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 strong 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 offers 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)

EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER SINGING IN SHANGHAI

Eastern Crowned Warbler, 30 Sept. 2014, Yangkou. Craig Brelsford.
Eastern Crowned Warbler, 30 Sept. 2014, Yangkou (Rudong), Jiangsu. One of the Big 5 Leaf Warblers of ShanghaiPhylloscopus coronatus is a common autumn and spring passage migrant in Shanghai. It is usually silent in Shanghai, but on 15 April 2017, I heard one sing in Century Park. Migrating birds often sing snatches of song far from their breeding grounds. On 7 April 2016, also at Century Park, I heard White’s Thrush sing. (Craig Brelsford)

In Shanghai, the best birding occurs on the coast, 80 km from the city center. Getting there can be a chore. Birding Pudong’s Century Park, by contrast, only requires a ride on Metro Line 2. Your day list from Century will only be about a third as long as a list from Cape Nanhui, but good birding can occur there, and at little cost.

On Sat. 15 April 2017, my partners Larry Chen, Komatsu Yasuhiko (“Hiko”), Hiko’s biology teacher Zeng Qiongyu, and I had a bout of good birding at Century Park.

I had never heard Eastern Crowned Warbler sing in Shanghai. I am however very familiar with the song, because in my wife Elaine Du’s hometown of Boli, Heilongjiang, the song of Eastern Crowned Warbler is one of the most common sounds in the remnant Manchurian forest. Elaine and I have birded Boli on three occasions, most recently in May-June 2016.

Eastern Crowned Warbler, 14 May 2014, Yangkou. Craig Brelsford.
Eastern Crowned Warbler, 14 May 2014, Yangkou. (Craig Brelsford)

We were in the heavily wooded area near Gate 7 when I heard the wheezy song. It sounded just like this recording I made in Heilongjiang:

Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus, 2 June 2016, Xidaquan National Forest (45.727751, 130.317316), Boli, Heilongjiang (00:03; 922 KB)

It was just a snatch of song, and it occurred but once. I knew immediately that it was Eastern Crowned Warbler. The song was coming from the surprisingly high canopy of the wood.

All four of us strained to find the bird. The sun shone brightly through the canopy and into our eyes. Finally, Hiko saw movement. Through the glare we focused in and got a clear view of Eastern Crowned.

It was a shot of birding as good and satisfying as I get anywhere. And it just goes to show–good birding can occur anywhere, even in a busy city park.

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’s work is regularly on view on our Sightings page, and 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.

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 Sat. 15 April 2017 (23 species)

Thinking fast, Hiko trained his spotting scope on this singing Olive-backed Pipit and using his adapter and iPhone got this superb portrait. (Komatsu Yasuhiko)
Thinking fast, Hiko trained his spotting scope on this singing Olive-backed Pipit and, using his adapter and iPhone, got this superb portrait. (Komatsu Yasuhiko)

Century Park (Shìjì Gōngyuán [世纪公园]; 31.219361, 121.551900), Pudong New Area (Pǔdōng Xīn Qū [浦东新区]), Shanghai, China. Includes records from Bird Island (31.217405, 121.554936). Mostly sunny; low 14° C, high 25° C. Visibility 10 km. Wind SSE 18 km/h. PM2.5 AQI: 112 (unhealthful). Sunrise 05:26, sunset 18:23. SAT 15 APR 2017 06:20-10:10. Craig Brelsford, Larry Chen, Komatsu Yasuhiko, & Zeng Qiongyu.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis 7
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 3
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 4
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis 12
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 4
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 35
Japanese Tit Parus minor 9
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 40
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 3 (2 singing)
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 1
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus 1 singing
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana 12
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus 5
Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus 1
Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus 5
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 50
Pale Thrush T. pallidus 4
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 10
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 3
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 16 (some singing)
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria 10
Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami 1
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala 6

WORKS CONSULTED

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, Nanjing, Jiangsu, July 2009; and Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides, Nanhui, Shanghai, May 2016. All by 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 (00:11; 1.2 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.

Falcated Duck Anas falcata 25
Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope 2
Eastern Spot-billed Duck A. zonorhyncha 35
Northern Shoveler A. clypeata 4
Garganey A. querquedula 57
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 was published on 12 Jan. 2017.

The photo above 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.
Cabot’s Tragopan, female, Emeifeng, 1 May 2015. 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. This photo and all other photos in this report by 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.

