Sijiao Island

Recently, there seems to have been an influx of Japanese migrants in Shanghai. The Dream Team noted 37 Japanese Thrush on 7 Nov., and Japanese Robin and Yellow Bunting have been reported in the Shanghai area. Elaine and I decided to try to determine whether the islands farther out than Lesser Yangshan are part of the Japan-China migration route. The thesis that Elaine and I were trying to prove is as follows: “Inasmuch as Sijiao Island is larger, more thickly vegetated, better protected, and farther out to sea than Lesser Yangshan, the selection there of migratory birds, especially those from Japan, is richer than at Lesser Yangshan.” Thesis 2: “As Sijiao Island is the northernmost of a line of islands oriented roughly on a N-S axis, many birds having crossed the East China Sea from Kyushu will use that line of islands as stepping stones to mainland Asia at Ningbo, Zhejiang.” After visiting Sijiao Island 11-13 Nov. 2015, Elaine and I have found little to support those theses. Sijiao Island is densely populated, with only the steep hillsides and mountaintops unused by humans. We found only one gully that compares to Garbage Dump Gully and Temple Mount on Lesser Yangshan.

Sijiao Island is small and crowded. The easily accessible areas at the mouths of the gullies are taken up by towns and farms, and the hillsides are too steep and thickly vegetated to bird. After a long search, I finally found a gully containing a small garbage dump and crude terraced gardens above. Paths to the gardens provided access to the secondary forest. In this cramped area I found about 30 species, among them weakly singing Brown-flanked Bush Warbler.
Sijiao Island is small and crowded. The easily accessible areas at the mouths of the gullies are taken up by towns and farms, and the hillsides are too steep and thickly vegetated to bird. After a long search, I finally found a gully containing a small garbage dump and crude terraced gardens above. Paths to the gardens provided access to the secondary forest. In this cramped area I found about 30 species, among them weakly singing Brown-flanked Bush Warbler.

This post contains a description of our three days on Sijiao plus visits to Lesser Yangshan and Nanhui at the beginning and end of the trip.

On Wed. 11 Nov., after the alarm woke us at 04:00, Elaine and I drove our rented Skoda from our apartment near Zhongshan Park in Puxi to Garbage Dump Gully on Lesser Yangshan. The gully was busy. Yellow-bellied Tit is not often seen on Lesser Yangshan, and we saw a female Japanese Thrush. Among the 10 Red-flanked Bluetail were 2 adult males. Chinese Sparrowhawk was distinguishable by the lack of bands on the wing linings.

We had to wait for the 11:30 ferry to Sijiao Island. During the crossing, which Elaine and I spent on the deck, we saw not a single bird. At Sijiao we drove off the ferry and started looking for habitat. I was looking for flat, wet areas near the mouth of a gully, but I soon saw that every bit of that sort of land has been put to use by the local people. Next, we searched for gullies higher up the steep, thickly vegetated mountainsides. We found one gully, now being used as a garbage dump, with gardens higher up. This gully produced about as good a mix of species as I have come to expect at Temple Mount and Garbage Dump Gully. We found Yellow-breasted Bunting, 2 Chestnut Bunting, and 2 Tristram’s Bunting, and we had long, close views of Brown-flanked Bush Warbler. A pair of Black Kite soared overhead, and a Rook passed over. Nearby, on the road just below the overlook at Dabeishan Scenic Area, we found Taiga Flycatcher. Daurian Redstart were numerous, and the sound of Light-vented Bulbul was constantly descending on us from the steep hillsides above.

Another look at the crude gardens and secondary forest near Dabeishan Scenic Area on Sijiao Island. Note entrance to WWII-era tunnel.
Another look at the crude gardens and secondary forest near Dabeishan Scenic Area on Sijiao Island. Note entrance to WWII-era tunnel.

