Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2022

This is a summary of the rare, scarce and notable birds in Beijing in 2022.  It is based on a two-part Chinese language summary (see here and here) put together by Lou Fangzhou in collaboration with a team of local birders including Guan Xiangyu, Huang Minjun, Huang Hanchen, Li Zhaonan, Liu Aitao, Wang Ruiqing and Wu Zhehao.  This summary is based on available information and is certainly not comprehensive, so if you know of any errors or additions, please comment at the end of this post or contact me directly via email/WeChat so that they can be corrected or added.  

A big THANK YOU to the thousands of birders who have shared news of sightings throughout the year, whether via WeChat, email, eBird, Birdreport.cn or any other means. There is no doubt that sharing bird records has helped many people to see new and unusual species for the first time, building the knowledge base among birders in Beijing and, importantly, contributing to the collective scientific knowledge of the birds of China’s capital city and enthusing more people about the natural world.  In addition to the group mentioned above, I would like to thank Colm Moore, Huo Shengjie (“Oriental Stork”), Wei Chunzhi, DaHao, He Yongzhou, Zhen Niu, Vincent Wang, 清子Zoey, Bonnie Chan, Shunzhu and Paul Holt for providing information and/or for their great birding company, advice and support in 2022, and to the photographers credited below for granting permission to use their images to illustrate this summary.

Overall Highlights:

  • The first and second records of CHESTNUT BULBUL Hemixos castanonotus 栗背短脚鹎 Lì bèi duǎn jiǎo bēi
  • The first record of BRAHMINY KITE Haliastur indus 栗鸢 Lì yuān
  • The second record of FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris 田鸫 Tián dōng
  • The third record of SANDHILL CRANE Grus canadensis 沙丘鹤 Shāqiū hè
  • Possibly only the third record of BLACK-FACED SPOONBILL Platalea minor 黑脸琵鹭 Hēi liǎn pí lù
  • Possibly only the third record of GREY-HEADED CANARY FLYCATCHER Culicicapa ceylonensis 方尾鹟 Fāng wěi wēng
  • Possibly only the third and fourth records of BROWN-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa muttui 褐胸鹟 Hè-xiōng wēng
  • The third and fourth records plus a good candidate of VEGA GULL Larus vegae 西伯利亚银鸥 Xībólìyǎ yín ōu
  • Possibly only the fourth record of HIMALAYAN VULTURE Gyps himalayensis 高山兀鹫 Gāo shān wù jiù
  • The fourth record of WHITE-THROATED REDSTART Phoenicurus schisticeps 白喉红尾鸲 Bái hóu hóng wěi qú
  • Possibly only the fourth record of SLATY-BLUE FLYCATCHER Ficedula tricolor 灰蓝姬鹟 Huī lán jī wēng
  • Possibly only the fourth record of SULPHUR-BREASTED WARBLER Phylloscopus ricketti 黑眉柳莺 Hēi méi liǔ yīng
  • Possibly only the fourth and fifth records of BROWN ACCENTOR Prunella fulvescens 褐岩鹨 Hè yán li
  • Possibly only the fifth record of CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE Spilornis cheela 蛇雕 Shé diāo
  • The fifth and sixth records of REDWING Turdus iliacus 白眉歌鸫 Báiméi gē dōng
  • A very rare record of BAND-BELLIED CRAKE Porzana paykullii 斑胁田鸡 Bān xié tián jī (叶航、胡熙华、郝帅丞等)
  • Possible signs of potential northerly range expansions in the form of:
    • Three records of ASHY DRONGO Dicrurus leucophaeus 灰卷尾 Huī juàn wěi 
    • A stunning four records of RUFOUS-FACED WARBLER Abroscopus albogularis 棕脸鹟莺 Zōng-liǎn wēng-yīng; and
    • Two intriguing records each of GREEN-BACKED TIT Parus monticolus 绿背山雀 Lǜ bèishān què and GREY TREEPIE Dendrocitta formosae 灰树鹊 Huī shù què
  • A remarkable 7,363 PALLAS’S SANDGROUSE Syrrhaptes paradoxus 毛腿沙鸡 Máo tuǐ shā jī counted in one afternoon on 12 November 2022 during what must have been one of the biggest irruptions in recent years

A month by month summary of the birding highlights from Beijing in 2022 is below, in chronological order. It is worth noting that Beijing does not yet have a committee to assess the accuracy of records, and some of the reports outlined in this summary without photos, audio or descriptions, are taken at face value. It’s possible that some may be reviewed if and when a committee is created.

For highlights of the latest bird news in Beijing click here.  And for a basic summary of the Status of the Birds of Beijing, click here.  Contributions, corrections and additions always welcome!

Here’s wishing everyone a healthy, happy, rewarding and bird-filled 2023.

Birding Highlights of 2022 Month by Month

January 2022  2022年1月

The year began with two fantastic finds on 1st – a female WHITE-THROATED REDSTART Phoenicurus schisticeps 白喉红尾鸲 Bái hóu hóng wěi qú at Lingshan (Lou Fangzhou), only the fourth record of this species for Beijing, and a female SCALY-SIDED MERGANSER Mergus squamatus 中华秋沙鸭 Zhōng huá qiū shā yā at Yuanmingyuan (岳小鸮).  On the 2nd the wintering PALE THRUSH Turdus pallidus 白腹鸫 Bái fù dōng was in the Olympic Forest Park (MartinDYC), remaining until 7th Jan at least, and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator 红胸秋沙鸭 Hóng xiōng qiū shā yā was at Lù chéng yào yì gōngyuán, Tongzhou (动动帅).  A MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é was at Yuanmingyuan on 3rd (小 太平) when there was also a first-winter male BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā or Baer’s Pochard x Ferruginous Duck hybrid along the Wenyu River (Terry Townshend).  On 7th a WESTERN WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus 西方秧鸡 Xī fāng yāng jī was seen at Shahe Reservoir (Jun Shuai), remaining into March and with an astonishing three individuals reported on 22 February at the same site by the same observer.  Comment: records of this species, first documented in 2011, are becoming more frequent, most likely due to a combination of an increase in the number of birders and greater observer awareness, and it seems likely that this species is an annual winter visitor in small numbers.  Also on 7th an unseasonal RUFOUS-BELLIED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos hyperythrus 棕腹啄木鸟 Zōng fù zhuómùniǎo was at Taiyanggong Park (北岸望云).  On 10th a JAPANESE SCOPS OWL Otus semitorques 北领角鸮 Běi lǐng jiǎo xiāo was found dead (road casualty) near the Yunju Temple, Fangshan District (Li Cheng). This scarce presumed resident breeder is rarely recorded in the capital but this traffic victim proved to be the first of several records in 2022.

On 12th an unseasonal 2cy CHINESE POND HERON Ardeola bacchus 池鹭 Chí lù was along the Wenyu River (Terry Townshend).  On 12th a GREY-BACKED THRUSH Turdus hortulorum 灰背鸫 Huī bèi dōng was found in Beihai Park (Li Yunfan) and the next day it was joined by a CHINESE THRUSH Turdus mupinensis 宝兴歌鸫 Bǎo xìng gē dōng  Beihai Park (华少 et al.), with both birds staying for several weeks.

On 14th a (SIBERIAN) CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita tristis 叽喳柳莺 Jī chā liǔ yīng was reported from the Botanical Garden (pinky), reported again on 16th (bcbcbc).  On 16th there was also a report of a EUROPEAN ROBIN Erithacus rubecula 欧亚鸲 Ōu yà qú at Haidian Park (observer unknown).  Two PALLAS’S GULL Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus 渔鸥 Yú ōu, 潞城药艺公园 (Lù chéng yào yì gōngyuán) were a good winter find in Tongzhou on 20th (麦克曹).

On 30th the second of the year, and first living, JAPANESE SCOPS OWL Otus semitorques 北领角鸮 Běi lǐng jiǎo xiāo was photographed in Mentougou (大牙齿 458 and Lou Fangzhou).  

The Japanese Scops Owl Otus semitorques 北领角鸮 Běi lǐng jiǎo xiāo in Mentougou on 30 January 2022 (娄方洲 Lou Fangzhou)

February 2022  2022年2月

On 2nd a EURASIAN TREECREEPER Certhia familiaris 旋木雀 Xuán mù què was seen and sound-recorded at Xiaolongmen (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie).  This species has been recorded in the capital only around ten times, so it was a great find.  On 3rd two JAPANESE GROSBEAK Eophona personata 黑头蜡嘴雀 Hēitóu là zuǐ què were reported from Shahe Reservoir (Zhao Chaoyue).  On 6th an exceptional winter record of COMMON (AMUR) STONECHAT Saxicola maurus (stejnegeri) 黑喉石䳭 Hēi hóu shí jí was photographed along the Wenyu River (Liu Zhenning, Xing Lei, Zhang Fengqin).  On 8th a BROWN-EARED BULBUL Microscelis amaurotis 栗耳短脚鹎 Lì ěr duǎn jiǎo bēi was in Yuyuantan Park (齊 凱) and on 9th Lu Zhuofei found a probable (immature) VEGA GULL Larus vegae 西伯利亚银鸥 Xībólìyǎ yín ōu at DaYunHe Forest Park.  Comment: based on Lu Zhuofei’s images (see eBird checklist here), the Japanese gull expert Michiaki Ujihara commented that if this bird was in Japan, it would be identified by most people, including him, as a vegae.  However, there was still some uncertainty as to the full variation in mongolicus, so out of range birds should be treated with caution and the photographs were not sufficient to say for certain.  Late winter and early spring seems to be the best time to look for vegae – as they may get caught up in flocks of the closely-related mongolicus as they migrate inland from the coast.  I encourage birders to document any candidates as well as possible, including images of the bird in flight (upperparts and underparts) and on the ground/water.  

On 17th an EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE Aquila heliaca 白肩雕 Bái jiān diāo was photographed at Beijing Wildlife Park, Daxing (Chen Siqi).  On 20th two GREATER SCAUP Aythya marila 斑背潜鸭 Bān bèi qián yā were at Qinglong Lake Wetland Park, Fangshan District (Zhang Beiyan).  On 25th two JAPANESE GROSBEAK Eophona personata 黑头蜡嘴雀 Hēitóu là zuǐ què were reported from Zhongshan Park (赤心黄连).  The 26th saw several interesting records with a LESSER BLACK-BACKED (SIBERIAN) GULL Larus fuscus taimyrensis 乌灰银鸥 Wū huī yín ōu at DaNing Reservoir (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie), an impressive flock of 100+ COMMON STARLING Sturnus vulgaris 紫翅椋鸟 Zǐ chì liáng niǎo at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Ruby Linlin and Grady Singleton), a MANCHURIAN BUSH WARBLER Cettia canturians 远东树莺 Yuǎndōng shù yīng reported from Yuanmingyuan (sunfulai), a GREATER SCAUP Aythya marila 斑背潜鸭 Bān bèi qián yā at DaYunHe Forest Park (yanxr) and another BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at the same site (hermitress geng).  On 27th, Lou Fangzhou and Liu Aitao found at least one, probably two, MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis 草地鹨 Cǎodì liù at Yeyahu and a single HOODED CRANE Grus monacha 白头鹤 Bái tóu hè at the same site.  The month finished with a bang in the form of a BROWN ACCENTOR Prunella fulvescens 褐岩鹨 Hè yán liù at Yanhecheng on 28th (Chen Ziyi), possibly only the fourth Beijing record and the first of two in 2022.

