GUEST POST: Well-spotted in the Bamboo, by John MacKinnon

Editor’s note: John MacKinnon is co-author of A Field Guide to the Birds of China, the most influential book ever written about the birds of China. John also authored the first and second guest posts in the history of shanghaibirding.com, and he visited Shanghai’s Cape Nanhui with me in April 2017. Herewith we present “Well-spotted in the Bamboo,” John’s third guest post for our site. In it, John introduces the bird community of Jinfoshan, the highest peak in the Dalou Mountains in the city-province of Chongqing. John’s bird of the trip was Spotted Laughingthrush (above), a “quiet, gentle bird” of mountain forests and one of seven species of laughingthrush at Jinfoshan. — Craig Brelsford

Well-spotted in the Bamboo
© 2017 by John MacKinnon
for shanghaibirding.com

I recently was invited to join a workshop of the China Bird Watching Association to review three years’ monitoring of wintering data on Scaly-sided Merganser. The attraction was that the meeting was to be held in Jinfoshan National Nature Reserve in Nanchuan District, Chongqing. So I added a day to my trip for birdwatching and ended up on the top of this spectacular mountain for three days. Whilst floods were raging in Hubei and Anhui, we 40 birdwatchers enjoyed beautiful weather–blue skies and only occasional quick showers of rain to liven up the bird life.

At an elevation of 2251 m (7,385 ft.), Jinfoshan is the highest peak in the Dalou Mountains. The reserve was recently added to the South China Karst World Heritage Site. It is also listed as an important bird area on account of its having Reeves’s Pheasant. Jinfoshan combines ease of access with great birding trails and pristine habitats. It deserves much more attention, but it is not well-known to most birders.

Jinfoshan offers a great chance to view vertical stratification of flora and fauna, since you rise quickly–at first by shuttle bus and then by cable car through the subtropical evergreen valleys, temperate mixed forests, and finally subalpine forest and meadows.

Birds of the lower country and hotel gardesn. Top: White-collared Yuhina <em>Yuhina diademata</em>. Bottom: Vinaceous Rosefinch <em>Carpodacus vinaceus</em> (L) and Red-billed Blue Magpie <em>Urocissa erythroryncha</em>. (John MacKinnon)
Birds of the lower country and hotel gardens at Jinfoshan. Top: White-collared Yuhina Yuhina diademata. Bottom: Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus (L) and Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha. (John MacKinnon)

I did not have time to explore the lower levels, but even whilst waiting for the shuttle bus we could see Red-billed Blue Magpie, Hair-crested Drongo, Blue Whistling Thrush, Russet Sparrow, and Plumbeous Water Redstart. Overhead circled Crested Honey Buzzard.

Our meetings were in a fancy five-star hotel. My own room had a bath big enough to swim in! But the real attraction was to get out into the surrounding forest whenever the meeting schedule gave us a chance.

Not that the meeting was not interesting in itself! I was impressed to see so many motivated and very professional presentations by the various monitoring teams. More rivers and reservoirs get monitored each year, and more than 1,000 wintering Scaly-sided Merganser were recorded in the winter of 2016-17. The Association has also done a magnificent job in developing the species as a lovable and charismatic emblem of conservation in China.

Even from the hotel windows and gardens there were plenty of birds to see. Olive-backed Pipit and White Wagtail were nesting on the grassy flat roof, and Verditer Flycatcher perched temptingly on prominent perches (though proved skittish for photography). The woods echoed to the calls of Large-billed Leaf Warbler and Bianchi’s Warbler. Green-backed Tit were in full breeding plumage; White-collared Yuhina was the most visible bird. The most beautiful of the common birds was certainly Vinaceous Rosefinch, the males of which were gorgeous in their deep purple plumage.

The cable-car ride offered amazing views of the deep gorges and lush forests. Great flocks of swifts circled their nesting sites on the sheer limestone cliff faces. In fact, these were mixed flocks, with Pacific Swift, House Swift, Himalayan Swiftlet, and Asian House Martin all visible.

Enter the woods and you meet a different complex of birds. The undergrowth is thick with bamboo, and indeed this site was historically within the range of Giant Panda and may again be considered as a site for reintroduction.

Birds of the Jinfoshan forests. Top: Black-headed Sibia. Bottom: Red-tailed Minla (L) and White-bellied Green Pigeon. (John MacKinnon)
Birds of the mountain forests. Top: Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia desgodinsi. Bottom: Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta (L) and White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii. (John MacKinnon)

A rustling in the trees revealed feeding White-bellied Green Pigeon. Busily collecting moths and other insects were Red-tailed Minla, whilst the Blue-winged Minla were more leisurely preening each other after a morning bath. Black-headed Sibia sneaked in and out to collect small fruits. Flocks of Grey-hooded Fulvetta rattled alarm in the bamboo in mixed flocks with Rufous-capped Babbler and some very pretty Black-throated Parrotbill.

Whilst colleagues at the merganser meeting swarmed the site with an array of expensive cameras and optics, I stayed deep in the forests, looking for laughingthrushes. I was jealous of the others getting nice photos of Slaty Bunting and White-bellied Redstart, but I had my own rewards in the damp bamboo.

One of the most extraordinary bird calls consists of many dozens of high-pitched notes merging together into a prolonged whistle. The entire call lasts almost a minute, but the caller is elusive. Finally I nailed it down and photographed the caller in the act–an elusive Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler.

Another bird making loud and rather melodious calls was Red-billed Leiothrix working their way among the undergrowth collecting food for their nearby nestlings. Chinese Babax sneaked about on the forest floor.

'For me,' MacKinnon writes, 'the highlight of the trip was meeting flocks of rather approachable Spotted Laughingthrush.' (John MacKinnon)
‘For me,’ MacKinnon writes, ‘the highlight of the trip was meeting flocks of rather approachable Spotted Laughingthrush.’ A mainly Himalayan species, Garrulax ocellatus ranges into China east to Jinfoshan and Shennongjia in Hubei. (John MacKinnon)

Jinfoshan boasts seven species of laughingthrush. The lower sectors are home to White-browed Laughingthrush, Moustached Laughingthrush, and White-throated Laughingthrush. Near the reserve summit in open scrub and in the forested limestone forests, the common Elliot’s Laughingthrush creeps about, making low, quiet glides and gentle calls.

For me the highlight of the trip was meeting flocks of rather approachable Spotted Laughingthrush–a species with a much more restricted China distribution, being a Himalayan species extending in mountain forests as far as Jinfoshan and Shennongjia. This is a quiet, gentle bird, hopping about on the forest floor searching under leaves and through the moss.

Spotted Laughingthrush. (John MacKinnon)
‘Whilst colleagues … swarmed the site with an array of expensive cameras and optics,’ MacKinnon writes, ‘I stayed deep in the forests, looking for laughingthrushes. … I had my own rewards in the damp bamboo.’ Here is MacKinnon’s biggest reward: close views of the gorgeously patterned Spotted Laughingthrush. (John MacKinnon)

I sat among fluffy rock squirrels and watched their antics. They took me back to my favoured sites with warm memories of being among the Giant Panda of Wolong in Sichuan and the hilly forests of Bhutan.

Featured image: Spotted Laughingthrush Garrulax ocellatus, Jinfoshan, Chongqing. Photo by John MacKinnon.

GUEST POST: Let the Birding Gen Flow, by Michael Grunwell

Editor’s note: Michael Grunwell (above) is a British birder who last month moved from Shanghai to Penang, Malaysia. Michael spent four years in China, two in Nanchang and two in Shanghai. During that time, amid a full-time career and while providing for his wife and three children, Michael noted more than 700 species of bird in the Middle Kingdom. As if his personal commitments were not challenging enough, Michael faced another obstacle: a lack of “gen,” or basic birding information. In this essay, Michael contends that in China, getting gen is too difficult. Among “people in the know,” writes Michael, a “cheery, clubbable atmosphere” stifles the free flow of information. “China needs a great deal more published articles on sites and species,” he maintains, and he looks forward to a day when birding info in China will be “logged by and accessible to all.” — Craig Brelsford

Let the Birding Gen Flow
© 2017 by Michael Grunwell
for shanghaibirding.com

Exactly 33 years ago, I went on an independent birding trip to Peru. We faced Maoist insurrection and genuine danger–and we had better gen on where to find birds than China has in 2017.

China needs a great deal more published articles on sites and species. It is not right that most of the birding days in various bird-rich parts of China are unpublished and unavailable.

There seems to be a cheery, clubbable atmosphere which stifles real gen.

Take Sichuan, for example. Most Western birders on a trip to that province are taken to major sites such as Labahe and Balangshan. Very little precise gen is ever published about where species are seen.

Glowing accounts of yet another glorious China trip are written up by the tour companies and uploaded to Cloudbirders. These so-called “reports” are devoid of precise gen and should be seen for what they really are, which is infomercials.

With the growing popularity of bird-observation sites such as eBird, it has never been easier to make records that are timely, accurate, and most important, public. I note that the vast majority of the eBird hotspots in Sichuan have lists posted by independent birders–and almost no tour companies.

I do not agree that freedom of information damages commercial guiding. Take Turkey, for example. Although the main birding sites in that country are well-known, birders still pay big money for tours, because most people who go on tours are not list-obsessed but just normal people who want a hassle-free trip. I published a report on sites around Istanbul 13 years ago; a few years ago, I saw an advert for a bird tour going to the same places for a handsome price.

Another example is Sri Lanka. All the sites for the endemics are well-known. I recorded all the endemics in only five and a half days in 2011, and I wrote a full report that did wonders for my guide’s business.

Other examples are Florida, Arizona, The GambiaMajorca, and even my home country, the United Kingdom. In all these cases, there is more than enough accurate, precise gen amid a thriving bird-tour industry.

In stark contrast to the foregoing stands China. It still astonishes me that, time and time again during my four years in China, I had to rely on a handful of trip reports for basic gen. China has a population of 1.4 billion, and there is no simple, clear Web site giving basic information on the Top 10 birding sites in western China!

I want every day’s birding in China to be logged by and accessible to all. Am I idealistic? Indeed I am. Knowledge about Chinese birds needs to grow, and fast. We must escape the current sclerotic situation, in which keen birders are waiting for crumbs to be thrown from the table of those in the know.

