Band-bellied Crake, 8 June 2016, Boli, Heilongjiang, China. Photo by Craig Brelsford.

Boli County, Heilongjiang, May-June 2016

Boli County, Heilongjiang, May-June 2016
By Craig Brelsford and Elaine Du
www.craigbrelsford.com
www.shanghaibirding.com
info@craigbrelsford.com
Latest update: 2017-03-16
© 2016-2017 by Craig Brelsford

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“Boli County, Heilongjiang, May-June 2016” is part of a series on birding in Northeast China. Other reports in the series:

Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, 2015
Northeast China, April-May 2013

Who Are We?

Craig Brelsford lives in Shanghai, where he runs craigbrelsford.com and shanghaibirding.com while studying Chinese at the Shanghai University of Engineering Sciences. Craig is from Florida in the United States. Elaine Du’s Chinese name is Dù Lián Róng (杜连荣). Elaine is from Heilongjiang, China and lives in Shanghai. Elaine has a master’s degree in food science and engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology.

Reach the craigbrelsford.com team at info@craigbrelsford.com; call or text Craig at +86 158-2169-8624.

Questions? Comments?

We strive to create accurate, useful reports. Please suggest improvements and report errors: info@craigbrelsford.com.

Tours

For information on a tour with us, write to tours@craigbrelsford.com or call +86 158-2169-8624.

Donations

“Boli County, Heilongjiang, May-June 2016” is a labor of love that has taken time, effort, and money to produce. Despite the growing number of persons lending their support, Elaine and I are still almost totally self-funded. Will you consider making a donation in support of Elaine’s and my research?

Key

For taxonomy and English names, our first reference is the IOC World Bird List. For more information on places mentioned in the text, see “List of Place Names” at the bottom of this report.

What This Report Is About

In this report, you will get an introduction to Boli and eastern Heilongjiang, you will discover the birds we met up there at the height of the breeding season, you will learn about the birds we missed, and you will find out how Elaine and I combine birding with family. There are as well 31 of my sound-recordings of Boli birds and plenty of photos.

Why Should Birders Care about Boli?

Silver Birch Grove (白桦林), one of the attractions of Xidaquan National Forest in Boli County, Heilongjiang.
Silver Birch Grove (白桦林), one of the attractions of Xidaquan National Forest in Boli County, Heilongjiang.

Boli County is a good place to study the woodland birds of the eastern Palearctic. Its forests, remnants of the ancient northern temperate forest that once stretched unbroken across the region, hold northern species absent further south in China. In springtime, Boli County is the breeding home of birds that in the more densely populated southern regions of China appear only as passage migrants or winter visitors.

Introduction

From 26 May to 12 June 2016, Elaine Du and I visited her home village of Dawucun in Boli County, Heilongjiang, China. We birded 15 of those days, mainly around Xidaquan National Forest, and noted 84 species. Our bird of the trip was Band-bellied Crake, and we found breeding Eurasian Eagle-Owl. We noted in full breeding mode many birds that we had previously known only as passage migrants in Shanghai; we enjoyed for the first time the songs of Siberian Blue Robin, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, White-throated Rock Thrush, Siberian Thrush, and many other species.

Background

Boli County lies within the Amur Basin of Northeast China. It is part of Qitaihe Prefecture in eastern Heilongjiang, not far from the Sino-Russian border. Map courtesy Wikipedia.
Boli County lies within the Amur Basin of Northeast China. It is part of Qitaihe Prefecture in eastern Heilongjiang, not far from the Sino-Russian border. Map courtesy Wikipedia.

In January 2015 Elaine and I were married in Dawucun, where Elaine was born. During breaks in the festivities, I explored the frozen country. Expecting to find only magpies and sparrows, I was pleasantly surprised to find forested hills near the village and good birds such as Rough-legged Buzzard. I vowed to return and bird the area thoroughly.

In August and September 2015, Elaine and I fulfilled that goal. During a 32-day visit to her hometown, Elaine and I discovered Xidaquan National Forest, a 9,400-hectare reserve in the Laoye Mountains. Xidaquan preserves a remnant of the northern temperate forest that once covered the region. We were thoroughly impressed and made plans to bird the area yet again, this time during breeding season. The trip described here is the realization of that plan.

For Elaine and me, birding trips to Boli are special because they combine Northeast China birding with family. Elaine is never happier than when she is with her parents and two elder sisters, and I not only like her family but also appreciate the opportunity they give me to learn about Chinese culture.

Elaine Du (L) with parents and elder sisters. Dawucun, 12 June 2016.
Elaine Du (L) with parents and elder sisters. Dawucun, 12 June 2016.

Like many residents of the Northeast, Elaine is descended from migrants who chuǎng Guāndōng (闯关东)–“leapt” north, mainly from Hebei and Shandong, to farm areas of Guandong (Manchuria) formerly closed to Han Chinese settlement. In Elaine’s case, the settlers were her parents, who left Shandong in the 1970s.

The settlement of the Northeast by Han farmers is a major event in Chinese history, like the settling of the West is to Americans. The transformation the migration has wrought on the land has been profound. In eastern Heilongjiang, the toil of thousands of farmers has converted the land from an endless forest into a vast maize field. Where tigers once roared, magpies now caw.

Amid the sea of grain fields are islands of the old Manchurian forest. One of the best is Xidaquan National Forest, just 25 km from Boli Town. After our discovery of Xidaquan in the summer of 2015, we turned it into our laboratory in which to study the birds of the eastern Palearctic woodlands. We have now spent 20 days birding in the reserve–12 days in summer 2015 and eight days in spring 2016.

Key Birds

Streamside habitat at Xidaquan, 28 May 2016. Gray's Grasshopper Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler use the thick vegetation along the unseen stream. Siberian Rubythroat and Thick-billed Warbler forage among the scrubby plants in the foreground. Common Cuckoo and Oriental Cuckoo call, and Dusky Warbler sing. Eastern Buzzard soar overhead.
Streamside habitat at Xidaquan, 28 May 2016. Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler use the thick vegetation along the unseen stream. Siberian Rubythroat and Thick-billed Warbler forage among the scrubby plants in the foreground. Common Cuckoo and Oriental Cuckoo call, and Dusky Warbler sing. Eastern Buzzard soar overhead.

A birder led blindfolded through southwestern Boli County in spring would be able to tell the quality of the forest by the birds he heard. The pine plantations are nearly silent. In recently cut areas where the forest has just begun to regenerate, one may hear a few Eastern Crowned Warbler, Radde’s Warbler, and Black-faced Bunting. If a layer of undergrowth has formed, then one may hear in addition to those species Thick-billed Warbler, Siberian Blue Robin, and Siberian Rubythroat. In places where most of the trees are hardwoods and have reached about 10 m in height, the sound of birdsong is constant throughout the day. Pale Thrush sing powerfully from perches hidden in the canopy, Yellow-throated Bunting sing from treetops and defend territory, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, and Japanese Tit sing their lively Parid songs, and White-throated Rock Thrush whistle in a minor key. The best places at Xidaquan are yet another cut above, being able to support the species mentioned above as well as more habitat-sensitive species such as Mandarin Duck, Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo, Lanceolated Warbler, Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler, and White’s Thrush.

The following is a list of the key birds noted by Craig Brelsford and Elaine Du in spring 2016 in Boli County.

Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii

Band-bellied Crake stunned Elaine and me with its beauty.
Band-bellied Crake stunned Elaine and me with its beauty.

Our bird of the trip, found 8-9 June 2016 in a creek bottom in the Hongwei Linchang area 12 km south of Boli Town. A rare and little-known species, Band-bellied Crake is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. Band-bellied Crake breeds in Northeast China and the Russian Far East. It is threatened by habitat loss in its Southeast Asia wintering grounds as well as in Northeast China.

Band-bellied Crake, Hongwei Linchang, Boli, 9 June 2016 (00:26; 2.6 MB)

Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo

We found a breeding pair with two owlets nesting at the high, inaccessible reaches of the big quarry at Jiulong Reservoir, where we also spotted the species in summer 2015. The giant owls are tolerant of the traffic from the road, and at a second, smaller quarry nearby, they tolerate noise from a busy poultry farm below. The owls perch conspicuously by day and are active in the villages at night. In summer 2015, eagle-owls would perch at night on the buildings of Elaine’s parents’ farm.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata

Mandarin Duck, Xidaquan, 3 June 2016.
Mandarin Duck, Xidaquan, 3 June 2016.

