Saturday, 17 March 2012

That Spoon, That Spoon, That Spoonbill

Today's heading is adapted from the Willie Dixon penned Blues 'Spoonful', probably most famously recorded by Howlin' Wolf with Cream (and others) also offering decent renditions!

Not realising for a moment that my encounter with Vicky Cheng was going to be so prolonged, I am now firmly ensconced in the

feeling more like a 'local' than a transient migrant. Once again she had her sister's car and as we left the car park we were both amused

by this motif on the filler cap of a nearby car. Mentioning my surprise at the length of time she was devoting to me her reply was that she would be 'birding' anyway and nice to have the company. The feeling was certainly mutual then she went on to intrigue me further by adding that there was hope of a very special bird that I had mentioned in conversation, and as far as going out together was concerned I hadn't seen anything yet.

We once again had to cross the labyrinth of paddy fields, and in so doing came across COMMON SANDPIPER and


Once again we were being dogged by distance and the rain, but through the telescope we had great views of 6 KENTISH PLOVER.

Eventually we crossed a small river, which a fisherman was crossing on his improvised punt, reaching what must amount to thousands of acres of Fish Farms. I have never seen so many Herons and Egret congregated in one area and it was a great joy to be able to get amongst them on tarmacked roads. It was a toss-up for most numerous species between Grey Heron and

LITTLE EGRET both numbering 'hundreds'

but the Egret probably pipped it by a dozen or so?

INTERMEDIATE EGRET was also well represented

but likely outnumbered 10 to 1 by their larger cousins


The reader may well have noticed that there was no shortage of food here as well? That was due to this large man-made lake having recently been drain of nearly all of its water. As a catchment being prepared for cleaning, there were still a substantial number of fish still swimming free - but not for much longer! This was good bird watching, but hang on a second - what's that over there?

Since my aborted attempt on BLACK-FACED SPOONBILL on the Nakdong River Estuary in South Korea I had not given another thought to the species. Vicky had obviously picked up on this during our conversations and was now really coming up trumps. Described by Brazil in his volume The Birds of East Asia as 'rare', he also says that in March 2008 there were just 2,065 known individuals in the world.

He continues, that while rare numbers are slowly increasing

and 50% are known to over-winter in Taiwan.

At that moment I was no further than 300 yards from 14 of them,

what a bonus this lady had provided!

Vicky told me, as I was getting over the shock, that she was wondering how long it would take for me to spot these scarce birds among this mass of white and similar looking birds, but I was able to reciprocate in very quick time. There on the mud and unfortunately about the most distant bird, was a Gull of sorts and on closer inspection was seen to be an

adult summer plumage Saunders's Gull.

There was however something a little strange as it kept raising its head skywards, seeming to have bitten off more than it could chew?

In addition to whatever it was (likely a piece of fish), it was certainly of interest to a number of the Herons which from time to time would flush the Gull at their approach.

This was a great advantage as we were afforded some very good flight views as well as

and take-offs.

Totally unexpected, this was a first sighting for Vicky and probably as good and prolonged view that I have ever had. How nice then to return a favour by finding a 'Lifer' on your host's patch?


  1. I hope your Hotel is better than the name suggests Paul.{:)

  2. Well Roy it has turned a little FUKUN HOT around here but nice to get a bit of good weather at long last. All the Best. Bagsy