If you want an example of what the future could be like, then look no further than this Web site, shanghaibirding.com. Craig Brelsford is committed to cooperative birding, providing complete and precise details of bird sightings and birding locations. On Shanghai Birding, the companion WeChat group, Craig and other users regularly post news of and directions to sightings within minutes of discovery.

That’s the way it should be–a birding culture dedicated not to the profits of the commercial birder but to the enjoyment of the common birder. A healthy birding community is run by common birders and for common birders.

Featured image: Clockwise from top L, Michael Grunwell (L) with fellow shanghaibirding.com contributor John MacKinnon at Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, 8 April 2017 (Craig Brelsford); Michael using the spotting scope at Ga’er Monastery, Qinghai, 8 July 2016 (Craig Brelsford); Michael with Craig Brelsford (R) at Cape Nanhui, 4 April 2016 (Elaine Du); Michael with old friend Mark Waters (R) in Huzhu County, Qinghai, 27 June 2016 (Craig Brelsford).

The Cuckoos of Shanghai

Editor’s note: The image above shows three cuckoos of the Shanghai region. Clockwise from L: Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, and Large Hawk-Cuckoo. Join us as we study the rich array of cuckoos that passes through Earth’s greatest city.

It is spring, and one of the most thrilling moments of the bird migration in Shanghai is upon us–the passage of the Cuculinae, the Old World brood-parasitic cuckoos. Nowhere in the world is the diversity of this group greater than in eastern Eurasia, and here in Shanghai we get an enviable selection. Let us examine our Shanghai-area parasitic cuckoos and learn how to tell them apart.

We can divide the Shanghai-area brood-parasitic cuckoos into two categories: the mainly grey, slender-bodied Cuculus cuckoos and the non-Cuculus cuckoos. We will look at the non-Cuculus cuckoos first.

MASTER MIMICS: THE HAWK-CUCKOOS

Large Hawk-Cuckoo breeds near Shanghai. I found this fledgling 25 June 2009 at Nanjing Botanical Garden. It was being raised by Masked Laughingthrush Garrulax perspicillatus. (Craig Brelsford)
Large Hawk-Cuckoo breeds near Shanghai. On 25 June 2009 at Nanjing Botanical Garden, I found this fledgling in the nest of Masked Laughingthrush. (Craig Brelsford)

The non-Cuculus parasitic cuckoo that one is most likely to see in Shanghai is Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides. In the microforests at Cape Nanhui and once, to my surprise, in inner-city Zhongshan Park, I have heard the scream of “Brain fever!” The species breeds in nearby Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

The hawk-cuckoos mimic sparrowhawks, an amazing feat of evolution. The resemblance serves, scientists say, not to increase stealth but to decrease it. Passerines, mistaking the intruder for a sparrowhawk, mob it, thereby giving away the location of their nest. After the tumult dies down, the hawk-cuckoo quietly swoops in and lays her egg.

Hawk-cuckoos have bills quite unlike those of the sparrowhawks that they mimic. L: Japanese Sparrowhawk. R: Large Hawk-Cuckoo. (Craig Brelsford, Kai Pflug)
Hawk-cuckoos have bills quite unlike those of the sparrowhawks that they otherwise mimic. L: Japanese Sparrowhawk (Craig Brelsford). R: Large Hawk-Cuckoo (Kai Pflug).

When it comes to the business of eating, however, the masquerade ends. The hooked bill of a sparrowhawk is a butcher’s tool, made for stripping the flesh of vertebrates from bone. The bill of a hawk-cuckoo is blunt, the utensil of a caterpillar-eater. Need a quick differentiator between “sprock” and hawk-cuckoo? Look to the bill.

Large Hawk-Cuckoo. L: Kai Pflug. Top and bottom R: Craig Brelsford.
Large Hawk-Cuckoo shows heavy barring and streaking on the throat, breast, and belly and varying degrees of rufous on the upper breast. L: Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, April 2017 (Kai Pflug). Top R: Longcanggou (29.572367, 102.866492), Sichuan, 27 May 2013 (Craig Brelsford). Bottom R: Old Erlang Road (29.849565, 102.262012), Sichuan, 3 June 2014 (Craig Brelsford).

Another separation we Shanghai birders need to make is that between Large Hawk-Cuckoo and Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus. If seen clearly, adult Large Hawk-Cuckoo and Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo are readily separable. Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo shows a belly washed rufous with faint streaks. Large Hawk-Cuckoo is heavily barred and streaked and has the rufous coloring confined to the upper breast.

L: Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo (Craig Brelsford). R: Large Hawk-Cuckoo (Kai Pflug)
Adult Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo (L) shows (1) white neck-sides and nape patch, (2) white scapular crescents, and (3) a rufous border to the black subterminal band on the tail. Large Hawk-Cuckoo (R) shows none of these. L: Original Magic Forest (32.567487, 120.996980), Yangkou (Rudong), Jiangsu, 15 Sept. 2012 (Craig Brelsford). R: Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, April 2017 (Kai Pflug).

Adult Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo shows a white spot on the nape, white neck-sides, and white scapular crescents. These features may also be visible in sub-adult Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo. Large Hawk-Cuckoo shows none of these in any plumage.

Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo, 6 Oct. 2010. (Craig Brelsford)
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus. The lack of rufous wash on the breast and belly suggests that this is a juvenile. The grey streaking of the adult plumage has appeared. Also visible are the white nape patch and scapular crescents as well as the rufous bands on the tail. Original Magic Forest (32.567487, 120.996980), Yangkou (Rudong), Jiangsu, 6 Oct. 2010. (Craig Brelsford)

Size differences may be appreciable. An average Large Hawk-Cuckoo is 15 percent larger than Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo. The tails differ, with the black subterminal band of Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo being bordered by a rufous line above and by the rufous tail-tip below. These rufous areas may be visible in immature cuckoos.

ASIAN KOEL AND CHESTNUT-WINGED CUCKOO

L: Asian Koel, female, 2 June 2016, Nanhui, Shanghai (Kai Pflug). R: Asian Koel, male, 17 May 2015, Dongtai, Jiangsu (Craig Brelsford).
Asian Koel shows pronounced sexual dimorphism. L: female, 2 June 2016, Nanhui (Kai Pflug). R: male, 17 May 2015, tree plantation (32.855576, 120.896557) in Dongtai, Jiangsu (Craig Brelsford). Eudynamys scolopaceus chinensis is the northernmost-breeding race among the koels, a small, mainly tropical group.

The other non-Cuculus parasitic cuckoos of the Shanghai region are Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus. Neither poses great ID challenges.

In China, Asian Koel ssp. chinensis breeds mainly south of the Yangtze River. With its familiar “koh-EL” song, Asian Koel is as easy to hear as it is hard to see in the dense forests where it is almost invariably found. It shows strong sexual dimorphism, with the male entirely glossy bluish-black and the female brown with whitish streaks, bars, and spots.

The parasitic cuckoos are secretive and most conspicuous by sound. A poor, fleeting glimpse is all that one is likely to get. That was the case in the Tianmu Mountains with this Chestnut-winged Cuckoo. (Craig Brelsford)
The parasitic cuckoos are secretive and most conspicuous by sound. In the Tianmu Mountains (30.344148, 119.440201) on 10 May 2015, this poor, fleeting glimpse was all I could manage of this Chestnut-winged Cuckoo. Its presence was more than made known, however, by its piercing whistle and harsh cries. (Craig Brelsford)

I have yet to see Chestnut-winged Cuckoo in Shanghai. It has been noted at Tongshan Forest Park (32.348637, 119.106915) in Yangzhou, Jiangsu, and I have noted it at Laoshan (32.071265, 118.560699) in Nanjing as well as in Zhejiang in the Tianmu Mountains (30.344148, 119.440201). With its glossy-black erectile crest, rufous wings, and long, black tail, the species is unmistakable–if you can manage to see it.

SHANGHAI-AREA CUCULUS CUCKOOS

Comparison of Indian Cuckoo and Common Cuckoo. Bottom-left cuckoo is Common; note yellow iris and compare to dark iris of Indian in bottom-right panel. Top two panels also Indian Cuckoo. All photos taken 17 May 2016 at Nanhui. (Craig Brelsford)
Comparison of yellow iris of Common Cuckoo (left-hand panels) with brown iris of Lesser Cuckoo (top right) and Indian Cuckoo (bottom right). Common and Indian: 17 May 2016, Nanhui. Lesser: 3 Oct. 2016, Yangkou (Rudong), Jiangsu. (Craig Brelsford)

Five Cuculus cuckoos have been claimed for Shanghai: Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus, Indian Cuckoo C. micropterus, Himalayan Cuckoo C. saturatus, Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus, and Common Cuckoo C. canorus.

The latter breeds in the area, parasitizing the nests of Oriental Reed Warbler in the reed beds at Cape Nanhui. Its famous song, perhaps the best-known bird sound in the world, is hard to miss at Nanhui in May.

Lesser Cuckoo and Indian Cuckoo breed in the region and are recorded on passage in Shanghai. Himalayan Cuckoo and Oriental Cuckoo may pass through Shanghai, but inasmuch as in size, plumage, and bare parts they are nearly identical to each other and very close to Common Cuckoo, and because they rarely (if ever) sing in our region, it is impossible to know how common they are.

Common Cuckoo (L) is the size of a sparrowhawk and is appreciably larger than the thrush-sized Lesser Cuckoo (R). Himalayan Cuckoo is on average smaller than Common, but the size difference is more difficult to appreciate. L: Nanhui. M: Foping, Shaanxi. R: Old Erlang Road, Sichuan. (Craig Brelsford)
Common Cuckoo (L) is the size of a sparrowhawk and is appreciably larger than the thrush-sized Lesser Cuckoo (R). Himalayan Cuckoo (C) is on average smaller than Common, but the size difference between the two is difficult to see. L: Nanhui, 17 May 2016. C: Foping National Nature Reserve (33.688538, 107.852950), Shaanxi, 19 May 2013. R: Old Erlang Road (29.849565, 102.262012), Sichuan, 3 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Hear the song of any of these Cuculus, and you will have your ID; even the similar songs of Himalayan and Oriental are readily separable. If your cuckoo is silent, however, then you will need a closer look. Lesser Cuckoo and Indian Cuckoo have a brown iris, Common a bright-yellow iris. Lesser Cuckoo is the size of a thrush; Indian Cuckoo is a third larger; Common Cuckoo is larger still, approaching the size of a female Eurasian Sparrowhawk.