Sound recording: The Eurasian Treecreeper at Xiaolongmen on 2 February 2022 (recording by Oriental Stork/Hup Shengjie)

 

March 2022   2022年3月

A COLLARED CROW Corvus torquatus 白颈鸦 Bái jǐng yā on 1st was a surprise at the Summer Palace (Wang Ruiqi and Li Yingjie). On 4th, four MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é were at Shahe Reservoir (Jun Shuai, Lu Zhuofei et al.), with 12 at Nanhaizi on 6th (Liu Nian et al.).  On 5th an early EURASIAN CURLEW Numenius arquata 白腰杓鹬 Bái yāo biāo yù was at Shahe Reservoir (ttimmy, Ceoffrey Lions et al.) and single BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā were at DaNing Reservoir and Beijing Park Expo (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie). On 6th a NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE Lanius excubitor sibiricus 灰伯劳 Huī bóláo was at Miaofengshan (Ye Xingcha), a SOLITARY SNIPE Gallinago solitaria 孤沙锥 Gū shā zhuī was at the Huaijiu River (Zhang Fengqin and Liu Zhenning), an early RUFF Philomachus pugnax 流苏鹬 Liúsū yù was at Yanqing (Zhang Dongyuan) and a JANKOWSKI’S BUNTING Emberiza jankowskii 栗斑腹鹀 Lì bān fù wú was found in Miyun District (Huang Feihong).  On 9th there was a pair of SCALY-SIDED MERGANSER Mergus squamatus 中华秋沙鸭 Zhōng huá qiū shā yā at XiYu Reservoir (Peng Yuzhong), remaining for several days. Also on 9th 17 SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè were at Nanhaizi (Zhong Zhenyu, Pan Qingquan et al.) and an exceptionally early TAIGA FLYCATCHER Ficedula albicilla 红喉姬鹟 Hóng hóu jī wēng was reported from Yuanmingyuan (sunfulai). Comment: any out of season apparent Taiga Flycatcher should be checked carefully to eliminate the very similar but much rarer Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva 红胸姬鹟 Hóng xiōng jī wēng. On 10th a remarkable 20 SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè were at Miyun Reservoir (Wang Shujun).  On 11th, a WESTERN WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus 西方秧鸡 Xī fāng yāng jī was by the Huaijiu River, Huairou (景秀).  On 12th three RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator 红胸秋沙鸭 Hóng xiōng qiū shā yā were at the Summer Palace (天书) and singles of BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā were reported from Yuanmingyuan (崇德乐和) and the Huaijiu River (WJC).  On the same day two MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é were at the Xilijin Bridge, Xinghe River, Pinggu District (BillyWang).  On 13th at least seven SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè were at Miyun Reservoir (Wang Shujun, Lou Fangzhou, Wei Zichen, Wang Xiaoyan and Liu Aitao).  On the same day, another two RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator 红胸秋沙鸭 Hóng xiōng qiū shā yā were at Huairou Reservoir (Ao Wang et al.) and an ORIENTAL STORK Ciconia boyciana 东方白鹳 Dōng fāng bái guàn was at DaNing Reservoir (appropriately found by “Oriental Stork”/Huo Shengjie).  On 14th Colm Moore found a LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis 长尾鸭 Cháng wěi yā and a ‘black-backed’ WHITE WAGTAIL Motacilla alba lugens 白鹡鸰 Bái jí líng at Ming Tombs Reservoir.  The wintering 2cy LAMMERGEIER (BEARDED VULTUREGypaetus barbatus 胡兀鹫 Hú wù jiù was seen again at Yanhecheng on 15th (amal amer et al.).  On 17th a 2cy LESSER BLACK-BACKED (SIBERIAN) GULL Larus fuscus taimyrensis 乌灰银鸥 Wū huī yín ōu was with more than 100 Mongolian Gulls at LuomaHu in Shunyi District (Terry Townshend).  On 18th seven LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus 小白额雁 Xiǎo bái é yàn were at Shahe Reservoir (Qiu Xiaoxi). Another ORIENTAL STORK Ciconia boyciana 东方白鹳 Dōng fāng bái guàn was at Taishitun, Miyun on 19th (amal amer et al.) with three BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at DaNing Reservoir on the same day (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie).  On 19th there were two ORIENTAL PLOVER Charadrius veredus 东方鸻 Dōng fāng héng at Ma Chang (Gao Xiaoyan, Wang Licheng), possibly the earliest spring record in Beijing of this migrant from Australasia.  The 20th was a busy day with a 2cy EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE Aquila heliaca 白肩雕 Bái jiān diāo joining the 2cy LAMMERGEIER (BEARDED VULTUREGypaetus barbatus 胡兀鹫 Hú wù jiù at Yanhecheng in Mentougou District (Chen Yanxin), a ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus 毛脚鵟 Máo jiǎo kuáng at Yeyahu (Cai Zhenbo), two BLACK-TAILED GULL Larus crassirostris 黑尾鸥 Hēi wěi ōu at DaShiHe (Guan Xueyan et al.), at least two (2cy and 3cy) LESSER BLACK-BACKED (SIBERIAN) GULL Larus fuscus taimyrensis 乌灰银鸥 Wū huī yín ōu at LuomaHu, Shunyi (Terry Townshend) and two MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é at Haiqingtai, Daxing (张珺凯).  On 21st the large gulls at LuomaHu in Shunyi were joined by a presumed 2cy VEGA GULL Larus vegae 西伯利亚银鸥 Xībólìyǎ yín ōu (Terry Townshend) and two SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè and an estimated 100 WHITE-NAPED CRANE Grus vipio 白枕鹤 Bái zhěn hè were at Miyun Reservoir (动动帅 et al.). 

The 2cy Vega Gull at Luoma Hu, Shunyi on 21 March 2022 (Terry Townshend)

On 24th a DEMOISELLE CRANE Anthropoides virgo 蓑羽鹤 Suō yǔ hè was at Miyun Reservoir (amal amer et al.), apparently rescued and subsequently released.  On 26th there was a a LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus 小白额雁 Xiǎo bái é yàn at Yeyahu Wetland Park, Yanqing District (Yang Yang) and on 27th another LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus 小白额雁 Xiǎo bái é yàn was seen from the Xinzhuang Bridge, Miyun District, with two SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè also in the area (observer unknown).  The 28th saw a MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis 草地鹨 Cǎodì liù at the Olympic Forest Park (老张, 麻杰夫 and 动动帅 via David), and two rare races of WHITE WAGTAIL Motacilla alba 白鹡鸰 Bái jí líng, with a bird of the race personata at Shahe reservoir (Colm Moore) and a bird of the race lugens at the Wenyu River (Terry Townshend).  On the same day a DEMOISELLE CRANE Anthropoides virgo 蓑羽鹤 Suō yǔ hè, presumably the rehabilitated bird from 24th, was with the two SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè at Miyun Reservoir.  On 29th an impressive 33 SIBERIAN CRANE Grus leucogeranus 白鹤 Bái hè flew over Shahe Reservoir at 5pm (Ping Zhang) and there was at least one adult and two 3cy LESSER BLACK-BACKED (SIBERIAN) GULL Larus fuscus taimyrensis 乌灰银鸥 Wū huī yín ōu at LuomaHu (Terry Townshend).  The month ended with a CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng at Baiwangshan on 31st (Bu Xinchen et al.).

The 2cy Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus 胡兀鹫 Hú wù jiù at Yanhecheng (this photo taken on 13 March 2022 by Chen Yanxin).

