I spent half an hour this afternoon looking for migrants around Central Park. Again, there were plenty of birds to be seen in this tiny oasis in the Central Business District of China’s capital city of 20 million plus residents. First up, at least 3 calling Yellow-browed Warblers caught my attention, closely followed by 2 probable Arctic Warblers. Next up, at what I have already realised is the favoured haunt of migrants, a small clump of dense bamboo with some young trees in a relatively quiet south-east corner, a juvenile Taiga Flycatcher was flitting between the trees, revealing itself by its soft trill, in the company of two more Arctic Warblers. Then, just as I sat down to watch, a real surprise appeared on top of the tree just a few metres away – a juvenile Brown Shrike! It seemed an unlikely setting for any shrike and I managed to take a short video clip with Beijing’s highest building – the World Trade Center – as a backdrop..
As if this wasn’t enough, a Stonechat flew in and settled briefly on the top of a nearby shrub before taking flight again and continuing towards the south and then a very large ‘acro’ warbler appeared briefly before disappearing again into a clump of bamboo.. I didn’t get much on it except for the fact it was large (at least Great Reed Warbler size), fairly plain warm brown upperparts with slightly paler underparts and no obvious supercilium. I am thinking it might have been a Thick-billed Warbler or possibly Oriental Great Reed Warbler but it will have to go down as one that got away as I didn’t see it again in the 30 minutes.
I am sure my observations are nothing out of the ordinary, so I guess the migrants on view here in the city reflect the still enormous numbers of the breeding bird populations to the north in the vast expanse of the Siberian taiga. It is difficult to imagine a Shrike of any sort in a major central London green space such as Hyde Park or Green Park, let alone in a very artificial and tiny green space around a modern tower block development. And it’s amazing for me to see these birds just a few yards from my flat.
Photos below, video to follow.