Juvenile <em>Cuculus</em> cuckoos are very difficult to ID to species. This is especially true in Shanghai, where almost all <em>Cuculus</em> cuckoos are passage migrants. If however you are on the breeding grounds and know a little about the host species, then you may be able to attempt an ID. In this photo, taken 22 July 2010 at Balangshan (<a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/30%C2%B057'39.5%22N+102%C2%B052'42.2%22E/@30.960977,102.7383223,11z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d30.960977!4d102.878398" target="_blank">30.960977, 102.878398</a>) in <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sichuan,+China/@30.1028528,93.9726458,5z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x36e4e73368bdcdb3:0xde8f7ccf8f99feb9!8m2!3d30.651226!4d104.075881" target="_blank">Sichuan</a>, the juvenile cuckoo that the Rosy Pipit is feeding is most likely Common Cuckoo. The hugeness of the cuckoo is a clue, but the strongest indicator may be the foster parent. Common Cuckoo is known to parasitize the nests of pipits, while Himalayan Cuckoo and Lesser Cuckoo favor small warblers and Indian Cuckoo favors drongos and shrikes. (Craig Brelsford)
Juvenile Cuculus cuckoos are very difficult to ID. This is especially true in Shanghai, where almost all cuckoos are passage migrants. If however you are on the breeding grounds and know a little about the host species, then you may be able to attempt an ID. In this photo, taken 22 July 2010 at Balangshan (30.960977, 102.878398) in Sichuan, the juvenile cuckoo that the Rosy Pipit is feeding is most likely Common Cuckoo. The hugeness of the cuckoo is a clue, but the strongest indicator may be the foster parent. Whereas Himalayan Cuckoo and Lesser Cuckoo favor small warblers and Indian Cuckoo favors drongos and shrikes, Common Cuckoo is known to parasitize the nests of pipits. (Craig Brelsford)

In autumn, juveniles pass through Shanghai. They are silent and nearly impossible to identify to species. If one gets a close look at juvenile Lesser Cuckoo, however, one may appreciate its thrush-like size. If you happen to be on the breeding grounds, then you can attempt an ID according to the species of the foster parent.

NON-CUCULINAE CUCKOOS

Top L: Greater Coucal (Kai Pflug). R: Lesser Coucal (Kai Pflug). Bottom L, bottom C: Lesser Coucal (Craig Brelsford)
Top L: Greater Coucal, Nabang, Yunnan, March 2017 (Kai Pflug). R: Lesser Coucal (adult), Nanhui, May 2015 (Kai Pflug). Bottom L: Lesser Coucal (adult), Nanhui, 11 Sept. 2016 (Craig Brelsford). Bottom C: Lesser Coucal (juvenile), Nanhui, 19 Nov. 2016 (Craig Brelsford).

Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis is the good guy of the Shanghai cuckoo world. Unlike all the other cuckoos recorded in Shanghai, but like most of the cuckoos in the world, the coucals are not brood parasites. Lesser Coucal, resident in Shanghai, builds a dome nest on the ground.

Lesser Coucal may be the only non-Cuculinae cuckoo in Shanghai, but it shares at least one trait with the brood parasites: It is very unobtrusive. Look for Lesser Coucal in areas of thick vegetation near water, such as the strips of reed bed along the canals at Cape Nanhui. If you find one, count yourself lucky.

Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis occurs south of our region. It is nearly half again as large as Lesser Coucal and has a cleaner and glossier mantle, a thicker bill, and a redder iris.

RESOURCES ON CUCKOOS

Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo <em>Surniculus dicruroides</em> (L) and Plaintive Cuckoo <em>Cacomantis merulinus</em> occur in south China. Neither is likely to stray to the Shanghai region, but may be found as close to Shanghai as the mountains of Zhejiang. L: Skytree Nature Reserve (21.62801, 101.58878), Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China, 18 March 2012 (Craig Brelsford). R: Yingjiang, Yunnan, March 2017 (Kai Pflug).</em></em>
Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus dicruroides (L) and Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus, brood-parasitic cuckoos from south China. Both occur just south of our region, to Zhejiang. In drongo-cuckoos, independently from but in the same manner as in hawk-cuckoos, evolution created birds that bear an astonishingly close resemblance to species in a distantly related family. L: Skytree Nature Reserve (21.62801, 101.58878), Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, 18 March 2012 (Craig Brelsford). R: Yingjiang, Yunnan, March 2017 (Kai Pflug).

The Sounds of Shanghai’s Cuckoos, by Craig Brelsford

All cuckoos from the Shanghai area are covered here. I make my recordings with my handy little Olympus DM-650.

Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis, 22 June 2015, reedy area (32.855576, 120.896557) at Dongtai, Jiangsu (00:06; 1.1 MB)

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus, 10 May 2015, West Tianmu Mountain Nature Reserve, Zhejiang. On hiking trail between Lóngfèngjiān (龙凤尖, 30.344148, 119.440201) and Xiānrén Dǐng (仙人顶) (00:43; 3.3 MB)

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus, 17 May 2015, tree plantation (32.855576, 120.896557), at Dongtai, Jiangsu (00:39; 2.4 MB)

Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, 3 June 2014, Old Erlang Road (29.849565, 102.262012), Sichuan (03:21; 4 MB)

Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus, 2 June 2016, Xidaquan National Forest (45.727751, 130.317316), Boli, Heilongjiang (01:06; 3.4 MB)

Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus, 3 June 2014, Old Erlang Road (29.849565, 102.262012), Sichuan (00:16; 1 MB)

Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus, classic four-note song plus bubbly flourish, 9 June 2016, Boli, Heilongjiang (00:02; 901 KB)

Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus, singing and quarreling, 6 June 2014, Longcanggou (29.621996, 102.885471), Sichuan (00:28; 1.2 MB)

Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus, classic double note “boop boop” faintly from a distance, 30 May 2016, Boli, Heilongjiang (00:03; 926 KB)

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, classic song plus cough, 21 May 2015, Nanhui, Shanghai (00:03; 913 KB)

THANKS AGAIN TO KAI PFLUG

Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug

In this post I used several of Kai Pflug’s bird images. Kai and I have worked together from the earliest days of shanghaibirding.com, and I have published dozens of Kai’s photographs on this site. Kai made a notable contribution to my October 2016 post “ID Workshop: Paradise Flycatchers.” In September 2016 I wrote about Kai’s work cleaning up the litter at Nanhui.

Kai is from Germany, lives in Shanghai, and is an active member of the Shanghai Birding WeChat group.

Thanks also to Shanghai Birding member Jonathan Martinez for his advice on Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo and Plaintive Cuckoo.

REFERENCES

Brazil, Mark. Birds of East Asia. Princeton University Press. Cuckoos, pp. 254-9.

del Hoyo, Josep, et al., eds. The Handbook of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions. Vol. 4, “Sandgrouse to Cuckoos.” Cuculidae (pp. 508-607) by R. B. Payne.

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

Featured image: Clockwise from L, Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus, Yangkou (Rudong), Jiangsu, October 2010; Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus, Laoshan, Nanjing, Jiangsu, July 2009; and Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, Nanhui, Shanghai, May 2016. (Craig Brelsford)

John MacKinnon in Shanghai

On Sat. 8 April 2017 I birded Cape Nanhui with John MacKinnon. John is co-author of A Field Guide to the Birds of China, the most influential book ever written about China’s birds. On John’s first visit to the tip of the Shanghai Peninsula, we noted 84 species. John and I were joined by veteran birders Michael Grunwell and Russell Boyman and the outstanding high-school birder Larry Chen.

We gave John the Grand Nanhui Tour, starting at Luchao to the south and ending 30 km north at Binhai. Heading back to the city, we made a brief stop at the sod farm just south of Pudong Airport, where we found a single Oriental Plover.

Oriental Plover at sod farm S of Pudong Airport, 8 Apirl 2017 (Craig Brelsford).
Russell Boyman (L) examines Oriental Plover 8 April 2017 at the sod farm south of Pudong Airport (31.112586, 121.824742). Conditions at the sod farm were decidedly not favorable to a plover. The jets were noisy, the farmers were busy, and there was a whiff of pesticide in the air. Why would the plover choose such a subpar area? Because the sod farm roughly approximates the steppe habitat required by the East Asian specialty. Oriental Plover are long-distance athletes, marathon runners between Australia and Mongolia, and incredibly tough. Despite the poor habitat, our bird likely will survive its brief visit to Shanghai and muscle its way up to the breeding grounds. For more on Oriental Plover in Shanghai, see my post Rites of Spring. (Craig Brelsford)

Nanhui yielded 23 Marsh Grassbird performing the song flight at three locations, and we saw 10 Endangered Great Knot and 1 Near Threatened Curlew Sandpiper. We had a pair of Rufous-faced Warbler and a Common Starling.

Also: Garganey 57, Greater Scaup 1 (Dishui Lake), Little Curlew 31 (flock), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 11 (first of season), Red-necked Stint 1 (first of season), Wood Sandpiper 1 (first of season), Peregrine Falcon 1, Dusky Warbler 1 at Magic Parking Lot (possibly wintered there), and Reed Parrotbill 18.

Birds of Cape Nanhui, 8 April 2017. Top: Rufous-faced Warbler. Bottom L: European Starling with White-cheeked Starling. Middle R: Curlew Sandpiper assuming breeding plumage. Bottom R: Male Red-flanked Bluetail. (Craig Brelsford)
Birds of Cape Nanhui, 8 April 2017. Top: Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis is common in much of south China and a vagrant to Shanghai. Bottom L: A vagrant to Shanghai, Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris is often seen associating with White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus. Middle R: Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea assuming breeding plumage. Bottom R: Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus. In Shanghai stunning adult males such as this one are less often seen than the less-colorful females. Red-flanked Bluetail breeds from Japan west to Finland. (Craig Brelsford)

GETTING TO KNOW JOHN MACKINNON

John MacKinnon wrote the most influential field guide ever published about China's birds.
John MacKinnon co-authored the most influential field guide ever published about China’s birds.