April 2022   2022年4月

On 1st a LESSER BLACK-BACKED (SIBERIAN) GULL Larus fuscus taimyrensis 乌灰银鸥 Wū huī yín ōu was at DaYunHe, Tongzhou (Yu Xiaobing).  On 2nd there was a 2cy BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla 三趾鸥 Sān zhǐ ōu and a 2cy BROWN-HEADED GULL Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus 棕头鸥 Zōng tóu ōu at Kangxi Grassland, Yanqing (Terry Townshend), two BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at Yeyahu (Bonnie Chan) and two WHITE WAGTAIL Motacilla alba 白鹡鸰 Bái jí líng of the race personata at Ma Chang (Guan Xueyan et al.).  Also on 2nd, a MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é was at Xinzhuang, Chaobai River, Tongzhou (observer unknown).  A great find on 3rd was Beijing’s fifth REDWING Turdus iliacus 白眉歌鸫 Báiméi gē dōng at the Temple of Heaven Park (Lou Fangzhou, Wei Zichen and Liu Aitao).  On the same day, there was a LESSER BLACK-BACKED (SIBERIAN) GULL Larus fuscus taimyrensis 乌灰银鸥 Wū huī yín ōu and two BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at DaNing Reservoir (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie), with two more of the latter at Yeyahu on the same day (Grady Singleton and Ruby Linlin).  Also on 3rd, Yeyahu hosted two LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser erythropus 小白额雁 Xiǎo bái é yàn (Ge Mengshuai) and there was another CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng at Baiwangshan (Cao Shuo and Zhang Ruiyan).  On 5th there was in interesting nocturnal record of an estimated 50 RELICT GULL Ichthyaetus relictus  遗鸥  Yí ōu heard calling over Huairou at 21:22hrs (Andrew Morrissey).  On 6th there were two CASPIAN TERN Hydroprogne caspia 红嘴巨鸥 Hóng zuǐ jù ōu and an ORIENTAL STORK Ciconia boyciana 东方白鹳 Dōng fāng bái guàn at Shahe Reservoir (Jun Shuai), the latter seen again on 9th (Stefan Andrew), and a remarkable record of a VERDITER FLYCATCHER Eumyias thalassinus 铜蓝鹟 Tóng lán wēng of unknown origin from Haidian District (Wang Lizhong).  The 7th saw the third CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng of the spring at Baiwangshan (Song Jian et al.).  On 8th a GREY-BACKED THRUSH Turdus hortulorum 灰背鸫 Huī bèi dōng was at Nanhaizi (漂亮 王).  The 9th saw a RUFOUS-FACED WARBLER Abroscopus albogularis 棕脸鹟莺 Zōng-liǎn wēng-yīng at Kangxi Grassland (Hu Xihua) and the same day there was a report of more than 700 BLACK KITE Milvus migrans lineatus 黑鸢 Hēi yuān (the total count exceeded 1,000 according to the observer) from Yeyahu Wetland Reserve (Qi Kai, Guo Ziliang, Zhao Yongjian, Ye Xingcha).  Comment: As far as I am aware, the previous record count of this species in Beijing was 110 on 2 April 2018 at Shisanling (Colm Moore and Zhao Qi).  On the same day there were three SLAVONIAN (HORNED) GREBE Podiceps auritus 角䴙䴘 Jiǎo pì tī and nine BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis 黑颈䴙䴘 Hēi jǐng pì tī at DaNing Reservoir (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie and Fu Cong). Twenty ASIAN HOUSE MARTIN Delichon dasypus 烟腹毛脚燕 Yān fù máo jiǎo yàn on 10th near Longmenjian, Mentougou District was a nice record (hermitress geng).  On 11th a GREEN-BACKED TIT Parus monticolus 绿背山雀 Lǜ bèishān què (of unknown origin) was photographed at Nanhaizi, Daxing District (Zhong Zhenyu), the first of two records in 2022 from the same site. On 12th a COMMON RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula 剑鸻 Jiàn héng was found at Ma Chang (Guan Xueyan, Jun Yang, 大牙齿 458 et al.), possibly only the 5th record of this species in Beijing?  It stayed until at least 15th allowing many observers to catch up with this rare visitor.  A single LESSER SAND PLOVER Charadrius mongolus 蒙古沙鸻 Méng gǔ shā héng was also at the same site on the same day (Yang Jun, Guan Xiangyu, Li Zihao and Wu Zhehao).  On 13th there were two NORTHERN HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbicum 白腹毛脚燕 Bái fù máo jiǎo yàn at the Botanical Gardens (Dean Li) and two separate LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta 小滨鹬 Xiǎo bīn yù, with one at Xiaomatou, Tongzhou (Guan Xueyan et al.) and one at the DaYunHe (Jia Haiyan).  On 14th a SULPHUR-BREASTED WARBLER Phylloscopus ricketti 黑眉柳莺 Hēi méi liǔ yīng was photographed at Yudushan, Yanqing District (Chen Chen), a COLLARED CROW Corvus torquatus 白颈鸦 Bái jǐng yā was at Cuihu Wetland Park, Haidian (Peng Tao) and a MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis 草地鹨 Cǎodì liù was at Ma Chang (Wang Binging).  On 16th a JAPANESE GROSBEAK Eophona personata 黑头蜡嘴雀 Hēitóu là zuǐ què was at the Guishui River, Yanqing (lu na) and at least two, probably three, MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis 草地鹨 Cǎodì liù were at Ma Chang (Liu Aitao).  On 17th a RUFF Philomachus pugnax 流苏鹬 Liúsū yù and two LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta 小滨鹬 Xiǎo bīn yù were at BeiYunHe (Hao Jianguo et al.).  A GREY-BACKED THRUSH Turdus hortulorum 灰背鸫 Huī bèi dōng was reported from Shahe Reservoir on 18th (CJ).  A CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng flew past the raptor watchpoint at Baiwangshan on 23rd (Ge Mengshuai).  Counts of 55 SYKE’S (MONGOLIAN) SHORT-TOED LARK Calandrella dukhunensis 大短趾百灵 Dà duǎn zhǐ bǎilíng were recorded from Ma Chang on 25th (Vincent Wang) and Ming tombs Reservoir on 26th (Colm Moore).  Also on 26th, two RUFOUS-FACED WARBLER Abroscopus albogularis 棕脸鹟莺 Zōng-liǎn wēng-yīng were at Shahe Reservoir (华少, Jun Shuai et al.), with one remaining until 28th at least, a SLAVONIAN (HORNED) GREBE Podiceps auritus 角䴙䴘 Jiǎo pì tī was at Shahe Reservoir (阿兹猫) and a NORTHERN HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbicum 白腹毛脚燕 Bái fù máo jiǎo yàn was at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore).  On 28th a GREY-BACKED THRUSH Turdus hortulorum 灰背鸫 Huī bèi dōng was at Tsinghua University campus (Tz Hsuan Tseng) and a DEMOISELLE CRANE Anthropoides virgo 蓑羽鹤 Suō yǔ hè was at Ma Chang (Zhang Dongyuan).  On 29th a BULL-HEADED SHRIKE Lanius bucephalus 牛头伯劳 Niú tóu bó láo was at Baicaopan (Tom Tom) and an early COMMON CUCKOO Cuculus canorus 大杜鹃 Dà dùjuān was reported from Baiwangshan (Ge Mengshuai and Wang Ye).  The month ended with a good record of a singing NORTHERN (RUFOUS) HAWK-CUCKOO Hierococcyx hyperythrus 北鹰鹃 Běi yīng juān at the Temple of Heaven Park on 30th (Hang Ye and 大牙齿 458) and a superb count of 32+ EURASIAN CURLEW Numenius arquata 白腰杓鹬 Bái yāo biāo yù at Miyun Reservoir (Kong Deyi).

The Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula 剑鸻 Jiàn héng at Ma Chang (this photo by Terry Townshend on 15 April 2022).

May 2022     2022年5月

A fulvescens GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE Aquila clanga 乌雕 Wū diāo was at Miyun Reservoir on 1st (Zhang Fengqin and Du Kaiyan).  On 2nd a BROWNISH-FLANKED BUSH WARBLER Horornis fortipes 强脚树莺 Qiáng-jiǎo shù-yīng was at Qianlingshan (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie).  On 3rd four LITTLE CURLEW Numenius minutus 小杓鹬 Xiǎo biāo yù were reported from Ma Chang (Plateau). On 4th a LESSER SAND PLOVER Charadrius mongolus 蒙古沙鸻 Méng gǔ shā héng and was reported from Ma Chang (Cory Gao).  On 5th there was a BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica 斑尾塍鹬 Bānwěi chéng yù at Shahe Reservoir (Guan Xueyan et al.), possibly only the 5th Beijing record?  On the same day there was an ASIAN DOWITCHER Limnodromus semipalmatus 半蹼鹬 Bàn pǔ yù at DaYunHe, Tongzhou District (王勇) and a PIED WHEATEAR Oenanthe pleschanka 白顶䳭 Bái dǐng jí at Shahe Reservoir (王文龙).  Another wheatear, this time an ISABELLINE WHEATEAR Oenanthe isabellina 沙䳭 Shā jí was at Ma Chang on 8th (Cinclus cinclus et al.) and a nice group of twelve ASHY MINIVET Pericrocotus divaricatus 灰山椒鸟 Huī shānjiāo niǎo was found at DaYunHe, Tongzhou (郝建国). A RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Ficedula parva 红胸姬鹟 Hóng xiōng jī wēng was reported from Chaoyang Park the same day (Stefan Andrew).

On 9th a NORTHERN (RUFOUS) HAWK-CUCKOO Hierococcyx hyperythrus 北鹰鹃 Běi yīng juān was at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) and a CHESTNUT-WINGED CUCKOO Clamator coromandus 红翅凤头鹃 Hóng chì fèng tóu juān was a great find at Dongxiaokou Park (Grady Singleton and Ruby Linlin). On the same day there were two PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus tenellipes 淡脚柳莺 Dàn jiǎo liǔ yīng at DaNing Reservoir (peng su) and a MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER Ficedula mugimaki 鸲姬鹟 Qú jī wēng at the Temple of Heaven Park (张佳依).  A candidate WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava 西黄鹡鸰 Xī huáng jí líng was reported from Shahe Reservoir (戴少华).  The 10th was a busy day, with two rare flycatchers being found – first, a BROWN-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa muttui 褐胸鹟 Hè-xiōng wēng, possibly only the third record of this species for Beijing, was a great find by Vincent Wang at the Botanical Gardens and, second, a SLATY-BLUE FLYCATCHER Ficedula tricolor 灰蓝姬鹟 Huī lán jī wēng, possibly only the fourth record, was at JingTieHeYuan, Xicheng District (朱鋆).  On the same day a SIBERIAN THRUSH Zoothera sibirica 白眉地鸫 Báiméi di dōng and two GREY-BACKED THRUSH Turdus hortulorum 灰背鸫 Huī bèi dōng were at the Temple of Heaven Park (Wang Ye and Qiuhan Z) and the first of two spring SANDERLING Calidris alba 三趾滨鹬 Sān zhǐ bīn yù was at DaYunHe, Tongzhou District (王勇).  The 11th was a good day at Baiwangshan, the famous raptor watching spot, with more than 1,000 CRESTED (ORIENTAL) HONEY BUZZARD Pernis ptilorhynchus 凤头蜂鹰 Fèng tóu fēng yīng logged plus 83 JAPANESE SPARROWHAWK Accipiter gularis 日本松雀鹰 Rì běn sōng què yīng (the latter possibly a Beijing record count?) and a rare BESRA Accipiter virgatus 松雀鹰 Sōng què yīng (Friends of Nature Baiwangshan Raptor Monitoring Group).  Also on 11th, a second BROWN-BREASTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa muttui 褐胸鹟 Hè-xiōng wēng was at Zizhuyuan (刘文忠), with photos suggesting it was a different bird to that in the Botanical Gardens the previous day, and a COLLARED CROW Corvus torquatus 白颈鸦 Bái jǐng yā was at Shahe Reservoir (Guan Xueyan et al.).  On 13th, a PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus tenellipes 淡脚柳莺 Dàn jiǎo liǔ yīng was at the Botanical Gardens (Jun Shuai).  The next day there were six (late) MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é at Shahe Reservoir (蔡震波、李蔚莹、傅聪等) and MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER Ficedula mugimaki 鸲姬鹟 Qú jī wēng were recorded at the Wenyu River (Stefan Andrew) and DaNing Reservoir (Qiuyang Zheng and Yan Shen).  Also on 14th, Baiwangshan outdid itself when 2,025 CRESTED (ORIENTAL) HONEY BUZZARD Pernis ptilorhynchus 凤头蜂鹰 Fèng tóu fēng yīng were logged passing the raptor watchpoint (Friends of Nature).  An ASHY DRONGO Dicrurus leucophaeus 灰卷尾 Huī juàn wěi was reported from Dongxiaokou Park, Chaoyang on 15th (劳二尔).  On 16th there was a BLACK-WINGED CUCKOOSHRIKE Coracina melaschistos 暗灰鹃鵙 at Shawo Park Chaobai River, Tongzhou (Wang Changjun).  On 18th a PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus tenellipes 淡脚柳莺 Dàn jiǎo liǔ yīng was recorded in Tongzhou (大好) and a SANDERLING Calidris alba 三趾滨鹬 Sān zhǐ bīn yù was at the ChaoHui Bridge, Miyun (孙治家).  There was a PECHORA PIPIT Anthus gustavi 北鹨 Běi liù on 19th at TianFu, Tongzhou (宋大昭).  On the same day there was a MARSH GRASSBIRD Locustella pryeri 斑背大尾莺 Bān bèi dà wěi yīng at Shahe Reservoir (王似奇) and a RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN Luscinia sibilans 红尾歌鸲 Hóng wěi gē qú at DaNing Reservoir (Qiuyang Zheng and Yan Shen).  On 20th there was another PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus tenellipes 淡脚柳莺 Dàn jiǎo liǔ yīng at the Temple of Heaven Park (amal amer and Cinclus cinclus) plus a GREY-BACKED THRUSH Turdus hortulorum 灰背鸫 Huī bèi dōng at the same site (兆楠 李) and a NORTHERN BOOBOOK Ninox japonica 鹰鸮 Yīng xiāo at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Jiahua Xing).  The 21st saw a new species for Beijing when a CHESTNUT BULBUL Hemixos castanonotus 栗背短脚鹎 Lì bèi duǎn jiǎo bēi was photographed at DaYunHe (阿兹猫).  While looking for this bird, other birders found a GREY-HEADED CANARY FLYCATCHER Culicicapa ceylonensis 方尾鹟 Fāng wěi wēng at DaYunHe Golf Club 大运河高尔夫俱乐部 (Zhang Hui, amal amer et al.). Also on 21st an ORIENTAL CUCKOO Cuculus optatus 北方中杜鹃 Běifāng zhōng dùjuān was a good find at Kangxi Grassland (王力成、严向荣).  On 22nd a LITTLE CURLEW Numenius minutus 小杓鹬 Xiǎo biāo yù was at DaNing Reservoir (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie) along with a BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā and possibly a Beijing record count of 160 COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo 普通燕鸥 Pǔtōng yàn ōu.  Also on 22nd there was a LESSER SAND PLOVER Charadrius mongolus 蒙古沙鸻 Méng gǔ shā héng at Miyun Reservoir (Wang Shujun).  On 23rd a CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE Spilornis cheela 蛇雕 Shé diāo was photographed at Baiwangshan (王文龙). Comment: This species is very rare in Beijing with only a handful of records, all from Baiwangshan. On the same day two GREEN-BACKED TIT Parus monticolus 绿背山雀 Lǜ bèishān què were at Nanhaizi (Zhong Zhenyu). On 24th an ORIENTAL CUCKOO Cuculus optatus 北方中杜鹃 Běifāng zhōng dùjuān was sound-recorded at Xiangshan (He Yongzhou) and a RED COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia tranquebarica 火斑鸠 Huǒ bānjiū was at Yuanmingyuan (汪周、杨虹、晏燕等).  On 25th three ORIENTAL STORK Ciconia boyciana 东方白鹳 Dōng fāng bái guàn were at Tangjiashan Reservoir (Bonnie Jiang).  On 26th CHINESE BUSH WARBLER Bradypterus tacsanowskius 中华短翅莺 Zhōnghuá duǎn chì yīng were along the Wenyu River (Terry Townshend), Yudong Park (Yudong Park (Yan Shen and Catherine Dong) and at Yuanmingyuan (Jeff_觉非) and a female SIBERIAN THRUSH Zoothera sibirica 白眉地鸫 Báiméi di dōng was in the Botanical Gardens (Jiang Hang).  On 27th the spring’s second ASHY DRONGO Dicrurus leucophaeus 灰卷尾 Huī juàn wěi was photographed at Baiwangshan (王振亚).  On 28th a surprise in the form of a GREY TREEPIE 灰树鹊 Huī shù què was photographed at Ma Chang (高原).  Note that damaged tail feathers may indicate that this bird originated in captivity.  Three RUDDY TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres 翻石鹬 Fān shí yù were at the same site on the same day (王力成、严向荣). 29th was a superb day at Ma Chang with a PALE MARTIN Riparia diluta 淡色沙燕 Dàn sè shā yàn, a flock of 55 (!) GREY-TAILED TATTLER Tringa brevipes 灰尾漂鹬 Huī wěi (piào) yù, 4 RUDDY TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres 翻石鹬 Fān shí yù and 1 CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea 弯嘴滨鹬 Wān zuǐ bīn yù (Ren Lipeng, amal amer et al.).  On 30th there was a BLACK-WINGED CUCKOOSHRIKE Coracina melaschistos 暗灰鹃鵙 Àn huī juān jú at HuoYing (Wang Xiaobo), a BLUNT-WINGED WARBLER Acrocephalus concinens 钝翅苇莺 Dùn chì wěi yīng at ZoaLinZhuangYuTang, Tongzhou (郝建国), and five unseasonal MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é at Ma Chang (Wang Bingling, Du Kaiyan and Wang Wenlong).  The month ended with two NORTHERN HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbicum 白腹毛脚燕 Bái fù máo jiǎo yàn at the Botanical Gardens (peng su) and two CINNAMON BITTERN Ixobrychus cinnamomeus 栗苇鳽 Lì wěi jiān at the Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) on 31st.

The Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi 北鹨 Běi liù on 19th May 2022 in Tongzhou (宋大昭 Song DaZhao)

June 2022     2022年6月

June started in spectacular fashion with two immature HIMALAYAN VULTURE Gyps himalayensis 高山兀鹫 Gāo shān wù jiù at Miaofengshan (昱昊 Hausys, 云天, 麦克曹 et al.) on 1st, possibly only the fourth record of this species in Beijing.  Also on 1st, two PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu were at Miyun Reservoir (Wang Shujun).  On 3rd there was an ASIAN LESSER CUCKOO Cuculus poliocephalus 小杜鹃 Xiǎo dùjuān and a BULL-HEADED SHRIKE Lanius bucephalus 牛头伯劳 Niú tóu bó láo at Lingshan (Liu Aitao and 大牙齿 458). Also on 3rd a MANCHURIAN REED WARBLER Acrocephalus tangorum 远东苇莺 Yuǎndōng wěi yīng was at Shahe Reservoir (Fang Yu, Ji Shi and Zhu Yanning).  On 4th there was another MANCHURIAN REED WARBLER Acrocephalus tangorum 远东苇莺 Yuǎndōng wěi yīng at LuoMaHu, Shunyi (Terry Townshend) and another PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus tenellipes 淡脚柳莺 Dàn jiǎo liǔ yīng at Tianfu Village (Xingcha Ye). On 5th there were two ASIAN LESSER CUCKOO Cuculus poliocephalus 小杜鹃 Xiǎo dùjuān at Miaofengshan (Huo Shengjie).  On 6th there was the spring’s second CHESTNUT-WINGED CUCKOO Clamator coromandus 红翅凤头鹃 Hóng chì fèng tóu at Shahe Reservoir (Zhen Niu, Lou Fangzhou, Song Jian) and two CINNAMON BITTERN Ixobrychus cinnamomeus 栗苇鳽 Lì wěi jiān  at 通萧太后河田家府段, Tongzhou (Guan Xueyan et al.).  On 7th there was another RUFOUS-FACED WARBLER Abroscopus albogularis 棕脸鹟莺 in the Botanical Gardens (Ma Nan), subsequently reported again up to 25th July.  On 8th there were two BLACK-WINGED CUCKOOSHRIKE Coracina melaschistos 暗灰鹃鵙 Àn huī juān jú at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore).  On 9th there was a very late SIBERIAN ACCENTOR Prunella montanella 棕眉山岩鹨 Zōng méishān shí liù at Yaoqiaoyu Reservoir, Miyun (Guan Xueyan et al.). On 11th there was a surprise second record of CHESTNUT BULBUL Hemixos castanonotus 栗背短脚鹎 Lì bèi duǎn jiǎo bēi at Shahe Reservoir (李文俊 via Lu Zhuofei).  Comment: Could this be the bird from Tongzhou earlier in the spring relocating or a different individual?  On the same day there was a singing BLUNT-WINGED WARBLER Acrocephalus concinens 钝翅苇莺 Dùn chì wěi yīng at Shahe Reservoir North Shore (Qiuhan Z et al.), an ORIENTAL CUCKOO Cuculus optatus 北方中杜鹃 Běifāng zhōng dùjuān reported from Baihuashan (Xingcha Ye et al.) and two ASIAN LESSER CUCKOO Cuculus poliocephalus 小杜鹃 Xiǎo dùjuān at the same site.  A MARSH GRASSBIRD Locustella pryeri 斑背大尾莺 Bān bèi dà wěi yīng was at the Beijing Expo Park on 12th (Huo Shengjie).  On 15th a JAPANESE SCOPS OWL Otus semitorques 北领角鸮 Běi lǐng jiǎo xiāo was seen in Mentougou (Liu Aitao, amal amer et al.) and a PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu, was at the Yongding River (阿矛-cugb), apparently present since 14th at least.  On 21st there was a RED COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia tranquebarica 火斑鸠 Huǒ bānjiū at Beizhuang, Miyun (王瑞卿 Wang Ruiqing) and a second PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu of the year at Bulaotun (peng su et al.), apparently present since 5 June at least.  On 25th there was a COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus 棉凫 Mián fú at Shahe Reservoir (Wang Zhenya).  The month ended with a PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA Hydrophasianus chirurgus 水雉 Shuǐ zhì at the ChaoBaiHe, Shunyi District (via WeChat), apparently present since at least 28th.

Manchurian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus tangorum 远东苇莺 Yuǎndōng wěi yīng at LuomaHu, Shunyi District, on 4 June 2022 (Terry Townshend)

July 2022      2022年7月

A GREY-WINGED BLACKBIRD Turdus boulboul 灰翅鸫 Huī chì dōng was singing at Lingshan on the evening of 2nd July and morning of 3 July (刘爱涛、魏子晨).  On 3rd, a GREATER PAINTED SNIPE Rostratula benghalensis 彩鹬 Cǎi yù, was at Bulaotun (Qiuhan Zhang and wang ye).  On 8th a BROWNISH-FLANKED BUSH WARBLER Horornis fortipes 强脚树莺 Qiáng-jiǎo shù-yīng  was sound-recorded beside the X019 road near Baihuashan (何勇洲), with an ASIAN LESSER CUCKOO Cuculus poliocephalus 小杜鹃 Xiǎo dùjuān also present.  On 9th a TIGER SHRIKE Lanius tigrinus 虎纹伯劳 Hǔ wén bó láo was at Qingbaikou, Mentougou District (郝建国 and 杜开颜等) and an unusual summer record of PALLAS’S LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus proregulus 黄腰柳莺 Huáng yāo liǔ yīng at Lingshan (魏淳之、刘峥、赵云天、娄方洲).  On 10th a new species for Beijing was photographed at Bulaotun, Miyun District, in the form of a juvenile BRAHMINY KITE Haliastur indus 栗鸢 Lì yuān, Bulaotun (宋荧, 荧等).  On 12th there was an ORIENTAL STORK Ciconia boyciana 东方白鹳 Dōng fāng bái guàn by the Wenyu River (Professor Wang YuYu, Wu Lan and Terry Townshend).  On 19th there was a COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus 棉凫 Mián fú at Huairou Reservoir (王子超) and on 21st there was another report of ASIAN LESSER CUCKOO Cuculus poliocephalus 小杜鹃 Xiǎo dùjuān from Miaofengshan (Siyu Sun). On 26th there was a YELLOW-LEGGED BUTTONQUAIL Turnix tanki 黄脚三趾鹑 Huáng jiǎo sān zhǐ chún at Bulaotun, Miyun District (amal amer et al.).  The month ended with another or the same COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus 棉凫 Mián fú at Marco Polo Bridge, Fengtai District on 31st (赫安琪).

