About Terry

Birding Beijing was launched in August 2010 by Terry Townshend, a British birder living and working in Beijing.  Through this website he celebrates the birds that can be found in and around China’s vibrant capital city.  He is indebted to the growing number of birders in Beijing, both Chinese and expat, who contribute a huge amount to the content found on this site.

A passionate conservationist, Terry has spearheaded efforts to save some of China’s most endangered birds, in particular the Jankowski’s Bunting, a poorly known bird living in remote northeast China with a known population of under 100 pairs.  In 2012 he became a Species Champion with BirdLife International.

Terry is dedicated to encouraging young people to learn, and care, about the environment and loves nothing more than showing students, children, local residents and visitors to Beijing the wonders of the birds that can be found here. He has a prominent media profile, often being asked to comment on environmental issues and featuring on mainstream TV, lifestyle magazines and in national and international newspapers.

With a professional background in environmental law, Terry was the lead author of the first edition of the groundbreaking Global Climate Legislation Study, examining climate change-related laws across the world, and remains a co-author today.  He has presented the results of the study to the US Senate, Mexican Congress, Japanese Diet and the South Korean National Assembly, and is an adviser to the Chinese government on the development of their climate change law.

Terry has found several new birds for Beijing, including the capital’s first Tree Pipit in the UK Ambassador’s garden (!).  He is a regular contributor to the Beijing Birdwatching Society’s lecture series and, earlier this year, was honoured to deliver the keynote lecture at the National Zoological Museum to celebrate China’s National Bird Day.  In early 2015 he was delighted to take up a Directorship with EcoAction, a new and innovative Chinese company dedicated to ecotourism and environmental education.

Terry is a co-author on Europe’s leading birding blog, Birding Frontiers and, since 2014, he has been a Brand Ambassador for Swarovski Optik.

Photo: Terry birding on The Great Wall by Marie Louise.

You can contact Terry via the form below.

55 thoughts on “About Terry”

  1. Hi Terry,

    Great to see you up and running and you have already hit the jackpot with Ibisbill, a lifer for me. Looks like exciting times ahead. I was over at Falsterbo yesterday, talking to some Danes, they were asking about you, so I updated them on your travels.

    All the best

  2. hi terry,
    nice blog.
    at dalian pls check for wingtagged mongolicus gulls, there must be some around (i hope) as we have tagged more than 600 adults during the last 6 years (in mongolia and russia)


  3. Hi Terry,

    I am also a Beijing resident (part time), and tripped over your sight after doing a Google search on possibility of mixing of flocks for Cedar and Japanese waxwings, as I believe my co-birder and I tripped over such a mixed flock at the Yuanmingyuan (old Summer Palace) earlier today.

    Would you be interested in trying to find a time (could be a challenge) when we can possibly get us three (or more, if you know others) to arrange a birding excursion to Yuanmingyuan or one of the other local parks?

  4. We have a 2-day, 3-night stopover in Beijing coming up in June. Could you email me so that I can ask you for a few tips about combining some birding with visits to Great Wall and other sites in our brief stay?

  5. Hi Terry,
    I enjoy your blog for some weeks now, thanks!
    I am an ecologist working out of New Jersey and I am interested – among other things – in birds and plants in urban envrironments. I am especially intrigued by your coverage of birds in urban Bejing. I will in Bejing from May 16-June 12 and might do some peliminary work on urban nature. Would it be OK to contact you for some tips on this respect?

  6. Terry,
    Do you know of any information on the web about feeding or attracting birds in China? I know that some temples provide food, but what sorts of foods they provide and what sorts of birds are attracted I don’t know. Does anyone feed small birds the way we do in the US or Europe? How about providing nest boxes for birds? I have seen largish boxes, of the size you might provide for small owls, in parks in Beijing and a few other places, but can’t find any information about it on the web.

