CAPE NANHUI: The coastal area 85 km southeast of People’s Square is the premier birding spot in Shanghai and one of the most famous birding sites in China. The microforests at Cape Nanhui, the most southeasterly point of Shanghai, are astonishingly effective traps for migrants such as Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and Siberian Blue Robin. The wetlands offer East Asian rarities Black-faced Spoonbill and Asian Dowitcher.
URBAN SHANGHAI: Century Park in Pudong offers excellent birding and is easily accessible on Metro Line 2. Yellow-bellied Tit, White’s Thrush, Red-flanked Bluetail, and Daurian Redstart are among the East Asian specialties commonly noted there.
LESSER YANGSHAN ISLAND: Part of Zhoushan Archipelago in the East China Sea. Lies 25 km off Cape Nanhui and is linked to it by the Donghai Bridge. Migrating passerines are a major attraction. Meadow Bunting breeds on the island.
CHONGMING ISLAND: Large alluvial island at mouth of Yangtze. Boasts most important nature reserve in Shanghai: Chongming Dongtan National Bird Sanctuary and Nature Reserve. Here, about 100 Hooded Crane winter. Access to the reserve is severely limited.
TIANMU MOUNTAINS: Range 270 km southwest of Shanghai offers refreshing contrast to Shanghai region’s coastal environments. Look for Elliot’s Pheasant and Short-tailed Parrotbill.
DONGTAI: Coastal area in Jiangsu, 250 km north of Shanghai. Flocks of more than 700 Nordmann’s Greenshank have been recorded there. Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a regular visitor.
YANGKOU: The fishing town 200 km north of Shanghai has declined in the face of rampant development. It formerly achieved fame for its mudflats, an important staging area for Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
YANCHENG: 300 km north of Shanghai, well-known as a winter home of Red-crowned Crane and Oriental Stork.
HANGZHOU: West Lake Scenic Area offers a good introduction to southeast China’s temperate forest. Easy access by bullet train from Shanghai.
NANJING: One of the best places to bird in Nanjing is Nanjing Zhongshan Botanical Garden. Fairy Pitta breeds at Laoshan National Forest Park. Bullet train.
Featured image: Shanghai birders look for Hooded Crane amid stubbly rice paddies. The scene comes from Cape Nanhui, the best-known birding site in Shanghai and one of the most important birding areas on the coast of China. (Craig Brelsford)