August 2022      2022年8月

On 1st there was a FAR EASTERN CURLEW Numenius madagascariensis 大杓鹬 Dà biāo yù, an ASIAN DOWITCHER Limnodromus semipalmatus 半蹼鹬 Bàn pǔ yù and a TEREK SANDPIPER Xenus cinereus 翘嘴鹬 Qiào zuǐ yù at Ma Chang (魏淳之、何勇洲).  On 3rd there was a BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at Shahe Reservoir (张会萍). The next day there were two PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) and a COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus 棉凫 Mián fú at Shahe Reservoir (马守忠,张会萍).  On 6th there was a FAR EASTERN CURLEW Numenius madagascariensis 大杓鹬 Dà biāo yù at the ChaoBai River, Tongzhou (齐春宏) and the next day there was a RUDDY TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres 翻石鹬 Fān shí yù at Ma Chang (娄方洲) and a BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Calidris falcinellus 阔嘴鹬 Kuò zuǐ yù at the same site (王晔、张秋涵). On 8th there was a BLUNT-WINGED WARBLER Acrocephalus concinens 钝翅苇莺 Dùn chì wěi yīng at Yeyahu (Stefan Andrew) and on 9th the same observer reported a LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca 白喉林莺 Báihóu lín yīng in the Botanical Gardens.  On 10th there was another PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu at Shahe Reservoir (张会萍、韩霄林) and on 11th there was a LITTLE CURLEW Numenius minutus 小杓鹬 Xiǎo biāo yù at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore). On 13th there was another COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus 棉凫 Mián fú at Ma Chang (高孝延、王力成、余京扬等) and a YELLOW-LEGGED BUTTONQUAIL Turnix tanki 黄脚三趾鹑 Huáng jiǎo sān zhǐ chún at the ChaoBaiHe, Tongzhou (郝建国、张峰沁、张辉).  On 16th there was a LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta 小滨鹬 Xiǎo bīn yù reported from Ma Chang (Qihan Wang).  On 20th there was a CINNAMON BITTERN Ixobrychus cinnamomeus 栗苇鳽 Lì wěi jiān reported from Shahe Reservoir (Ning Sun), a BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Calidris falcinellus 阔嘴鹬 Kuò zuǐ yù at Ma Chang (白涛、刘畅) and another PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu along the ChaoBaiHe, Tongzhou (方玉). On 22nd two FAR EASTERN CURLEW Numenius madagascariensis 大杓鹬 Dà biāo yù (both juvenile) flew along the Wenyu River early morning (Terry Townshend).  The next day there was possibly only Beijing’s third BLACK-FACED SPOONBILL Platalea minor 黑脸琵鹭 Hēi liǎn pí lù along the Guishui River Wetland in Yanqing (北京市河湖鸟类自动监测站) and an exceptionally early RED-THROATED THRUSH Turdus ruficollis 赤颈鸫 Chì jǐng dōng was at Tsinghua University campus (Tz Hsuan Tseng).  On 24th there was the year’s third ASHY DRONGO Dicrurus leucophaeus 灰卷尾 Huī juàn wěi at Bulaotun, Miyun (李爱宏), a BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Limicola falcinellus 阔嘴鹬 Kuò zuǐ yù at Ma Chang (Hang Ye et al.) and a CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng was photographed in the Olympic Forest Park (蔡燚). On 25th there was a moulting BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis 黑颈䴙䴘 Hēi jǐng pì tī at Yeyahu (Colm Moore).  On 27th two LESSER SAND PLOVER Charadrius mongolus 蒙古沙鸻 Méng gǔ shā héng and two RUFF Philomachus pugnax 流苏鹬 Liúsū yù were reported from Ma Chang (Jiahua Xing), with another RUFF Philomachus pugnax 流苏鹬 Liúsū yù at Shahe Reservoir on the same day (邢家华、杨望泓、刘双祺、彭兰慧、吴逸南).  Also on 27th a PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu was at DaNing Reservoir (Oriental Stork/Huo Shengjie).  On 28th two BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Limicola falcinellus 阔嘴鹬 Kuò zuǐ yù and a SWINHOE’S SNIPE Gallinago megala 大沙锥 Dà shā zhuī were at Ma Chang (amal amer, Lou Fangzhou, 大牙齿 458 et al) and another CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng was at Yuyuantan Park (张芮源). On 29th a PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus tenellipes 淡脚柳莺 Dàn jiǎo liǔ yīng was reported from Shahe Reservoir (Stefan Andrew) and a PALE MARTIN Riparia diluta 淡色沙燕 Dàn sè shā yàn was photographed at Nanhaizi (钟震宇).  

September 2022     2022年9月

On 7th a SWINHOE’S RAIL Coturnicops exquisitus 花田鸡 Huā tián jī was accidentally flushed at Ming Tombs Reservoir (刘劲松), remaining until 10th when a BAND-BELLIED CRAKE Porzana paykullii 斑胁田鸡 Bān xié tián jī was seen at the same site (叶航、胡熙华、郝帅丞等).  Also on 10th a DALMATIAN PELICAN Pelecanus crispus 卷羽鹈鹕 Juǎn yǔ tí hú (王鋆、邱小溪、李云帆等) and a RED KNOT Calidris canutus 红腹滨鹬 Hóng fù bīn yù ((吴哲浩、于俊峰) were at Ma Chang. The next day a DUNLIN Calidris alpina 黑腹滨鹬 Hēi fù bīn yù was at the same site (wang ye and Qiuhan Zhang).  On 14th there were two DUNLIN Calidris alpina 黑腹滨鹬 Hēi fù bīn yù at Ma Chang, increasing to three on 17th (wanda yang et al.), a MARSH GRASSBIRD Locustella pryeri 斑背大尾莺 Bān bèi dà wěi yīng at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) and a BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at Yizhi Park (吴春梅). On 18th there were four LITTLE CURLEW Numenius minutus 小杓鹬 Xiǎo biāo yù at Ma Chang (郭子良,赵永健、王龙) and another at Shahe Reservoir (韩维).  On 20th there was another COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus 棉凫 Mián fú, this time at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) and a LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta 小滨鹬 Xiǎo bīn yu at Ma Chang (Qihan Wang).  On 22nd there was an impressive gathering of  200+ AMUR FALCON Falco amurensis 红脚隼 Hóng jiǎo sǔn at Bulaotun, Miyun (宋大昭、武阅) and two SWINHOE’S MINIVET Pericrocotus cantonensis 小灰山椒鸟 Xiǎo huī shānjiāo niǎo at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (徐笑然、谢文冬).  On 24th there was a LESSER SAND PLOVER Charadrius mongolus 蒙古沙鸻 Méng gǔ shā héng reported from Ma Chang (Shi Xu and Chunhong Liu) and a CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng passed the raptor watchpoint at Baiwangshan (孟令旸、曹硕).  On 26th news came of a JAPANESE SCOPS OWL Otus semitorques 北领角鸮 Běi lǐng jiǎo xiāo taken into care at Qijiazhuang, Mentougou (宋超). The next day there were five exceptionally early WHITE-NAPED CRANE Grus vipio 白枕鹤 Bái zhěn hè in Tongzhou (Wang Qin) and on 28th there was a SLAVONIAN (HORNED) GREBE Podiceps auritus 角䴙䴘 Jiǎo pì tī at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore).  On 29th there was a COLLARED CROW Corvus torquatus 白颈鸦 Bái jǐng yā at Haidian Four Seasons Qingquanying Park (崔靖沄).

The Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii 斑胁田鸡 Bān xié tián jīat Ming Tombs Reservoir on 10 September 2022 (Photo by 黄非红).

October 2022     2022年10月

On 3rd there was a BULL-HEADED SHRIKE Lanius bucephalus 牛头伯劳 Niú tóu bó láo at Shahe Reservoir (Qiuhan Wang).  The 4th saw a hat-trick of records of WHITE-WINGED SCOTER Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri 斑脸海番鸭 Bān liǎn hǎi fān yā with one at Yeyahu (王瑞卿/Wang Ruiqing), two at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) and five at Miyun Reservoir (张国江).  A 1cy VEGA GULL Larus vegae 西伯利亚银鸥 Xībólìyǎ yín ōu was a great find on the same day at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore).  On 5th there was a GREATER SCAUP Aythya marila 斑背潜鸭 Bān bèi qián yā at Ming Tombs Reservoir (王文龙) and on 6th there was a STEPPE EAGLE Aquila nipalensis 草原雕 Cǎo yuán diāo and a CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng at Baiwangshan (Jiahua Xing).  On 7th there was a SLAVONIAN (HORNED) GREBE Podiceps auritus 角䴙䴘 Jiǎo pì tī at Shahe Reservoir (Jia Yu et al.). On 8th a BULL-HEADED SHRIKE Lanius bucephalus 牛头伯劳 Niú tóu bó láo was at the Wenyu River (Wang Xiaoou). An EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE Aquila heliaca 白肩雕 Bái jiān diāo was a good find in the Olympic Forest Park on 12th (蔡燚) and on the same day a MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis 草地鹨 Cǎodì liù was opposite Tongming Lake Park in Tongzhou (郁翔Hawk-yx).  The next day Colm Moore found a PECHORA PIPIT Anthus gustavi 北鹨 Běi liù at Ming Tombs Reservoir on what was a good day for passage of corvids, larks and pipits.  On 13th there was another EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE Aquila heliaca 白肩雕 Bái jiān diāo, this time at Baiwangshan Forest Park (张传光、张小玲、杨虹等).  On 15th there was an ASHY MINIVET Pericrocotus divaricatus 灰山椒鸟 Huī shānjiāo niǎo at Fenggang Jianhe (Fu Cong).  On 16th there was a BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at DaNing Reservoir (Huo Shengjie).  On the same day there were five STEPPE EAGLE Aquila nipalensis 草原雕 Cǎo yuán diāo at Baiwangshan (孙琰、张小玲、杨虹等), with another there the following day (Jun Shuai et al.).  A further two STEPPE EAGLE Aquila nipalensis 草原雕 Cǎo yuán diāo were at Laoyugou on 18th with a single ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus 毛脚鵟 Máo jiǎo kuáng (林毅、孟令旸、曹硕).  Also on 18th there were three RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator 红胸秋沙鸭 Hóng xiōng qiū shā yā at Shahe Reservoir (崔美艳、宋超等).  On 19th there was a CRESTED GOSHAWK Accipiter trivirgatus 凤头鹰 Fèng tóu yīng at Baiwangshan (贾同鑫、王珂、明锐等). On 21st there was an intriguing record of a WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos leucotos 白背啄木鸟 Bái bèi zhuómùniǎo from Dongba Country Park, Chaoyang District (雨燕).  Comment: this species has not previously been documented within the sixth ring road.  On 23rd there was a (1cy) BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla 三趾鸥 Sān zhǐ ōu at Shahe Reservoir (蔡震波、李蔚莹) and on 24th there were two HORNED LARK Eremophila alpestris 角百灵 Jiǎo bǎilíng at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Cinclus cinclus), one of which was of the northerly-breeding subspecies flava.  On 26th there were two LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis 长尾鸭 Cháng wěi yā at Shahe Reservoir (李峰), with one of these, or another, at the Summer Palace on 28th (王文龙). On 27th there were two very late WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN Chlidonias leucopterus 白翅浮鸥 Bái chì fú ōu at Shahe Reservoir (Jun Shuai).  On 28th there was a (SIBERIAN) CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita tristis 叽喳柳莺 Jī chā liǔ yīng (Colm Moore) and a MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis 草地鹨 Cǎodì liù (戴少华、王晔) at Ming Tombs Reservoir. On 29th a YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella 黄鹀 Huáng wú was photographed at Bulaotun, Miyun Reservoir (王冰玲).

