A 3 to 4 hour drive from Beijing gets to Nanpu (南堡), Hebei region- a vast area with mudflats, sea and some fields allowing birds of all shapes and sizes muster in this area for a rest before moving on.
We pedalled to the metal to get to the ponds and sea wall in early dawn hoping to see as much as we can and we’re not disappointed! Waders were all close- sharp-tailed sandpipers, plovers, relict gulls, black-tailed gulls, little terns, whimbrels, sandpipers, stints, etc., just to name a few! Bird photographers will be pleased with the proximity of birds. 🙂
It was brilliant to see so many waders but even more exciting to see a lifer- Reed Parrotbill! They were not hard to see as they come in small flocks and they are residents there!
We looked into every pond and corner possible and arrived on an off-trail, close to the sea. The wind picked up and clouds gathered into odd shapes but we thought nothing of it; mesmerised by the sudden fallout from the sky! Just along this path, we saw- wryneck, brown shrikes, bluethroats, yellow-browed buntings! As we drove along, birds seemed reluctant to fly elsewhere, but to move further up the trail. It was an odd behaviour and very soon we knew why!
As we nimble along the trail- sea is on the right and ponds on the left…we were hit by a hailstones! With no trees anywhere in sight, our car took shelter next to a small shrub. The 30 minute hailstone fallout felt like forever! I was worried if the windscreens would crack or the car would be blown into the pond or sea, as the car shook vigorously during the storm. Here’s the video.
It was 4pm but it felt like late evening. We had no idea where we were and to add to the drama, we were low on fuel.. When winds died down a little we drove through the flooded trail with caution. With our car headlights on, we could see waders took shelter on this trail too. We came to a dead end and decided to U-turn and take the route where we came in! By then it was raining cats and dogs, also raining down plovers, stints, curlews, on to the trail!
By the time we arrived back at the start of the trail, the rain had stopped and out came the sun! With much delight, we not only saw a Japanese Quail, but also a double rainbow- how cool is that? 🙂 Every cloud has a silver lining. With houses in sight, I know I am back to civilisation.