    Ron Rovansek

    1. Hi Ron , I live on the outskirts of South West Nanning city ,Guangxi provence.In response to your request for information regarding the feeding of wild birds,I had a go at that on my balcony which has an overhang. I placed a tray on a small table and put some yellow millet on it.It took a few days for one or two sparrows to come to the tray. At this time June, July I gather the birds were feeding young.Each week the was an increase of visitors ,but only sparrows .I started off with 1 Jin (Jin?) of millet and eventualy got to 3 jin a week .For 5 weeks I also put out small grubs.They were the favourite ,they fed the young, there on the table .Eventualy there was about 20 to 25 sparrows coming and going. It was a plessure to sit and watch them come to feed .There was also lots of squabling when a newcomer would arrive, it was duly put in it’s place and took a while for it to be accepted to feed with the regulars.I also provided fresh water daily. Cleaning up the seed husks once a week and washing down the railings and the table also the tiled floor(lots of bird droppings) with a dettol solution was necessary, It kept everything nice and clean and fresh. One problem, the wind was able
      to blow the fine dust and husks through the finest of gaps in the sliding doors.

  7. Hi Terry, Thanks for sharing this blog with us. I am going to be in Beijing this October, and looking to find a birds list regarding the Beijing Yeyahu Lake Wetland Nature Reserve. Do you any info that you would mind sharing. – Akilee

  8. Terry:
    Have you ‘snapped’ any OHBs that resemble Short-toed Eagle ? If so, can you send me the pix.

    Also, do you have the details of the hotel near to the lighthouse, please ?

    Thanks, John.

  9. Terry

    Can you give me a couple of tips for birds/locations in Central Copenhagen – I shall be there for three days in early January with my daughter. Whilst she checks out the university I’m hoping to do a bit of birding but not travelling out the city. Any ideas appreciated.

    Nigel Barratt, Shrewsbury, England.

  10. Hi Terry,
    I will be in Beijing for a short work trip in a couple of weeks time (1st week April). Any chance you could e-mail me directions for the BEP temple … or even arrange a trip with you? Please e-mail me soonest. Thx. Phil

  11. Hi Terry,
    I am an English birder in Huai’an City Jiangsu. The birding is not brilliant here, but given the dearth of information on where to find birds here in China (in comparison- I was in Thailand before this) I am hoping to write a small guide to the city. I will let you know when I get it done.

    However I am coming up the Beijing for the 2,3 & 4 of April and would be grateful for any tips for birding in and around Beijing.

  12. Terry, an amazing set of records for the last couple of weeks, and well done on the Baer’s – I’m very envious – Jon Mercer (Happy Island with Jesper, Sept 2010)

  13. Hi Terry, though I know nothing about birds my husband hornskov and I admiring your energy, ability and passionate of spending your time on birding inspire of your very busy work, you have done a very good net work too.

  14. Hi Terry:-)
    Very glad to have found your site!! Based in Beijing full-time myself.

    Wow, I’d love to join you for Siberian Crane viewing next year! Just had my Easter holidays and was toying with the idea of going up to Zhalong… Next year it will HAVE to be!

    In the meantime, would you please put me on a mailing list, for any upcoming events(?)



      1. Hi Terry,

        I’m new birder and went to Wild Duck Lake with Guan Laoshi and her group yesterday. I met about 20 life birds in that place. It was amazing to find you here.
        Would you please put me on a mailing list for updated news in birding BJ? Thank you very much.
        I worked in Haidian district, Beijing.

        Best Regards,
        Wang Hao

      2. Hi Wang Hao. Thank you for your email. I have added you to the “Birding Beijing” email list where we report interesting sightings. Also, please see the “Latest Bird News” page on the blog as I will post all interesting sightings there, too. Thanks, Terry

  15. Hi Terry,

    Scarlet told me that you are an excellent birder. And she is wondering that would you like to help organize a bird trip or give some advice for Howie? Here is the email address of Howie Nielsen
    He is interested in visiting Sichuan and doing some independent travel based around bird-watching. He would be with one of the Cambodian guides from the Sam Veasna Center. If you have any idea, can you reply him? Thank you very much.


