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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Birding in Xinjiang Day 7- 新疆观鸟:130团-白湖

We spent the whole morning at the hotel watching Desert Finches and Common Nightingales build nests and feed the chicks! Funny that the males just kept a close watch but did nothing! :-/

At the nearby nature reserve, we saw Common Terns and European Bee-eaters (黄喉蜂虎) and their nests..! Sand Martins (崖沙燕) mated on wires, House Sparrows, Barred Warblers (横斑林莺)  and European Rollers (蓝胸佛法僧) offered food to their partners. Well, what can I say…its the breeding season and love is in the air! :P

Breeding time!

From left-European roller, Sand Martin, European bee-eater

Common Tern at 130 township in Xinjiang. Tawny pipit at another reed site!

Common Tern at 130 township in Xinjiang. Tawny pipit at another reed site!

While en-route back to the white lake at Urumqi (we missed a bird on day 1, so we went back to get it!!), we stopped at a reed area for pipits and warblers. It was a long drive again with no lunch and by the time we arrived at the white lake, it was already 5pm! Clouds cluttered and light drizzles had livened up the birds! The bird we missed was the Spanish Sparrow (黑胸麻雀)! Despite many Tree Sparrows around, it was quickly identified due to is distinctive colors on the head and breast! Very strange that Spanish would breed in China…lol! Again, lifer for me! :)

Spanish sparrow at white lake, Xinjiang

Spanish sparrow at white lake, Xinjiang

And our dinner? We had mutton dumplings before moving on to the spiciest Sichuan noodles ever! :v

10 Yuan only.

10 Yuan for spicy Sichuan Noodle.

 

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Birding in Xinjiang Day 6 Part2/2- 新疆观鸟, 布尔津-130团

After high-fiving for the close encounter with the Pallas Sandgrouse, we were back on the road again! We made a brief stop back at the forest in Urho, Karamay (乌尔禾) but birds wouldn’t come out to play on such a windy day! I don’t blame them… :-/

We kept on a look-out for the desert finch which we have yet to see while our driver was driving us to our pit stop, the ex-military township “130”. According to our birding itinerary, we should see the desert finch! Our conversation about the possibilities of missing them was interrupted by our driver who convinced us that the desert finch will be in the forest, next to our hotel. We were puzzled! According to the guide book, the bird should be in semi-desert area! We were very much convinced he had mistaken the desert finch for another bird! :P

It was 5:30pm when we arrived at the 130 township! As light was still strong, we quickly scanned the nature reserve nearby and saw a Black Tern! But the real highlight of the day was arriving at our hotel.

“Where’s the forest”? I asked. “This is the forest” was the answer from my driver. I just had to burst into laughter-the “forest” was just a few trees and plants stemming on both sides of the hotel. A forest it is! *Roll Eyes*  And because our driver said the desert finch is a resident in this “forest”, we asked him to find it for us! To our surprise, he found them in just minutes! There they were, prancing on the branches of a tree! Driver chuckled as it was a victorious win for him!! It was hilarious..! Maybe the hotel looked like an oasis to the desert finches-they were found breeding and raising chicks in this so called “forest”!! Well, here are the photos of the Desert Finches (巨嘴沙雀)!

The male Desert Finch in oasis!

The male Desert Finch in oasis!

desert finch couple in Xinjiang

desert finch couple in Xinjiang

Another amazing bird that calls this “forest” home is the Common Nightingale (新疆歌鸲)! There were a few singing in the garden and were very tame too! How cool is that to wake up to these talented singers?! :)

PS. The term “forest” now has a totally new meaning…hehehe!

nightingale in hotel garden, Xinjiang

nightingale in hotel garden, Xinjiang

And this is our driver! :)

Our driver in Xinjiang

Our driver in Xinjiang. 柱子,新疆

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