— 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. I took this photo on 3 May 2015 at Emeifeng.

— 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, Black Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Besra, Collared Owlet, Asian Barred Owlet, Great Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Bay Woodpecker, Grey-chinned Minivet, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Sultan Tit, Rufous-faced Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Brown Bush Warbler, Small Niltava, Verditer Flycatcher, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Pygmy Wren-babbler, Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, Black-collared Starling, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Fork-tailed Sunbird, and Orange-bellied Leafbird

— 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. A dense hardwood forest covers the mountainside. Cabot’s Tragopan and White-necklaced Partridge thrive in these woods.

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.

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.

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 Brown Bush Warbler exclusively near Qingyun Temple in high-quality alpine scrub at elevations between 1500 m and 1700 m. We noted the bird only on the second half of the trip, with 6 found on 30 May 2015 and 5 on 31 May 2015. As my camera was in the shop in late May 2015, I got no photos of Brown Bush Warbler at Emeifeng. The photo here is of a Brown Bush Warbler at Mt. Wawu, Sichuan, taken by me on 10 July 2010.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Day Lists
Lists are generated on eBird then adjusted to comport with my first reference, the IOC World Bird List.

List for Thurs. 28 May 2015 (57 species)

Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, by Craig Brelsford.
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler was noted by us on three of our eight days at Emeifeng, with 2 found on 28 May. Pomatorhinus swinhoei is endemic to southeast China. I got these photos on 15 Nov. 2014 in Wuyuan County, Jiangxi.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁; 26.896163, 117.181893), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), Qingyun Temple (27.006583, 117.076389), & “Elliot’s Pheasant Site” (27.038276, 117.094207). Rainy & foggy in morning, clearing in mid-afternoon. 18°-26°C THU 28 MAY 2015 05:10-18:30. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 1
Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 6
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera fokiensis 5
Elliot’s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti 1
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 5
Besra Accipiter virgatus 1
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 1
Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus 1
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei 3
House Swift Apus nipalensis 30
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 7
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis 2
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 6
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 5
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 7
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 5
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 4
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 25
Japanese Tit Parus minor 8
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 11
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 20
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 5
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 3
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 7
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 19
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 20
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla 1
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 23
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 1
Sulphur-breasted Warbler P. ricketti 1
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius 7
Chestnut-crowned Warbler S. castaniceps 12
Grey-headed Parrotbill Psittiparus gularis 33
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 70
Black-chinned Yuhina Y. nigrimenta 6
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 5
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 6
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler P. swinhoei 2
Huet’s Fulvetta Alcippe hueti 20
Masked Laughingthrush Garrulax perspicillatus 2
Chinese Hwamei G. canorus 10
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush G. pectoralis 3
Buffy Laughingthrush G. berthemyi 16
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 3
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus 2
Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus 1
Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri 2
White-crowned Forktail E. leschenaulti 4
Slaty-backed Forktail E. schistaceus 3
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 8
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 3
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii 2
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus 1
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 2
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 6
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 3

List for Fri. 29 May 2015 (63 species)

Crested Kingfisher, Qiliping, Hubei, 3 July 2011. Craig Brelsford.
A Crested Kingfisher emerges from the creek after an unsuccessful dive. I took this photo on 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.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁; 26.896163, 117.181893), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), Qingyun Temple (27.006583, 117.076389), radio tower above Qingyun Temple (elev. ca. 1700 m), “Elliot’s Pheasant Site” (27.038276, 117.094207), & Shuibu Reservoir (Shuǐbù Shuǐkù [水埠水库]; 27.063469, 117.089115). Mostly cloudy, hot and humid. Fog at higher elevations, clearing in late afternoon. 18°-26°C. FRI 29 MAY 2015 05:20-17:40. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 19
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 3
Mountain Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus nipalensis 1
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 2
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 1
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 2
House Swift Apus nipalensis 4
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris 3
Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis 5
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 2
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 6 heard
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus 1
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis 4
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 5
Blyth’s Shrike-babbler Pteruthius aeralatus 2
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca 3
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 1
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus 1
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 4
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 20
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 5
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 30
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 21
Japanese Tit Parus minor 15
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 2
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 21
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 28
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 10
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 1 heard
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 14
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 10
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 25
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 2
Sulphur-breasted Warbler P. ricketti 1
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius 14
Chestnut-crowned Warbler S. castaniceps 7
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris 8
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 120
Black-chinned Yuhina Y. nigrimenta 16
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 12
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 7
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler P. swinhoei 5
Huet’s Fulvetta Alcippe hueti 40
Masked Laughingthrush Garrulax perspicillatus 2
Chinese Hwamei G. canorus 10
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush G. pectoralis 5
Buffy Laughingthrush G. berthemyi 23
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 14
Red-billed Starling Sturnus sericeus 2
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 2
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus 1
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 4
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 9
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 1
Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus 2
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 16
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 28
Scaly-breasted Munia L. punctulata 8
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 14

