Ginny (Ying Chi) Chan reports – observations from 5 April 2017:
Every spring we literally ‘follow’ the satellite-tracked birds by visiting their staging sites. At every site we sample their food and observe their foraging behavior. We hope to understand how they are using these places and we document potential threats to the birds – and their food. In this field expedition we collect valuable data for the PhD projects of Hebo Peng and me. It is the third year we conduct this expedition, and we were excited to visit and re-visit staging sites of our birds!
This year our first stop was the Leizhou Peninsula in the tropics of the southern Chinese Sea. Hebo and I met up with two enthusiastic volunteers, Ping and Yueheng, and we are ready to brave the mud!
On our first day we arrived slightly early, and the tide was still high and mudflats were not yet exposed. We had to wait for at least an hour. Meanwhile, Zhang Ping, our volunteer from Sichuan Province in the inland of China, was very excited, because it is the first time he saw the sea! However, he was not impressed by the amount of rubbish in the dunes and beach.
We did manage to find good flocks of Great Knots and Red Knots on the mudflats. After 3 days, we finished our survey with good amount of foraging bird videos and benthic samples. We also found a horseshoe crab, which is heavily poached and endangered. A peregrine falcon was circling around a stretch of the mudflat which might explain why it was empty of birds when we were there.
Time to go to the next site! However it was the last day of the Qingming festival and not easy to travel anywhere. All bus stations were packed with people, hired cars were already filled up with customers, and there are no trains in this region. Well, we did managed…