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China SE NEW! Cranes & Southeast

A 15-day, small group birdwatching tour to China

New for 2021, Limosa’s birding tour to southeast China begins amidst a landscape of flat, open paddyfields, coastal mudflats and wetlands that are a winter home to up to 6 species of cranes. Two incredible reserves at Yancheng and Poyang Lake offer some of the best winter birding imaginable, notably including Siberian and Red-crowned Cranes amidst thousands of feeding birds. A ride on the awesome ‘Bullet Train’ then carries us inland of Shanghai in search of the endangered Scaly-sided Merganser, Elliot’s Pheasant and the amazing Cabot’s Tragopan - not to mention a bevy of brilliant scimitar babblers, bulbuls and buntings - amid forested valleys and mountains that have been dubbed the ‘most beautiful countryside in China’. Join us for some cracking winter birding and the excitement of our all new birdwatching tour to China!

Tour Dates



Brian Small
local guides

Max Group Size: 10
Duration: 15 Days

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Cost: £5195

inc return flights London Heathrow-Shanghai, nonstop with British Airways

Deposit: £700

Single Supp: £495
Land Only: £4695

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The amazing Cabot’s Tragopan is one of several phenomenal pheasants to look forward to on this fabulous tour! © Tang Jun

China is a very large country that is only just beginning to open up to visiting birdwatchers. This exciting new tour to southeast China in winter is designed to complement our May visit to Sichuan - yet in many ways it is the exact opposite, for we begin our journey here in January, amid a landscape of low-lying coastal paddyfields, mudflats and wetlands that are home to up to 6 species of wintering cranes - including Siberian and Red-crowned. We’ll visit two superb reserves at Yancheng and Poyang Lake to enjoy some of the best winter birding in all Asia, and hurtle inland from Shanghai to Nanchang on the awesome ‘Bullet Train’ to explore the beautiful valleys of Wuyuan for the endangered Scaly-sided Merganser. Last but by no means least, we head to the mountains and hill forests of Emei Feng and Fuzhou in search of some phenomenal pheasants and a hatful of wonderful passerines.  

After flying into Shanghai, and in a tour of two halves, we’ll spend our first seven days sifting through the teeming hordes of wildfowl, cranes and shorebirds that winter on the magnificent mudflats and wetlands of southeast China. Our birding begins along the coast to the north of Shanghai itself, at Dongtai and Yancheng, before following the broad valley of Yangtze inland to Nanchang and Poyang Lake - China’s biggest freshwater lake. Our primary focus will be to search of some of the world’s most endangered waterbirds - most notably cranes, of which we hope to see up to six species: Siberian, Hooded, Red-crowned, Common, White-naped and Sandhill. Wildfowl are thrilling too, with Baikal Teal, Falcated Duck and perhaps even Baer’s Pochard to look for, along with Tundra and Middendorff’s Taiga Bean Geese, Swan Goose and Russian White-fronted Goose. The likes of Oriental Stork and the delightful Saunders’s Gull add to the heady mix, while at Yancheng we will work to make sure we do not miss the endemic Reed Parrotbill as well as checking bunting flocks and small woodlands for thrushes.

The ‘second half’ of our tour starts at Wuyuan, a region that’s been described as the ‘most beautiful countryside in China’. Although here we have moved away from the wetlands, we still target a duck: the greatly endangered and little-known Scaly-sided Merganser that overwinters on rivers close to town. But there are also many forest birds that include localised specialities such as the dapper Pied Falconet, Moustached Laughingthrush, Short-tailed Parrotbill, Huet’s Fulvetta and Fork-tailed Sunbird, plus a host of more widespread Chinese excitements.