List for Sat. 30 May 2015 (54 species)

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.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁; 26.896163, 117.181893), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), Qingyun Temple (27.006583, 117.076389), radio tower above Qingyun Temple (elev. ca. 1700 m), “Elliot’s Pheasant Site” (27.038276, 117.094207), & Shuibu Reservoir (Shuǐbù Shuǐkù [水埠水库]; 27.063469, 117.089115). Rainy and foggy. Cooler. 16°-24°C. SAT 30 MAY 2015 09:30-19:00. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, & Michael Grunwell.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 15
White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica 2
Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 9
Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti 3
Elliot’s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti 6
Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 3
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 3
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus indicus 1
Chinese Sparrowhawk A. soloensis 4
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 3
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 1
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 1
Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus 1
Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides whitelyi 1
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 1
Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis 17
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 1
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 4
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 5
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 6
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 13
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 7
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 19
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 7
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 3
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 4
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 25
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 14
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla 1 heard
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 40
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 4
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius 12
Chestnut-crowned Warbler S. castaniceps 7
Brown Bush Warbler Locustella luteoventris 6
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris 1
Grey-headed Parrotbill Psittiparus gularis 5
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 45
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 5
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 12
Masked Laughingthrush Garrulax perspicillatus 3
Chinese Hwamei G. canorus 2
Buffy Laughingthrush G. berthemyi 3
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 6
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 6
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 2
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 2
Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus 3
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 10
Scaly-breasted Munia L. punctulata 12
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 4

List for Sun. 31 May 2015 (48 species)

Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Hangzhou Botanical Garden, 21 June 2008. Craig Brelsford.
Chinese Bamboo Partridge is common at Emeifeng. We noted it on seven of our eight birding days there, with a count of 5 on 31 May 2015. I photographed this pair at Hangzhou Botanical Park on 21 June 2008.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁; 26.896163, 117.181893), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), & Qingyun Temple (27.006583, 117.076389). SUN 31 MAY 2015 08:15-14:40. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica 2
Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 5
Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti 1 female
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera fokiensis 1
Elliot’s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti 1
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 1
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 1
Besra Accipiter virgatus 1
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia 1
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 2
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 2
Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus 1
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 3
Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus 1
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis 1
Blyth’s Shrike-babbler Pteruthius aeralatus 4
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca 2
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 1
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 4
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 2
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 9
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 8
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 7
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 2
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 1
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 5
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 13
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 5
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius 8
Chestnut-crowned Warbler S. castaniceps 1
Brown Bush Warbler Locustella luteoventris 5
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris 1
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 30
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 18
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 5
Huet’s Fulvetta Alcippe hueti 10
Masked Laughingthrush Garrulax perspicillatus 3
Chinese Hwamei G. canorus 2
Buffy Laughingthrush G. berthemyi 10
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 4
Black-collared Starling Gracupica nigricollis 5
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 1
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus 2
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 6
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 3
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 4
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata 1
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 5

List of Place Names

Emeifeng (Éméifēng [峨嵋峰])

Emeifeng is in western Fujian (red), near the border with Jiangxi, 635 km (395 miles) SW of People's Square in Shanghai.
Emeifeng is in western Fujian (red), near the border with Jiangxi, 635 km (395 miles) SW of People’s Square in Shanghai. Map by TUBS (GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. Modified by 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). Map by TUBS (GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. Modified by 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.