November 2022   2022年11月

On 1st there was a NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE Lanius excubitor sibiricus 灰伯劳 Huī bóláo at Miaofengshan (高原). A SLAVONIAN (HORNED) GREBE Podiceps auritus 角䴙䴘 Jiǎo pì tī was a good find at DaShiHe on 2nd. On 3rd a JAPANESE THRUSH Turdus cardis 乌灰鸫 Wū huī dōng was found at the Temple of Heaven Park (余凤中), a very rare species in Beijing with just a handful of previous records. Also on 3rd there was a BROWN ACCENTOR Prunella fulvescens 褐岩鹨 Hè yán liù (高彤) and a (1cy) BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla 三趾鸥 Sān zhǐ ōu (鱼子酱) at Shahe Reservoir. From photos it appeared that the latter was a different individual from the one photographed on 23rd October at the same site. On 4th a JANKOWSKI’S BUNTING Emberiza jankowskii 栗斑腹鹀 Lì bān fù wú was photographed at Miyun Reservoir (鱼子酱), there were three STEPPE EAGLE Aquila nipalensis 草原雕 Cǎo yuán diāo at Miaofengshan (张峰沁、丁饶等) and Colm Moore photographed a ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus 毛脚鵟 Máo jiǎo kuáng at Shahe Reservoir. On 5th a RED PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicaria 灰瓣蹼鹬 Huī bàn pǔ yù was a great find at Shahe Reservoir. (宋超、雨燕), staying until 8th but on 9th feathers were found suggesting it had been predated. Also on 5th there were two separate sightings of STEPPE EAGLE Aquila nipalensis 草原雕 Cǎo yuán diāo at Miaofengshan (Ceoffrey Lions et al.) and at Ma Chang (Cory Gao et al.) and a MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é was at DaShi River, Fangshan District (陈菁).  On 6th there was a very late ORIENTAL PLOVER Charadrius veredus 东方鸻 Dōng fāng héng at Ma Chang (魏淳之、唐翌、吴哲浩、叶航) and a RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena 赤颈䴙䴘 Chì jǐng pì tī was found at the DaShi River (李秉儒、吴昊阳、崔家晨). On 7th there was another EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE Aquila heliaca 白肩雕 Bái jiān diāo at Ming tombs Reservoir (金龟子) and three BROWN-EARED BULBUL Microscelis amaurotis 栗耳短脚鹎 Lì ěr duǎn jiǎo bēi at Binhe Park, Miyun (史庆广). The 12th saw an incredible irruption of PALLAS’S SANDGROUSE Syrrhaptes paradoxus 毛腿沙鸡 Máo tuǐ shā jī with several large counts from across the city.  The highest count was a total of 7,363 logged from Shunyi District between 1400-1721hrs (Terry Townshend).  On the same day a WESTERN WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus 西方秧鸡 Xī fāng yāng jī was seen at DaShiHe (季实、赵晖、娄方洲等). On 13th the number of BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at DaNing Reservoir had increased to three (Huo Shengjie).  On 16th there were two BROWN-EARED BULBUL Microscelis amaurotis 栗耳短脚鹎 Lì ěr duǎn jiǎo bēi at Yuyuantan Park (Ziyan Zhao).  On 17th there were two BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at DaShiHe (王瑞卿).  On 19th there was a RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena 赤颈䴙䴘 Chì jǐng pì tī and a LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis 长尾鸭 Cháng wěi yā at Lianshi Lake, Shijingshan (张家铭). On 20th there was a PALLAS’S GULL Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus 渔鸥 Yú ōu at Ma Chang (张鑫 and 张备彦) and four BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at Yuxinzhuang, Tongzhou (郝建国、李英杰). On 26th Beijing’s third SANDHILL CRANE Grus canadensis 沙丘鹤 Shā qiū hè was photographed at Ma Chang (Dai Jiapeng et al.) but was not seen on subsequent days.  On 27th five 1cy MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor 疣鼻天鹅 Yóu bí tiān’é were found along the Wenyu River (Qiuhan Zhang and wang ye), staying well into December.

Flocks of Pallas’s Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus 毛腿沙鸡 Máo tuǐ shā jī over the Central Business District, 12 November 2022 (Terry Townshend)

December 2022    2022年12月

On 1st there was a BROWN-EARED BULBUL Microscelis amaurotis 栗耳短脚鹎 Lì ěr duǎn jiǎo bēi in the Olympic Forest Park (果茶).  On 2nd there was an unusual lowland record of NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE Lanius excubitor sibiricus 灰伯劳 Huī bóláo at the Urban Green Heart Forest Park in Tongzhou (方玉).  On 3rd there were four BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā at Huairou Reservoir (Qiuhan Zhang and wang ye) and a SOLITARY SNIPE Gallinago solitaria 孤沙锥 Gū shā zhuī at the HuaiJiu River, Huairou (王力成、严向荣).  On 5th there was a kamtschatschensis COMMON GULL or “Kamchatka Gull” Larus canus 海鸥 Hǎi’ōu at Ming Tombs Reservoir (Colm Moore) and an unusual winter record of EURASIAN SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia 白琵鹭 Bái pí lù at the XiaoZhong River, Tongzhou (张峰沁). On 7th there was a WESTERN WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus 西方秧鸡 Xī fāng yāng jī at Yuanmingyuan (鹪鹩), staying into January 2023. On 9th there was a remarkable second 2022 record of GREY TREEPIE 灰树鹊 Huī shù què photographed at Baiwangshan Forest Park (佚名).  Comment: With at least two recent records in Shandong, one of which involved four individuals (Qingdao Birdwatching Society via Wang Ruiqing), is it possible the Beijing records relate to wild birds?  Time may tell.  Also on 9th a HOODED CRANE Grus monacha 白头鹤 Bái tóu hè was at Ma Chang (amal amer et al.).  On 10th three RED-CROWNED CRANE Grus japonensis 丹顶鹤 Dān dǐng hè were a great find at Ma Chang (Gin).  On 13th there was an unusual record of 11 COLLARED FINCHBILL Spizixos semitorques 领雀嘴鹎 Lǐng què zuǐ bēi at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Huairou District (Wen-Dong Xie).  Comment: Records of this species are few and far between away from the traditional site at the Botanical Gardens.  On 18th another SOLITARY SNIPE Gallinago solitaria 孤沙锥 Gū shā zhuī was found at the QingShui River, Miyun (郭耕).  On 19th an immature ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus 毛脚鵟 Máo jiǎo kuáng flew SW over LuomaHu, Shunyi District (Terry Townshend) and a PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 斑鱼狗 Bān yú gǒu was photographed along the Wenyu River (甲子鼠), remaining into 2023.  On 21st another BAER’S POCHARD Aythya baeri 青头潜鸭 Qīng tóu qián yā was on the LiangShui River, Tongzhou (杜开颜).  On 23rd a remarkable record of a EUROPEAN ROBIN Erithacus rubecula 欧亚鸲 Ōu yà qú photographed along the Wenyu River (张峰沁), seen again on 1 January 2023.  On 27th another WESTERN WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus 西方秧鸡 Xī fāng yāng jī was found, this time in the Olympic Forest Park (动动帅).  On 30th there was a super record of two REDWING Turdus iliacus 白眉歌鸫 Báiméi gē dōng photographed at Peking University Changping Campus (李源昊).  The year ended in spectacular fashion with Beijing’s second ever FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris 田鸫 Tián dōng photographed at the Beijing University of Technology Campus on 31st (颜子轲, 蔡柏阳, 陈肇洧, 李源昊) and a flock of c100 ASIAN ROSY FINCH Leucosticte arctoa 粉红腹岭雀 Fěnhóng fù lǐng què at Lingshan on the same day (田雪).

The “Kamchatka Gull” (Common Gull Larus canus 海鸥 Hǎi’ōu of the race ‘kamtschatschensis’) at Ming Tombs Reservoir on 5 December 2022 (Colm Moore)

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy and bird-filled 2023!

Title image: the CHESTNUT BULBUL Hemixos castanonotus 栗背短脚鹎 Lì bèi duǎn jiǎo bēi at DaYunHe on 21 May 2022, the first record for Beijing (photo by 阿兹猫)

For summaries from previous years, click the links below.

Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2021

Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2020

Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2019

Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2018

Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2017

Rare and Scarce Birds in Beijing 2016

Irruption of Pallas’s Sandgrouse in Beijing

Saturday 12 November 2022 will go down as one of my best ever birding experiences..  and all the better because it was completely unexpected. 
 
With a backlog of work to do, I had planned to work all day, despite the fantastic weather, with crystal clear blue skies and a fresh northwest wind, following the passage of a cold front the day before. 
 
However, during the morning I had heard that a few Pallas’s Sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus 毛腿沙鸡 Máo tuǐ shā jī – literal translation “hairy-legged sand chicken”) had been seen at DaShiHe, in Fangshan District, southwest Beijing… 
 
Mid-November is the prime time for arrivals of this enigmatic species, which irrupts into Beijing every few years, and I thought I would take a quick look in the afternoon at a small patch of rough ground near my apartment just to check (thinking the chance of success was about 1%).  In any case, it would be a nice break from work and wouldn’t take very long to cover.  Little did I know that I would stay until dusk having enjoyed the incredible spectacle of seeing thousands of sandgrouse!
 
Within ten minutes of arriving at the patch of rough ground, as expected, I realised there were no sandgrouse on site and, after enjoying good views of a flock of Lapland Buntings and a small party of Rustic Buntings, I was about to head back home…  Just as I turned to begin the walk back, I heard a whirring of wings and, looking up, a flock of about 15 Pallas’s Sandgrouse flew right over me, followed a few seconds later by another flock of eight.  Wow – what luck!
 
I wondered to myself whether this was just a fluke or, perhaps, a sign that there was a large movement.  I headed up to a small hill nearby to see if I could observe any more and I was astonished at what unfolded.  The hill was a fantastic vantage point as, in the crystal clear air, I enjoyed a wide field of view, stretching to at least the CBD area of central Beijing to the south and to the mountains of Changping in the north. I estimated I could see about 20km north and a similar distance to the south.
 