Our partner, John MacKinnon, co-authored A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Published in 2000, the book has sold more than 50,000 copies and remains the only bird guide in English covering all China. John also wrote the first and second guest posts in the history of shanghaibirding.com.

John is witty and a fine storyteller. He had us roaring with tales drawn from his six decades as a researcher in Asia. The funniest story was about the doctor back home in Britain. Every time John straggled in, the doc would call in his students, so that they could study the strange new tropical disease John had contracted.

“I never cared about my health, because I never expected to live this long!” John said.

John also talked about his masterpiece, A Field Guide to the Birds of China.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Field Guide. Had it merely been a window for Westerners to the birds of the world’s most populous country, then John’s work would have been important enough. The Field Guide, however, in translated form has introduced tens of thousands of Chinese to the birds of their own country. John’s Chinese name, Mǎjìngnéng (马敬能), is known by every birder in China.

John faced obstacles unknown to field-guide writers in North America and Western Europe, where birding has been practiced for 200 years. His sources were often thin, he said.

“For range maps, I had nearly nothing from Russia,” John said. “A Chinese book had ranges stopping at the Chinese border. Another book had no paintings, only descriptions.”

To critics who unfairly compare John’s Field Guide to field guides covering more developed parts of the world, John had this to say:

“You’ve got to finish something. We finished the book. We could have waited and said, ‘Oh, another species has been split, we must revise,’ but at a certain point you have to say, ‘We must go with what we’ve got.’”

To this day, no Westerner has repeated John’s feat. Others talked; John acted. One can imagine the feeling of accomplishment in John’s heart.

John is a handy photographer and got off some good shots, three of which are displayed in the Day List at the bottom of this post. Here are some photos I took of the pioneer birder and naturalist.

John MacKinnon (R) and Michael Grunwell examine one of John's photos at Cape Nanhui, 8 April 2017 (Craig Brelsford).
John MacKinnon (R) and Michael Grunwell examine one of John’s photos at Cape Nanhui, 8 April 2017. (Craig Brelsford)
L-R: Michael Grunwell, John MacKinnon, Russell Boyman, Larry Chen. Nanhui, 8 April 2017. Craig Brelsford.
The team at Nanhui. L-R: Michael Grunwell, John MacKinnon, Russell Boyman, Larry Chen. (Craig Brelsford)
Everyone wanted a turn with the distinguished man. Top: MacKinnon with Larry Chen (L) and Russell Boyman. Bottom: Michael Grunwell poses and gets an autograph for his copy of the Field Guide. (Craig Brelsford)
Everyone wanted a turn with the distinguished author. Top panels: John MacKinnon with Larry Chen (L) and Russell Boyman. Bottom: Michael Grunwell poses and gets an autograph. (Craig Brelsford)

MARSH GRASSBIRD ON THE BRINK

Marsh Grassbird were singing in the large reed beds at Nanhui. They were most conspicuous at the reed bed south of the Holiday Inn (30.870711, 121.942976). The species, listed as Near Threatened by IUCN, was also noted in the pristine reed bed (30.931790, 121.949169) associated with the defunct wetland reserve.

Marsh Grassbird at Cape Nanhui, 8 April 2017. Craig Brelsford.
Locustella pryeri sinensis at the large reed bed (30.870711, 121.942976), Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, 8 April 2017. Marsh Grassbird is among the least-known members of Locustella. The populations at Cape Nanhui went unmentioned by Kennerley and Pearson in their landmark book Reed and Bush Warblers (Christopher Helm 2010). Kennerley and Pearson were aware of the breeding population on Shanghai’s Chongming Island but even there could not say for certain whether the grassbirds were residents or summer visitors. Part of the reason for the lack of knowledge is the extreme shyness of the bird. Outside breeding season, when it undertakes song flights, Marsh Grassbird remains hidden deep within the Phragmites reed beds that are its preferred habitat. The other reason is the extremely fast rate at which its reed-bed home is being destroyed. At Cape Nanhui and other places in China, this Near Threatened species could disappear before researchers get a chance to study it. (Craig Brelsford)

The reed beds at Cape Nanhui may be the last stronghold of Locustella pryeri sinensis on the Shanghai Peninsula. The species is highly dependent on large reed beds. In areas where only strips of reeds remain, the song of Marsh Grassbird is never heard. Its partner species, Reed Parrotbill, a candidate for official bird of the city-province of Shanghai, is only slightly less dependent on large reed beds.

One of the areas where last year my partners and I noted Marsh Grassbird performing its song flight has been flattened. No song of Marsh Grassbird was heard there Saturday. A few Reed Parrotbill were calling in one of the strips of reeds left standing.

Much needs to be learned about Marsh Grassbird in Earth’s largest city. Birders, look for the fluttering song flight, and listen for this song:

Marsh Grassbird, 10 April 2016, large reed bed at 30.870711, 121.942976, Cape Nanhui, Shanghai (00:07; 1 MB)

Marsh Grassbird still sing in the Yellow Sector. Satellite map © Google and customized by Craig Brelsford.
Marsh Grassbird still sings in the Yellow Sector, the largest reed bed at Cape Nanhui, located south of the Holiday Inn at 30.870711, 121.942976. Preservation of this and other reed beds would ensure the survival of Marsh Grassbird and Reed Parrotbill in mainland Shanghai. Satellite map © Google; customized by Craig Brelsford.

The plight of Marsh Grassbird brings to mind the series of posts I wrote last year on the precarious environmental situation at Cape Nanhui.

Comparing Richard’s and Blyth’s Pipit (along with description of pipits is news of my interview with Pudong TV as well as satellite maps of Cape Nanhui)
Messengers (recent records of endangered cranes in Shanghai show the need to protect more land in the city-province)
The Case for Conserving Nanhui (foreigners can’t do all the work; local Chinese need to step up, too)
Save the Nanhui Wetland Reserve! (cri de coeur plus call to action)
Remnants (preparation for probable demise of Cape Nanhui)
Reed Parrotbill, Symbol of Shanghai (naming Reed Parrotbill the bird of Shanghai will send a message about the importance of the Cape Nanhui reed beds)
Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Nanhui (proof of yet another endangered species using the defunct wetland reserve at Nanhui)

DAY LIST
My lists are generated on eBird then adjusted to comport with my first reference, the IOC World Bird List.

List 1 of 1 for Saturday 8 April 2017 (84 species)

Photos by John MacKinnon, 8 April 2017. Clockwise from top L: Red-flanked Bluetail, Rufous-faced Warbler, Little Curlew.
Birds of Cape Nanhui, 8 April 2017. Clockwise from top L: Red-flanked Bluetail, Rufous-faced Warbler, Little Curlew. (John MacKinnon)

Birds noted around Pudong Nanhui Dongtan Wetland (Pǔdōng Nánhuì Dōngtān Shīdì [浦东南汇东滩湿地]; 30.920507, 121.973159), Pudong, Shanghai, China. We covered the coastal road between Binhai (Bīnhǎi Zhèn [滨海镇]; 31.006250, 121.885558) and Luchao (Lúcháo Gǎng [芦潮港]; 30.851109, 121.848455). Among the points along this 30 km stretch are Iron Track (31.003613, 121.907883), a site providing access to the reed beds at the mouth of the Dazhi River (Dàzhì Hé [大治河]); Big Bend (31.000321, 121.938074); Microforest 4 (30.953225, 121.959083); Microforest 1 (30.923889, 121.971635); Magic Parking Lot (30.884898, 121.968229); Magic GPS Point (30.880563, 121.964551); South Lock (30.860073, 121.909997); Eiffel Tower (30.850531, 121.878047); & the Marshy Agricultural Land (30.850707, 121.863662). List includes birds noted at Dishui Lake (30.908702, 121.945124). Cloudy, hazy; low 13° C, high 18° C. Wind E 15 km/h. PM2.5 AQI: 147 (unhealthful). Visibility 5 km. Sunrise 05:34, sunset 18:18. SAT 08 APR 2017 07:00-16:55. Russell Boyman, Craig Brelsford, Larry Chen, Michael Grunwell, & John MacKinnon.

Garganey Spatula querquedula 57
Northern Shoveler S. clypeata 4
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope 2
Falcated Duck M. falcata 25
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha 35
Eurasian Teal A. crecca 2
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 25
Greater Scaup A. marila 1
Japanese Quail Coturnix japonica 3
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 3
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 8
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 20
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 31
Great Egret A. alba 3
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 1
Little Egret E. garzetta 95
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 9
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 1
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 40
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 2
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 20
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 13
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 27
Little Ringed Plover C. dubius 7
Oriental Plover C. veredus 1 at sod farm S of Pudong Airport (31.112586, 121.824742)
Little Curlew Numenius minutus 31
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris 10
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper C. acuminata 11
Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea 1
Red-necked Stint C. ruficollis 1
Dunlin C. alpina 30
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 8
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 3
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus 1
Spotted Redshank T. erythropus 4
Common Greenshank T. nebularia 20
Wood Sandpiper T. glareola 1
Common Redshank T. totanus 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 25
Little Tern Sternula albifrons 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 13
Spotted Dove S. chinensis 2
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 1
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 2
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 1
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 2
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula 20 singing
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 200
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus 35
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 13
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 2 (pair)
Japanese/Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone canturians/H. borealis borealis 4 singing
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus 1
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 1
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 1
Marsh Grassbird Locustella pryeri sinensis 23
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis 6
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata 8
Reed Parrotbill Paradoxornis heudei 18
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 100
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 1
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus 42
White-cheeked Starling S. cineraceus 17
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 18
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 2
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum 1
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 11
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus 55
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 3
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 1
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis 1
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 75
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 3
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis 8
White Wagtail M. alba 28
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 1
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni 8
Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens japonicus 7
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica 1
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata 23
Little Bunting E. pusilla 16
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 13
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi 8

Featured image: John MacKinnon (R), co-author of A Field Guide to the Birds of China, with Craig Brelsford, executive editor of shanghaibirding.com. Photo by Larry Chen.

