With clear skies and little wind it was a good day to be outside, so we packed a picnic and visited the Botanical Gardens in north-west Beijing. There was a surprising lack of thrushes around (normally this is a good site for wintering Naumann’s, Dusky, Red-throated and Black-throated Thrushes) but the usual residents – Red-billed Blue Magpie, Chinese (Light-vented) Bulbul, Chinese Grosbeak etc were around in small numbers. Despite a short search of their favoured habitat, I failed to see any Chinese Nuthatches.
On the boardwalk that runs along the stream to the west of the gardens, I heard a Red-flanked Bluetail and, as we rounded a corner, there were 4 or 5 bird photographers staked out by the frozen stream. I joined them for 5 minutes and in that time the Bluetail and a Winter Wren came down to drink from a small puddle and took advantage of the worms that the photographers had strategically placed on a prominent branch. The Bluetail and the Wren showed extremely well, clearly used to the attention. The Wren even indulged in a few bouts of song, no doubt encouraged by the relatively warm, almost Spring-like conditions.