Deep in the forests of Xidaquan, we found Mandarin Duck in ponds no larger than a kiddie pool. This shy species was also found on the large pond near the entrance to Xidaquan, in rice paddies in the villages, and in flocks in Jiulong Reservoir. In spring 2016 we recorded this species on eight of our 15 birding days and in summer 2015 on seven of our 27 birding days. Boli County is the heart of the Northeast China breeding range of this most beautiful of ducks.

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius

A graceful woodpecker and one of the stars of the Northeast Chinese forest, noted by us on three days in spring 2016 and on 11 days in summer 2015.

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos. Female in wooded area off Road Z004 near Xidaquan, 1 June 2016.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos. Female in wooded area off Road Z004 near Xidaquan, 1 June 2016.

The most commonly noted Dendrocopos woodpecker, noted on 10 days in summer 2015 and six days in spring 2016.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dryobates minor

Trans-Eurasian species, in China present only in Xinjiang and the Northeast. Noted by us just once in spring 2016. More conspicuous in summer 2015 (seen on six days) and winter 2015 (three days).

Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus

Noted on nine of our birding days, exclusively in the better forests around Xidaquan. Has softer version of the “Brain fever!” call of Large Hawk-Cuckoo.

Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo, Xidaquan, 2 June 2016 (01:06; 3.4 MB)

Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus

Noted on eight days in Boli County in spring 2016. None of our records came from the higher-quality, higher-elevation forest deep in Xidaquan park but from the lower-quality, newer forests closer to the villages.

Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus

In contrast to Indian Cuckoo, in spring 2016 most of our records of Oriental Cuckoo, spanning 13 days, came from the deep forests of Xidaquan.

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

We heard the famous call of Common Cuckoo on 13 days. Most records came from open areas or from forested places near open areas.

Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka

We enjoyed pre-dawn views of this species roosting on County Road Z002 and heard its clattering call both at dawn and dusk.

Grey Nightjar calling at dawn, Blue-and-white Flycatcher in background, Xidaquan, 2 June 2016 (00:31; 2 MB)

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii

Cinnamon-headed ssp. brandtii is a treat for birders in Northeast China (also occurs in Xinjiang). Resident and conspicuous in all seasons.

Coal Tit Periparus ater ater

If this bird looks familiar to European birders, it's because it's the same nominate race of Coal Tit found in Continental Europe. Photo taken in hills S of Boli Town on 7 June 2016.
If this bird looks familiar to European birders, it’s because it’s the same nominate race of Coal Tit found in Continental Europe. Photo taken in hills S of Boli Town on 7 June 2016.

The trans-Eurasian, small-crested, nominate race (ater) is the representative of Coal Tit in Northeast China. Resident, regularly noted in small numbers, often in conifers.

Coal Tit 1/2, hills S of Boli Town, 7 June 2016 (00:15; 2.2 MB)

Coal Tit 2/2, hills S of Boli Town, 7 June 2016 (00:05; 1.7 MB)

Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis

Versatile Willow Tit, resident in Boli County, flourishes in habitats ranging from scrubby new forest growth to primary forest. Noted on three days in winter 2015, 21 in summer 2015, and 11 in spring 2016.

Willow Tit, territorial call, hills S of Boli Town, 7 June 2016 (00:14; 2.1 MB)

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus

The snowball-headed nominate ssp. ranges from Scandinavia east through Heilongjiang to Jilin. It lives year-round in Boli County. We noted it on seven days in spring 2016, on two days in winter 2015, and on 14 days in summer 2015. In late summer and winter it is often the main component of bird waves.

Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus

Eastern Crowned Warbler, Xidaquan National Forest, 29 May 2016.
Eastern Crowned Warbler, Xidaquan National Forest, 29 May 2016.

The most conspicuous leaf warbler in Boli. Noted by us on 10 days in summer 2015 and on 14 of our 15 birding days in spring 2016. Sings a diverse array of songs from dawn to dusk. In 2015 was singing and defending territory into mid-August, and non-singing individuals were noted as late as 3 Sept. Found in habitats mediocre as well as pristine.

Eastern Crowned Warbler 1/2, hills S of Dawucun, 5 June 2016 (00:04; 1.7 MB)

Eastern Crowned Warbler 2/2, Xidaquan, 29 May 2016 (00:40, 2.4 MB)

Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi

Radde's Warbler is a powerful singer and among the most conspicuous birds at Xidaquan National Forest.
Radde’s Warbler is a powerful singer and among the most conspicuous birds at Xidaquan National Forest.

Second only to Eastern Crowned Warbler as the most conspicuous leaf warbler, with a powerful song that belies its small size. Noted regularly in summer 2015 (10 days) and spring 2016 (12 days), mostly in the better forest and forest-edge habitat at Xidaquan.

Radde’s Warbler, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016 (02:51; 7.6 MB)

Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus

Noted on 10 days in spring 2016 and nine in summer 2015. Has less powerful song than Radde’s, lacking trills, and unlike Radde’s avoids deep forest. Often sings from conspicuous perch in high tree.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes

Recorded on nine days in spring 2016. Heard singing and seen defending territory. Usually found in the high canopy or middle canopy in the better sections of forest at Xidaquan. Elaine and I did not note this species in Boli in summer 2015.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Xidaquan, 10 June 2016 (02:00, 6.4 MB)

Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus

Noted on nine days in spring 2016 and on 12 days in summer 2015. In both seasons was usually noted singing loudly from the top of the tallest tree in the vicinity.

Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, hills S of Dawucun, 4 June 2016 (01:47; 5.1 MB)

Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis

Oriental Reed Warbler is known to be able to use marshy habitat with woody plants rather than reeds. As reeds are rare in the areas we bird in Boli County, our Oriental Reed Warbler were found among woody plants. Found on four days in spring 2016, mainly on the shore of Jiulong Reservoir.

Oriental Reed Warbler, Jiulong Reservoir, 10 June 2016 (00:06; 1.8 MB)

Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps

Noted on three days in spring 2016, with a high of 28 singing individuals being found 11 June along County Road Z002. Noted once in summer 2015.

Black-browed Reed Warbler, creek along County Road Z002, 11 June 2016 (01:40; 4.8 MB)

Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon

Thick-billed Warbler, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.
Thick-billed Warbler, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.

Noted on six days in spring 2016, in very good habitat at Xidaquan as well as more disturbed areas along the shore of Jiulong Reservoir.

Thick-billed Warbler, Xidaquan, 29 May 2016 (00:32; 2.1 MB)

Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata

Noted on six days in spring 2016, singing from thick cover in heavily wooded habitat along creeks at Xidaquan.

Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata

Gray's Grasshopper Warbler on rare foray out of undergrowth. Xidaquan, 29 May 2016.
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler on rare foray out of undergrowth. Xidaquan, 29 May 2016.

In spring 2016 we heard the bulbul-like call of this undergrowth skulker on seven days, exclusively in the high-quality habitat at Xidaquan.

Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler, Xidaquan, 2 June 2016 (01:05; 3.4 MB)

Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica

Siberian Thrush, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.
Siberian Thrush, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.

Noted by us on five days in spring 2016, each time in high-quality forest at Xidaquan. Noted twice in summer 2015. Sings from conspicuous perch at top of tall tree.

Below is a recording of Siberian Thrush on a typical morning at Xidaquan. In the background you can hear Oriental Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Radde’s Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, and Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler.

Siberian Thrush, Xidaquan, 3 June 2016 (00:51; 2.8 MB)

White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea

One of the rewards for waking early was hearing the monotonous, ventriloquial song of White’s Thrush. It normally calls unseen from deep within the forest and goes silent about an hour after sunrise. One morning Elaine and I saw this most secretive bird climb a tall tree and utter its mysterious call. The first, lower note was apparently hummed through its closed or barely open mouth, while for the high note the thrush gaped wide. At a location nearby I witnessed the ventriloquy. The low note seemed to be coming from a place to my right, while the high note seemed to be coming from a place in front of me. Only after a few minutes did I realize that a single unseen White’s Thrush was uttering both notes.