Flock after flock came from the east, all heading between W and SW… some to the north of me, some to the south and some immediately overhead.  It was incredible. 
 
Fortunately I had my camera with me and I snapped some photos of the flocks as they passed, including some passing Beijing’s tallest building, the CITIC tower (known as China Zun, a 109-storey tower standing 528m tall).  
 
Flocks of Pallas’s Sandgrouse passing the CITIC tower, Beijing’s tallest building in the Central Business District.
 
Flock after flock flew past, all heading W-SW.
 
Some of the flocks passed overhead, providing superb views
 
This flock banked and, shortly after, landed just a few metres away from me as the light faded.
 
I began logging each flock, counting individuals if possible or, in the case of the larger flocks or those seen only briefly, estimating the numbers using ‘blocks’ of 10 or 20 birds.  For the next three hours there were flocks passing almost every minute… and in some cases several flocks simultaneously.  It was an exhilarating experience…
 
Via WeChat, the most popular social media, other birders reported flocks from the DaShi River, Shahe Reservoir and other sites across the city, with some even seeing flocks from their office or residential blocks in the city centre.  
 
Over the next three hours or so, I counted 7,363 in total (all between 1400-1722), surely a fraction of the total number of birds involved but smashing the previous day-record of 1,050 birds on 14 November 2019 (Wang Xiaobo). 
 
My hand-written count sheet, showing time and flock size (all heading W-SW unless otherwise stated).
 
Although my field of view was extensive, I am sure I missed many flocks, particularly those flying low, and of course I would miss all the birds in Yanqing area (the other side of the Badaling mountains) and those in the south of the city, not to mention those that had passed earlier in the day before I began to watch and count.
 
Around dusk, several flocks flew very low, calling, and appearing to look for somewhere to land.  One flock did land right in front of me for about a minute and fed actively on seed heads before heading off again..  and as the wind dropped at dusk, most of the flocks were then heading north and not W-SW. 
 
The flock that landed just a few metres away from my position at dusk.
 
These birds waddled and fed actively on seed heads for a few minutes before lifting and heading north.
 
After sunset, the flocks seemed to change direction, with all flocks from 1655-1722) heading north or northwest.
 
These irruptions are not well understood but are likely driven by conditions in their usual range (e.g. snow cover or extreme cold).  Given that there are so few records further south, I speculate that these birds may come south/southeast from their usual range, explore the North China plain and then most head back north when they realise there isn’t much suitable grassland habitat…  but that’s just a hunch.  It will be fascinating to see whether many hang around or whether they disappear as fast as they arrived.
 
The Pallas’s Sandgrouse has been a dream bird for me ever since reading Arthur Patterson’s accounts of flocks during the invasions of the UK, particularly along the east coast, in the late 1800s. 
 
Arthur Patterson (1900) in The Zoologist, 4th series, Vol. IV. p. 534, under ‘The Birds of Great Yarmouth’ says: ‘During the invasion of this species in 1863 (when sixty were killed in Norfolk), several were obtained here. The North Denes and sand-hills were most frequented. The first Norfolk bird was found dead in the surf on May 23rd. A gunner named Nudd, on June 6th, shot a male out of a flock of nine. He mistook them for Plover, but described them to me as “running about like Rats.” On May 27th, 1876, a flock was observed on the Winterton sand-hills; and in May, 1888, a second invasion occurred, when over eleven hundred were seen in Norfolk, and one hundred and eighty-six were killed. A male and female were seen on the Denes as late as Dec. 2nd (vide Stevenson’s Birds of Norfolk, vol. i. pp. 376-404 ; also vol. iii. pp. 392-396).
As a boy growing up in Winterton-on-Sea, the thought that the local sand dunes had once hosted flocks of these enigmatic birds was etched in my mind and during my regular birding walks over the dunes, I often quietly said to myself “one day…”
 
To see thousands in just a few hours in Beijing, albeit not in those beloved dunes at Winterton, was a dream come true.
 
It is said that, in China during the Tang Dynasty, the appearance of these birds in Beijing was a sign of impending war because it meant the conditions in their usual range were unusually harsh, prompting the nomads to invade southwards. 
 
Thankfully, today, Pallas’s Sandgrouse receive a much warmer welcome in the capital.
 

Ambassadors for Nature Goes Live!

Following the launch of the Ambassadors for Nature initiative in July 2022, work has been ongoing to put together resources and begin to implement the “Pledge for Nature” made by Ambassadors from 14 missions in Beijing.

In late September the first meeting of embassy gardeners took place, hosted by the Belgian Embassy and supported by ShanShui Conservation Center.

And now, a dedicated page for the Ambassadors for Nature initiative is live on this website.  It can be accessed by clicking here.

The page includes resources such as:

  • a list of native plant and tree species;
  • common wildlife to be found in central Beijing;
  • guidance on building and erecting nest boxes for birds; and
  • recommendations for embassy gardeners.  

The page will be updated regularly, so please come back soon to see how the initiative is being taken forward. 

Huge thanks to the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and, in particular, Ambassador Clare Fearnley and Svar Barrington, for their energy and initiative.

If you are a member of a diplomatic mission in Beijing, or indeed from anywhere in the world. why not join us!  See the page for contact details.

The Invisible Miracle Happening Over Our Heads As We Sleep

On Tuesday 27 September 2022, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) hosted a special seminar to publicise the results of the pilot Beijing Nocturnal Bird Migration Project.  

Hosted by AIIB’s Vice President for Policy and Strategy, Sir Danny Alexander, and moderated by Tian Hua, the seminar included speakers from Peking University, the Beijing Municipal Government, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and embassies along the flyway, including Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.  It was a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the miracle of bird migration that happens over Beijing as its residents sleep at night.  

AIIB’s Vice President for Policy and Operations, Sir Danny Alexander, opened the seminar.
AIIB’s Tian Hua was the moderator for the morning.
Dr Wang Xiaoping from Beijing’s Forest and Parks Bureau said Beijing was moving towards an ‘ecosystem approach’ to land management, recognising the value of wetlands, grassland and scrubland as well as trees.

Every spring and autumn millions of birds fly over China’s capital city between breeding grounds in Siberia, Mongolia and north China and non-breeding grounds in south China, S & SE Asia, Australasia and even, in the case of Beijing’s Swifts and Common Cuckoos, to Africa.  Some of these birds migrate during the day – for example, the larger soaring birds, such as birds of prey, cranes, storks etc that rely on thermals to assist their flight.  However, the majority of birds (around 80%) – especially the smaller species – migrate at night.  This is because there are fewer predators active during the dark hours, the weather tends to be cooler and more stable and some birds navigate using the night sky.

Many of these birds vocalise as they migrate – to keep in touch with each other as they fly and, towards the end of the night, attempting to initiate responses from their own kind on the ground, which could indicate a safe place to stop for the day.  Using a simple sound recorder, it’s possible to gain an insight into the volume and diversity of birds flying over at night.

In autumn 2021, Birding Beijing, in collaboration with AIIB and Peking University, began a pilot project to record bird sounds at night from the roof of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  AIIB’s building is ideal – it’s 15 storeys high, not close to any major roads, free from aircraft noise and close to one of Beijing’s largest urban green spaces, the Olympic Forest Park.  During the period 25 August to 2 November 2021 we programmed the recorder to record every night from sunset to sunrise, resulting in over 700 hours of recordings.

The digital sound recorder from Wildlife Acoustics fixed to the roof of AIIB’s headquarters in Beijing, close to the Olympic Forest Park.

Key findings:

  • 34,713 bird calls recorded
  • Around 95% of calls identified to species or, in the case of buntings, flycatchers and thrushes, to family, with more than 60 species identified so far
  • Most common calls were Olive-backed Pipit (12,411), Black-crowned Night Heron (5,358) and Eurasian Skylark (2,611).
  • Five nights recorded over 2,000 calls (in order of volume`)
    • 27/28 September (2,703 calls)
    • 28/29 September (2,405 calls)
    • 14/15 October (2,270 calls)
    • 9/10 September (2,233 calls)
    • 22/23 September (2,025 calls)
  • The busiest hour-long file was 0502-0602 on 29 September with 1,012 calls

Rarities included possibly only Beijing’s 8th Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes 灰尾漂鹬 Huī wěi (piào) yù and at least two Little Curlew Numenius minutus 小杓鹬 Xiǎo biāo yù (not annually recorded in Beijing). 

The graph below shows the volume of bird calls recorded by date.

More detail about the results, including the species recorded, volume per species and date ranges, as well as example calls, can be found here.

Terry briefed the seminar on the key findings of the Autumn 2021 pilot nocturnal bird migration project.

Liu Shuangqi from Peking University briefed how the project is now expanding to six recording locations across the city in spring 2022 covering areas with varying light pollution to gain a insight into whether artificial light affects the calling rate of migratory birds. 

Liu Shuangqi of Peking University spoke about the impact of artificial light on migratory birds and how the project is expanding to cover more recording sites.

Assistant Professor Hua Fangyuan provided some important context about the loss of 3 billion birds in North America since 1970, something scientists can estimate with some confidence given the strong datasets in the continent (13 datasets were used for the North American study, some of which stretch back more than 50 years).  Those data are lacking in East Asia – in particular for migratory land birds – but what we do know, for example about shorebirds, is that bird populations here are likely to be on a similar trend.  Long-term, standardised, monitoring is key.

Assistant Professor Hua Fangyuan provided important context about the decline or birds in N America and the lack of data in East Asia, emphasising the value of continuing the nocturnal migration project.

So, what do the results of Beijing’s pilot project tell us?

First, that there is a high volume and diversity of birds migrating over Beijing, confirming that it is on a major ‘flyway’ or expressway for birds. 

Second, that most of these migratory birds are species that pass through several countries, reinforcing that migratory birds do not belong to any single country – they are shared natural heritage and, with that, comes a shared responsibility to protect them and the places they need.

And third, if Beijing is to fulfil its responsibility to the flyway – to facilitate safe passage, the city must manage urban spaces in a way that helps birds to cross the hostile urban environment.  Given the diversity of species migrating over Beijing (the top three by volume are a woodland bird, a wetland bird and a grassland bird), that means providing a diversity of habitats including natural forest, wetland and grassland. 

After interventions from Peking University’s Professor Lu Zhi, embassies from flyway countries, a video message from Dr. Andrew Farnsworth of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and a lively Q&A with AIIB staff and invited guests, the event was wrapped up by AIIB’s General Counsel, Alberto Ninio, and culminated in the signing of a ‘letter of intent’ between AIIB and the Beijing Municipal Government. 

Peking University’s Professor Lu Zhi, China’s most well-known conservationist, delivered some wonderful and inspiring remarks to the audience.
Cornell’s Dr. Andrew Farnsworth recorded an inspirational video message about the North American experience, providing food for thought for the Q&A session.
Svar Barrington from the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing gave a perspective from the southern end of the flyway and spoke eloquently about how biodiversity, in particular migratory birds, was now high up New Zealand’s list of foreign policy priorities.
The audience was captivated by the sound of a flock of Bean Geese (Anser serrirostris 短嘴豆雁 Duǎn zuǐ dòu yàn) that flew over the AIIB building at 0354hrs on 16 March 2022.
AIIB’s General Counsel and environmental lawyer, Alberto Ninio, closed the seminar ahead of the signing of the letter of intent.