Simple List of the Species of Bird Noted Around Emeifeng, Fujian, China, 30 April 2015 to 3 May 2015 and 28-31 May 2015 (103 species)

Mandarin Duck
White-necklaced Partridge
Chinese Bamboo Partridge
Cabot’s Tragopan
Silver Pheasant
Elliot’s Pheasant
Black Bittern
Chinese Pond Heron
Eastern Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Mountain Hawk-Eagle
Black Eagle
Crested Goshawk
Chinese Sparrowhawk
Besra
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove)
Oriental Turtle Dove
Spotted Dove
Large Hawk-Cuckoo
Lesser Cuckoo
Collared Owlet
Asian Barred Owlet
House Swift
Oriental Dollarbird
Common Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Great Barbet
Speckled Piculet
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Bay Woodpecker
Grey-chinned Minivet
Brown Shrike
White-bellied Erpornis
Blyth’s Shrike-babbler
Black-naped Oriole
Black Drongo
Eurasian Jay
Red-billed Blue Magpie
Grey Treepie
Sultan Tit
Japanese Tit
Yellow-cheeked Tit
Collared Finchbill
Light-vented Bulbul
Mountain Bulbul
Chestnut Bulbul
Black Bulbul
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Pygmy Wren-babbler
Rufous-faced Warbler
Black-throated Bushtit
Buff-throated Warbler
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Two-barred Warbler
Hartert’s Leaf Warbler
Sulphur-breasted Warbler
White-spectacled Warbler
Chestnut-crowned Warbler
Brown Bush Warbler
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler
Rufous-capped Babbler
Dusky Fulvetta
Huet’s Fulvetta
Chinese Hwamei
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
Buffy Laughingthrush
Masked Laughingthrush
Red-billed Leiothrix
Grey-headed Parrotbill
Indochinese Yuhina
Black-chinned Yuhina
Spotted Elachura
Crested Myna
Red-billed Starling
Black-collared Starling
Chinese Blackbird
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Small Niltava
Verditer Flycatcher
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Little Forktail
Slaty-backed Forktail
White-crowned Forktail
Spotted Forktail
Blue Whistling Thrush
Plumbeous Water Redstart
Blue Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Grey Bush Chat
Brown Dipper
Orange-bellied Leafbird
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
Fork-tailed Sunbird
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White-rumped Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail

Emeifeng 2015, Part 1

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 30 April to 3 May 2015, the first of my two four-day trips to the mountain. A post on the second trip will be published two weeks from today, on Thurs. 26 Jan. 2017.

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

Highlights

Cabot's Tragopan, 1 May 2015.
Cabot’s Tragopan, male, Emeifeng, 1 May 2015. 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. This photo and all other photos in this report by 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.

— 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

Collared Owlet, 30 April 2015.
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei, one of dozens of south China species at Emeifeng.

— 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, Black Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Besra, Collared Owlet, Asian Barred Owlet, Great Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Bay Woodpecker, Grey-chinned Minivet, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Sultan Tit, Rufous-faced Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Brown Bush Warbler, Small Niltava, Verditer Flycatcher, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Pygmy Wren-babbler, Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, Black-collared Starling, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Fork-tailed Sunbird, and Orange-bellied Leafbird

— Enjoying the clean air and unspoiled beauty of Emeifeng

Emeifeng is full of high-quality mountain habitat. This is alpine scrub, elev. 1500 m. Here, Buff-throated Warbler and Brown Bush Warbler thrive.
High-quality alpine scrub on the slopes above Qingyun Temple (27.010034, 117.077515). The elevation here is 1600 m (5,250 ft.). Buff-throated Warbler and Brown Bush Warbler breed here.

Wed. 29 April 2015
Taining

Elaine and I took the high-speed train from Hongqiao Railway Station in Shanghai to Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi. There, we transferred to the train to Taining. We checked in to the perfectly adequate Huada Hotel (Huádà Jiǔdiàn [华大酒店], +86 598-7817777).

Thurs. 30 April 2015

Startled by our car, a Silver Pheasant scoots from the roadside back into the safety of the forest. Emeifeng, 30 April 2015. Craig Brelsford.
Startled by our car, a Silver Pheasant scoots from the roadside back into the safety of the forest. Lophura nycthemera is a mainly tropical Southeast Asian and south China species. The race at Emeifeng, fokiensis, is the northernmost subspecies, ranging into Zhejiang. 30 April 2015.

What a first day at Emeifeng! Elaine and I noted 49 species. We heard White-necklaced Partridge, saw Silver Pheasant, photographed Buff-throated Warbler and Collared Owlet, and missed Cabot’s Tragopan and Elliot’s Pheasant. We got close views and good sound-recordings of White-spectacled Warbler, and we found a pair of Small Niltava.