List 1 of 2 for Wed. 11 Nov. 2015 (27 species)

Lesser Yangshan Island (Xiǎo Yángshān [小洋山]), island in Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang, China. List includes birds noted at Garbage Dump Gully (30.641565, 122.062836), Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089), & area near ferry terminal on E end of island (30.59939, 122.13448). Partly to mostly cloudy. Visibility ca. 15 km. High 19°C. WED 11 NOV 2015 06:45-07:30.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 8
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus 1
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina 8
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 1
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 2
Yellow-bellied Tit Pardaliparus venustulus 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 10
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 1
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 2
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 3
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 10
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 5
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 1
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 7 (4 leucopsis, 3 lugens)
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 1
Red-throated Pipit A. cervinus 1
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 22
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 8
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 2

List 2 of 2 for Wed. 11 Nov. 2015 (26 species)

Sijiao Island (Sìjiāoshān [泗礁山]), one of the Shengsi Islands (Shèngsì Lièdǎo [嵊泗列岛]), group of islands in Zhoushan Archipelago (Zhōushān Qúndǎo [舟山群岛]), Zhejiang, China (30.730897, 122.475384). List includes birds found at various points on Sijiao Island as well as at an unnamed garbage dump & light agricultural area (30.708679, 122.482823) in Dabeishan Scenic Area (Dàbēishān Jǐngqū [大悲山景区]). Partly to mostly cloudy. Visibility ca. 15 km. High 19°C. WED 11 NOV 2015 13:25-17:05.

Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 8
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 5
Accipiter sp. 2
Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus 2 (pair)
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 9
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 5
Rook Corvus frugilegus 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 2
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 30
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis ca. 200
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 4
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 4
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 6
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus 8
Turdus sp. 2
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 1
Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 37
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 125
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 38
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 2
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 4
Yellow-breasted Bunting E. aureola 1
Chestnut Bunting E. rutila 2
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 3

At the eastern end of Sijiao Island around Liujingtan Scenic Area one can view original scrub habitat. Farms and settlements are few, and the loudest sound is that of the surf hitting the rocks. We found three species of thrush here as well as Japanese Sparrowhawk.
At the eastern end of Sijiao Island around Liujingtan Scenic Area one can view original scrub habitat. Farms and settlements are few, and the loudest sound is that of the surf hitting the rocks. We found three species of thrush here as well as Japanese Sparrowhawk.

Thurs. 12 Nov. 2015
Sijiao Island

Elaine and I noted 40 species on Sijiao Island. We marveled at the original scrub forest on the eastern end of the island, and I returned to the unnamed garbage dump. Although we found no evidence of major migrations from Japan, the birding was nonetheless solid.

My day started at the unnamed garbage dump near Dabeishan. In two and a half hours, I noted 27 species. I had a first-of-season Rustic Bunting and heard Brown-flanked Bush Warbler singing weakly. The pair of Black Kite patrolled the sky above, and a Peregine Falcon zipped in, trying to catch one of the dozens of Light-vented Bulbul. I got a good look at Dusky Thrush, and I saw 5 Hawfinch.

I explored the hillsides around the gully, finding more good habitat. In the gully I walked into an old military tunnel and found dozens of centipedes as long as my hand.

The most unusual sighting of the day was this Hair-crested Drongo. What was this southeast China resident doing 40 km off the coast?
The most unusual sighting of the day was this Hair-crested Drongo. What was this southeast China resident doing 40 km off the coast?

I returned to our hotel to pick up Elaine. We drove toward Liujingtan Scenic Area on the eastern edge of the island. Along the way, we noted Hair-crested Drongo and a singing male Meadow Bunting. At Liujingtan, we declined to pay 100 yuan for the right to drive a mere 700 m beyond the gate. From the parking lot Elaine and I scanned the valley below. I followed a trail heading into the valley and soon found myself in uncut scrub–the primeval “forest” of Sijiao! The scenery was outstanding. Pinkish-brown rocks stand firm against the crashing sea. I moved down to a spot near the water, where the parking lot and civilization above were unseen. The great emptiness of the sea yawned before me. It was an odd sight, but the whistles of the ubiquitous Daurian Redstart pulled me back. Eyebrowed Thrush, Japanese Thrush, and Pale Thrush were taking berries from the many fruiting trees, and from a sturdy branch a Japanese Sparrowhawk was doing its own form of bird-watching.

