Friday, 13 September 2013

Going, going, Rudong

After a weeks ‘lock in’ at Chongming Dongtan, the design work to create a series of lagoons, reedbed and saltmarsh was nearing completion. The final task was to present the plan to an assorted group of Shanghai officials, reserve directors and academics from the local Fudan University. Two hours ecological quizzing by the professors was somewhat challenging but seemed to go okay and then off to lunch with our very hospitable hosts. The custom appeared to be for each person considered to be a host to individually drink a toast to each guest with rice wine. There were a lot of hosts. Refills and toasters kept coming. Then the food, a lovely mix of local dishes; fish, shrimp, shellfish, succulent pork, duck and ‘poison fish’ soup. I like this sort of trip.

With the job done, a bit of free time was in order and we were soon off on the 2-hour trip up the coast to the fishing port of Rudong. But not before we had a bit of feedback on a colour-ringed Black-faced Spoonbill I had photographed on the reserve a couple of days before. It was a second year bird, ringed as a nestling in Korea in July 2012. It wintered at Mai Po reserve in Hong Kong until May 2013 before turning up at Chongming Dongtan. On arrival at Rudong, we were pointed by local birders towards an area of coastal scrub good for migrants. An old man was selling incense from a small brick building on the edge of the area. We saw a few Siberian Thrushes, Pale-legged Warbler, Asian Brown and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Richard’s and Red-throated Pipits headed south calling.

Then off to the mudflats and a walk out amongst the giant wind turbines, shellfish gatherers and assorted vehicles. Lots of Great Knot, sandplovers, stints, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, a few Nordmann’s Greenshank and then a small feeding flock of the target bird; Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Little is known about the feeding requirements of Spoonies on migration but Rudong is clearly an important site. Up to 50 birds had been counted here in the last week and every one we saw was in wing moult. By now the local press were aware of our presence and were hot-footing it across the mud. Close behind them were representatives from the local authority with an invitation to lunch; an opportunity to press home some points on shorebird conservation. A major area of the Rudong mudflats is destined to become a port in the near future. Presumably the area amongst the turbines will stay, but still raked daily by hundreds of fishermen, pulling out ragworms and shellfish. The high tide approached, the sea rushed in and the waders poured over the sea wall to roost on recently reclaimed land; soon to be built on. As we returned for lunch, we passed the area of scrub. Half had been freshly bulldozed, as had the building the old man had been selling incense from. Just a pile a bricks remained. Such is the speed of development here.

Pics: above - Spoony, Black-faced Spoonbill and Rudong mudflats.
Below - Great Knot, Marsh Sand and 2 hours trading left.

1 comment:

Imperfect and Tense said...

Seen through the coarse filter of western media, China often seems to be ecologically bi-polar. Grand green schemes or huge habitat-crushing projects, with the bewildered wildlife somewhere in between.

It's scary to know that it's much the same from a small scale perspective on the ground in-country.

I'm heartened by the fact that they seek the sage counsel of cuisine experts like your good self.