Birding in Wuerqihan Part 2

The visit this time to Wuerqihan, Inner Mongolia in November yielded as much surprise as last winter if not better! At -32c last year, we missed the grouses but apparently this is the best time to see the grouses plus the owl I missed last year- Ural Owl.

The dark was setting in when we had just seen a raccoon dog! Still thrilled with the raccoon or dog lifer, our car stumbled upon a rock that was in the middle of the road. A close look- Ural owl – one i had missed last winter, so it’s a thrill to see it at close distance too!

Ural owl on the road

Ural owl on the road

Of course the usual owls were there too- Great Grey and Hawk Owl. 😛

Hawk owl is very common in Wuerqihan

Hawk owl is very common in Wuerqihan

greatgrey

Great grey owl wasn’t fussed about us

And of course, the grouses and the rare Black-billed capercaillie were seen this time. Hazel grouses were plentiful- male looked especially stunning with red eyelids. When winds picked up, it was a funny sight to see the Black grouse swaying on the thin stems of the trees!

black billed capercaillie is a MUST SEE in Wuerqihan

black billed capercaillie is a MUST SEE in Wuerqihan

Hazel grouse wears furry boots all year round.

Hazel grouses wears furry boots all year round.

Black grouse on a tree!

Black grouse on a tree!

Other birds seen included the Black woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Siberian Jay, Nuthatch, Willow tit, Azure tit, and also loads of ravens, crows, and long-tailed tits! At -10c, and not too windy, the weather was gd for the 3.5 days birding. But as the snow hasn’t filled the holes on the road, the car ride was slow and bumpy! Nonetheless, I hope to visit this magical forest again in Spring, hopefully see a lynx and some more rare birds. 🙂

willow tit in Inner Mongolia

willow tit in Inner Mongolia

lots of long-tailed tits here!

lots of long-tailed tits here!

And of course I have to post the raccoon dog! 🙂

Raccoon dog seen in the fields at Wuerqihan

Raccoon dog seen in the fields at Wuerqihan

Birding in Heilongjiang 帽儿山观鸟

Probably a bit loony to go birding on the coldest, iciest time in Heilongjiang, but hey, life’s about adventures, right?? 🙂 🙂

On the Christmas day of 2013, joined by 2 students from Harbin Forestry University, we took an early train to Mao Er Shan! A  pre-arranged taxi was already at the station waiting for us, and soon we were on our way to the Ringing station! It was a beautiful day, and as the car forged towards the famous mountain, we were captivated by the stunning views of the snowy landscape as it undulated before us!

Mao Er Shan, Heilongjiang

Mao Er Shan, Heilongjiang

With window screens rolled up, we couldn’t hear birds sing! But compensated by sharp-eyed birders in the car, I don’t think we missed any bird when driving along! As soon as we entered the road that leads to the ringing station, we saw some very interesting birds- Hazel Sandgrouse on a tree, Ural Owl on a lamp post, some Marsh Tits etc!

When food is hard to find in cold, icy weather, dumpster sites are favorite hangouts for residents! Eurasian nuthatches, Eurasian Jays, Marsh Tits were some of the birds that frequented the area!

Marsh Tit staying close to the dumpster site

Marsh Tit staying close to the dumpster site

Eurasian Nuthatch, a fast and furious bird!

Eurasian Nuthatch, a fast and furious bird!

Long Tailed Rosefnch and Eurasian Jay outside the ringing station!

Long Tailed Rosefnch and Eurasian Jay outside the ringing station!

As we walked along the road, we also had good views Japanese waxwings mixed with a few Bohemian Waxings, Pallas Rosefinches that flew by!

During winter, the ringing station is closed, but as “VIPs” we could still go in and warm ourselves from the cold brutal weather! 🙂 Having filled our hungry tummies with packed lunchbox (sandwiches actually, and we left 1 in the car! @_@), we decided to move on to the next location…Whilst waiting for our taxi (the same one, and our missing sandwich still there!), we saw a red colored little bird! A Long-tailed Rosefinch! “What a beautiful bird!!” we all exclaimed!

Japanese waxings and Marsh tits

Japanese waxings and Marsh tits

By the time we reach the next location, it was already 3pm, and the sun sets at 4!! >.< Luckily, we saw a White-backed Woodpecker busy pecking away! As the day darkens, and we were heading towards the train station, an Eurasian Eagle Owl was spotted standing on a lamp post!! I couldn’t see the bird as I was blocked in the car…but luckily, it flew to another post, and I finally saw it! 🙂 Better than nothing!! 🙂

Other birds seen when driving along included the Rough-legged Buzzard, Meadow Buntings, and Bull-finches! And with no signs of human trekking on deep snow, animal and bird imprints were seen…a marvelous sight indeed! What’s a better way to spend Christmas? hehe!

Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Bullfinch!

Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Bullfinch!

Animal footprints- a Hare?

Animal footprints- a Hare?