birding on Bund

Birding Sites Around Shanghai

by Craig Brelsford

Japanese Paradise Flycatcher

CAPE NANHUI: Even in decline, the coastal area 85 km (53 mi.) southeast of People’s Square remains the premier birding spot in Shanghai and one of the most famous birding sites in China. The microforests at Cape Nanhui are astonishingly effective migrant traps for woodland species such as Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and Siberian Blue Robin. The wetlands offer East Asian specialties Black-faced Spoonbill and Asian Dowitcher.

Red-flanked Bluetail

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 at Century and other parks in the urban center.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

WESTERN SHANGHAI: Qingpu and Songjiang districts offer a birding experience highly different from that of coastal Shanghai. Here, in remnant wetlands and wooded areas, can be found species rarely seen on the coast, among them Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher and Orange-bellied Leafbird.

Black-winged Cuckooshrike

BAYSIDE NATIONAL FOREST PARK is a large park on Hangzhou Bay in Fengxian District. It is one of the largest wooded areas in Shanghai. Many species uncommon elsewhere in Shanghai, among them Grey Treepie, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, occur in the park. The bird-rich Fengxian wetlands are nearby.

Meadow Bunting

LESSER YANGSHAN ISLAND: Part of Zhoushan Archipelago in the East China Sea. Lies 25 km (16 mi.) off Cape Nanhui and is linked to it by the Donghai Bridge. Migrating passerines are a major attraction. Meadow Bunting breeds on the island.

Hooded Crane

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 key areas of the reserve is severely limited.

Short-tailed Parrotbill

TIANMU MOUNTAINS: Range 270 km (168 mi.) southwest of Shanghai offers refreshing contrast to Shanghai region’s coastal environments. Look for Elliot’s Pheasant, Buffy Laughingthrush, and Short-tailed Parrotbill.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

DONGTAI (Tiaozini): Coastal area in Jiangsu, 250 km (155 mi.) north of Shanghai. Flocks of more than 700 Nordmann’s Greenshank have been recorded there. Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a regular visitor.


YANGKOU (Rudong): The fishing town north of Shanghai has declined in the face of manic development. It formerly achieved fame for its mudflats, an important staging area for Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

YANCHENG: 300 km (186 mi.) north of Shanghai, well-known as a winter home of Red-crowned Crane and Oriental Stork.

HANGZHOU: West Lake Scenic Area offers an 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: With the skyscrapers of Pudong as their backdrop, Craig Brelsford (L) and Michael Grunwell scan the Huangpu River for gulls. For more on birding the Huangpu River, see our page Urban Shanghai. (Elaine Du)
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12 thoughts on “Birding Sites Around Shanghai”

  1. Hi there!

    We love your website! We’ll be in Shanghai on business from June 29 – July 5, and will make time to bird while we are there.

    It seems like Century Park in Pudong is one very active place – birders have submitted reports for the park as recently as yesterday. The reports for Nanhui are less recent – is it worth the trip out there? (It looks quite about an hour by car, maybe longer?) We’re staying in Pudong, about 5 kms from Century.

    We know this is not the ideal time, and it will be quite warm, but where are we in the migratory season?

    Anyway, thanks for your website, and any advice is welcome!

    David & Susan

    1. Hi David— thank you for using Join WeChat and contact Chloe Kan (WeChat ID: blessings-21). She will take good care of you.

      You are birding Shanghai very late in the spring migration season and very early in the fall migration season. Late June to late July is probably the least rewarding month of the year in Shanghai. Sorry to tell you that bad news. However, if you are new to China and Asia, much of what you see will be new, even at an urban park such as Century, and even in early July. I have heard mostly bad reports from Cape Nanhui ever since I departed Shanghai in 2018. The situation seems to be changing by the month, and even this recent report may already be dated. Let Chloe give you her opinion on the matter.

      Best wishes to you, and if you can remember, I would surely like to hear a report on how things go for you. I’m open to publishing reports from keen-eyed observers such as yourself. Kind regards, Craig

  2. Hello Shanghai Birding…

    My name is Matt. I work for a company that is sending me on a business trip to China later this quarter.

    I will be in the Shanghai and Taizhou areas for a trip after thanksgiving and have a weekend in Shanghai. I have a few quick questions.

    1) Whenever I go anywhere I buy a field guide. Can I buy a print version of yours or should I buy the other guide that you recommend on your site?
    2) I’d like to hire a tour guide for my Sunday there if possible. I saw that you posted a comment on your site recommending a local bird enthusiast… the name is Chloe Kan. Is she able to be hired as a guide for a short part of a day?
    3) Do you have any other recommendations?

    Your site is really comprehensive – I’ll be back to keep getting great information.

    Best, Matt

    1. Hello Matt, and welcome to Thank you for appreciating my work on I have worked hard to make it a comprehensive, Shanghai-centric window to the birds of China and East Asia.