Emeifeng 2015, Part 2

This post is about birding Emeifeng in the spring of 2015. The mountain in western Fujian, not to be confused with the more famous Emeishan in Sichuan, ranks high on Shanghai birders’ must-see lists. It is a reliable site for Cabot’s Tragopan, Elliot’s Pheasant, and White-necklaced Partridge, and its vast forests provide habitat for other key southeastern Chinese species. A bit too far to drive, a bit too close to fly, Emeifeng is the perfect expedition for the high-speed train.

This post covers 28 to 31 May 2015, the second of my two four-day trips to the mountain. A post on the first trip, which took place 30 April to 3 May 2015, was published on 12 Jan. 2017.

The photo above, by Elaine Du, shows Craig Brelsford searching for Brown Bush Warbler in the pristine alpine scrub on Emeifeng, elev. 1650 m (5,410 ft.).

HIGHLIGHTS

Cabot's Tragopan, Emeifeng, 1 May 2015.
Female Cabot’s Tragopan, Emeifeng. A mountain in western Fujian, Emeifeng (27.006583, 117.076389) is a reliable spot for Cabot’s Tragopan, Elliot’s Pheasant, and White-necklaced Partridge. For eight days in spring 2015, Elaine Du and I birded the thickly forested mountain, noting dozens of key southeastern Chinese species. (Craig Brelsford)

— Noting the five key game birds: Elliot’s Pheasant, Cabot’s Tragopan, Koklass Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, and White-necklaced Partridge, as well as the beautiful Chinese Bamboo Partridge

— Closely studying three Phylloscopus warblers that breed in southern China: Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis, Sulphur-breasted Warbler P. ricketti, and Hartert’s Leaf Warbler P. goodsoni fokiensis, as well as having close encounters with White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius

Major breeding Phylloscopidae warblers of Emeifeng. Craig Brelsford.
Emeifeng is a good place to study Buff-throated Warbler (top L), Hartert’s Leaf Warbler (top R), Sulphur-breasted Warbler (bottom L), and White-spectacled Warbler (bottom R). All four species breed on the mountain. (Craig Brelsford)

— At Shuibu Reservoir, finding Blue-throated Bee-eater, a species unexpected around Emeifeng

— Finding 4 of China’s 5 species of forktail: Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri, Slaty-backed Forktail E. schistaceus, White-crowned Forktail E. leschenaulti sinensis, and Spotted Forktail E. maculatus bacatus

— Hearing the many calls and songs of the accomplished vocalist Buffy Laughingthrush

— Hearing Spotted Elachura singing along a rushing stream

Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex, 3 May 2015.
Yellow-cheeked Tit, one of dozens of south China species we noted at Emeifeng. Machlolophus spilonotus rex was noted by us on seven of our eight birding days there. (Craig Brelsford)

— Noting 103 species, 81 on the first trip, 86 on the second. Among the birds we found were key southern Chinese species such as Black Bittern, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Great Barbet, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Sultan Tit, Brown Bush Warbler, Small Niltava, Verditer Flycatcher, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, and Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler

— Enjoying the clean air and unspoiled beauty of Emeifeng

Emeifeng mountain road, 2 May 2015. Craig Brelsford.
Michael Grunwell stands on the Emeifeng mountain road, 2 May 2015. The elevation here is 1350 m (4,430 ft.). A dense hardwood forest covers the mountainside. Cabot’s Tragopan and White-necklaced Partridge thrive in these woods. (Craig Brelsford)

Wed. 27 May 2015
Taining

During our first trip to Emeifeng, Michael Grunwell, my wife Elaine Du, and I agreed to bird the mountain about a month later to see the changes four weeks would bring. Today, that second trip began. As in April, Elaine and I took the high-speed train from Shanghai to Nanchang and at Nanchang boarded the train to Taining. We once again checked in to Huada Hotel (Huádà Jiǔdiàn [华大酒店], +86 598-7817777).

With my camera in the repair shop, I was denied the opportunity to take photographs. I focused harder on good old-fashioned birding and made many sound recordings. The bird photos in this post come from other trips.

Thurs. 28 May 2015

Birds of Emeifeng, 28 May 2015. Red-billed Blue Magpie (L), and Verditer Flycatcher.
Birds of Emeifeng, 28 May 2015. L: Red-billed Blue Magpie, Emeifeng, 2 May 2015. R: Verditer Flycatcher, Laifengshan National Forest Park, Tengchong, Yunnan, 21 Feb. 2010. (Craig Brelsford)

On our return to Emeifeng, Elaine and I noted 57 species. Bird of the day was Elliot’s Pheasant. Other noteworthy birds were 5 Silver Pheasant and 16 Buffy Laughingthrush. Little Forktail became our fourth species of forktail seen at Emeifeng, and Yellow-cheeked Tit put on an amazing vocal display.

Elliot’s Pheasant was a life bird for Elaine and me. We found a male near the road to Qingyun Temple just above kilometer marker 8 at an elevation of 1100 m. The bird allowed us several seconds to view it before it slipped away. 4 of the 5 Silver Pheasant we noted were in a flock (3 males, 1 female) on a hillside just above km 6 at an elev. of 940 m.

As was the case four weeks ago, we noted White-spectacled Warbler only above elev. 1400 m. The song of this species, coming from various directions, was one of the most common bird sounds today around Qingyun Temple. Hartert’s Leaf Warbler was not seen, but our other two “southern” leaf warblers from our earlier trip, Buff-throated Warbler and Sulphur-breasted Warbler, were represented by 1 individual each. Buff-throated Warbler was found along the boardwalk to Qingyun Temple and is presumably one of the same pair that I met at that spot on 30 April. The Sulphur-breasted Warbler that I found four weeks ago responded to playback with song; today’s Sulphur-breasted Warbler responded with a brief call.

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Elephant Valley, Yunnan, 1 Jan. 2012.
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, a classic forest bird. We noted the species on four of our eight days at Emeifeng. I got this image at Elephant Valley, Yunnan, on 1 Jan. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)

Fog shrouded the Qingyun Temple area most of the day. When it finally cleared, around 15:00, birds became active, as though it were dawn. 8 Buffy Laughingthrush were the main component of a foraging party that included 3 Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush. They moved through the forest next to the boardwalk. The loud, jazzy sound of Buffy Laughingthrush caused a carpenter working in the area to start singing along. Another powerful singer in that wood was Yellow-cheeked Tit. A beautiful male performed three distinct songs for us, stopping only to devour a caterpillar:

Yellow-cheeked Tit, Emeifeng, 28 May 2015 (00:18; 1.5 MB)

Yellow-cheeked Tit, Emeifeng, 28 May 2015 (00:05; 1 MB)

Besides the 8 Buffy Laughingthrush near the temple, we found a flock of 6 quickly crossing the road, 1 amid a flock of 25 Grey-headed Parrotbill, and 1 heard calling from some distant spot in the forest. A pair of Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler were foraging together and calling antiphonally. We found them near the villages in the lower country at an elevation of about 750 m.

Besides Elliot’s Pheasant and Little Forktail, Elaine and I today added Lesser Cuckoo, Masked Laughingthrush, Brown Dipper, and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker to our Emeifeng list.

For our driver we once again hired Dèng Zhōngpíng (邓忠平, +86 138-6059-6327; no English, non-smoker).

Fri. 29 May 2015

Elaine and I noted 63 species. The highlight of the day was finding Blue-throated Bee-eater and Oriental Dollarbird on a utility wire above Shuibu Reservoir. Blue-throated Bee-eater was new to our Emeifeng list and a lifer for Elaine. Other new birds were Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Common Kingfisher, Crested Kingfisher, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-naped Oriole, Black Drongo, Red-billed Starling, and White-rumped Munia.

Sat. 30 May 2015

A monotypic species, Brown Bush Warbler <em>Locustella luteoventris</em> ranges from India across southern China to Fujian and Zhejiang. At Emeifeng we found Brown Bush Warbler exclusively near Qingyun Temple in high-quality alpine scrub at elevations between 1500 m and 1600 m. We noted the bird only on the second half of the trip, on 30 and 31 May 2015. As my camera was in the shop, I got no photos of the Emeifeng Brown Bush Warblers. The photo here is of a Brown Bush Warbler at Mt. Wawu, Sichuan, taken by me on 10 July 2010.
A monotypic species, Brown Bush Warbler Locustella luteoventris ranges from India across southern China to Fujian and Zhejiang. At Emeifeng we found the species exclusively near Qingyun Temple in high-quality alpine scrub at elevations between 1500 m and 1700 m (4,920 ft. to 5,580 ft.). We noted the bird only on the second half of the trip, with 6 found on 30 May 2015 and 5 the next day. As my camera was in the shop in late May 2015, I got no photos of Brown Bush Warbler at Emeifeng. I shot the photos here at Mt. Wawu, Sichuan, 10 July 2010. (Craig Brelsford)

Michael Grunwell joined Elaine and me. We noted 54 species. Elliot’s Pheasant were seen in poor light, Cabot’s Tragopan appeared at an elevation of about 1400 m, Blue-throated Bee-eater were present by Shuibu Reservoir, and Brown Bush Warbler were staking out territories at the top of the Emeifeng altitudinal layer-cake.

The Elliot’s were near Shuibu Reservoir at an elevation of about 750 m. As darkness was falling, Michael, walking ahead of us along the road, inadvertently flushed a sub-adult male. Elaine and I arrived in time to see 5 females (or perhaps fledglings) exploding into flight from positions just a few meters from us. The tragopans were seen earlier but also in low light, this caused by fog.

Blue-throated Bee-eater, Qiliping, Hebei, 4 July 2011. Craig Brelsford.
Blue-throated Bee-eater was a surprising find in the forests around Shuibu Reservoir. I photographed this adult at Qiliping, Hubei (31.506333, 114.663000) on 4 July 2011. (Craig Brelsford)

The Blue-throated Bee-eater are a mystery; the species apparently has not bred in the area in recent memory. The habitat around Shuibu Reservoir seems favorable. There are plenty of vertical surfaces of soft earth in which to construct cavity nests, and the artificial lake is at a remote location, near the Fujian-Jiangxi border.

