Tristram’s Bunting, Donggang, May 6th

Today dawned cool, drizzly and misty – ideal conditions for seeing migrant birds on the coast – so off I went to try and find a suitable location for grounded migrants at Donggang.

The place I particularly had in mind was a mile-long stretch of the seawall, just south of Donggang town and west of the big Dapeng Bay bridge. An extensive overgrown cemetery, patches of trees and a scattering of ponds here offer plenty of cover for tired birds.

It turned out to be a morning of quality over quantity. I hit the jackpot with a splendid male Tristram’s Bunting, which showed very well along the roadside and among the overgrown gravestones of the cemetery. Tristram’s Bunting is a perfect “birder’s bird” – an enigmatic, unobtrusive East Asian speciality, but easy to identify, and stunning-looking with its richly toned colors and black-and-white striped head. I’ve seen them on a number of occasions in Korea, but it’s not a bird I had given any thought to seeing in Taiwan as they are such rare visitors here.

An hour later, and half a mile further east, I had another sighting of a male Tristram’s Bunting along the roadside. Given its rarity, I can only assume that it was the same bird that had moved along the coast.

Not a lot else in this area except for unusually good views of a migrant Oriental Reed Warbler, and a scattering of Brown Shrikes.

Nearby, in Dapeng Bay, still one Chinese Egret on the mudflats. Also here, an Oriental Pratincole (my first record for this site), a much-reduced scattering of passage waders (“only” 13 wader species today), and 68 Greater Crested Terns counted on and around the fishing platform in the bay.

Tristram’s Bunting is my 222nd Taiwanese bird species, and my 187th for this year.

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