AIIB and the Beijing Municipal Government agreed to cooperate on the nocturnal migration project and biodiversity conservation more broadly, including a commitment to use the data about the diversity and volume of migratory birds flying over China’s capital to inform land management policies in Beijing.  This would ensure they help the city fulfil its role in the flyway – to facilitate safe passage of these migratory birds that are shared by so many countries.

AIIB and the Beijing Municipal Government signing the letter of intent at the end of the seminar.

After having trawled through 700 hours of recordings, to see the energy and commitment of the participants at this special seminar made it all worthwhile!

I was struck by the openness and willingness of the Beijing Municipal Government to take into account the data from this project in their land management policies.  This is a big deal when one considers that the Beijing Forest and Parks Bureau manages around 75% of the capital’s landmass.

Huge thanks to AIIB, in particular Sir Danny Alexander, Alberto Ninio, Erik Berglof, Tian Hua, Li Zeyu and Yan Bo for allowing use of their roof and for their incredible support since the beginning of the project.  It has been a delight to work with friends and colleagues from Peking University, especially Assistant Professor Hua Fangyuan, Professor Lu Zhi, Liu Shuangqi, Zhang Shen, Ren Xiaotong and Yang Xiaotong.  The team at the Beijing Forest and Parks Bureau are a joy to work with and wonderful advocates for biodiversity in Beijing.  Dr. Andrew Farnsworth and Benjamin Van Doren from Cornell Lab of Ornithology have been a great source of inspiration and encouragement. Finally, a thank you to the many birders who have helped with identifications of some of the calls, including Jonas Buddemeier, Geoff Carey, David Darrell-Lambert, James Eaton, Paul Holt, James Lidster, Magnus Robb, Seán Ronayne and Joost Van Bruggen, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

More detail on the Beijing Nocturnal Migration Project, including results of the spring 2022 and the ongoing autumn 2022 projects, can be found here.

 

All photos here provided by AIIB.

 

 

Lingshan dawn chorus

In mid-June, during a period of easing of Covid-related travel restrictions, I was able to visit Lingshan, Beijing’s highest mountain.  June is always a brilliant month to visit with breeding birds in full song and a vast array of insects, including some special butterflies.

The recording below is of the dawn chorus on the morning of 17 June 2022.  It begins with the song of the White-bellied Redstart and includes Chinese Leaf, Claudia’s Leaf and Hume’s Warblers, Siberian Blue Robin, Chinese Thrush and many more.  At a little over 17 minutes in total, it’s perfect for a tranquility break – put on your headphones, sit back and relax!

 
For more of Beijing’s wild sounds, check out the “Wild Sounds of Beijing” page.

“Ambassadors for Nature” initiative kicks off in Beijing

Last September Clare Fearnley, the New Zealand Ambassador to China, hosted a fantastic event called “Friends of the Flyway“, inviting Beijing-based ambassadors from the East Asian-Australasian Flyway countries to celebrate their shared natural heritage.  It was a wonderful way to raise the profile of the Flyway and put migratory birds on the foreign policy agenda.

At that event there was a discussion about how embassies could do more to promote migratory birds and biodiversity in general.  Recognising that diplomatic premises are important green spaces, one idea was to start an initiative to encourage embassies in Beijing to manage their green spaces in a more friendly way for nature.  Clare loved the idea and with her usual enthusiasm and drive, pulled together a few contacts and experts to develop some draft terms of reference:

Embassies and their grounds can be important refuges for urban wildlife. In recognition of the global biodiversity crisis, the Global Biodiversity Framework due to be agreed at COP15 in 2022, and the importance of contributions from all sectors of society we, as ambassadors in Beijing, intend to support nature. Our Embassies will make choices that advance biodiversity. For example, we will seek to:

– Undertake an audit of the wildlife in the grounds of the embassy and other diplomatic premises at least once in each season of the year (this can take as little as one hour per season, ideally on the same date and at the same time to enable comparisons over time);
– Keep records of wildlife sightings by staff
– When planting, choose native species of tree, shrubs and other plants. We will also assess the plant species already on the embassy grounds and, where practical, over time remove non-native species
– Take at least two of the following measures to support wildlife:
                   o Reduce and, as far as possible, eliminate the use of pesticides;
                   o Allocate an area (for example, 10% of the overall area) that can be kept ‘wild’ with minimal management and erect signage explaining this to residents and visitors;
                   o Make and erect nest boxes for birds and/or insect hotels;
                   o Help to reduce the risk of bird collisions with glass by using bird-safe glass, ultraviolet patterns or other mitigation measures.
– Promote awareness among diplomatic staff about biodiversity, including information about urban wildlife that can be found in Beijing, and the actions the embassy is taking to support nature.
– Nominate a point of contact responsible for this initiative who can report to the network on the actions of the embassy, arrange the audits and report records of wildlife.

Fast forward to Wednesday 6 July and the New Zealand embassy hosted the first meeting of the “Ambassadors for Nature” initiative.  Ambassadors and senior diplomats participated from Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Finland, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Norway, Peru, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, UK and the United Nations, alongside the Deputy Head of Beijing’s Forest and Parks Bureau (responsible for managing 70% of Beijing’s land), Professor Lu Zhi of Peking University and Professor Yolanda Van Heezik of Otago University and a group of young people from diplomatic families.  

The energy in the room was palpable with wholehearted support for the initiative and a raft of positive suggestions about how to take it forward.  Already sessions are being planned to provide training on how to conduct surveys of wildlife, tailored resources about the wildlife to be expected in Beijing city centre, and lists of native plant and tree species to guide diplomatic gardeners.  The Beijing Municipal government offered to host a field trip for ambassadors to showcase Beijing’s biodiversity and WeChat groups have been set up to bring together contact points from each embassy, as well as plans to outreach to more embassies to encourage them to join. 

There was even a suggestion that, once up and running, ambassadors could promote the initiative with their capitals to encourage ALL embassies and other diplomatic representations overseas to follow suit.  Just imagine, for example, if all of the UK’s 160 embassies and high commissions overseas (as well as 186 consulates) committed to do the same.  That would add up to quite a significant area of land!

It’s heartening to see this initiative getting off the ground and huge kudos must go to the New Zealand Embassy, especially Ambassador Clare Fearnley and Svar Barrington, for ensuring an idea discussed over coffee last year is coming to fruition – it is a terrific way for Ministries of Foreign Affairs to make a practical contribution towards the goals of the forthcoming Global Biodiversity Framework, due to be agreed by more than 190 countries at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting (COP15) in Montreal in December.

The dawn chorus in urban Beijing

Early June is a fabulous time to listen to the dawn chorus.  The vast majority of summer migrants have arrived and there’s no time to waste as males set up and defend a territory, attempt to attract a mate and raise a family in the short summer season.

This morning I was out at 0400 at my local lake, just 20 minutes walk from my apartment, to record the dawn chorus before the thunder of traffic became too much of an irritating soundtrack.  On arrival, the air was already full of the loud, churring sounds of the Oriental Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus orientalis 东方大苇莺 Dōngfāng dà wěi yīng) and in the treetops surrounding the lake, the calls of Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus 大杜鹃 Dà dùjuān) and Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus 四声杜鹃 Sì shēng dùjuān) carried far and wide.  The recently arrived Yellow Bitterns (Ixobrychus sinensis 黄苇鳽 Huáng wěi jiān) patrolled the airspace above the reedbeds with their floaty, almost owl-like, display flights and occasionally stopped to call from the reeds.

There are a few other species in this 15-minute recording, too.  Can you name any?  Headphones recommended!

The Dawn Chorus at Luoma Lake, Shunyi District, Beijing.

Light pollution and bird collisions

World Migratory Bird Day was on 14 May this year and the theme was light pollution.  To mark the event, I authored an article for The Paulson Institute on the dangers of light pollution to migratory birds and it seems appropriate to publish it here on World Biodiversity Day. 

There is now strong evidence that lighting attracts and disorientates migratory birds at night, causing many to seek shelter in our towns and cities.  This exposes them to multiple threats, including collisions with glass.  

The scale of deaths caused by collisions with glass is staggering.  It is estimated that up to a billion migratory birds die each year in North America due to collisions with buildings.  Although there are very few data from China, given many of its major cities are located close to the east coast, slap bang in the middle of one of the world’s busiest migratory expressways – the East Asian-Australasian Flyway – it is likely that the scale of the issue is similar here.

The good news is that this is one of the most avoidable sources of biodiversity loss.  There are solutions from minimising light pollution at night, especially during peaks of migration, to using bird-safe glass in new buildings and retrofitting to existing buildings.  There is much good practice emerging in North America, from ‘lights out’ programmes in many cities to legislation recently passed in New York to mandate the use of bird-safe glass in all new buildings and major renovations of old buildings.

Given China currently holds the presidency of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and is due to guide more than 190 countries to a new Global Biodiversity Framework, what better time for China’s cities to begin to address this issue.

I hope you enjoy the article and whether you live in a city on a flyway or experience bird collisions in your home, there is always something that you can do to help.  Here are some great resources to help you get started:

American Bird Conservancy

FLAP

Title image: Birds killed by collisions with glass at the World Trade Center Building in New York on September 14, 2021. The total count was 298 (269 dead and 29 injured taken to a wildlife rehabilitation centre). Photo by Melissa Breyer.

The sound of a Beijing wetland at dusk

Beijing’s wetlands come alive in spring as migratory birds, especially waterbirds, pass through on their way to breeding grounds further north.  Some will even stay and breed in the capital.

A few days ago I was lucky to spend the last couple of hours of daylight on the edge of one of Beijing’s primary wetlands in Yanqing District.  With the wind slowly dying as the sun set, the sounds came into their own.  I set up my digital sound recorder and just sat back and relaxed.  What treat!

You can enjoy just over 30 minutes of the recording below.

Amongst the chorus of Dark-spotted Frogs, I have picked out the following species: Common Pheasant, Garganey, Coot, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Common Snipe, Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank, Common Tern, Black-headed Gull, Oriental Magpie, Collared Dove, Zitting Cisticola, White-cheeked Starling, Buff-bellied Pipit, White Wagtail and Eastern Yellow Wagtail. 

If you identify any more, please let me know!

Wildlife Watercolours

Over the last few weeks I have been experimenting with watercolours to paint some of Beijing’s birds.  It’s been a lot of fun to try different techniques and, although the results will not win any prizes, I’m beginning to put together a portfolio which, over time, will expand beyond birds to include other wildlife.  If you are interested to see how they are turning out, please go to this dedicated page, which will be updated as and when new paintings are completed. 

Each of the paintings has taken no more than 45 minutes, an ideal way to spend a break from work.

 

Title painting: Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus  遗鸥  Yí ōu