White’s Thrush, Xidaquan, 2 June 2016 (01:43; 4.9 MB)

Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum

This East Asian endemic was noted on nine days in spring 2016, singing and defending territory. Also noted on two days in summer 2015.

Grey-backed Thrush, hills S of Boli Town, 7 June 2016 (08:17; 21.4 MB)

Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus

Noted on eight days in spring 2016 and five days in summer 2015. Shy. Sings powerfully from unseen perches deep in the forest. At dawn and dusk sometimes seen foraging on the roadside.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana

We found Mark Brazil’s description of the breeding habitat to be apt: “ … in forested mountains, generally in mature mixed broadleaf forest with dense undergrowth, often near streams … ” (Birds of East Asia). Noted on eight days in spring 2016 and on two days in summer 2015.

Blue-and-white Flycatcher, broadleaf forest near Xidaquan, 27 May 2016 (01:30; 4.4 MB)

Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane

Noted on 12 days in spring 2016, with a high of 21 individuals on 2 June. Its song, delivered from deep cover, consists of a burst of sound followed by a pause and buildup then another burst, each burst distinct from the other.

Siberian Blue Robin, Xidaquan, 2 June 2016 (02:42; 7.2 MB)

Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans

Noted on seven days in spring 2016, all records except one coming from deep cover along thickly vegetated creeks at Xidaquan. Song a descending trill.

Rufous-tailed Robin, Xidaquan, 28 May 2016 (01:01; 3.2 MB)

Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope

Siberian Rubythroat singing on utility wire, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.
Siberian Rubythroat singing on utility wire, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.

Noted on four days in spring 2016 and on one day in summer 2015. Usually hides in undergrowth, but at dawn and for a few hours thereafter may be seen singing from an exposed perch.

Siberian Rubythroat, Xidaquan, 28 May 2016 (02:20; 6.4 MB)

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia

Sings a long, slow, deliberate, and loud song somewhat like that of Blue-and-white Flycatcher. Noted on 12 days in spring 2016.

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, hills S of Dawucun, 5 June 2016 (00:58; 3.1 MB)

White-throated Rock Thrush Monticola gularis

I learned the call of this East Asian specialty by doggedly following a bird that was singing and moving unseen in the canopy above me. Finally the secretive singer allowed me to glimpse him, and only then could I confirm that he was White-throated Rock Thrush. Noted on three days in spring 2016 and once in summer 2015.

White-throated Rock Thrush, Hongwei Linchang, 7 June 2016 (01:04; 4.1 MB)

Long-tailed Rosefinch Carpodacus sibiricus ussuriensis

Noted on eight days in spring 2016 and four days each in winter and summer 2015.

Meadow Bunting
Emberiza cioides weigoldi

Resident, recorded by us in winter, summer, and spring (five days in spring 2016). Seen at edges of farmland and in open areas near forests. Never in deep forests.

Meadow Bunting, forest edge at Dawucun, 31 May 2016 (00:58; 3.1 MB)

Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami

Forest bunting, with some association with conifers, commonly seen along the forest roads. Noted on eight days in spring 2016 and six days in summer 2015.

Tristram’s Bunting, Xidaquan, 3 June 2016 (00:11; 1.2 MB)

Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans

Forest bunting with a preference for deciduous habitats. Sings loudly and aggressively defends territory. Noted on nine days in spring 2016 and on 16 days in summer 2015.

Yellow-throated Bunting 1/2, song, hills S of Boli Town, 5 June 2016 (00:12; 1.3 MB)

Yellow-throated Bunting 2/2, alarm call, hills S of Dawucun, 7 June 2016 (00:50; 3.6 MB)

Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala spodocephala

Black-faced Bunting, Xidaquan, May 2016. In spring, the song of this bunting is one of the most common bird sounds in the region.
Black-faced Bunting, Xidaquan, May 2016. In spring, the song of this bunting is one of the most common bird sounds in the region.

One of the most commonly noted birds in Boli, found on 14 days in spring 2016 and 12 days in summer 2015. Versatile, often at forest edge but also in areas with fewer trees.

Black-faced Bunting, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016 (00:44; 2.5 MB)

Species of Bird Noted in Boli County, Heilongjiang, May-June 2016 (84 species)

Mandarin Duck
Mallard
Eastern Spot-billed Duck
Common Pheasant
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Crested Honey Buzzard
Northern Goshawk
Eastern Buzzard
Band-bellied Crake
Little Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Hill Pigeon
Oriental Turtle Dove
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo
Indian Cuckoo
Oriental Cuckoo
Common Cuckoo
Eurasian Eagle-Owl
Grey Nightjar
White-throated Needletail
Oriental Dollarbird
Common Kingfisher
Eurasian Wryneck
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
White-backed Woodpecker
Black Woodpecker
Common Kestrel
Eurasian Hobby
Ashy Minivet
Brown Shrike
Chinese Grey Shrike
Eurasian Jay
Azure-winged Magpie
Eurasian Magpie
Spotted Nutcracker
Carrion Crow
Large-billed Crow
Coal Tit
Willow Tit
Japanese Tit
Barn Swallow
Asian House Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
Long-tailed Tit
Dusky Warbler
Radde’s Warbler
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler
Arctic Warbler
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
Eastern Crowned Warbler
Oriental Reed Warbler
Black-browed Reed Warbler
Thick-billed Warbler
Lanceolated Warbler
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler
Chestnut-flanked White-eye
Eurasian Nuthatch
Siberian Thrush
White’s Thrush
Grey-backed Thrush
Pale Thrush
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Blue-and-white Flycatcher
Siberian Blue Robin
Rufous-tailed Robin
Siberian Rubythroat
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
Daurian Redstart
White-throated Rock Thrush
Stejneger’s Stonechat
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Siberian Accentor
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Olive-backed Pipit
Hawfinch
Long-tailed Rosefinch
Grey-capped Greenfinch
Meadow Bunting
Tristram’s Bunting
Chestnut-eared Bunting
Yellow-throated Bunting
Black-faced Bunting

Birds We Missed

The deep forest at Xidaquan. This seemingly stable environment shows a very different set of birds according to the season. In the area where this photo was taken, in August and September 2015 Elaine and I found Eurasian Treecreeper, Goldcrest, and Yellow-browed Warbler. We saw none of those species in May and June 2016. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, White's Thrush, and Lanceolated Warbler were in the same area in spring 2016.
The deep forest at Xidaquan. This seemingly stable environment shows a very different set of birds according to the season. In the area where this photo was taken, in August and September 2015 Elaine and I found Eurasian Treecreeper, Goldcrest, and Yellow-browed Warbler. We saw none of those species in May and June 2016. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, White’s Thrush, and Lanceolated Warbler were in the same area in spring 2016.

The forests of Boli County change markedly from season to season. On our brief initial trip in January 2015, winter visitors such as Common Redpoll, Eurasian Bullfinch, and Pallas’s Rosefinch were scraping out a living in the snowy, barren forests. In late summer bird waves are common, in springtime virtually non-existent. Late summer shows few birds in breeding mode but offers passage migrants. In springtime the songs of breeding birds resound.

Birds seen in one season may not be seen in another. In some cases, as with Hazel Grouse, it is easy to understand why. In other cases, the reason is less clear. Other birds, such as Red-flanked Bluetail, that one would expect in the region have yet to appear on any of our lists. Here are some of the birds we missed on our spring 2016 trip.

Hazel Grouse: On our summer 2015 expedition, Elaine and I noted this species on 10 days, both in the excellent habitat of Xidaquan and in the lower-quality forest in the hills south of Dawucun. We noted no Hazel Grouse in spring 2016. The grouse were breeding and had retired to the quiet recesses of the forest with their young.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Common in much of China, noted just once by Elaine and me in summer 2015 and not at all in spring 2016. Its congener White-backed Woodpecker is common in the area.

Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker: Scarce species noted by us once at Xidaquan in summer 2015. Missed in spring 2016.

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker: Rufous-bellied Woodpecker ssp. subrufinus is reported in eastern Heilongjiang, as is Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. Neither has been found by us around Boli.

Black-naped Oriole: A species yet to be noted by us in Boli.