Would I recommend a visit to Sijiao Island? If you are willing to spend about 600 yuan to get your car to Sijiao and back to Lesser Yangshan, and if you would like to spend an hour or two in line and another 80 minutes one way on the ferry to get here, then, yes, you should go–but if Elaine’s and my two days here are any indication, then you will find many of the same birds that can be found on Lesser Yangshan and at Nanhui. You will find better scenery, especially around Liujingtan, a larger area to bird than is the case on Lesser Yangshan, and more peace and quiet. The Wu dialect of the people here, so similar to Shanghaihua, reminds us that this island is close to Shanghai, but because it’s 40 km off the coast, requires hours to reach, and offers rocky coasts with crashing waves, Sijiao feels like a different world. It may not be worth a special trip, but birders here on a family visit will very much find it worth their while to bird the areas I have researched.

Sijiao Island (Sìjiāoshān [泗礁山]), one of the Shengsi Islands (Shèngsì Lièdǎo [嵊泗列岛]), group of islands in Zhoushan Archipelago (Zhōushān Qúndǎo [舟山群岛]), Zhejiang, China (30.730897, 122.475384). List includes birds found at various points on E end of Sijiao Island as well as at an unnamed garbage dump & light agricultural area (30.708679, 122.482823) in Dabeishan Scenic Area (Dàbēishān Jǐngqū [大悲山景区]). Other major birding area today is valley below entrance to Liujingtan Scenic Area (Liùjǐngtán Jǐngqū [六井潭景区]). (Head of trail entering valley at 30.720637, 122.523268.) Mostly cloudy & hazy with light shower in afternoon. Winds N to NNW. Visibility poor (ca. 5 km). High 18°C. THU 12 NOV 2015 06:45-09:15, 11:30-16:10.

Japanese Quail Coturnix japonica 1
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 1
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 12
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus 1
Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis 2
Accipiter sp. 1
Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus 2 (pair)
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 10
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 3
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 4
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus 1
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 1
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 8
Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis ca. 300
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 6 (3 singing weakly)
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 2
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 6
Zosterops sp. 24
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis 1
Eyebrowed Thrush T. obscurus 2
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 11
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 2
Naumann’s/Dusky Thrush T. naumanni/T. eunomus 5
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 19 (3 ad. male)
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 57
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 50
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 4 leucopsis
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 5
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 54
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes 5
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 25
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides 1 male singing
Tristram’s Bunting E. tristrami 5
Rustic Bunting E. rustica 1
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 52
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 4

Fri. 13 Nov. 2015
Lesser Yangshan & Nanhui

At Nanhui, Elaine and I found a late Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and 7 Black-faced Spoonbill. Buff-bellied Pipit were numerous. We noted 2 Peregrine Falcon on Lesser Yangshan.

The day began on Sijiao Island. We awoke at our small hotel and drove through the rain to the ferry terminal. The crossing was uneventful. Once on Lesser Yangshan, we drove straight to the parking area at Temple Mount and began birding. At Garbage Dump Gully we noted a female Mugimaki FlycatcherFicedula mugimaki always being the last of its genus to depart the Shanghai area. 3 of the 6 Red-flanked Bluetail were adult males. Impressive flocks of Brambling contained a total of 175 individuals. One of the Bull-headed Shrike was an adult.

At Nanhui we squinted into the backlit mudflats and found hundreds of duck, the most numerous by far being Eastern Spot-billed Duck. I managed to pick out several Mallard and a Northern Pintail before the cloud of birds moved even further out. We visited all 8 of the microforests and found Taiga Flycatcher, Goldcrest, and the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher. We birded till dark then drove to Dongtai, Jiangsu.

List 1 of 2 for Fri. 13 Nov. 2015 (28 species)

Lesser Yangshan Island (Xiǎo Yángshān [小洋山]), island in Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang, China. List includes birds noted at Garbage Dump Gully (30.641565, 122.062836), Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089), & Temple Mount (30.639866, 122.048327). Mostly cloudy. Winds WNW 25 km/h. High 17°C. FRI 13 NOV 2015 11:25-14:10.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 3
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus 2
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 2
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 5
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 35
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 1
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 2
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 1
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 3
Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 5
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 3
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 6 (3 ad. males)
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 23
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 4
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 2
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 3
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 175
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 2
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 13
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 2

Eurasian Sparrowhawk on Lesser Yangshan.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk on Lesser Yangshan.