We noted all our Brown Bush Warbler at altitudes of 1500 m to 1700 m (between Qingyun Temple and the radio tower). At Emeifeng, the dense alpine scrub that Locustella luteoventris favors occurs only at those altitudes. Confident in their nearly impenetrable tangle of vegetation, the extreme skulkers allowed us to peek in from distances of less than 2 m. I recorded the soft, monotonous song of this species, like a sewing machine running or an automobile idling.

Brown Bush Warbler, sewing-machine song, Emeifeng, elev. ca. 1600 m, 30 May 2015 (00:06; 266 KB)

Brown Bush Warbler, sewing-machine song, Emeifeng, elev. ca. 1600 m, 30 May 2015 (00:24; 999 KB)

The three of us wanted to explore more of the high country on the peak directly opposite the radio tower, but clouds again engulfed the ridgeline, and rain started to fall.

A search for Spotted Elachura between kilometer markers 12 and 13 got us wet feet but no bird. Hartert’s Leaf Warbler and Sulphur-breasted Warbler also were not noted, a surprise given that we had heard these species singing and defending territories a month earlier.

Besides Brown Bush Warbler, Elaine and I today added Black Bittern and Asian Barred Owlet to our Emeifeng list.

Sun. 31 May 2015

Elaine Du in alpine scrub, Emeifeng, 31 May 2015.
Elaine Du in rich alpine scrub, Emeifeng, 31 May 2015. (Craig Brelsford)

Elaine and I noted 48 species. From the lodge area atop Emeifeng we walked to the little tower on the slope opposite the radio tower. The little tower sits amid pristine alpine scrub and is reachable only by foot. We walked to an elevation of about 1650 m. We were searching for Russet Bush Warbler and failed to find it. We found species similar to those in the scrub between the radio tower and Qingyun Temple, among them Brown Bush Warbler and Buff-throated Warbler.

Earlier, on the dirt road behind the locked gate in the lodge area, Mr. Deng came running back to me, signaling for me to come. We tiptoed a few steps, and there she was, the queen of the high forest, a female Cabot’s Tragopan. She was standing on the edge of the forest track. The tragopan did not flee but foraged calmly in front of us for two magic minutes before creeping silently into the forest.

The magic feeling continued in the alpine scrub. We saw no evidence of logging; the scrub is there not because an older forest was cut, but because Mother Nature intended it that way. The place exudes health and balance. Grass grows lushly, and one can look at almost any spot on the ground and find many types of colorful insects. Butterflies flit from flower to flower. When the clouds parted, we enjoyed the commanding view of the forest below. Flybys of Great Barbet and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush enlivened the scene. White-necklaced Partridge, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, and Lesser Cuckoo called from hidden locations below. Buff-throated Warbler were busy patrolling their territories, standing sentinel atop the shrubs. Brown Bush Warbler were not calling spontaneously, and their presence might not have been detected but for their vigorous response to playback.

Rich alpine scrub, elev. 1600 m, Emeifeng, Fujian, 31 May 2015.
Another look at the rich alpine scrub atop Emeifeng on 31 May 2015. The grass there is lush, the turf thick, the smell of the earth fragrant. Insects abound. No goats graze, and there is no evidence of logging. The place exudes health and balance. (Craig Brelsford)

The day was nearly windless, and few tourists were visiting the top. The golden silence was broken only by birds, among them a drumming Speckled Piculet. The songs of Blyth’s Shrike-babbler and White-spectacled Warbler carried far. In the contest of laughingthrush songs, Chinese Hwamei took the prize for power, and Buffy Laughingthrush won for melody. Here is a selection of what we heard:

White-spectacled Warbler, Emeifeng, 31 May 2015 (00:03; 913 KB)

Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Emeifeng, 31 May 2015 (00:10; 1.2 MB)

Speckled Piculet, Emeifeng, 31 May 2015 (01:10; 3.6 MB)

Driving back down the hill, we found a male Silver Pheasant at ca. 1300 m and a female Elliot’s Pheasant at ca. 1200 m.

In addition to Speckled Piculet, Black-collared Starling was new to our Emeifeng list.

PHOTOS

Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, by Craig Brelsford.
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler was noted by us on three of our eight days at Emeifeng. Pomatorhinus swinhoei is endemic to southeast China. I got these photos 15 Nov. 2014 in Wuyuan County, Jiangxi. (Craig Brelsford)
Crested Kingfisher, Qiliping, Hubei, 3 July 2011. Craig Brelsford.
A Crested Kingfisher emerges from a creek after an unsuccessful dive. I took this photo 3 July 2011 at Qiliping, Hubei (31.506333, 114.663000). On 29 May 2015 at Shuibu Reservoir below Emeifeng, Elaine and I noted 3 Crested Kingfisher. (Craig Brelsford)
Asian Barred Owlet, Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden, Yunnan, China, 20 Jan. 2012. Photo by Craig Brelsford.
On 30 May 2015 we noted a single Asian Barred Owlet in farmland below Emeifeng. The 30 species of pygmy owl, genus Glaucidium, occur on all the inhabited continents except Australia. Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides ranges from the Himalaya to Southeast Asia and south China. I photographed this individual at Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden (21.932582, 101.248453), Yunnan on 20 Jan. 2012. (Craig Brelsford)
Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Hangzhou Botanical Garden, 21 June 2008. Craig Brelsford.
We found Chinese Bamboo Partridge on seven of our eight birding days at Emeifeng. I photographed this pair at Hangzhou Botanical Park on 21 June 2008. (Craig Brelsford)

SYSTEMATIC LIST

Birds Noted Around Emeifeng, Fujian, China, 30 April 2015 to 3 May 2015 and 28-31 May 2015 (103 species)

Anseriformes: Anatidae

Mandarin Duck
鸳鸯 (yuānyāng)
Aix galericulata

9 on 2015-05-02
23 on 2015-05-03
1 on 2015-05-28
15 on 2015-05-30

Galliformes: Phasianidae

White-necklaced Partridge
白眉山鹧鸪 (báiméi shānzhègū)
Arborophila gingica

8 heard on 2015-04-30
1 heard on 2015-05-01
4 on 2015-05-03
2 heard on 2015-05-30
2 heard on 2015-05-31

Chinese Bamboo Partridge
灰胸竹鸡 (huīxiōng zhújī)
Bambusicola thoracicus

7 on 2015-04-30
14 on 2015-05-02
10 heard on 2015-05-03
6 on 2015-05-28
19 on 2015-05-29
9 on 2015-05-30
5 on 2015-05-31

Cabot’s Tragopan
黄腹角雉 (huángfù jiǎozhì)
Tragopan caboti

2 (male & female) on 2015-05-01
1 male on 2015-05-02
2 on 2015-05-03
3 (1 male, 2 females) on 2015-05-30
1 female on 2015-05-31

Silver Pheasant
白鹇 (bái xián)
Lophura nycthemera fokiensis

1 on 2015-04-30
9 on 2015-05-01
1 on 2015-05-03
5 on 2015-05-28
1 on 2015-05-31

Elliot’s Pheasant
白颈长尾雉 (báijǐng chángwěizhì)
Syrmaticus ellioti

1 male on 2015-05-28
6 on 2015-05-30
1 female on 2015-05-31

Pelecaniformes: Ardeidae

Black Bittern
黑鳽 (hēiyán)
Dupetor flavicollis

1 on 2015-05-30

Chinese Pond Heron
池鹭 (chílù)
Ardeola bacchus

1 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-02
5 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-29
3 on 2015-05-30
1 on 2015-05-31

Eastern Cattle Egret
牛背鹭 (niúbèi lù)
Bulbulcus coromandus

5 on 2015-05-02
1 on 2015-05-03
5 on 2015-05-28
1 on 2015-05-31

Little Egret
白鹭 (báilù)
Egretta garzetta

6 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-30

Accipitriformes: Accipitridae

Mountain Hawk-Eagle
鹰雕 (yīngdiāo)
Nisaetus nipalensis

1 on 2015-05-29

Black Eagle
林雕 (líndiāo)
Ictinaetus malaiensis

2 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-03

Crested Goshawk
凤头鹰 (fèngtóu yīng)
Accipiter trivirgatus indicus

1 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-30

Chinese Sparrowhawk
赤腹鹰 (chìfù yīng)
Accipiter soloensis

9 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-01
4 on 2015-05-02
4 on 2015-05-03
2 on 2015-05-29
4 on 2015-05-30

Besra
松雀鹰 (sōngquèyīng)
Accipiter virgatus

1 on 2015-05-28
1 on 2015-05-31

Columbiformes: Columbidae

Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove)
原鸽 (yuángē)
Columba livia

1 on 2015-05-29
1 on 2015-05-30
1 on 2015-05-31

Oriental Turtle Dove
山斑鸠 (shān bānjiū)
Streptopelia orientalis

35 on 2015-05-02
13 on 2015-05-03
1 on 2015-05-28
3 on 2015-05-30

Spotted Dove
珠颈斑鸠 (zhūjǐng bānjiū)
Spilopelia chinensis

1 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-29
1 on 2015-05-30
2 on 2015-05-31

Cuculiformes: Cuculidae

Large Hawk-Cuckoo
鹰鹃 (yīngjuān)
Hierococcyx sparverioides

4 heard on 2015-04-30
4 heard on 2015-05-01
1 heard on 2015-05-02
2 heard on 2015-05-03
2 heard on 2015-05-29
1 heard on 2015-05-30
2 heard on 2015-05-31

Lesser Cuckoo
小杜鹃 (xiǎo dùjuān)
Cuculus poliocephalus

1 heard on 2015-05-28
1 heard on 2015-05-30
1 heard on 2015-05-31

Strigiformes: Strigidae

Collared Owlet
领鸺鹠 (lǐng xiūliú)
Glaucidium brodiei

3 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-01
3 heard on 2015-05-03
3 heard on 2015-05-28