Azure Tit: This unmistakable tit has been reported around Lake Khanka, on the Sino-Russian border east of Boli County. We have yet to see the species in Boli.

Marsh Tit: Race brevirostris noted by us on 13 days in summer 2015, zero times in spring 2016.

Manchurian Bush Warbler, Baikal Bush Warbler, Chinese Bush Warbler: Yet to be noted by us in Boli.

Asian Stubtail: Noted on four days in summer 2015, zero times in spring 2016.

Manchurian Reed Warbler: We made a point to look for this bird, paying careful attention to the Black-browed Reed Warbler we were finding. No luck.

Yellow-browed Warbler: In spring 2016 we were expecting big counts of this species, having noted it on nine days in summer 2015. We noted it not once in spring 2016. It most likely does not breed in the area and was passing through the region in August and September 2015.

Arctic Warbler: Also apparently a passage migrant at Xidaquan. In spring 2016 we had but one record of a singing individual at Xidaquan. In summer 2015 we had two records.

Two-barred Warbler: Yet another apparent passage migrant. Noted on four days in summer 2015, zero times in spring 2016.

Red-flanked Bluetail: Surprise! We have yet to record this species in Boli County.

Eurasian Treecreeper: Noted by us four times in summer 2015, zero times in spring 2016.

The husband-and-wife birding team of Elaine Du (L) and Craig Brelsford, Xidaquan National Forest, Boli, Heilongjiang, 10 June 2016.
The husband-and-wife birding team of Elaine Du (L) and Craig Brelsford, Xidaquan National Forest, Boli, Heilongjiang, 10 June 2016.

The Trip

Thurs. 26 May 2016

Elaine and I flew from Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai to Jiamusi, Heilongjiang. We drove to Elaine’s home village of Dawucun, in Boli County, Qitaihe Prefecture. Elaine’s parents’ home became our base of operations for the next 17 days.

Fri. 27 May 2016

Today, birding in the northern temperate forests around Xidaquan National Forest, Elaine and I saw in a completely new way birds that we thought we knew from Shanghai. For the first time in my life I heard singing Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Pale Thrush, and Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo. The latter is rarely seen on migration in Shanghai. The former two are well-known to Shanghai birders. In Shanghai, meeting these species on migration is like meeting someone for coffee; hearing them sing today was like meeting someone for dinner.

The basic facts about Boli County are two. First, the area is rich in birds. Second, no one birds here.

We are in the heart of the breeding range of Eastern Crowned Warbler (20 today). Most birders “down south” know Eastern Crowned Warbler well but have never heard it sing; today, its song resounded through the forest. Radde’s Warbler (24 today) is another species common here. Mandarin Duck (20) breed in the forest-ringed lakes and ponds around Boli. We also had singing Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

We spotted a family of Eurasian Eagle-Owl at a quarry near Jiulong Reservoir just outside Boli. A parent was standing guard with two owlets. Elaine scoped them herself with our Swarovski ATX-95.

List 1 of 1 for Fri. 27 May 2016 (51 species). Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Sunny; 10-21° C. Visibility 10 km. Wind WNW 26 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 70 (moderate). Sunrise 03:32, sunset 18:55. FRI 27 MAY 2016 04:05-16:00. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 20
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 2
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 5
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 4
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 2
Accipter sp. 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 3
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 4
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris 3 at Jiulong Reservoir
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 3
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 1
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 2
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 4
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 1
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 3 at Jiulong Reservoir
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus 4
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 5
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 5
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 7
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 1
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow/Marsh Tit Poecile montanus/P. palustris 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 8
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 5
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 5
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea amurensis 3
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 24 singing
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 2
Arctic Warbler P. borealis 1
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 10
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 20
Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata 1
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 9
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus 2
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 5
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 2
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 3
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 4
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 10
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 6
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 1
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 8
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides weigoldi 2
Tristram’s Bunting E. tristrami 13
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 14

Sat. 28 May 2016

Today Elaine and I started birding at 03:40, 9 minutes after sunrise. Singing Daurian Redstart was Bird 1 of our list, which grew to 53 species.

By 09:30, we had already spent several hours at Xidaquan National Forest and were at the end of our tether. We parked on the forest road and napped. While sleeping I heard a sound I vaguely remembered–or was I dreaming? No, I was hearing Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler. I first heard this extreme skulker last July with Elaine and Jan-Erik Nilsén in Hulunbeier, Inner Mongolia.

Also on that road we had male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and found Mandarin Duck in a pond deep in the forest.

We had a Siberian trifecta today with Siberian Thrush, Siberian Blue Robin, and Siberian Rubythroat, all singing. We once again found Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo as well as Indian Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, and Oriental Cuckoo. We found Black-browed Reed Warbler in a brushy area far from reeds; the bushes also contained Thick-billed Warbler. Above the scene soared Crested Honey Buzzard.

We are deep in the heart of the Chinese Palearctic. In places, the lush greenery in the northern temperate forest here is as thick and impenetrable as that found in Yunnan’s near-tropical Dulong Gorge, which Elaine and I visited earlier this year. I almost expect to make out a wren-babbler in the gloomy undergrowth, but there are no wren-babblers, no laughingthrushes, and no fulvettas in the Palearctic heartland. Here, the robins and bush warblers are the undergrowth specialists.

We once again found the family of Eurasian Eagle-Owl. Owlets were feeding. A parent was looking on. All seemed well. We scoped them from the other side of the valley; the owls are at the rim of a cliff made by a massive quarry.

List 1 of 1 for Sat. 28 May 2016 (53 species)

Crested Honey Buzzard ssp. orientalis, ('Oriental Honey Buzzard'), Xidaquan, 28 May 2016.
Crested Honey Buzzard ssp. orientalis (‘Oriental Honey Buzzard’), Xidaquan, 28 May 2016.

Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Partly cloudy; 10-22° C. Visibility 10 km. Wind WNW 26 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 70 (moderate). Sunrise 03:31, sunset 18:56. SAT 28 MAY 2016 03:40-16:40. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 11
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 3
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 2
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 2
Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus orientalis 2
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 6
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 2
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 1
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 9
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 4
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 3 at Jiulong Reservoir
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos 1
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo 1
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 8
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 3
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 1
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 2
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 2
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 8
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 2
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 1
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea amurensis 2
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 2
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 17
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 10
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 29
Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon 3
Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps 2
Oriental Reed Warbler A. orientalis 2 at Jiulong Reservoir
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 1
Lanceolated Warbler L. lanceolata 1
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 15
Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica 1
Turdus sp. 1 most likely Grey-backed or Pale
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 2
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 4
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 8
Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope 1
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 2
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 5
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 4
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 3
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 4
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 2
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides weigoldi 1
Tristram’s Bunting E. tristrami 3
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 12

Sun. 29 May 2016

Today around Xidaquan National Forest Elaine and I found yet more Shanghai passage migrants on their breeding grounds. The most I had ever heard from White-throated Rock Thrush and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was a click or tseep; today, I recorded them in full-throated song. And what songs! White-throated’s was especially moving, melodic and slow. Recording conditions were perfect–a still, quiet morning before the rain.

We found 6 Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler and got best-ever views of this shyest of species. We recorded yet more songs and calls of Eastern Crowned Warbler, a species with a surprisingly rich musical repertoire.

Peering through the undergrowth, Elaine found a Siberian Blue Robin singing, its tiny perch a small stage for a one-bird play. Siberian’s song is like a soliloquy, a series of statements punctuated by long pauses.

List 1 of 1 for Sun. 29 May 2016 (44 species). Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Mostly cloudy, then rainy; 11-22° C. Visibility 8 km. Wind W 3 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 80 (moderate). Sunrise 03:31, sunset 18:57. SUN 29 MAY 2016 03:40-16:25. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 2
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha 3
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 3
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 2
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 5
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 1
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus 5
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 3
owl sp. 1
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 2
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos 2
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 5
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 1
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 2
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 1
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 8
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 2
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 20
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus 10
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 36
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea amurensis 1
Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi 11
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 1
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 6
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 18
Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon 4
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 6
Lanceolated Warbler L. lanceolata 1
Turdus sp. 1 most likely Grey-backed or Pale
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 2
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 7
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 3
White-throated Rock Thrush Monticola gularis 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 1
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 9
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 7
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 2
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 3
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 1
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 9

Mon. 30 May 2016

Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica, Xidaquan, 30 May 2016.

