Southwest Yunnan birding inc Gaoligongshan and Hornbill Valley: Page 4 of 6

Yingjiang Sand Dredging Area

Especially for a trip in Yunnan, which has outstanding scenery, a trip to a sand dredging area might not sound too promising. But Hofai told us this place in Yingjiang - Bountiful River - county was good for birds including Small Pratincoles. Sure enough, we found the pratincoles; including parties resting on sand and gravel areas by the river.

Hofai had also mentioned River Terns; and there were several of these too - some of them mobbing us as though they had nests close by.

To me, Red-wattled Lapwings were a bonus.

So too Spur-winged Plovers.

There were wagtails, too, including Citrine - which are here commoner than Yellow Wagtails (unlike, say, Hong Kong - where it's tough to find Citrine). Other birds included a couple of Ruddy Shelduck and at least three Burmese Spot-billed Ducks.

To me, recalled gravel pits in the UK, which became perhaps unlikely birding hotspots, especially for Little Ringed Plovers that took to them as breeding sites. But here, so much more exciting birding than a regular gravel pit outing!

By the time we were set to leave, the sun was almost setting. Small Pratincoles flew overhead in a succession of flocks; I thought they must be going to roost, but at least a couple of hundred or so were over the grassy banks, whirling rapidly to chase after small insects - mosquitoes and maybe more - that emerged towards dusk. Far faster than regular pratincoles; like busy swallows.

Martin Williams