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A Report from

China  September 16 - October 4, 2003,

Rob Drummond

I have just returned from three weeks in China as part of a school trip so basically I was acting as a sheep dog for 57 teenagers and most birdwatching was incidental. We visited the usual places although we did spend 10 days at Gaoyou which is located on the Grand Canal, c160 km north of Nanjing and is certainly a place off the tourist path and I suspect not a place that has been visited by too many overseas birders. Several of my records from there were of species whose distributions, according to the field guide, stopped at the Yangtze.

September 16: Shanghai
Gardens at the front of the Garden Hotel

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Light-vented Bulbul - common, many birds with plain heads (juvs?)
White Wagtail - several on lawns
Asian Brown Flycatcher - 1
Dark-sided Flycatcher - several. Both flycatcher species must have been passing through on migration as when I visited the park about 10 days later there were none present.
Oriental Turtle-dove - 2
Spotted Dove - 2
Great Tit - 2
Hwamei - one in garden beds

September 18 - 28: Gaoyou,
a provincial city located about 180 km north of Nanjing. The Grand canal runs along the western side of the city and Gaoyou Lake (sixth largest in China) lies next to the Grand Canal.

Crested Myna - common around the school
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - abundant at school
White Wagtail - very common all areas
Black-billed Magpie
Brown Shrike
- usually up to 6 in the school grounds and scattered around the lake.
Long-tailed Shrike - common, regularly perched on power lines
Spotted Dove - common
Red-rumped Swallow - common around the town and canal
Chinese Pond heron - Very common around the lake
Yellow Wagtail - one at school and several in drying ponds around the lake.
Light-vented Bulbul - common where there were larger trees
Great Tit - common and vocal.
White-cheeked Starling - small groups 4-10 around school and lake
Hoopoe - very approachable
White-rumped Munia - flocks at Wenyou Terrace and in some reed beds at the lake. Further north than the fieldguide suggests.
Yellow-billed Grosbeak - flocks of female/juv types which were hard to identify as bills were ‘grotty’. Id based on one male with partial cap and extensive white areas in primaries. Both at Wenyou Terrace and the lake.
Eurasian Blackbird - common around the lake in plantation areas. Appeared slightly larger, duller and with a lighter coloured bill than the race we have here. Call less fluid but still recognisable as a Blackbird.
Common Kingfisher - common wherever suitable habitat
Little Grebe - several on fish ponds and swamps around lake
Barn Swallow - common at lake
White-breasted Waterhen - 3 seen in reed beds along fish ponds
Wood Sandpiper - odd birds
Black-crowned Night heron - mainly juvs.
Striated Heron - common around lake
Azure-winged Magpie - flocks in plantations along levee banks
Black Drongo - 2 pairs hawking insects along lake shore
Masked Laughing Thrush - party of six in thick vine tangles that grew on the levee banks
Vinous-throated Parrotbill - party of 14 in reedbeds. Very active but quite confiding
Richards Pipit - one on the school oval
Yellow-breasted Bunting - 1 female in an overgrown building site at school
Yellow Bittern - 3 flushed around lake and fish ponds
Pheasant-tailed Jacana - 4, fish ponds and swampy areas along lake
Common Moorhen - 2
Oriental Reed Warbler - Several in reed beds and overgrown areas around ponds
Red-throated Flycatcher - One minus red throat in poplar plantation along levee bank.
Long-billed Plover - 2 on shoreline of lake, another two in a drying fish pond
Common Sandpiper - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1 in willows along lake
Black-naped Oriole - 1 female with a flock of Azure-winged Magpies along lake
Little Egret - common in shallow open water
Common Snipe - flushed several snipe. Only ones identifies were this species.
Mugimaki Flycatcher - 1 male in poplar plantation along levee bank
Hwamei - Common in thick vine scrub along levee.
Great Egret - 1
Intermediate Egret - 1
Cattle Egret - very common
Grey-capped Greenfinch - 2 along lake
Olive-backed Pipit - stunning pipit. Flushed from secondary growth around fish ponds.
Common Pheasant - 2, 2, and 4 flushed along levee bank
Asian Brown Flycatcher - same patch of growth as the pipit
Also flushed unidentified small owl, Accipiter, small rusty brown crake and coucal.

September 24 - Buddhist Temple, Yangzhou

Tree Sparrow
Light-vented Bulbul
Long-tailed Shrike
Spotted Dove
Azure-winged magpie
White-rumped Munia
- feeding young in nest
Common Kingfisher
Long-tailed Tit

September 25 - 27 Yellow Mountain area, Annhui Province

White Wagtail
Long-tailed Shrike

Black-throated Tit - flock in conifers at hotel at the base of the mountain
Japanese Silvereye - flock at hotel
Oriental Turtle-dove
Grey Wagtail - one along stream at the base of the cable car (hot springs)
Red-billed Leiothrix - several in thick deciduous scrub/forest on the mountain
Japanese Robins.(Juv or female?) Two birds that were hopping around quietly on the forest floor giving constant quiet contact calls similar to a WB Scrub-wren. Totally oblivious to the thousands of people filing past. Often too close for binoculars but very dark and shaded.
Asian House Martin - common around all buildings on the mountain
Great Tit
Fork-tailed Swift
- a flock of c10 at the top of the chairlift
Dusky Warbler - 2 in undergrowth on mountain
Blue & White Flycatcher - 1 imm male
Plumbeous Water Redstart - several along the stream at the base of the cable car
Grey Treepie - Pair observed flying over the canopy from one of the lookouts
Oriental Honey Buzzard - 8 soaring on a thermal above the peaks
Little Egret - common along the Xi’nan River in Huangshan City
Common Kingfisher
Long-billed Plover - common along the shingle beds in the Xi’nan River
Wood Sandpiper - 2 Xi’nan River
Green Sanpiper - 4 Xi’nan River
Common Snipe - common along the Xi’nan River

September 30 Beijing - Forbidden City, Behai Park

Black-billed Magpie
Large-billed Crow
Azure-winged magpie
Tree Sparrow
Barn Swallow
Pallas's Leaf Warbler
- 2 in conifers at Behai Park
Yellow-browed warbler - several at Behai Park
Red-billed Blue Magpie

October 2, Beijing - Temple of Heaven

Tree Sparrow - super abundant
Black-billed Magpie
Azure-winged Magpie
Large-billed Crow

Yellow-bellied Tit - one party of c6 birds
Grey-headed Woodpecker - 4
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 6, often on ground
Grey-capped Greenfinch - 4
Hoopoe -2
Red-rumped swallow
Spotted Dove

October 3, Great Wall - Badalang
Managed to get away from the grand final like crowd on the wall and wonder along a path on the side away from the camel rides and stalls. Quite a few calls but the steep terrain, thick growth and a disinclination to be found by one of the numerous guards wondering away from the tracks meant a lot of them went unidentified.

Black-billed Magpie - very common
Azure-winged Magpie - very common
Large-billed Crow - 2
Great Tit
Marsh Tit
- in a mixed flock with Great Tits
Godlewski’s Bunting - once I had identified the origin of the persistent ‘tsst’ they were quite common on one section of the hillside but spent most of their time underneath the bushes.
Yellow-browed Warbler - 2
Olive-backed Pipit - 2


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