We explored Xidaquan proper then drove down County Road Z004. (The junction of County Road Z003 and Z004 is at 45.713830, 130.359459.) In an area of hardwoods I recorded dueling songs of Blue-and-white Flycatcher and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and found a pair of White-backed Woodpecker.

List 1 of 1 for Mon. 30 May 2016 (45 species). Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z004 (45.713830, 130.359459) and County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Mostly cloudy, then rainy; 11-22° C. Visibility 8 km. Wind W 3 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 80 (moderate). Sunrise 03:31, sunset 18:57. MON 30 MAY 2016 04:00-16:15. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 5
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 1
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 5
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 4
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 5
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 1
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 2
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 2
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 7
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 3
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos 2 (pair)
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 4
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 2
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 3
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow/Marsh Tit Poecile montanus/P. palustris 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 30
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 5
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 23
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 3
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 4
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 19
Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon 4
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 5
Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica 1
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 6
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 6
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 1
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 9
Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope 1
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 6
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 2
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 3
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 2
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 3
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 4
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides weigoldi 1
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 6
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 15

Tues. 31 May 2016

Elaine Du (L) showing her niece Lisa Li a quartet of Little Ringed Plover in the fields behind Dawucun, 31 May 2016.
Elaine Du (L) showing her niece Lisa Li a quartet of Little Ringed Plover in the fields behind Dawucun, 31 May 2016.

Elaine and I rested at home on a rainy day. In the afternoon the rain let up and we walked into the fields, still barren. We were with Elaine’s niece Lisa Li. We showed Lisa 4 Little Ringed Plover, and I sound-recorded 2 Meadow Bunting.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 4
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides weigoldi 2

Wed. 1 June 2016

If you want to hear White’s Thrush, Grey-backed Thrush, and Pale Thrush, then come to places such as Boli County, Elaine’s hometown in eastern Heilongjiang. If you want to see these species, then you will have a better chance in Shanghai, where all three spend the winter, and where they are commonly seen in inner-city parks. Today’s dawn chorus (at the wee hour of 03:00) featured spirited performances by all three of these species, plus Siberian Thrush. Their performances however were given mostly offstage. White’s never appeared at all, but its mournful one-note whistle was heard everywhere until about an hour after sunrise. Pale and Grey-backed sing powerfully but well back from the road, deep in the thickly vegetated and currently tick-infested forest. Siberian was atop his accustomed high tree near the entrance to Xidaquan National Forest.

Migrants keep arriving, with Asian Brown Flycatcher appearing for the first time on this trip. Its song, a subdued twitter which I enjoyed for the first time today, is unexciting, like its drab plumage. The more colorfully plumaged Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, by contrast, has a much more colorful song, long, slow, deliberate, and loud, like that of Blue-and-white Flycatcher.

List 1 of 1 for Wed. 1 June 2016 (41 species)

Stejneger's Stonechat, Xidaquan, 1 June 2016.
Stejneger’s Stonechat, Xidaquan, 1 June 2016.

Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Partly cloudy; 8-21° C. Visibility 6 km. Wind W 3 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 90 (moderate). Sunrise 03:30, sunset 18:58. WED 01 JUN 2016 03:00-12:30. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 1
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 2
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 6
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 3
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus 10
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 3
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos 2 (pair)
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 2
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes 4
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 4
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 3
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 6
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 1
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea amurensis 2
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 3
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 12
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 2
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 5
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 15
Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon 2
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 3
Lanceolated Warbler L. lanceolata 3
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 3
Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica 1
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 8
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 6
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 8
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris 2
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 7
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 2
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 6
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 4
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 2
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 2
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 7
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 1
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 7
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 9

Thurs. 2 June 2016

This morning a 01:45 wakeup call got us calling Grey Nightjar, yet another Shanghai-area passage migrant we have rediscovered here. Standing at the glorious Silver Birch Grove (白桦林) at Xidaquan National Forest, Elaine and I spotted movement in the crown. It was White’s Thrush, hopping to the top to sing. In amazement we watched this normally secretive, nay invisible, species sing a two-note song. The first, lower note was apparently hummed through its closed or barely open mouth, while for the high note the thrush gaped wide. In Shanghai, I have seen White’s countless times and heard it sing exactly once, in Century Park this past April. Here in eastern Heilongjiang, the situation is reversed, with the early-morning song being heard throughout the forest, and views nearly impossible.

Another big highlight today occurred when I was alone in the vast forest. By sheer luck I happened to stop just below the well-concealed nest of Northern Goshawk. I had heard the bird calling distantly and hit “record,” just in case. The forest Accipitriform swooped in, crying as it arrived. Elaine, meanwhile, 3 km away with the car, witnessed Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo being chased away by Large-billed Crow.

Other highlights were a high count of 21 singing Siberian Blue Robin, a forlorn-looking tytleri Barn Swallow resting all alone in the dusty parking lot of the visitors’ area, and the rediscovery at another quarry of the local family of Eurasian Eagle-Owl.

List 1 of 1 for Thurs. 2 June 2016 (40 species)

Early morning at the lake near the entrance to Xidaquan National Forest, 2 June 2016.
Early morning at the lake near the entrance to Xidaquan National Forest, 2 June 2016.

Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Partly cloudy; 8-21° C. Visibility 6 km. Wind W 3 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 90 (moderate). Sunrise 03:30, sunset 18:58. THU 02 JUN 2016 02:50-13:40. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 2
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 1
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 9
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 1
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus 6
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 1
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 3 near Jiulong Reservoir
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka 4
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos 1
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius 2
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 5
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 3
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 1
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 3
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 2
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1 tytleri
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 19
Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi 22
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 4
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 3
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 17
Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis 3
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 4
Lanceolated Warbler L. lanceolata 4
Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica 1
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 13
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 5
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 9
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 2
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 4
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 21
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 2
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 2
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 2
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 8
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 12

Fri. 3 June 2016

Rain cut short our day, but not before an early start bought us a ticket to the dawn chorus. What a show it was.

List 1 of 1 for Fri. 3 June 2016 (36 species)

Early-morning scene, Xidaquan, 3 June 2016. Siberian Rubythroat, Long-tailed Rosefinch, and Dusky Warbler use the scrubby area in the foreground.
Early-morning scene, Xidaquan, 3 June 2016. Siberian Rubythroat, Long-tailed Rosefinch, and Dusky Warbler use the scrubby area in the foreground.

Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Cloudy, then rainy; 3-8° C. Visibility 6 km. Wind W 3 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 90 (moderate). Sunrise 03:29, sunset 18:59. FRI 03 JUN 2016 02:40-08:45. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 1
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 3
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris 2 at Jiulong Reservoir
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 3
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus 5
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 5
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 1 near Jiulong Reservoir
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka 8
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos 2
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 2
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 8
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 30
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 2
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 13
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 1
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 17
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 6
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 5
Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica 3
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 11
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 3
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 10
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 5
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane 8
Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope 1
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 3
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 5
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 3
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 2
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 4
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 5
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 13

Sat. 4 June 2016

Elaine and I returned to the hills south of Dawucun. We found Oriental Dollarbird flying overhead, noted Siberian Accentor, and saw Asian Brown Flycatcher.

List 1 of 1 for Sat. 4 June 2016 (24 species). Birds noted in hills S of Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612) Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range: 250-550 m. Sunrise 03:28, sunset 19:02. SAT 04 JUN 2016 08:40-11:45. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 3
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 2
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 1
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 2
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 1
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 1
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 1
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 3
Japanese Tit Parus minor 1
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 3
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 4
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 11
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 2
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 2
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris 1
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 4
Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella 1
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 2
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 2
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides weigoldi 2
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 1

Sun. 5 June 2016

For the second straight day we birded the hills south of Elaine’s home village. An Eastern Buzzard caught a snake, and we stumbled on nesting Yellow-throated Bunting.