  16. Hello Terry,

    I found your name when Googling birding sites in Copenhagen. I’m an Australian birder who’s visiting Copenhagen for a week in Easter 2013 with my wife and young son. I was wanting to ask you where I can do some good birding in and around Copenhagen with limited time. I’d love to see a Black Woodpecker. Could you recommend some spots for interesting birds?

    Top Japanese Robin photo, BTW!

    Thanks for your time,

    Mr Lorne Johnson
    Bundanoon NSW

  17. hi Terry

    I’m deputy editor of Cage & Aviary Birds magazine in the UK. I was wondering if I could get your email address, so we could communicate. We’re doing an increasing number of stories out of China – like the poisoning of the Oriental white storks – and could do with some help/advice/quotes on these stories from someone on the ground.

    whaddaya think?


    Nick West

  18. Hi Terry, having visited Beijing/Beidahe recently, I noted the interest though lack of ‘hardware’ from the local people. Do you fancy getting involved with a local bird fair promoting books as well as optics?. I would love to get involved with promoting birding the more of the local population. Any thoughts?

  19. Hi Terry,

    We are 6 Yanks who are signed up for a 3-wk birding tour in Sichuan with Sid in June 2014. We enjoyed thoroughly reading your articles about Jankowki’s bunting, blackthroat, rusty-thr parrotbill, and Chinese crested tern. How can we get more specific info on where is easiest to go to see Jankowski’s, and how to visit the CCT island, and can we pump you for other birding info such as best place to see brown eared pheasant? Not adverse to hiring local guides if not over our budget, or connecting with local bird people and paying their expenses to lead us, or even making an outing, long or short, with you, maybe for something you are interested in. We probably will come before the Sid tour the latter part of May for some touring on our own. We are also thinking about a few days in the Xining area and would accept any recommendations for that, too.

  20. I think a birding fair is required starting in Beijing when people with money can use bins/telescopes to view birds in a park. ID guides are also required. Are any suitable ones in Mandarin available? Support from manufacturers will also be required.They will need contacting. They have potentially a lot to gain though. A big ask but ultimately rewarding methinks. What do you think?

  21. Hi Terry, I enjoy checking out all the references you are posting on this blog!. My first visit to Beijing is due 9.-18. April 2014. I have set aside one day for private birding in the vicinity of Beijing. My plan is to visit Ma Chang/Yeyahu or Miyun Reservoir. What would you recommend during time of visit in terms of bird abundance/diversity? One purpose of my visit is to study practices for bird EIA’s at wind farms in China. My company @avitecdk is now following you on twitter.


    1. Hi Michael. Thanks for your comment. Early April is a superb time for birding in the capital. Both Miyun and Ma Chang/Yeyahu will offer great birding at that time. Yeyahu is easiest logistically as it’s possible to get there by public transport. It’s more complicated (and further) to get to Miyun’s best sites (you would need a private driver who knows the sites). There is a large wind farm at Ma Chang, so if you are interested in seeing a Chinese wind farm, maybe that’s another reason to visit Ma Chang/Yeyahu! You can download a PDF about Ma Chang/Yeyahu on this blog (under the site guide of “A Birder’s Guide to Beijing”).
      Best wishes, Terry

  22. Hi Terry,
    Thanks for your advice. Your suggestions are really appreciated. Chang/Yeyahu seem exciting, the new tower hide in Yeyahu looks exceptional, and the bird list is diverse and attractive. I need to find out whether there is an alternative to bus 919, e.g. by train (am in Zhongguancun), or by getting in touch with local bird watchers and pay expenses for a day trip.
    Will also check the Botanical Garden, Kunming Lake and Fuhai Lake on other days. Are there other ways to follow current birdwatching in Beijing besides your blog? Looking forward to exploring Beijing birding IRL.
    Best wishes, Michael

  23. Hello Terry,
    I am a wildlife photographer and bird watching enthusiast. I come to see your article in China Today. And searched you online. I would love to join you in birding trips. Kindly keep in touch

  24. To add to my previous comment I am based and working in Shanghai. I take my chances to go around to Shanghai for whatever birding chances I got like Shanghai Botanical garden. In Chinese New Year I am planning to go Yancheng National Natural reserve, Jiangsu for some birding.