Elaine and I drove up the mountain this morning with our easygoing driver, Dèng Zhōngpíng (邓忠平, +86 138-6059-6327; no English, non-smoker). The 30 km trip from Taining to Emeifeng started at Huada Hotel. In the lower country we found Chinese Sparrowhawk and Oriental Dollarbird. We saw the single male Silver Pheasant at 1150 m. Just below the end of the road at 1450 m, a bird wave included 2 stunning Yellow-cheeked Tit, the Small Niltava, and the Collared Owlet.

At the top we met Steven An, who was leading a bird tour that included Tony Sawbridge. After those birders left, we had the lodge area to ourselves. Large Hawk-Cuckoo were uttering their mad cry of “Brain fever!” 2 Black Eagle were soaring elegantly above. A Crested Goshawk appeared briefly.

Birds of Emeifeng, 30 April 2015: Clockwise from top L: Small Niltava, female (L) and male; Grey Bush Chat; Black-chinned Yuhina; and Crested Goshawk. Craig Brelsford.
Birds of Emeifeng, 30 April 2015. Clockwise from top L: Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae signata, female (L) and male; Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus haringtoni, male; Black-chinned Yuhina Yuhina nigrimenta; and Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus indicus.

The morning fog burned off, revealing a brilliant blue sky. As the forenoon wore on, the birds retired. Elaine and I walked down a wide trail, seeing no one, reveling in the solitude, peacefulness, and unspoiled beauty of Emeifeng. We found 2 Mugimaki Flycatcher and the White-spectacled Warbler. A comparison of our recordings with those of Frank Lambert helped us ID our White-spectacled Warbler.

In the late afternoon, we found Buff-throated Warbler in a big tree near the boardwalk leading to the temple. 2 Grey Bush Chat were also using the tree.

White-necklaced Partridge were heard at various places throughout the day.

Fri. 1 May 2015

Sultan Tit, Emeifeng, 2 May 2016.
Sultan Tit, Emeifeng, 1 May 2015. The largest tit and among the most spectacular, Melanochlora sultanea has a mainly Himalayan and Southeast Asian distribution. The race at Emeifeng, seorsa, is an isolated group, occurring in Fujian and Guangxi.

Rain and fog kept species count low (37), but the species we found were good ones, with Cabot’s Tragopan leading the list. We heard Spotted Elachura. Elaine was much impressed by Sultan Tit, and she had a close encounter with Koklass Pheasant. 9 Silver Pheasant tiptoed through the bamboo forest.

A Sulphur-breasted Warbler helped us find the Koklass. Driving slowly up the mountain road at a point about 1250 m above sea level, we heard birdsong unfamiliar to us. I walked downhill toward the sound, and Elaine walked straight to the edge of the road. There she found the Koklass, a male. She called me back, but I arrived too late. During our vigil for its reappearance, I heard its raspy call.

Sulphur-breasted Warbler, 1 May 2015.
Sulphur-breasted Warbler, 1 May 2015. This is a jewel of a warbler, golden yellow with a boldly patterned head.

The Sulphur-breasted Warbler was waiting for me. This is a jewel of a Phylloscopus, golden yellow below with a boldly patterned head (golden supercilium and coronal stripe, black lateral crown stripes). Its high-pitched song is sweet music:

Sulphur-breasted Warbler, song, 1 May 2015 (00:18; 1.5 MB)

We stopped at a creek containing Pygmy Wren-babbler. Relishing the chance to see this common but little-seen bird, I crawled into the vegetation near the source of the sound. Responding to playback, the wren-babbler came closer and closer until, like magic, it popped its head out from behind a rock just a meter from me. I watched this streamside specialist operate for several seconds.

At the same creek we played the song of Spotted Elachura. I played it so many times that I came to know the thin, high notes thoroughly–so much so that, long after I had turned the recording off and heard the song, I checked my speaker to make sure it was off. Fearing that my wishful thinking had caused a hallucination, I decided to wait before claiming a “tick.” The song stopped, but several minutes later, I heard it again, stronger. This time Elaine heard it also. I climbed up the steep creek bed, but I never heard the song again, and I have yet to see Spotted Elachura. But we know what we heard.

We found a female Cabot’s at 1320 m, below the temple, and a male at 1260 m.