List 1 of 1 for Sun. 5 June 2016 (21 species). Birds noted in hills S of Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612) Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range: 250-550 m. Cloudy; 11-24° C. Visibility 10 km. Wind W 11 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 57 (moderate). Sunrise 03:27, sunset 19:02. SUN 05 JUN 2016 08:40-11:45. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 2
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 2
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 1
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 3
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 6
Japanese Tit Parus minor 1
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 6
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 3
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 7
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea amurensis 4
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 2
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 15
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 4
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 2
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 7
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 1
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans 7
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 1

Mon. 6 June 2016

On a rainy day we rested and visited family.

Tues. 7 June 2016

Today Elaine and I added Eurasian Wryneck, Chinese Grey Shrike, and Hawfinch to our trip list. We went exploring for new habitats and found two good new areas.

Driving south rather than southwest (toward Xidaquan), Elaine and I drove into hills reaching 450 m in elevation. We made an eight-minute sound-recording of Grey-backed Thrush and did photo and voice studies of Willow Tit (local ssp. baicalensis) and Coal Tit (ater). The latter is the same small-crested nominate ssp. known to birders in Continental Europe. Another taxon here in Heilongjiang and known to European birders is the snowball-headed Long-tailed Tit (caudatus), also noted today.

We continued driving south, leaving Boli County and Qitaihe Prefecture and briefly entering Linkou County, Mudanjiang Prefecture. Here we were dismayed, despite the stunningly beautiful agricultural scenery. Nearly every square inch of the land is taken up either by farming or forestry (conifer plantations). We turned back and found more good habitat on a forest road in the Hongwei Linchang area (45.638703, 130.547478). There, we found singing White-throated Rock Thrush.

List 1 of 1 for Tues. 7 June 2016 (44 species). Birds noted in Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. List includes birds noted along road X012 as far as Qingshan in Linkou County, Mudanjiang Prefecture. Other spots are the creek bottom in the Hongwei Linchang area at 45.638703, 130.547478 and Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Sunrise 03:28, sunset 19:04. TUE 07 JUN 2016 08:50-17:55. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 1
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 4
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 3
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris 2 at Jiulong Reservoir
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 5
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 1
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 3
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 2
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 1
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 1
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla 1 near Qingshan
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius 2
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 5
Chinese Grey Shrike L. sphenocercus sphenocercus 1 near Qingshan
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 5
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 2
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 5
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 7
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 5
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 1
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 5
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea amurensis 2
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 6
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 3
Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon 2
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 1
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 4
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 1
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 1
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane 1
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
White-throated Rock Thrush Monticola gularis 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 5
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 3
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 3
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica 3
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes 2
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 3
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 11

Wed. 8 June 2016

Band-bellied Crake, 8 June 2016, Boli, Heilongjiang, China. Photo by Craig Brelsford.
Band-bellied Crake, 8 June 2016. The crake called spontaneously at 06:00 as Elaine and I were breakfasting near a stream at 45.638703, 130.547478.

Found today near Boli: incredible Band-bellied Crake. A near-threatened species, Porzana paykullii breeds in the Russian Far East, where it apparently is still locally common, and in Northeast China, where it is almost surely declining. It winters south to Indonesia.

This graceful and little-known rail is far and away Elaine’s and my Bird of the Heilongjiang Trip and a life bird for both of us.

Elaine and I scouted out new birding sites yesterday, and Band-bellied Crake was the payoff today. The crake called spontaneously at 06:00 as Elaine and I were breakfasting near the stream at 45.638703, 130.547478. Elaine and I searched upstream and downstream for hours, finding no other crakes. We returned to the breakfast spot at 10:10 and found our crake again. Was he really the only one?

Elaine filmed me photographing the crake. The crake is highly sensitive to playback and mistook my speaker for a rival.

Almost totally given over to agriculture, eastern Heilongjiang offers less and less habitat suitable for crakes and dozens of other environmentally sensitive birds. A trip through farming areas such as those we passed through yesterday shows dramatically what has been lost. Miles and miles of the formerly endless northern temperate forest here have been torn down and plowed under, in places down to the very last square inch.

Fortunately for us, Elaine happens to be from one of the best areas left for forest birding in this part of Heilongjiang. The place where we found the crake is an area of poor to good habitat just 15 km S of Elaine’s home village. Xidaquan, the large forest reserve with much good to excellent habitat, is just 21 km away.

List 1 of 1 for Wed. 8 June 2016 (21 species). Birds noted in Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. List includes birds noted in the Hongwei Linchang area (45.638703, 130.547478) and at Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Mostly cloudy; 12-21° C. Visibility 10 km. Wind SSE 3 km/h. Sunrise 03:26, sunset 19:04. WED 08 JUN 2016 05:30-10:50. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 3
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 3
Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 2
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 2
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 1
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 1
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka 1 heard at Dawucun at 20:20
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 1
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 3
Japanese Tit Parus minor 1
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 2
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 2
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 8
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane 1
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 2
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 2
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 8

Thurs. 9 June 2016

Today Elaine and I checked on our Band-bellied Crake and obtained even better sound-recordings of the rare rail. Another careful search of the creek bottom failed to turn up any more crakes. We continued exploring the area around Hongwei Linchang. We found some areas that if left untouched in a generation or two may be majestic forests again, but we have yet to find a single place on par with Xidaquan National Forest, our core research area. Today we added Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Olive-backed Pipit to our trip list.

List 1 of 1 for Thurs. 9 June 2016 (32 species). Birds noted in Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. List includes birds noted in the Hongwei Linchang area (45.638703, 130.547478) and at Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Cloudy; 12-21° C. Visibility 10 km. Wind NE 6 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 70 (moderate). Sunrise 03:26, sunset 19:05. THU 09 JUN 2016 04:40-11:40. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 4
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 2
Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 5
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 1
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus 1
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 2
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dryobates minor 1
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 1
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius brandtii 3
Carrion Crow Corvus corone 3
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 5
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 3
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 4
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 3
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 2
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 1
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane 5
Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope 3
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 3
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
White-throated Rock Thrush Monticola gularis 1
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 4
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 1
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 1
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 1
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 4
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 4
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 18

Fri. 10 June 2016

We made our final trip to Xidaquan. Rain kept us in the car for three hours. We birded the forest then drove to Jiulong Reservoir, where we added to our trip list White-throated Needletail.

List 1 of 1 for Fri. 10 June 2016 (41 species). Birds noted around Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园], 45.727751, 130.317316), Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. Elevation range of areas birded at Xidaquan: 400-800 m. List includes birds noted along County Road Z003 leading to Xidaquan as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Rainy; 12-17° C. Visibility 3 km. Wind SE 15 km/h. PM2.5 AQI (Qitaihe): 72 (moderate). Sunrise 03:26, sunset 19:06. FRI 10 JUN 2016 03:50-16:00. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 2
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 2
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 8
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 1
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 2
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 2
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris 2 at Jiulong Reservoir
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 13
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 1
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus 3
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 1
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 2 at Jiulong Reservoir
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus 3 at Jiulong Reservoir
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo 2
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 4
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 7
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 7
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 6
Japanese Tit Parus minor 1
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 20
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 9
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 1
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 5
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 10
Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon 3
Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps 1
Oriental Reed Warbler A. orientalis 1
Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata 3
Lanceolated Warbler L. lanceolata 1
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 1
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 2
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 4
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 2
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane 3
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 2
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 7
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 3
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala spodocephala 3

Sat. 11 June 2016

Driving on the road to Xidaquan, Elaine and I turned off at the junction at 45.700923, 130.483932 and birded that road. We found 28 singing Black-browed Reed Warbler.

List 1 of 1 for Sat. 11 June 2016 (34 species). Birds noted in Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]), Qitaihe Prefecture (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]), Heilongjiang, China. List includes birds noted along roads Z003 and Z002 as well as records from Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库], 45.706874, 130.517068) & Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村], 45.732679, 130.589612, elev. 250 m). Cloudy; 14-19° C. Visibility 4 km. Wind S 11 km/h. Sunrise 03:26, sunset 19:06. SAT 11 JUN 2016 08:40-15:15. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 6
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 3
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 6
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus 1
Common Cuckoo C. canorus 1
Cuculus sp. 1 on power line, thin-barred, prob. canorus
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo 2 at Jiulong Reservoir
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 8
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 5
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater 1
Willow Tit Poecile montanus baicalensis 2
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica ca. 100
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 11
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi 1
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 1
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes 2
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 5
Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps 28
Oriental Reed Warbler A. orientalis 2
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 1
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana 1
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane 2
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 4
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 15
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 3
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 2
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 1
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus ussuriensis 1
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica ussuriensis 7
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala spodocephala 24

Sun. 12 June 2016

We awoke at Elaine’s parents’ house, said goodbye to the family, drove to Jiamusi, and flew from Jiamusi to Pudong Airport in Shanghai.