    Any other suggestions around ? I heard Sichuan province is famous for birds. Looking to hear back

  25. Hi Terry,
    I am just coming back from a week in the Qinling mountains of Shaanxi province, and will be in Beijing until April 13 before I return to Los Angeles. Do you have any advice for a good place to go birding in and around Beijing? I just read your blog about Yeyahu, and that looks awesome, but possibly a little bit far away for someone without a car. Maybe Yuanmingyuan is the best option? I especially hope to see some water birds, since my birding in China has mostly been restricted to dry land. Hope to hear back from you soon!

  26. Hi Terry,

    I will be on a business trip the coming two weeks in Qinhuangdao and will spend the weekend May 24th/25th there. I am looking for a local guide who could take me out on one day. This is on very short notice, however you might know somebody who might be interested and have time during that weekend to guide me. I would appreciate very much if you could provide me with a contact person. Thank you very much already in advance, Best regards

  27. Hi, Terry! I live in Zibo, Shandong. I’m trying to identify a bird that I saw earlier this week, but all the online guides seem to cater to North American birdwatchers. Is it possible that I could email the description of the bird to you or post it somewhere for more expert advice? I’m not a birder at all, but I enjoyed watching this particular bird because it was so odd (to me). Thanks for any help you or your followers can offer!

  28. Hi Terry:

    I love the website. My wife and I are planning a trip to Beijing for our summer vacation, around Aug 3-15. Not the best times for birding, but we’re doing the best with the time we’re given. We’re living in South Korea where we teach English, and are both keen birders (me more so than my better half).

    We’re splitting our time between Beijing and Xiamen/Fujian province. I’ll be following up on some of your recommendations for birding sites in Beijing. If there’s a chance that you’d have some free time and would be interested in pointing us in the right direction, we’d really appreciate it. My contact info’s in the link above.

    Thanks, and good birding!

  29. Dear Terry,

    I am a chinese birder, I am attracted by the magic of nature from my childhood, and it still calls my daily attention.

    Firstly thanks a lot for all the work you did for Chinese ecosystem especially the Beijing birding thing.

    Secondly I have to tell you that I don´t like some tongues you used in your articles, interviews, etc. about my country.

    You came to China since 2010 and it is the same year that I began to live & travel around many countries of this world, one similar that I did is that when I was in Spain, I was too honest to have talked a lot of bad things about this country and that made me feel really sick because we are guests in a foreign country and we don´t have the right to comment & compare things from one to another, especially before some people who are really some patriots.

    Best wishes & good luck,

    1. Dear Yifan,
      Many thanks for your comment. I am always thrilled to hear from people who share a passion for wildlife and nature. Regarding your second point, I am very sorry if I have offended you, or anyone Chinese, by something I have written. That is certainly not my intention. If you can tell me exactly which articles you mean, I will edit them if I can. I am a guest in China and my overwhelming objective is to share my passion for birds by celebrating the birds of Beijing (and China as a whole). For me, the best way to protect the rich birdlife is to help raise awareness of the beautiful and diverse species that can be found, even around a major city such as Beijing. Many people are unaware of the rich birdlife and, if made aware, will often want to help protect it. I often compare Beijing favourably with other international cities, including my own capital, London. Every country has good points and bad points, especially relating to wildlife protection. China has huge environmental challenges (e.g. air, water and soil pollution) and my country still has a problem with the illegal persecution of birds of prey… Regardless of the country, I will always support the protection of wildlife. So in China, I am strongly supporting conservation efforts to save some species from extinction (Jankowski’s Bunting, Baer’s Pochard etc) and I also speak out about the (illegal) trapping and poaching of wild birds. In the UK I speak out about the persecution of Hen Harriers (just yesterday, 10 August, there was a day or peaceful protest to raise awareness about the plight of this beautiful bird). I hope this does not offend anyone (other than the criminals and those that support them). Please be assured that I love living in China, I love the people and I love Chinese birds.
      Thank you again for taking the time to comment and I hope to meet you “in the field” someday. Maybe we can go birding together sometime?
      Best wishes, Terry

  30. Yifan, the world is not a perfect place anywhere certainly for nature as well as other things. I live in the UK but have birded in China. There is nothing wrong with criticism as long as it is constructive. If you came to my country and made a suggestion of how to improve something, I’d be quite happy to listen to you. Maybe as an outsider you would have a different perspective which helped. I am in favour of speaking out like Terry if it’s a helpful and positive which could have benefits. If we all stand back and say nothing how will things improve?

    Best wishes to all, Mike.

  31. Hello! I must say that I really appreciate the work You are doing with this webpage. It’s very interesting. Now to my issue…..I’m going to visit my sister in Beijing the week before and after Easter 2015. Is it to early in the season to see som migrant birds on their way to the north? Is it worth to spend a day or two on a trip down to Beidaihe at the coast? Please help me. Regards, Joachim

    1. Thanks Joachim. Easter is in the first week of April in 2015. It’s a little early for passerine migration, so the parks in the city will be limited in terms of species diversity. However, if you can get to the Botanical Gardens or, even better, to one of the reservoirs, there will be lots to see. I wouldn’t bother with Beidaihe at this time of year… just book a day trip to Miyun or Yeyahu and you will not be disappointed! There are people who can arrange a driver (who knows the birding sites), so it’s straightforward to organise. I can help if you decide to do this.. Best wishes, Terry

      1. Thanks Terry!
        I will skip Beidaihe and focus on your recomendations. They seems to be more than adequat to fullfill my expectations. :-D

        My preliminary plan is to visit Yeyahu NR on the 1st of April. And a half day to the Shahe Reservoir on the 2nd of April. The Botanical Garden will I also visit for sure, but I haven’t set the date yet. It seems that its fairly easy to use public transportation to every place in my preliminary plan from the Sunhe area where I stay.

        To visit the Miyun Reservoir seems to be more of a challange. Here I really need help..a driver who knows the birding sites. That sounds perfect! If he/she speaks english or any of the scandinavian languages it would be even better. Can you please help me organise that anyday between the 4th and 12th of April?
        Best wishes, Joachim.

      2. Hi Terry,
        I just sent you a separate email and then I saw this message. If you wouldn’t mind recommending a driver for Miyun, that may be the best solution for my guests.
        Many thanks,

    2. Hi Joachim, I just read your comment where you say you will visit Beijing before Eastertime 2015 and want to do some birdwatching. I will spend the week 13 23-27.03 there and would also like to do some birdwatching. Just to warn you I am no profesional, I am an elderly lady but fit! and I would have time during the day to do some excursions. If you still have an interest please contact me.
      best regards

      1. Hello mrs Hauber!
        I like Your proposal but I will arrive in Beijing the 30th of March and return the 13th of April so I can’t see how it will work out?
        Best wishes

  32. Hi Joachim,
    thank you for sending a mail! That is a shame we cannot go together. Maybe somebody else would like to come along to the biological garden in the week 23.-27.03 -15?
    Best wishes and happy watching!

  33. Awesome site, Terry. Veldig bra!
    I’m a pilot with Emirates, living in Dubai, and find myself on a flight to Bejing today, with a full day off tomorrow, 28 March for birding. Can’t wait. Nice change from the desert birding in the UAE
    Keep up the good work

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