Asian Barred Owlet
斑头鸺鹠 (bāntóu xiūliú)
Glaucidium cuculoides

1 on 2015-05-30

Apodiformes: Apodidae

House Swift
小白腰雨燕 (xiǎo báiyāoyǔyàn)
Apus nipalensis

5 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-02
30 (flock) on 2015-05-28
4 on 2015-05-29

Coraciiformes: Coraciidae

Oriental Dollarbird
三宝鸟 (sānbǎo niǎo)
Eurystomus orientalis

1 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-29
1 on 2015-05-30

Coraciiformes: Alcedinidae

Common Kingfisher
普通翠鸟 (pǔtōng cuìniǎo)
Alcedo atthis

1 on 2015-05-29
1 on 2015-05-30

Crested Kingfisher
冠鱼狗 (guān yúgǒu)
Megaceryle lugubris

3 on 2015-05-29

Coraciiformes: Meropidae

Blue-throated Bee-eater
蓝喉蜂虎 (lánhóu fēnghǔ)
Merops viridis

5 on 2015-05-29
17 on 2015-05-30

Piciformes: Megalaimidae

Great Barbet
大拟啄木鸟 (dà nǐzhuómùniǎo)
Psilopogon virens

13 on 2015-04-30
8 heard on 2015-05-01
2 on 2015-05-02
12 heard on 2015-05-03
7 on 2015-05-28
6 heard on 2015-05-29
4 heard on 2015-05-30
3 on 2015-05-31

Piciformes: Picidae

Speckled Piculet
斑姬啄木鸟 (bānjī zhuómùniǎo)
Picumnus innominatus

1 on 2015-05-31

Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
星头啄木鸟 (xīngtóuzhuómùniǎo)
Dendrocopos canicapillus

1 on 2015-05-29

Bay Woodpecker
黄嘴栗啄木鸟 (huángzuǐ lìzhuómùniǎo)
Blythipicus pyrrhotis

3 heard on 2015-04-30
1 heard on 2015-05-01
2 heard on 2015-05-03
2 on 2015-05-28
4 on 2015-05-29
1 heard on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Campephagidae

Grey-chinned Minivet
灰喉山椒鸟 (huīhóu shānjiāoniǎo)
Pericrocotus solaris

2 on 2015-04-30
6 on 2015-05-01
3 on 2015-05-02
7 on 2015-05-03
6 on 2015-05-28
5 on 2015-05-29
5 on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Laniidae

Brown Shrike
红尾伯劳 (hóngwěi bóláo)
Lanius cristatus

3 on 2015-05-02
5 on 2015-05-03

Passeriformes: Vireonidae

White-bellied Erpornis
白腹凤鹛 (báifù fèngméi)
Erpornis zantholeuca

2 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-29
2 heard on 2015-05-31

Blyth’s Shrike-babbler
红翅䴗鹛 (hóngchì júméi)
Pteruthius aeralatus

4 on 2015-05-03
2 (pair) on 2015-05-29
4 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Oriolidae

Black-naped Oriole
黑枕黄鹂 (hēizhěn huánglí)
Oriolus chinensis

1 on 2015-05-29

Passeriformes: Dicruridae

Black Drongo
黑卷尾 (hēi juǎnwěi)
Dicrurus macrocercus

1 on 2015-05-29

Passeriformes: Corvidae

Eurasian Jay
松鸦 (sōngyā)
Garrulus glandarius sinensis

2 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-02
5 on 2015-05-28
4 on 2015-05-29
6 on 2015-05-30

Red-billed Blue Magpie
红嘴蓝鹊 (hóngzuǐ lánquè)
Urocissa erythrorhyncha

12 on 2015-04-30
3 on 2015-05-01
4 on 2015-05-02
11 on 2015-05-03
7 on 2015-05-28
20 on 2015-05-29
13 on 2015-05-30
4 on 2015-05-31

Grey Treepie
灰树鹊 (huī shùquè)
Dendrocitta formosae

3 heard on 2015-04-30
2 heard on 2015-05-01
5 on 2015-05-03
5 on 2015-05-28
5 on 2015-05-29
2 on 2015-05-30
2 heard on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Paridae

Sultan Tit
冕雀 (miǎn què)
Melanochlora sultanea seorsa

3 on 2015-05-01

Japanese Tit
远东山雀 (yuǎndōng shānquè)
Parus minor

10 on 2015-04-30
4 heard on 2015-05-01
6 on 2015-05-02
3 on 2015-05-03
8 on 2015-05-28
15 on 2015-05-29
4 on 2015-05-30

Yellow-cheeked Tit
黄颊山雀 (huángjiá shānquè)
Machlolophus spilonotus rex

3 on 2015-04-30
3 on 2015-05-01
6 on 2015-05-02
8 on 2015-05-03
11 on 2015-05-28
2 (pair) on 2015-05-29
7 on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Pycnonotidae

Collared Finchbill
领雀嘴鹎 (lǐng quèzuǐbēi)
Spizixos semitorques

18 on 2015-04-30
8 on 2015-05-02
7 on 2015-05-03
5 on 2015-05-28
28 on 2015-05-29
7 on 2015-05-30
7 on 2015-05-31

Light-vented Bulbul
白头鹎 (báitóu bēi)
Pycnonotus sinensis

1 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-02
2 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-28
10 on 2015-05-29
3 on 2015-05-30
2 on 2015-05-31

Mountain Bulbul
绿翅短脚鹎 (lǜchì duǎnjiǎobēi)
Ixos mcclellandii

17 on 2015-04-30
13 on 2015-05-01
6 on 2015-05-02
1 on 2015-05-03
20 on 2015-05-28
10 on 2015-05-29
14 on 2015-05-30
13 on 2015-05-31

Chestnut Bulbul
栗背短脚鹎 (lìbèi duǎnjiǎobēi)
Hemixos castanonotus canipennis

30 on 2015-04-30
7 on 2015-05-01
15 on 2015-05-02
8 on 2015-05-03
19 on 2015-05-28
14 on 2015-05-29
25 on 2015-05-30
5 on 2015-05-31

Black Bulbul
黑短脚鹎 (hēi duǎnjiǎobēi)
Hypsipetes leucocephalus

8 on 2015-04-30
4 on 2015-05-01
7 on 2015-05-02
8 on 2015-05-03
7 on 2015-05-28
1 heard on 2015-05-29
4 on 2015-05-30
1 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Hirundinidae

Barn Swallow
家燕 (jiā yàn)
Hirundo rustica

35 on 2015-05-02
20 on 2015-05-03
4 on 2015-05-28
30 on 2015-05-29
9 on 2015-05-31

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

16 on 2015-05-01
7 on 2015-05-02
25 on 2015-05-28
21 on 2015-05-29

Passeriformes: Pnoepygidae

Pygmy Wren-babbler
小鳞胸鹪鹛 (xiǎo línxiōngjiāoméi)
Pnoepyga pusilla

1 heard on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-01
1 heard on 2015-05-02
1 heard on 2015-05-03
1 heard on 2015-05-28
1 heard on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Cettiidae

Rufous-faced Warbler
棕脸鹟莺 (zōngliǎn wēngyīng)
Abroscopus albogularis

38 on 2015-04-30
11 on 2015-05-01
11 on 2015-05-02
21 on 2015-05-03
23 on 2015-05-28
25 on 2015-05-29
40 on 2015-05-30
18 heard on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Aegithalidae

Black-throated Bushtit
红头长尾山雀 (hóngtóu chángwěishānquè)
Aegithalos concinnus

2 on 2015-04-30
20 (flock) on 2015-05-28
21 on 2015-05-29
19 on 2015-05-30
8 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Phylloscopidae

Buff-throated Warbler
棕腹柳莺 (zōngfù liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus subaffinis

2 on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-02
6 on 2015-05-03
1 on 2015-05-28
2 on 2015-05-29
4 on 2015-05-30
5 on 2015-05-31

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

1 on 2015-05-03

Yellow-browed Warbler
黄眉柳莺 (huángméi liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus inornatus

3 on 2015-04-30

Two-barred Warbler
双斑绿柳莺 (huāngbān lǜliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus

1 on 2015-04-30

Hartert’s Leaf Warbler
华南冠纹柳莺 (huánán guānwénliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus goodsoni fokiensis

1 on 2015-05-03

Sulphur-breasted Warbler
黑眉柳莺 (hēiméi liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus ricketti

1 on 2015-05-01
8 on 2015-05-02
5 on 2015-05-03
1 on 2015-05-28
1 on 2015-05-29

White-spectacled Warbler
白眶鹟莺 (báikuàng wēngyīng)
Seicercus affinis intermedius

8 on 2015-04-30
1 heard on 2015-05-01
13 on 2015-05-03
7 on 2015-05-28
14 heard on 2015-05-29
12 on 2015-05-30
8 on 2015-05-31

Chestnut-crowned Warbler
栗头鹟莺 (lìtóu wēngyīng)
Seicercus castaniceps

3 on 2015-05-01
2 on 2015-05-02
16 on 2015-05-03
12 on 2015-05-28
7 on 2015-05-29
7 on 2015-05-30
1 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Locustellidae

Brown Bush Warbler
棕褐短翅莺 (zōnghè duǎnchìyīng)
Locustella luteoventris

6 on 2015-05-30
5 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Cisticolidae

Yellow-bellied Prinia
黄腹鹪莺 (huángfù jiāoyīng)
Prinia flaviventris

10 on 2015-05-02
8 on 2015-05-29
1 heard on 2015-05-30
1 heard on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Timaliidae

Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler
华南斑胸钩嘴鹛 (huánán bānxiōng gōuzuǐméi)
Pomatorhinus swinhoei

1 on 2015-05-03
2 on 2015-05-28
5 on 2015-05-29

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler
棕颈钩嘴鹛 (zōngjǐng gōuzuǐméi)
Pomatorhinus ruficollis

2 on 2015-04-30
3 heard on 2015-05-01
3 heard on 2015-05-02
5 on 2015-05-03
6 on 2015-05-28
7 heard on 2015-05-29
12 on 2015-05-30
5 heard on 2015-05-31