Sat. 2 May 2015

Birds of Emeifeng, 2 May 2016. Great Barbet (L) and male Chinese Sparrowhawk. Craig Brelsford.
Birds of Emeifeng, 2 May 2015. Great Barbet (L) and adult Chinese Sparrowhawk.

Michael Grunwell joined Elaine and me. We noted 45 species. As we drove down the X762 near the Fujian-Jiangxi border, Elaine spotted a Cabot’s Tragopan. At dusk, at the well-known spot for Elliot’s Pheasant (27.038276, 117.094207), we heard Dusky Fulvetta:

Dusky Fulvetta, short song, below Emeifeng, elev. ca. 730 m, 2 May 2015 (00:03; 897 KB)

Rain, sometimes heavy, hampered us throughout the day but let up by late afternoon. Among the new species for our trip were Mandarin Duck, Brown Shrike, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Chinese Hwamei, Slaty-backed Forktail, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, and Grey Wagtail.

We had the pleasure of leading Michael to two lifers today: Sulphur-breasted Warbler and Buff-throated Warbler.

The Mandarin Duck were seen at a small lake near the Elliot’s Pheasant site. The site is a row of fallow rice paddies at elev. ca. 730 m.

Sun. 3 May 2015

Hartert's Leaf Warbler, 3 May 2015.
Hartert’s Leaf Warbler, 3 May 2015.

Michael Grunwell once again joined Elaine and me. Under brilliant blue skies, we noted 59 species. Hartert’s Leaf Warbler was a life bird for everyone and the third “southern” leaf warbler we found at Emeifeng, the others being Buff-throated Warbler and Sulphur-breasted Warbler. While driving we flushed 2 Cabot’s Tragopan and a White-necklaced Partridge; in the confusion Michael managed to spot the partridge. I found yet another Silver Pheasant. We heard 2 Buffy Laughingthrush. We struck out on Elliot’s Pheasant but while searching for it found Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler. Among the other additions to our trip list were 4 Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, 2 Grey-headed Parrotbill, Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, Verditer Flycatcher, and Fork-tailed Sunbird.

The Hartert’s Leaf Warbler was found on the road to the radio tower at an elevation of 1560 m. It flicked its wings one at a time, a territorial display. It sang powerfully in response to playback (00:24; 1.8 MB):

One of our goals for Emeifeng was to positively ID, photograph, and sound-record Phylloscopus and Seicercus warblers, a task easiest to perform in spring when these birds are singing. We missed Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, but with our work on Hartert’s Leaf, Buff-throated, and Sulphur-breasted, as well as our coverage of White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius, we were more successful than I expected.

White-spectacled Warbler, 3 May 2015.
White-spectacled Warbler, 3 May 2015.

Mr. Deng drove us to the radio tower. This is the highest point (ca. 1700 m) for miles around, and the habitat is alpine scrub, much unlike the forest stretching like a carpet below. Buff-throated Warbler greeted us at the top. We found an aggressive White-spectacled Warbler at 1620 m.

Visibility was excellent all day, and in the late afternoon the world was bathed in a golden hue. We left Emeifeng for Nanchang having accomplished most of our goals and with a feeling of satisfaction.

Day Lists
Lists are generated on eBird then adjusted to comport with my first reference, the IOC World Bird List.

List for Thurs. 30 April 2015 (49 species)

Buff-throated Warbler, Emeifeng, 30 April 2015.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), & Qingyun Temple. 27.006583, 117.076389 (Qingyun Temple), 26.896163, 117.181893 (Taining). 18°-29°C, morning fog burning off to reveal partly cloudy skies. THU 30 APR 2015 05:30-18:30. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica 8
Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 7
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera fokiensis 1
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 1
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis 2
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus indicus 1
Chinese Sparrowhawk A. soloensis 9
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis 1
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 4
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei 3
House Swift Apus nipalensis 5
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 1
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 13
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis 3
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 2
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca 2
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 2
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 12
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 3
Japanese Tit Parus minor 10
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 3
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus 2
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 18
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 1
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 8
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 30
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 17
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla 1 heard
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 38
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 2
Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus 3
Two-barred Warbler P. plumbeitarsus 1
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius 8
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 36
Black-chinned Yuhina Y. nigrimenta 4
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 18
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 2
Huet’s Fulvetta Alcippe hueti 24
Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea 2
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1
Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae 2 (pair)
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 5
Spotted Forktail E. maculatus 3
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki 2
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 2
Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus 2 (pair)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 30
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 4
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 2