List 2 of 2 for Fri. 13 Nov. 2015 (35 species)

Around Pudong Nanhui Dongtan Wetland (Pǔdōng Nánhuì Dōngtān Shīdì [浦东南汇东滩湿地]), Shanghai, China (30.920507, 121.973159); list includes birds found at Magic Parking Lot (30.882784, 121.972782), Magic GPS Point (30.880540, 121.964572), & the empty blue-roofed building & nearby microforests (30.961368, 121.952136). Mostly cloudy. Winds WNW 25 km/h. High 17°C. FRI 13 NOV 2015 14:45-17:10.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos ca. 50
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha ca. 1000
Northern Pintail A. acuta 1
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 5
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 11
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 9
Black-faced Spoonbill P. minor 7
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 60
Great Egret Ardea alba 13
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 175
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 5
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 5
Japanese Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata 1
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis ca. 50
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 3
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 2
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 20
Goldcrest Regulus regulus 1
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 10
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 5
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 3
Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 10
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 3
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 7 tschutschensis
White Wagtail M. alba 25
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 3
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 35
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 2
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 3
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 4
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 1

Featured image: Rock, sea, and hills covered with original Sijiao scrub, Liujingtan Scenic Area, Sijiao Island, Zhoushan, Zhejiang, China, 12 Nov. 2015.

70 Species at Yangshan & Nanhui

On Sat. 7 Nov. 2015 our birding Dream Team noted 70 species. Nanhui once again outshone Lesser Yangshan, yielding 12 Black-faced Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelican. Japanese Thrush were particularly abundant, with a count of 37. A juvenile Rook, uncommon in Shanghai, flew by briefly, and we noted 3 Reed Parrotbill.

At Nanhui we noted 37 Japanese Thrush, a high for me at that location. I paid particular attention to the females, shown here, as they are even more shy than the males.
At Nanhui we noted 37 Japanese Thrush, a high for me at that location. I paid particular attention to the females, shown here, as they are even more shy than the males.

The unseasonably warm day began on Lesser Yangshan. We saw two sizable flocks of Brambling, noted Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Black Kite, and found singing Meadow Bunting, territorial even in November.

At the Magic Parking Lot in Nanhui, we waited with the photographers for a smart male Siberian Rubythroat before driving down to the empty, blue-roofed building. The scrubby fields near the building produced 7 Japanese Quail as well as Peregrine Falcon, Hen Harrier, Eastern Marsh Harrier, the Rook, and several of the Japanese Thrush. In the nearby microforests, Japanese Thrush and Eyebrowed Thrush were massing in big flocks, underscoring the importance of those woodsy oases amid the reeds and rice fields that cover most of the area.

Exhausted from the heat, we sat down in Microforest 1 to rest. This was a good decision, as the quiet sitting allowed shyer birds to appear from the reeds just behind the trees. Among these were Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler and the Reed Parrotbills. A Brambling loitered on the forest floor, grooming itself. A Siskin, too hungry to care about us, picked at a seed head just meters away. Red-flanked Bluetail and Daurian Redstart foraged right at our feet.

At the Magic GPS Point, a Pale Thrush flew into a window at the garishly large, completely empty building next to the Holiday Inn. I picked up the unconscious bird, an adult male. The thrush had flown hundreds of kilometers to get to Nanhui, but it was exquisite, a beautiful specimen, flawless and clean. I stroked the incredibly soft, smooth feathers, marveling at their beauty. We snapped pictures of the outer tail feathers showing the white tip, important for ID’ing Pale Thrushes in flight. We set it down in a flower bed next to the rotten carcass of a Black-capped Kingfisher that doubtlessly had met its end by flying into the same huge windows. We feared the thrush was dead, but to our surprise, when we came back a while later, the thrush had disappeared. Few Chinese pick up dead birds, and I’ve never seen cats in the area, so it is highly possible that the thrush survived the collision and went on its way.