Rufous-capped Babbler
红头穗鹛 (hóngtóu suìméi)
Stachyridopsis ruficeps

18 heard on 2015-04-30
2 heard on 2015-05-01
4 heard on 2015-05-02
2 on 2015-05-03
5 on 2015-05-28
12 heard on 2015-05-29
5 heard on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Pellorneidae

Dusky Fulvetta
褐顶雀鹛 (hèdǐng quèméi)
Alcippe brunnea

1 on 2015-05-02
1 heard on 2015-05-03

Huet’s Fulvetta
黑眉雀鹛 (hēiméi quèméi)
Alcippe hueti

24 on 2015-04-30
17 on 2015-05-01
5 on 2015-05-02
14 on 2015-05-03
20 (3 flocks) on 2015-05-28
40 on 2015-05-29
10 (flock) on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Leiothrichidae

Chinese Hwamei
画眉 (huàméi)
Garrulax canorus

1 on 2015-05-02
10 on 2015-05-28
10 on 2015-05-29
2 on 2015-05-30
2 heard on 2015-05-31

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
黑领噪鹛 (hēilǐngzàoméi)
Garrulax pectoralis

12 on 2015-05-01
9 on 2015-05-02
3 on 2015-05-28
5 on 2015-05-29

Buffy Laughingthrush
棕噪鹛 (zōng zàoméi)
Garrulax berthemyi

2 heard on 2015-05-03
16 on 2015-05-28
23 on 2015-05-29
3 heard on 2015-05-30
10 heard on 2015-05-31

Masked Laughingthrush
黑脸噪鹛 (hēiliǎn zàoméi)
Garrulax perspicillatus

2 on 2015-05-28
2 on 2015-05-29
3 on 2015-05-30
3 on 2015-05-31

Red-billed Leiothrix
红嘴相思鸟 (hóngzuǐ xiāngsīniǎo)
Leiothrix lutea

2 on 2015-04-30

Passeriformes: Sylviidae

Grey-headed Parrotbill
灰头鸦雀 (huītóu yāquè)
Psittiparus gularis

2 on 2015-05-03
33 (flock of 8 & flock of 25) on 2015-05-28
5 on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Zosteropidae

Indochinese Yuhina
栗耳凤鹛 (lì’ěrfèngméi)
Yuhina torqueola

36 on 2015-04-30
16 on 2015-05-01
24 on 2015-05-02
21 on 2015-05-03
70 on 2015-05-28
120 on 2015-05-29
45 on 2015-05-30
30 on 2015-05-31

Black-chinned Yuhina
黑额凤鹛, hēi’é fèngméi
Yuhina nigrimenta

4 on 2015-04-30
15 on 2015-05-02
15 on 2015-05-03
6 on 2015-05-28
16 on 2015-05-29

Passeriformes: Elachuridae

Spotted Elachura
丽星鹩鹛 (lìxīng liáoméi)
Elachura formosa

1 heard on 2015-05-01

Passeriformes: Sturnidae

Crested Myna
八哥 (bāgē)
Acridotheres cristatellus

4 on 2015-04-30
5 on 2015-05-01
9 on 2015-05-02
4 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-28
14 on 2015-05-29
6 on 2015-05-30
4 on 2015-05-31

Red-billed Starling
丝光椋鸟 (sīguāng liángniǎo)
Spodiopsar sericeus

2 on 2015-05-29

Black-collared Starling
黑领椋鸟 (hēilǐng liángniǎo)
Gracupica nigricollis

5 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Turdidae

Chinese Blackbird
乌鸫 (wū dōng)
Turdus mandarinus

1 heard on 2015-05-01
1 on 2015-05-03
2 on 2015-05-29
1 on 2015-05-31

Passeriformes: Muscicapidae

Oriental Magpie-Robin
鹊鸲 (quèqú)
Copsychus saularis

1 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-29

Small Niltava
小仙鹟 (xiǎo xiānwēng)
Niltava macgrigoriae

2 (pair) on 2015-04-30

Verditer Flycatcher
铜蓝鹟 (tónglán wēng)
Eumyias thalassinus

1 on 2015-05-03
2 on 2015-05-28
1 on 2015-05-29
2 on 2015-05-31

Mugimaki Flycatcher
鸲姬鹟 (qú jīwēng)
Ficedula mugimaki

2 on 2015-04-30

Little Forktail
小燕尾 (xiǎo yànwěi)
Enicurus scouleri

2 on 2015-05-28

Slaty-backed Forktail
灰背燕尾 (huībèi yànwěi)
Enicurus schistaceus

2 on 2015-05-02
3 on 2015-05-28

White-crowned Forktail
白冠燕尾 (báiguān yànwěi)
Enicurus leschenaulti

5 on 2015-04-30
4 on 2015-05-01
3 on 2015-05-02
4 on 2015-05-03
4 on 2015-05-28
4 on 2015-05-29
6 on 2015-05-30
6 on 2015-05-31

Spotted Forktail
斑背燕尾 (bānbèi yànwěi)
Enicurus maculatus

3 on 2015-04-30
5 on 2015-05-01
1 seen by Michael Grunwell on 2015-05-03

Blue Whistling Thrush
紫啸鸫 (zǐxiàodōng)
Myophonus caeruleus

2 on 2015-05-01
1 on 2015-05-28

Plumbeous Water Redstart
红尾水鸲 (hóngwěi shuǐqú)
Phoenicurus fuliginosus

2 on 2015-04-30
3 on 2015-05-01
8 on 2015-05-02
3 on 2015-05-03
8 on 2015-05-28
9 on 2015-05-29
2 on 2015-05-30
3 on 2015-05-31

Blue Rock Thrush (“Red-bellied Rock Thrush”)
蓝矶鸫 (lán jīdōng)
Monticola solitarius philippensis

1 on 2015-05-02
1 on 2015-05-03

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
栗腹矶鸫 (lìfù jīdōng)
Monticola rufiventris

2 on 2015-05-02
2 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-28
1 on 2015-05-29
2 (pair) on 2015-05-30
4 on 2015-05-31

Grey Bush Chat
灰林鵖 (huī línjí)
Saxicola ferreus

2 (pair) on 2015-04-30
2 on 2015-05-03
2 (pair) on 2015-05-29
3 (pair & fledgling) on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Cinclidae

Brown Dipper
褐河乌 (hè héwū)
Cinclus pallasii

2 on 2015-05-28
2 on 2015-05-29

Passeriformes: Chloropseidae

Orange-bellied Leafbird
橙腹叶鹎 (chéngfù yèbēi)
Chloropsis hardwickii

2 (pair) on 2015-05-01

Passeriformes: Dicaeidae

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
红胸啄花鸟 (hóngxiōng zhuóhuāniǎo)
Dicaeum ignipectus

1 on 2015-05-28

Passeriformes: Nectariniidae

Fork-tailed Sunbird
叉尾太阳鸟 (chāwěi tàiyángniǎo)
Aethopyga christinae

2 on 2015-05-03

Passeriformes: Passeridae

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
树麻雀 (shù máquè)
Passer montanus

30 on 2015-04-30
1 on 2015-05-02
ca. 30 on 2015-05-03
2 on 2015-05-28
16 on 2015-05-29

Passeriformes: Estrildidae

White-rumped Munia
白腰文鸟 (báiyāo wénniǎo)
Lonchura striata

28 (flock of 20 & flock of 8) on 2015-05-29
10 on 2015-05-30
1 on 2015-05-31

Scaly-breasted Munia
斑文鸟 (bān wénniǎo)
Lonchura punctulata

4 on 2015-05-03
6 on 2015-05-28
8 on 2015-05-29
12 on 2015-05-30

Passeriformes: Motacillidae

Grey Wagtail
灰鹡鸰 (huī jílíng)
Motacilla cinerea

2 on 2015-05-02

White Wagtail
白鹡鸰 (bái jílíng)
Motacilla alba leucopsis

2 on 2015-04-30
4 on 2015-05-01
6 on 2015-05-02
3 on 2015-05-03
3 on 2015-05-28
14 on 2015-05-29
4 on 2015-05-30
5 on 2015-05-31

LIST OF PLACE NAMES

Emeifeng (Éméifēng [峨嵋峰])

Emeifeng is in western Fujian. (Wikimedia/Craig Brelsford)
Emeifeng is in western Fujian (red), near the border with Jiangxi, 635 km (395 miles) SW of People’s Square in Shanghai. (Wikimedia/Craig Brelsford)

Mountain W Fujian. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). Higher slopes reach elevations of 1700 m. 27.006583, 117.076389. Also Emei Feng.

Fujian (Fújiàn Shěng [福建省])

Fujian (red) is a province in southeast China.
Fujian (red) is a province in southeast China (yellow). (Wikimedia/Craig Brelsford)

Coastal province SE China. Pop.: 37.7 million. Area: 121,400 sq. km (46,900 sq. mi.). Area (comparative): 20% larger than Jiangsu (but with less than half as many inhabitants). Same size as North Korea & Pennsylvania; slightly smaller than Greece.

Jiangxi (Jiāngxī Shěng [江西省]): province SE China W of Fujian.

Nanchang (Nánchāng [南昌]): capital of Jiangxi.

Sanming Prefecture (Sānmíng Shì [三明市]): sub-provincial administrative area W Fujian. Officially, Sanming “City” (市).

Shancheng Zhen (Shānchéng Zhèn [衫城镇]): urbanized area & seat of Taining County. Commonly referred to as “Taining.”

Taining County (Tàiníng Xiàn [泰宁县]): sub-prefectural administrative area Sanming Prefecture.

Zhejiang (Zhèjiāng Shěng [浙江省]): province E China N of Fujian & S of Shanghai.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brazil, Mark. Birds of East Asia. Princeton University Press. Along with Birds of Southeast Asia, my first reference at Emeifeng.

John MacKinnon wrote the most influential field guide ever published about China's birds.
John MacKinnon recently published a post on the owls of Inner Mongolia.

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

Robson, Craig. Birds of Southeast Asia. Princeton University Press. Co-first reference at Emeifeng.

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

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Per Alström sent me a recording of Hartert’s Leaf Warbler. Michael Grunwell’s recommendation of Emeifeng enticed us to go; his knowledge of the area was indispensable.

Click here for the first post in our two-post series about birding Emeifeng.