List for Fri. 1 May 2015 (37 species)

Birds of Emeifeng, 1 May 2015. Clockwise from top L: Collared Owlet showing true and false face; Chestnut Bulbul; and Cabot's Tragopan running across the road. Craig Brelsford.
Birds of Emeifeng, 1 May 2015. Clockwise from top L: Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei brodiei showing true and false face; Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis in thick forest at 1270 masl; and Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti running across the Emeifeng mountain road.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), & Qingyun Temple. 27.006583, 117.076389 (Qingyun Temple), 26.896163, 117.181893 (Taining). Rain and fog off and on all day. Almost no wind. 18°-24°C. FRI 01 MAY 2015 09:20-15:30. Craig Brelsford & Elaine Du.

White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica 1
Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti 2
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera fokiensis 9
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 1
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 4
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei 1
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 8
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis 1
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 6
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 3
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 2
Japanese Tit Parus minor 4
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 3
Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea seorsa 3
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 4
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 7
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 13
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 16
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla 1
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 11
Sulphur-breasted Warbler Phylloscopus ricketti 1
Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps 3
White-spectacled Warbler S. affinis intermedius 1
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 16
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 2
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 3
Huet’s Fulvetta Alcippe hueti 17
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax pectoralis 12
Spotted Elachura Elachura formosa 1
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 5
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 1
Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus 2
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 4
Spotted Forktail E. maculatus 5
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 3
Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii 2 (pair)
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 4

Mammals

Maritime Striped Squirrel, Emeifeng.
Maritime Striped Squirrel, Emeifeng, 1 May 2015.

Maritime Striped Squirrel Tamiops maritimus 1 at elev. 1350 m

List for Sat. 2 May 2015 (46 species). Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁; 26.896163, 117.181893), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), & Qingyun Temple (27.006583, 117.076389), as well as “Elliot’s Pheasant Site” (27.038276, 117.094207), Shuibu Reservoir (Shuǐbù Shuǐkù [水埠水库]; 27.062074, 117.088922), & area around border of Fujian & Jiangxi, where X762 (Fujian) meets S214 (Jiangxi) (27.097394, 117.046614). Rainy, foggy, and windy throughout day, clearing in late afternoon. 17°-25°C. SAT 02 MAY 2015 09:10-19:05. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, & Michael Grunwell.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 9
Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 14
Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti 1 male
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 5
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 2
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 4
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 35
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 1
House Swift Apus nipalensis 2
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 2
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 3
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 3
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius sinensis 2
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 4
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 35
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 7
Japanese Tit Parus minor 6
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 6
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 8
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 1
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 7
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 15
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 6
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla 1 heard
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 11
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 2
Sulphur-breasted Warbler P. ricketti 8
Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps 2
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris 10
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 24
Black-chinned Yuhina Y. nigrimenta 15
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 4
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 3
Dusky Fulvetta Alcippe brunnea 1
Huet’s Fulvetta A. hueti 5
Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus 1
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush G. pectoralis 9
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 9
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 3
Slaty-backed Forktail E. schistaceus 2
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 8
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 2
Blue Rock Thrush M. solitarius philippensis 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 1
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 2
White Wagtail M. alba leucopsis 6

List for Sun. 3 May 2015 (59 species)

Birds of Emeifeng, 3 May 2015. Clockwise from L: Collared Finchbill, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Brown Shrike, and Indochinese Yuhina.
Birds of Emeifeng, 3 May 2015. Clockwise from L: Collared Finchbill, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Brown Shrike, and Indochinese Yuhina.