      I suggest you use Chloe for your day out in Shanghai. Her email is and cell is +86 13817757266.

      I have no paper copy of my Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, published in its entirety on Do continue to access my guide as you prepare for the trip and while you are in China.

      For a paper field guide, start with MacKinnon’s Guide to the Birds of China ( If you wish to spend more money, then buy in addition Brazil’s Birds of East Asia (

      I will be interested in what you find in Shanghai, and will welcome reading any notes from your trip. Taizhou is probably little birded by anyone, especially foreigners, and I never had the pleasure of making it to that part of Zhejiang. If possible, try to bird there. You may find something new.

      Here are some pages on that you may find interesting.

      Many people ask what it’s like to bird in the megalopolis of Shanghai. Here’s my intro to the parks in the urbanized parts of Shanghai, including my favorite inner-city park, Century Park:

      Here’s the Century Park all-time bird list (useful index of the birds that one is likely to find not just at Century, but at any of the large urban parks in the city):

      Despite unceasing degradation and increasing unease of access, Cape Nanhui is the most famous and most fascinating birding site in Shanghai:

      Here’s an index to all the birding sites around Shanghai:

      We cover birding in Shanghai, in China, in Asia, and the world. See our Birding Trips in China page:

      We offer particularly strong coverage of birding in

      Heilongjiang and Northeast China

      Kind regards,

      Craig Brelsford
      Executive Editor

  3. Dear Mr Brelsford,

    Good day/evening to you. My name is Valentin and am currently based in Hong Kong. I am 16 years old and have around a year of birding experience. My whole family is from Shanghai, and I’m currently planning a solo birding trip there from the 29th of November until the 8th of December, during which I’ll be staying with my grandparents. First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for creating such an amazing website for the birding community. All your detailed accounts really helped me plan my trip, so thank you for that!

    Sorry to bother you during the weekend, but this is my first time travelling solo, and I need a few pointers on where to look for birds. I wanted to plan out my entire trip beforehand to maximise my chances of seeing birds on top of my list. Shanghai is a vast city and although I have visited regularly in the past, I have never gone birding in the city and don’t want to waste my time walking around in circles.

    I have decided on the main birding site of the trip to be Cape Nanhui (surprise surprise), with Century Park, Bayside National Forest Park and Bihai Jinsha as complements. I mainly have 3 questions for my trip: 1. Are there other sites worth visiting 2. Birding routes & hotspots 3. Logistics & others

    Here are some of my top birds to see for the trip: 1. Reed parrotbill 2. Goldcrest 3. Fairy pitta 4. Jap paradise flycatcher 5. Nightjar (any species) 6. Pheasant tailed jacana 7. Siberian rubythroat 8. Black naped monarch 9. Yellow breasted bunting 10. Black winged kite

    Other than those top species, I also want to spend some time with buntings, thrushes, waders and birds-of-prey. The majority of birds from those groups are considered rarities in Hong Kong and judging from your website, they seem to be abundant in Shanghai. So I am pretty excited!

    Thank you truly for taking the time into this email (sorry but it’s quite a long one, I spent so long researching online 😬)

    1. Are there other sites worth visiting

    I’ve chosen Nanhui as the main site due to the diversity of habitats it offers. I can simultaneously cover waders, flycatchers, thrushes and buntings there. I also saw some close-ups of birds of prey on your website, which is another one of my focuses.

    As for Century Park, it seems like a solid second option for thrushes, common forest birds and the goldcrest.
    Bayside National Forest Park and Bihai Jinsha are adjacent to each other. On XiaoHongShu I heard that a spoon-billed sandpiper landed in Bihai Jinsha a few years ago so perhaps it’ll be good for waders, and Bayside National Park with other additional species.

    During my research, I thought about doing some birding in Chongming Island, but it seemed unreasonable to visit as the prestigious bird sanctuary is closed to the public. The free section also seemed unworthy of the 4-hour car ride I’ll have to take to get there, unless accompanied with other birding routes on the island. Do you think it’ll be worth visiting if I am to bird on foot? And is it possible to find the cranes residing outside the reserve? Quoting from your website, “Chongming island is made for car birding” and that a possible route was to drive along a dike. Originally my father planned on finding a B&B for me on the island to stay overnight as it isn’t practical to visit, bird and return in one day. Do you have any birding routes that I can take on foot? If not, do you reckon the free part of the reserve as well as the wetland park beside is worth a visit? Quite hesitant on this one as wasting two days on the island doesn’t seem like a good idea.

    Next up are the urban forest parks of Shanghai. Gongqing forest park, Chengshan botanical garden, Guangfulin suburb park, Tianma shan, Sheshan and Qingxi country park all seem valid options for a visit. What would you say are the top 3 most birdy parks out of them? I want to visit but I’m getting mixed reviews off of XiaoHongShu which also made me doubt the potential of these parks.
    Tianma and Sheshan seem like tourist attractions (based on what I see on XiaoHongShu), are they really that birdy?

    Are there other sites that I left out that you would deem is worthy of a visit, based on my target species?

    2. Birding routes & hotspots


    From your website, I have planned a route to Cape Nanhui, any thoughts on this:

    1. Didi taxi to Nanhuizui Guanhai Park, bird there for waders and others

    2. Stop by Magic parking lot, check out microforest

    3. Walk along the dyke, up north, paying attention to mudflat and reedbed

    4. Walk until the microforests

    5. Walk along Sansan highway and taxi back to home

    Can do this vice versa

    Century park, bayside national forest park and binhai jinsha

    For the former two, I’ll freestyle as I can’t be bothered to plan for a route within a park.

    That is unless you have any special routes to recommend (;D)

    As for Binhai Jinsha, I’ll walk along the dyke from here to here, and then taxi over to bayside national forest park

    I’ll visit Century Park on days where I only have half a day to bird or if I’m feeling lazy

    Out of these locations are there any hotspots that you reckon I should add into my route, or any other route that you may recommend?

    3. Logistics & others

    A few aspects I’d like to ask about

    Chongming island

    • The reserve is so complicated and I’m not sure which is which. There are 3 sections of the place right? 1. Dongtan wetland park 2. Free section of nature reserve 3. Barred section of nature reserve

    • I found an online application for a tour of the free section on Dongtan’s official Weibo account. That does not include the barred section right?

    • The majority of the feedback on Dongtan wetland park is pretty bad and advised against going. Do you think it is really worth staying on the island for 2 days if I am only able to visit #1 & #2? Or if I’ll be better off birding at Nanhui

    • My dad also proposed a one-day trip to Chongming island to attend the guided tour. Do you know whether the guided tour of the free section has a strict time limit or are you allowed to mingle inside the free area? Is it really worth 8 hours of transportation time though for such a tour

    Cape Nanhui

    • Do you have to buy a ticket to the place online? Or if any of the locations in my route are barred to the public or require a ticket?

    • Is it possible for me to rent a bike somewhere and bike along the dyke at Nanhui, as it seems like a gruelling walk without it

    • Toiletries along the dyke, where do I go when nature calls?

    • Is it hard for me to hail a cab on Didi over there?

    • Any potential dangers? e.g. aggressive dogs along the road protecting reedbeds, trespassing laws etc

    Shanghai birder group

    • Do you know if there’s a group that I can join to be notified if a rarity show up in Shanghai

    • Such as a Weibo group, I can’t seem to find one online

    Birding guide

    • As it is my first time travelling alone, it is safe to say that my mother will be worried sick while I’m gone

    • Do you know any acquaintances based in Shanghai right now that can offer relatively cheap tours around birding sites? If so can you pass me their contacts 🙏

    • In the comments section I saw you recommending a person named Chloe for birding in Shanghai, but I was hesitant to reach out because I have no idea about the price of private birding tours over there and I don’t want to make a fool out of myself. What are the prices like over there?

    • If possible, any friendly birder that you know who may be willing to show me around for free? Or let me tag along on one of their birding trips? (I’m 16 and I really can’t afford an expensive tour 😅)

    • I speak fluent Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. I understand Shanghainese perfectly and can converse with it but not as fluent

    Birding souvenirs

    • I’ve been wanting some birder souvenirs such as binoculars and other accessories

    • Don’t know if this is a thing in Shanghai, but if there are physical/online shops based in Shanghai that I can shop for camera/birder gear/accessories, I’ll be happy to take a look probably towards the end of my trip

    • My current setup is the Nikon p950 and nothing else

    This is quite possibly, the longest email that I have ever sent. I am terribly sorry for bombarding you with this many questions during the weekend, but I am seriously hyped for this expedition! 😀

    Thank you again for taking the time into this email, and for providing the information to the birding community, especially for noobs like me

    Please reach out if you plan on coming to Hong Kong sometime! I am no expert but I am more than happy to introduce some local experts or give a few pointers on the local birding sites! Have a great weekend and good luck birding in the future!

    Valentin Shen

    1. Hi Valentin—Thank you for using I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do so much research using my website. You are well prepared for an eventful trip to Shanghai.

      A guide could be a big help. I recommend Chloe Kan. Chloe’s WeChat ID: blessings-21. Phone: +86 138 1775 7266. Her email is

      Since you’ve only been birding for a year, Valentin, and since this may be your first birding trip to Shanghai, a cheap and fast way to experience new species would be to spend two of your birding days in the urban parks. I suggest a day each at Century Park and Binjiang Forest Park. A third day at one of the urban parks would not be unreasonable, especially if you are on a limited budget. (A second day at Century could be productive, especially if your two visits were spaced several days apart and the weather shifted between the two visits.) Buntings and thrushes are wintering in the urban parks now. There are even some birds of prey ( There is a small chance that waxwings are at Binjiang now ( Goldcrest should be gettable this time of year at Century and Binjiang Forest.

      Reed Parrotbill is getting harder and harder to see in Shanghai. The best places to see the bird are difficult to reach, Chongming being a good example. Fairy Pitta and Japanese Paradise Flycatcher are passage migrants and unavailable in Shanghai this time of year. Grey Nightjar is almost impossible now, too.

      I applaud you for your research; it shows real commitment and passion. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope that you can meet up with Chloe, especially if you bird Cape Nanhui. Please write me with any questions, and please let me know how the trip turns out. Thank you again for using my website. Kind regards, Craig

      1. Hi again!! I returned to Hong Kong last Friday, and it’s safe to say that I had a very fruitful trip to Shanghai (to me at least).

        I spent 2 days at Century Park, 2 days at Nanhui and a quick day at Botanical Garden. Here are some of the more interesting birds that I found:

        Naumann’s thrush
        Yellow throated bunting
        So many red flanked bluetails
        Reed bunting
        Pale thrush
        Eurasian skylark
        Palla’s leaf warbler

        Nothing too crazy, but a lot of lifers for me. To be blunt, was a bit too optimistic about the trip and encountered a lot of issues with logistics especially at Nanhui, which is closed for construction as you may know. Thank you again for making Shanghai birding available for us birders!!


        1. Hi Valentin, Great that you had a good trip, and Bluethroat is the most interesting bird in your list. Where did you find your Bluethroat? You spent two days at Cape Nanhui, yet you say it is closed. Please give me more details. Which areas were closed? Which were open? Where was birding the best? Kind regards, Craig

          1. Cape Nanhui is supposedly under construction at the moment and entry from Nanhuizui Guanhai Park is blocked here. At the junction, there is a guard post set up and construction banners put up blocking people from entering. However, I took the risk of flipping over the fence on the left side of the road, tip-toeing with a rented bike along the slope and entered Nanhui that way.

            I discovered on my first visit that Sansan highway, which is still under construction, has a small gap opening here on the left side of the wall that is wide enough for a person and a bike to fit through (see photo attached). I arrived at Nanhui’s dyke through the opening the next time I visited.

            Bluethroat was found along reedbeds right beside Sansan highway at here

            Temperatures were warm when I visited, with little to no fluctuations except for the first 2 days, which were exceptionally cold. Perhaps this was the cause of seeing only common passage migrants (or maybe it’s a skill issue). The massive reedbeds beyond the dyke along Nanhui yielded nothing but plain prinias which was disappointing, I listened attentively for parrotbills but none seemed to be present. The microforests here, here and here were pretty birdy (forgot which numbers they are). The massive field here was also really birdy, was hearing a lot of buntings and other birds that I couldn’t identify, also accidentally flushed a flock of 3 quails (not sure what species). Field here housed a large flock of skylarks

            Cape Nanhui is being quickly urbanised, as a cab driver told me that Nanhui will be the next big urban development goal as everywhere else has already been developed. While leaving Nanhui on my 2nd visit, I passed through a massive construction site that took me 45mins to pass through on foot, at here. Judging from the Google Maps image, all fields have been removed in preparation for construction. This patch of farmland here beside Sansan highway is also being urbanised, and walls have been built along the perimeter of the fields. When visiting, trucks were everywhere, don’t know if that was the case when you left but it’s truly a depressing sight. Saw some egrets that still remained in a small, polluted pond when passing through the construction site, absolutely infuriating. There are only a handful of complete reedbeds left, mostly found around the Guanhai park here, lots of construction going on to the North.

            Also saw no birds-of-prey during this trip, except 2 black kites that were circling above a field and a kestrel that was blown inland by the winds (saw it resting on the dyke far away)

            For Century Park, the ammenity forest at gate 7 yielded quite a lot of birds, a flock of around 5 goldcrests that I managed to photograph. There were thrushes, warblers and red flanked bluetails everywhere too. Link is here

            I’m sure there is more to Shanghai birding, and this trip was insufficient for me to explore the vast city. Looking forward to my next trip.

          2. hi Craig,
            Recently, car traffic to the micro-forests was terrible, long walking was needed. It took much more time to shuttle among different birding spots. In fact, bird species is still colorful, with maybe 80 kinds of birds for the whole day in Nanhui. Valentin hired a car from the downtown and walked around Nanhui. “Maybe the traffic-blocking will be abandoned soon around the Micro-forests”, some workers replied. Hope the birding traffic situation will improve soon. I am still optimistic for the new year.

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