Best two weeks for Beidaihe birding

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    Just sent this reply to birder who asked for my advice regarding best two weeks to visit Beidaihe (in autumn):

    During the year, best two weeks for species diversity is in May, around 4-18: hence several tours at this time (I helped start Sunbirder tours)

    Autumn is more protracted; but as you've seen in report, can be some impressive movements of raptors, cranes etc – mostly way bigger than spring, and can get falls and so forth.

    For autumn two weeks, I think October, maybe around second and third weeks: still decent diversity, with some chance of late birds such as cranes.

    When migration is slack [between cold fronts; helps to have better weather forecasts now, inc over internet], great if have a vehicle so can explore nearby places. Report mentions Qilihai – Seven Mile Sea, where there's decent chance of waterbirds, say. Well worth a night or two on Happy Island.

    In May last year, I went to Heavenly Horse Lake, or Pegasus Lake, maybe a couple of hours by road west of Beidaihe. Thought it a tremendous place; it was May, and only partial coverage but lots of Wood Sandpipers n so on, with Amur Falcons hovering over the grassy areas. This place deserves a whole lot more coverage; but I'm yet to see more records – was taken by a Beidaihe guy who likes taking bird shots, told us of seeing whooper swans etc there.

    Old Peak not so good in autumn, though I enjoyed a Nov day, which included several Pallas' Rosefinches.

    November can be fantastic, too. BUT low diversity; can be tough to see big "wave" of cranes etc – yet if you do, one of most memorable birding experiences you can have anywhere I believe. Some birdforum threads including posts on Nov sightings by rockfowl, aka Mark Andrews of Wildwings: he tried November once after I waxed lyrical about the cranes, Oriental storks and other birds at this time. He has been several times since.

    Timing harder now I think, as warming has tended to make crane waves later. But even some years ago, I co-led an Ornitholidays tour with cranes as focus; thought I had dates right, yet we didn't get big wave, just managed five species.

    – might be worth putting November into "maybe" pile, should you and friends enjoy a first trip. Get variety of species out of the way, then see about the spectacle, and megaticks.

    Also, Beijing worth a day or two. There's site to north for ibisbill, crested kingfisher, long-billed plover. This is at a river. Also Wild Duck Lake gets good birds, tho I've only made quick stop seeing little: maybe bit like Pegasus Lake.


      Hi Martin,
      Plan to be back in Beidaihe about that time (early May) for my second visit next year. First time was April 2010 and saw heaps including Steller’s Sea Eagle which was a huge buzz. Solitary Hooded Crane the only Crane that appeared but plenty of waders, ducks and oodles of passerines like Daurian Redstart etc. Be happy to connect with any first time visitors and as I have reasonable Mandarin may be of assistance with taxis etc.


      Steller's Sea Eagle – Wow!

      That's one I've dreamed of at Beidaihe; many hours watching the skies but not even a hint of one.

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