Beidaihe birding advice for May photography trip

Received this email from a friend:

I have more or less decided to go to Beidaihe (for the first time) for the first two weeks of May this year and will probably be accompanied by three or four other people. The object of the trip is to photpgraph well as many bird species as possible. With that aim in mind, should I be thinking of splitting my time between Beidaihe and Happy Island? I have heard Happy Island is not what it used to be from a birding perspective. I intend to use Jean Wang for logistics but have not contacted her yet. Any advice you can give me (relating to all things Beidaihe)would be very much appreciated.

replied:

The whole coast isn't what it used to be!!
- lots of development, including industry shifted from Beijing and new port east of Happy Island.

Yet still myriad birds pass through, and need places to stop.

Yes, consider splitting time between Beidaihe and Happy Island.
At least when I was last there, Happy Island accomm a bit rough; yet stunning place for migrants, inc very tired ones.
Jean can advise.

At Beidaihe, can get car w drive throughout; best I think.
Then, can look around town; but also to other places for half day/day trips.

Some sort of protected area near Henghe Sandflats now, I think; maybe not ideal but something.

Yanghe may have lost some of the coastal plantation etc that could attract high densities of songbirds; if not, still well worth trying, and takes little time.

"new" site, to me, inland of Beidaihe. I went around 4 years ago. Flying Horse Lake. Big for the area, like a Mongolian wetland. I believe a superb place, deserves far more watching. Trouble for photos may be getting near to birds at water's edge: perhaps need to squelch thro soggy grass, v wet areas.

South of town, along coast, Qilihai - seven mile sea - is big tidal lagoon. Can try coastal side with plantation, good for songbirds etc. West shore can be approached via fishponds; can be many shorebirds, esp eastern curlew.
- as head here, can look for big open grassy areas, if still around; try for little whimbrel etc.
Might head down this way, see what you think; easy enough to return if you like it.

Luanhe Mouth is a small delta; I used to go at times years ago. Supposedly went downhill, but I've been recently, and still good area, with shorebirds etc along river mouth mudflats; and small shelterbelt of trees that can hold many songbirds.
Access via hamlet called Nine Rooms; Jean may know of it.
Big open grassy areas to south [near an army base! - along excellent fairly new road]; I've only checked v little as pretty "new" to me, but should be good for little whimbrel etc.

Old Peak, north of town, just might be worth a try for breeding forest birds. Many elusive, tho Chinese Nuthatches can be among "tame" ones.

Jean recently emailed re going to another site north of town, maybe bit of distance; birds inc ibisbill.

So despite all developments, still "new" places to find and many birds to see and photograph.

- been maybe 20 years that I've been hearing doom n gloom re Beidaihe birding, yet still continues. Which isn't to say the problems aren't severe, esp at huge mudflats near Tianjin: if you've chance, maybe put in a word on behalf of these areas and the birds.

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