October “bird fest” at Miyun Reservoir, Beijing

The weather in Beijing is Schizophrenic- one day its smoggy and the next- blue skies! *Roll Eyes* Well, no bad weather can put me down- spent a smoggy noon at a pottery workshop, which was a lot of fun! But on a clear day, nothing beats birding!  Standing on a hill, we had great views of the birds coming in all directions, as well as the wind! Brrr….!!!

Miyun reservoir

Me in shadow!

As always, the early bird gets the worm! Ducks including Baikal Teals, Chinese Spot-Billed etc., floated in the reservoir, while Black-Headed Gulls, Mongolian Gulls along with a Whiskered Tern and some waders- Golden Plovers, Black-Tailed Godwits and Spotted Redshanks, to name a few,  roosted on the other side of the bank. There’s also Bean Geese, Swan Geese (lifer for me) and a Beijing 3rd record-Great White Pelican!

A symphony of Baikal teals

A symphony of Baikal teals

It was a busy birding morning- our eyes rolled in all directions making sure no birds were missed! Birds of prey of all sorts- Hen Harrier, Hobby, Japanese Sparrow hawk, Kestrel, Saker, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzards performed their morning hunting rituals and some swept past us like the wind! But one bird did a graceful,  180 degree panoramic flyby- the Great Bittern! It was an unforgettable sight!

Great bittern over Miyun, Beijing

Great bittern over Miyun, Beijing

By the end of the day, I think we had recorded over 70 species! It definitely felt like a “bird fest” in October at Miyun Reservoir! A truly hidden treasure in China!

 

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Birding at Laotieshan, Liaoning province- raptor watch

Laotieshan, located at the southernmost tip of Liaoning is probably the best place to watch raptors migrate in vast numbers in autumn in China! Waking up at 5am everyday and being at the same spot counting the number of birds till noon was no easy task unless you’re a hardcore birder! I was just there to take pictures, soak up the environment and watch the avid birders do the tough work…lol! :P The weather hasn’t been brilliant during my stay there-but there was no stopping of raptors trying to cross the sea to Shandong! Of course, there were a few solo raptors who aborted their onward flight when fog hits bad while some gathered in groups to fly together!

In early hours, small birds would migrate first-groups of Pechora pipits were heard and seen, Daurian starlings, Asian brown flycatchers, Black-Naped orioles, Siberian stonechats and even Dollar birds! Then came the raptors- Japanese Sparrowhawks in huge numbers with an Eurasian Sparrowhawk amongst them, Amur Falcons, Kestrels, Oriental Honey Buzzards and Pied Harriers!

Amur falcons are common in autumn migration

Amur falcons are common in autumn migration

oriental honey buzzards in Laotieshan

oriental honey buzzards in Laotieshan

Japanese sparrowhawks are plentiful at Laotieshan

Japanese sparrowhawks are plentiful at Laotieshan

On a foggy day, Gulls, Shearwaters, etc, seemed to near the coastal shore as well, which was brilliant for seabirding! I love seabirds!

Mongolian gulls and Black-tailed gulls

Mongolian gulls and Black-tailed gulls

the art of seabirding!

the art of seabirding!

It’s been a fun few days- every morning, we wake up with anticipation and by the end of the day, we rewarded ourselves with ice-cream and coke (but no lunch..@_@)! Can we have lunch included in the itinerary next time please?? >.<

a break for an ice-cream and coke!

a break for an ice-cream and coke!

 

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Summer birding at Lingshan- Version with accomodation

Nothing is more enjoyable than birding on high altitude that exudes cooler weather in hot summer! We made visits over 2 weekends, but with a very different approach!

Version 1: The first weekend visit with accommodation

Having packed sausages and sandwiches for lunch ,we left in late morning. The drive from Beijing to Lingshan was approx. 2hrs, but as soon as we approached the outskirts of Beijing, the mountain drive towards Lingshan was breathtaking..!

My mind soon wondered what it’ll be like in winter with snow-capped mountains. :)

On the way to Lingshan, testing my GoPro camera!

On the way to Lingshan, testing my GoPro camera!

