China: Eastern Highlights

Shortened tour to see the most spectacular birds between Shanghai and Beijing. After looking for Reed Parrotbill and Spoon-billed Sandpiper in coastal areas which are also funnelling peak migration at this time of year, we head inland where the endemic Cabot's Tragopan, Elliot's Pheasant, and the beautiful Critically Endangered Blue-crowned Laughingthrush are highlights amongst a number of other breeding specialties like Grey-sided Scimitar-Babbler and Short-tailed Parrotbill. Further north, we'll visit the best site for the exquisite Reeves's Pheasant and rebounding Crested Ibis, before doing some birding near Beijing where Brown Eared Pheasant, the Critically Endangered Baer's Pochard, and several breeding specialties like Zappey's Flycatcher and Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch can be found.

Next dates

13-25 May 2024

Tour length: 13 days

Group size limit: 6


Joshua Bergmark and a local leader

Guaranteed departure

1-13 May 2025

Tour length: 13 days

Group size limit: 7


Dani Lopez-Velasco and a local leader

Spaces available

Only one space remaining on the 2024 tour!

Day 1: Arrivals into Shanghai International Airport (PVG). Night in Shanghai. It is important to note that this tour includes all hotel transfers and domestic flights from PVG to PEK (two of the three largest international airports in China), so participants will not need to navigate these somewhat confusing cities themselves.

Day 2: Our birding will begin this morning on the coast, searching for Reed Parrotbill and Marsh Grassbird at Nanhui. After driving north to Rudong, we’ll have a quick lunch and go straight to the mudflats! On an incoming side, we will be searching in particular for Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank, and Saunder’s Gull amongst the throngs of birds in stunning summer plumage. Some nearby scrub acts as a migrant trap, which we will check for buntings, starlings, warblers and flycatchers, right in the peak of migration up the coast of China. Night at Dongtai.

Day 3: Morning birding at Rudong in search of migrants in the coastal bushes. After lunch depart for Shanghai Airport, to connect with an evening flight to Fuzhou, where we will overnight near the airport.

Day 4: Departing early, we plan to search for the globally scarce Blyth’s Kingfisher along a river where this species has been regularly recorded in recent years. We will reach our lodgings at Emeifang this afternoon in time for some initial exploration of the area.

Days 5-6: Two full days inside Emeifang NNR to locate the main prizes of this beautiful, isolated mountain range. Our main target will be the stunning Cabot’s Tragopan, often seen on the road in the early mornings. Other species endemic to south-east China’s mountain ranges include Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, White-necklaced Partridge, Huet’s Fulvetta, and hopefully Elliot’s Pheasan. Further possibilities include Moustached Laughingthrush, Buffy Laughingthrush, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Sulphur-breasted, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, White-spectacled, Alstrom’s and Buff-throated Warblers, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Green and Blyth’s Shrike Babblers, Brown Bush Warbler, Spotted Elachura and Chestnut Bulbul. Night at Emeifang.

Day 7: After a final morning of birding, we will drive north to Wuyuan, arriving in time to pay a visit to a breeding colony of Blue-crowned Laughingthrush. This beautiful Critically Endangered species will certainly put on a show at one of their colonial nesting trees, which is overlooked by a photography blind!

Day 8: This morning we will visit the surrounding countryside in search of Short-tailed Parrotbill, Pied Falconet, Masked Laughingthrush, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Rufous-faced Warbler, Red-billed Starling and even the spectacular Mandarin Duck which has a healthy population along the riversides. Once done, we’ll take a long drive north to Dongzhai. Night outside Dongzhai NNR.

Day 9: Dongzhai holds the largest population of the increasingly rare Reeves’s Pheasant, but it can still be difficult to find. Other species here include a reintroduced population of the rebounding Crested Ibis, Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, the threatened Collared Crow, and even Fairy Pitta with some luck. Night outside Dongzhai NNR.

Day 10: Returning to Wuhan for a flight or bullet train north to Taiyuan today, we’ll reach a monastery where Brown Eared Pheasant are often in view for some initial birding. The surrouinding scrub is good for Beijing Babbler, Silver-throated Bushtit, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Plain Laughingthrush, and Long-tailed Rosefinch. Night in Jiaocheng.

Day 11: Full morning at the monastery searching for Brown Eared Pheasants, before driving east to Hengshui Lake. Night near Hengshui.

Day 12: Hengshui Lake is now well known as one of the very few known breeding sites for the Critically Endangered Baer’s Pochard. We have a small chance of finding an early Schrenck’s Bittern, while other possibilities include Blunt-winged Warbler. In the late morning we will drive north to Lingshan, arriving in time for some afternoon birding. We will focus on finding three major specialties of the region: Grey-sided Thrush, Green-backed Flycatcher and Zappey’s Flycatcher. Night at Lingshan.

Day 13: We will spend a full morning on the upper slopes of Lingshan, primarily in search of Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch, before driving to Beijing International Airport (PEK), where the main tour ends this evening. NOTE: We will also be running a one night pre-tour extension for Silver Oriole, and possibly a Jankowski’s Bunting / Red-crowned Crane post-tour extension (pending numbers).

Tour details

$ 5,000
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 400

It is important to note that this tour includes all hotel transfers and domestic flights from PVG to PEK (two of the three largest international airports in China), so participants will not need to navigate these somewhat confusing cities themselves.

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels throughout, but note several days of long drives ranging from 2-7 hours.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy roadside birding and short forest trails.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.