Holding this Pale Thrush, feeling its body heat, admiring its pristine plumage, flawless despite the long flight from northeast Asia–what a moving experience. We thought we had lost this adult male, but when we returned later and saw no bird, we were filled with hope.
Holding this Pale Thrush, feeling its body heat, admiring its pristine plumage, flawless despite the long flight from northeast Asia–what a moving experience. We thought we had lost this adult male, but when we returned later and saw no bird, we were filled with hope.

The Rook, a scarce winter visitor in the Shanghai region, required some analysis; it was a good thing I got photos. Looking at the photos on my MacBook, I had the following thought process: (1) Bill, forehead much unlike Large-billed. (2) Is our bird therefore Carrion Crow or juvenile Rook? (3) Mark Brazil (Birds of East Asia) has Rook as a winter visitor to Shanghai region but has Carrion Crow no further S than Hebei. Elaine and I also have experience with Rook in this region; we noted 2 Rook on Lesser Yangshan on 20 Sept. 2014. We have never noted Carrion Crow in the region. (4) My photos clearly show a crow with a straight culmen, not decurved like that of Carrion–a straight culmen being a classic feature of Rook.

This bird has a culmen less decurved than that of Carrion Crow, leading me to believe that it is a juvenile Rook.
This bird has a culmen less decurved than that of Carrion Crow, leading me to believe that it is a juvenile Rook.

The all-black crows are uncommon in Shanghai. Whenever birders see an all-black crow in this area, we should take it seriously and try hard for an ID. Many birders find crows boring, but Rook in Shanghai is one of the most interesting records we had that day.

The Dream Team consists of veteran birder Michael Grunwell, husband-and-wife team Stephan Popp and Xueping Popp, Elaine, and me. With Michael’s knowledge and Xueping and Elaine’s diligence, and with Stephan and me taking care of the record shots, the Dream Team almost always nails the ID.

List 1 of 2 for Sat. 7 Nov. 2015 (29 species)

Lesser Yangshan Island (Xiǎo Yángshān [小洋山]), island in Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang, China. List includes birds noted at Garbage Dump Gully (30.641565, 122.062836), Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089), Xiǎoyánglíng Cove (30.642243, 122.066940), & Temple Mount (30.639945, 122.048277). Partly cloudy turning mostly cloudy, with little wind. Visibility ca. 20 km. Unseasonably warm. High 26°C. SAT 07 NOV 2015 07:05-09:10.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 2
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 1
Black Kite Milvus migrans 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 3
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 3
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 2
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 1
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 20
Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone canturians/H. borealis borealis 1
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 2
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 2
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 1
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 4
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis 2
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 8
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 10
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 20
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 1
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 6
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 65
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 20
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides 2 (1 singing)
Little Bunting E. pusilla 1
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 1

Eyebrowed Thrush breeds from central Siberia to Kamchatka and winters from south China to Indonesia. These graceful birds have already come a long way, and they still have far to go.
Eyebrowed Thrush breeds from central Siberia to Kamchatka and winters from south China to Indonesia. These graceful birds have already come a long way, and they still have far to go.

List 2 of 2 for Sat. 7 Nov. 2015 (63 species)

Around Pudong Nanhui Dongtan Wetland (Pǔdōng Nánhuì Dōngtān Shīdì [浦东南汇东滩湿地]), Shanghai, China (30.920507, 121.973159); list includes birds found at Magic Parking Lot (30.882784, 121.972782), Magic GPS Point (30.880540, 121.964572), & the empty blue-roofed building & nearby microforests (30.961368, 121.952136). Partly cloudy turning mostly cloudy, with little wind. Unseasonably warm. Visibility ca. 20 km. High 26°C. SAT 07 NOV 2015 09:40-16:10.