Birds noted around Emeifeng, mountain W Fujian, China. Elev.: 1528 m (5,013 ft.) at Qingyun Temple (Qìngyún Sì [庆云寺]). List includes observations from roads between Taining (泰宁; 26.896163, 117.181893), elev. ca. 400 m (1,300 ft.), Qingyun Temple (27.006583, 117.076389), radio tower above Qingyun Temple (elev. ca. 1700 m), “Elliot’s Pheasant Site” (27.038276, 117.094207), & Shuibu Reservoir (Shuǐbù Shuǐkù [水埠水库]; 27.062074, 117.088922). Partly cloudy, warm. 19°-29°C. SUN 03 MAY 2015 05:30-17:15. Craig Brelsford, Elaine Du, & Michael Grunwell.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata 23
White-necklaced Partridge Arborophila gingica 4
Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus 10
Cabot’s Tragopan Tragopan caboti 2
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera fokiensis 1
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 6
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus 1
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus 5
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis 2
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 4
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 13
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 2
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei 3 heard
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens 12 heard
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis 2 heard
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 7
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 5
Blyth’s Shrike-babbler Pteruthius aeralatus 4
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca 2
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha 11
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 5
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 20
Japanese Tit Parus minor 3
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus rex 8
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques 7
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis 2
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus 8
Chestnut Bulbul Hemixos castanonotus canipennis 8
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii 1
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla 1 heard
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis 21
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis 6
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus 1
Hartert’s Leaf Warbler P. goodsoni fokiensis 1
Sulphur-breasted Warbler P. ricketti 5
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis intermedius 13
Chestnut-crowned Warbler S. castaniceps 16
Grey-headed Parrotbill Psittiparus gularis 2
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola 21
Black-chinned Yuhina Y. nigrimenta 15
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps 2
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis 5
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler P. swinhoei 1
Dusky Fulvetta Alcippe brunnea 1 heard
Huet’s Fulvetta A. hueti 14
Buffy Laughingthrush Garrulax berthemyi 2
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus 1
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti 4
Spotted Forktail E. maculatus 1
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus 3
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 2
Blue Rock Thrush M. solitarius philippensis 1
Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus 2
Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 1
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus 4
Fork-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga christinae 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus ca. 30
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 4
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis 3

List of Place Names

Emeifeng (Éméifēng [峨嵋峰])

Emeifeng is in western Fujian (red), near the border with Jiangxi, 635 km (395 miles) SW of People's Square in Shanghai.
Emeifeng is in western Fujian (red), near the border with Jiangxi, 635 km (395 miles) SW of People’s Square in Shanghai. Map by TUBS (GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. Modified by 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). Map by TUBS (GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons. Modified by 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.

Simple List of the Species of Bird Noted Around Emeifeng, Fujian, China, 30 April 2015 to 3 May 2015 and 28-31 May 2015 (103 species)

Mandarin Duck
White-necklaced Partridge
Chinese Bamboo Partridge
Cabot’s Tragopan
Silver Pheasant
Elliot’s Pheasant
Black Bittern
Chinese Pond Heron
Eastern Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Mountain Hawk-Eagle
Black Eagle
Crested Goshawk
Chinese Sparrowhawk
Besra
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove)
Oriental Turtle Dove
Spotted Dove
Large Hawk-Cuckoo
Lesser Cuckoo
Collared Owlet
Asian Barred Owlet
House Swift
Oriental Dollarbird
Common Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Great Barbet
Speckled Piculet
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Bay Woodpecker
Grey-chinned Minivet
Brown Shrike
White-bellied Erpornis
Blyth’s Shrike-babbler
Black-naped Oriole
Black Drongo
Eurasian Jay
Red-billed Blue Magpie
Grey Treepie
Sultan Tit
Japanese Tit
Yellow-cheeked Tit
Collared Finchbill
Light-vented Bulbul
Mountain Bulbul
Chestnut Bulbul
Black Bulbul
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Pygmy Wren-babbler
Rufous-faced Warbler
Black-throated Bushtit
Buff-throated Warbler
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Two-barred Warbler
Hartert’s Leaf Warbler
Sulphur-breasted Warbler
White-spectacled Warbler
Chestnut-crowned Warbler
Brown Bush Warbler
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler
Rufous-capped Babbler
Dusky Fulvetta
Huet’s Fulvetta
Chinese Hwamei
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
Buffy Laughingthrush
Masked Laughingthrush
Red-billed Leiothrix
Grey-headed Parrotbill
Indochinese Yuhina
Black-chinned Yuhina
Spotted Elachura
Crested Myna
Red-billed Starling
Black-collared Starling
Chinese Blackbird
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Small Niltava
Verditer Flycatcher
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Little Forktail
Slaty-backed Forktail
White-crowned Forktail
Spotted Forktail
Blue Whistling Thrush
Plumbeous Water Redstart
Blue Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Grey Bush Chat
Brown Dipper
Orange-bellied Leafbird
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
Fork-tailed Sunbird
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White-rumped Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail