Blue Whistling Thrush at Cape Nanhui: First Record in Shanghai Since 1987

Blue Whistling Thrush
Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus, Cape Nanhui, 15 May. The species had not been recorded in Shanghai since 1987.

by Craig Brelsford

A coastal record of Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus is rare; the species had not been recorded in Shanghai since 1987. The places closest to Shanghai where I’ve seen the species are the Tianmu Mountains in Zhejiang and in Nanjing Zhongshan Botanical Garden. When on 15 May we first saw the glossy blue-black bird, my partners Jan-Erik Nilsén and Elaine Du and I were flummoxed. We lingered around microforests 3-8 at Cape Nanhui, waiting to get another look. We finally got a second look and realized it was the whistler.

Birders tend to think of Blue Whistling Thrush as the ultimate resident, a fixture along fast-flowing mountain streams. The bird is however at least partly migratory, as our record and observations of other birders prove. In a message to the Shanghai Birding WeChat group, Jonathan Martinez wrote: “BWT are migrants; I used to have them annually in northern Hunan at a site not suitable for breeding.”

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