Taiga/Tundra Bean Goose Anser fabalis/A. serrirostris 18
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha 15
Japanese Quail Coturnix japonica 7
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 2
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 6
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 2
Black-faced Spoonbill P. minor 12
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 15
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 30
Great Egret A. alba 4
Little Egret Egretta garzetta ca. 50
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus 1
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus 2
Hen Harrier C. cyaneus 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 1
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 2
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 1
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 30
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 7
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 10
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 15
Dunlin Calidris alpina 30
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 10
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 6
Rook Corvus frugilegus pastinator 1
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus ca. 50
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 15
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 30
Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone canturians/H. borealis borealis 2
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 3
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 3
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 1
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 40
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 3
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 20
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 10
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis 37
Eyebrowed Thrush T. obscurus 22
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 16
Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope 1
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 14
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 20
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 200
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 8
White Wagtail M. alba 8
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 1
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni 10
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 3
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 1
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 3
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 6
Chestnut-eared Bunting E. fucata 2
Little Bunting E. pusilla 10
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 6
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 7
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 8

Featured image: Stephan Popp using Craig’s spotting scope, Elaine Du in background. Nanhui, Shanghai, China, 7 November 2015

Captive Sparrowhawk

Japanese Sparrowhawk (日本松雀鹰, rìběn sōngquèyīng, Accipiter gularis)
Japanese Sparrowhawk (日本松雀鹰, rìběn sōngquèyīng, Accipiter gularis)

Elaine and I did a double-take today when, walking from the bus stop to the metro after birding Binjiang Forest Park here in Shanghai, we saw a Japanese Sparrowhawk on a specially made perch. I asked for the owner, who came out and told me his pet was legal, since he’s “raised him since he was young.” To prove his claim, he pointed out the ring on the sprock’s left tarsus, which displays his phone number. I still didn’t believe the sprock was legal, but I left off arguing with him, in part because I wanted to study his bird. It’s a real beauty, a juvenile in good condition. I must say I loved the opportunity to see a sprock up close. The first thing that struck me was the slightness of the bird–no bigger than a kestrel. Close inspection of the talons and bill brought home the reality that sprocks are meat-eaters, born for the hunt. And the eyes! Imagine if humans had eyes so large in proportion to the rest of the face. We would look like aliens. What visually biased creatures birds are, and especially sprocks. I identified this bird as Japanese Sparrowhawk on the basis of its small size, gular stripe, and combination of barring and streaking on the underparts. This bird wasn’t panicking at the sight of us, but it was jumping around a lot, suggesting that it had been caught recently.

83 Species at Yangshan & Nanhui

On Sat. 31 Oct. 2015, Elaine and I once again birded with Michael Grunwell, Stephan Popp, and Xueping Popp. We noted 83 species on one of the best days I have ever had birding in Shanghai. Japanese Scops Owl was in Microforest 1 at Nanhui and attracted a crowd of photographers. Long-eared Owl greeted us within seconds of our arrival at the Magic GPS Point in Nanhui. We had Jack Snipe, Greater Scaup, Dalmatian Pelican, and 62 Black-faced Spoonbill.

Our day began on Lesser Yangshan. Seeing little to stir us, we made an early break for Nanhui. Within seconds of our arrival at the Magic GPS Point, we saw Long-eared Owl flying our way. The migrating owl alighted in some reeds, invisible to us, but not to the Vinous-throated Parrotbill. Recognizing their ancient enemy, the parrotbills cried out manically.

Impressive Long-eared Owl Asio otus is a Holarctic species, found both in Eurasia and North America.
Impressive Long-eared Owl Asio otus is a Holarctic species, found both in Eurasia and North America.

We drove to Shanghai Binhai Forest Park but found little of interest; the action is clearly smack-dab on the coast; once one is even a kilometer inland, the intensity of the birding experience wanes. We quickly headed back. The fields near an empty blue-roofed building were covered with brush and were jumping with buntings. Here we found the Jack Snipe as well as Peregrine Falcon, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Chestnut-eared Bunting, and the endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting.

Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola is an endangered species. Huge numbers of these birds are trapped in their wintering grounds, which includes southern China.
Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola is an endangered species. Huge numbers of these birds are trapped in their wintering grounds, which includes southern China.