Systematic List of Birds Noted in Boli County, Heilongjiang, May-June 2016

Anseriformes: Anatidae

Mandarin Duck
鸳鸯 (yuānyāng)
Aix galericulata

20 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
11 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Mallard
绿头鸭 (lǜtóu yā)
Anas platyrhynchos

2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-27
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-30
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-07
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Eastern Spot-billed Duck
斑嘴鸭 (bānzuǐyā)
Anas zonorhyncha

5 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-27
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-28
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
5 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-30
8 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Galliformes: Phasianidae

Common Pheasant
雉鸡 (zhìjī)
Phasianus colchicus

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
4 along X012 on 2016-06-07
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
4 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
6 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Podicipediformes: Podicipedidae

Little Grebe
小䴙䴘 (xiǎo pìtī)
Tachybaptus ruficollis

2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-27
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Great Crested Grebe
凤头䴙䴘 (fèngtóu pìtī)
Podiceps cristatus

1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Accipitriformes: Accipitridae

Crested Honey Buzzard
凤头蜂鹰 (fèngtóu fēngyīng)
Pernis ptilorhynchus orientalis

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28

Northern Goshawk
苍鹰 (cāngyīng)
Accipiter gentilis

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04

Eastern Buzzard
普通鵟 (pǔtōng kuáng)
Buteo japonicus

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-07
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
3 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Gruiformes: Rallidae

Band-bellied Crake
斑胁田鸡 (bānxié tiánjī)
Porzana paykullii

1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Charadriiformes: Charadriidae

Little Ringed Plover
金眶鸻 (jīnkuàng héng)
Charadrius dubius

4 at Dawucun on 2016-05-31
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae

Common Sandpiper
矶鹬 (jī yù)
Actitis hypoleucos

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-07
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Columbiformes: Columbidae

Hill Pigeon
岩鸽 (yángē)
Columba rupestris

3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-27
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-03
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-07
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Oriental Turtle Dove
山斑鸠 (shān bānjiū)
Streptopelia orientalis

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
5 along X012 on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
5 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
13 at Jiulong Reservoir on 201606-10
6 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Cuculiformes: Cuculidae

Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo
北鹰鹃 (běi yīngjuān)
Hierococcyx hyperythrus

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-07
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Indian Cuckoo
四声杜鹃 (sìshēng dùjuān0
Cuculus micropterus

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Oriental Cuckoo
北方中杜鹃 (běifāng zhōngdùjuān)
Cuculus optatus

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
10 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Common Cuckoo
大杜鹃 (dà dùjuān)
Cuculus canorus

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
1 along X012 on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Strigiformes: Strigidae

Eurasian Eagle-Owl
雕鸮 (diāoxiāo)
Bubo bubo

3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-27
3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-28
3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-02
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-03
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-07
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-11

Caprimulgiformes: Caprimulgidae

Grey Nightjar
普通夜鹰 (pǔtōng yèyīng)
Caprimulgus jotaka

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-08

Apodiformes: Apodidae

White-throated Needletail
白喉针尾雨燕 (báihóu zhēnwěiyǔyàn)
Hirundapus caudacutus

3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Coraciiformes: Coraciidae

Oriental Dollarbird
三宝鸟 (sānbǎo niǎo)
Eurystomus orientalis

1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04

Coraciiformes: Alcedinidae

Common Kingfisher
普通翠鸟 (pǔtōng cuìniǎo)
Alcedo atthis

2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-29
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30

Piciformes: Picidae

Eurasian Wryneck
蚁䴕 (yǐ liè)
Jynx torquilla

1 near Qingshan on 2016-06-07

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
小斑啄木鸟 (xiǎo bānzhuómùniǎo)
Dryobates minor

1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

White-backed Woodpecker
白背啄木鸟 (báibèi zhuómùniǎo)
Dendrocopos leucotos leucotos

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03

Black Woodpecker
黑啄木鸟 (hēizhuómùniǎo)
Dryocopus martius

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
2 near Qingshan on 2016-06-07

Falconiformes: Falconidae

Common Kestrel
红隼 (hóng sǔn)
Falco tinnunculus

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05

Eurasian Hobby
燕隼 (yàn sǔn)
Falco subbuteo

1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-28
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Passeriformes: Campephagidae

Ashy Minivet
灰山椒鸟 (huī shānjiāoniǎo)
Pericrocotus divaricatus

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27

Passeriformes: Laniidae

Brown Shrike
红尾伯劳 (hóngwěi bóláo)
Lanius cristatus

5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
5 along X012 on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
4 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10
8 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Chinese Grey Shrike
楔尾伯劳 (xiēwěi bóláo)
Lanius sphenocercus sphenocercus

1 near Qingshan on 2016-06-07

Passeriformes: Corvidae

Eurasian Jay
松鸦 (sōngyā)
Garrulus glandarius brandtii

7 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
5 along X012 & Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Azure-winged Magpie
灰喜鹊 (huī xǐquè)
Cyanopica cyanus

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Eurasian Magpie
喜鹊 (xǐquè)
Pica pica

1 at Dawucun on 2016-05-28
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-29
2 along X012 on 2016-06-07

Spotted Nutcracker
星鸦 (xīng yā)
Nucifraga caryocatactes

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01

Carrion Crow
小嘴乌鸦 (xiǎozuǐ wūyā)
Corvus corone

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Large-billed Crow
大嘴乌鸦 (dàzuǐ wūyā)
Corvus macrorhynchos

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
3 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
5 along X012 on 2016-06-07
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
5 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Paridae

Coal Tit
煤山雀 (méi shānquè)
Periparus ater ater

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
1 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Willow Tit
褐头山雀 (hètóu shānquè)
Poecile montanus baicalensis

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
6 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
7 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
2 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Willow Tit or Marsh Tit

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30

Japanese Tit
远东山雀 (yuǎndōng shānquè)
Parus minor

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
4 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Passeriformes: Hirundinidae

Barn Swallow
家燕 (jiā yàn)
Hirundo rustica

8 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
20 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 tytleri at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
6 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
5 along X012 on 2016-06-07
20 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10

Asian House Martin
烟腹毛脚燕 (yānfù máojiǎoyàn)
Delichon dasypus

10 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29

Red-rumped Swallow
金腰燕 (jīnyāo yàn)
Cecropis daurica

5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
36 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
30 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
19 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
30 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
1 along X012 on 2016-06-07
ca. 100 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Aegithalidae

Long-tailed Tit
北长尾山雀 (běi chángwěishānquè)
Aegithalos caudatus caudatus

5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
7 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
5 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
5 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
11 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Phylloscopidae

Dusky Warbler
褐柳莺 (hè liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus fuscatus

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 along X012 on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Radde’s Warbler
巨嘴柳莺 (jùzuǐ liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus schwarzi

24 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
17 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
11 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
23 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
12 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
22 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
13 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
6 along X012 on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
4 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Pallas’s Leaf Warbler
黄腰柳莺 (huángyāoliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus proregulus

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
4 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Arctic Warbler
极北柳莺 (jíběi liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus borealis

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
灰脚柳莺 (huījiǎo liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus tenellipes

10 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
10 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
2 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Eastern Crowned Warbler
冕柳莺 (miǎn liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus coronatus

20 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
29 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
18 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
19 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
15 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
17 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
17 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
11 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
15 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
3 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
8 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
10 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
5 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Acrocephalidae

Oriental Reed Warbler
东方大苇莺 (dōngfāng dàwěiyīng)
Acrocephalus orientalis

2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-28
3 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-02
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10
2 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Black-browed Reed Warbler
黑眉苇莺 (hēiméi wěiyīng)
Acrocephalus bistrigiceps

2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-28
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-10
28 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Thick-billed Warbler
厚嘴苇莺 (hòuzuǐ wěiyīng)
Iduna aedon

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-06-07
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Passeriformes: Locustellidae