By way of a mouthwatering finale, we move to the mountains, hills and forest patches of Emei Feng and Fuzhou National Forest Park (the latter only 10 km from the coast) for yet more stunning regional birds. Two phenomenal pheasants top the bill: Cabot’s Tragopan and Elliot’s Pheasant. Either would be reason enough to book for this fantastic tour, but added to these beauties we might also be lucky to find Koklass and Silver Pheasants, White-necklaced (Rickett’s) and Chinese Bamboo Partridges, Pale-headed and Bay Woodpeckers, Black, Chestnut and Mountain Bulbuls, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Masked and Buffy Laughingthrushes, Spotted Elachura and the endemic Grey-sided Scimitar-Babbler… Is your mouth watering yet?

Well, there’s more! At all of the locations we visit there will also be the chance of finding some truly exciting wintering passerines. None better perhaps than Asia’s spectacular winter thrushes. White's, Siberian, Grey-backed, Eyebrowed and Dusky Thrushes are all possible here, along with a fine ‘supporting cast’ that includes Red-flanked Bluetail, Buff-bellied (japonicus) and (blakistoni) Water Pipits, and Tristram's, Rustic and Yellow-browed Buntings.

As a journey, our January visit to southeast China promises to be a wonderful trip, both in terms of the amazing variety of winter birds to be seen and the fascinating places and landscapes we will travel through - even at high speed on the world’s fastest train! Led by Limosa guide Brian Small and an expert English-speaking Chinese bird tour guide, our winter birding tour to China is an experience that’s simply too good to miss.

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Red-crowned Cranes in the early morning mist at Yancheng © Tang Jun

Our detailed Tour Itinerary for SE China (15 days) is currently being finalised and will be posted here soon!

If you would like to receive our SE China Tour Info Pack as soon as it's ready, just give our friendly office a call - or click here and ping us a quick email!

Please note BOOKING IS NOW OPEN for this tour. ONLY 2 SPACES LEFT!

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The endemic Reed Parrotbill is another key species to look for... looking like a Bearded Tit on steroids! © Tang Jun

What To Expect

A 15-day, small group winter birdwatching tour to the provinces of Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Fujian in southeast China, beginning in the megalopolis of Shanghai. We head north into Jiangsu to bird along the coast at Dongtai and Yancheng, then return to Shanghai and take the ‘Bullet Train’ west to Nanchang, in Jiangxi Province. The immense freshwater lake of Poyang is our focus for two days, before we enjoy a complete change of scenery and head first east to Wuyuan - the ‘most beautiful countryside in China’ - and finally south into Fujian Province where we visit Emei Feng mountain and Fuzhou’s forested hills.

We do not reach any great altitude on this tour – perhaps 1500m (5000ft) will be the highest point on Emei Feng.

In mid-January, the sunrises in Shanghai just before 7.00am, and sets again a little after 5.00pm.

Early morning is by far the most productive time for bird activity – especially for the pheasants - so we anticipate making early starts most days, leaving the hotel on some days before it gets light.

Your guides will be on hand to advise you locally about the day's events. If you wish to opt out of a particular activity or birdwalk, please don’t be afraid to ask them.

This is a winter tour, so expect the weather to be cold. Generally temperatures will vary, ranging from 2-10°C, but at Fuzhou in the south it can reach up to 20°C. At many places near the coast and at Poyang, where the landscape is very open, it can be windy at times. Expect both sunny and rainy days at this time of year, with the possibility of some early morning mist and fog near the coast.


230-250 species


13 nights hotel accommodation in China


All main meals are included in the tour price (and with bottled drinking water also provided), commencing with lunch following our arrival in China on Day 2 and concluding with breakfast at Shanghai Airport on Day 15.

Chinese cuisine is tasty, widely appreciated and usually plentiful. The Chinese way of eating is to share a selection of dishes. Few restaurants are likely to provide knives and forks; chopsticks are the norm so if you are unused to using these you may wish to bring your own knife, fork and spoon.


Return flights from London Heathrow to Shanghai, non-stop with British Airways.

Our tour price also includes the domestic flight from Fuzhou to Shanghai on Day 14.

Ground Transport  By small coach with local driver. On Day 6, we will travel inland on the high-speed ‘bullet train’ from Shanghai to Nanchang.

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