Back at the microforests, we had season’s first Goldcrest plus an array of thrushes drawn in part by the precious cover these tiny stands of trees provided and also by the mealworms thrown liberally on the ground by the photographers. A female Japanese Thrush was a good catch by us, and we had Eyebrowed Thrush. The Japanese Scops Owl never budged while enterprising photographers carefully cut away a branch that had been denying them a full-body shot.

Ruddy Shelduck was a first-of-season for Elaine and me. Hair-crested Drongo appeared again on our list. A long scan of the sea just beyond the wall revealed the scaup as well as hundreds of Eastern Spot-billed Duck, a few hundred Eurasian Teal, plus Mallard, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, and Northern Pintail.

The laughs just kept on rolling as we enjoyed our camaraderie as well as the great birds. “This is the best Christmas of my life–and it’s only Halloween!” I joked.

Weather: Wind steady from NE. Cloudy, but visibility good; Nanhui visible from Lesser Yangshan, and vice versa. High 20°C.

List 1 of 2 for Sat. 31 Oct. 2015 (32 species)

Lesser Yangshan Island (Xiǎo Yángshān [小洋山]), island in Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang, China. List includes birds noted at Garbage Dump Gully (30.641565, 122.062836), Garbage Dump Coastal Plain (30.638860, 122.060089), Xiǎoyánglíng Cove (30.642243, 122.066940), & Temple Mount (30.639945, 122.048277). 07:10-09:30.

Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 14
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 1
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 4
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 2
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 1
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 1
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica 1
Japanese Tit Parus minor 2
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 30
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes 1
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 3
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 3
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 1
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 1
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 10
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki 1
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 8
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 10
White Wagtail Motacilla alba 4
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 8
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 72
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria 3
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 40
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 8
Little Bunting E. pusilla 4
Yellow-browed Bunting E. chrysophrys 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 4

List 2 of 2 for Sat. 31 Oct. 2015 (73 species)

Around Pudong Nanhui Dongtan Wetland (Pǔdōng Nánhuì Dōngtān Shīdì [浦东南汇东滩湿地]), Shanghai, China (30.920507, 121.973159); list includes birds found at Magic Parking Lot (30.882784, 121.972782) and at Shanghai Binhai Forest Park (Shànghǎi Bīnhǎi Sēnlín Gōngyuán [上海滨海森林公园]; 30.966324, 121.910289). 10:10-16:30.

Taiga/Tundra Bean Goose Anser fabalis/A. serrirostris 12
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 5
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope 30
Mallard A. platyrhynchos 120
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha ca. 1000
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 20
Northern Pintail A. acuta 30
Eurasian Teal A. crecca ca. 300
Greater Scaup Aythya marila 1
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 7
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 5
Black-faced Spoonbill P. minor 62
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 4
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 3
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea ca. 200
Great Egret A. alba 10
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 5
Little Egret E. garzetta ca. 200
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus 1
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus 3
Hen Harrier C. cyaneus 3
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 5
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 30
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus 1
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 5
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus 20
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 6
Green Sandpiper T. ochropus 1
Dunlin Calidris alpina 20
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 40
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 5
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 10
Japanese Scops Owl Otus semitorques 1
Long-eared Owl Asio otus 1
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 2
Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus 2
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 1
Long-tailed Shrike L. schach 4
Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus 1
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis 20
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis ca. 50
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 8
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 11
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 5
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 1
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 40
Goldcrest Regulus regulus 1
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 7
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 3
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 3
Japanese Thrush T. cardis 2
Chinese Blackbird T. mandarinus 2
Eyebrowed Thrush T. obscurus 3
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 5
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans 2
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 20
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki 2
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 30
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 300
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 10
White Wagtail M. alba 8
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 1
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni 20
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 15
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus 20
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 8
Chestnut-eared Bunting E. fucata 2
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans 12
Yellow-breasted Bunting E. aureola 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 4
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 3

Featured image: Japanese Scops Owl Otus semitorques, Nanhui, Shanghai, China, 31 Oct. 2015.