrived at the last night and still quite tired from the flight. Therefore, it can be photographed him perfectly. A picture like in a book!

At an abandoned pavilion then I see a flock of beautiful Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops). One Hoopoe remains on the pavilion quietly until I had approached him on 20 meters. Magnificent. The pavilion I have to climb. The view is worth even the partly cracked thermo-pants. But the view here is fantastic. Again and again Eurasian Hoopoes pass by. Eventually I counted 10 individuals.

I was happy to experience a trip to Happy Island at the end of October. A 10-day trip in 2007. One of the top attractions on Happy Island is the Cranes. You can see at least a total of 4 species very well. In the trip in 2007, these were, above all, our “normal” Cranes, Grus grus, then White-naped Crane (Grus vipio), Red-crowned Crane (Grus japonensis), and eventually even a single Sandhill (Canada) Crane (Grus Canadensis). For the last species this was only the third time ever that there has been an observation on Happy Island. Also Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), Hooded Crane (Grus monacha) and Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo) have allegedly already been proven. Hope that this is true for the future, too. During my visit in 2007, extensive construction work was in progress to make the island more interesting for “normal” day trippers and to improve touristic infrastructure. Ditches and canals were dug to pedal with small boats. But, the ongoing construction work had some good advantages, too. The excavated material was used to provide quite a high hill of sand piling up in the middle of the island. This turned out to be an ideal vantage point to watch the migration of the mornings. Passing birds on eye-level (sometimes 10 meters) were a perfect experience. The derelict (but cheap) beach huts were demolished in the following year to my visit without temporary replacement. The future will show whether Happy Island can continue to be China´s Helgoland China – perhaps with better accommodation!

A nice selection of bird images of that trip can be seen in the gallery. In a different gallery you also find some images of the landscape of that nice island at China´s south-east coast.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic, Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places like China to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. This nice image is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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