We saw some birds along the way, but the main highlight was the birds and wildlife at Lingshan! At the top, we saw Hill Pigeons, Common kestrel and Large Billed Crows! We  parked the car and took a walk along the trail near the horse-riding area. Already at the beginning of the trail, we were greeted by Silver-throated Tits, Songar tits, etc that pranced about in the bushes. Suddenly, I spotted something moving in the grass right in front of me! I held my breath and hoped for a clearer view. “A snake”? I thought to myself, sending shivers down my weak spine. Very quickly, it revealed itself- its a Weasel!! I almost squealed with joy when it stood up and looked at me, we were both in shock to see each other! Its my first ever Weasel and I couldn’t be happier!! :P :P

Our attention soon turned to a delightful bird’s call that was apparently never ending! Its the Manchurian Bush Warbler! Wow, another lifer for me!

manchurian bush warbler in Lingshan

manchurian bush warbler in Lingshan

We drove to the nearby village and checked ourselves into a 80 yuan room with no flush and blankets! But we comforted ourselves with a good meal and stargazing with scope! It was awesome to see Saturn with rings and tried to identify all other planets but we were no experts! The night was complimented with nightjar calls but it was too dark to see it! It was a fulfilled day and we couldn’t wait for dawn! :)

The early bird gets the worm! An early dawn walk downhill from the village was surrounded by early chirpees- Rock buntings, Claudia’s leaf warbler, chinese beautiful finches, russet sparrows, just to name a few!

As always we love to explore! Instead of taking the usual route back, we took an off trail route that lead us to Hebei region! On our way back, we saw a Northern Wheatear, apparently a gd find in summer! It was a gd weekend trip…almost as good as the next weekend trip to the same area but with no accommodation, which I will soon write! Stay tuned! :P

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BADALING National Forest Park 八达岭国家森林公园

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog! Having spent sometime birding in China, Summer can be rewarding if you know where to head! Despite a stormy afternoon, we spotted Russet Sparrows right at the entrance only after we paid our entrance fee!

The trails in the park are pretty straightforward, with one of them leading up to the Great Wall! A Yellow-Throated Bunting was spotted at the beginning of that trail and so we braved on hoping to see more! As we ascended (panting away) , a group of Songar Tits cheered us with their delightful chirps! Unfortunately, sounds of thunderclaps had forced us to descend, hence we never got to the Great Wall! Phew!

Back on the main road, we headed towards the pavilion for shelter. And it was in this shaded corner we spotted a pair of Green-backed Flycatchers, Yellow-Rumped Flycatcher and a Tolai Hare! It was brilliant to see them on a rainy day, perhaps they enjoy the rain as much as me! :P

Green-backed flycatcher seen breeding in Badaling National Forest park.

Green-backed flycatcher seen breeding in Badaling National Forest park.

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Birding in Xinjiang Day 8- 乌鲁木齐南山观鸟

Yippee, I am finally onto the write up of the last day of birding in Xinjiang! As always, I love adventures and as I write, I couldn’t help but grinned at the funny incidents; and all these great moments will go down memory lane.  I am no author nor do I have talent in writing, so thank you for visiting my blog! :P

We made a day trip to the Xinjiang Southern Mountains, aka Nanshan! As part of Tien Shan, the mountain stretches deep into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The landscape was just way beyond awesome!

breathtaking view of Xinjiang Nanshan!

breathtaking view of Xinjiang Nanshan!

It was a windy day again, and we later regretted not waking up early as it seemed the winds took up speed by late morning- Climate change expert said that it has to do with landscape! Anyway we have some good finds…below’s the list and some of the photos taken! :)

Red-fronted Serin- 金额丝雀

Common Rock Thrush-白背矶鸫

Plain Mountain Finch-林岭雀

Eurasian Nuthatch-普通鳾

Common Linnet-赤胸朱顶雀

European Roller-蓝胸佛法僧

Rock Sparrow-石雀

Wheaters, Shrikes, Ravens and more!

From left-Rock thrush, Rock sparrow, Red-fronted serin in Xinjiang, Nanshan

From left-Rock thrush, Rock sparrow, Red-fronted serin in Xinjiang, Nanshan

However, the highlight was finding a pair of Blue-capped Redstart (蓝头红尾鸲)! This male looked pretty handsome! Another lifer for me! :)

blue-capped redstart in Nanshan

blue-capped redstart in Nanshan

It was an awesome trip in short! We saw over 160 species of birds, and many were lifers for me! Of course, I couldn’t have seen as much without my eagle-eyed partner.. Well, enough of birds…! Here’s more pictures of Nanshan to end my chapter of Xinjiang birding! :) It’s a brilliant place, and I’d definitely visit again!

On the way to Nanshan, just had to stick my head out!

On the way to Nanshan, just had to stick my head out!

 

Chinese Stonehenge..so funny!

Chinese Stonehenge..so funny!

 

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