Lanceolated Warbler
矛斑蝗莺 (máobān huángyīng)
Locustella lanceolata

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler
苍眉蝗莺 (cāngméi huángyīng)
Locustella fasciolata

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Passeriformes: Zosteropidae

Chestnut-flanked White-eye
红胁绣眼鸟 (hóngxié xiùyǎnniǎo)
Zosterops erythropleurus

9 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
15 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
4 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
1 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Sittidae

Eurasian Nuthatch
普通䴓 pǔtōng shī
Sitta europaea amurensis

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
2 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07

Passeriformes: Turdidae

Siberian Thrush
白眉地鸫 (báiméi dìdōng)
Geokichla sibirica

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03

White’s Thrush
怀氏虎鸫 (huáishì hǔdōng)
Zoothera aurea

8 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
13 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
11 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Grey-backed Thrush
灰背鸫 (huībèi dōng)
Turdus hortulorum

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
4 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Pale Thrush
白腹鸫 (báifù dōng)
Turdus pallidus

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
10 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10

Passeriformes: Muscicapidae

Asian Brown Flycatcher
北灰鹟 (běihuī wēng)
Muscicapa latirostris

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04

Blue-and-white Flycatcher
白腹姬鹟 (báifù jīwēng)
Cyanoptila cyanomelana

5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Siberian Blue Robin
蓝歌鸲 (lán gēqú)
Larvivora cyane

3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
21 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
5 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
2 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Rufous-tailed Robin
红尾歌鸲 (hóngwěi gēqú)
Larvivora sibilans

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-07

Siberian Rubythroat
红喉歌鸲 (hónghóu gēqú)
Calliope calliope

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
白眉姬鹟 (báiméi jīwēng)
Ficedula zanthopygia

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
4 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
7 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
2 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
3 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Daurian Redstart
北红尾鸲 (běi hóngwěiqú)
Phoenicurus auroreus

4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 along X012 on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

White-throated Rock Thrush
白喉矶鸫 (báihóu jīdōng)
Monticola gularis

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Stejneger’s Stonechat
东亚石䳭 (dōngyà shíjí)
Saxicola stejnegeri

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
4 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Passeridae

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
树麻雀 (shù máquè)
Passer montanus

10 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
5 along X012 on 2016-06-07
15 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Prunellidae

Siberian Accentor
棕眉山岩鹨 (zōngméi yánliù)
Prunella montanella

1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04

Passeriformes: Motacillidae

Grey Wagtail
灰鹡鸰 huī jílíng
Motacilla cinerea

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
4 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
3 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

White Wagtail
白鹡鸰 (bái jílíng)
Motacilla alba leucopsis

6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
3 along X012 on 2016-06-07
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
2 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Olive-backed Pipit
树鹨 (shù liù)
Anthus hodgsoni

1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 along Z003 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Fringillidae

Hawfinch
锡嘴雀 (xīzuǐ què)
Coccothraustes coccothraustes

2 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07

Long-tailed Rosefinch
长尾朱雀 (chángwěi zhūquè)
Carpodacus sibiricus ussuriensis

1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Grey-capped Greenfinch
金翅雀 (jīnchìquè)
Chloris sinica ussuriensis

8 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
4 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
3 at Dawucun on 2016-06-07
7 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Passeriformes: Emberizidae

Meadow Bunting
三道眉草鹀 (sāndàoméi cǎowū)
Emberiza cioides weigoldi

2 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-27
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-28
1 at Jiulong Reservoir on 2016-05-30
2 at Dawucun on 2016-05-31
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04

Tristram’s Bunting
白眉鹀 (báiméi wū)
Emberiza tristrami

13 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
7 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
8 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
5 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
3 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
4 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09

Chestnut-eared Bunting
栗耳鹀 (lì’ěr wū)
Emberiza fucata

2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08

Yellow-throated Bunting
黄喉鹀 (huánghóu wū)
Emberiza elegans

2 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
6 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
1 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
2 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
7 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
2 at Qingsong Ling on 2016-06-07
2 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
4 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
1 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

Black-faced Bunting
灰头鹀 (huītóu wū)
Emberiza spodocephala spodocephala

14 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-27
12 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-28
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-29
15 at Xidaquan on 2016-05-30
9 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-01
12 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-02
13 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-03
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-04
1 at Dawucun on 2016-06-05
11 along X012 on 2016-06-07
8 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-08
18 at Hongwei Linchang on 2016-06-09
3 at Xidaquan on 2016-06-10
24 along Z002 on 2016-06-11

List of Place Names

Boli: name that may refer to either Boli County or Boli Town.

Boli County (Bólì Xiàn [勃利县]): jurisdiction in Qitaihe Prefecture, SE Heilongjiang. Area: 3,962 sq. km. Pop.: 370,000.

Boli Town (Bólì Zhèn [勃利镇]): urbanized area in & administrative center of Boli County. 45.752960, 130.579479.

Changbai Mountains (Chángbái Shān [长白山]): range running from SE Heilongjiang S to North Korea. Laoye Mountains near Boli are part of Changbai Mountains.

Dawucun (Dàwǔcūn [大五村]): village in Boli County, Qitaihe Prefecture, Heilongjiang, 3 km from Boli Town. Birthplace of Elaine Du. 45.732679, 130.589612.

Heilongjiang (Hēilóngjiāng [黑龙江]): province NE China. Area: 454,800 sq. km. Area (comparative): slightly larger than Sweden & California. Pop.: 38.3 million.

Hongwei Linchang (Hóngwěi Línchǎng [宏伟林场]): area in Boli County S of Boli Town. Important birding spot at 45.638703, 130.547478.

Jiamusi (Jiāmùsī Shì [佳木斯市]): prefecture-level city E Heilongjiang.

Jiulong Reservoir (Jiǔlóng Shuǐkù [九龙水库]): reservoir in Boli County S of Boli Town. 45.706874, 130.517068.

Laoye Mountains (Lǎoye Lǐng [老爷岭]): offshoot of Changbai Mountains. Xidaquan National Forest is in the Laoye Mountains.

Qitaihe (Qītáihé Shì [七台河市]): prefecture E Heilongjiang of which Boli County is a part. Area: 6,221 sq. km. Pop.: 920,000.

Xidaquan National Forest (Xīdàquān Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán [西大圈国家森林公园]): forest reserve in Boli County, Heilongjiang. 45.727751, 130.317316.

Main gate to Xidaquan National Forest, 2 June 2016.
Main gate to Xidaquan National Forest, 2 June 2016.

Selected Bibliography

Brazil, Mark. Birds of East Asia. Princeton University Press. Co-first reference (along with Collins Bird Guide) in Northeast China.

Brelsford, Craig. A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China. (Work in progress; notes and drafts in Craig’s laptop. Please help us create this field guide by making a donation.)

del Hoyo, Josep, et al., eds. The Handbook of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions.

Kennerley, Peter & David Pearson. Reed and Bush Warblers. Christopher Helm.

Lynx Edicions. The Internet Bird Collection. ibc.lynxeds.com

MacKinnon, John & Karen Phillipps. A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press.

Oriental Bird Club. Oriental Bird Images. orientalbirdimages.org.

Smith, Andrew T. & Yan Xie, eds. Mammals of China. Princeton University Press.

Mullarney, Killian, Lars Svensson, Dan Zetterström, Peter Grant. Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins. Co-first reference (along with Birds of East Asia) in Northeast China.

Xeno-Canto Foundation. Xeno-Canto: Bird Sounds from Around the World. xeno-canto.org. Craig has downloaded hundreds of calls from this Web site.

Equipment

My trusty Olympus DM-650 sound recorder. All the recordings in this report were made with it.
My trusty Olympus DM-650 sound recorder. All the recordings in this report were made with it.

Cameras: Nikon D3S; for landscapes, Apple iPad, Apple iPhone 4S, and Apple iPhone 6
Lens: Nikon VR 600mm F/4G
Sound recorder: Olympus DM-650
Binoculars: Swarovski EL 8 x 32 (Craig), Zeiss Conquest HD 8 x 42 (Elaine)
Spotting scope: Swarovski ATX-95

Featured image: Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii, 8 June 2016, Boli, Heilongjiang, China. Photo by Craig Brelsford.